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this is an innate rule, what do you mean? Either, that it is an innate principle, which upon all occasions excites and directs the actions of all men : or else, that it is a truth, which all men have imprinted on their minds, and which therefore they know and assent to. But in neither of these senses is it innate. First that it is not a principle which influences all men's actions, is what I have proved by the examples before cited: nor need we seek so far as Mingrelia or Peru, to find instances of such as neglect, abuse, nay and destroy their children; or look on it only as the more than brutality of some savage and barbarous nations, when we remember, that it was a familiar and uncondemned practice amongst the Greeks and Romans, to expose, without pity or remorse, their innocent infants. Secondly, that it is an innate truth, known to all men, is also false. For, “ parents, preserve your children," is so far from an innate truth, that it is no truth at all; it being a command, and not a proposition, and so not capable of truth or falshood. To make it capable of being assented to as true, it must be reduced to some such proposition as this : “it is the duty of parents to preserve their children.” But what duty is, cannot be understood without a law; nor a law be known, or supposed, without a law-maker, or without reward and punishment: so that it is impossible, that this, or any other practical principle should be innate ; i. e. be imprinted on the mind as a duty, without supposing the ideas of God, of law, of obligation, of punishment, of a life after this, innate: For that punishment follows not, in this life, the breach of this rule ; and consequently, that it has not the force of a law in countries, where the generally allowed practice runs counter to it, is in itself evident. But these ideas (which must be all of them innate, if any thing as a duty be 80) are so far from being innate, that it is not every studious or thinking man, much less every one that is born, in whom they are to be found clear and distinct: and that one of them, which of all others seems most likely to be innate, is not so, (I mean the idea of God) I think, in the next chapter, will appear very evident to any considering man.
§. 13. From what has been said, I think we may safely conclude, that whatever practical rule is, in any place, generally and with allowance broken, cannot be supposed innate; it being impossible that men should, without shame or fear, confidently and serenely break a rule, which they could not but evidently know, that God had set up, and would certainly punish the breach of (which they must, if it were innate to a degree, to make it a very ill bargain to the transgressor. Without such a knowledge as this, a man can never be certain that any thing is his duty. Ignorance, or doubt of the law, hopes to escape the knowledge or power of the law-maker, or the like, may make men give way to a present appetite : but let any one see the fault, and the rod by it, and with the transgression, a fire ready to punish it; a pleasure tempting, and the hand of the Almighty visibly held up, and prepared to take vengeance (for this must be the case, where any duty is imprinted on the mind) and then tell me, whether it be possible for people, with such a prospect, such a certain knowledge as this, wantonly, and without scruple, to offend against a law, which they carry about them in indelible characters, and that stares them in the face whilst they are breaking it? whether men, at the same time that they feel in themselves the imprinted edicts of an omnipotent law-maker, can with assurance and gaiety slight and trample under foot his most sacred injunctions? and lastly, whether it be possible, that whilst a man thus openly bids defiance to this innate law and supreme law-giver, all the by-standers, yea, even the governors and rulers of the people, full of the same sense both of the law and law-maker, should silently connive, without testifying their dislike, or laying the ... least blame on it? Principles of actions indeed there are lodged in men's appetites, but these are so far from being innate moral principles, that if they were leit to their full swing, they would carry men to the overturning of all morality. Moral laws are set as a curb and restraint to these exorbitant desires, which they cannot be but by rewards and punishments, that will over balance the satisfaction any one shall propose to himself
in the breach of the law. If therefore any thing be
. 14. The difference there is amongst maintain in- nen in their practical principles, is so evi. nate practical dent, that, I think, I need say no more to principles, evince, that it will be impossible to find any tell us not
innate moral rules by this mark of general what they are.
