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Having stated what'we have been able to collect, in opposition to the lawfulness of suicide, by way of direct proof, it feems unnecessary to open a separate controversy with all the arguments which are made ufe of to defend it; which would only lead us into a repetition of what hås been offered already. The following argument, however, being somewhat more artificial and impofing than the rest, as well as diftinct from the general consideration of the subject, cannot so properly be passed over. If we deny to the individual a right over his own life, it seems impossible, it is said, to reconcile with the law of nature that right which the state claims and exercises over the lives of its subjects, when it ordains or inflicts capital punishments. For this right, like all other just authority in the ftate, can only be derived from the compact and virtual consent of the citizens which compose the state ; and it seems self-evident, if any principle in morality be so, that no one, by his confent, can transfer to another a right which he does not possess himself. It will be equally difficult to account for the power of the state to commit its subjects to the dangers of war, and to expose their lives without scruple in the field of battle; especially in offensive hostilities, in
which the privileges of self-defence cannot be pleaded with any appearance of truth: and still more difficult to explain, how in fuch, or in any circumstances, prodigality of life can be a virtue, if the preservation of it be a duty of our nature.
This whole reasoning sets out from one error, namely, that the state acquires its right over the life of the subject from the subject's own consent, as a part of what originally and personally belonged to himself, and which he has made over to his governors. The truth is, the state derives this right, neither from the consent of the subject, nor through the medium of that consent, but, as I may say, immediately froin the donation of the Deity. Finding that such a power in the sovereign of the community is expedient, if not necessary for the community itself, it is justly presumed to be the will of God, that the sovereign should possess and exercise it, It is this presumption which constitutes the right; it is the same indeed which constitutes every other; and if there were the like reasons to authorize the presumption in the case of private persons, suicide would be as justifiable as war, or capital executions. But, until it can be shown, that the power over human life may be
converted to the same advantage in the hands of individuals over their own, as in those of the state over the lives of its subjects, and that it may be entrusted with equal safety to both, there is no room for arguing from the existence of such a right in the latter, to the toleration of it in the former.
DUTIES TOWARD:S GOD.
| C H A P. I.
DIVISION OF THESE DUTIES.
TN one sense, every duty is a duty towards
1 God, since it is his will which makes it a duty: but there are some duties, of which God is the object, as well as the author; and these are peculiarly, and in a more appropriated sense called duties towards God.
That filent piety, which consists in a habit of tracing out the Creator's wisdom and goodness in
the objects around us, or in the history of his dispensations ; of referring the blessings we enjoy to his bounty, and of resorting in our distresses to his succour, may possibly be more acceptable to the Deity, than any visible expressions of devotion whatever. Yet these latter, which, although they may be excelled, are not superseded by the former, compose the only part of the subject which admits of direction or disquisition from a moralist.
Our duty towards God, so far as it is external, is divided into worship and reverence. God is the immediate object of both: and the difference between them is, that the one consists in action, the other in forbearance. When we go to church on the Lord's day, led thither by a sense of duty towards God, we perform an act of worship: when, from the same motive, we rest in a journey upon that day, we discharge a duty of reverence..
Divine worship is made up of adoration, thankfgiving, and prayer. But, as what we have to offer concerning the two former may be observed of prayer, we shall make that the title of the following chapters, and the direct subject of our consideration,