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perceived to flow from the unbridled licentiousness of their natural state, and as becoming gradually more perfect from their experience of the benefits conferred by each successive improvement in the career of subordination.
The Bishop, however, doubts whether this theory afford a true account of the origin of civil society; and very justly infers that it is calculated to rob God of the glory which is due to his moral attributes, and to introduce a false and dangerous system of reasoning upon some of the most important relative duties and charities among mankind. For if the savage state be really that of nature, it seems to follow that, according to the opinion of some modern philosophers, it is also most consistent with the will of God and the happiness of man, and that so far from endeavouring to raise men above it, we are doing good service by reducing to their original and simple elements the complicated and tyrannical systems, which the inventions of man have falsely adorned with the epithet of salutary government. “ But,” says the eloquent and venerable Bishop," the truth is, when we reflect a little farther upon the subject, we cannot but perceive our apprehensions greatly shocked at the supposition that the wise and good Creator, who formed mankind for society in this world, and designed to train them by a performance of its duties for a more noble and exalted fellowship with angels in the world to come, should place them, at the beginning, in the abovementioned wild and disorderly state of independence, to roam in fields and forests like the brutes that perish, and to search for law and government where they were not to be found; that he should give them no rulers
by whom, nor rules how, they should be guided and directed, but leave them to choose for themselves, that is, to dispute and fight, and in the end to be governed by the strongest!” “ But are these things so ? Did God indeed, at the beginning, bring into being, at the same time, a number of human creatures, independent of each other, and turn them uninstructed into the woods, to settle a civil polity by compact among themselves? We know that he did not. He who appointed å regular subordination among the celestial hierarchies, who is the God of peace and order, provided for the establishment and continuation of these blessings among mankind by ordaining, first, in the case of Adam, and then in that of Noah, that the human race should spring from one common parent. Unless therefore some other origination of mankind be discovered, all equality and independence are at an end. The state of nature was a state of subordination; since from the beginning some were born subject to others; and the power of the father, by whatever name it be called, must have been supreme at the first, when there was none superior to it.” * To fathers within their families,' saith the judicious Hooker, nature hath given a supreme power ; for which cause we see throughout the world, even from the foundation thereof, all men have ever been taken as lords and lawful kings in their own houses.'
The Bishop then goes on to show how, from the Patriarchal, society spread into the lesser governments of States; till through the workings of corrupted nature disputes were engendered, which terminating in war, victory at last declared for one of the parties, and the other was obliged to submit. Thus the larger governments arose by conquest, and in their turn
contended with, and overthrew, each other. In this state of things, and in the ignorance of what had happened in former ages, it is not surprising that heathen writers should have believed that civil government should at first have arisen by an agreement among independent savages. But in us who have the Scripture History before us, it would be something worse than unreasonable to overlook the information which that supplies to us, and have recourse to romantic schemes which owed their being to the want of it.
But if it be asked, how then comes it to pass that we do now actually find in different quarters of the world many tribes of these lawless and independent savages, who seem scarcely to have arrived at the infancy of society, but who will probably emerge from it in the progress of time? It may be answered, that after the first migration from the Patriarchal tribe into other climates, where few of the conveniences of life are to be procured, and cut off from communication with the rest of the world, men would almost necessarily degenerate. Strangers, for want of commerce, to arts and learning, they must continue in the deepest intellectual poverty, and would soon exchange the law of conscience imprinted on their hearts for superstitious customs and diabolical and idolatrous rites. And thus degenerating, as they must of necessity do every day more and more, they would come at last into that deplorable state of ignorance and barbarism, in which some nations are found at this day. But this is a state of degeneracy, not a state of nature. Could it then be the state in which the Lord of all things placed the noblest of sublunary beings, the heir of glory and immortality, when his own hands had formed and fashioned him, and he had
breathed into him the breath of life? No surely! It is a state the most unnatural, in which rational creatures made in the image of their Creator can be conceived to exist! A state into which, through apostasy from revealed truth, and consequent loss of all knowledge, by the just judgment of God upon them, some nations were permitted to fall, and are suffered to continue, in terrorem to others.
Such is the amount of Bishop Horne's reasoning on this interesting subject, and I see but one way of escaping from it—a method indeed more apt to be tacitly adopted, than openly avowed, by the moral and political writers of Christendom. They seem to consider it as a matter of course that the Book, which is at once the most authentic history, and the most undoubted authority on all moral points, is studiously to be passed by in silence in all discussions upon either; that it is matter of good taste to draw principles of economy from the heathens, and elements of the philosophy of the human mind from their own unassisted reflections. But can any thing be more insincere, more unmanly, more inconsistent, than this mode of proceeding? They acknowledge the fundamental authority of the Sacred Oracles on these subjects, yet refuse to abide by their decisions, and build their systems upon a directly contrary hypothesislike the reasoner who would prove one of the later propositions of Euclid by a reference to Aristotle's logic. They dare not deny the truth of Scripture, neither do they dare to risk offending the fastidious by a manly consistency in following it out into its consequences;-like the mechanic, who should refuse the assistance of the steam engine on account of the majestic beauty and variety of its construction, or of the noise it would introduce into his machinery,
But if those who pretend to enlighten a Christian community are not ashamed to fall into such contradictions, the community itself should at least convince them that it adheres to the truth of original principles, no less than if they had been duly admitted and argued upon ;—and that it resists with as just contempt all consequences not fairly deducible from them, as it would repel an invading army that ravaged its plains and destroyed its cities, with the theory of humanity and the protection of property in the mouth of its commander. Let us in short, at least be consistent. If we pretend to be Christians let us act and argue upon Christian principles, and take them where they are only to be found. If we mean to reject the authority of Revelation, let us honestly say so, and hew out the best cisterns we can of our own materials. But half measures, especially in argument and deduction, are always contemptible. They will neither convince an opponent, nor fortify an adherent. For either of them, if he be endowed with the blessing of common sense, will soon discover that the arguer himself is little better than an hypocrite.
I have been the more anxious to place these observations at the close of this chapter, as the summary given at its commencement of the manner in which men, sunk in the miseries of the savage state, are driven, by the consequent inconveniences, to a gradual return towards the original condition in which the moral government of God had placed them,-may possibly be misunderstood; and be thought to imply that the savage state, because it is the lowest in the scale of society, is therefore that to which Provi. dence originally adapted the nature of man.