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inconvenient, to deal with any man. The requiring strictness in those virtues would bear hard upon the manner of life of persons who come most within the reach and influence of the rule of honour. It is upon the same principle that the great Christian duty of the forgiveness of injuries, of which you hear and read so much in the Scripture, has no place at all amongst the virtues of a man of honour. Indeed it is hard to say whether, if the law of honour were to decide upon it, it would be judged a virtue or a vice; whether it would not be pronounced meanness, rather than magnanimity; an instance of weakness and pusillanimity, rather than of chastised affections or a sense of duty. Resentment is a natural passion, and it costs no little self-mortification to quell and quiet it; and mortification of any sort is not to be looked for in this class of mankind.
The substance of our assertion is, that the rule and law of honour is not alone a right or sufficient rule to go by; and I will comprise the sum of what I have delivered in support of the assertion in two or three queries:
First; Is it not true that a person may be negligent of every act of duty to the Divine Being, of every act of service, worship, or devotion whatever, without any impeachment of his honour?
Secondly; Is it not true, that the same person may be tyrannical and over-bearing in his family and among his servants; rigorous in the extreme in the treatment of his dependents; utterly without any
share of liberality to the poor? Is it not true that a person may be all these without impeachment of
Thirdly; Is it not true, that he may likewise distress or ruin his tradesmen by dilatory and irregular payment, or by absolute insolvency, and yet pass for a man of honour among those who claim that title?
Fourthly; Is it not true, that he may live in the habitual guilt of fornication, adultery, drunkenness, prodigality, and be capable of the most desperate revenge, without impeachment of his honour?
Fifthly and lastly; If these things be so, is the law of honour a safe rule of life? Is it enough to satisfy any man who is concerned for his final happiness, to be able to say of himself that he is, or to hear others call him, a man of honour; without inquiring whether he hath also fulfilled the duties, and compared himself with the measure of God's Word, explained and applied by the sound judgement of unprejudiced reason?
PROVERBS XX. 7.
The just man walketh in his integrity.
[N. B.-Passages in it borrowed from Ogden.]
Ir is an old question amongst moralists, whether mere justice, or as we commonly call it, honesty, be a virtue. All allow that dishonesty is a vice, and a very great one; but whether the contrary of it be a virtue, or only a strict debt and obligation, has been sometimes controverted. Thus to steal, is a very grievous sin; but merely to keep his hand from picking and stealing, would hardly entitle a man to be called virtuous; nor the paying his lawful debts; nor the discharge of those demands which he is bound, and obliged, and compellable to discharge. None of these, it is said, though they may entitle a man to the name of honest, give him either the name or the characteristic of virtuous. On the contrary, no duties are of greater importance to society than these; perhaps hardly any of so great. Society might subsist without generosity, but without honesty it could not subsist at all. Therefore human laws
are all calculated to enforce honesty. There is place, there is opportunity, there is a call for, there is a want of, higher degrees of goodness; but in these men may and indeed must be left, so far as human laws are concerned, to themselves. The essential thing for society is honesty. Therefore in that, men must not be left to themselves. When conscience will not do its office, the laws must. There may be a thousand violations of Christian duty, which the laws of men neither can reach, nor would reach if they could, because they ought to be voluntary: but honesty is so necessary, so essential, so fundamental a part of social order, that the laws of society, not in one but in all countries of the world where there are any laws, punish the violation of it with exemplary severity, and every considerate man acknowledges the justice and necessity of such proceedings. Different views, therefore, of the question, make us see it in different lights. If we look to the character of the person who is merely honest and no more, we do not seem to see any thing for which to call him virtuous. If we look to the conduct itself, we find few virtues of such great importance and that is the matter which has raised the doubt upon the subject.
I will now explain to you the consideration which I think resolves the difficulty. The true distinction in the case is, whether a man may be honest upon principle, or honest out of policy. found to be the exact distinction.
That will be
If a man be
honest from principle, his honesty is a virtue, and will carry him a great way in the discharge of all social virtues; which form not the whole (far from it), but an important part of the Christian character. The difference between honesty and other duties is, that there are so many strong external reasons for being honest, that it is extremely possible for a man to be so, without any internal principle whatever. In point of fact, many persons, I believe, are honest, without any internal principle of duty whatever. With regard to others, therefore, it may be always doubtful, whether this honesty proceed from principle or from policy. But that is not the whole, or the most important part of the doubt. It may be doubtful even to ourselves, from which of these two motives even our own honesty springs.
The fear of the law, without question, keeps many persons honest. They do that of their own accord, in the first instance, which they know the law would compel them to do in the second, with a great addition of inconvenience and expense. Such a man may never, in the course of his life, be the subject of an action or lawsuit,—yet if he act from the consideration here described, and only from that consideration, he acts as much through fear of the law, as if he was under its compulsion; and what he does is as little connected either with a moral or religious principle, as if the law did it for him.
Another man shall discharge the demands upon him, which strict honesty, according to the common