Sidor som bilder

Should any one think this is not the whole of the matter, he still must allow, that we are under no necessity of being disgusted with deformity, inconsistently with the interests of Virtue ; the only danger is in deformity of person; and man may bring himself to love every human being who manifests an amiable mind, and ex, presses lovely sentiments and principles, though the outward form be very far from beautiful. So that we may answer to the objection concerning hatred of deformity ; either that such sentiment makes a part of our love of beauty, that is, a part of a copious ingredient of human happiness; or that it is harmless; or that it may be so overpowered by our relish for amiable qualities of the mind, as not to hurt the interests of Virtue, Indeed it seems likely, that till hatred comes to be well understood, and nicely disciplined, even well-disposed men may hate things, which, when more improved, they would nct suffer themselves to treat as fit objects of disgust : such moderation of hatred we constantly perceive to result from a good education. And, no doubt, all our sentiments admit of perpetual improvement. Yet in some cases, as men improve they affect more and more fastidiousness, and indulge themselves more and more in disgust: this may sometimes be a fault; but it is not necessarly such: for though some qualities may grow less odious during improvement, yet others may grow more so. And affectation of any thing implies, that it is sometimes applauded. Whence we may collect, that Hatred is a sentiment sometimes held in honour and esteem. It would scarcely be deemed a recommendation of any man to say, in the present state of things, that he prided himself on being disgusted with nothing. Such a one would be called unfeelnig, hard, course, indelicate, undistinguishing. Nay, would himself become, to men of polished minds, an object of that passion, of which he had been ambitious to be thougit entirely void. The all-perfect-being is said to hate sia.

29. The good effects of Hatred spring up, both in the character of him who feels the passion, and ot' him who is the object of it. If certain qualities, act:5123, appearances are hateful to you, you yourself will of course avoid them; and that person in whom you hate

them, is naturally induced to avoid them by the pain which your hatred inflicts. In this manner must the good effects of hatred, as it becomes better managed, increase and multiply.

30. In considering the beneficial effects of hatred we have admitted some diffidence, and have dwelt upon conjectures. But, if hatred, duly regulated, would tend continually to diminish odious qualities, there is one way of conceiving the subject which could scarcely be said to be clouded or shaded by doubt. Let us conceive what would be the case with human life were some superior being wholly to extinguish all odious qualities, and at once make men as amiable as they are capable of being. Should we not live in Paradise ? Should we not have a heaven upon earth? If the sentiment of hatred is to be the means of our approaching gradually to such a state, its beneficial effects can need no farther eulogium. Some man may indeed say, that to such a state we cannot arrive until virtuous qualities are as near perfection as those which are amiable ; but improvement in the latter would bring on improvement in the former. Supposing men to have become thoroughly amiable, vicious qualities must so interrupt that general happiness of which all men must be enamoured, that they could not be born: vicious qualities could have no continuance in a state where all odious qualities were extinct.

31. But the effects of hatred, as they commonly strike us, are frequently hurtful. Nay even its benefits are produced by means of some evil.' That evil is indeed only temporary and occasional; it would cease with the disorder for which it is a remedy ; but still it is evil. The sentiment is uneasy to him who feels it ; and painful to him who is the object of it. Even in its best state it prevents the growth of benevolence, and weakens the mutual attraction of man to man: but what may be called its greatest mischief, is the danger which it occasions, of hurting the best dispositions, and of drawing men from their duty. We may therefore pass on to those bad consequences, which are most likely to arise from the want of a perfect regulation of it; especially in men, who neither profess nor intend to neglect the obligations of religion and virtue.

Hatred naturally generates ill-will. If we hate a - 1: person, on whatever account, we are impelled or prompt-.. ed to do him harm; and though the impulse may be overpowered by motives of a kinder'sort, yet the general effects of malevolence will be ill-offices and injuries. This observation receives force from the great stress which is laid in the scriptures on love of our neighbour: it is taken for granted, that love will occasion benevolence and good offices; but love does not tend more to make men do good, than hatred tends to make them do harm.

