Page images
PDF
EPUB

state of civil society from the state of pure nature and primeval equality, which must ever necessarily produce anarchy and confufion; for the prevention of which, and for attaining the happiness of the people, the community institutes a government, and entrusts their sovereign power with governors. : If any thing can give force, vigour, and Magiftrates are energy to the power of magistrates over the community." members of a community, it is, because the community itself has vested it in trust in some of its own body. Therefore, * «, there is undoubtedly a particular deferenc and homage due to civil magistrates, on account of their stations and offices; nor can that man be either truly wise or truly virtuous, who despises governments, and wantonly speaks evil of his rulers, or who does not, by all the means in his power, endeavour to strengthen their hands, and to give weight to their exertions in the discharge of their duty. Feari God, says St. Peter. Love the brotherhood. Honour all men. Honour the king. You must needs, says St. Paul, be subject to rulers, not only for wrath (that is, from the fear of suffering the penalties annexed to the breach of the laws), but for conscience sake. For rulers

trustees of the

* Dr. Price’s Discourse on the 4th Nov. 1789, p. 27.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

are ministers of God, and revengers for executing wrath on all that do evil.” In a word, with out troubling my readers with any more authorities for establishing these clear positions, that the power, both of the supreme and subordinate magistrates, is delegated to them by the people, is holden by them in trust for the people, and can only be exercised by them, according to the nature, conditions, and extent of the trust, I shall conclude this subject by shewing, from two of the strongest assertors of civil liberty, that upon these principles the power of the supreme magistrate is so constituted in a kingdom, that it becomes fully adequate to all the purposes of the most efficient monarchy. * « In the 8th Book, p. 444, he gives it as his judgment, that all kings, but such as are immediately named by God himself, have their power by human right only; though after human composition and agreement, their lawful choice is approved of God, and obedience required to them, by divine right.What more than this can be required by the stauncheft devotee to kingly power ? The right of the fovereign to command, is one and the same thing, as the obligation of the subject to obey; beyond the

* Hoadley's Defence of Mr. Hooker's Judgment.

establish

lature, the

civil crimes.

establishment of these two points, I do not conceive how, in a political society, the substance of sovereignty can be extended; for I will not suppose even one of my readers to entertain a serious idea of a pure regal or arbitrary government on the one hand, or of an absolutely equalized anarchy on the other. There is always much delicacy, and often much danger, in arguing upon the extremes of any proposition.

*“ From the foregoing reasoning then to rise up athe conclusion is evident; that if any one or

gainstthe legis any number of individuals, set up his or their

greatest of all wills in opposition to the will of the legislator, he or they are guilty of the greatest of all crimes they can possibly commit; because it is a crime, which diffolves, at once, the whole cement of society, and snaps asunder by violence all the bonds of government, which tend to secure the whole peace and tran-: quillity; for opposition to the will of the legislator tends to drive them back to that miserabte state of nature, from which they gladly fled to government, as to a refuge and an asylum.”

The right order of reasoning would here :

* Cooper's first Principles of Civil and Ecclesiastical Government, p. 78.

direct

F 4

direct me to investigate and discuss the variety and nature of different political establishments, by which communities have carried into execution their inherent rights of modelling their own forms of government. But my intention is not to lay before the public a full and elaborate effay upon government, but to fubmit to the consideration and judgment of my countrymen, such principles, grounds, and reasons, as will evince the political necefsity of submitting to, and supporting our present constitutional establishment, and of counteracting the wishes, efforts, and attempts of our secret and open enemies to discredit, weaken, and fubvert it.

I have before said, and I again repeat, that our constitution is founded upon the Rights of Man. I have attempted to trace their nature and origin, as well as our right to exercise them; it remains for me to consider, how we are affected by the actual execution or exercise of these rights in our own community, which brings me to the confideration of the constitution and government of Great Britain.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[blocks in formation]

· OF THE GENERAL CONSTITUTION AND GO

VERNMENT OF GREAT BRITAIN,

A FTER the adoption of the principles, Our constitu

tion founded 11 which I have already endeavoured to upon principle. establish, it would evidently exceed the intent and purport of this publication, to enter into historical researches, in order to trace the antiquity, and delineate the gradual and progressive improvements of our constitution; for it is not to be supposed, that the community of this isand passed, uno faltu, from their first agreement to enter into society, immediately into a constitution and government of that perfection, which distinguishes the constitution and government, that we now happily enjoy. Could we even clear the dark pages of those remote histories from doubt and uncertainty, the information might gratify, the curiosity of the mind, but would bring no conviction to the understanding. Principle alone is the true compass, by which we can steer steadily and safely through the treacherous perils of this sea of politics.

« PreviousContinue »