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After many able attempts of political writers to show the influence of civil government upon the power and wealth of nations, I here presume to offer to the world a few thoughts upon the relation it bears to objects of far more importance, and from which all others must derive their value.
Whoever shall look back on the extraordinary state of human affairs, a few years ago, when the whole frame of society seemed almost in danger of a dissolution, from the mischievous ferments occasioned by some novel principles of political and moral philosophy, will, I think, readily allow, that an endeavour to prevent a return of such essential duties and interest, has some title, though from the pen of an obscure citizen, to a degree of public indulgence.
Should there be any reader who shall feel himself disappointed, by finding nothing that is not already familiar to his reflections in the ensuing strictures, he will be pleased to remember, that many readers may not be equally furnished with himself; that every man is not in a like habit and train of thinking; and that it is incident even to the greatest minds to lose sight of the end in attending to the means, especially when these happen to be such as are suited powerfully to strike the imagination, and interest the passions, which is frequently the case of political subjects and discussions. The debates of senates, the councils of princes, the arrangements of war and peace, are matters of so great a sound, and carry in their front such a show of consequence,
pression, as to regard them with a steady reference to their proper use, namely, the advancement of the real virtue and happiness of mankind; which is the only just end of all human purposes and endeavours. To recal and attach the attention to this great object; to explain its connection with civil polity, and of both with religion; again, to state the reasons there are for contentment under any moderate government, and to enforce a due regard and submission to the actual government under which we live; and, lastly, (seeing the effects of political wisdom, in its greatest efforts, and operating in the most favourable circumstances, are very limited and uncertain) to point out independent sources of enjoyment under all governments, and in all situations, is the design of the present work; which, if moderately executed, can hardly fail to yield some profit both to the political and the
Should we suppose some statesman (as we may suppose any thing that is not impossible) sufficiently inclined and at leisure to cast an eye on the following pages j though they would probably add nothing to his stqck of political science, they might suggest to him a train of reflections in which he was far more interested, and which before might seldom have engaged his attention. From the transient and varying regulations of municipal law, and of the law of nations, he might be led to eternal and immutable morality; and from the feebleness and imperfection of human government, to the perfection and potency of the divine. :
Should the reader be of a more religious character, he may learn from the perusal of this volume, while he seeks the kingdom of God, to pay a due regard to the ordinances of men; and while he prepares himself for