32. If we contemplate human life, we find but too many examples of this observation. The man who is easily disgusted, and is so proud of his fastidiousness as to indulge it, can scarcely be happy in any relation of life: he will soon contract an habitual pesvishness; and make all around him wretched in proportion to their desire of performing their several duties towards him, and of procuring for him every possible gratification. In domestic life, he will discern something in his nearest friend and most affectionate companion, which he will call ungraceful, vulgar, odious ; or which he will imagine others to call so; and no attachment, no fidelity, prudence, even no chearfulness and good humour, shall be able to make atonement for it. His servants and dependants give him the same kind of shock; their virtues avail not; their submission only serves to inflame his malignance. Has he friends ? in their appearance or behaviour he finds, something that is illiberal, uncouth, or precise : or perhaps that is negligent and disorderly: their manner of conducting certain affairs does not exactly coincide with his preconceived notions; he is impatient, intolerant; he enters upon rebuke with acrimony; he forgets respect, and even equality; or if his expressions“ be smooth as oil, yet be they very swords ;” they inflict wounds on friendship, which are sometimes perhaps healed superficially, but are generally liable to break open afresh, on any occasional agitation. The case is still worse when a friend offers to administer the precious balm of reproof: this makes him feel so uneasy to himself, that every thing connected with it becomes the immediate object of his aversion.

33. Public authority is as much weakened by rash disgust and hatred, as are private friendship and affection. With what difficulty is it that any magistrate, or any person entrusted with any sort of power for the benefit of others, can keep himself from the odium even of those for whose advantage he acts!. Whenever it becomes necessary to curb licentiousness, to combat prejudices, and interfere with private interests, what clamour, what disgust, what bitterness arises ! yet to do these things, for the public good, is the very essence of the duty of men in public stations. The best friends of mankind, when in power, must submit sometimes to be hated as the worst enemies : this some are too weak to bear ; they want resolution to stem the torrent of popular hatred; and so either temporize, and abandon the cause of the public, or retire from their station, and are succeeded by those, who have recourse to every mean artifice, in order to prevent the same humiliation. But here we speak of things as they are, not as they ought to be; we are describing facts, not inculcating duties. (Art. 23.) The regulation of hatred, as well as the conduct of those who suffer by it, remains to be considered hereafter.

34. The man who is easily disgusted, does harm not only to those with whom he is connected, but to persons who are in a great measure strangers to him. If he sees one only at a distance, and very imperfectly, when any dislike arises, he ventures to make an unfavourable estimate of his character. And every uncandid opinion, taken up in a malignant humour, promotes an unkind disposition, and unfriendly behaviour. Are men his superiors ? they make him feel insignificant ; he hates their ease and their insolence: are they his interiors ? he is disgusted with their meanness and vulgarity; or with their sordid appearance and manners, or with their wants, iinportunities, refusal to join in his pursuits. And thus do the powerful and worthy sentiments of respect and esteem, as well as those of pity and condescension, lose all their salutary influence upon his heart and actions. Nor does his indulging his disgusts do harm only by the loss of what he rejects, but by the interference of those whom he encourages ; some men he must countenance ; and a specious ex. terior, with insinuating manners, will often be the means of introducing to his patronage a false heart, and an unprincipled conduct. He never considers, never endeavours to correct his first judgment, if judgment it may be called; never recollects, that the more intelli. gent may have less the appearance of acuteness; nay that the more polite may have less the appearance of politeness. For a man of a truly amiable disposition may not have acquired those external manners, which are settled by arbitrary custom as expressive of polite. ness, in a particular place, and at a particular time, and yet he may have all those delicate attentions, those generous sympathies, from which the fashionable laws of politeness have really derived their origin.

35. Thus we see how the indulgence of hatred may discourage virtue, and corrupt our most valuable enjoyments. When we say this, we speak of such enjoyments aś are seen, and in some degree experienced; but we have reason to think that it wholly prevents the existence of many, which, but for its baneful influence, would have sprung up to bless and embellish human life. When men associate upon candid and benevolent prina ciples, they soon perceive a copious increase of friendship and happiness : nay let them only live together, and give no offence, that is sufficient to engender mutual affection : this is so generally felt, that the same word consuetudo, which signifies custom, or the habit of living together, has been used to express mutual attatchment. We are naturally attracted to each other, and when we associate, we must partake of the same pleasures; we must have in common an interest, a tender fellow-feeling in many objects : pleasing recollections grow upon us, and multiply perpetually; and every advancement in kindness makes an addition to our good offices and our enjoyments, Faults inay remain ; but “ Love covereth all sins.” Prov. x. 12. Now suppose men to form large societies in this manner, their en. joyments must he very abundant; but the smallest knots of friends, so united, could not fail to produce a continual increase of good ; and that of such a sort as would make a constituent part of more public good :

« FöregåendeFortsätt »