Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter 3: The Law of the Land - The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy
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Chapter 3: The Law of the Land - William Paley, The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy 
The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy, Foreword by D.L. Le Mahieu (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002).
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The Law of the Land
That part of mankind, who are beneath the Law of Honour, often make the Law of the Land their rule of life; that is, they are satisfied with themselves, so long as they do or omit nothing, for the doing or omitting of which the law can punish them.
Whereas every system of human laws, considered as a rule of life, labours under the two following defects:
I. Human laws omit many duties, as not objects of compulsion; such as piety to God, bounty to the poor, forgiveness of injuries, education of children, gratitude to benefactors.
The law never speaks but to command, nor commands but where it can compel; consequently those duties, which by their nature must be voluntary, are left out of the statute-book, as lying beyond the reach of its operation and authority.
II. Human laws permit, or, which is the same thing, suffer to go unpunished, many crimes, because they are incapable of being defined by any previous description. Of which nature are luxury, prodigality, partiality in voting at those elections in which the qualifications of the candidate ought to determine the success, caprice in the disposition of men’s fortunes at their death, disrespect to parents, and a multitude of similar examples.
For, this is the alternative: either the law must define beforehand and with precision the offences which it punishes; or it must be left to the discretion of the magistrate, to determine upon each particular accusation, whether it constitute that offence which the law designed to punish, or not; which is, in effect, leaving to the magistrate to punish or not to punish, at his pleasure, the individual who is brought before him; which is just so much tyranny. Where, therefore, as in the instances above-mentioned, the distinction between right and wrong is of too subtile or of too secret a nature to be ascertained by any preconcerted language, the law of most countries, especially of free states, rather than commit the liberty of the subject to the discretion of the magistrate, leaves men in such cases to themselves.