Page images

rule of conduct for all moral and social beings a rule which is right in itself, right in the nature of things; and it would be right, and ought to be obeyed, if no other law, or no positive command had ever been given. It is right in itself that all men should have the liberty of enjoying the use of what is their own; and it would be right that we should give to every man his due, if we had never been commanded to do so.

7. The law of nature is the rule of conduct which we are bound to observe towards our Maker and our fellowmen, by reason of our natural relations to them. Mankind being dependent upon their Creator, they owe Him duties which they ought to perform, though he had never positively enjoined these duties. To serve our Creator, and to thank Him for his mercies, are duties which arise out of the rela. tion we sustain to Him.

8. So the relation between parent and child renders it fit and proper that children obey their parents, on whom they are dependent for protection and support. And from the relation we sustain to our fellow-men, on whom also we are in a measure dependent, and who have the same rights as ourselves; it is our duty to promote their happiness as well as our own, by doing to them as we would that they should do to us. This is required by the law of nature, which is the will of the Creator.

9. But it may be asked, if the law of nature is the rule by which mankind ought to regulate their conduct, of what use are written laws ? Mankind in their present imperfect state are not capable of discovering, in all cases, what the law of nature requires. It has therefore pleased Divine Providence to reveal his will to mankind, to instruct them in their duties to himself and to each other. This will is revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and is called the law of revelation, or the Divine law.

10. But though men have the Divine law for their guide, human laws also are necessary. God has commanded men

ator does the law of nature enjoin? From what does this obligation arise ? 8. What duty to parents does the law of nature enjoin? Why? What towards our fellow-men? Why? 9. Of what uso aro written laws? What is the law of revelation ? 10. Of what use are human

to do right, and to deal justly with each other, but men do not always agree as to what is right: human laws therefore are necessary to say what shall be considered just between man and man. And these laws must be written, that it may always be known what they are.

11. Again, it may be asked, what must be done when a human law does not agree with the Divine law ? Must such law be obeyed ? We may not disobey a human law simply because it does not require what is strictly just between men. A law


be very imperfect, as many hu. man laws are, and yet we ought to obey it, and may do so without breaking the Divine law. But a law clearly con. trary to the command of God, we are not bound to obey. It may sometimes be difficult to determine whether human laws and the Divine law agree. Hence we see the importance of having wise and good law-makers, who will make wise and righteous laws.


How Power is exercised in different Governments. 1. The people of every country live under government' and laws of some kind; but the modes and forms of government in different countries are very different from each other. What distinguishes one form of government from another is, that the power to govern, that is, the power to make the laws and to put them in force, is in different hands, and is exercised in a different manner in some governments from what it is in others.

2. In some countries the power to govern is in one person, called a king or emperor, who makes the laws for the peo. ple, who are called subjects, because they are subject to his will, which is their law. Such a government is called a

laws? 11. Ought human laws and the Divine law to agree? May we always disobey human laws that are wrong?

1. Are all forms of government alike? Wherein consists the difference ? 2. Who makes the laws in a monarchy? What is a monarchy ?

monarchy, which means a government by one man, who is called monarch. When the ruler exercises authority over

. his subjects in a cruel manner, he is called a despot or tyrant, and his government is called despotism, or tyran. ny. Originally the words despot and tyrant meant simply a single ruler.

But such is the sense at present. conve:yed by these words, that any government, when so administered as to oppress the people, is called despotic or tyrannical.

3. Another form of government is a democracy, which means government by the people. In a government purely de:mocratic, the great body of freemen meet in one assembly to make the laws and to transact the public business. In ancient Greece and Rome there were some governments of this kind. This kind of government can exist only in small territories. It would be impossible for all the citizens of a large community to meet in a single assembly and do busi



4. It will be seen that the two kinds of government here described, are directly opposite to each other. In the former, the power is in the hands of one man; in the latter, the power to govern is exercised by all the people. In the one, the people are governed by another; in the other, they gov. ern themselves. The former, in which the will of one man is the law, is called an absolute or arbitrary government; the latter, in which the people make their own laws, is called a free government.

