tween envy and emulation, when they are opposed to each other, lies not so much in the feeling itself as in the use and application of it: or in the other feelings with which it is apt to become united.

6. Jealousy seems to be that particular branch of envy which arises in the mind when the good for which men are competitors, is personal favour, affection, esteem, respect, honour. It may be called an universal sentiment: a child, nay a brute animal, occasions it," and feels it.

7. Our description of the Nature of envy is confirmed, not only by the circumstances in which it is felt, but also by those in which it is not felt. If men are so much above us, or so much below us, in any particular, or are in any way so far removed from us, that their pretentions and ours do not interfere, no envy arises.

8. This passion seems not only to be universally felt, but also to be universally acknowledged. The mest learned and the most illiterate are found to ascribe the differences and quarrels which they observe to this (b) cause. No man therefore ought to think himself exempted from examining his own breast with a view to it; or from providing against its excesses, and its pernicious effects.

9. As the nature of envy is more easy to be understood than that of hatred, so are the scriptural expressions concerning it.

The scripture generally uses the word envy in its proper sense; answering to the account now given: but sometimes the greek word selos literally zeal is translated envy or emulation: this should seem to be a name for the sentiment taken from the most ordinary cause or effect of it, which is striving for superiority. Envy sometimes signifies what might be called party-envy; as when a party are considered as one individual, and different parties envy each other, like different individuals: Or when each individual envies, cr is envied, as a member of a party. The Scripture also uses the word envy for a compound sentiment, of which proper

[ocr errors]

envy is a principal part, as was mentioned on the subject of hatred. (Part I. 17.) (c)

10. Before we quit this part of our subject it may be proper to observe, that though Jealousy is in strictness what we have defined it to be, yet in reality it is seldom found to be one simple sentiment: it is generally mixed and compounded; and when it is so, it is the most important, because it is the most viclent: it sometimes is seen to rise into such fury, as sets at nought all restraints of prudence, reason, virtue and religion. When this is the case, Jealousy is compounded with love, and with hatred; it contains also a strong sense of injury, and therefore resentment: A feeling sense of shame and ignominy, of wounded honour, is also a powerful ingredient. Nor must we omit that dejection of mind, which is occasioned by a heavy and irreparable loss; or that dreadful vacancy amongst the feelings, which arises from the sudden and recent removal of an object of strong and habitual affection. Each of these component parts is very strong; and when kindred passions mix, they heighten and inflame each other; what then must be the violence of a passion made up of them all! The very idea of danger, when the evil in view is extreme, disorders the mind, and confounds even the senses it is like looking down a precipice, and conceiving a fall, which would dash us to pieces.

11. We may now proceed from the Nature of Envy to its effects, some of which are beneficial, others hurtful. The beneficial effects of envy must be seen in the same light with those of hatred; it is a remedy for evil, itself not wholly free from evil. In order to make ourselves sensible of its value, we must consider how men probably would have acted, and what improvements they would have made, had they felt no uneasiness on seeing themselves surpassed. As far as we can judge from experience, the want of such a spring, or spur, or motive, would have occasioned a very great difference in human exertions, and therefore in human improvements. Men would certainly have had their Reason to prompt them to improve themselves and theircon

dition; and a prospect of advantage; but it has been observed, that it is chiefly uneasiness which impells men to determine on any change. (Locke Hum. Und. 2. 21. 29.) Taking men as they are, our most natural conclusion is, that without some uneasiness they would have continued in a state of indolence and stagnation. The finer feelings would have lain dormant; that alacrity and animation, which we now perceive, would have remained unseen and unknown. It may not indeed be easy to ascertain the precise quantity of good which envy has occasioned in the world; because we do not know exactly what we should have been, and how we should have acted, without it; but every man's experience must have shewn him instances of beneficial exertions owing to it. And he who wished to justify the ways of God to man, must produce such instances, and dwell upon them. He must also observe, that in cases where men are impelled to do good and to improve themselves, by higher motives, this spur does not necessarily act; and that its action ceases when the want of it ceases. For men are sometimes induced to exert themselves in a beneficial manner by virtuous and religious considerations; tho' ordinarily, judging of men from experience, it is not to be expected, that they will exert themselves so beneficially without the spur of envy, as by its assistance. And moreover, any one, thinking of envy as the work of the Creator, is at liberty to remark, how much its pungency and its mischievous influence are capable of being moderated and softened: to what degree it is capable of being purified from evil. We see many amiable examples of generous rivals and competitors; tho' in common life envy takes its ordinary course, and by being felt by some and recognized by all, it excites an universal animation. The best state of any passion is that which was intended by God.

