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ination of truth from error-alone not an easy task-but also the examination and explanation of the wondrous, the perfect, the all-wise and beneficent natural laws of the Creator; laws which not only constantly and efficiently control and direct all things, but which also reveal to us a glimpse of the Divine Idea in regard to man--the most interesting, as well as the most sublime, subject that can occupy the mind. Notalents can do full justice to such a theme; and if we make the attempt, it is only because others seem disposed to examine Government solely as subject to short-sighted, fallible, human control, instead of examining it as subject to the control of natural or divine laws. Any one who will study and analyze these laws cannot fail to acquire an intense faith in the innumerable benefits that will accrue to humanity, whenever Governments shall be conducted in strict accordance with natural lawswith that which is the omniscience of God himself.
At present, wherever we turn our eyes, we find proofs that the science of Government—the knowledge of the natural laws that control the actions of man in regard to Government --are very imperfectly known and understood. Even in this country, where the greater part of the evil consequences of feudalism, and other errors of the past, never found a footing, we yet see on all sides the disastrous effects of misgovernment. Our municipal, our State, our Federal affairs, all share in the fatal consequences of our ignorance of the true principles of Government.
When we look to other ages, and to other countries, similar sad evidences of the general ignorance of the true principles of Government crowd upon us. Without going further back than the present century, have we not seen in France, the country which has long claimed to lead the vanguard of civilization, a Napoleon attain an undying page in history, and the most prominent niche in the Temple of Fame, by the inmolation of hundreds of thousands of men, and by the destruction of untold millions of the useful results of patient toil, which should have contributed to the well-being and progress of humanity? Think of the harrowed feelings of the bitter tears-of the broken hearts of parents who saw the sons whom they had tenderly nursed and educated to be the stay and solace of their old age, torn from their embraces to be sent to fertilize with their heart's blood the fields of carnage that gave Napoleon the name of the great Captain of the age; -or to leave their bones, unshrined by the hand of love and affection, to bleach amid the snows and ice of Russia ;-or to return to their homes broken in health or maimed for life! Think of the brothers and sisters rudely separated from the lored companions of their childhood—of the maidens who, with breaking hearts, saw depart, probably never to return, those to whom they had pledged the most intense feeling of life-the ardent affection that was to make them helpmates and sharers in the future joys and sorrows of this checkered life! All these lacerated feelings; all this agony; all these terrible sufferings; all this wanton and useless destruction of life and property-was produced by Government in the name of the law—of that which was instituted for the common protection and good of all! And all this was done merely to gratify the insatiable ambition of one man! But strangest of all, despite all this, that same France, a few years later, still so worshipped and adored the name of Napoleon, that an almost unknown adventurer, merely because he bore the charmed name, was elevated to an Imperial Throne, and thus placed in a position to renew the scenes that should have made the name the terror and abhorrence of humanity.
Surely so long as we see these things occur, it is but too evident that the science and object of Government have beer. but little examined, and still less understood.
Governments are invariably instituted or organized under the pretence of benefiting humanity. Since, therefore, its osteusible, as well as its true object, is the well-being of humanity, before Government can be properly understood, man himselt must be carefully analyzed and examined.
The more closely we study Nature, the more thoroughly we analyze the wonderful natural laws or forces that control every existing thing, the more we become convinced that everything is perfect for the purpose for which it was created. Nothing but profound ignorance can permit a doubt of this to enter the mind, or suggest a change for the better in anything. All knowledge leads to the conclusion that those things which appear imperfect to us, are those whose purpose, or mode of action, or final effects, we have not fully discovered. Our present knowledge is already suficient to warrant us in asserting, deductively, not only that nothing in Nature is useless,--that nothing is superfluous,—that nothing is imperfect,—but also that all things contribute more or less to man's well-being and progress,* and that everything that exists is constantly, efficiently, and beneficially governed or controlled by natural laws or forces.
Nature seems to govern all things by the antagonism of opposing forces, whose effect is the maintenance of constant and perfect harmony everywhere.
Man, like everything else, is subject to this system of opposing forces. He is constantly impelled by his wants, his desires, his passions. These are ever kept in check by his susceptibility to pain or suffering, and by his love of ease, of enjoyment, of happiness.
Man appears to have been placed on the earth in perfect ignorance of the uses and nature of things, as well as of the effects of his own actions. He acquires this knowledge by his own experience, and by the experience of others. Everything that produces pain or suffering to himself, he avoids. Everything that produces enjoyment and happiness, he seeks.t Prompted by these opposing impulses, man constantly seeks with avidity that which, though it at first gratifies some desire or passion, finally produces consequences fatal to liis wellbeing. But man soon discovers this error, and needs no supervising control, other than the consequences of his acts, to correct every error of the kind he may commit. I
Man is so organized that he is susceptible of innumerable and constantly increasing wants. In a state of nature, which is the state of almost total ignorance, he depended entirely on
* If, then, Nature makes nothing imperfectly, and nothing in vain, she must of necessity have made all these things for the sake of man.-(Arig. totle, Politics, 1. i., c. 8.)
