Chap 1G: Moral Education

ARTICLE 3: Educational Institutions for People of all Ages

190 The educational institutions for people of all ages are chiefly those for religious instruction.

  • It aims to prepare them for a better world in a life to come.
    • Its teachers may depend on:
      • their students’ voluntary contributions
      • a fund from their country such as:
        • a landed estate
        • a tithe or land-tax
        • an established salary or stipend
    • Their exertion, zeal, and industry, will be much greater with voluntary contributions than a fixed fund.
  • The teachers of new religions always had a big advantage in attacking the clergy’s ancient and established systems.
    • The clergy:
      • rested on their benefices
      • neglected to keep up the faith and devotion in the people
      • turned indolent
      • became incapable of defending their own establishment.
    • The clergy of an established and well-endowed religion frequently become men of learning and elegance.
      • They have all the virtues of gentlemen.
        • But they are apt to gradually lose the qualities which:
          • gave them authority and influence over the inferior ranks of people
          • were the original causes of the success and establishment of their religion
      • When such a clergy is attacked by popular and bold enthusiasts, they feel as defenceless as the indolent, effeminate, and full-fed Asian nations when they were invaded by the active, hardy, and hungry Mongols.
        • During such an emergency, such clergy can only call on the civil magistrate to persecute their adversaries as disturbers of the public peace.
          • The Roman catholic clergy called on the civil magistrates to persecute the protestants.
          • The Church of England called on the civil magistrates to persecute the dissenters.
  • In general, religious sects which were legally secured for a century or more, could not vigorously defend themselves against new attacking sects.
    • Sometimes, the established church might have the advantage in learning and good writing.
    • But the adversaries constantly have the popular advantage.
  • In England, the art of popularity was long neglected by the established church’s well-endowed clergy.
    • Popularity is presently chiefly cultivated by:
      • the dissenters and
      • the Methodists.
  • Independent provisions were made for dissenting teachers through voluntary subscriptions, trust rights, and other evasions of the law.
    • Those provisions very much abated those teachers’ zeal and activity.
    • Many of them became very learned, ingenious, and respectable men.
    • But in general, they ceased to be very popular preachers.
  • The Methodists:
    • have less than half the dissenters’ learning and
    • are much more in vogue.


191 In the Roman church, the inferior clergy’s industry and zeal are kept more alive by the powerful motive of self-interest than in the Protestant church.

  • Many of the parochial clergy derive their subsistence from the people’s voluntary oblations.
  • Confession improves this revenue.
    • The mendicant orders derive their whole revenue from confessions.
    • Confessions are similar to the policy of some armies: no plunder, no pay.
  • The parochial clergy are like those teachers whose reward depends on:
    • their salary
    • the fees or honoraries from their pupils
      • These must always depend on their industry and reputation.
  • The mendicant orders are like those teachers whose subsistence depends on industry.
    • They use every art to animate the devotion of common people.
  • The orders of St. Dominic and St. Francis are two great mendicant orders.
    • Machiavelli observed that their establishment in the 13th and 14th centuries revived the languishing faith and devotion of the Catholic Church.
  • In Roman Catholic countries, devotion is supported by the monks and the poorer parochial clergy.
    • They are careful to maintain the necessary discipline over their inferiors.
    • But they seldom teach the people.


192 According to David Hume, the most illustrious philosopher and historian of the present age:

  • Most of the arts and professions in a state:
    • promote society’s interests and
    • are useful to some people.
  • The magistrate’s constant rule, except on the first introduction of any art, is to:
    • leave the profession to itself and
    • trust its encouragement to the individuals who benefit from it.
  • Artisans find that their profits rise by the favour of their customers.
    • They increase their skill and industry as much as possible.
      • Their skills are always nearly proportioned to the demand, because their skills cannot be altered easily.

193 But there are also some professions which bring no advantage or pleasure to anyone.

  • The supreme power must alter its conduct with regard to those professionals.
    • It must give them public encouragement for their subsistence.
  • It must provide against negligence by:
    • annexing honours to their profession,
    • establishing a long subordination of ranks and a strict dependence, or
    • some other expedient.
  • Examples are those employed in the finances, fleets, and magistracy.

194 At first sight, it may naturally be thought that ecclesiastics belong to the first class.

  • Their encouragement, as well as that of lawyers and physicians, may safely be entrusted to the people attached to their doctrines.
  • This will:
    • encourage their industry and
    • increase their skill daily from their increasing practice, study, and attention.

195 But at closer inspection, we shall find that the clergy’s interested diligence is very harmful.

  • Every wise legislator will study to prevent it.
  • It even has a natural tendency to pervert the true religion by infusing a strong mixture of superstition, folly, and delusion into it.
  • Each ghostly practitioner will inspire the most violent abhorrence of all other sects to render himself more precious and sacred.
    • He will continually try to excite his audience’s languid devotion.
    • He will pay no regard to truth, morals, or decency in the doctrines inculcated.
    • The tenets which best suits his disorderly affections will be adopted.
    • Customers will be drawn to religious gatherings which address the people’s passions and credulity.
  • In the end, the civil magistrate will realize his big mistake in creating a fixed establishment for the priests.
    • He can most decently amend such a situation by bribing the priests’ indolence by:
      • assigning them stated salaries, and
      • rendering it superfluous for them to be more active than necessary in preventing their flock from straying to new pastures.
  • In this way, ecclesiastical establishments become advantageous to the political interests of society in the end.


