« PreviousContinue »
being ungraceful, deformed, indigent; or by his having some bodily disorder: other circumstances might be mentioned. In like manner, though generally speaking vice makes a person more odious than any thing else, yet a person vicious in some respects may have qualities which may lessen the odiousness arising from his vice; as wit, eloquence, politeness, carelessness about money, beauty of person, or dress or other ornaments, external accomplishments, taste for the fine arts, or a graceful manner of glossing over his vicious conduct.
In such cases, approbation is in a state of contention (with Love, and disapprobation with hatred. The dis
gust which arises when we find good men reserved, poor, sick, deformed, reprovers, adverse judges, and so forth, is to be opposed by approbation of their moral characters: and our fancy for a pleasing person who is wicked or unprincipled, by cur moral disapprobation. To be aware of such contentions as are here described is of very great importance;' we may be in duty bound to maintain an affectionate regard and love for a person who has many faults, or vices; or we may suffer greatly, when a person is vicious and unprincipled, from his appearing too lovely in our eyes,
9. The second-mentioned method of giving an idea of the nature of any feeling is presenting the object of it, so that the feeling may be excited. The mere term hatred would no more convey the idea of the sentiment by any power of its own, than it would the idea of the Palsy, or of the shock of Electricity. In discourse, however, we cannot present the object itself, we can only refresh men's feelings by some faint description.
Think then what it is that you feel when you see a person of a rude, haughty character, coarse manner and ungraceful appearance; despising the rules of decency and decorum; hard, insensible, uncivilized; inattentive to the feelings of those with whom he converses; overbearing the delicacy of modest sense, and making meek virtue and unassuming worth shrink in silent confusion. 'Or think what you feel when you meet with one who is mean, sordid, effeminate, cowardly; without love of order, neatness, cleanliness; void of elegance and taste, of narrow mind and con
eficient in all these expressed in the sight making y
fused intellect, yet busy, officious, curious, impertinent; deficient in wisdom, yet full of low artifice and hidden duplicity. All these qualities heightened by an ill-contrived exterior, and expressed in an illiberal countenance. Think what you feel on the sight of a person who has been frequently the occasion of making you yourself in particular dissatisfied; or appear unfortunate or despicable. Whether by his unmerited and ill-ap-, plied prosperity, or his insolence in boasting of it, or by his baseness in attaining it, or in any other way, Think what has been the effect when you have been eager to indulge your finer feelings; to expand yourself, as it were; to communicate your love of truth or virtue; or your relish for some liberal art; to expatiate on whatever has struck you as lovely, noble, ingenious; as likely to enlarge your sphere of beneficence; and all these efforts have been checked by want of sympathetic spirit; have been blighted by the chilling coldness of your companion. Or think, lastly, what has been the state of your mind when all the expectations were disappointed, which you had formed on the character, age, profession of those with whom you have conversed. When from men in years you have expected sound sense and unembarrassed argument, the result of practice and experience; or moderation and serene cheerfulness, with settled habits of easy virtue, the effects of having nearly finished their earthly labours, and of looking forward to a better world: ---And you have been struck with the prevalence of some animal propensity, some cunning craftiness, eager ambition, sordid avarice, or perhaps vain affectation of youthful vivacity and licentiousness. Or when from a robust form and habit of body you have expected fortitude and magnanimity; and have been surprised and disgusted with childish cowardly apprehensions, and effeminate terrors. (c)
10. A due attention to our conceptions and feelings in such circumstances as these would make our idea of hatred much less vague than it appears to be at present. And possibly something of the following surt might result; agreeably to what has been already inti. mated; possibly we might determine, in general, that we feel the sentiment of hatred towards any person who has frequently occasioned us painful inward sensations; so that the idea of him has become connected, or associated, as it is called, with unpleasing ideas; which are therefore always introduced into our minds by his personal appearance, or by a strong and lively conception of him in his absence.
If this conjectural language seems imperfect, it may be worth recollecting, that we can use a sentiment for the purposes of life when we have not attained to a satisfactory metaphysical account of its nature. Artists follow rules depending on the nature of Beauty; and with great success; though the nature of Beauty hathi never been metaphysically settled and ascertained: in like manner, we may trust, that what we do know of our moral feelings, if rightly applied, may be highly useful, though much may remain to be determined. Nevertheless, the more clear and distinct our ideas are, the better shall we be prepared for action.
