It was far more interesting than I remembered it to be, and one passage struck me not only because of its insight but because of its odd poetry. (Eighteenth-century English is often tiresome and needlessly florid, but perhaps for that reason there are exceptions that stand out all the more clearly.)
It is part of an argument by the author, James Madison, about the necessity of 'checks and balances' between different departments of government:
Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.
There is, obviously, a great deal of context--both personal and political--in which this passage (and the essay as a whole) could be placed, and I'm far from an expert on this (or any other) period of American history.
But simply as a statement in itself, I think it has stood up quite well, over the centuries.