196 But whatever were the effects of the clergy’s provision, they perhaps were unintentional.

  • Times of violent religious controversy were generally times of violent political faction.
    • Each political party found or imagined it for its interest to be allies with the contending religious sects.
      • This could be done only by adopting or favouring that sect’s tenets.
      • The sect necessarily shared in the victory of its ally over its enemies.
      • The sect’s enemies were therefore also the party’s enemies.
      • The clergy of this winning sect would become complete masters of the field.
        • Their influence and authority with the people would be at its highest.
        • They would be powerful enough:
          • to over-awe their own party leaders
          • to oblige the civil magistrate to respect their opinions and inclinations
        • Their first demand was generally that the civil magistrate should silence and subdue their adversaries.
        • Their second demand was that he should bestow an independent provision on themselves.
          • Since they contributed to the victory, it seemed reasonable that they should share in the spoil.
        • They were weary of humouring and depending on the people for subsistence.
        • In making this demand, they consulted their own ease and comfort without foreseeing its effect on their order’s influence and authority.
        • The civil magistrate was seldom very forward to grant it.
          • Necessity always forced him to submit after many delays, evasions, and excuses.


197 If politics never called in the help of religion, it would probably have dealt equally and impartially with all the different sects.

  • The conquering party would have allowed every man to choose his own priest and religion.
    • There would have been many religious sects.
    • Almost every congregation would make a little sect in itself with its own tenets.
    • Each teacher would feel the need to preserve and increase the number of his disciples.
    • Because of the competition, no single teacher would have very great success.
  • The religious teachers’ interested and active zeal can be dangerous and troublesome only when:
    • only one sect is tolerated,
    • the society is divided into two or three great sects, or
    • the teachers of each sect act in concert and under a regular discipline and subordination
  • But that zeal must be innocent when the society is divided into thousands of small sects.
    • No one could be big enough to disturb the public peace.
    • The teachers of each sect would have more enemies than friends.
      • They would be forced to have that candour and moderation not found in great sects.
  • The tenets of those great sects are supported by the civil magistrate.
    • They are venerated by all who see no other alternative.
  • The teachers of each little sect would find themselves alone.
    • They would be forced to respect other sects and make mutually convenient and agreeable concessions to one another.
  • In time, it would probably reduce their doctrine to that pure and rational religion.
    • It would be free from absurdity, imposture, or fanaticism, which wise men throughout history wished to see established.
    • This ideal religion perhaps never will be established in any country because positive law was always and will be influenced by popular superstition and enthusiasm.
  • The sect called Independents was a sect of very wild enthusiasts.
    • Towards the end of the civil war, they proposed a non-ecclesiastical government in England.
    • If it were established, by this time it would probably have produced philosophical good temper and moderation in religion despite having very unphilosophical origins.
  • It was established in Pennsylvania.
    • The law there favours no single sect despite having the most numerous Quakers.
    • It has produced this philosophical good temper and moderation.


198 Even if this equality of treatment does not produce this good temper and moderation in most religious sects, each sect’s excessive zeal would not be harmful if:

  • those sects were sufficiently numerous, and
  • each of them were consequently too small to disturb the public peace

It would produce several good effects.

  • If the government left them alone and obliged them to leave each other alone, they would naturally subdivide themselves fast enough to become sufficiently numerous.


Austere vs Liberal

199 In every civilized society which has the distinction of ranks, there were always two systems of morality.

  1. The strict or austere
    • This is generally admired and revered by the common people.
  2. The liberal or loose system
    • The loose is commonly more esteemed and adopted by people of fashion.
  • The vices of levity is apt to arise from great prosperity.
    • It leads to the excess of gaiety and good humour.
    • Our disapproval of levity is the principal distinction between those two opposite systems.
  • In the loose system, the following are generally treated with much indulgence and are easily excused or pardoned:
    • luxury
    • wanton and even disorderly amusement
    • the less-restrained pursuit of pleasure
    • the breach of chastity which do not lead to gross indecency, falsehood or injustice
  • In the strict system, those excesses are extremely abhorred and detested.
  • The vices of levity are always ruinous to common people
    • A single week’s thoughtlessness and dissipation is often sufficient to:
      • undo a poor workman forever, and
      • drive him to commit enormous crimes.
  • Wise common people always abhor and detest such excesses.
    • Their experience reminds them of its immediate fatality to people of their condition.
  • On the contrary, the disorder and extravagance of several years will not always ruin a man of fashion.
    • Those people consider excess as their advantage and looseness as one of the privileges of their fortune.
    • They regard such excesses with a slight disapproval.


200 Almost all religious sects began among the common people from whom they drew their earliest and most numerous proselytes.

  • The austere system of morality was adopted by those sects.
    • It best recommend their reformation plan to those common people.
  • Most of them gained credit by refining this austere system to the point of folly.
    • This excessive rigour gave them more of the respect and veneration of the common people.

201 A man of rank and fortune is a distinguished member of a great society.

  • Society attends to every part of his conduct.
    • It obliges him to attend to his own conduct himself.
  • His authority and consideration depend very much on the respect of his society.
    • He dares not do anything which would disgrace or discredit him.
    • He is obliged to strictly observe the moral system approved by his society for persons of his rank and fortune.
  • On the contrary, a man of low condition is not distinguished in any great society.
    • While he remains in a country village, his conduct may be attended to.
      • He may be obliged to attend to it himself.
      • Only in this situation does he have a character to lose.
    • But as soon as he comes into a great city he is sunk in obscurity and darkness.
      • No one observes or attends to his conduct.
      • He will very likely neglect it himself and abandon himself to vice.
      • He never emerges from this obscurity until he becomes a member of a small religious sect.
        • He then acquires some consideration he never had before.
        • All his fellow sect members are interested to observe his conduct.
        • He is liable to be punished or expelled from the sect if he enters any scandal.
  • In little religious sects, the common people’s morals were always remarkably regular and orderly.
    • The morals of those little sects were generally more regular than in the established church but were frequently disagreeably rigorous and unsocial.



Words: 2,210

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