5. There is a form of government which partakes of the nature of both a monarchical and a free government, and is therefore called a mixed government. It is also called a limited monarchy, because the monarch is himself restrained by laws, and cannot make laws alone. The government of Great Britain is one of this description. The chief magis. trate, or king, gets his power as kings usually do, by right of birth; that is, he inherits it from his ancestors, in the same manner as a son becomes heir to the property of his father, at whose death the property comes to the child by When is it called a despotism, or tyranny? 3. What is a democracy? Flow are laws made in a pure democracy?. 4. Contrast a monarchy and a pure democracy. 5. What is a mixed government? How doen right of birth. The eldest son, if there is a son, is heir to the crown.

6. But the king in that country has not the power to make the laws. The laws are framed by parliament, and submitted to the king for his approval. If he approves them they become laws, otherwise they do not. Parliament is composed of two legislative assemblies, the house of lords and the house of commons. The lords are men of high rank, who get their office by birth, or from the king. They are also called nobles. The house of commons is composed of men who are elected by the people. These three branches of the government, the king, the house of lords, and the house of commons, must all agree upon a measure before it is a law.

7. Governments called aristocracies have also existed; but no government properly called an aristocracy is known to exist at the present time. The word is applied to a government which is in the hands of a few persons of rank and wealth. The aristocratic principle, however, is preserved in the British house of lords.

8. But the form of government which prevails in this country is different from all those which have been described. It is a republican government. A republic is a form of government in which the public, the people, enjoy common rights and privileges. Hence the name of commonwealth is sometimes applied to a republican government; as a thing is said to be common when it is enjoyed by persons generally, or by all. Hence also the word community, which signifies the people living under the same laws, and enjoying the same privileges. Every state in the Union is a republic.

9. In a republic the political power is with the people; and therefore the government is free. Hence our govern. ment is sometimes called a democracy; and perhaps the words republic and democracy had formerly the same meaning. But our government is materially different from

a king get power? 6. By whom are laws made in Great Britain ? And how? How is parliament constituted ? Describe the two houses. 7. What is an aristocracy? 8. What is the government of this country called? What is a republic? What other name is it called by? Why? 9. In what is our government different from a simple democracy? io

such a democracy as has been described. In a republic

. like ours, the people do not all assemble in a body to make laws as in a pure democracy. The laws are made by a small number of men called representatives, who are chosen by the people for that purpose. The people also choose persons to transact the other business that needs to be done.

10. Our government is therefore a representative government, or a representative republic. A representative is a person chosen or employed by others to make known their wishes, and to transact their business. A representative is therefore an agent. The word agent, however, more frequently denotes a person intrusted with the business of private individuals; by representative is generally understood one who is chosen to assist in enacting the laws. All public agents and representatives are called officers.

11. Notwithstanding power in our government is divided among a great many different classes of officers, instead of being exercised by the great body of the people in person, as in a simple democracy, both governments are alike in this, that all power, however differently exercised, comes from the people. Both are such governments as the people choose for themselves, and therefore both are equally free.

12. The form of government in the United States is expressed in a written instrument, called a constitution. A constitution is a form of rules by which the members of a society agree to be governed. Every society or association commonly so called, has a constitution. The persons forming the association draft a set of rules, stating the object of the society, what officers it shall have, what each is to do, and how its operations shall be carried on. These rules are called the constitution of the society. So the rules adopted by the members of the civil society, are called the constitution. They are in the nature of articles of agreement, by which the people mutually agree to be governed.

13. A constitution is a kind of law; not, however, such a law as those which are made by the representatives of the people. It is a law made by the people themselves, deWhat, then, is our government properly called? What is a representative! 11. In what respect are the two governments alike? 12. What is a constitution ? What does it declare ? 13 Why is a constiturinn

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »