Изображения страниц

democracy; for the reflexions we have made before sufficiently evince the inconveniencies which would result from this.

· Let us therefore conclude, from this examination of the different forms of government, that the best are either a limited monarchy, or an aristocracy tempered with democracy, by some privileges in favour of the body of the people.

''Tis true, in reality, there are always fome deductions to be made from the advantages which we have ascribed to these governments: but this is the fault of men, and not of the establishments. The constitution is the most perfect that can be imagined; and if men spoil it by their vices and follies, this is the nature of all human affairs ; and, fince a choice must be made, the best is always that which is attended with the fewest inconveniencies.

In a word, if it should be asked, which government is best? I would answer, that all good governments are not equally proper for all nations, and that, in this point, we must have a regard to the humour and character of the people, and to the extent of the states.

Great states can hardly admit of republican governments: hence a monarchy, wisely limited, suits them better. But, as to states of an ordinary extent, the most advantageous government for them, is, an elective aristocracy, tempered with some reserves in favour of the body of the people.'

In the third and fourth chapters he treats of the different ways of acquiring and losing sovereignty; and, in the subsequent chapters of the second part of the inviolable rights of sovereignty, of tyranny, and of the duty of fovereigns,

In the third part he enters into a more particular examication of the different rights of the fovereign, with respect to the internal administration of the state ; such as the legislative power, the supreme power in matters of religion, the right of inficting punishments, and that which the lovereign has over the bona reipublicce. This part is divided into five chapters: in the first of which he examines the nature and extent of the legislative power in society, and that of the civil laws and decrees of the foverign, which are derived from thence,

Among the essential parts of sovereignty, our author comprehends the right of judging of the doctrines taught in the state, and particularly of every thing relating to reli



[ocr errors]

gion. This, he tells us, is one of the most considerable rights belonging to the sovereign; and accordingly he endeavours, in the second chapter, to fhew the necessity of it, to establish the foundations of it, and to point out its extent and boundaries. The first duty of the sovereign, says he, ought to be to take all possible care to form the hearts and minds of his people. In vain would it be for him to establish the best laws, and to prescribe rules of conduct in every thing that any way relates to the good of society, if he did not moreover take proper measures to convince his people of the justice and necessity of these rules, and of the advantages which naturally arise from the strict observance of them.

* And indeed, since the principle of all human actions is the will, and the acts of the will depend on the ideas we form of good and evil, as well as of the rewards and punishments which must follow the commission of a thing; so that every one is determined by his own judgment of the matter: 'tis evident that the sovereign ought principally to take care that his subjects be properly instructed, from their infancy, in all those principles which can form them to an honest and sober life, and in such doctrines as are agreeable to the end and advantage of society. This is the most effectual means of inducing men to a ready and sựre obedience, and of forming their manners insensibly. Without this the laws would not have a sufficient force to restrain the subjects within the bounds of their duty. As long as men do not obey the laws from principle, their obedience is precarious, and uncertain; and they will always be ready to withdraw from their duty, when they think they can do it with impunity.

• If therefore people's manner of thinking, or the ideas and opinions commonly received, and to which they are accustomed, have so much influence on their conduct, and so strongly contribute either to the good or evil of the state ; and if it is the duty of the sovereign to attend to this article, and to bestow all his care upon it; he ought to neglect nothing that can contribute to the education of youth, the advancement of the sciences, and the progress of truth, If this be the case, we must needs grant him a right of judging of the doctrines publicly taught, and of proscribing all those which of themselves may be opposite to the public good and tranquility.

! It belongs therefore to the sovereign alone to establish academies and public schools of all kinds and to authorize


the respective professors. 'Tis his business to take care that nothing be taught in them, under any pretext, contrary to the fundamental maxims of natural law, to the principles of religion or good politics; in a word, nothing capable of producing impresions prejudicial to the happiness of the state.

< But sovereigns ought to be particularly delicate as to the manner of using this right, and not to puih it beyond its true bounds, but to use it only according to the rules of justice and prudence, otherwise great abuses may arise from hence; either because a thing is preposterously considered as detrimental to the state, which, in the main, no way prejudices, but rather may be advantageous to fociety; or because, under this pretext, princes, whether of themselves, or at the instigation of wicked persons, erect inquisitions with respect to the most indifferent and innocent, nay even the trueft opinions, especially in matters of religion.

Supreme rulers cannot therefore be too much on their guard, against suffering themselves to be imposed on by wicked and envious men, who, under a pretext of public good and tranquillity, feek only their own private interests, and who use their utmoft efforts to render certain opinions suspected only with a view to ruin honefter men than themselves.

