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is, that this mitigation of captivity would be refusedto all others.
And what proves incontestably the superior importance of general consequences is, that crimes are the same, and treated in the same manner, though the particular consequence be very different. The crime and fate of the house-breaker is the same, whether his booty be five pounds or fifty. And the reason is, that the general consequence is the same.
The want of this distinction between particular and general consequences, or rather, the not sufficiently attending to the latter, is the cause of that perplexity which we meet with in ancient moralists. On the one hand, they were sensible of the absurdity of pronouncing actions good or evil, without regard to the good or evil they produced. On the other hand, they were startled at the conclusions to which a steady adherence to consequences seemed sometimes to conduct them. To relieve this difficulty they contrived the rò pov or the honestum, by which terms they meant to constitute a measure of right distinct from utility. Whilst the utile served them, that is, whilst it corresponded with their habitual notions of the rectitude of actions, they went by it. When they fell in with such cases as those mentioned in the sixth chapter, they took leave of their guide, and resorted to the honestum. The only account they could give of the matter was, that these actions might be useful; but, because they were not at the same time honesta, they were by no means to be deemed just or right.
From the principles delivered in this and the two preceding chapters, a maxim may be explained, which is in every man's mouth, and in most men's without meaning, viz. "not to do evil, that good may come" that is, let us not violate a general rule, for the sake of any particular good consequence we may expect which is for the most part a salutary caution, the advantage seldom compensating for the violation of the rule. Strictly speaking, that cannot be evil," from which "good comes but in this way, and with a view to the distinction between particular and general consequences, it may.
We will conclude this subject of consequences with the following reflection. A man may imagine, that
any action of his, with respect to the public, must be inconsiderable; so also is the agent. If his crime produce but a small effect upon the universal interest, his punishment or destruction bears a small proportion to the sum of happiness and misery in the creation.
RIGHT and obligation are reciprocal; that is, wherever there is a right in one person, there is a corresponding obligation upon others. If one man right" to an estate; others are "obliged" to abstain from it.-If parents have a "right" to reverence from their children; children are "obliged" to reverence their parents;—and so in all other in
Now, because moral obligation depends, as we have seen, upon the will of God; right, which is correlative to it, must depend upon the same. Right therefore signifies, consistency with the will of God.
But if the Divine will determine the distinction of right and wrong, what else is it but an incidental proposition, to say of God, that he acts right? or how is it possible to conceive even that he should act wrong? Yet these assertions are intelligible and significant. The case is this: By virtue of the two principles, that God wills the happiness of his creatures, and that the will of God is the measure of right and wrong, we arrive at certain conclusions; which conclusions become rules; and we soon learn to pronounce actions right or wrong, according as they agree or disagree with our rules, without looking any farther and when the habit is once established of stopping at the rules, we can go back and compare with these rules even the Divine conduct itself; and yet it may be true (only not observed by us at the time) that the rules themselves are deduced from the Divine will.
Right is a quality of persons or of actions.
Of persons, as when we say, such a one has a "right" to this estate; parents have a right" to
reverence from their children; the king to allegiance from his subjects; masters have a "right" to their servants' labour; a man has not a right" over his own life.
Of actions; as in such expressions as the following it is "right" to punish murder with death; his behaviour on that occasion was "right;" it is not " right" to send an unfortunate debtor to jail; he did or acted" right," who gave up his place, rather than vote against his judgment.
In this latter set of expressions, you may substitute the definition of right above given, for the term itself; e. g. it is "consistent with the will of God" to punish murder with death;-his behaviour on that occasion was "consistent with the will of God;". it is not "consistent with the will of God" to send an unfortunate debtor to jail; he did, or acted, "consistently with the will of God," who gave up his place rather than vote against his judgment.
In the former set, you must vary the construction a little, when you introduce the definition instead of the term. Such a one has a "right" to this estate, that is, it is "consistent with the will of God" that such a one should have it;-parents have a "right" to reverence from their children, that is, it is "consistent with the will of God" that children should reverence their parents;-and the same of the
The division of rights.
RIGHTS, when applied to persons, are
Alienable or inalienable :
Perfect or imperfect.
I. Rights are natural or adventitious.
Natural rights are such as would belong to a man, although there subsisted in the world no civil government whatever.
Adventitious rights are such as would not.
Natural rights are, a man's right to his life, limbs, and liberty; his right to the produce of his personal
labour; to the use, in common with others, of air, light, water. If a thousand different persons, from a thousand different corners of the world, were cast together upon a desert island, they would from the first be every one entitled to these rights.
Adventitious rights are, the right of a king over his subjects; of a general over his soldiers; of a judge over the life and liberty of a prisoncr; a right to elect or appoint magistrates, to impose taxes, decide disputes, direct the descent or disposition of property: a right, in a word, in any one man, or particular body men, to make laws and regulations for the rest. For none of these rights would exist in the newly inhabited island.
And here it will be asked, how adventitious rights are created; or, which is the same thing, how any new rights can accrue from the establishment of ci vil society; as rights of all kinds, we remember, depend upon the will of God, and civil society is but the ordinance and institution of man? For the solution of this difficulty, we must return to our first principles. God wills the happiness of mankind; and the existence of civil society, as conducive to that happiness. Consequently, many things, which are useful for the support of civil society in general, or for the conduct and conservation of particular societies already established, are, for that reason, "consistent with the will of God," or 66 right," which, without that reason, i. e. without the esta blishment of civil society, would not have been so.
From whence also it appears, that adventitious rights, though immediately derived from human appointment, are not, for that reason, less sacred than natural rights, nor the obligation to respect them less cogent. They both ultimately rely upon the same authority, the will of God. Such a man claims a right to a particular estate. He can show, it is true, nothing for his right, but a rule of the civil commu nity to which he belongs; and this rule may be arbitrary, capricious, and absurd. Notwithstanding all this, there would be the same sin in dispossessing the man of his estate by craft or violence, as if it had been assigned to him, like the partition of the coun try amongst the twelve tribes, by the immediate de signation and appointment of Heaven,
II. Rights are alienable or inalienable.
The right we have to most of those things which we call property, as houses, lands, money, &c. is alienable.
The right of a prince over his people, of a husband over his wife, of a master over his servant, is generally and naturally inalienable.
The distinction depends upon the mode of acquiring the right. If the right originate from a contract, and be limited to the person by the express terms of the contract, or by the common interpretation of such contracts (which is equivalent to an express stipulation,) or by a personal condition, annexed to the right; then it is inalienable. In all other cases it is alienable.
The right to civil liberty is alienable; though in the vehemence of men's zeal for it, and the language of some political remonstrances, it has often been pronounced to be an inalienable right. The true reason why mankind hold in detestation the memory of those who have sold their liberty to a tyrant, is, that, together with their own, they sold commonly, or endangered, the liberty of others; which certainly they had no right to dispose of.
III. Rights are perfect or imperfect.
Perfect rights may be asserted by force, or, what in civil society comes into the place of private force, by course of law.
Imperfect rights may not.
Examples of perfect rights.-A man's right to his life, person, house; for, if these be attacked, he may repel the attack by instant violence, or punish the aggressor by law: a man's right to his estate, furniture, clothes, money, and to all ordinary articles of property; for, if they be injuriously taken from him, he may compel the author of the injury to make res titution or satisfaction.
Examples of imperfect rights.-In elections or ap pointments to offices, where the qualifications are prescribed, the best qualified candidate has a right to success; yet, if he be rejected he has no remedy. He can neither seize the office by force, nor obtain redress at law; his right therefore is imperfect. A poor neighbour has a right to relief; yet, if it be re