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CIVIL GOVERNMENT, &c.
Of Civil Government and Laws ; and what they are.
; 1. GOVERNMENT, in a general sense, signifies direction, or regulation ; or it is the control which one thing has over another. When applied to persons, it means the exercise of authority by one or more persons over others, in controlling or regulating their behavior.
2. A parent gives directions to his children for the regulation of their behavior. He commands what they are to do, and forbids what they are not to do. In giving these rules and causing them to be obeyed, he is said to govern his family. So the government of a teacher consists in keeping order in his school, by causing his scholars to observe the rules he has prescribed for their conduct.
3. But the government treated of in this book, is the government of a state or nation, usually called civil
government. It is so called, because it is the government which regulates the actions of persons as members of civil society. But in order fully to understand the meaning of civil government, it is necessary to know what is meant by civil society.
4. The Creator intended that mankind should live together. He has given them a desire to associate with each other, and has made their happiness depend, in a great measure, on such association. Hence we find that persons derive from each other's company greater enjoyment than they could have by living alone.
QUESTIONS.—1. What is government in a general sense ? What when applied to persons ? 2. Illustrate the meaning by example. 3, What is the government of a state or nation called? Why? 4. From
5. Any number of persons associated together in any manner, or for any purpose, may be called a society. The friends of temperance associate for the purpose
promoting temperance, and are called a temperance society. Other persons act together as a Bible society, or an education society. But neither of these associations, nor any others commonly called societies, are what is usually understood by civil society.
6. The term, civil society, is applied to the people of a country united for the purpose of government, under written rules and regulations. It does not apply to the people of every nation. The Indians of this country observe certain rules and customs, but these rules are not written; and as these people are savage and unlearned, they are called uncivilized, and are not properly civil communities.
7. Civil society can be said to exist only where the people are in a civilized state, or state of social improvement. By a state of civilization and social improvement, is meant refinement of manners and growth in knowledge. In any country where the people enjoy the benefits of learning, and the means of improving their social condition, or of making themselves more comfortable and happy, they are called civilized ; and the government of such country, according to established written rules, is called civil govern. ment.
8. The rules by which the people of a state are govern. ed, are called laws ; as the commands of the parent or householder are the laws of the family, or as the rules of the teacher are the laws of the school. A law 'is therefore a rule of action, commanding what men are to do, and for. bidding what they are not to do. A law implies two things; first, the right and authority of those who govern to make the law; and secondly, the duty of the governed to obey the law.
9. To give force to a law, it must have a penalty. Penalty is the pain or suffering to be inflicted upon a per.
what do you infer that mankind are made for society ? 5. What is a society? 6. What is civil society? 7. Where does civil society exist ! What is civilization? Is this a civilized country? 8. What are called laws? What is a law? 9 Why have laws a penalty ? What is
son for breaking a law. The law requires that for steal. ing, a man must pay a fine or be put into prison ; and that for murder, he must be hanged: therefore fine or imprison. ment is the penalty for stealing, and hanging is the penalty for murder. If no penalties were annexed to laws, men could not be compelled to obey them; bad men would com. mit crimes without fear; there would be no safety to our lives or property; and there would be no order in society.
10. We see from the preceding sections what is meant by the term, civil government. When we speak of the political institutions of any particular country, we say only, the government.
Hence the word government means, the system or form of fundamental rules by which the people of a state or nation are governed. The word, however, is not always used in precisely the same sense. Sometimes it means the making and executing of the laws of the state : and sometimes the persons or officers who make and admin. ister the laws are called the government.
Of the Nature and Necessity of Laws–Of Rights, fc.
1. Civil government and laws, as we have seen in the preceding chapter, are necessary to preserve peace and order in society, and to secure to its members the free enjoyment of their rights. A right is the just claim, or law. ful title, which we have to any thing. Thus we say, a person has a right to what he has earned by his labor, or bought with his money. A man is entitled to what is law. fully or justly his own; that is, he has a right to it.
2. We have right also to do things. We have a right to go where we please, and to act as we please, if by so doing we do not trespass upon the rights of others. For it must be remembered, that all men in civil society have the same
penalty? 10. In what different senses is the word government used ?
1. What is the object of civil government and laws ? What is a right? 2. Have we a right to do as we please in all cases ? 3. What
natural rights, and that no one has a right to disturb others in the enjoyment of their rights.
3. The being free to enjoy what belongs to us, or to do as we please, is called liberty. The words right and liber. ty, however, have not the same meaning. We may have a right to a thing when we have not the liberty to enjoy or to use it. John has a pencil which is justly his own ; but James takes it from him by force. John's liberty to enjoy the use of his pencil is lost, but his right to it remains. And James has no right to the pencil, though he enjoys the use of it.
4. All laws ought to be so made as to secure to men the liberty to enjoy and exercise their natural rights. Natural rights are those which we are entitled to by nature, rights with which we are born. Every person is born with a right to live, and freely to enjoy the fruits of his labor, and whatsoever is justly his own. Therefore liberty itself is a natural right; that is, it is ours by nature, or by birth; and it cannot be justly taken from us : hence it is also called inalienable. But we may forfeit our natural rights by crime. If a person steals, he loses his right to liberty for a time, and may be justly imprisoned. If he commits murder, he forfeits his right to life, and lawfully suffers death.
5. We sometimes hear of civil rights and civil liberty. Wherein do these differ from those which are called natu. ral ? Our rights and liberties may be both natural and civil at the same time. When we speak of them as being ours by nature, or by birth, we call them natural; and when they are spoken of as being secured to us by civil government and laws, they are called civil. Hence John's right to the use of his pencil is a civil right, because it is secured to him by the laws of civil society; and it is also a natural right, because, by the law of nature, he is borr with a right to the free use of his property.
6. The law of nature is so called, because it is a perfect
is liberty? Have the words liberty and right the same meaning? What are natural rights? Inalienable? How may these rights be forfeited ? 5. Tell the difference between the terms, civil rights and natural rights. 6. What is the law of nature? 7. What duties to our Cra