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whether in charity to the poor, and in relieving the distressed; or in PART II. acts of public service, and private humanity or candour.


In every language there is a multiplicity of terms in which general praise and blame are expreffed; but of fuch terms it is obferved, that no two are fynonymous. There is implied in every term of praise a complication of circumstances. In fome principal parts of the combination the terms agree, but in fome other part, perhaps, in fome minute circumftance of the occafion on which the good qualities are displayed, or of the effect they produce, the meaning of the term is, in fome degree, diverfified, fo that any one of the terms fo diftinguished cannot, with propriety, be fubftituted one for another. Honefty cannot be substituted for probity, however nearly approaching in their meaning; nor is goodness with propriety fubftituted for either.

In the general appellation of a good man, beside the more important conditions of humanity, faithfulness, and beneficence, which recommend one man to another, there is, in particular fituations, fome reference to particular circumftances, to which perfons in those fituations have peculiar occafion to attend ; as, among merchants, the qualities of punctuality and regard to credit, which mutually recommend the parties in their dealings with one another; in literary focieties, learning and genius; in national councils, and public affemblies, masterly judgement, and powerful expreffion; in warlike nations, manhood and military valour; and men, in all thefe different inftances, bestow the general term of praife, with a particular implication of the circumftance peculiarly required in their own condition.

Words derived from the fame ftock, and paffing into diffe-
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rent languages, thus affume, in fome particular respects, a difterent meaning in the application made of them by different nations. As from the boneftum of the Romans, is derived the honesty of the English, and the bonetteté of the French; but whoever fhould tranflate the one into the other, would lose the meaning of his original, and substitute different circumstances of commendation, in paffing from one language to another; not because these nations have different ideas of what is commendable; but because they have come to express different articles of commendation in a term of the fame origin.

What is commended by one nation in any given term of praise, is commended by another in a different one; and they disagree in the use of words, not in conceiving the diftinctions of right and wrong; for each is ready to acknowledge the value of what the other commends, as foon as he understands the meaning of the word in which it is commended.


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Of the Fundamental Rules of Morality relating to External Actions.


THE first law of morality, relating to the mind and its affec- PART II.
tions, requires the love of mankind as the greatest good to which CHAP. II.
human nature is competent: If it fhould appear that mankind
are not agreed in the defcription of external actions that flow
from this principle, nor in the choice of favours to be expected
from the beneficent, it may be asked, by what rule is the friend
of mankind to conduct himfelf? What is the harm from which
he is to abstain, and what the good office which he is to perform

to his fellow creature?

To this question we may answer, in general, that, notwithstanding the varieties of manners, in different ages and nations, and the different interpretation of favours or offences, which, in the file of declamation, may be made to appear fo formidable and fo perplexing, in the choice of virtuous actions; yet, that mankind in reality do not fo far mistake the pernicious for the



ufeful, nor the deftructive for what tends to their preservation, as that the beneficent needs to be at a loss, in determininig what is in him a natural effect of benevolence or of good will to his fellow creatures. In every particular fociety, these points are settled; and few have occafion to transfer their beneficence from one fcene to another, in which the constituents of a benefit are differently conceived or differently understood.

Notwithstanding the diverfity of opinions which men may be fuppofed to entertain, with respect to the morality of particular actions, yet, in every age and nation, in every rank and condition of men, there is a rule of propriety, which, though it may be different in different inftances, is to each the canon of estimation, and the principle from which they are to judge. Admitting fuch differences, then, as they affect particular articles of propriety, this may be laid down as a law of external action for mankind;—That, in matters physically indifferent or of small moment, men are to obferve the rules established in their own country or in their own condition; as they speak its language and wear its drefs: That, in judging of behaviour, in other countries, or in other fituations, they are not to estimate proprieties of conduct by the standard of their own manners or cuftoms; but, to allow every nation the free and distinctive use of its own.

This rule applies chiefly, if not wholly, to matters of propriety, decency, and common civility; with respect to which, it is obvious, that as the object is to do what is inoffenfive, what is agreeable or obliging, it is proper that the perfon, acting in matters phyfically indifferent or of small moment, should confult the opinions of those he would oblige rather than his own.

Even, in matters not altogether phyfically indifferent, and in respect to which unequal degrees of conveniency or inconveniency may be apprehended in the practice of different nations; it would be an error in point of propriety if any one should deviate from the manners of his own country, under pretence that he meant to substitute what he thought an improvement. He might, in the fame manner, apprehend, that the language of his own country were inferior to that of a neighbour, or the fafhion of its drefs lefs convenient; but, any extreme or fingular affectation of thus deviating from what is common in fuch matters, under the notion of exhibiting somewhat fuperior, is ever ftigmatized, or is confidered as the mark of a fool or a coxcomb.

Where nations, or different ranks and conditions of men, vary from one another in fuch immaterial forms and obfervances, they are faid to differ in point of manners; and, as they are feverally to be judged of by the standard of their own custom or practice, none has a right to apply that standard, in estimating the manners of others. This rule may be applied, not only to matters purely arbitrary, like the forms of falute, or the titles of address, but even to all those matters, to which men though not originally indifferent, are in effect by cuftom or habit, reconcileable, or attached. Though to others from an oppofite custom and habit, such examples may appear awkward or abfurd, it is not to be expected of perfons in any particular age, nation or rank, that they should have any apprehenfion in fuch matters different from that of their own nation, condition, or age.

Men of all ages and nations however have been generally dif




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