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that it is the interest of such a country in the ad vanced stages, that its lower orders should marry when they can procure a decent habitation, and the father has a fair average prospect of supporting two children by his labour; and that such being its interest, it is bound to provide, and will always have the power of providing, for the eventual maintenance of families consisting of a greater number of children, and for the eventual relief of such of the parents as may fall into temporary distress, from the fluctuations of employment necessarily incident to all complicated states of society.
The universal tendency of population to keep within the powers of the soil to bestow subsistence affords irrefragable proof that there is no physical impossibility that society should go on for an indefinite period advancing, and the community increasing in happiness and prosperity, under the laws and regulations of a benignant Providence. Still less can there be asserted to be any moral impossibility that they should so proceed. Vice and misery do not necessarily increase as society advances, unless counteracted by the general fulfilment of certain impossible conditions, which economists may choose to designate by the term moral restraint. But a people will gradually advance in moral improvement, as well as in temporal happiness and political prosperity, in proportion as they adhere to the general will of Providence, as announced in the precepts of the Holy Scriptures. Political speculations for the good of mankind, independent of these sanctions, will certainly fail of their effect; and if we examine to the bottom the instances in which they have failed, the want of success will plainly appear to have arisen
from moral deficiencies. To take an instance from the English Poor Laws :-In parishes where they have been honestly administered, and where the people have had the advantage of zealous and spiritual instructors, the general condition of the society is superior to any thing the world can show. But where legislative enactments have been thought sufficient to supply the place of moral instruction, (instead of coming in aid of it,) half the advantages of the system have been lost by the counteracting effects of moral debasement. The chief advantages then consist in the security. afforded by the system that attention to moral considerations will be revived by the pressure produced on the higher orders in consequence of the prevalence of moral debasement among the lower.
Various other instances might be cited in illustration: but they are I trust scarcely necessary to convince the reader who has advanced thus far in this treatise, that Politics, Morals, and Christianity, are dependant upon each other in the order in which they have been cited :—that the welfare of society, in its totality or in its separate parts, can no more be established by the principles of the first without a reference to the second, or of these without a reference to the third, than a finite straight line can be divided into two equal parts, without first knowing how to describe upon it an equilateral triangle.
According to the principles then of this treatise, , our rational prospects of a progressive improvement in the condition of mankind stand thus : physically and politically speaking, there appears to be no natural or necessary impediment. But the extent to which the physical and political ability will be ren
dered available to the purposes for which they were bestowed, must entirely depend upon the degree in which they are fortified and regulated by the prevalence of sound morals and pure religion. Whatsoever therefore gives force to these, improves the scene and vivifies the prospect. If this grand truth hath been hitherto contemplated as little more than speculative in political systems, if the acknowledgement of it hath been merely verbal and of course, while its real influence has evaporated amidst the contentious elements of worldly argument ; doubtless a practical conviction of its essential necessity and active operation in all affairs of policy does of itself open views of improvement of a cheering nature ; and considering the free course which, by the arguments of this treatise, the principle of population appears to afford to the temporal happiness and moral improvement of the people, the whole view is abundantly sufficient to confirm the conduct of the States man, and to animate the hopes of the Christian.
THE judicious Hooker has the following passage: “ God first assigned Adam maintenance of life, and then appointed him a law to observe. True it is, that the kingdom of God must be the first thing in our purpose and desires; but inasmuch as a righteous life presupposeth life, inasmuch as to live virtuously it is impossible, except we live; therefore the first impediment which naturally we endeavour to remove is penury and want of things, without which we cannot live.”
In the foregoing treatise I have proceeded in some measure upon this hypothesis, having endeavoured to show in the first two books by what means a community is exempted from “ that want of things without which they cannot live;" and in the third to exhibit the laws appointed for their observance when “ maintenance of life" is assigned to them. But I have also attempted to do more than this. I have endeavoured to show further that the“ observance of the law” secures “the maintenance of life;" that “ a righteous life,” or the influence of religion and morals in a community, not only “presupposeth,” but is actually the condition of obtaining a competent portion of subsistence; and although “ to live virtuously it is impossible, except we live,” yet in proportion as we do in fact live virtuously, the difficulty of living at all, or of finding the means to support life, will disappear. It has been my object
to prove the truth of this gracious dispensation of Providence, by showing, in the first book, the admirable proportions maintained between population and subsistence in every gradation through which society passes, and the dependance which the maintenance of this proportion has upon the general conformity of the people with the express commands of God for their government. It was proved that, preserving this conformity even to a very moderate extent, their comfortable subsistence is always secured by the conservative principle upon which the progress of population is regulated, notwithstanding the continual decrease in the productive powers of the soil ; so that at no period, from the very infancy of society to the highest state of civilization at which any people can be conceived to arrive, and from the very commencement of cultivation to its fullest state of production and improvement, will a tolerably virtuous and well-governed population press perniciously against the means of subsistence derived from its native soil.
In the application of these truths, in the second book, the object has been to exhibit the means by which a moral people will employ their industry, in extracting a continual increase of subsistence from the soil of their own country to meet the demands of their augmenting numbers for food; and the precautions by which they will endeavour to secure this increase from waste and dilapidation. It is presumed to have been proved that, even in this department of the subject, which appears of a nature so strictly economical, success is very much dependant upon moral causes, through the influence of which economical measures will be efficient in raising pra