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religion conferred upon its professors, were wont to extol the “ liberty into which they were cal“ led,”—“ 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 finful pafsions, to the superstition of the Gentile idolatry, or the incumbered 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. fedition), 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 · VOL. II.
of these much agitated passages, little reed be added in explanation of particular clauses. St. Paul has faid, “ 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 superstitious ideas of the regal character. But, furely, such interpreters have facrificed truth to adulation. For in the first place, the expresfion, 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 magiitrates 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 Constables 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 fanction 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.
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 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 fame ; in which state of univerfal independence and self-direction I should meet with so many 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 subjected to the dominion of equal laws.
The boasted liberty of a state of nature exists
only only in a state of solitude. In every kind and degree of union and intercourse with his fpecies, the liberty of the individual is augmented by the very laws which restrain it; because he gains 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, ist, 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 fensible 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