« AnteriorContinuar »
checking all odious qualities. If it be asked, what need of a passion for that purpose, since without hatred nothing could have been odions; we answer, it seems highly probable, that every thing which is odious to a well-formed mind, is of such a nature, as would, if not checked, prevent happiness, or promote misery, in one way or other. Either it would hurt the bodily healtlı, or obstruct the pleasures of the imagination, cr choke up that love of decency and order which is so powerful a support of Virtue : or contaminate that cleanliness which seems greatly instrumental to inward purity of heart, or prevent social happiness, especially that of the best kind, from diffusing itself through the mind of the meek and humble, the delicate and refined, or lessen the production, or the effect, or the utility, of things calculated to promote and embellish civilized life. It seems highly probable, in short, that whatever a good man, of an improved mind, hates, or is disgusted with, is something which, if suffered to run wild, and spread without restraint, would tend to impair, or to check the growth, or the enjoyment, of those perceptions and feelings, that are peculiar to human nature; those by which man is most eminently distinguishcd from the brute creation. )
26. Nor must it be thought trilling or unimportant to found the utility of hatred upon its tendency to civilize mankind, and polish human nature ; It is as mnch the design of Providence that Man should be improved and refined, as that he should subsist, or continue his species. Were not this the case, numberless provisions of Providence would be wholly thrown away. When we say that odious qualities probably tend to injure health, it should at the same time be understood, that every disorder of our bodily frame affects the mind, and therefore hurts or impedes our finer faculties and perceptions, to an extent beyond any limits which we can assign. And these are parts of man, as niuch as his bodily members. In this sense it is true, that “ Man shall not live by bread.alone." Indeed the lowest classes amongst us are allowed to consider many accommodations as necessaries of life, to which an uncivilized human being is an utter stranger.
27. Now if things which ought to be odious, or which would be odious to the best regulated mind, are really of the nature of noxious weeds, or hurtful luxuriances, it is easy to see, that it is much better for mankind to have their growth checked by means of a sentiment, than by mere reason and experience. A sentiment acts instantaneously, whereas the deductions of reason and experience are slow. (g) Sentiment can repel any attack upon the finer parts of our Nature before they are thoroughly understood, and so lead us to study and esteem them; whereas if reason and experience alone inform us when we should restrain what would corrupt our nobler enjoyments, we must wait till our taste for virtue, and the fine arts has been reduced to a regular theory: a thing not very near now, but which would be at a much greater distance than it now is, if we never had any guide but what was purely intellectual. Not that hatred' is a mere blind instinct : although it acts, or makes us act, instantancously, it is subject to the correction of reason : its operations are examined, judged, regulated by our superior faculties ; and after regulation it acquires the prudence, as it were, of calm judgment, at the same time that it retains the quickness, versatility, and energy of sentiment,
28. Still you may urge, that what has been said may all be called general, and that in some particulars it is not easy to see what good end can be answered by our hating some things usually accounted odious. Where, for instance, is the good, you may say, of men's hating deformily? You will not, I fear, state the question, Where is the good of men's loving beauty ? because pleasing forms and graceful motions (h) cause a considerable part of human happiness; and there is no more incontrovertible proof of the Divine Benevolence than that we in some things enjoy happiness which may
be called gratuitous : Happiness without which it seems if all the ends of God's government might be answered: and yet our hatred of deformity seems to be a part of our love of beauty : It seems to be occasioned by the shock given to our habitual feelings and expectations, when they are disappointed by deviations from those forms or motions, which are inost pleasing to the eye.
Should any one think this is not the whole of the matter, he still must allow, that we are under no necessity of being disgusted with deformity, inconsistently with the interests of Virtue ; the only danger is in deformity of person ; and man may bring himself to love every human being who manifests an amiable mind, and expresses lovely sentiments and principles, though the outward form be
far from beautiful. So that we may answer to the objection concerning hatred of deformity ; either that such sentiment makes a part of our love of beauty, that is, a part of a copious ingredient of human happiness; or that it is harmless; or that it may be so overpowered by our relish for amiable qualities of the mind, as not to hurt the interests of Virtue. Indeed it seems likely, that till hatred comes to be well understood, and nicely disciplined, even well-disposed men may hate things, which, when more improved, they would not suffer themselves to treat as fit objects of disgust : such moderation of hatred we constantly perceive to result from a good education. And, no doubt, all our sentiments admit of perpctual improvement. Yet in some cases, as mien improve they affect more and more fustidiousness, and indulge themselves more and more in disgust : this may sometimes be a fault; but it is not necessarly such: for though some qualities may grow less odious during improvement, yet others may grow more so. And affectation of any thing implies, that it is sometimes applauded. Whence we may collect, that Hatred is a sentiment sometimes held in honour and esteem. It would scarcely be deemed a recommendation of any man to say, in the present state of things, that he prided himself on being disgusted with nothing. Such a one would be called unfeelnig, hard, course, indelicate, undistinguishing. Nay, would himself become, to men of polished minds, an object of that, passion, of which he had been ambitious to be thought entirely void. The all-perfect-being is said to hate sia.
