Imatges de pÓgina

understood, as well by the governors as by the governed, and because the seldomer it is changed, the more perfectly it will be known by both fides.

VI, As all civil obligation is resolved into expediency, what, it

may be asked, is the difference between the obligation of an Englishman and a Frenchman ; or, why, since the obligation of both appears to be founded in the same reason, is a Frenchman bound in conscience to bear any thing from his king, which an Englishman would not be bound to bear? Their conditions may differ, but their rights, according to this account, should seem to be equal; and yet we are accustomed to speak of the rights as well as of the happiness of a free people, compared with what belong to the subjects of absolute monarchies : how, you will say, can this comparison be explained, unless we refer to a difference in the compacts by which they are respectively bound ?—This is a fair question, and the answer to it will afford a further illustration of our principles. We admit then that there are many things which a Frenchman is bound in conscience, as well as by coercion, to endure at the hands of his prince, to which an Englishman would not be obliged to submit; but we assert, that it is for L 2


these two reasons alone: first, because the same act of the prince is not the same grievance where it is agreeable to the constitution, and where infringes it ; fecondly, because redress in the two cales is not equally attainable. Resistance cannot be attempted with equal hopes of success, or with the same prospect of receiving support from others, where the people are reconciled to their sufferings, as where they are alarmed by innovation. In this way, and no otherwise, the subjects of different states postess different civil rights ; the duty of obedience is defined by different boundaries; and the point of justifable resistance placed at different parts of the scale of fuffering—all which is sufficiently intelligible. without a social compact.

VII. - The intereit of the whole society is

binding upon every part of it.” No rule, short of this, will provide for the stability of civil government, or for the peace and safety of focial life. Wherefore, as individual members of the state are not permitted to pursue their private emolument to the prejudice of the community, so is it equally a consequence of this rule, that no particular colony, province, town, or district, can justly concert measures for their feparate interest, which fall appear at the same

time to diminish the sum of public prosperity. I do not mean, that it is necessary to the justice of a measure, that it profit each and every part of the community ; (for, as the happiness of the whole may be increased, whilst that of some parts is diminished, it is possible that the conduct of one part of an empire may be detrimental to fome other part, and yet just, provided one part gain more in happiness than the other part loses, so that the common weal be augmented by the change :) but what I affirın is, that those counfels can never be reconciled with the obligations resulting from civil union, which cause the whole happiness of the society to be impaired for the conveniency of a part. This conclusion is applicable to the question of right between Great Britain and her revolted colonies. Had I been an American, I should not have thought it enough to have had it even demonstrated, that a separation from the parent state would produce effects beneficial to America ; my relation to that state imposed upon me a further enquiry, namely, whether the whole happiness of the empire was likely to be promoted by such a measure : Not indeed the happiness of every part; that was not necessary, nor to be expected—but whether what Great Britain would lose by the feparation

L 3



was likely to be compensated to the joint stock of happiness, by the advantages which America would receive from it. The contested claims of sovereign ftates, and their remote dependences, may be submitted to the adjudication of this rule with mutual safety. A public advantage is measured by the advantage which each indivi. dual receives, and by the number of those who receive it. A public evil is compounded of the same proportions. Whilst, therefore, a colony is small, or a province thinly inhabited, if a competition of interests arise between the original country and their acquired dominions, the former ought to be preferred, because it is fit that if one must necessarily be sacrificed, the less give place to the greater; but when, by an increase of

population, the interest of the provinces begins to bear a considerable proportion to the entire interest of the community, it is poflible that they may fuffer so much by their subje&ion, that not only theirs, but the whole happiness of the empire may be obstructed by their union. The rule and principle of the calculation being still the fame, the result is different; and this difference begets a new situation, which entitles the subor dinate parts of the state to more equal terms of confederation, and, if these be refused, to independency,


[ocr errors]





E affirm that, as to the extent of our civil

rights and obligations, Christianity hath , left us where she found us; that she hath neither altered nor ascertained it; that the New Testament contains not one passage, which, fairly interpreted, affords either argument or objection applicable to any conclusions upon the subject that are deduced from the law and religion of


The only passages which have been seriously alleged in the controversy, or which it is necefsary for us to state and examine, are the two following; the one extracted from St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, the other from the First General Epistle of St. Peter :.

ROMANS, xiii. I7. " Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God;


[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinua »