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lowing age, excited by this principle, or upon this pretence, confirm the presumption. Now, as the Christians were at first chiefly taken from the Jews, confounded with them by the rest of the world, and, from the affinity of the two religions, apt to intermix the doctrines of both, it is not to be wondered at that a tenet, so flattering to the self-importance of those who embraced it, should have been communicated to the new iustitution. Again, the teachers of Christianity, amongst the privileges which their religion conferred upon its professors, were wont to extol the
liberty into which they were called,”—“ in
which Christ had made them free." This liberty, which was intended of a deliverance from the various servitude, in which they had heretofore lived, to the domination of sinful passions, to the superstition of the Gentile idolatry, or the encumbered ritual of the Jewish dispensation, might by some be interpreted to signify an emancipation from all restraint which was imposed by an authority merely human. At least, they might be represented by their enemies as maintaining notions of this' dangerous tendency. To some error or calumny of this kind, the words of St. Peter seem to allude:-".For 'so is the
“ will of God, that with well-doing ye may
put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
as free, and not using your liberty for a “ cloak of maliciousness (i. e. sedition), but
as the servants of God.” After all, if any one think this conjecture too feebly supported by testimony, to be relied upon in the interpretation of Scripture, he will then revert to the considerations alleged in the preceding part of this chapter.
After so copious an account of what we apprehend to be the general design and doctrine of these much-agitated passages, little need be added in explanation of particular clauses. St. Paul has said, “ Whosoever resisteth the
resisteth the “ ordinance of God.” This phrase, “ ordinance of God,” is by many so interpreted as to authorise the most exalted and superstitious ideas of the regal character. But surely, such interpreters have sacrificed truth to adulation. For, in the first place, the expression, as used by St. Paul, is just as applicable to one kind of government, and to one kind of succession, as to another ;-to the elective magistrates of a pure republic, as to an absolute hereditary monarch. In the next place, it is not affirmed of the supreme
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 other magistrates,—the law of the land, or even actual and quiet possession of their office ; -a right ratified, we humbly presume, by the Divine approbation, so long as obedience to their authority appears to be necessary or conducive to the common welfare. Princes are ordained of God by virtue only of that general decree by which he assents, and adds the sanction 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.
OF CIVIL LIBERTY.
Civil Liberty is the not being restrained by any law, but what conduces in a greater degree to the public welfare.
with so many
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 desired in a state of civil society.
I should wish, no doubt, to be allowed to act in every instance as I pleased, but I reflect that the rest also of mankind would then do the same ; in which state of universal independence and self-direction, I should meet
checks and obstacles to my own will, from the interference and opposition of other men's, that not only my happiness, but my liberty, would be less, than whilst the whole community were subject to the dominion of equal laws.
The boasted liberty of a state of nature exists only in a state of solitude. In every kind and degree of union and intercourse with his species, 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
Natural liberty is the right of common upon a waste; civil liberty is the safe, exclusive, unmolested enjoyment of a cultivated enclosure.
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, 1st, that restraint itself is an evil; 2dly, that this evil ought to be overbalanced by some public advantage; 3dly, that the proof of this advantage lies upon the legislature ; 4thly, that a law being found to produce no sensible good effects, is a sufficient 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 advantage in a revision of many laws of this country ; especially of the game-laws ; of the poor laws, so far as they lay restrictions upon
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