Essay Forms Government

If such be the Nature of our Dispositions, no Wonder if soon in the State of Nature, when one Man attack’d another, either in his Property, or Family, (both which Rights were prior and antecedent to the Constitution of States,) the Attacked defended himself by Violence, retorted the Injury, and carried this Violence farther than he ought by the Laws of Nature, and by that Means introduced perpetual Warfare and Disputes; nay, this Opinion we have confirmed in some Measure by Holy Writ, so early as under our Fore-father out of the Way, who stood between him and the Favour of the Almighty, and by that Means, as heimagined, decreased the Prosperity of his temporal Affairs.

If two or three could not live in the World, without having Variances, and entertaining hostile Dispositions, we may easily imagine that these decreased not, as the World became more populous, but augmented gradually as the Number of the Sons of Earth increased, till they came to that Height, as not to permit a Man to rest assured of any Thing he possessed, and compell’d every one to have perpetually Recourse to Violence, to protect and preserve his Possessions and Family: As every one felt the Grievance of this State, no Wonder if they all soon turned their Thoughts to remedy it, and consented to those Measures which were most probable to have such an Effect, and agreed to refer their Disputes and Variances, to the amicable Decision of an Arbitrator: As the World was not then encreased beyond the Connexions of one Family, tho’ that was pretty numerous, who then could be found more proper than the common Parent of all the Disputants, whose Attachment to all Parties being equal, his Judgments might the more justly be presumed to be impartial, and to whom, by Reason of the natural Affection they must naturally have for him, they would more willingly confer this Mark of Superiority—when he came to die, then his Authority was again divided among the different Fathers of Families, each deciding the Differences of his several Children.

The Author of the Pamphlet, I have been mentioning, hath not, it is true, afforded any thing to lay hold of, nor by laying down any direct Principles, enabled his Adversaries to enter into a fair Dispute with him; but only in seeming Arguments, traduces the constant Friends of Liberty, and is shocked at the too great Freedom his fellow Subjects enjoy; whom he seems desirous to see reduced to the more salutary State of he now assumes to be, and leave to the Judgment of the World, the Preferableness of their Tenets.

If this Part, should fortune to meet with your Approbation, the Sequel which contains some Considerations on the different Branches of the civil Power, shall soon appear.

Undoubtedly if we could imagine a Society, wherein Men had no other Law to guide their Actions, than those of natural Reason, nor no other Check on their Passions, than the Fear of receiving Punishments, from the divine Promulgator of those Laws, we should easily confess it the happiest that could possibly exist, and prefer it far beyond those wherein Men are kept to their Duty, (with more Difficulty than Hounds or Horses are broke) by the Fear of Scourges, Axes and Halters.

But it is impossible for us, even to have the Idea of such a State, as we know too well the Nature of Man, how apt to be misled by his Appetites and Passions, how easy to be deceived in his Notions of Good and Evil, how prone to Vengeance, how slow to forgive, how little affected with the remote and uncertain Punishments, which attend the Transgressors of the natural Law in a future State, and how ready (if even sometimes the Reward of Crimes happens to be bestowed in this World,) to attribute them to some other Cause.

This Work, I could have wished undertaken by an abler Hand; but I thought by flinging the first Dart, I might engage more formidable Champions, to espouse the glorious Cause.

Had the Dictates of my own Heart been followed on this Occasion, and had not the Fear of offending your Modesty, restrained me from writing the Truth, I might have employed this Time in drawing your Character, in all its Beauties.

And if they attribute these stupendous Structures, which have been so often changed, repaired, beautified, and defaced, but never totally destroyed, to meer Force (without entering into the Improbability of such a Fact) they thereby open a Mine to sap and overturn them all, and they in fact tell us, we are no longer obliged to obey our sovereign Magistrate, ---for by the Law of Nature, all Contracts we enter into, through an immediate Fear of an impending Danger, either with the Party that causes such Fear, or any other through his Compulsion, are null, and of no Force; and we are at Liberty to break them, on the first Opportunity we can with Safety to oueselves; ---and this Rule of Reason is so absolute, that no written Law can repeal it, no Prescription render it obsolete, nor Oath, or Surrender of the Privilege of making use of it, deprive us of the Benefits it gives us.

If therefore we admit that our Fore-fathers were compell’d, by some one among them more formidable than the rest, to constitute Governments, and grant to any Being a supreme Power; we must also allow, that such Constitution was illegal, and such Being could not acquire any Thing, with Justice, by such Grant; consequently, we their Successors have a right to re-demand whatsoever he may have usurped by the Pretext of such Grant, and in Case of Refusal, wrest it from his Hands by Force, and punish him for his Obstinacy, nay, call him to an Account for all his Actions, and compell him to restore what he may have thereby taken from us or our Parents; whither such a Principal tends, and what would be the ill Consequence of preaching such a Doctrine, to any Persons who think for themselves, and have the least Love for Liberty, I leave to any one to judge.

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