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Limited in its
fame rights and power, when they were left to themselves by their Roman conquerors, did
they divide themselves into an heptarchy, or Saxon Heptarchy.
seven distinct kingdoms, under the Saxons ; and when they had experienced the inconveniences of these divergent sovereignties, they reconcentered the supremacy in one monarch, as it has ever since continued. In this fame spirit, and in the exercise of these fame rights,
did the Saxon conquerors of our British anOur monarchy.
cestors, * « when they had fubdued the original crea
Britons, chuse to themselves kings, and required an oath of them to submit to the judg
ment of the law, as much as any of their subGeneral view jects.” So when the Saxons, as masters of
the vanquished Britons, began to look upon themselves as the political community of this island, they + " established a form of administration, which limited the prince, and required that public affairs should be settled by assemblies of the chief men of the nation. The privileges of the people were afterwards enlarged by the alterations, which the wise and virtuous Alfred introduced ; and this confir
stroying the former; but, without the consent of the people, can never erect a new one."
* Mirror of Justice, c. i. fect. 2.
+ Dr. Kippis’ Sermon, preached at the Old Jewry, on the 4th Nov. 1788, p. 14.
mation of the mode of trial by juries was one of the nobleft advantages ever conferred on human society. Nor did the Norman conquest destroy our constitution, though it hindered its operation for a time, and gave occasion to the exercise of much tyranny. On the contrary, the English laws gradually recovered their vigour, and became the basis of the charter of Henry the First; of the celebrated Magna Charta, in the reign of King John; and of other charters. How strong a sense Englishmen had of their legal right to liberty, is manifest from the numerous instances, in which they demanded, that the great charter should be folemnly confirmed. Even the feudal policy, however defective it may be juftly esteemed, compared with the benefits we now enjoy, was formed on the principles of freedom, with respect to those persons, who were poffeffed of landed property. There was, likewise, in that system, a spirit of improvement ; so that it gradually gave way, and naturally brought in a better state of things, as fociety advanced towards perfection." In short, to the exercise of these indefeasible rights of the community is to be attributed every legal alteration or improvement of the constitution and government of
this kingdom, since the establishment of the English monarchy, in the person of king Egbert, to the present reign of his majesty King George the Third; the particulars of which we shall proceed to consider.
C H A P.
CH A P.
OF THE CIVIL ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION.
religion an in
Have already observed, that one of the Choice of our
natural rights, which each individual re- defeasible na. tains, even independently of the fociety, of tural o'gito which he is a member, is the uninterrupted communication and intercourse of the soul with its Creator; and Mr. Payne says, that amongst the natural righis, which he retains, are all the intelleEtual rights, or rights of the mind; confequently religion is one of those rights.
We need not recur to schoolmen to understand or admit this universal maxim of religion, that our dependance upon our creator binds us indispensībly to a grateful acknowledgment of our existence, and a sincere and unreserved tender of our minds and hearts, to think and act as he shall require; for I conclude with all those, who are neither atheists nor deilts, that the light and grace, which Almighty God communicates to his creature, in consequence of this offering, are personally binding upon the individual, to whom they are communicated, and confequently cannot be controuled by other G
tions of God.
the duty of inc human beings collectively or individually, low the inspira- who stand in the same predicament of exclu
five responsibility to their Creator. The right, therefore, which each individual poffeffes of this free and uninterrupted communication and intercourse with his Creator, is essentially paramount to all human, civil, or political power whatever.
* “ Religion, gentlemen, appears to me to be a gift, which God bestows on every individual, subject to his movements and inspirations, but in every other respect entirely free, and beyond the reach of any human jurisdiction; therefore, no one ought to associate against his will, or without some reasonable
cause or motive, with any religious fociety Liberty of whatever.” And the great Fenelon, archthought in religious matters bishop of Cambray, a prelate of the estabnot subject to civil controul. lished religion in a Roman Catholic country
under an absolute monarchy, speaks the same language. t « Liberty of thought is an impregnable fortress, which no human power can force; therefore, kings should not take upon themselves to direct in matters of religion.”
* Professor Noodt's Discourse upon Liberty of Conscience, as translated by A. Macawlay, p. 27.
+ Fenelon, as quoted by Dr. Rogers, Vindication of the Civil Establishment of Religion, p. 42.