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liberal clear profit upon that capital in reward for his industry and exertions.
It does, I trust, appear that, under the operation of the principles established in the first book of this treatise, the production of all these objects lies within the compass of such laws as a free people may not only cheerfully live under, but by which they will find their political condition and private happiness materially improved. The people 'must indeed contribute their share to the production and permanence of these blessings, by the adoption of a reasonable and moral system in their private and public conduct. The force of no political institutions that ever were promulgated is sufficient permanently to carry on the public prosperity, when opposed by a profligate and discontented, and consequently a factious people; a consideration which should convince mankind, if any thing is capable of working the conviction, of the paramount influence of morals over politics. But so long as the people will faithfully and steadily adhere to such a system, there seems to be no political necessity that their condition should ever alter for the
The conservative principle involved in the propositions maintained in the first book of this treatise seem to guarantee society from that principle of decay connected with the progress of population, to which it has been assumed to be necessarily liable from its very constitution and essence. There is evidently no physical impossibility of maintaining the people in comfort, from their internal resources, up to any given period of time.
It must, however, again be pressed upon the reader's attention that, in order to induce a people faithfully and steadily to adhere to their system,
something more is necessary than a mere conviction of its political utility. This conviction has ever been too weak to overcome the indolent or selfish propensities of mankind. To become effectual, it must be aided by public principle, which can only be founded in moral knowledge and integrity, which, again, can find its source in no other spring but sound and pure religion. This, to use a simile of Sir James Steuart, is the top of the pyramid. If it be not contracted to this point, but its summit left bare and exposed by the omission of the apex, the storms will enter, and the edifice must gradually decay, and crumble into ruins.
It is partly for these reasons that I venture to add a third book to this treatise, containing the moral consequences deducible from its fundamental principles. I have also been induced to make this addition, because some departments of moral conduct, most nearly affecting the comfort and happiness of mankind, derive a peculiar character from the principles of this treatise, distinct from that which my opponents have endeavoured to impress upon them. This is particularly true of many objects relating to the exercise of charity, to the marriage of the lower orders of the people, and to a few other points which are detailed in the following book. I trust that they will be found not altogether wanting in interest or novelty-nor, above all, in TRUTH.
NORAL CONSEQUENCES DEDUCIBLE FROM THE PRIN
CIPLES OF THIS TREATISE.
Application of the third Principle-That the Ten
dency of Population will neither be materially altered nor diverted from its natural Course, (as exhibited in the foregoing Chapters,) in a Country whose Government, Laws, and Customs, are founded, in the main, upon Principles of Religion, Morality, rational Liberty, and Security of Person and Property, although these Principles may obtain only an imperfect Influence.
THE preceding books of this treatise have probably been successful in establishing the connexion between the principles of sound politics and of pure inorals, as well as in exhibiting the dependance of the most important conclusions in political economy upon the preservation of rational liberty, security of property, and the consequent promotion of industry. The whole foundation of the argument in the preceding books resting upon the spontaneous operations of men as society advances, the enjoyment of rational liberty in their actions, and of security in their persons and properties, is of course implied. It is unnecessary therefore to dwell upon the applica
tion of that part of the principle at the head of this chapter, which refers to liberty and security, any further than to claim admission for the obvious fact that their theoretic perfection is not necessary to ensure the free and unimpeded progress of society. The history of our own country is more than sufficient to show, that where the government and laws are founded, in the main, upon the principles of liberty, partial deviations and individual exceptions will not impede the general march of the commonwealth in its career of happiness and prosperity.
The religious and moral part of the principle, which forms the title of this chapter, not having incidentally fallen under discussion to the same extent, we shall now proceed to investigate and apply it.
It has been already shown that the progress of society depends upon the spontaneous operations of mankind, in the pursuit of that course, which Providence has chalked out as leading to general happiness and prosperity, and that any deviation from it is always accompanied with proportionate difficulties and disorders in the machinery of the commonwealth.
But men's spontaneous operations are of course dependant upon their wills; and as the will of man is naturally liable to be perverted by selfishness, by short-sighted views of immediate interest, and by the external temptations which surround him, all of which are continually soliciting him, with a view to his individual interest, to depart from the course which leads to the general wealth of the community, it is obvious that some higher principle is required than those usually presented to our notice by writers on political economy. Now it is not easy to discover where a principle is to be found sufficiently powerful
to counteract this natural bent towards evil in human society, except in the department of morals.
Again, as the healthy progress of society depends upon the pursuit of that course which Providence has chalked out as leading to general happiness and prosperity, the question of expediency is of course involved in it. But if there is one fact more fully established than another, to the satisfaction of every candid investigator of human actions and opinions, it is the uncertainty of the conclusions drawn from mere political expediency, which, as an excellent writer has observed, are the result merely of man's, “ judgment of probabilities.” But as no two men ever formed the same judgment of probabilities, some further rule of reference is of course required for the regulation of men's actions and opinions. And it may be asked, with some confidence, where is a rule of reference to be found sufficiently capacious to include all the debateable points respecting the will of Providence in the government of human society, and sufficiently incontrovertible or authoritative to bring the debates to a conclusion, except the rule given by the great Architect of society for the preservation of his own work? This rule, it will not I apprehend be denied, is that of moral expediency, not always as it may be deduced from the law and the light of nature, (which only removes the difficulty one step, and still leaves the conclusion as open to debate as before,) but as it is plainly expressed in the precepts of Revelation, which, as Dr. Paley observes, are as much intended to regulate the conduct of men as members of the community, and as citizens of the world, as in their capacity of private individuals. Indeed, although this truth has been too frequently