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notes a positve approbation of the legislator ; and whatever happens in consequence thereof, is innocently done, and without any violatiou of our duty. For it is evident, that God could not positively permit the least thing that is bad in its nature.
IV. The other manner in which we may view the morality of huinan actions, is with regard to their conformity or opposition to the law. In this respect, actions are divided into good or just, bad or unjust, and indifferent.
An action morally good or just, is that which in itself is exactly conformable to some obligatory law, and moreover is attended with the circumstances and conditions required by the legislator...
I said, I. A good or just action; for there is properly no difference between the goodness and justice of actions; and there is no necessity to deviate here from the common language, which confounds these two ideas..
2. I said, an action morally good; because we do not consider here the intrinsic and natural goodness of actions, by virtue of which they redound to the physical good of man; but only the relation of agreableness they have to the law, which constitutes their moral goodness. And though these two sorts of goodness are always found inseparably united in things ordained by natural law, yet we must not confound these twe different relations.
V. In fine, to distinguish the general conditions, whose concurrence is necessary in order to render an action morally good, with respect to the agent ; I have added, that this action ought to be in itself exactly conformable to the law, and accompanied mureover with the circumstances and conditions requirod by the legislator. And first, it is necessary that that this action should comply exactly, and through all its parts, with the tenor of what the 'law ordains. For as a right line is that whose points correspond to the rule without the least deviation ; in like
an action, rigorously speaking, cannot be just, good, or right, uuless it agrees exactly, and in every respect with the law. ' But even this is not sufficient; the action must be performed also pursuant to the manner required and intended by the legislator. And in the first place, is it necessary it be done with a competent knowledge, that is; we inust know that what we do is conformable to the law: otherwise the legislator would have no-regard for the action, and our labour would be entirely. lost. In the next place we must act with an upright intention, and for a good end, namely, to fulfit the views of the legislator, and to pay a due obedi. ence to the law: for if the agent's intention be bad, the action, instead of being deemed good, may be impuled to him as vicious. In fine, we should act through a good motive, I inean, a principle of res.
pect for the sovereign, of submission to the law, and from a love of our duty; for plain it is, that all these conditions are required by the legislator.
VI. What has been above affirmed concerning good actions, sufficiently shews us the nature of ihose which are bad or unjust. These are, in general, such as of themselves, or by their concomitant circumstances, are contrary to the disposition of ani obligatory law, or to the intention of the legislator.
There are, therefore, two general springs of injustice in human actions; one proceeds from the action considered in itself, and from its manifest opposition to what is commanded or prohibited by the law. Such as, for example, the murder of an innocent person. And all these kinds of actions intrinsically bad can never become good, whatever may be in other respects the intention or motive of the agent. We cannot employ a criininal action as a lawful means to attain an end in itself good; and thus we are to understand the common maxim, evil must not be done that goud may come of it. But an action intrinsically and as to its substance good, may become bad, if accompanied with circumstances directly contrary to the legislator's intention; as for instance, if it be done with a bad view, and through a vicious motive. To be liberal and gen. erous towards our fellow-citizens, is a good and commendable thing in itself; but if this generosity is practised merely with ambitious views, in order
to become insensibly master of the commonwealth, and 10 oppress the public liberty; the perversity of the motive, and the injustice of the design, render the action criminal.
VII, All just actions are, properly speaking, equally just; by reason that they have all an exact conformity to the law. It is not the same with unjust or bad actions; which, according, as they are more or less opposite to the law, are more or less vicious; similar in this respect to curve lines, which are more or less so, in proportion as they deviate from the rule. We may therefore be several ways wanting in our duty. Sometimes people violate the law deliberately, and with malice prepense ; which is undoubtedly the very highest degree of iniquity, because this kind of conduct manifestly indicates a formal and reflective contempt of the legislator and his orders; but sometimes we are apt to sin throgh neglect and inadvertency, which is rather a fault than a crime. Besides, it is plain that this neglect has its degrees, and may be greater or lesser, and deserving of more or less censure. And as in every thing unsusceptible of an exact and mathematical measure, we may always distinguish at least three degrees namely, two extremes and a middle: hence the civilians distinguish three degrees of fault or negligence; a gross fault, a slight one, and a very slight one.
VIII. But we must carefully observe, that what essentially constitutes the nature of an unjust ac
tion, is its direct opposition or contrariety to the disposition of the law, or to the intention of the legislator ; which produces an intrinsic defect in the matter or form of that action. For though in order to render an action morally good, it is necessa: ry, as we have already observed, that it be entirely conformable to the law, with respect as well to the substance, as to the manner and circumstances; yet we must not from thence conclude, that the defect of some of those conditions always renders an. action positively bad or criminal. To produce this effect, there must be a direct opposition, or formal contrariety between the action and the law; a simple defect of conformity being insufficient for that purpose. This defect is, indeed, sufficient to render an action not positively good or just; however, it does not become therefore bad, but only indifferent. For example, if we perform an action good in itself, without knowing for what reason, or even that it is commanded by the law; or if we act through a different motive from that prescribed by the law; but in itself innocent and not vicious; the action is reputed neither good nor bad, but merely indifferent,
IX. There is therefore such a thing as indifferent actions, which hold a middle rank, as it were, between just and unjust. These are such as are neither commanded nor prohibited, but which the law leaves us at liberty to do or to omit, according as