Malevolent Sentiments.



1 John ii. 9.


1. THE Gospel dispensation is compared to the


light, in many places of holy writ; and with great reason: "whatever doth make manifest is light." Suppose men to hold any sort of intercourse with each other in a light which is faint and imperfect, and it is natural to conceive them interfering with each other, and doing each' other harm; but suppose the light to shine fully upon then, they must not only see how to avoid any hurtful interference, but they must discern that in each other which is adapted to excite mutual regard and affection. So when men are involved in the spiritual or moral darkness of ignorance and barbarism, they find it difficult to avoid incroaching on each others rights; they become insensibly engaged in a course of injuries, begun perhaps through inadvertence, but carried on through passion, till the light of true wisdom illumines the scene; then they are enabled to perceive the ways of avoiding offences, and to discover qualities, which incline them to mutual friendship and beneficence.

2. There is no evil into which men are more apt to fall, whilst grossly ignorant of religion and morality, than an excessive indulgence of the malignant passions: there is perhaps no one thing which would better mark out degrees of barbarism than the degrees in which


such passions habitually prevail: with regard to these, Christianity hath a peculiar title to be compared to the light: for it not only enjoins the practice of benevolent virtues, but puts us upon various methods of softening our dispositions and rendering ourselves kindly af fectioned towards each other in brotherly love. And yet we find from St. John, that some persons could profess themselves Christians, though they indulged themselves in hating their brethren." He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.'

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3. Some remarks heretofore offered by me to a respectable audience, (a) and afterwards to the public, have been thought to fall, in some measure, under the censure of the Apostle; as being in some sort favourable to hatred and other unkind passions; but surely it is one thing to justify our Creator in giving us our malevolent affections, as far as they are his work, and another to justify man in indulging them to the hurt of his species. A thing may be given to a man with a kind intention, and judiciously, to be used on a particular occasion, though it cannot be used without doing some harm; and though the unrestrained and unlimited use of it, on all occasions, would be pernicious. He who puts a sword into your hand when you are attacked by an assassin, is your benefactor, and acts a reasonable part; but it does not follow, that you can make use of what is given you, without some present partial evil; or that the use of destructive weapons always promotes the general good. It seems, however, expedient, for the purpose of preventing wrong notions on this matter, to treat the subject of the malevolent affections somewhat more fully than I did in the work alluded to; so as to comprehend not only a justification of the Deity, but the part which man ought to take in the discipline and regulation of such affections; in both which things it would be a very material assistance if I might be permitted to go so far as to examine the declarations and precepts of the holy scriptures.

4. Although our sentiments are very various and diversified, yet it is found commodious to treat them as if each class were only a single sentiment or passion. We have accordingly divided malevolent sentiments

into four classes, or passions; Hatred, Envy, Malice, and Resentment. And the method, with regard to each, might be,

In the first place to consider its Nature.

In the second place to enumerate some of its good and bad effects.

And in the third place, to offer some hints of a practical sort, which might contribute towards the due management and regulation of it.

We begin with the passion of Hatred: a passion the Nature of which it is more difficult to define, than that of any other now before us. Still let us not give up the attempt; as every degree of explanation or investigation will be useful in practice. We will first view it experimentally, and then notice expressions of Scripture which relate to it.

5. On any occasion whatever, when we want to convey a precise idea of any feeling, we must consider first, whether he to whom we would convey it, already uses the name of it familiarly, or not: for it may happen, that the name may be commonly used by one whose idea affixed to the name is by no means precise and determinate. And it is also worthy to be remarked, that we generally use words by our feelings long before we think of defining: and that we are able to do this with such steadiness and uniformity as to answer the ends of conversation.

If the name is already in use, the regular way to ascertain the precise idea annexed to it, would be, to enumerate the instances in which it is used, and to class those instances, perhaps over and over again, until the peculiar circumstances appeared, in which that word could be used, and no other. But if the name were unknown to any man, though as a man he must sometimes feel the sentiment, then the proper or only way to describe the sentiment would be, to present the object which naturally excited it. In discourses of this nature we cannot perfectly attain to either of these modes of describing the sentiment of hatred; but we may approach to both. We may approach to the

former, to the description of a sentiment commonly spoken of, by distinguishing it from others with which it is apt to be confounded, ard by contrasting it with its opposites. We may approach to the latter mode, by describing the object, instead of actually presenting it to the senses.

6. Thus it will tend to clear up our idea of hatred if we conceive it as the opposite to Love. And perhaps it might not be useless if we were to conceive Love to be gradually diminished by certain objects, till it vanished, or settled into indifference; then the continued application of the same objects would generate hatred. A person who could form such conceptions to himself, would at the same time acquire some idea of the origin of that sentiment; or of the manner in which it is generated in the human mind.

7. But our idea of hatred will be more definite if we distinguish that term from others, with which it is apt to be confounded. As aversion, envy, jealousy, enmity, malevolence, contempt, and disapprobation, or detestation.

Aversion is the opposite to desire; and desire being a tendency to some object, with a view to some particular gratification, aversion must be an opposite tendency. Hatred may be a cause of aversion, but it is distinct from aversion. We may feel some sentiments of hatred without avoiding the objects of it. And we may avoid without hating; as from some species of fear. Besides, we have aversion on the sight of some things, inanimate and irrational; whereas we only hate persons, properly speaking; or those beings which have intentions. If at any time we seem to hate things inanimate, it is only when they are viewed by our Imaginations in the light of Persons.* Envy presupposes a competition, which hatred does not. Jealousy is only a species of Envy. Enmity is a fixed and habitual inclination to do ill offices; composed chiefly of resentment, arising from a supposed violation of rights: whereas hatred may be only a momentary feeling, not concerned with rights of justice; it may be softened, or wholly remov

* See Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments, Part II. Sect. 3. Chap. I. p. 211. Octavo.

ed, by a look, a word, a gesture. Nor is it impossible for a man to feel the effect of odious qualities without any settled purpose of doing harm. Which last remark shews the difference between hatred and malevolence, as malevolence is nothing but a desire to do harm. Hatred is apt to generate malevolence; but the offspring is not to be confounded with the parent. Little needs be said to distinguish contempt from hatred, if we listen to the notion of a philosophical Historian,* who affirms, that we never hate those whom we despise. Indeed Love and Hatred seem to have those persons for their objects, who are considered as our equals: (b) and contempt always estimates its object as in some sense an inferior. Disapprobation, or detestation, arises from a view of conduct; or if we in some sort disapprove of persons, it is because they violate some rules of conduct. Hatred does not necessarily imply any reference of actions to rules.

8. But though hatred may easily be distinguished from disapprobation, yet their connexion and their mutual influence is important enough to demand great attention. Under their connexion must be included the connexion and mutual influence of their opposites, love and approbation. The right notion of Love or Hatred seems to be, that sentiment which is generated in the mind by a person's having so frequently occasioned you pleasant or unpleasant feelings, that the idea of him is become habitually associated with such feelings; and his appearance, real or imaginary, instantly produces them. Now generally, nothing makes a person so lovely as virtue, to any one who has moral feeling, or so odious as vice; but it may happen, that virtue, by occasioning you some disappointment, or shock, may excite in you unpleasant feelings; as when a good man is more reserved, frugal, temperate, than you had looked for; when you had hoped for sympathy, but find the contrary; when he checks your desires, mortifies your vanity, by reproof or otherwise, makes you feel uneasy to yourself; pronounces sentence against you, levies contributions on your property, and so forth. And the unpleasantness of your feelings may be increased by his

*Hume's Hist. A. D. 1194. War with France.

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