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D 1 s s. towards him ; and, if this Misery be inflictII. ed on him by another, our Indignation aNgainst the Author of it. But when we are
informed, that the Sufferer is a Villain, and is punished only for his Treachery or Cruelty ; our Compassion exceedingly lessens, and, in many Instances, our Indignation : wholly subsides.
Now what produces this Effect, is the Conception of That in the Sufferer, which we call Ill-defert.
Upon considering then, or viewing together, our Notion of Vice and That of Misery, there results a third, That of Ill-desert. And thus there is in human Creatures an Association of the two Ideas, natural and moral Evil, Wickedness and Punishment. If this Affociation were merely artificial or accidental, it were nothing : but being most unquestionably natural, it greatly concerns us to attend to it, instead of endeavouring to explain it away.
It may be observed farther, concerning our Perception of good and of ill Desert, that the former is very weak with respect to common Instances of Virtue. One Reason of which may be, that it does not appear to a Spectator, how far such Instances of Virtue proceed from a virtuous Principle, or in what Degree this Principle is prevalent :
fince a very weak Regard to Virtue
may fufficient to make Men act well in many II. common Instances. And on the other hand, our Perception of Ill-desert in vicious Aco tions lefsens, in Proportion to the Temptations Men are thought to have had to such Vices. For, Vice in human Creatures confisting chiefly in the Absence or Want of the virtuous Principle ; though a Man be overcome, suppose, by Tortures, it does not from thence appear, to what Degree the virtuous Principle was wanting. All that
appears is, that he had it not in such a Degree, as to prevail over the Temptation : But possibly he had it in a Degree, which would have rendred him Proof against common Temptations.
Thirdly, Our Perception of Vice and Illdefert arises from, and is the Result of, a Comparison of Actions with the Nature and Capacities of the Agent. For, the mere Neglect of doing what we ought to do, would, in many Cases, be determined by all Men to be in the highest Degree vicious. And this Determination must arise from such Comparison, and be the Result of it ; because such Neglect would not be vicious in Creatures of other Natures and Capacities, as Brutes. And it is the same also
Diss. with respect to positive Vices, or such as
confist in doing what we ought not. For, every one has a different Sense of Harm done by an Idiot, Madman or Child, and by one of mature and common Understanding ; though the Action of both, including the Intention which is part of the Action, be the same : as it may be, fince Idiots and Madmen, as well as Children, are capable not only of doing Mischief, but also of intending it.
Now this Difference must arise from somewhat discerned in the Nature or Capacities of one, which renders the Action vicious; and the Want of which in the other, renders the same Action innocent or less vicious : And this plainly supposes a Comparison, whether reflected upon or not, between the Action and Capacities of the Agent, previous to our determining an Action to be vicious.
And hence arises a proper Application of the Epithets, incongruous, unsuitable, disproportionate, unfit, to Actions which our moral Faculty determines to be vicious.
Fourthly, It deserves to be considered, whether Men are more at Liberty, in Point of Morals, to make themselves miserable without Reason, than to make other People fo; or diffolutely to neglect their own
greater Good, for the sake of a present lef-D 158.
D 1 8 s. Disapprobation less necessary, less wanting,
II. to keep us from imprudently neglecting our Mown Happiness
, and foolishly injuring Ourselves, than it is necessary and wanting to keep us from injuring Others, to whose Good we cannot have so strong and constant a Regard: And also because Imprudence and Folly, appearing to bring its own Punishment more immediately and constantly than injurious Behaviour, it less needs the additional Punishment, which would be inflicted upon it by Others, had they the same sensible Indignation against it, as against Injustice and Fraud and Cruelty. Befides, Unhappiness being in itself the natural Object of Compassion; the Unhappiness which People bring upon Themselves, though it be wilfully, excites in us some Pity for them: and this of course lessens our Displeasure against them. But still it is matter of Experience, that we are formed fo, as to refleãt very severely upon the greater Instances of imprudent Neglects and foolish Rashness, both in Ourselves and Others. In Instances of this kind, Men often fay of Themselves with Remorse, and of Others with some Indignation, that they deserved to suffer such Calamities, because they brought them upon themselves, and would not take Warning. Particularly when Persons come to