Edmund Burke on Liberty and Virtue

Religion, law and morality interact with each other in ways that affect the church and culture. In scripture there are types of laws with each having their own purpose. What would happen though if ethics (morality) was no more than just personal choice and private sentiment? Edmund Burke (1729-1797), a leader in Great Britain during the time of the Revolutionary War, responds to this question:

Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites…Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.

1791, in “A Letter to a Member of the National Assembly.” Theodore Roosevelt, “Fifth Annual Message to Congress,” December 5, 1905. A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents 20 vols. (New York: Bureau of National Literature, Inc., prepared under the direction of the Joint Committee on Printing, of the House and Senate, pursuant to an Act of the Fifty-Second Congress of the United States, 1893, 1923), Vol. XIV, p. 6986.

Author: Zach Maloney

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