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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 oeconomy 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 hypothesis— like 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 Providence originally adapted the nature of man.
of the Natural tendency of Population in the purely Agricultural State, and in the early . Stages of the Commercial State of Society.
IN the beginning of the last chapter a sketch was given of the gradations, by which society passes from the savage and pastoral to the purely agricultural state, which is perhaps the most important period in its political course. The contrast between the new condition of the people, and that from which they have emerged, is as strong as opposition can make it. They are lifted from a state of penury and distress into one of comfort and plenty, and what is yet more important, they have made that step which almost necessarily ensures a future progress: for I believe that instances are very rare of a nation sinking from the purely agricultural state directly into that which is savage or pastoral. The argument of this Treatise, as applied to this condition of society, may be thus stated. In newly settled and purely agricultural countries, where the progress of population is infinitely the fastest, it can never overtake the supply of food, as long as this state of society continues, for these plain reasons; that land will always produce, even in a very inferior state of cultivation, much more than sufficient food to support the cultivators, and the simple artisans attached to them; and that where good land can be had for nothing, the love of property and independence will find occupiers, although
no immediate demand may exist for the produce beyond the place of its production, and the family which occupies the farm. The surplus produce, however, which such a country is capable of raising, will usually find purchasers among the commercial and manufacturing nations, whose wants create a demand for it. This demand will ensure its growth, and the returns, from its export to those countries, will afford to the growers many necessary or convenient manufactures, besides a capital which will enable them to settle their children upon fresh land. Where it is so easy to become a master there must always be a proportionate difficulty in procuring workmen, the demand for labour and the funds destined for its maintenance increasing still faster than the labourers themselves. This will raise wages to a considerable height; and as employment at high wages will always be to be had, “a numerous family of children, instead of being a burden, will be a source of opulence and prosperity to the parents.” The value of children will operate as the greatest possible encouragement to marriage, and the liberal reward of labour will ensure a healthy subsistence to the offspring:— while the more immediate prospect of property and independence, the more simple manners of the people, and the more rare opportunities of reconciling occasional idleness with unlawful pleasure by a recurrence to licentious indulgences, will render the moral consequences of high wages less dangerous than in more advanced states of society. There will therefore be scarcely any natural or necessary impediments to the rapid progress of population. But subsistence will increase still more rapidly from the application made to the vigorous and unexhausted powers of the soil.