† Happiness is the centre to which all the duties of a man and a people tend; and this is the great end of the law of Nature. The desire of bappi. ness is the powerful spring that puts all men in motion; felicity is the end they all have in view, and it ought to be the grand object of the public desire.-(Vattel, The Law of Nations, p. 47. London, 1760.)
The same passions that must be looked upon as the germ of an infinity of errors, are also the source of our intelligence. If they mislead us, they alone give us the necessary force to advance; they alone can release us from the inertia and the indolence which are always ready to seize all the facul. ties of the mind.-(Ilelvetius on the Mind, vol. 1, p. 77.)
the unaided productions of Nature for the supply of his wants, which then, though undeveloped, and, therefore, quite limited, were yet very imperfectly and irregularly supplied. But man soon learned by experience that, hy labor and forethought, he could greatly increase his means of supplying his wants.
The object of all labor, mental as well as physical, is the supply of some want or desire of humanity; and the effect is an increase of man's enjoyments. But no sooner is one want satisfied, than another arises; so that labor, physical or mental, never lacks an object. And to insure constant efforts to supply new wants, man has been so organized, that the pursuit of an object is a source of greater enjoyment to himself than its possession.
This constant increase of the wants of man renders necessary a corresponding increase in the variety of his occupations and pursuits. That man was intended to pursue an infinite variety of occupations, is evident from the fact that hardly any two men are precisely alike in their tastes, inclinations, and dispositions. This infinite variety in Nature greatly adds to man's enjoyments. The greater the diversity of tastes, inclinations, and dispositions in men, the greater the number of their wants, the greater their means of supplying these wants, and the greater their enjoyment when these wants are satisfied. Every man has a natural tendency to turn his attention to the supplying of the want which is most imperious to his own nature.
But in antagonism to this constant impulse to new efforts, is the fact that every effort is fatiguing to man. He loves his ease, in spite of all the gratification he derives from his pursuit of an object. Man, consequently, rarely makes an effort unless forced to it by some strong impulse. This love of ease induces him to seek and to use the powerful natural forces, which, apparently, were intended to free him from physical labor, and enable him ultimately to devote his time and energy, almost exclusively, to mental efforts--that fertile source of man's highest enjoyments.
Political Economists of the most advanced school, after long and careful analysis of the natural laws or impulses that control man in the social condition, have arrived at the conviction that man's self-interest, so long as he is left entirely free
from governmental interference, will lead him to do that which, for the time being, is most beneficial to himself and to his fellow-beings. They are convinced that ignorance, indolence, waste, vice, crime, can nowhere exist without inflicting injury and deprivation of enjoyment on every member of the human family; and, therefore, that, without any interference from Government, all men will unite to eradicate these sources of evil. And they believe that intelligence, industry, economy, virtue, wherever they exist, confer such important benefits on humanity, that these virtues will everywhere be encouraged and protected, without the intervention of Government. Most persons will doubt these conclusions because they only look at the first effects, and not at the final results, of men's actions. They see, for example, a man disregard justice and virtue, and yet acquire wealth and position. They think this a proof that dishonesty and deceit may be profitable and advantageous. They see, in this, evidence that Providence does not invariably punish crime and reward virtue in this world. But is not this a very short-sighted view of man's interests? Is it not taking for granted that money and power are the only objects man seeks or enjoys? It is true that it is a great blessing to possess sufficient wealth to drive want and care from our dwellings and our minds. But thanks to the progress already achieved by humanity, mere necessaries and comforts are now easily secured; and, beyond these, what are the enjoyments that wealth and power confer, compared to the sweet joys of a happy home, that true centre of all that makes life dear; compared to the unfailing enjoyments of a cultivated mind, that communes not only with the celebrated living, but also with the illustrious dead; compared with the esteem, the respect, and even reverence, universally paid to truth, to justice, and to rectitude, even by those who disregard these glorious principles in their own actions ? No! if we could look into the hearts of those who allow wealth and power to tempt them from the path of duty, we should find ample proof that they sacrificed the truest, the keenest, and the most enduring enjoyments of life, in exchange for mere cares and vexations. In the attempt to grasp a glittering prize, they miss all that makes life truly happy and desirable. How consoling, how encouraging to humanity, are these con