Page images
PDF
EPUB

reputation into which you have made so early an entrance, the reputation of a man of sense, a good citizen, and agreeable companion, a difinterested friend, and an unbiassed patriot, is the hearty prayer of,

Sir,

Your most obliged

and most obedient,

humble servant,

The GUARDIAN.

THE

GUARDIAN

N° 83. Tuesday, June 16, 1713.

By G. BERKELEY, D. D.
FELLOW OF TRINITY COLLEGE, DUBLIN.

Nimirum infanus paucis videatur, quòd
Maxima pars hominum morbo jactatur eadem.

HoR. 2 Sat. iii. 120.
Few think these mad, for most, like these,
Are sick and troubled with the same disease.

CREECH, There is a restless endeavour in the mind of man after happiness. This appetite is wrought into the original frame of our nature, and exerts itself in all parts of the creation that are endued with any degree of thought or sense. But as the human mind is dignified by a more comprehensive faculty than can be found in the inferior animals, it is natural for men not only to have an eye, each to his own happiness, but also to endeavour to promote that of others in the same rank of being: and in proportion to the generosity that is ingredient in the temper of the soul, the object of its benevolence is of a larger and narrower extent. There is hardly a spirit upon earth so mean and contracted, as to centre all regards on its own interest, exclusive of the rest of

mankind. Even the selfish man has some share of love, which he bestows on his family and his friends. A nobler mind hath at heart the common interest of the society or country of which he makes a part. And there is still a more diffusive spirit, whose being or intentions reach the whole mass of mankind, and are continued beyond the present age, to a succession of future generations.

The advantage arising to him who hath a tincture of this generosity on his soul, is, that he is affected with a sublimer joy than can be comprehended by one who is deftitute of that noble relish. The happiness of the rest of mankind hath a natural connection with that of a reasonable mind. And in proportion, as the actions of each individual contribute to this end, he must be thought to deserve well or ill, both of the world, and of himself. I have, in a late paper 5, observed, that men who have no reach of thought do often misplace their affections on the means, without respect to the end ; and by a preposterous desire of things in themselves indifferent, forego the enjoyment of that happiness which those things are instrumental to obtain. This observation has been considered with regard to critics and misers; I shall now apply it to freethinkers.

Liberty and truth are the main points which these gentlemen pretend to have in view ; to proceed therefore methodically, I will endeavour to Thew in the first place that liberty and truth

10V

b See Guard. N° 77.

are not in themselves desirable, but only as they relate to a farther end. And secondly, that the fort of liberty and truth (allowing them those names) which our free-thinkers use all their industry to promote, is destructive to that end, viz. human happiness : and consequently that species, as such, instead of being encouraged or esteemed, merit the detestation and abhorrence of all honest men. In the last place, I design to shew, that under the pretence of advancing liberty and truth, they do in reality promote the two contrary evils.

As to the first point, it has been observed that it is the duty of each particular person to aim at the happiness of his fellow-creatures ; and that as this view is of a wider or narrower extent, it argues a mind more or less virtuous. Hence it follows, that a liberty of doing good actions which conduce to the felicity of mankind, and a knowledge of such truths as might either give us pleasure in the contemplation of them, or direct our conduct to the great ends of life, are valuable perfections. But shall a good man, therefore, prefer a liberty to commit murder or adultery, before the wholesome restraint of divine and human laws? Or shall a wise man prefer the knowledge of a troublesome and afflicting truth, before a pleasant error that would chear his soul with joy and comfort, and be attended with no ill consequences ? Surely no man of common sense would thank him, who had put it in his power to execute the sudden suggestions of a fit of pasfion or madness, or imagine himself obliged to a person, who by forwardly informing him of ill

m

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »