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your convictions, only by the teachings of God's Providence leading you against yourself, against your ideas and fancied knowledge, shall you go aright.
Now, the fourth of these says that man's nature is indifferent, having no moral quality at all. Are there such natures in existence? There are. Those beings that we call “animals or brutes" these are of that kind. We
e see in animals the most undoubted proofs that they reason; of this all natural history of modern times is full, that they argue and reason from premises to conclusions, just as man does. All kinds of that property called reasoning, we see in animals just the same as in man, the same in kind, not the same in degree; the reasoning power is very manifestly exercised by the brutes. True it is, that we see it in them vastly inferior to another power, that of "instinct,” which works towards ends of which it is perfectly unconscious. Still the reasoning power is not the distinguishing character of man, that which separates him from the animals, nor is “instinct” the peculiar possession of the Brute creation. For the beasts have reason, and man has instinct; each of them, however, in an inferior or less degree. The definition, then, that man is a reasoning animal, or an animal whose quality is to reason, is false; and that an animal is an organized machine, or a being having only instinct, is false also.
Now, what is the character that really differences the two natures, that of man and the beasts? It is not either reasoning power, nor is it instinct; still less is it any of the differences given by Locke or his followers. It is this very thing of moral indifference, that the nature of beasts and their actions are really neither good nor evil. That the sense and feeling of pleasure and pain is to them all, and that of moral good and moral evil, a good or an evil quality in actions they have no feeling. .
I do not say that man has a moral sense, as some of our modern philosophers talk; as if there were a peculiar faculty in him superadded to appetites, passions, affections and reasoning powers, which has the peculiar charge of moral objects, as reasoning power has of reasoning, &c.; so that the reasoning power reasons, the moral power feels, &c., morally. This is not what I say, but that man has a moral nature; so that no thought, word or action but has a moral quality, is either good or evil, and will so be judged, both by himself, by his fellow men and by his God.
With regard to animals, it may be seen at once that their actions have no moral quality ; that there is in them nothing of good or of evil, and that it is only by a metaphor we call them good or evil, as applied to our own uses. That is a good dog that watches best, that sets the best, or that kills rats the best, or that churns the farmer's milk the best, or that draws the beggar's cart the best. Change hands and there is no goodness in them.
And even temper in animals, to which with more of plausibility we may apply the terms “good” and evil,” even in this case it is only with reference to ourselves and our ideas that we apply the term. The generosity of the lion, the ferocity of the wolf, the untameable fierceness of the wild ass, the cruelty of the tiger, the cunning of the fox, all these are but metaphors taken from our own nature. These things instead of being moral, having a good or evil quality, being deserving of praise or blame, are nought else than tempers arising from the conformation of the animal, and absolutely necessary for its physical preservation. A lion is no more really 'noble,' because, with his immense muscular power and capacity of destruction, he stands out boldly in the centre of the African desert, than a fox is mean and to be despised, because he with a feeble and small frame sneaks through the bushes. In the one temper as well as the other there is nothing moral, nothing immoral, nothing good, nothing evil, only a nature which is neither good nor evil, but indifferent perfectly.
The only apparent exception to this is the dog. The response which he makes to our feelings, his apparent sympathy with us, his faithfulness, all these make us lavish upon him. epithets that express primarily moral qualities. This, however, is easily explained by the known fact, that there are some inferior animals that seem to have been created in reference to the wants of superior ones ; with instincts in their natures binding and tying them to the others, and causing them to rejoice in their society. And thus the attachment of the dog to the man is no more capable of a moral interpretation than the attachment of the pilot-fish to the shark. And the same may be said of the horse and the elephant in relation to man.
But this may be seen, still more plainly seen in the fact that we attribute no crime to brute animals, none of their actions come within the moral law of God and of society. The eagle murders not when he slays his prey; nor does the wolf commit a crime when we say that he steals; nor does the scorpion commit suicide or the rattlesnake when they destroy themselves with their own weapons turned against their own life.
And, indeed, with an old master of subtlety, we need have no doubt that their good and their evil are not “Moral Good” and “Moral Evil;" but the Good of Pleasure and Pain" so arranged, as by its operation upon their animal frame, to subserve ends of which they are wholly unconscious. “I have no doubt,” says Jerome Cardan, “that if the ox could speak he would call the grazier good, because he feeds oxen, and the butcher bad because he kills them, and yet there is no difference.”
Now, I wish my readers to have it fully and clearly established in their minds, that there is, and exists a class of organized living beings, which has a nature purely indifferent, neither moral or immoral, to which bodily pleasure and pain is the sole guidance from the external world.
Having laid this idea clearly before them, I shall ask them, appealing only to their own experience of their own nature, while it is manifest that the nature of the beast is an animal nature, of itself neither moral nor immoral, is it not equally manifest that man's nature is moral; that while "pleasure and pain” are guides to him as an animal, still as a man he has higher guides in justice and honesty, and law and conscience ?
