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tween the diffenting parties, appears to me to arise in great measure from the generality of the propositions, about which they differ. *“ In a subject, where truth and error lie arguing upon
The danger of so near to each other, divided by a line in fition many cases not to be discerned without care and attention, and where preingagements of interest to one side or the other are apt to bend and corrupt the judgment, it is no wonder to find great perplexity in men's notions and disputes, or that those, who lie in wait to deceive or embroil mankind, should choose a field of controversy, in which there is such room for all the arts of sophistry. While they keep in generalities, (as such disputants always do) some truth will be in their affertions, for the sake of which they cannot absolutely be denied. To this they retreat for cover whenever they are pressed. By a little aggravation of the conclusions they oppose, they can easily represent them as excesses, with popular topics for declamation and invective. While the minds of men are thus amused with generalities, and by artificial terrors of one extreme driven towards the other, the real point of truth is easily kept out of sight, and the dispute between liberty and authority
• Dr. Roger's Vindication of the Civil Establishment of Religion, printed in 1728, p. 2 and 3.
may on these terms be carried on for ever; but if we can fix the proper limits of each, we shall foon make them friends, and pue an end to all confusion about them.”.
It is much to be lamented, that most of the writers upon these political subjects have fet out, and continued through their whole career, upon the treacherous extremities of their respective doctrines. Under this excessive tension, the different partizans view their antagonists in the lowest degree of de
pravity, and represent them in the groffest How certain terms of degradation. Thus this political propofitions commonly fup- maxim, falus populi fuprema lex, “ the welfare posed contradictory are re- of the people is the first of all laws,” is opconcileable,
posed by one party to another maxim, omnis potestas a Deo, “ all power is from God;” and the abettors of each, from mifconceiving or misapplying them, run into the opposite extremes, of attributing to individuals a jure divino indefeasible right to power, and of denying the existence of any monarchical right or power upon earth. Whereas if these two principles are but fairly represented, and rightly understood, they are not only consistent with each other, but one essentially flows from the other; for as I have before observed, society is essential to the physical nature of man; and power and govern
ment are essential to the subsistence of foo ciety: these, therefore, like our existence, proceed immediately from God. In this generical and original sense of power, no one, I apprehend, will deny that the existence of all temporal or civil power proceeds from God; and in this sense I may cite the authority of the Apostle ; There is no power, but of God, and avail myself of the deduction, which Milton and others draw from it, that the inftitution of magistracy is jure divino. But as our benevolent Creator has constituted us free agents in this world, so what particular form of government each nation fhould live under, and what persons Jould be entrusted with the magiftracy, without doubt, was left to the choice of each nation. But still each particular form of government, adopted by different focieties or nations, must all tend ultimately to one and the same end.
* « The great end of men's entering into fociety being the enjoyment of their properties in peace and safety, and the great inftrument and means of that being the laws established in that society, the first and fundamental positive law of all commonwealths is the establishing of the legislative power; as
• Locke of Civil Governmery, t. xi. p. 204.
vation of the so
the first and fundamental natural law, which is to govern even the legislative itself, is the preservation of the society, and (as far as will con
fift with the public good) of every person in it. Sovereignty of This legislative is not only the supreme power for the presero of the commonwealth, but sacred and unal
terable in the hands where the community have once placed it; nor can any edict of any body else, in what form foever conceived, or by what power soever backed, have the force and obligation of a law, which has not its sanction from that legislative, which the public has chosen and appointed. For without this, the law could not have that, which is absolutely necessary to its being a law, consent of the society, over whom nobody can have a power to make laws, but by their own consent, and by authority received from them; and therefore all the obedience, which by the most folemn ties, any one can be obliged to pay, ultimately terminates in this supreme power and is directed by those laws, which it enacts; nor can any oaths to any foreign power whatsoever, or any domestic subordinatę power discharge any member of the society from his obedience to the legislative, acting pursuant to their trust, nor oblige him to any obedience contrary to the laws so enacted, or farther than they do allow; it being
ridiculous to inagine one can be tied ultimately to obey any power in the society, which is not the supreme.”. Inattention to what, in fact, constitutes the Inattention to
what is the su. supreme power in the society, has been the
urnal cause of fatal cause of all rebellions, that have ever rebellion. been raised against lawful governments. The cry of the rights of the people is the hackneyed warhoop, by which both ancient and modern traitors have excited and fomented disturbances in all states. *“A term (the people) which they are far from accurately defining, but by which, from many circumstances, 'tis plain enough they mean their own faction, if they should grow by early arming, by treachery or violence, into the prevailing force." The rights of the people are the most facred rights, that can be claimed, and ought to be the most religiously preserved; but they are also liable to the most serious and alarming abuses, corruptio optimi pelima. Our own history fatally superabounds with tragical abuses of these most precious rights ; and the frequent abuses of them have forced from one of the greatest ornaments of the age, an opi. nion, perhaps more loyal in its tendency, than
• Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, p. 56, 57.
E 3 . tenable