· The advancement of the sciences, and the progress of truth, require, that a reasonable liberty should be granted to all those who busy themselves in such laudable pursuits, and that we should not condemn a man as criminal, purely because in certain things he has ideas different from those commonly received. Besides, a different manner of thinking on the same subjects, and a diversity of ideas and opinions, are so far from obstructing, that they rather facilitate the progress of truth; provided, however, that lovereigns take proper measures to oblige men of letters to keep within the bounds of moderation, and that just respect which mankind owe to one another ; and that for this effect they exert their authority in checking those who grow too warm in their disputes, and break thro' all rules of decency, so as to injure, calumniate, and render suspected every one that is not of their way of thinking. We must lay down as an indubitable maxim, that truth is of itself very advantageous to men, and to fociety; that no true opinion is contrary to peace; and that all those, which, in their nature; are con«trary to peace, must certainiy be false; otherwise we must


[ocr errors]

affert, that peace and concord are repugnant to the laws of nature.'

In the third chapter our author endeavours to shew, that the supreme authority, in matters of religion, ought necefsarily to belong to the sovereign: what he advances under this head, we shall give our readers in his own words. the interest of society, says he, requires that laws should be established in relation to human affairs, that is, to things which properly and directly interest only our temporal happiness; this fame interest cannot permit that we should altogether neglect our spiritual concerns, or those which regard religion, and leave them without any regulation. This has been acknowledged in all ages, and among all nations; and this is the origin of the civil law properly fo called, and of the facred or ecclefiaftic law; all civilized nations have established these two sorts of laws. But if matters of religion have, in several respects, need of human regulation, the right of finally determining them can only belong to the fovereign.

First proof. This is incontestably proved by the very nature of sovereignty, which is no more than the right of determining finally in society, and which consequently suffers nothing, not only above it, but even that is not subject to it; and embraces, in the extent of its jurisdiction, every thing that can intereft the happiness of the state, both facred and profane.

- The nature of sovereignty cannot permit any thing, that is fufceptible of human direction, to be withdrawn from its authority; for, what is withdrawn from the authority of the sovereign, must either be left independent, or subjected to the authority of some other person different from the fovereign himself.

« Were no rule established in matters of religion, this would be throwing them into a confusion and disorder, quite opposite to the good of the society, incompatible with the nature of religion, and directly contrary to the views of the Deity, who is the author of it. But, if we submit these matters to lome authority, independent of that of the sovereign, we fall into a new inconveniency; fince, by this means, we establish in the same fociety two fovereign powers independent of each other, which is not only incompatible with the nature of sovereignty, but a contradiction in itself.

In fact, if there were several sovereigns in the same fociety, they might alii yive contrary orders. But who


[ocr errors]

1752. 277 does not perceive, that oppofite orders, with respect to the fame affair, are manifestly repugnant to the nature of things, that they cannot have their effect, nor produce a real obligation. How would it be possible, for instance, that a man, who receives different orders at the same time from two superiors, to repair to the camp, and to go to church, should be obliged to obey both? If it be said, that he is not obliged to obey both, there must therefore be some subordination of the one to the other ; the inferior will yield to the superior, and it will not be true that they are both sovereign and independent. We may here very properly apply the words of Jesus Chrift. No man can serve two masters; and a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.

Second proof. I draw my second proof from the end of civil society, and of sovereignty. The end of sovereignty is certainly the happiness of the people, and the preservagion of the state. Now, as 'religion may several ways either injure or benefit the state, it follows, that the sovereign has a right over religion, at least as far as it can depend on human direction. He who has a right to the end, has, undoubtedly, a right also to the means that lead to it.

• Now, that religion may several ways injure or benefit the state, we have already proved in the first volume of this work. 1. All men have constantly acknowledged, that the Deity makes his favours to a state depend principally on the care which the sovereign takes to induce his subjects to honour and serve him. 2. Religion can of itself contribute greatly to render men more obedient to the laws, more attached to their country, and more honest to one another. 3. The doctrines and ceremonies of religion have a considerable influence on the morals of people, and on the public happiness. The ideas which men have imbibed of the Deity, have induced them to the most monstrous forms of worship, and even prompted them to facrifice human victims. They have even, from these false ideas, drawn arguments in justification of vice, cruelty, and licentiousness, as we may see by reading the ancient poets. Since religion therefore has so much influence over the happiness or misery of society, who can doubt but it is subject to the direction of the sovereign?

Third proof. · What we have been saying evinces, that it is incumbent on the sovereign, and one of his most effential duties, to make religion, which includes the most


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »