Imatges de pÓgina
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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 ditcuition. 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 usurping 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 consequently, that our present existence exalts us, in ability and information, far above the level

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*" Laws they are not, therefore, which public approbation hath not made fo.” Hooker's Eccl. Pol. l.ie

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of our ancestors and predecessors. I have already declared myself to be little fattered with the advantage, though I will not dissemble, that the prepoffeffion 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 The mainte- wicked purpose, from the people; for they nance of true principles una concluded, that if the regal power could be fairly attributed to currupt nide 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 doctrine cannot, I think, be fairly attributed to any such motive; for when the popes of Rome so foolishly assumed the right of deposing temporal sovereigns, they evidently founded their idle pretensions upon the spiritual supremacy, which they claimed over all Christians; they must conse

tives.

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

quently 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 fpiritual 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 certain cases, with spiritual obligations, such as vows or promises made by individuals immediately 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 maintedivines went into the other extreme ; and to principles attrisave the person of their sovereign, preached dable motive. up the doctrine of divine right. Hooker, superior to every prejudice, followed the truth; but the rest of the reforming and reformed divines ftuck to the other opinion, which, as appears from the homilies, the Institution of a Christian Man, and the general stream of writings in those days, became the opinion of the church, and was, indeed, the received pro

• Dr. Hurd's Moral and Political Dialogues, vol. ii.

nance of false

P. 301.

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testant doctrine: and thus unhappily arose in the church of England, that pernicious system of divine indefeasible right of kings, broached indeed by the clergy, but not from those corrupt and temporizing views, to which it has been imputed. The authority of thofe venerable men, from whom it was derived, gave it a firm and lasting hold on the minds of the clergy; and being thought to receive a countenance from the general terms, in which obedience to the civil magistrate is ordained in scripture, it has continued to our days, and may, it is feared, still continue to perplex and mislead the judgment of too many amongst us.” I am particularly happy in being able to adduce the high and unbiassed authority of so respectable a prelate, in support of my own reasoning

Not being warped by any party prejudice or principle, I am free to own my astonishment, that so many learned and respectable personages of every profession and description should so long have shut their eyes, or stopped their ears, or steeled their hearts against the truth of first principles. This respectable prelate has endeavoured to account for it; though he is very far from justifying it.

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** The growth of puritanism, and the republican spirit, in order to justify its attack on the legal constitutional rights of the crown, adopted the very fame principles with the jesuited party. And, under these circum- True principles stances, it is not to be thought strange, that a caute urged by principle, however true, which was disgraced by coming through such hands, should be generally condemned and execrated. The crown and mitre had reason to look upon both these forts of men as their mortal enemies. What wonder then, that they should unite in reprobating the political tenets, on which their common enmity was justified and supported?”

Dr. Priestley has said, with much truth, what I hope he will allow me to apply to my readers. “ I make no apology for the Proper apology freedom, with which I have written. The freely upon in

teresting subsubject is, in the highest degree, interesting jects. to humanity; it is open to philosophical difcussion, and I have taken no greater liberties, than becomes a philofopher, a man, and an Englishman. Having no other views, than

promote a thorough knowledge of this im

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• Dr. Hurd's Moral and Political Dialogues, vol. ii.

P. 303

† Preface to Dr. Pricfley's Effays on the First Principles of Government, p. xiji.

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