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The phrases in their context!


We are also certain, that it has a great influence on our sense of beauty, when we regard external objects, as well as when we judge of morals.
We find, that it has force sufficient to give us the strongest sentiments of approbation, when it operates alone, without the concurrence of any other principle; as in the cases of justice, allegiance, chastity, and good-manners.
We may observe, that all the circumstances requisite for its operation are found in most of the virtues; which have, for the most part, a tendency to the good of society, or to that of the person possessed of them.
If we compare all these circumstances, we shall not doubt, that sympathy is the chief source of moral distinctions; especially when we reflect, that no objection can be raised against this hypothesis in one case, which will not extend to all cases.
Justice is certainly approved of for no other reason, than because it has a tendency to the public good: And the public good is indifferent to us, except so far as sympathy interests us in it.
We may presume the like with regard to all the other virtues, which have a like tendency to the public good.
They must derive all their merit from our sympathy with those, who reap any advantage from them: As the virtues, which have a tendency to the good of the person possessed of them, derive their merit from our sympathy with him.
Most people will readily allow, that the useful qualities of the mind are virtuous, because of their utility.
This way of thinking is so natural, and occurs on so many occasions, that few will make any scruple of admitting it.
Now this being once admitted, the force of sympathy must necessarily be acknowledged.
Virtue is considered as means to an end.
Means to an end are only valued so far as the end is valued.
But the happiness of strangers affects us by sympathy alone.
To that principle, therefore, we are to ascribe the sentiment of approbation, which arises from the survey of all those virtues, that are useful to society, or to the person possessed of them.
These form the most considerable part of morality.
Were it proper in such a subject to bribe the reader's assent, or employ any thing but solid argument, we are here abundantly supplied with topics to engage the affections.
All lovers of virtue (and such we all are in speculation, however we may degenerate in practice) must certainly be pleased to see moral distinctions derived from so noble a source, which gives us a just notion both of the generosity and capacity of human nature.
It requires but very little knowledge of human affairs to perceive, that a sense of morals is a principle inherent in the soul, and one of the most powerful that enters into the composition.
But this sense must certainly acquire new force, when reflecting on itself, it approves of those principles, from whence it is derived, and finds nothing but what is great and good in its rise and origin.
Those who resolve the sense of morals into original instincts of the human mind, may defend the cause of virtue with sufficient authority; but want the advantage, which those possess, who account for that sense by an extensive sympathy with mankind.
According to their system, not only virtue must be approved of, but also the sense of virtue: And not only that sense, but also the principles, from whence it is derived.