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fact, and we only affirm, that the most sure method, that a nation can take to support and exalt itself, is to follow the laws of righteousness and the spirit of religion. This is a second elucidation tending to state the question clearly.
3. We do not affirm, that in every particular case religion is more successful in procuring some temporal advantage than the violation of it; so that to consider society only in this point of light, and to confine it to this particular case independently of all other circumstances, religion yields the honor of posterity to injustice. We allow, some state crimes have been successful, and have been the steps, by which some people have acquired worldly glory. We even allow, that virtue hath sometimes been an obstacle to grandeur. We only affirm, that, if a nation be considered in every point. of light, and in all circumstances, if all things be weighed, it will be found that the more a society practise virtue the more prosperity it will enjoy.. We affirm, that the more it abandons itself to vice the more misery will it sooner or later suffer; so that the very vice, which contributed to its exaltation, will produce its destruction; and the very virtue, which seems at first to abase it, will in the end exalt it to glory. This is a third elucidation.
4. We do not mean by exaltation that sort of elevation, at which worldly heroes, or rather tyrants aspire. We acknowledge, that, if by exalting a nation be understood an elevation extending itself beyond the limits of rectitude, an elevation not directed by justice and good faith, an elevation consisting of the acquisitions of wanton and arbitrary power, an elevation obliging the whole world to submit to a yoke of slavery, and so becoming an executioner of divine vengeance on all mankind; we allow, that in this sense exaltation is
not an effect of righteousness. But, if we understand by exalling a nation whatever governs with gentleness, negociates with success, attacks with courage, defends with resolution, and constitutes the happiness of a people, whatever God always beholds with favorable eyes; if this be what is meant by exalting a nation, we affirm, a nation is exalted only by righteousness.
5. In fine, we do not affirm, that the prosperity of such a nation would be so perfect as to exclude all untoward circumstances. We only say, that, the highest glory, and the most perfect happiness,, which can be enjoyed by a nation in a world, where, after all, there is always a mixture of adversity with prosperity, are the fruits of righteousness. These, elucidations must be retained, not only because, they explain the thesis, which we are supporting, and because they are the ground of what we shall hereafter say but also because they serve to preclude such objections, to solve such difficulties, and to unravel such sophisms, as the author, whom we oppose, urges against us.
One argument against us, is taken from the abuses, which religion hath caused in society: but this objection is removed, by taking away false ideas of religion. A second objection is taken from the case of some idolatrous nations, who, though they were strangers to revealed religion, have yet arrived at a great height of worldly glory: but this objection is removed by our second elucidation. A third objection is taken from some particular case, in which vice is of more advantage to a state than virtue: but this objection falls before the manner in which we have stated the question. A fourth objection is taken from extravagant notions of glory but this objection is removed by distinguishing true exaltation from false. Finally, an objec
tion is taken from the evils, which the most virtuous societies suffer, and we have acknowledged, that this world will always be to public bodies what it is to individuals, a place of misery, and we have contented ourselves with affirming, that the most solid happiness, which can be enjoyed here, hath righteousness for its cause. The narrow limits, to which we are confined, will not allow us to carry our reflections any further. They, however, who meditate profoundly on the matter, will easily perceive that all these objections are, if not abundantly refuted, at least sufficiently precluded by our explications.
We will now proceed to shew the grounds of the maxim of the wise man.. We will open six sources of reflections; an idea of society in general; the constitution of each government in particular; the nature of arts and sciences; the conduct of providence; the promises of God himself; and the history of all ages. These articles make up the remainder of this discourse.
II. 1. Let us first form an idea of society in general, and consider the motives, which induced mankind to unite themselves in society, and to fix themselves in one place. By doing this we shall perceive, that righteousness is the only thing that can render nations happy. Every individual hath infinite wants: but only finite faculties to supply them. Each individual of mankind hath need of knowledge to inform him, laws to direct him, property to support him, medicine to relieve him, aliments to nourish him, clothing and lodging to defend himself against the injury of the seasons. How easy would it be to enlarge this catalogue! Similar interests form a similar design. Divers men unite themselves together, in order that the
industry of all may supply the wants of each. This is the origin of societies and public bodies of
It is easy to comprehend that, in order to enjoy the blessings proposed by this assemblage, some fixed maxims must be laid down and inviolably obeyed. It will be necessary for all the members of this body to consider themselves as naturally equal, that by this idea they may be inclined to afford each other mutual succor. It will be necessary that they should be sincere to each other, lest deceit should serve for a vail to conceal the fatal designs of some from the eyes of the rest. It will be necessary for all to observe the rules of rigid equity, that so they may fulfil the contracts, which they bound themselves to perform, when they were admitted into this society. It will be necessary, that esteem and benevolence should give life and action to righteousness. It will be necessary, that the happiness of all should be preferred before the interest of one; and that in cases, where public and private interests clash, the public good should always prevail. It will be necessary that each should cultivate his own talents, that he may contribute to the happiness of that society, to which he ought to devote himself with the utmost sincerity and zeal.
Now, my brethren, what can be more proper to make us observe these rules than religion, than righteousness? Religion brings us to feel our natural equality; it teacheth us, that we originate in the same dust, have the same God for our Creator, are all descended from the same first parent, all partake of the same miseries, and are all doomed to the same last end. Religion teacheth us sincerity to each other, that the tongue should be a faithful interpreter of the mind, that we should
should speak every man truth with his neighbor, Eph. iv. 25. and that, being always in the sight of the God of truth, we should never depart from the laws of truth. Religion teacheth us to be just, that we should render to all their dues : tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to rohom fear, honor to whom honor; that whatsoever we would that men should do unto us, we should do even so unto them, Rom. xiii. 7. Matt. vii. 12. Religion requireth us to be animated with charity, to consider each other as creatures of one God, subjects of the same king, members of one body, and heirs of the same glory. Religion requireth us to give up private interest to public good, not to seek our own, but every one another's wealth; it even requireth us to lay down our lives for the brethren. Thus by considering nations in these primitive views, it is righteousness alone that exalts them.
2. But all this is too vague. We proceed next to consider each form of government in particular. It is impracticable for all the members of society, on every pressing occasion, to assemble together and give their suffrages. Public bodies therefore agree to set apart some of their number, who are accounted the soul, the will, the determination of the whole. Some nations have committed the supreme power to one, whom they call Monarch; this is a monarchial state. Others have committed the supreme power to a few of their own body called Magistrates, Senators, Nobles, or some other honorable appellation; this is a republic, called in the schools an aristocracy. Others have diffused supreme power more equally among all the members of their society, and have placed it in all heads of families; this is a popular government, usually called a democracy. Society