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In the supreme power of the legislature confifts the preservation of the community.
thority to chuse and change her government, so hath she also to liniit the same with what laws and conditions she pleaseth; whereof ensueth the great diversity of authority and power, which each one of the former governments hath.”
It is to this sovereignty or supreme power of legislating, that is, of making and establishing, and of altering, changing, and newmodelling the government, which constantly and unalienably resides in the people, or in the community, that Mr. Locke attributes the security and actual preservation of all our civil and political rights and liberties. *“ Though the legiNative, whether placed in one or more, whether it be always in being, or only by intervals, though it be the supreme power in every commonwealth, yet it is not, nor can possibly be, absolutely arbitrary over the lives and fortunes of the people. For it being but the joint power of every member of the society given up to that person or assembly, which is legislator, it can be no more, than those persons had in a state of nature, before they entered into society, and gave up to the community. For nobody can transfer to another more power,
* Locke of Civil Government, p. 205. '
than he has in himself; and nobody has an abfolute arbitrary power over himself, or over any other, to destroy his own life, or take away the life or property of another. A man, as has been proved, cannot subject himself to the arbitrary power of another ; and having, in the state of nature, no arbitrary power over the life, liberty, or poffeffion of another, but only so much as the law of nature gave him, for the preservation of himself and the rest of mankind, this is all he doth or can give up to the commonwealth, and by it to the legislative power ; so that the legislative can have no more than this. Their power,
in the utmost bounds of it, is limited to the public good of the society ; it is a power that hath no other end but preservation, and therefore can never have a right to destroy, enslave, or designedly to impoverish the fubjects. The obligations of the law of nature cease not in society, but only in many cases are drawn closer, and have, by human laws, known penalties annexed to them, to enforce their observation. Thus the law of nature stands as an eternal rule to all men, legislators as well as others. The rules, that they make for other men's actions must, as well as their own and other men's actions, be conformable to the law of nature, i. e. to the
The firft principles of government uncontrovertible.
will of God, of which that is a declaration ; and the fundamental law of nature being the preservation of mankind, no human fanction can be good or valid against it.”
I am fearful of fatiguing my readers with quotations: I have before given a reason for citing them, and I feel an encreasing anxiety to avoid the imputation of withholding the light from the subject under consideration. I neither forget nor flight the exhortation of Dr. Price: Enlighten them and you will elevate tben.
* « Though the schoolinen were corrupt, they were neither stupid nor unlearned; they could not but see that, which all men saw, nor lay more approved foundations, than that man is naturally free; that he cannot justly be deprived of that libcrty without cause; and that he doth not resign it, or any part of it, unless it be in confideration of a greater good, which he proposes to himself.” So uncontrovertible and true did the principles, which I have laid down upon this subject, appear to the same author, that, speaking in the very next page, of Sir Robert Filmer, his great tory antagonist, he says, This
• Algernoon Sydney's Discourses concerning Government, sec. ii. p. 5:
which hath its root in common sense, not be-
* Algernoon Sydney's Discourses concerning Govern.
ment, p. 55.
build their arguments relating to matters of that nature; and the apostle, from better authority, declares, That rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil: wilt thou then not be afraid of the power ? do that which is good, and thou shall have praise of the same; for be is the minister of God unto thee for good; but if thou do that, which is evil be afraid, for be beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. And the reason he gives for praying for kings, and all that are in authority, is, that we may live a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty."
I have hitherto considered only the right, which each community essentially retains of forming and modelling the government, to which it chuses to subject itself. I will now proceed to examine more minutely, upon what this right is founded.
* " Because no one of them is obliged to cnter into the society, that the rest may constitute, he cannot enjoy the benefit of that fociety, unless he enter into it. He may be gone, and set up for himself, or set up another with such, as will agree with him; but if he enter into the society, he is obliged by
Algernoon Sydney's Discourse concerning Government, p. 80, 81.