Imatges de pÓgina
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of thefe much agitated passages, little need be added in explanation of particular clauses. St. Paul has said, “ Whosoever resisteth the power, « resisteth the ordinance of God.” This phrase, " the ordinance of God,” is by many so interpreted as to authorize the most exalted and fuperftitious ideas of the regal character. But, surely, such interpreters have facrificed truth to adulation. For, in the first place, the expreffion, as used by St. Paul, is just as applicable to one kind of government, and to one kind of fucceffion, as to another---to the elective magistrates of a pure republic, as to an absolute hereditary monarch. In the nest place, it is not ailirmed cf the fupremne magistrate exclusively, that he is the ordinance of God; the title, whatever it imports, belongs to every inferior officer of the state as much as to the highest. The divine right of Kings is, like the divine right of othér magistrates--the law of the land, or even actual and quiet poffeffion of their office; a right ratified, we humbly presume, by the divine approbation, so long as obedience to their authority arpears to be necessary or conducive to the common welfare. Princes are ordained of God by virtue only of that general decree, by which he allents, and adds the fauction of his will, to every law of society, which promotes his own purpose, the communication of human happiness: according to which idea of their origin and constitution, (and without any repugnancy to the words of St. Paul,) they are by St. Peter denominated the ordinance of man.

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CHAP. V.

OF CIVIL LIBERTY.

CIVIL Liberty is the not being restrained by any

Law, but what conduces in a greater degree to the public welfare.

To do what we will, is natural liberty; to do what we will, consistently with the interest of the community to which we belong, is civil liberty; that is to say, the only liberty to be defired in a flate of civil society.

I should wish, no doubt, to be allowed to act in every instance as I pleated, but I reflect that

I the reit also of mankind would then do the lame; in which state of universal independence and fulf-direction I should meet with so many checks and obftacles to my own will, from the interference and opposition of other men's, that not only my lappiness, but my liberty, would be less, thán wbilit the whole community were fubject to the dominion of equal laws. I he boafed liberty of a state of nature exists

only only in a state of folitude. In

every

kind and degree of union and intercourse with liis fpecies, it is possible that the liberty of the individual may be augmented by the very laws which restrain it; because he may gain more from the limitation of other men's freedom than he suffers by the diminution of his own. Natural liberty is the right of common upon a waste; civil liberty is the safe, exclusive, unmolested enjoyment of a cultivated inclosure.

The definition of civil liberty above laid down, imports that the laws of a free people impose no restraints upon the private will of the subject, which do not conduce in a greater degree to the public happiness : by which it is intimated, ift, that restraint itself is an evil ; 2dly, that this evil ought to be overbalanced by fome public advantage; 3dly, that the proof of this advantage lies upon the legislature ; 4ihly, that a law being found to produce no sensible good effects, is a suffici, nt reason for repealing it, as adverse and injurious to the rights of a free citizen, without demanding specific evidence of its bad effects. This maxim might be remembered with advan:age in a revision of of this country ; especially of the game laws; of the poor laws, so far as they lay restrictions

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the poor themselves ; of the laws against papists and dissenters: and, amongst people enamoured to excess and jealous of their liberty, it seems a matter of surprise that this principle has been so imperfectly attended to.

The degree of actual liberty always bearing, according to this account of it, a reversed proportion to the number and severity of the restrictions which are either useless, or the utility of which does not outweigh the evil of the restraint; it follows that every nation possesses some, no nation perfect liberty; that this liberty may be enjoyed under every form of government; that it

may be impaired indeed, or increased, but that it is neither gained, nor lost, nor recovered, by any single regulation, change, or event whatever; that, consequently, those popular phrases which speak of a free people, of a nation of Naves; which call one revolution the æra of liberty, or another the loss of it; with many expressions of a like absolute form, are intelligible only in a comparative sense.

Hence alo we are enabled to apprehend the distinction between personal and civil liberty. A citizen of the freeft republic in the world may be imprisoned for his crimes; and though his personal freedom be restrained by bolts and fet

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