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Secondly: That excess of liberty which tends so much to vitiate the will, and to produce anxious suspense, no less tends to deprave the passions, and augment their natural violence, which must often end in bitter disappointment. The savage ferocity, and enormous lewdness, with other monstrous vices, which marked the characters of many of the Roman emperors, as it cannot reasonably be ascribed to any extraordinary corruption of nature, must be resolved into the want of that salutary discipline and restraint, which served, in some measure, to keep other men within the bounds of 'virtue and decency. Nero, for some years after his accession to the empire, was celebrated for his moderation and clemency; he abolished many of the public taxes, and diminished others; and when called upon to sign the death-warrant of a criminal, he would exclaim; Quam vellem nescire literas ! How happy if I could not write! Yet this man, at length intoxicated with power, became a monster of profusion and cruelty; his palace was overlaid with gold, and a thousand carriages attended him in his journies; and such was his cruelty, that to this day it continues proverbial; to all which were added the most extravagant and unnatural lusts. A similar depravation of character is noted in Caligula, Caracalla, and others of that imperial race; which seems to have been raised up by Providence to teach the world of what dreadful enormities our nature is capable, when left without control, and abandoned to its own propensities. But there is no necessity of recurring to former periods to show, that those who have been least under the government of others are generally least able to govern themselves; and that power, when it falls into such hands, is commonly converted into an instrument of sensuality and injustice. We need only to take a view of our own times, to be supplied with too many examples to this purpose.
Nor is an unrestrained indulgence of the passions more unfavourable to virtue, than
it is to enjoyment. This will evidently ap· pear, if we attend only to their encroaching
and insatiable nature when left without check, together with their aptness to inter
fere and clash with one another, which, separate from every moral consideration, and what hereafter may take place under the righteous government of God, can hardly fail to breed much disquiet in the bosom where they are suffered to reign uncontrolled. Of this, the wise monarch of the Jews had full experience, which he entered upon record for the warning and instruction of all future ages. He sought in his heart, as he tells us, to give himself unto wine, and to lay hold on folly; he made great works, built houses, and planted vineyards; he gathered silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and provinces ; gat men-singers and women-singers, and the delights of the sons of men : whatsoever his eyes desired he kept not from them, nor withheld his heart from any joy. And what was the result of all this toilsome forecast and provision? Then, says he, I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do; and behold all was vanity and veration
of spirit. From such a trial, made with · · every possible advantage, we may there
fore conclude with certainty, that to make the most of the passions, even as to this world, is not to allow them full scope, but to subdue their natural wildness, and inure them to a ready submission to the just authority of law, both divine and human.
. There is another species of liberty, on which I am willing to bestow a few strictures in this place, although its connection with civil government is less direct and imme diate. Should the reader think it a digression, it is one'which I hope he will exeuse, on account of the importance of the subs ject. : ? ;9750 has siis -.-The liberty I here intend is moral, dand consists in a power of acting in all cases with an habitual and prevalent regard to what is morally right. ic. 1.;'3,: *9!9
That this is a liberty pre-eminent to all others needs little illustration. What would it avail a man to climbi the Alps nor the Andes; to visit the pyramids of Egypt, or the great wall of China ; or, more wisely perhaps, sit at home, under the protection of equal laws, and quietly enjoy his portion: of the good things of this life? What