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vested in the many or the few, depends with most men upon the chance which they imagine they themselves may have of partaking in the exercise of that arbitrary sway, in the one mode or in the other.
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It is by lying dormant a long time, or being at first very rarely exercised, that arbitrary power steals upon a people. On the next unconstitutional act, all the fashionable world will be ready to say-Your prophecies are ridiculous, your fears are vain, you see how little of the mischiefs which you formerly foreboded are come to pass. Thus, by degrees, that artful softening of all arbitrary power, the alleged infrequency or narrow extent of its operation, will be received as a sort of aphorism-and Mr. Hume will not be singular in telling us, that the felicity of mankind is no more disturbed by it, than by earthquakes, or thunder, or the other more unusual accidents of nature.
ARISTOCRACY. A True natural aristocracy is not a separate interest in the state, or separable from it. It is an essential integrant part of any large body rightly constituted. It is formed out of a class of legitimate presumptions, which, taken as generalities, must be admitted for actual truths. To be bred in a place of estimation; to see nothing low and sordid from one's infancy ; to be taught to respect one's self; to be habituated to the censorial inspection of the public eye; to look early to public opinion; to stand upon such elevated ground as to be enabled to take a large view of the wide-spread and infinitely diversified combinations of men and affairs in a large society; to have leisure to read, to reflect, to converse; to be
enabled to draw the court and attention of the wise and learned wherever they are to be found ;-to be habituated in armies to command and to obey ; to be taught to despise danger in the pursuit of honour and duty; to be formed to the greatest degree of vigilance, foresight, and circumspection, in a state of things in which no fault is committed with impunity, and the slightest mistakes draw on the most ruinous consequences—to be led to a guarded and regulated conduct, from a sense that you are considered as an instructor of your fellow-citizens in their highest concerns, and
act as a reconciler between God and man to be employed as an administrator of law and
justice, and to be thereby amongst the first benefactors to mankind—to be a professor of high science, or of liberal and ingenuous art— to be amongst rich traders, who from their success are presumed to have sharp and vigorous understandings, and to possess the virtues of diligence, order, constancy, and regularity, and to have cultivated an habitual regard to commutative justice--these are the circumstances of men, that form what I should call a natural aristocracy, without which there is no nation. See NOBILITY.
We know, and it is our pride to know, that man is by his constitution a religious animal ; that atheism is against not only our reason but our instinct; and that it cannot prevail long.
Boldness formerly was not the character of Atheists as such. They were even of a character nearly the reverse; they were formerly like the old Epicureans, rather an unenterprizing race. But of late they are grown active, designing, turbulent, and seditious. They are sworn enemies to Kings, Nobility, and Priesthood. We have seen all the Academicians at Paris, with Condorcet, the friend and correspondent of Priestley, at their head, the most furious of the extravagant Republicans.
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Of all men, the most dangerous is a warm, hotheaded, zealous Atheist. This sort of man aims at dominion, and his means are, the words he always has in his mouth, “ L'égalité naturelle des Hommes, et la Souverainté du Peuple.”
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They who have made but superficial studies in the natural history of the human mind, have been taught to look on religious opinions as the only cause of enthusiastic zeal, and sectarian propagation. But there is no doctrine whatever, on which men can warm, that is not capable of the very same effect. The so- ; cial nature of man impels him to propagate his principles, as much as physical impulses urge him to propagate his kind. The passions give zeal and vehemence. The understanding bestows design and system. The whole man moves under the discipline of his opinions. Religion is among the most powerful causes of enthusiasm. When any thing concern. ing it becomes an object of much meditation, it cannot be indifferent to the mind. They who do not love religion, hate it. The rebels to God perfectly abhor the author of their being. They hate him “ with all their heart, with all their mind, with all their soul, and with all their strength.” He never presents himself to their thoughts, but to menace and alarm them. They cannot strike the sun out of
Heaven, but they are able to raise a sniouldering smoke that obscures him from their own eyes. Not being able to revenge themselves on God, they have a delight in vicariously defacing, degrading, torturing, and tearing in pieces his image in man. Let no one judge of them by what he has conceived of them, when they were not incorporated, and had no lead. They were then only passengers in a common vehicle. They were then carried along with the general motion of religion in the community, and without being aware of it, partook of its influence. In that situation, at worst, their nature was left free to counterwork their principles. They despaired of giving any very general currency to their opinions. They considered them as a reserved privilege for the chosen few. But when the possibility of dominion lead, and propagation presented themselves, and that the ambition, which before had so often made them hypocrites, might rather gain than lose by a daring avowal of their sentiments, then the nature of this infernal spirit, which has “ evil for its good," appeared in its full perfection. Nothing indeed but the possession of some power can with any certainty discover, what at the bottom is the true character of any man.
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I call it atheism by establishment, when any state, as such, shall not acknowledge the existence of God as a moral governor of the world; when it shall offer to him no religious or moral worship ;-when it shall abolish the Christian religion by a regular decree ;-when it shall persecute with a cold, unrelenting, steady cruelty, by every mode of confiscation, imprisonment, exile, and death, all its ministers ;-when it shall generally shut up, or pull down, churches; when the few buildings which remain of
this kind shall be opened only for the purpose of making a profane apotheosis of monsters, whose vices and crimes have no parallel amongst men, and whom all other men consider as objects of general detestation, and the severest animadversion of law. When, in the place of that religion of social benevolence, and of individual self-denial, in mockery of all religion, they institute impious, blasphemous, indecent theatric rites, in honour of their vitiated, perverted reason, and erect altars to the personification of their own corrupted and bloody republic ;-when schools and seminaries are founded at public expence to poison mankind, from generation to generation, with the horrible maxims of this impiety ;-when wearied out with incessant martyrdom, and the cries of a people hungering and thirsting for religion, they permit it, only as a tolerated evil I call this atheism by establishment.
AUTHORITY. THERE is nothing certain in the principles of jurisprudence, if this be not undeniably true, that when a special authority is given to any persons by name, to do some particular act, that no others, by virtue of general powers, can obtain a legal title to intrude themselves into that trust, and to exercise those special functions in their place.
BONDS OF NATIONS.
The operation of dangerous and delusive first principles obliges us to have recourse to the true ones. In the intercourse between nations, we are apt to rely too much on the instrumental part. We lay too much weight upon the formality of treaties and compacts. We do not act much more wisely when we trust to the interests of men as guarantees of their