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Or if any creature enjoy it, must be a creature, whose will is exactly conformable to his. The will of God is the fupreme rule of conduct to all rational creatures, as well as to himself: as none but He can be independent. He made his will known to the first man, by writing his law in his heart : but this laid no restraint upon him till sin entered; because he followed his own will, in yielding obedience to his Creator. When sin fhall be totally abolished in the people of God, and their will restored to its primitive conformity to the will of God, they will then be restored to perfect liberty; because they will fulfil their own will, in doing the will of their God and Saviour: and will be incapable to take pleasure in any thing that he prohibits. This is the case, even in this world, as far as they are fanctified :. Hence, like David, they walk at liberty, because they seek God's precepts. This is that glorious liberty, wherewith Christ hath made us free.

But, as all men, whether saints or finners, while in this life, have much corruption about them, their wills must always be inclined, more or less, to what is contrary to God's will, and is prohibited by his law. That law, therefore, will always prove a great restraint upon the liberty of mortals. Supposing mankind to be in what is called the state of nature, before, the formation of society, pr the erection of government of any kind : in that case, no man was under any subjection to the will of any fellow-creature, nor was his will under any other jestraint but the lasw of nature. Even in that state he could have no right to kill, to lie, or do any thing else which God in that law had forbidden. Thus, every man would have had an unrestrained right to follow his own will, as far as it was agreeable to the law of nature.


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And this is, precisely; what ought to be called naturai liberty.

Though this natural liberty can never be increased by any human institution ; because men can never have power to abolish, or to leflen the obligation of the law of God: yet this liberty may be abridged by human authority; and must be so, wherever society exists. When any number of men set up any form of government am mong themselves, they must not only fix certain regulations, at the first, according to which they will be governed; but they must likewise etablish, in some hand or other, a power of making laws for time to come. Every member of that society must give up his natural liberty, so far, as not only to submit to the fundamental regulations formally agreed to by the whole, but also to the will of those who form the legislature in the society, in all things that are not contrary to the law. of nature. But he parts with this portion of his natural liberty, only upon condition of his being fo protected by the community, or by those to whose hands the administration is entrusted, that none may have power to lay any restraint upon his will, but what is laid upon him, by the laws of God or of his country. This is wiat has been called civil liberty.

Hence it is inanifest, that no man, in the due exercife of reason will ever claim the unrestrained use of natural liberty, in the focial state. The will of every individual must be subject to the public will. But if the goverument is rightly constituted, every one has a suffi. cient compensation for that portion of his liberty which he gives up, in the protection which he enjoys, under the wings of the law. And no man has ground to complain, while no restraint is laid upon him by the publie will, but what is for the general good.


Every one knows that all governments are not alike friendly to liberty. Some allow the subject to retain greater share of his natural liberty, and fome a less. And that government is always the best, where most of it is suffered to remain, provided the ends of government are gained. This is the very thing, that, above all others, thews the excellence of our government, and constitutes British liberty. We are not only secured againit subjection to the will of any man, or any set of. men, contrary to law; but the law itself allows us to follow the dictates of our own will in more cases, and lays us under fewer restraints, than the laws of any other country do. A British subject may do with himself, and with all that is his own, just what he pleases, so long as he does no injury to his fellow subjects, or to the community at large.

It is likewise evident, that it is imposible to frame any government in such a manner, as that all who live under it should be alike free. Sapposing a government so perfect as to have every law Enacted, that could conduce to the good of the nation, and no more, it is evident, that the man who was most disposed to promote the public good, would always have most liberiy; because, in doing what he pleased, he would just do what the law required. On the other hand, if there existed in that nation, an enemy to his country, or one who wished to promote his own interest, by oppressing or ing juring his fellow subjects, that man would live under continual restraint. He would be a slave in the midit of a free nation ;. becaufe he could never follow his own will, without transgressing the laws. Hence it follows, that, under every good government, the most virtuous man is always most free: and the most wicked will always be under the greatest restraint. No government


can be said to be unfriendly to liberty, because the covetous man is restrained from stealing, or the man of blood from murder. It is the principal end of laws to prevent such men from following the dictates of their depraved will: and when laws cannot do it, they must be restrained by punishments. It is therefore nothing to the disadvantge of any government, to find wicked men complaining of want of liberty under it, while the honest, industrious, virtuous citizen feels himself under no restraint. And this affords no small presumption in favour of our constitution. They among us, who, fince the days of Wilkes and liberty, have always been most clamourous for more liberty, have been the very persons who stood most in need of the restraints of law.

This observation is peculiarly applicable to those men who are continually harping upon the LIBERTY OF THE Press. This branch of civil liberty, as well as every Other, however valuable, must have its bounds. If every man was to be allowed to publish what he pleases, without being answerable for it when 'published, as well might every one be permitted to do what he will, without being answerable for what he does. To every man of common generosity, his reputation is as dear as his life. A public flanderer, therefore, is as dangerous an enemy to society, as an assassin. And to give free toleration to the one is equally pernicious as to grant it to the other. A libel upon the constitution and laws of the country is surely as prejudicial as a libel upon a private character. It is a peculiar happiness of British subje&is, that every one is at liberty freely to publish, as well as to speak his sentiments, concerning public meafures. This is an advantage to the constitution, and even to administration; because they have, thereby, an opportunity to avail themselves of the wisdom of individuals, not connected with government. But this liberty may be abused. A nan may speak treason, and why may he not print it? And if he, who speaks it in a private company may be punished, why should not he who {preads it through the whole nation, by his writings. Men of loyal, peaceable, or even moderate principles, feel themselves under no restraint: and if feditious men are in high dudgeon, because they are not allowed to sow the seeds of rebellion with impunity, it is no more to be wondered at, than a thief's crying out against the gallows.


That liberty of the press, which is the acknowledged birth-right of every British subject, does not consist in being allowed to publish what one pleases, without being accountable for it. But “precisely in this, that “ neither courts of justice, nor any other judges what

ever, are allowed to take any notice of writings in“ tended for the press; but are confined to those which

are actually published: and in these cases, muit pro” ceed by trial by jury *.” Or, to use the words of a learned judge, “. It consists in laying no previous res“ traints upon publications, and not in freedom from “ censure for criminal matter when published. Every “ freeman has an undoubted right to lay what senti“ments he pleases before the public: to forbid this is “ to destroy the freedom of the prefs: but if he pub“ lishes what is improper, mischievous, or illegal, he “ must take the consequence of his own temerity t," This is all the liberty that even Mr Erskine pleads for, in his celebrated speech at Mr Paine's trial. The gene


De Lolme, p. 297.

+ Blackstone's Com. vol. iv. p. 151, 152.

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