Thus have we established a broad distinction between man and animals. Thus have we excluded one of the answers upon human nature, the one which supposes it to be indifferent, having no moral quality whatsoever.
And before we go further, we shall stamp this opinion regarding our nature as one that always goes hand in hand with Atheism and the worst immorality.
If our nature be indifferent, as that of the brutes is; and, as theirs have no moral quality, then are we like in the ends we have to fulfil to them, we are incapable of immorality. If our nature be animal or indifferent, then, as in consequence of this in them no act is criminal or sinful, or indeed can be so, in us, it must be the same. Then our sole business shall be to gratify our propensities, all of them; our sole excitement to action, physical pleasure; our sole check physical pain. Wheresoever this doctrine with regard to the nature of man prevails, there it is the doctrine of Atheism and debauchery, and of grasping and selfish sensuality,
The next answer to the question, “is the nature of man good or evil,” that can be given, is manifestly that it is part good and part evil. The soul good and the body evil; or, the soul evil and the body good. Two strange varieties of opinion these are, but as strange as they are they have had many advocates.
The last, that the soul of man is evil, his body good, implies the Transmigration of Souls ; the dogma, that of Spirits that fell there were two classes, they who could rise again and were enwrapped in bodies of clay and passed from one to the other, until being purified they resumed their former state. The first, which answers that the Soul is Good, the Body Evil, implies that there are two Gods. Each omniscient, omnipotent and eternal. The one the God of Good, and the other the God of Evil. These answers, a little thought will show us imply these consequences. The tenets themselves were once of great importance, now of
Man’s nature is evidently a unity, although composed of soul and body; it must be good therefore or it must be evil; it cannot be both together, the soul good and the body evil, or the soul evil and the body good. We may easily dismiss this the third answer as unsuitable.
And now we have only two left to us. The one asserts that “ man's nature is evil,” the other “ that it is good;" one or other must be true. It is manifest then that the argument may go on by a two-fold division. The establishing of the one refutes the other; the refutation of the one is the establishment of the other. The reader we hope will bear this in mind, for the subjects to be considered in this treatise are so many and so important, that when we can clearly decide upon a doctrine, we shall not always say all we could have said in its defence or in its refutation. We shall be content to say what we count enough.
Now, the nature of man is not indifferent. It is not partly good and partly evil; it must then be essentially evil or essentially good.
Say that it is essentially evil-the nature of man—not merely his words, or his actions, or his thoughts evil, but his nature; suppose that this is so, and what is the result and consequence ?
Why, this, that when he acts in accordance with his nature, thenhe acts evilly. Let him feel emotions of pity arising in his breast, and feel that it is in accordance with his nature to aid the distressed, then, as his nature is evil, it should be evil so to do. He feels that to be just, upright and honorable, is according to his nature, but according to the doctrine that nature is essentially evil, justice and uprightness and honesty shall be evil. And the opposite qualities, since opposite of evil is good, shall be good ! Then shall all the affections which are natural be evil, the love of husband to wife, and the love of wife to husband, which is natural, be a thing base and vile and in every way to be shunned; the love of parents to children to be evil. And all the natural feelings, the natural tendencies, the natural affections, all shall be bad, all evil.
And then if man desires to live aright, since his nature is of itself wholly evil, his business shall be to oppose nature. All things against nature shall be good, all according to nature shall be bad. To be malevolent shall be good, to be full of pity, evil; to be kind-hearted shall be evil, to be harsh in life and conduct, good; to be merciful shall be wrong; to be cruel shall be right; to be a peaceable citizen of a State, and an obedient child, shall be evil; and to be a lawless and desperate outlaw or a parricide, shall be good. The chaste husband or wife, living according to the dictates of nature in marriage, shall be evil in that very thing; the licentious adulterer shall be good. Monstrous consequences these, and outraging the natural feeling of all; and yet consequences that unavoidably follow from the monstrous paradox that human nature is essentially evil.
Let us look at this dogma a little more plainly still. If this be so, then man requires no temptation, in fact cannot be tempted, for his nature being wholly evil, all his hopes, desires, fears, are of themselves eril essentially. He cannot be polluted, for of himself his nature is evil. All crimes are equal, for the nature from which all proceed is equally bad, being in itself essentially evil. All his sins then are equal in the eye of God, each equally deserving condemnation in the eye of infinite justice. And the innocent babe, if his nature be essentially evil, is a subject for limitless wrath equally with the hoary murderer and debauchee of eighty years. And all this in direct opposition to the Holy Scriptures.
Nay, more than this. If man's nature be all evil, as then all his evil temptations, thoughts, feeling and actions must come from himself, then there can be no tempter to evil outside of him,-10 devil; but a principle of evil in him. And that principle of evil is in, and is the nature of man! In other words, man is Satan, and there is no Satan but man!