11. I would now proceed to examine the language of Scripture with respect to hatred, were it not expedient to prevent difficulties by mentioning a few objections which are likely to occur.
Obj. 1. It may be objected to what has been advanced, that not only those whom we hate, but those whom we love, bring unpleasing ideas to our minds, and sometimes make us feel weak or unfortunate. But this is only saying, that things which of themselves would excite hatred, may be counteracted by others of an opposite tendency; or that a person may have some odious qualities, and yet be amiable upon the whole.
This is true; sweetness of disposition, and intelligent mildness, beaming from a countenance, is found to take off the natural effect of irregularity in the formation of person or features. Our gratitude towards aný one will make him appear less odious, or more amiable, than he otherwise would appear; supposing him to make a generous use of our attachment. Hence the same person may seem odious and amiable to different mcn, who differ in their relation to him, though they may be of the same taste and discernment in respect of others, to whom they stand in the same relation. As a child may be loved by its parents, though it has qualities which would excite disgust in indifferent spectators. Obj. 2. Something might be objected with regard to fear, as he whom we habitually fear, does excite unpleasing sensations by his appearance. But it is obvious to reply, that sentiments which differ from each other, may be rightly described, though they are said to agree in one particular. Our fearing a person may be one cause of our hating him; his exciting fear may be the way in which he raises those feelings which in the end form the passion or sentiment of hatred: but fear, being the sentiment arising on a probable expectation of impending evil, whether that evil seems likely to come from persons or things, is so distinct from hatred, which has no immediate concern with evil, and is directed to persons only, that our practice does not seem likely to suffer from any confusion to be apprehended between them. As therefore we enter into these disquisitions merely as foundations of practical rules, this objection needs not to draw us into any length of dis.. cussion.
Obj. 3. It may, however, be objected, in the third place, that sometimes we feel the sentiment of hatred towards a person at first sight; which seems inconsistent with the notion, that hatred depends on what are called associations of ideas, since such associations are formed after the manner of habits, by frequent repetition: ideas before they become associated must have appeared frequently to the mind united or connected. But we say in answer, that the reason why we feel any degree of hatred to a person at first sight, is, because there are certain looks, gestures, manners generally agreed upon as signs or marks of odious qualities. The first sight of a particular man who is proud or mean, is not the first sight of a behaviour expressive of pride or meanness. The acknowledged marks of an odious character may excite the usual feelings in us, though they be exemplified in persons hitherto unknown. And it should seem, that if therc were a people whose characters were denoted by looks, gestures, manners different from those to which we have been accustomed, we could not, at first sight, feel, towards one of that people, either love or hatred.
12. Having then endeavoured to ascertain or dedermine, in some measure, the nature of Hatred, by considering some cases in which the term is used, and describing some of the objects by which the passion is excited, we may proceed to take a view of the language of Scripture relative to it. Here we find the term used in a variety of senses, but these may admit of some systematical arrangement, arising out of the different occasions on which scriptural expressions were used, and the different kinds of composition of which the sacred volume consists. It is never to be forgotten, that the sacred authors express themselves easily, artlessly, naturally; in a manner suited to the customs and feelings of men of ordinary attainments in literature; and therefore allow themselves in all those idioms and phrases, which would appear most natural and familiar to men unused to scientifical niceties.
Where a word is used in a variety of senses the chief business is, to find that sense which may be considered as the stem from which all the others have branched out. This sense when found out, may be called the literal sense, and when we have connected the other senses with it, and with each other, they all together form a system, the parts of which may be contemplated with satisfaction: their symmetry prevents all embarrassment and perplexity in the mind, and we can with ease take any one which is suited to our purpose.
I see no reason to think, that what we have laid down as the proper sense of hatred may not be taken as the literal sense of hatred in scripture. And this sense occurs more frequently than any other. Hatred is most usually spoken of as that sentiment which is excited by the appearance, real or imaginary, of a person, who by custom or habit, always brings to our minds a train of unpleasing ideas.
But though it be in strictness a person who is the object of hatred, yet it must again be observed, that our imaginations can personify; can give forms and characters and manners to things inanimate. Hence, we are said in Scripture, in some few instances, to hate things, as well as persons. (d)."
The matter principally to be observed is this; it