« ПредишнаНапред »
8 A careful education is a great matter; for our minds are easily formed in our youth, but it is a harder business to cure ill habits.
There is nothing breeds anger more than a soft and effeminate education; and it is very seldom seen that either the mother's or the schoolmaster's darling ever comes to good. But my young master, when he comes into the world, behaves himself like a cholerie coxcomb; for flattery, and a great fortune, nourish petulance.
ġ He that is naturally addicted to anger, let him use a moderate diet, and abstain from wine; for it is but adding fire to fire. So long as we are among men, let us cherish humanity, and so live that no man may be either in fear or in danger of us.
10 There is hardly a more effectual remedy against anger than patience and consideration. Nor is it fit that a servant should be in his power that is not his own master.
Why should any one venture now to trust an angry man with a revenge, when Plato durst not trust himself ? Either he must govern that, or that will undo him.
11 It is a good caution not to believe any thing until we are very certain of it; for many probable things prove false, and a short time will make evidence of the undoubted truth. If it be my duty to love my country, I must be kind also to my countrymen; if a veneration be due to the whole, so is a piety also to the parts; and it is the common interest to preserve them.
12 We are all members of one body, and it is as natural to help one another as for the hands to help the feet, or the eyes the hands. Without the love and care of the parts, the whole can never be preserved, and we must spare one another, because we are born for society, which cannot be maintained without a regard to particulars. Let this be a rule to us, never to deny a pardon that does no hurt either to the giver or receiver.
13 It is a kind of spiteful comfort, that whoever does me an injury may receive one; and that there is a power over him that is above me. A man should stand as firm against all indignities as a rock does against the waves. 14 It is not prudent to deny a pardon
to any man, without first examining if we stand not in need of it ourselves; for it
may be our lot to ask it, even at his feet to whom we refuse it. But we are willing enough to do what we are very unwilling to suffer. It is unreasonable to charge public vices upon particular persons; for we are all of us wicked, and
that which we blame in others we find in ourselves. It is not a paleness in one, or a leanness in another, but a pestilence that has laid hold
all. 15 It is a wicked world, and we make part of it; and the way to be quiet is to bear one with another. “Such a mạn,
“has done me a shrewd turn, and I never did him any hurt.” Well, but it may be I have injured other people, or, at least, I may live to do as much to him as that comes to. “Such a one has spoken ill things of me;" but if I first speak ill of him, as I do of many others, this is not an injury, but a repayment.
16 Before we lay any thing to heart, let us ask ourselves if we have not done the same thing to others. We carry our neighbors' crimes in sight, and we throw our own over our shoulders. We cry out presently, “What law have we transgressed ?” As if the letter of the law were the sum of our duty, and that piety, humanity, liberality, justice and faith, were things beside our business.
17 No, no; the rule of human duty is of a greater latitude; and we have many obligations upon us that are not to be found in the statute books. And, to wind up all in one word, the great lesson of mankind, as well in this as in all other cases, is, to do as we would be done by.”
ABRIDGMENT OF THE LAW OF NATURE, AND THE
ECONOMY OF HUMAN LIFE.
ABRIDGMENT OF THE LAW OF NATURE, OR PRINCIPLES OF
MORALITY, DEDUCED FROM THE PHYSICAL CONSTITUTION
For, when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law, are a law unto themselves; which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing them witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing, or else excusing one another.-Paul.
SECTION 1. The law of nature defined, and illustrated by examples.
1 WHAT is the law of nature? It is the regular and constant order of events according to which God rules the universe; the order which his wisdom presents to the senses and reason of mankind, to serve them as an equal and general rule of action, and to conduct them without distinction of country or sect, towards happiness and perfection.
2 Now, since the actions of each individual, or of each class of beings, are subject to constant and general rules, which cannot be departed from without changing and disturbing some general or particular order of things, to these rules of action and motion, is given the name of natural laws, or laws of nature.
3 Give me examples of these laws. It is a law of nature that the sun enlightens in succession every part of the surface of the terrestrial globe; that his presence excites light and heat; that heat acting on the waters produces vapors; that these vapors raised in clouds into the higher regions of the atmosphere, form themselves into rain and snow, and supply, without ceasing, the water of springs and rivers.
4 It is a law of nature that water flows from an upper to a lower situation; that it seeks its level; that it is heavier than air; that all bodies tend towards the earth; that flame rises
towards the sky; that it destroys the organization of vegetables and animals; that air is essential to the life of certain animals; that in certain cases water suffocates and kills them; that certain juices of plants, and certain minerals, attack their organs, and destroy their life; and the same of a variety of facts.
5 Now, since these facts, and many similar ones are constant, regular, immutable, they become so many real and positive commands to which man is bound to conform, under the express penalty of punishment attached to their infraction, or well-being connected with their observance.
6 So that if a man were to pretend to see clearly in the dark, or is. regardless of the progress of the seasons, or the action of the elements: if he pretends to exist under water without drowning; to handle fire without burning himself; to deprive himself of air without suffocating; or to drink poison without destroying himself, he receives from each infraction of the law of nature, a corporal punishment proportioned to his transgression.
7 If, on the contrary, he observes these laws, and founds his practice on the precise and regular relation which they bear to him, he preserves his existence, and renders it as happy as it is capable of being rendered ; and since all these laws, considered in relation to the human species, have in view only one common end, that of their preservation and their happiness; whence it has been agreed to assemble together the different ideas, and express them by a single word, and call them collectively by the name of the law of nature.
SECTION II. Characters of the law of nature. 1 What are the characters of the law of nature? We may reckon nine principal ones. What is the first? To be inherent in, and essential to the existence of things. What is the second? It is to emanate immediately from God, and to be by him offered to the contemplation of every man. What is the third ? It is to be common to every time and country; that is, to be one and universal.
2 What is the fourth character ? That of being uniform and invariable. What is the fifth character? To he evident and palpable, since it consists wholly of facts ever present to our senses, and capable of demonstration. What is the sixth character? To be reasonable; because its precepts, and its whole doctrine, are conformable to reason, and agreeable to the human understanding.
3 What is the seventh character ? To be just, because in this law the punishment is proportioned to the transgression. What is the eighth character ? To be pacific and tolerant; because according to the law of nature, all men being brethren, and equal in rights, it advises all to peace and toleration, even for their errors. What is the ninth character of this law ? To be equally beneficent to all men, and to teach them all the true method of being better and happier.
4 If, as you assert, it emanates immediately from God, does it teach us his existence? Yes; very positively; for every man, who observes with attention, the astonishing scene of the universe, the more he meditates on the properties and attributes of each existence, and on the admirable order and harmony of their motions, the more will he be convinced that there is a supreme agent, a universal and identical mover, designed by the name God.
5 Was the law of nature ever known before the present day? It has been spoken of in every age.
The greater part of lawgivers have pretended to make it the basis of their laws; but they have brought forward only a few of its precepts, and have had but vague ideas of it as a whole.
6 Why has this happened? Because, though it is simple in its basis, it forms in its developement and its consequences, a complicated aggregate which requires the knowledge of a number of facts, and the whole sagacity of reason, in order to be understood.
7 Since the law of nature is not written, may it not be considered as arbitrary and ideal ? No, because it consists altogether in facts, whose demonstration may be at any time recalled before the senses, and form a science as precise and exact as those of geometry and mathematics: and this very circumstance, that the law of nature forms an exact science, is the reason why men, who are born in ignorance, and live in carelessness, have, till this day, known it only superficially.
SECTION III. The principles of the law of nature as they relate to man:
importance of instruction and self-government. 1 In what manner does nature command self-preservation ? By two powerful and involuntary sensations which she has attached as two guides or guardian genii to all our actions; one, the sensation of pain, by which she informs us of, and