Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

what they did, and, without the least complaint, let them inlarge their prerogative as they pleased, judging rightly, that they did nothing herein to the prejudice of their laws, since they acted conformable to the foundation and end of all laws, the public good.

$. 166. Such god-like princes indeed had some title to arbitrary power by that argument, that would prove absolute monarchy the best government, as that which God himself governs the universe by; because such kings partake of his wisdom and goodness. Upon this is founded that saying, That the reigns of good princes have been always most dangerous to the liberties of their people: for when their successors, managing the government with different thoughts, would draw the actions of those good rulers into precedent, and make them the standard of their prerogative, as if what had been done only for the good of the people was a right in them to do, for the harm of the people, if they fo pleased; it has often occasioned conteft, and sometimes public disorders, before the people could recover their original right, and get that to be declared not to be prerogative, which truly was never fo; fince it is impoffible that any body in the society should ever have a right to do the people harm; though it be very possible, and reasonable, that the people should not go about to set any bounds to the prerogative of those kings,

or

or rulers, who themselves transgressed not the bounds of the public good : for prerogative is nothing but the power of doing public good without a rule.

s. 167. The power of calling parliaments in. England, as to precise time, place, and du-, ration, is certainly a prerogative of the king, but fill with this trust, that it shall be made use of for the good of the nation, as the exigencies of the times, and variety of occasions, shall require : for it being impossible to foresee which should always be the fittest place for them to assemble in, and what the best season; the choice of these was left with the executive power, as might be most subservient to the public good, and best suit the. ends of parliaments.

S. 168. The old question will be asked in this matter of prerogative, But who shall be judge when this power is made a right use of? I answer : between an executive power in being, with such a prerogative, and a legislative that depends upon his will for their convening, there can be no judge on earth; as there can be none between the legislative and the people, thould either the executive, or the legislative, when they have got the power in their hands, design, or go about to enslave or destroy them. The people have no other remedy in this, as in all other cases where they have no judge on earth, but to appeal to heaven : for the rulers, in such at

tempts,

tempts, exercising a power the people never put into their hands, (who can never be supposed to consent that any body should rule over them for their harm) do that which they have not a right to do. And where the body of the people, or any single man, is: deprived of their right, or is under the exercise of a power without right, and have no appeal on earth, then they have a liberty to appeal to heaven, whenever they judge the cause of sufficient moment. And therefore, though the people cannot be judge, so as to have, by the constitution of that society, any superior power, to determine and give effective sentence in the case ; yet they have, by a law antecedent and paramount to all. positive laws of men, reserved that ultimate determination to themselves which belongs: to all mankind, where there lies no appeal, on earth, viz. to judge, whether they have just cause to make their appeal to heaven. And this judgment they cannot part with, it being out of a man's power fo to submit himself to another, as to give him a liberty. to destroy him ; God and nature never allowing a man so to abandon himself, as to. neglect his own preservation : and since he cannot take

away

his own life, neither can he give another power to take it. Nor let any one think, this lays a perpetual foundation for disorder ; for this operates not, till the inconveniency is so great, that the majority

feel

feel it, and are weary of it, and find a neceffity to have it amended. But this the executive

power, or wise princes, never need come in the danger of: and it is the thing, of all others, they have most need to avoid, as of all others the most perilous.

T

CH A P. XV. Of Paternal, Political, and Despotical Power,

considered together. §. 169. HOUGH I have had occasion

to speak of these separately before, yet the great mistakes of late about government, having, as I suppose, arisen from confounding these distinct powers one with another, it may not, perhaps, be amiss to consider them here together.

$. 170. First, then, Paternal or parental power is nothing but that which parents have over their children, to govern them for the children's good, till they come to the use of reason, or a state of knowledge, wherein they may be supposed capable to understand that rule, whether it be the law of nature, or the municipal law of their country, they are to govern themselves by: capable, I say, to know it, as well as several others, who live as freemen under that law. The affection and tenderness which God hath planted in the breast of parents towards their children,

makes

[ocr errors]

makes it evident, that this is not intended to be a severe arbitrary government, but only for the help, instruction, and preservation of their offspring. But happen it as it will, there is, as I have proved, no reason why it should be thought to extend to life and death, at any time, over their children, more than over any body else; neither can there be any pretence why this parental power should keep the child, when grown to a man, in fubjection to the will of his parents, any farther than having received life and education from his parents, obliges him to respect, honour, gratitude, assistance and support, all his life, to both father and mother. And thus, 'tis true, the paternal is a natural government, but not at all extending itself to the ends and jurisdictions of that which is political. The power of the father doth not reach at all to the property of the child, which is only in his own disposing. $. 171. Secondly, Political power is that

every man having in the state of nature, has given up into the hands of the society, and therein to the governors, whom the society hath set over itself, with this express or tacit trust, that it shall be employed for their good, and the preservation of their property: now this power, which every man has in the state of nature, and which he parts with to the society in all such cases where the society can secure him, is to use such means, for the preserving of his own pro

perty,

[ocr errors]

power, which

4

« PreviousContinue »