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of our constitution, to endeavour to trace its
origin from the earliest antiquity, and to
identify its form and substance through all the
various modifications, changes, reformations,
and revolutions, which it has undergone since
the first establishment of society, or of a com-
munity in this country. I beg the liberty of
following a very different course. I establish Principle the
a principle, which, if it ever existed, must now origin of our
exist, and if it now exist, must have always
existed; for what gives existence to a princi-
ple, is its universal and invariable truth, which,
if it exist in one moment, must essentially have
existed from all eternity ; I need not, there-
fore, seek for its importation into this isand
by the Trojan prince Brutus ; nor enquire
whether it were borrowed by our British an-
cestors from their Gallic neighbours; nor whe-
ther it were the peculiar growth of our native
Toil; whether it grew out of the hedge-rowed
towns or encampments of our warlike ances-



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Principles true from all eteraity.

tors, or issued out of the sanctuaries of their
mysterious Druids ; whether it were imposed
upon them by heathen Rome, or infused
into them by Christian Rome; whether it
were transplanted from Germany with our
Saxon conquerors and progenitors, nor whe-
ther it attended the despotism of the Norman
conqueror; nor, in a word, whether it flou-
rished with vigour and luxuriancy, or withered
in apparent decay, under the several houses
of Tudor, Stuart, Nassau, and Brunswick.

At this moment, this principle, the Gove-
reignty of power ever did, and now does, un-
alienably reside in the people, exists, because it
is universally and invariably true; and it must
for ever have exifted with the same force
and efficacy, that it now does; for universal
truth excludes all degrees. From this invari-
able and ever operative principle have arisen
all the various changes, innovations, and im-
provements, which have at different times been
effected in our constitution and government,
by the means of reformation and revolution.
The coercive introduction or imposition of
new laws by the force of arms, can never
make a part of the constitution and govern-
ment of a free people, till they have been vo-
luntarily submitted to, recognized, accepted,
or confirmed by the act of the commu-

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nity.* I shall hereafter have occasion, and, indeed, be under the necessity of considering more minutely the application of this principle to what we commonly call the reformation and the revolution.

Unfortunately for this country, the different occurrences, which have from time to time brought these political topics into discussion, have been productive of so much acrimony, venom, and heat, that the cool voice of rea- Heat of party

has prevented son has been seldom heard by either party, cool discussion. and consequently, conviction of the mind has rarely followed the discussion. For it is very certain, that few or none of the political writers of those days of animosity, either could or would separate, on one side, the principle, " that a supreme power resides in the people” from rebellion and treason; or, on the other side, distinguish between the legal prerogative of a lawful monarch, and the unwarrantable despotism of an ufurping tyrant. It is the frequent boast of most modern writers, and of all modern theorists, that we live in an age enlightened beyond all others, and confequently, that our present existence exalts us, in ability and information, far above the level

* “ Laws they are not, therefore, which public approbation katha not made fo." Hooker's Eccl. Pol. I. i.

fect, 10,

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of our ancestors and predecessors. I have already declared myself to be little flattered with the advantage, though I will not diffemble, that the prepossession of such a conviction must, in a great measure, counteract the pernicious, though frequent, effects of hereditary and systematical prejudices. The learned bishop of Worcester, in talking of the impotent threats and attempts of the fee of Rome to depose our sovereigns, says, that the Papists used all their ingenuity to justify and establish it; and that * “ one of their contrivances was, by searching into the origin of civil power, which they brought rightly, though for this wicked purpose, from the people ; for they

concluded, that if the regal power could be to corrupt mo. shewn to have no divine right, but to be of

human and even popular institution, the liberty, which the pope took in deposing kings, would be less invidious.” The maintenance of this doétrine cannot, I think, be fairly attributed to any such motive; for when the popes of Rome fo foolishly assumed the right of deposing temporal sovereigns, they evidently founded their idle pretensions upon the spiritual fupremacy, which they claimed over all Christians; they must confe

* Dr. Hurd's Moral and Political Dialogues, vol. ii. p. 300.


The mainte-
nance of true
principles un-
fairly attributed


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quently have conceived a better, and might
have set up a right more plausible in those
days, in quality of Christ's vice-gerents upon
earth, to dispose of rights holden by this fpi-
ritual jure divino tenure, than of such as were
merely of a secular or temporal nature. For
the popes have always been allowed, by all
Roman catholics, a power to dispense, in cer-
tain cases, with spiritual obligations, such as
vows or promises made by individuals imme-
diately to Almighty God; but never to dispense
with, or annul a civil or moral obligation of
one individual to another, so as to weaken or
defeat the rights of a third person. The learned
prelate, however, very fairly accounts for the
former prevalence of the opposite doctrine
throughout this nation.

*“ The protestant The mainte-
divines went into the other extreme; and to principles attri-
save the person of their sovereign, preached dable motive.
up the doctrine of divine right. Hooker, supe-
rior to every prejudice, followed the truth;
but the rest of the reforming and reformed
divines stuck to the other opinion, which, as
appears from the homilies, the Institution of a
Christian Man, and the general stream of writ-
ings in those days, became the opinion of the
church, and was, indeed, the received pro-

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* Dr. Hurd's Moral and Political Dialogues, vol. ii. P. 301.

K 3


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