Page images
PDF
EPUB

CH A P. II.

OF THE STATE OF SOCIETY.

Origin of fo.

COCIETY was the necessary consequence

of the experimental discovery of man's wants and insufficiency to supply them in the theoretical state of pure nature. These wants were coeval with his physical existence; for, as Mr. Locke says, God so made man, as to put him under strong obligations of necessity, convenience, and inclination, to drive him into fociety, as well as fitted him with understanding and language to continue and enjoy it. And here, as Mr. Payne allows, Our enquiries find a resting place, our reason finds a home. This insufficiency of individuals sought a remedy in the assistance of others ; mutual assistance brought on obligations, and obligations produced dependance. The diversity of age, strength, or talents, probably gave the first superiority over a promiscuous multitude (for parentage certainly gave the first superiority over individuals); this multiplied and varied, as the objects who posseffcd it; envy ever followed the poffeffor; and the consequences

broke

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

tions.

broke out into strifes, feuds, and wars. So * " as soon as mankind enter into a state of society, they lose the sense of their weakness; the equality ceases, and then commences the state of war.” These ruinous effects increased, as mankind was multiplied; and the natural tendency to superiority urged individuals to reduce their neighbours into a state of subjection. Still was man sensible of his own insufficiency, and he applied in need to his neighbour for assistance. This gradually Origin of naformed men into distinct bodies: each body had their own respective views and interests; and hence arose the difference of communities or nations.

Societies then once formed, the interests of the individuals forming them became united in one common centre; they dropped the former sense of that weakness and indigence, which had driven them into society, and afsumed a consequence (which I call political) from the newly acquired strength of their collected affociates. The subsistence and preservation of their own community was their first concern; to defend themselves against the power and encroachments of others was cheir next. Thus did their collective exi- Origin of go

vernment

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

individuals in

[ocr errors]

ture transferred to the commu

gencies enforce the necessity of order and

government. The rights of. It is a postulatum, that when men formed the state of na

. themselves into society, their natural rights

were not given up nor destroyed, but were nity in that of

bosiety.

transferred only from the individual to the body at large. Whatever the former had an indefeasible right to do in the state of nature, the latter has an indefeasible right to do in the state of society; and throughout this state of society, the general interest of the community is the principle, upon which the .conftitution and particular laws of each state must be founded. The private considerations of individuals were given up, in the exchange of our natural rights, for the improved liberties of civil intercourse and society.

* " Men being, as has been said, by nature all free, equal, and independent, no one can be put out of his estate, and subjected to the political power of another, without his own consent. The only way, whereby any one divests himself of his natural liberty, and puts on the bonds of civil society, is by agreeing with other men, to join and unite into a community, for their comfortable, fafe, and peaceable living one amongst ano

* Locke of Civil Government, p. 194.

ther, allembljęs

majority concludes the wholç.

ther, in a secure enjoyment of their properties, and a greater security against any, that are not of it. This any number of men may do, because it injures not the freedom of the rest; they are left as they were, in the liberty of the state of nature. When any number of men have fo consented to make one community, or government, they are thereby presently incorporated, and make one body politic, wherein the majority have a right to act, and conclude the rest.

« For when any number of men have, by The act of the the consent of every individual, made a community, they have thereby made that community one body, with a power to act as one body, which is only by the will and determination of the majority. For that, which acts any community, being only the consent of the individuals of it, and it being necessary to that, which is one body, to move one way, it is necessary the body should move that way, whither the great force carries it, which is the consent of the majority: or else it is impossible it should act, or continue one body, one community, which the content of every individual, that united into it, agreed that it should, and so every one is bound, by that corisent, to be concluded by the majority. And therefore we see, that in

Da

ove

assemblies impowered to act by positive laws, where no number is set by that positive law, which impowers them, the act of the majority passes for the act of the whole, and of course determines, as having, by the law of nature and reason, the power of the whole.

« And thus every man, by consenting with others to make one body politic, under one government, puts himself under an obligation to every one of that society, to submit to the determination of the majority, and to be concluded by it; or else this original compact, whereby he with others incorporates into one fociety, would signify nothing, and be no compact, if he be left free, and under no other gies, chan he was in before in the state of nature,

“Whoever, therefore, out of a state of nature, unite into a community, must be understood to give up all the power necessary to the ends, for which they unite into fociety to the majority of the community, unless they expressly agreed in any number less than the majority. And this is done by barely agreeing to unite into one political society, which is all the compact that is, or need be, be

tween the individuals, that enter into or make What consti- up a common-wealth. And thus, that, which nity and lawful begins and actually constitutes any poli government fociety, is nothing but the consent of any

number

[ocr errors]

What confti. tutes a commu.

« PreviousContinue »