understand the bearings of any opinion against which they entertain a prejudice

Understand the bearings of any opinion against which

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understand the bearings of any opinion against which they entertain a prejudice, and men are in general so little conscious of this voluntary ignorance as a defect, that the vulgarest misunderstandings of ethical doctrines are continually met with in the deliberate writings of persons of the greatest pretensions both to high principle and to philosophy. We not uncommonly hear the doctrine of utility inveighed against as a^o^esi^Qctime^ If it be necessary to say anything at all against so mere an assumption, we may say that the question depends upon what idea we have formed of the moral character of the Deity. If it be a true belief that God desires, above all things, tne Happiness of his creatures., and. that this was his purpose in their creation, utility is _ r _A__ £ .j_ _—_*• _ ~.-*f \J i -- -•*- *»i--»
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32 UTILITARIANISM. not only not fl godless ductrioe. bukmore profoundly religious tnan any other. If it be meant that utili tarianism does not recognise the revealed will of God as the supreme law of morals, I answer, that an utili tarian who believes in the perfect goodness and wisdom- of God, necessarily believes that whatever God has thought fit to reveal on the subject of morals, must fulfil the requirements of utility in a supreme degree. But others besides utilitarians have been of opinion that the Christian revelation was intended, and is fitted, to inform the hearts and minds of mankind with a spirit which should enable them to find for themselves what is right, and incline them to do it when found, rather than to tell them, except in a very general way, what it is : and that we need a doctrine of ethics, carefully followed out, to interpret to us the will of God. Whether this opinion is correct or not, it is superfluous here to discuss ; since whatever aid religion, either natural or revealed, can afford to ethical investigation, is as open to the utilitarian moralist as to any other. He can use it as the testimony of God to the usefulness or hurtfulness of any given course of action, by as good a right as others can use it for the indication of a transcendental law, having no con nexion with usefulness or with happiness. Again, Utility is often summarily stigmatized as an immoral doctrine by giving it the name of Expediency, and taking advantage of the popular use of that term to contrast it with Principle. But the Expedient, in the sense -in which it is opposed to the Right, gene rally means that which is expedient for the particular interest of the agent himself ; as when a minister sacrifices the interest of his country to keep himself
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ITS MEANING. 33 in place. When it means anything better than this, it means that which is expedient for some immediate object, some temporary purpose, but which violates a rule whose observance is expedient in a much higher degree. The Expedient, in this sense, instead of being the same thing with the useful, is a branch of the hurtful. Thus, it would often be expedient, for the purpose of getting over some momentary embarrass ment, or attaining some object immediately useful to ourselves or others, to tell a lie. But inasmuch as
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