12. That Envy has some hurtful effects is not doubted. Those whose view is to regulate that sentiment in such a manner that it may produce the greatest possible good and the least possible evil, will enumerate not only such evil effects as appear in the decidedly wicked, but such as are not sufficiently guarded against by men tolerably well-meaning. The immediate unea

siness of the sentiment itself naturally occurs in the first place; this admits of a very great variety of degrees; but in some instances, particularly those of Jealousy, it rises to great and exquisite misery: (a) in others it is more moderate. We may next mention what may be called its malevolence; that is, its disposing men to do ill offices towards its objects: these may be of greater or less importance; but they will seldom fail to produce a settled enmity; and enmity with equals is an intercourse of hurtful actions amongst those who live most together, and are most capable of being comfortable friends to each other. In scripture we find envy and strife conjoined, "Where envying and strife is," says St. James, "there is confusion and every evil work." Indeed, when envy is indulged against any one, there is such a desire to lower him, that neither his reputation nor his property is safe. That attacks are sometimes made on these under an appearance of candour, and upon specious pretences, or under a cloke of religious zeal, only aggravates the evil; as the abuse of what is good always tends to bring it into disgrace. Envy as well as hatred (Part I. Art. 33.) is hurtful to government, or to the exercise of useful authority. For though envy is in strictness amongst equals, yet the imagination can sometimes reduce different ranks to a level; at least sufficiently for the inferior to repine at his being subject to one who deserves power no better than himself. When this is the case, the Subject can take pleasure in thwarting and embarrassing the measures of the Magistrate, whom he ought to obey and support. (r) Nor need we suppose the inferior to envy his superior, in order to see how envy obstructs government; the magistrate has competitors and rivals for power, who are confessedly his equals; these delight in disappointing his plans and weakening his influence; so that a person in authority has sometimes more difficulty in obviating the cavils and overcoming the contradictions of those of his own rank, than in ruling his inferiors. This is one instance in which envying and strife" produce "confusion." Magistrates stand in need not only of Laws but of voluntary support. When the lower orders are disposed to be refractory they are but too ready to follow the example


of any person of eminence, whether for riches and rank, or for abilities and eloquence, in counteracting the salutary regulations of those, who watch over the public welfare. The harm which any thing does, depends not only on the positive evil created, but upon the good prevented. This was explained under the subject of hatred: () (Part I. Art. 35.) we have only to add, that the good which is prevented by envy in particular, is by no means insignificant. There is no virtue more purely benevolent than rejoicing with them that do rejoice; than sympathizing with the prosperous, and enjoying their prosperity: this sympathy it is the peculiar province of envy to damp and discourage. It also checks those improvements which must be conducted by the joint endeavours of several; and these are numerous, and more important, than those which can be carried on by each man separately. Friendship also, which tends in so great a degree to adorn and bless the life of man, is either destroyed, or so loosened and debilitated, as never to recover its strength and firmness, by childish rivalships, perhaps in some pursuit of ambition, or in something still more trifling. Solid confidence, affectionate fellowfeeling, some of the best things this world affords, are wantonly thrown away, for the sake of seizing before him whom we love and trust, some distant and uncertain advantages, which our imagination has painted in splendid and glowing colours. When the evil effects of hatred are compared with those of envy, it is worth observing, that hatred tends to check something which approaches to the nature of vice, but envy aims its stroke at something which partakes of the nature of Virtue. Indeed, a man whom we should call virtuous, may be hated, (Part I. Art. 13.) and a person whom we should call vicious, may be envied; but yet, generally speaking, odious qualities are faulty, and what every man ought to endeavour to avoid; and qualities which excite envy, are such as ought to be pursued. Those qualities which lead to eminence, and so occasion envy, are generally virtues, in one sense or other, though they may accidentally promote vice. Industry is a virtue, though it may be exercised in gratifying vicious propen.

« VorigeDoorgaan »