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faid indifferently, that it is agreeable by the congruity of its parts, or by the proportion of its parts. But propriety, which regards voluntary agents only, can never be the fame with proportion: a very long nofe is difproportioned, but cannot be termed improper. In fome inftances, it is true, impropriety coincides with difproportion in the same subject, but never in the fame respect. I give for an example a very little man buckled to a long toledo: confidering the man and the fword with refpect to size, we perceive a difproportion: confidering the fword as the choice of the man, we perceive an impropriety.

The sense of impropriety with respect to miftakes, blunders, and absurdities, is happily contrived for the good of mankind. In the fpectators, it is productive of mirth and laughter, excellent recreation in an interval from business. But this is a trifle in respect of what follows. It is painful to be the fubject of ridicule; and to punish with ridicule the man who is guilty of an abfurdity, tends to put him more upon his guard in time coming. Thus even the most innocent blunder is not committed with impunity; becaufe, were errors licensed where they do no hurt, inattention would grow into a habit, and be the occafion of much hurt.

The final cause of propriety as to moral duties, is of all the moft illuftrious. To have a juft notion of it, the moral duties that respect others must be distinguished from thofe that respect ourselves.

ourfelves. Fidelity, gratitude, and the forbearing injury, are examples of the first fort; temperance, modesty, firmness of mind, are examples of the other: the former are made duties by the sense of justice; the latter, by the sense of propriety. Here is a final caufe of the fenfe of propriety, that must rouse our attention. It is undoubtedly the intereft of every man, to fuit his behaviour to the dignity of his nature, and to the station allotted him by providence; for fuch rational conduct contributes in every respect to happiness, by preferving health, by procuring plenty, by gaining the esteem of others, and, which of all is the greatest bleffing, by gaining justly-founded self-esteem. But in a matter fo effential to our well-being, even felf-intereft is not relied on the powerful authority of duty is fuperadded to the motive of intereft. The God of nature, in all things effential to our happiness, hath obferved one uniform method: to keep us fteady in our conduct, he hath fortified us with natural laws and principles, which prevent many aberrations, that would daily happen were we totally furrendered to so fallible a guide as is human reafon. Propriety cannot rightly be confidered in another light, than as the natural law that regulates our conduct with refpect to ourfelves; as juftice is the natural law that regulates our conduct with refpect to others. I call propriety a law, not less than justice; because both are equally rules of conduct that ought to be obey'd:

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bey'd propriety includes this obligation; for to fay an action is proper, is, in other words, to fay, that it ought to be performed; and to say it is improper, is, in other words, to fay, that it ought to be forborn. It is this very character of ought and fhould that makes juftice a law to us; and the fame character is applicable to propriety, though perhaps more faintly than to juftice: but the difference is in degree only, not in kind; and we ought, without hesitation or reluctance, to fubmit equally to the government of both.

But I have more to urge upon this head. It muft, in the next place, be observed, that to the fense of propriety, as well as of justice, are annexed the fanctions of rewards and punishments; which evidently prove the one to be a law as well as the other. The fatisfaction a man hath in doing his duty, joined with the esteem and goodwill of others, is the reward that belongs to both equally. The punishments alfo, though not the fame, are nearly allied; and differ in degree more than in quality. Difobedience to the law of justice, is punished with remorfe; disobedience to the law of propriety, with fhame, which is remorfe in a lower degree. Every tranfgreffion of the law of justice raises indignation in the beholder; and fo doth every flagrant tranfgreffion of the law of propriety. Slighter improprieties receive a milder punishment: they are always rebuked with fome degree of contempt, and frequently with derifion. In general,

ral, it is true, that the rewards and punishments annexed to the fenfe of propriety, are flighter in degree than those annexed to the sense of justice: which is wifely ordered, because duty to others is ftill more effential to fociety, than duty to ourfelves; for fociety could not fubfist a moment, were individuals not protected from the headftrong and turbulent paffions of their neigh

bours.

The final caufe now unfolded of the fenfe of propriety, muft, to every discerning eye, appear delightful and yet this is but a partial view; for this sense reaches another illustrious end, which is, to co-operate with the sense of justice in inforcing the performance of focial duties. In fact, the fanctions visibly contrived to compel a man to be just to himself, are equally serviceable to compel him to be just to others; which will be evident from a fingle reflection, That an action, by being unjust, ceafes not to be improper: an action never appears more eminently improper, than when it is unjuft: it is obviously becoming, and fuitable to human nature, that each man do his duty to others; and accordingly every tranfgreffion of duty with respect to others, is at the fame time a tranfgreffion of duty with respect to felf. This is an undisguised truth without exaggeration; and it opens a new and enchanting view in the moral landscape, the profpect being greatly enriched, by the multiplication of agreeable objects. It appears now, that nothing is overlook

ed,

ed, nothing left undone, that can poffibly contribute to the enforcing focial duty; for to all the fanctions that belong to it fingly, are fuperadded the fanctions of felf-duty. A familiar example shall fuffice for illustration. An act of ingratitude, confidered in itself, is to the author difagreeable, as well as to every fpectator: confidered by the author with relation to himself, it raises felf-contempt : confidered by him with relation to the world, it makes him afhamed: confidered by others, it raises their contempt and indignation against the author. These feelings are all of them occafioned by the impropriety of the action. When the action is confidered as unjuft, it occafions another fet of feelings in the author it produces remorfe, and a dread of merited punishment; and in others, the benefactor chiefly, indignation and hatred directed to the ungrateful perfon. Thus fhame and remorfe united in the ungrateful perfon, and indignation united with hatred in the hearts of others, are the punishments provided by nature for injustice. Stupid and infenfible must he be, who, in a contrivance fo exquifite, perceives not the hand of the Sovereign Architect.

CHAP.

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