29. The good effects of Hatred spring up, both in the character of him who feels the passion, and of him who is the object of it. If certain qualities, act:915, appearances are hateful to you, you yourself will of course avoid them; and that person in whom you liate
them, is naturally induced to avoid them by the pain which your hatred inflicts. In this manner must the good effects of hatred, as it becomes better managed, increase and multiply.
30. In considering the beneficial effects of hatred we have admitted some diffidence, and have dwelt upon conjectures. But, if hatred, duly regulated, would tend continually to diminish odious qualities, there is one way of conceiving the subject which could scarcely be said to be clouded or shaded by doubt. Let us conceive what would be the case with human life were some superior being wholly to extinguish all odious qualities, and at once make men as amiable as they are capable of being. Should we not live in Paradise ? Should we not have a heaven upon earth? If the sentiment of hatred is to be the means of our approaching gradually to such a state, its beneficial effects can need no farther eulogium. Some man may indeed say, that to such a state we cannot arrive until virtuous qualities are as near perfection as those which are, amiable ; but improvement in the latter would bring on improvement in the former. Supposing men to have become thoroughly amiable, vicious qualities must so interrupt that general happiness of which all men must be enamoured, that they could not be born: vicious qualities could have no continuance in a state where all odious qualities were extinct.
31. But the effects of hatred, as they commonly strike us, are frequently hurtful. Nay even its benefits are produced by means of some evil. That evil is indeed only temporary and occasional; it would cease with the disorder for which it is a remedy ; but still it is evil. The sentiment is uneasy to him who feels it ; and painful to him who is the object of it. Even in its best state it prevents the growth of benevolence, and weakens the mutual attraction of man to man : but what may be called its greatest mischief, is the danger which it occasions, of hurting the best dispositions, and of drawing men from their duty. We may therefore pass on to those bad consequences, which are most likely to arise from the want of a perfect regulation of it ; especially in men, who neither profess nor intend to neglect the obligations of religion and virtue.
Hatred naturally generates ill-will. If we hate a person, on whatever account, we are impelled or prompted to do him harm; and though the impulse may be overpowered by inotives of a kinder sort, yet the
general effects of malevolence will be ill-offices and injuries. This observation receives force from the great stress which is laid in the scriptures on love of our neighbour : it is taken for granted, that love will occasion benevolence and good offices; but love does not tend more to make men do good, than hatred tends to make them do harm.
32. If we contemplate human life, we find but too many examples of this observation. The man who is easily disgusted, and is so proud of his fastidiousness as to indulge it, can scarcely be happy in any relation of life: he will soon contract an habitual pesvishness; and make all around him wretched in proportion to their desire of performing their several duties towards him, and of procuring for him every possible gratification. In domestic life, he will discern something in his nearest friend and most affectionate companion, which he will call ungraceful, vulgar, odious; or which he will imagine others to call so; and no attachment, no fidelity, prudence, even no chearfulness and good humour, shall be able to make atonement for it. His servants and dependants give him the same kind of shock; their virtues avail not; their submission only serves to inflame his malignance. Has he friends ? in their appearance or behaviour he finds something that is illiberal, uncouth, or precise : or perhaps that is negligent and disorderly: their manner of conducting certain affairs does not exactly coincide with his preconceived notions; he is impatient, intolerant; he enters upon rebuke with acrimony; he forgets respect, and even equality; or if his expressions“ be smooth as oil, yet be they very swords ;” they inflict wounds on friendship, which are sometimes perhaps healed superficially, but are generally liable to break open afresh, on any occasional agitation. The case is still worse when a friend offers to administer the precious balın of reproof: this makes him feel so uncasy to himself, that every thing connected with it becomes the immediate object of his aversion.