ON EQUALITY. From Puffendorf's Whole Duty of Man, according to the Law of Nature.
MAN is a creature not only most solicitous for the preservation of himself, but has of him∣self so nice an estimation and value, that to dimi∣nish Page 90any thing thereof does frequently move in him as great indignation as if a mischief were done to his body or estate. Nay, there seems to him to be somewhat of dignity in the appellation of MAN: so that the last and most efficacious argu∣ment to curb the arrogance of insulting men, is •sually—I am not a dog, but a man as well as your∣self. Since then human nature is the same in us all, and since no man will or can cheerfully join in society with any, by whom he is not at least to be esteemed equal as a man, and as a partaker of the same common nature. It follows that, among those duties which men owe to each other, this ob∣tains the second place, That every man esteem and treat another, as naturally equal to himself, or as one who is a man as well as he:
Now this equality of mankind does not alone consist in this, that men of ripe age have almost the same strength, or if one be weaker, he may be able to kill the stronger, either by treachery, or dex∣terity, or by being better furnished with weapons: but in this, that though nature may have accom∣plished one man beyond another, with various endowments of body and mind: yet nevertheless he is obliged to an observation of the precepts of the law-natural towards the meaner person, after the same manner as he himself expects the same •on others; and has not therefore any greater li∣berty given him to insult upon his fellows. As, on the other side, the niggardliness of nature or fortune cannot of themselves set any man so low as that he shall be in a worse condition, as to the enjoyment of common right, than others. But what one man may: rightfully demand or expect from as another, the same is due to others also (cir∣cumstancies being alike) from him; and whatsoever one shall deem reasonable to be done by others, the like it is most just he practise himself; For the obligation of maintaining sociality among mankind, Page 91equally binds every man; neither may one man more than another violate the law of nature, in any part. Not but that there are other popular reasons which illustrate this equality; to wit, That we are all descended of the same stock; that we are all born, nourished, and die after the same manner; and, that God has not given any of us a certain assurance, that our happy condition in this world shall not at one time or other be changed. Besides, the precepts of the Christian religion tell us, that God favours not man for his nobility, power, or wealth, but for sincere piety, which may as well be found in a mean and humble man, as in those of high degree.
Now from this equality it follows, That he who would use the assistance of others in promoting his own advantage, ought to be as free and ready to use his power and abilities for their service, when they want his help and assistance on like occasions. For he who requires that other men should do him kindnesses, and expects himself to be free from doing the like, must be of opinion, that those other men are below himself and not his equals. Hence as those persons are the best members of a commu∣nity, who, without any difficulty, allow the same things to their neighbours that themselves require of him; so those are altogether incapable of socie∣ty, who setting a high rate on themselves, in re∣gard to others, will take upon them to act any thing towards their neighbour, and expect greater deference and more respect than the rest of man∣kind; and in their insolent manner demanding a greater portion unto themselves of those things, to which, all men having a common right, they can in reason claim no larger share than other men: Whence this also is an univerfal duty of the law∣natural, That no man, who has not a peculiar right ought to arrogate more to himself than he is ready to allow to his fellows, but that he permit other men to enjoy equal privileges with himself.
Page 92The same e quality also shews what every man's behaviour ought to be, when his business is to dis∣tribute justice among others; to wit, that he treat them as equals, and indulge not that, unless the merits of the cause require it, to one, which he dentes to another: For, if he do otherwise, he who is discountenanced is, at the same time, affronted and wronged, and loses somewhat of the dignity which nature bestowed upon him. Whence it follows, that things which are in common, are of right to be divided by equal parts among those who are equal: Where the thing will not admit of di∣vision, they who are equally concerned, are to use it indifferently; and, if the quantity of the thing will bear it, as much as each party shall think fit; But if this cannot be allowed, then it is to be used after a stated manner, and proportioned to the number of the claimants; because it is not possible to find out any other way of observing equality. But if it be a thing of that nature as not to be capable of being divided, nor of being pos∣sessed in common, then it must be used by turns; and if this yet will not answer the point, and it is not possible the rest should be satisfied by an equi∣valent. the best way must be, to determine posses∣sion by lot; for in such cases, no fitter method can be thought on, to remove all opinion of partiality and contempt of any party, without debasing the person whom fortune does not favour,