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[102]

Another idea which clearly enters into the common and correct use of this term is that it is reciprocal with obligation: that is, wherever there is a right in one person, there is a corresponding obligation, duty, upon others. If one man has a right to an estate, others are under obligation, that is, it is their duty to abstain from it. If the letting of it alone be the result of duty on the part of others, the enjoyment of it by him must also result from duty on his part, or the ideas do not coincide: that which was duty in one set of men would not be duty in another, in regard to the same thing, and in correlative circumstances. This would be absurd: therefore, the duty of one set of men to let another alone in the enjoyment of a certain benefit, implies the correlative idea that they enjoy the benefit in virtue of doing their duty. Hence, those benefits which are our rights result to us from the performance of our duty.

The points established in this discussion are:

1. That conformity to what is ordered or commanded is not the true generic idea of the right in itself. What is ordered or commanded can only interpret the right, when the command itself conforms to the essential good, as in the case of the Divine will. This is always right, because it so conforms, or is always an expression of the essential good.

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