Imatges de pÓgina
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monarchy; if, therefore, king James the Second did, as far as he could, annihilate or even suspend the operation of the supreme executive powers, it must be allowed that he did all that he could to annihilate, for the time at least, the very existence of the English monarchy. We need therefore only to consider in what state this nation would have been, had it been left but for the space of one month in the situation, in which king James endeavoured to leave it; and we shall from thence be able to form a satisfactory judgment of the rights, which the nation fo abandoned had in them to secure their own preservation. He withdrew, in the person of the king, the whole executive

power

of

government; he called in his writs, which were about to be issued for convening a parliament; he dismissed his judges; he threw the great seal of England into the river; he disbanded the army without pay; and let

loose a lawless armed force upon the nation. The actions of Now if a supreme executive magistrate, upon king James an absolute aban. whom all subordinate magistrates depend, sovereignty. if the administration of justice, if armed force

on certain occasions be requisite for preserying our present constitutional form of government, it is felf-evident, that a king who has by overt and unequivocal acts attempted to

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deprive

donment of his

deprive the community of these necessary means of support and preservation, must be allowed to have done whatever he could to diffolve the government, and involve the nation in anarchy and confusion. In this light the warmest devotee to the house of Stuart cannot surely deny, that king James the Second by these acts ceased, while their effects could last, to be that supreme executive power, which our constitution requires the king to be. The actual duration of these effects could not by possibility be known to the nation; and therefore as a community, upon the common principle of self-preservation, they had the indefeafible right of adopting such measures, as they thought most conducive to attain that end. For if a government be actually dif- Right of the nesolved for one hour, by the act of the go- model the governor, the primeval rights of the governed whol'y at the

revolution to chuse, square, and model their own government, revive in the same extent, as they enjoyed them before the formation of the government so diffolved. And upon these principles we must at this day candidly allow, that our ancestors, in 1688, did actually possess the right to make a new limitation of the crown, and to annex a new condition to the tenure of it.

tion to new

vernment

If we take an impartial view of the whole transaction, we shall necessarily conclude, that our ancestors were satisfied with the general form and tenor of our constitution and government, by their continuing and confirming the greatest part, when an opportunity offered itself of new modelling the whole; and considering that their then actual state of anarchy, and the preceding ferment and disturbances in the nation were by the majority of them attributed to their sovereigns professing a different religion from their own, it is not surprising, that for the preservation and security of their own, as well as the peace and tranquility of their posterity, they should have taken the most effectual means of preventing the occasion of any such disasters in future. It was in fact a duty incumbent upon them to do it, under the prepossessions of the majority of the community at that time,

If king James the Second, circumstanced as he was in the year 1688, had put himself at the head of his army and militia; had he convened a free parliament; had he paid attention to the advice of his bishops, and the remonftrances of several of his people; and had he summoned all his liege subjects to their allegiance; whatever rebellion might

Ilhat king James should have done, not to have abdimied.

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have ensued from some of his subjects; and whatever might have been the fate of the arms of the prince of Orange, king James might have died in the field king of England, or been expelled by his rebellious subjects ; but he never could have been said to have abdicated, or forfeited, or abandoned his own or his peoples rights.

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The executive power.

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Am now come to speak of the first branch

of the legislative power of this realm, which the constitution has made the supreme executive power of the state, and which it has vested in a single person, that is to say, in that person, male or female, to whom the crown by the rule of hereditary succession shall descend. * It rarely happens, that we have the satisfaction of finding a legislative expofition of any part of our constitution; whenever that happens, I feel myself emphatically bounden to submit it to my readers; for by the principles already laid down and established, the act of the majority of the community concludes every individual of the community; the act of the representatives of the nation is the act of the nation itself; the

I have already fully fewn the very effential altera. tion made in the rule of succefion at the revolution; the old line was discontinued, and the condition of being proiftant was annexed to the cap.city of succeeding. Subject to this deviation and condition, the present rule of descent remains the fame, as it was originally settled by the constitution.

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