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obligation or duty. In the second and third parts, the particular laws of our constitution which are necessary for promoting the prosperity and happiness of a community, as well as to render easy and comfortable our intercourse with each other, are treated of at considerable length. Throughout the whole work, the author endeavours to establish the great doctrine of a moral sense.
We will here conclude this chapter, by barely remarking, that Dr. Hutcheson's station as a moral philosopher is lofty and conspicuous ; he forms a land-mark of considerable utility to the moral student. Though by no means the first who suggested the doctrine of a moral sense, yet he certainly took the lead in collecting and modelling into a system the scattered observations of others
upon the subject. His name is a tower of strength to the admirers and supporters of this doctrine. He has said all which can possibly be advanced for his favourite system; and those who may peruse his writings will find a copious abundance of useful and instructive informatiom. His works, however, are somewhat dry and tedious, arising in a great measure from his extreme subtilty. He informs us that he borrowed the leading ideas of all his treatises, from Shaftesbury ; but he falls considerably short of that sparkling vivacity and perspicuity of expression, which succeed in exciting and riveting the attention to the moral writings of the author of the “ Characteristics.”
MR. THOMAS RUTHERFORD.
AN ESSAY ON VIRTUE.
THOMAS RUTHERFORD was born at Papsworth, Everherd, in Cambridgeshire, in 1712. Having passed through the elementary parts of education, he was entered at St. John's College, Cambridge, where he took his degrees, and obtained a fellowship in the College. He was afterwards appointed regius Professor of Divinity in the University, and created D.D. He was chosen to be Chaplain to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, shortly after this. In the Church he was rector of Barley, in Hertfordshire, and in Shenfield in Essex; and made an archdeacon also. He died in Oc. tober 1771, having nearly completed his 59th year.
Mr. Rutherford's “ Essay on the Nature and Obligations of Virtue” is, I believe, but little known amongst the readers of moral publications. It is, however, well worthy of a careful perusal. The views of the author are unfolded with much energy and precision ; and those great faults amongst the more theoretic writers which preceded him,-of affected obscurity, and abstruse distinctions, are in a great measure avoided.
Mr. Rutherford combats the opinion of Mr. Wollaston, Dr. Clarke, and others, that virtue consists in acting agreeably to truth, or treating things as being what they really are. If virtue were to consist in acting merely in conformity with the nature of things, then it would clearly follow, that fitness, abstractly considered, would be, in all cases, a sure measure or standard of virtue and vice; and, accordingly, we would find, that if fitness of application, made virtue, and the contrary vice, then many things which are naturally fit to be done would be invested with the qualities of virtue and vice. Drinking out of a glass would not constitute
that action a virtuous one; nor breaking the glass a vicious one. And again, there is a very natural fitness or propriety of a person applying force at the long end of a lever, in order to raise a weight, but there is no virtue in this; nor is there any thing which we could properly denominate vice, if he were to disregard natural fitness, and apply his strength at the short end of the lever, with a hope of accomplishing the same end. There would be an evident misapplication of means,-a total disregard of the fitness of things in acting in accordance with the latter supposition; but there would be nothing which could clothe the action with moral criminality. We must therefore look out for some other rule, by which we are to determine what is virtuous and what is vicious. We want a mark to point out tous those relations amongst various things, which it becomes virtue to act in conformity to, and vice to act against; and also those relations which are connected with actions perfectly indifferent. This mark or standard must therefore be determined from observations made upon those relations amongst the actions and consequences of living beings which effect their comfort and happiness. What constitutes
any unfitness a moral unfitness, is, that it is capable of producing unhappiness and misery; and