Page images
PDF
EPUB

what is the su

ufual cause of

ridiculous to imagine one can be tied ultimately to obey any power in the fociety, which is not the supreme.”

Inattention to what, in fact, constitutes the Inattention to supreme power in the society, has been the preme power 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 peffima. Qur own history fatally superabounds with tragical abuses of these most precious rights ; and the fre. quent abuses of them have forced from one of the greatest ornaments of the age, an opinion, perhaps more loyal in its tendency, than

Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, p. 56, 57,

[blocks in formation]

Instance of true tenable upon principle.

* " These doctrines principles being misappre concerning the people tend, in my opinion, to hended.

the utter fubversion, not only of all government, in all modes, and to all stable fecurities to rational freedom, but to all the rules and principles of morality itself.” The first of these doctrines, upon which this opinion is hazarded, rests on this position: †“ That the sovereignty, whether exercised by one or many, did not only originate from the people, but that in the people the same fovereignty constantly and unalienably resides.” Though this doctrine has been sometimes abused to the groffest purposes, yet it certainly forms the first, and consequently the true, principle of political and civil government, which the high authorities I have adduced, and the reasoning I have formed upon them, have, I trust, fatisfactorily established.

In matters of such immense importance, I do not hold myself warrantable in passing lightly from one fubiject to another, without fubmitting to my readers what my judgment

fuggests to me as conclusive upon the whole. Greater degree It requiręs, in fact, a greater degree of power, alter an old than or fovereignty, to change, alter, and newgovernment,

* Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, p. 57. + Ibidem., p. 56,

mode)

to form a new

and

model an old government, than to settle and establish a new one; for in the change and alteration of every old government, it becomes necessary to exchange, curtail, or annihilate

many privileges, advantages, and rights, which had been possessed, enjoyed, and exercised by individuals, as well as to imagine, constitute, and dispose of new privileges, advantages, and rights, which alone is the case in the formation of every new political establishment. When, therefore, it is said, that fociety

government are of nature, it is meant, that God has so formed and constituted men, that they cannot physically exist without fociety, nor society continue to sublist without

government; and, therefore, neceflarily, society and government must be of equal duration with human nature itself. And when it is asserted, that particular forms of government are by the right of nations, fingula fpecies regiminis sunt de jure gentium, it is not meant nor supposed, that we are annexing to focieties a mere theoretical quality, which can never be reduced to action, nor even that we are giving to societies a power, which, by its actual execution, like the charge of a mufquet, goes off in an explosion, and evaporates into a nonentity; but we are attributing to a community or voluntary collection of free

agents,

E 4

agents, that fundamental principle and essential quality, without which they must necessarily lose the attributes of socialness and freedom, and to whom the continuance of the right to exercise the power is as necessary to preserve them social and free, as was the first investiture of the power to make them so. *“ Cujus eft inftituere

, ejus est abrogare. We say in general, he that institutes may also abrogate, molt especially when the institution is not only by, but for himself. If the multitude, therefore, do institute, the multitude may abrogate; and they themselves, or those, who fucceed in the fame right, can only be fit judges of the performance of the ends of the inftitution."

† “ And this might be proved also by infinite other examples, both of times past and present, and in all nations and countries, both Christian and otherwise, which have not had only different fashions of governments the one from the other, but even among themselves, at one time, one form of government, and another at other times.

“ England also was first a monarchy under Britons; and then a province under the Ro

Examples of the community's changing the govern meni.

* Algernoon Sydney's Discourses concerning Goverrment, p. 15. + Dolman's Conference touching Succeffion, p. 8, 9.

mans ;

mans; and after that divided into seven kingdoms at once, under the Saxons; and now a monarchy again under the English ; and all this by God's permission and approbation, who in token thereof suffered his own peculiar people also of Israel to be under divers manners of governments in divers times; as first, under patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; then under captains, as Moses, Jofhua, and the like; then under judges, as Othoniel, Aiod, and Gideon ; then under high priests, as Hely and Samuel; then under kings, as Saul, David, and the rest; and then under captains and high priests again, as Zo-' robabel, Judas Machabæus, and his brethren, until the government was lastly taken from them, and they brought under the power of the Romans, and foreign kings appointed by them. So as of all this there can be no doubt, but that the commonwealth hath power to chuse their own fashion of government, as also to change the same upon reasonable causes, as we see they have done in all times and countries; and God no doubt approvech what the realm determineth-in this point; for otherwise nothing could be certain, for that of these changes doth depend all that hath succeeded fithence. In like manner is it evi. dent, that as the commonwealth hath this au8

thority

« PreviousContinue »