Imatges de pÓgina

or lose strength in proportion to the accession or defertion of its numbers; and nothing so attractive, as the plausibility and truth of the principles, which are supposed or represented to actuate and support the party. It is flattering to all men to judge in their own cause; it is the favourite maxim of modern politicians, to inculcate the right of every one to judge and act for himself; and it is artfully holden out by many, that whoever is not directed by his own opinion and judgment, is kept in darkness, and deprived of that freedom, which has been given to every individual by an allwise Creator.

When I call to my recollection the effects of former attempts to deduce false doctrines from true principle, I am necessitated to conclude, that if some true principles now established and supported by the minority, are denied by the majority, the daily desertions from the one to the other will very quickly invert the present proportion of their respective numbers; for undeniable truth Truth will in will ever make its own way, and by degrees its own way. gain over the multitude ; amongst whom more will be, in the end, left to the unbiassed freedom of their own judgment, than to the dictates of interested power and influence. It was long ago faid, decipimur fpecie reiti :


the end make

when depravity disposes to evil, the strongest incentive to the actual commission of it is a plausible appearance of its rectitude. Much as I reprobate the modern doctrine of civil equalization, with all its tremendous train of destructive concomitants, so do I hold, that the denial of the truth of uncontrovertible principles must rather necessitate, than provoke men into the adoption of any doctrine, which leaves them the liberty of a free asient to fuch self-evident propositions.

I am happy in being fanctioned in my principle of reasoning, by the great apostle of modern liberty. *« The jesuits,” says he, « about two centuries ago, in order to vindicate their king-killing t principles, hap


Priestley's Erays upon the First Principles of Government, p. 27, 28.

+ The works of Busenbaum, a German jesuit, were burnt by the late parliament of Paris, for teaching these principles. It will be candid, and, perhaps, satisfactory to the curious, to flate the words, in which this king-killing doctrine is expreffed by this author; as the judgment upon it will vary according to the admillibility of the doctrines of passive obedience and nonresistance. « Ad defenfionem vite integritatis membrorum, licet etiam filio, religion & jubdito se tueri, fi opus fit, cum occifione, contra ipfum parentem, abbatem, principem; nifi forte propter mortem hujus ficuiura eljent nimis magna in. commodi, ut bella, c.” lib. 3. pars i. de Homicidio, art. viu. “ To defend one's life, or limbs, it is lawful for a

pened, among other arguments, to make use of this great and just principle, that all civil power is ultimately derived from the people ; and their adversaries, in England and elsewhere, instead of shewing how they abused and perverted that fundamental principle of all government, in the case in question, did what disputants, warmed with controversy, are very apt to do; they denied the principle itself, and maintained that all civil

is derived from God; as if the Jewish theocracy had been established throughout the whole world.”- And, *“ The history of this controversy, about the doctrine of passive obedience and non-resistance, affords a striking example of the danger of having recourse to false principles in controversy. They may


child, a religious man or a subject to defend himself against his parent, fuperior, or sovereign, if it be neceffary, even by killing the aggreifor; unless by killing him very great mischiefs indeed should happen, as war', &c.” To Englishmen, who sometimes soften their yerdia by finding a se defendendo, these principles may not seem more outrageous, than Dr. Priestley's own doctrines. “If it be asked, how far a people may lawfully go, in punishing their chief magiftrates, I ansiver, that if the enormity of the offence (which is of the same extent as the injury done to the public, be confidered, any punishment is justifiable, that a man can incur in human fociety." Elays on the First Principle of Government, p. 36. . Priestley, ibid. p. 29.

serve a particular turn, but, in other cases, may


capable of the most dangerous application ; whereas universal truth will, in all posible cases, have the best consequences, and be ever favourable to the true interests of mankind.”



T is singular, that in the variety of anci

ent and modern authors, who speak familiarly of the constitution, I scarcely find one, that

attempts to define it; and yet I think it the first duty of every writer to define, at least according to his own conceptions, that, which he undertakes to discuss

By the constitution of England, I mean Definition of those immediate emanations from the first tion,

the constitus principles of civil government, which the community have adopted as general rules for carrying into action that right or power of sovereignty, which unalienably resides with them, and which consequently form the immediate basis or ground, upon which all the laws of the community are founded. The transcendent force of the reasons for these

* “ By conftitution

we mean, whenever we speak with propriety and exactness, that affemblage of laws, infitutions, and customs, derived from certain fixed princi. ples of reason, directed to certain fixed objects of public good, that compose the general system, according to which the community hath agreed to be govemed." Differtation upon Parties, Letter X. p. 103, printed 1739. L


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