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rulers would have learned to act for the people, and the people to submit cheerfully to lawful and moderate government. The fact is, that, till some great revolution take place in human nature, the world will go on at its old rate, will continue to be swayed by its interests and passions, and perpetually be vibrating between truth and error, tyranny and licence, in spite of all the efforts of patriots and philosophers.
Fifthly, by incivility. It has been often justly observed, that the miseries of the present life arise not so much from great calamities, which but seldom happen, as from a succession of small vexations, which fret a man's spirit, exhaust his patience, and so bring him into a state of perpetual irritation. Whatever therefore tends to obviate these petty evils, highly deserves the attention of every one who either values his own quiet or that of others. On this account civility is an object of important consideration, as it serves to prevent those minute offences which are so apt to disturb our friendly intercourse, and frequently to convert it into a state of secret animosity or
of open hostility. Man is a being who naturally demands respect, and often suffers more patiently a substantial injury than a slight contempt, which, if unnoticed, would neither affect his reputation nor his fortune. How deeply the resentment of such shadowy offences may penetrate the human heart, we have a striking example in the story of Haman, who, because Mordecai the Jew refused him those tokens of honour paid him by others, lost all enjoyment of himself and of his elevated condition, and conceived the dreadful purpose of revenging upon a whole nation his quarrel with an obscure stranger. This instance is only singular by its magnitude. There are few persons, I fear, who may not look back upon certain conjunctures, when their revenge has been excited, their nights disturbed, and all their comforts embittered, because some unlucky Mordecai had denied them that respect they thought their due; nor is it very uncommon for men of false honour to put to hazard the lives of others, as well as their own, for the sake of chastising some petty insult or ceremonious neglect. Hence then ap
pears the importance of attending to the usual forms of civility among beings so ready to give and to take offence. Of this the Chinese are so sensible, that at Pekin there is a court established for regulating the ceremonial of the empire, both among natives and strangers. This punctilious regard to manners is strongly marked in one of their volumes, which contains, as we are told, no less than three thousand rules for the behaviour of persons of every rank, and upon every occasion.
Now, though all these regulations could in every instance be reduced exactly to practice, which is evidently impossible, there would yet remain, as will easily be conceived, numberless ways of conveying insult, which the formality of respect would only render still more provoking. Human nature is a Proteus that cannot be held by any merely outward constraint: nothing short of a moral revolution, in which pride gives place to humility, and selfishness to benevolence, can produce a genuine and uniform civility of manners.
These few remarks may suffice, concerning the influence of civil government upon liberty, security, property, and public decorum, which we have stated to be its first and immediate objects; and, from its bearing upon these objects, shall next proceed to estimate its influence on virtue and happiness: only premising that, in order to simplify our discourse, we shall reduce the four heads now stated, under those of liberty and property, which, when taken extensively, will be found to comprize the other two.
SECTION III. An Estimate of the Influence of Civil Government on Virtue and Happiness, from the Relation it bears to Liberty.
It is intended, in the present section, to. take a view of civil government in the following respects: first, As it restrains liberty; secondly, As it improves and enlarges it; lastly, As it is a species of moral discipline: and in each of these cases to estimate the effect on Virtue and Happiness.
I. What I have to offer on the first point proposed, I shall introduce with the following brief remarks on natural liberty, and the limitations under which it is found in man.
The liberty of every agent must be limited by his power, the liberty of doing any thing necessarily presupposing the power of doing it; hence that being only whose power is infinite possesses absolute liberty.
Whatsoever God determinately wills to do, is done. He spake, and the earth was; he commanded, and it stood fast; he said,