assent: and it is enough to make one sus
pect, that the supposition of such innate principles is but an opinion taken up at pleasure; since those who talk so confidently of them, are so sparing to tell us which they are. This might with justice be expected from those men who lay stress upon this opi. nion: and it gives occasion to distrust either their knowledge or charity, who declaring, that God has ima printed on the minds of men the foundations of knowledge, and the rules of living, are yet so little favourable to the information of their neighbours, or the quiet of
who talkich they aren who la
mankind, as not to point out to them which they are, in the variety men are distracted with. But, in trutls, were there any such innate principles, there would be no need to teach them. Did men find such innate propositions stamped on their minds, they would easily be able to distinguish thein from other truths, that they afterwards learned, and deduced from them; and there would be nothing more easy, than to know what, and how many they were. There could be no more doubt about their number, than there is about the number of our fingers; and it is like then every system would be ready to give them us by tale. But since nobody, that I know, has ventured yet to give a catalogue of them, they cannot blame those who doubt of these innate principles; since even they who require men to believe, that there are such innate propositions, do not tell us what they are. It is easy to foresce, that if different men of different sects should go about to give us a list of those innate practical principles, they would set down only such as suited their distinct hypotheses, and were fit to support the doctrines of their particular schools or churches: a plain evidence, that there are no such innate truths. Nay, a great part of men are so far, from finding any such innate moral principles in themselves, that by denying freedom to mankind, and thereby making men no other than bare machines, they take avay not only innate, but all moral rules whatsoever, and leave not a possibility to believe any such, to those Tho cannot conceive, how any thing can be capable of a law, that is not a free agent: and upon that ground, they must necessarily reject all principles of virtue, who cannot put morality and mechanism together, which are not very easy to be reconciled, or made consistent.
§. 15. When I had writ this, being in- Lord Her formed that iny lord Herbert had, in his bert's innate book de Veritate, assigned these innate prin- principles eiples, I presently consulted him, hoping to examined. find, in a man of so great parts, something that might satisfy me in this point, and put an end to my enquiry. In his chapter de Instinctu Naturali, p. 79. edit. 1656, I met with these six marks of his Notitice Communes :
listice let' this or jer tira . bas iBu of knus
1. Prioritas. 9. Independentia. 3. Universalitas. 4. Certitudo. 5. Necessitas, i. e. as he explains it, faciunt ad hominis conservaiionem. 6. Modus conformationis, i.e. AsSensus nulla interpositá morá. And at the latter end of his little treatise, De Religioni Laici, he says this of these inuate principles : Adeo ut non uniuscujusvis religionis confinioarctenturquie ubiquerigent veritates. Sunt enim in ipsá mente calitus descriptæ, nullisque traditionibus, sive scriptis, sive non scriptis, obnoriæ, p. 3. And, Veritates nostræ catholica que tanquam indubia Deieffata in foro interiori descriptie. Thus having given the marks of the innate principles or common notions, and asserted their being imprinted on the minds of men by the hand of God, he proceeds to set them down; and they are these: 1. Esse aliquod supremum numen. 2. Numen illud coli debere. 3. Virtutem cum pietate conjunctam optimam esse rationcm cultûs divini. 4. Resipiscendum esse à peccatis. 5. Dari præmium vel pænam post hanc vitam transactam. Though I allow these to be clear truths, and such as, if rightly explained, a rational creature caii hardly avoid giving his assent to; yet I think he is far from proving them innate impressions in foro interiori descriptæ. For I must take leave to observe, • $. 16. First, that these five propositions are either not all, or more than all, those common notions writ on our minds by the finger of God, if it were reasonable to believe any at all to be so written: since there are other propositions, which, even by his own rules, have as just a pretence to such an original, and may be as well admitted for innate principles, as at least some of these five he enumerates, viz. “do as thou wouldest be done unto ;” and, perhaps, some hundreds of others, when well considered.
$. 17. Secondly, that all his marks are not to be found in each of his five propositions, viz. his first second, and third marks agree perfectly to neither of them; and the first, second, third, fourth, and sixth marks agree but ill to his third, fourth, and fifth propositions. For besides that we are assured from history, of many men, nay, whole nations, who doubt or disbelieve some or all of them; I cannot see how the third, viz. “ that virtue