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cafe of friendship. When gratitude is warm, it
So far as I can gather from induction, dignity
I proceed to the pleasures of the understanding, which possess a high rank in point of dignity: of which every one will be sensible, when he considers the important truths that have been laid open by science, such as general theorems, and the general laws that govern the material and moral worlds. The pleasures of the understanding, are suited to man as a rational and contemplative being; and they tend not a little to ennoble his nature : even to the Deity he stretches his contemplations, which, in the discovery of infinite power, wisdom, and benevolence,
afford delight of the most exalted kind. Hence it appears, that the fine arts studied as a rational science, afford entertainment of great dignity; fuperior far to what they afford as a subject of taste merely.
But contemplation, however in itself valuable, is chiefly respected as subservient to action; for man is intended to be more an active than a contemplative being. He accordingly shows more dignity in action than in contemplation : generosity, magnanimity, heroisin, raise his character to the highest pitch: these best express the dignity of his nature, and advance him nearer to divinity than any other of his attributes.
By every production that shows art and contrivance, our curiosity is excited upon two points ; first, how it was made; and, next, to what end. Of the two, the latter is the more important inquiry, because the means are ever subordinate to the end; and in fact our curiosity is always more infiamed by the final than by the efficient cause. This preference is no where more visible, than in contemplating the works of nature: if in the efficient cause, wisdom and power be display'd, wisdom is not less confpicuous in the final cause; and from it only can we infer benevolence, which of all the divine attributes is to man the most important.
Having endeavoured to assign the efficient cause of dignity and meanness, by unfolding the principle on which they are founded, we proceed to
explain explain the final cause of the dignity or meanness bestow'd upon the several particulars above mentioned, beginning with corporeal pleasures. These, so far as they are useful, are, like justice, fenced with sufficient sanctions to prevent their being neglected : hunger and thirst are painful sensations; and we are incited to animal love by a vigorous propensity: were corporeal pleasures dignified over and above with a place in a high class, they would infallibly overturn the balance of the mind, by outweighing the social affections. This is a satisfactory final cause for refusing to these pleasures any degree of dignity : and the final cause is not less evident of their meanness, when they are indulged to excess. The more refined pleasures of external sense, convey'd by the eye and the ear from natural objects, and from the fine arts, deserve a high place in our esteem, because of their singular and extensive utility: in some cases they arise to a considerable dignity; and the very lowest pleasures of the kind are never esteemed mean or groveling. The pleasure arising from wit, humour, ridicule, or from what is simply ludicrous, is useful, by relaxing the mind after the fatigue of more manly occupation : but the mind, when it surrenders itself to pleasure of that kind, loses its vigor, and sinks gradually into floth*. The place this plea
Neque enim ita generati à natura sumus, ut ad ludum et jo. cum facti esse vidcamur, sed ad severitatem potius et ad quædam Y 4
fure occupies in point of dignity, is adjusted to these views : to make it useful as a relaxation, it is not branded with meanness; to prevent its usurpation, it is removed from that place but a single degree : no man values himself upon this pleasure, even during the gratification; and if it have ingrossed more of his time than is requisite for relaxation, he looks back with some degree of shame.
In point of dignity, the social emotions rise above the selfish, and much above those of the eye and ear': man is by his nature a social being; and to qualify him for society, it is wisely contrived, that he should value himself more for being social than selfish *.
The excellency of man is chiefly discernible in the great improvements he is fusceptible of infociety: these, by perseverance, may be carried on progressively to higher and higher degrees of perfection, above any assignable limits; and, even abstracting from revelation, there is great probability, that the progress begun here will be completed in fome future state. Now, as all valuable improvements proceed from the exercise studia graviora atque majora. Ludo autem et joco, ut illis qui. dem licet, fed ficut fomno et quietibus cæteris, tum cum gravibus seriisque rebus satisfecerimus. Cicero de offic. lib. 1.
* For the same reason, the selfish emotions that are founded upon a social principle, rise higher in our esteem than those that are founded upon a selfish principle. As to which see above, p. 45. note.
of our rational faculties, the author of our nature, in order to excite us to a due use of these faculties, hath assigned a high rank to the pleasures of the understanding : their utility, with respect to this life as well as a future, intitles them to this rank.
But as action is the aim of all our improvements, virtuous actions justly possess the highest of all the ranks. These, we find, are by nature distributed into different classes, and the first in point of dignity assigned to actions that appear not the first in point of use: generosity, for example, in the sense of mankind, is more respected than justice, though the latter is undoubtedly more essential to fociety; and magnanimity, heroism, undaunted courage, rise still higher in our esteem. One would readily think, that the moral virtues should be esteemed according to their importance. Nature has here deviated from her ordinary path, and great wisdom is shown in the deviation: the efficient cause is explained above, and the final cause is explained in the Essays of morality and natural religion *.
We proceed to analyse grace, which being in a good measure an uncultivated field, requires peculiar attention.
Graceful is an attribute: grace and gracefulness express that attribute in the form of a noun. Part 1. essay 2. chap. 4.