« ForrigeFortsæt »
is right. It is the utility alone of any one of your orders which constitutes the obligation of it. Every man is to judge of them for himself. Consequently your directions respecting the arch and the dome, appearing to me inexpedient, I was at liberty, and even obliged in conscience, to disobey them.”
THE PRINCIPLE OF EXPEDIENCY PROVED TO BE FALSE, FROM A CONSIDERATION OF THE MORAL CONSTITUTION OF MAN.
It is not enough that we shew the incapability of man, arising from his very limited faculties, and his comparative ignorance, to make utility the sole rule of his conduct. We shall find, that by recalling to our recollection what has been already noticed concerning his moral powers and principles, we shall be led to the same conclusion.
We are so formed that we approve or disapprove of actions as right or as wrong, as praiseworthy or blameworthy, before a thought has entered our mind as to their tendency. The deed of heroism which calls forth our approval before we have time to reflect on the ground on which our approbation is bestowed, and the act of self-devotion by which the martyr to pure religion does homage to his God and his conscience, immediately commend themselves to our hearts. Who has ever withheld his admiration from Leonidas and his chosen band, till he has thought of the good which their example in all coming ages was to confer
OF THE MEASURE, OR RULE OF VIRTUE.
By the will of God, we understand the determination or the pleasure of Him who is holy, and just, and good, and whose determinations and enactments, there. fore, are founded in justice and in judgment. Few will deny that his will is the measure or rule of obligation to all intelligent and accountable creatures. While this is manifested to us in various ways, it is comprehensively and definitely expressed in that perfect law which he has given us, as the measure of virtue and the rule of conduct.
Before proceeding to point out the perfection of this law, arising from its intrinsic excellency, and the universality of its application, and to prove that it is the only infallible rule to man, I shall make a few obser. vations on the doctrine of expediency, which, according to some, furnishes the rule and the standard of moral conduct.
According to this doctrine, the sole measure of the right or the wrong of every action, is utility, while, at the same time, the agent is the sole judge of that utility. In modern times it has been maintained, if not first, at least, with the greatest ability, by Mr. Hume, and afterwards by Dr. Paley. It is but just, however, to remark, that while they are agreed as to the principle, they greatly differ as to the source from whence it is derived, and the grounds on which its