Home  »  Fruits of Solitude  »  The Right Moralist

William Penn. (1644–1718). Fruits of Solitude.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Part II

The Right Moralist

1. A Right Moralist, is a Great and Good Man, but for that Reason he is rarely to be found.

2. There are a Sort of People, that are fond of the Character, who, in my Opinion, have but little Title to it.

3. They think it enough, not to defraud a Man of his Pay, or betray his Friend; but never consider, That the Law forbids the one at his Peril, and that Virtue is seldom the Reason of the other.

4. But certainly he that Covets, can no more be a Moral Man, than he that Steals; since he does so in his Mind. Nor can he be one that Robs his Neighbor of his Credit, or that craftily undermines him of his Trade or Office.

5. If a Man pays his Taylor, but Debauches his Wife; Is he a current Moralist?

6. But what shall we say of the Man that Rebels against his Father, is an Ill Husband, or an Abusive Neighbor; one that ’s Lavish of his Time, of his Health, and of his Estate, in which his Family is so nearly concerned? Must he go for a Right Moralist, because he pays his Rent well?

7. I would ask some of those Men of Morals, Whether he that Robs God and Himself too, tho’ he should not defraud his Neighbor, be the Moral Man?

8. Do I owe my self Nothing? And do I not owe All to God? And if paying what we owe, makes the Moral Man, is it not fit we should begin to render our Dues, where we owe our very Beginning; ay, our All?

9. The Compleat Moralist begins with God; he gives him his Due, his Heart, his Love, his Service; the Bountiful Giver of his Well-Being, as well as Being.

10. He that lives without a Sense of this Dependency and Obligation, cannot be a Moral Man, because he does not make his Returns of Love and Obedience; as becomes an honest and a sensible Creature: Which very Term Implies he is not his own; and it cannot be very honest to misimploy another’s Goods.

11. But can there be no Debt, but to a fellow Creature? Or, will our Exactness in paying those Dribling ones, while we neglect our weightier Obligations, Cancel the Bonds we lie under, and render us right and thorough Moralists?

12. As Judgments are paid before Bonds, and Bonds before Bills or Book-Debts, so the Moralist considers his Obligations according to their several Dignities.

In the first Place, Him to whom he owes himself. Next, himself, in his Health and Livelihood. Lastly, His other Obligations, whether Rational or Pecuniary; doing to others, to the Extent of his Ability, as he would have them do unto him.

13. In short, The Moral Man is he that Loves God above All, and his Neighbor as himself, which fulfils both Tables at once.