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The phrases in their context!


We might as well resolve the obligation to abstain from the possessions of others, into the obligation of a promise, as that of allegiance.
The interests are not more distinct in the one case than the other.
A regard to property is not more necessary to natural society, than obedience is to civil society or government; nor is the former society more necessary to the being of mankind, than the latter to their well-being and happiness.
In short, if the performance of promises be advantageous, so is obedience to government: If the former interest be general, so is the latter: If the one interest be obvious and avowed, so is the other.
And as these two rules are founded on like obligations of interest, each of them must have a peculiar authority, independent of the other.
But it is not only the natural obligations of interest, which are distinct in promises and allegiance; but also the moral obligations of honour and conscience: Nor does the merit or demerit of the one depend in the least upon that of the other.
And indeed, if we consider the close connexion there is betwixt the natural and moral obligations, we shall find this conclusion to be entirely unavoidable.
Our interest is always engaged on the side of obedience to magistracy; and there is nothing but a great present advantage, that can lead us to rebellion, by making us over-look the remote interest, which we have in the preserving of peace and order in society.
But though a present interest may thus blind us with regard to our own actions, it takes not place with regard to those of others; nor hinders them from appearing in their true colours, as highly prejudicial to public interest, and to our own in particular.
This naturally gives us an uneasiness, in considering such seditious and disloyal actions, and makes us attach to them the idea of vice and moral deformity.
It is the same principle, which causes us to disapprove of all kinds of private injustice, and in particular of the breach of promises.
We blame all treachery and breach of faith; because we consider, that the freedom and extent of human commerce depend entirely on a fidelity with regard to promises.
We blame all disloyalty to magistrates; because we perceive, that the execution of justice, in the stability of possession, its translation by consent, and the performance of promises, is impossible, without submission to government.
As there are here two interests entirely distinct from each other, they must give rise to two moral obligations, equally separate and independent.
Though there was no such thing as a promise in the world, government would still be necessary in all large and civilized societies; and if promises had only their own proper obligation, without the separate sanction of government, they would have but little efficacy in such societies.
This separates the boundaries of our public and private duties, and shews that the latter are more dependant on the former, than the former on the latter.
Education, and the artifice of politicians, concur to bestow a farther morality on loyalty, and to brand all rebellion with a greater degree of guilt and infamy.
Nor is it a wonder, that politicians should be very industrious in inculcating such notions, where their interest is so particularly concerned.
Lest those arguments should not appear entirely conclusive (as I think they are) I shall have recourse to authority, and shall prove, from the universal consent of mankind, that the obligation of submission to government is not derived from any promise of the subjects.
Nor need any one wonder, that though I have all along endeavoured to establish my system on pure reason, and have scarce ever cited the judgment even of philosophers or historians on any article, I should now appeal to popular authority, and oppose the sentiments of the rabble to any philosophical reasoning.
For it must be observed, that the opinions of men, in this case, carry with them a peculiar authority, and are, in a great measure, infallible.