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duce for any increase of numbers to which a population so regulated will extend. There is therefore no physical impossibility of maintaining the people in comfort from their internal resources up to any given period of time.
In the application of the fundamental truths of the treatise in the third book, the object has been to exhibit the means by which the conservative principle, inherent in the progress of the population, is kept alive and regulated by the influence of religion, morals, rational liberty, and security of property over the customs, habits, pursuits, and spontaneous distribution of the people. And it is presumed to have been proved that the free exercise of all the - virtues commanded in Scripture, and of all the moral obligations which can be deduced from an enlightened conscience, are not only compatible with, but to a considerable extent absolutely essential to, the salutary progress of population. Nay, more, that the progress will be salutary in proportion to the prevalence of moral and religious principles. There is therefore no moral impossibility of maintaining the people in comfort and happiness from their internal resources up to any given period of time.
The three books together may perhaps be allowed to exhibit something not far removed from a complete system of the elements of civil society, uniform in its tendency, agreeing with itself in all its parts, and strictly consonant with the revealed will of God, and with the moral laws thence derived. It shows that population may continue regularly increasing in numbers, wealth, and happiness from the first step in the career of society up to the highest point of civilization, under the operation of the laws which God
himself hath appointed for their instruction, checked by no impediments but those which arise out of a wilful deviation from those laws; and above all unembarrassed by any principle of evil nécessarily arising, not from their own propensitý to vice, but from their obedience to the laws which God has given them to counteract it.
Any approach towards the proof that such is the condition of human society in its fundamental elements must, I should think, afford sincere pleasure to every one who honours God and loves mankind. It must also animate his courage in the cause of both,-in the joint pursuit of piety and political knowledge. Few things are more discouraging to great moral exertions than the morbid doubts thrown around the question of their ultimate efficacy. A man requires to see clearly before he undertakes to act resolutely. There is not therefore a more certain method of paralyzing his efforts than by unfixing his principles, nor more efficacious means of invigorating his good resolutions than by showing the positive certainty of their advantageous results. It is surely, therefore, no small accession to the practical value of any system, that it exhibits one uniform and undeviating principle of action, applicable to every conceivable state of things, infallible in the production of profitable consequences, and usefully operative in proportion as it is called into exercise.
If the contemplation of such a system be useful towards the production, and animating to the progress, of the nobler sentiments among mankind in general, it should produce these effects in a peculiar manner among the ingenuous youth of the United Kingdom. They can scarcely take a step in their
inquiries into the history and polity of their own country without tracing the consequences of such a system. Howsoever its vigour may, by lapse of time and partial neglect, have been permitted to droop in some of its departments, they will find in the construction of the system itself, that its founders looked to pure morals and sound religion as the fundamental principles of public prosperity. Our youth will therefore discover in the constitution of their own country, in church and state, at once the true foundations of national strength, and examples for the regulation of their own conduct and character as active citizens of a free country. If, during their perusal of the preceding view of the progress of society, they will bring the History of England to bear upon any one of the stages which have passed under investigation, they will probably find that the state has been carried through it with success, and made the transition to that which next succeeds, principally because it has in the main been governed upon the system recommended in this treatise; that is, that its laws and institutions have been founded in moral and religious principles, and that its leading statesmen, at the critical periods of its history, have usually referred their political measures to that unerring test. It will scarcely be denied, for example, that during the last century we have been profiting, almost exclusively, by the religious and political institutions left behind them by the great and good men who flourished at the REFORMATION and the REVOLUTION; that sound religion was the cardinal point to which all those institutions were directed, and, together with morals, afforded the principles upon which they were constructed. As little can it be denied that, during
the last century, if the institutions have not been permitted actually to decay, at least the spirit of some of them has declined, and sufficient care has not been taken to extend and apply them to the altered circumstances of the country. If it be asked wherefore is this? I should be tempted to reply, because the cardinal principle was overlooked ; because political sagacity was estranged from its legitimate companion sound piety; and the effect of moral and political institutions upon the people was referred not to the eternal principles asserted by God for the government of man, but to the degenerate passions of the parties concerned, and to the temporary and particular interests of the passing moment.
Let the British youth compare the benefits conferred upon his country by Sir Robert Walpole, one of the most celebrated statesmen of the last century, with those which we inherit from the statesmen who flourished 150 years before him; let the principles and the character of each be investigated; and the decided opposition will scarcely be entirely ascribed to the different circumstances of the world at the two periods. For the variance is certainly to the full as great in principle as in practice.
If these were some of the causes of partial and incipient decay, it is a much more agreeable, and not a less profitable task to trace the causes of the partial and incipient improvement which has marked the auspicious period of the present century. It would, I humbly conceive, be a symptom of blind prejudice to deny either that the moral and political character of the universal English people (if I may be allowed the term) has made a vigorous shoot in advance, or that the cause is to be found in the
nourishment which has been betowed upon the root of the plant from the revived application of religious principle. These considerations are awfully instructive to such of my countrymen as are now in a course of training to fill the important and responsible offices of the state.
It would be an undertaking equally pleasant and profitable to follow the progress of the British commonwealth through the several stages of society, and to mark the instances of its partial deviation from, or courageous adherence to, sound principles, with the consequences arising from each. But the execution of such a task would evidently require a volume, to which indeed this which I have now brought to a close would be no unsuitable introduction. Whether I may myself presume to enter upon it must depend upon circumstances which it is impossible at the present moment to anticipate ; for I possess no means of foreseeing to what extent the public may be pleased to sanction or condemn the present undertaking. If they determine to reject my principles, it would be useless to offer deductions from them until I have endeavoured to refute the arguments upon which the principles themselves may be rejected ; failing in which, silence would be the part of wisdom.
But I hope, in all humility, for a more favourable result. Conscious as I unfeignedly am of the many defects in its execution ; sensible as I must be that in so extensive and complicated an argument many insulated positions may be found, upon which misapprehension may lead to error, or wilful cavil to conclusions never intended to be drawn; still I cannot help entertaining a lurking expectation, that a con nected and candid perusal of the treatise will recom