— 359 —
The denominations of Actions often mislead us.       §16. But because, very frequently the positive Idea of the Action,
and its Moral Relation, are comprehended together under one Name,
and the same Word made use of, to express both the Mode or
Action, and its Moral Rectitude or Obliquity: therefore the
Relation it self is less taken notice of; and there is often no distinction
made between the positive Idea of the Action, and the reference it has to
a Rule. By which confusion, of these two distinct Considerations,
under one Term, those who yield too easily to the Impressions of
Sounds, and are forward to take Names for Things, are often misled
in their Judgment of Actions. Thus the taking from another what
is his, without his Knowledge or Allowance, is properly called
Stealing: but that Name, being commonly understood to signify
also the Moral pravity of the Action, and to denote its contrariety
to the Law, Men are apt to condemn, whatever they hear called
Stealing, as an ill Action, disagreeing with the Rule of Right. And
— 360 —
yet the private taking away his Sword from a Mad-man, to prevent
his doing Mischief, though it be properly denominated Stealing, as
the Name of such a mixed Mode: yet when compared to the Law of
God; and considered in its relation to that supreme Rule, it is no
Sin, or Transgression, though the Name Stealing ordinarily carries
such an intimation with it.
Locke Hum II, 28, §16, pp. 359-360