Page images

seen in the regular gestures and motions of fessed to be; as yet the vulgar, stupefied by her heavenly paces as she walks, but also the subtle casuistry of the priest, had not makes the harmony of her voice audible to degenerated into a state of barbarism, more mortal ears.

gross than that which disgraces the most senseless natives of Hindostan. For these

make mischievous demons, whose malice BRITAIN THE HOME OF TRUE LIBERTY

they cannot resist, the objects of their re[From the Second Defense, 1654]

ligious adoration : while those elevate im

potent tyrants, in order to shield them from Who is there, who does not identify the destruction, into the rank of gods; and, to honor of his country with his own? And their own cost, consecrate the pests of the what can conduce more to the beauty or human race. But against this dark array of glory of one's country, than the recovery, long-received opinions, superstitions, oblonot only of its civil but its religious lib- quy, and fears, which some dread even more erty? And what nation or state ever ob- than the enemy himself, the English had to tained both, by more successful or more val- contend; and all this, under the light of orous exertion? For fortitude is seen re- better information, and favored by an imsplendent, not only in the field of battle pulse from above, they overcame with such and amid the clash of arms, but displays its singular enthusiasm and bravery, that, energy under every difficulty and against great as were the numbers engaged in the every assailant. Those Greeks and Romans contest, the grandeur of conception, and who are the objects of our admiration em- loftiness of spirit which were universally ployed hardly any other virtue in the extir- displayed, merited for each individual more pation of tyrants, than that love of liberty than a mediocrity of fame; and Britain, which made them prompt in seizing the which was formerly styled the hot-bed of sword, and gave them strength to use it. tyranny, will hereafter deserve to be celeWith facility they accomplished the under- brated for endless ages, as a soil most genial taking, amid the general shout of praise and to the growth of liberty. During the joy; nor did they engage in the attempt so mighty struggle, no anarchy, no licentiousmuch as an enterprise of perilous and ness was seen; no illusions of glory, no doubtful issue, as in a contest the most extravagant emulation of the ancients inglorious in which virtue could be signalized; flamed them with a thirst for ideal liberty; which infallibly led to present recompense; but the rectitude of their lives, and the which bound their brows with wreaths of sobriety of their habits, taught them the laurel, and consigned their memories to im- only true and safe road to real liberty; and mortal fame. For as yet, tyrants were not they took up arms only to defend the beheld with a supersitious reverence; as yet sanctity of the laws and the rights of conthey were not regarded with tenderness and science. Relying on the divine assistance, complacency, as the vicegerents or depu- they used every honorable exertion to break ties of Christ, as they have suddenly pro- the yoke of slavery.


THE MASTERPIECE OF A POLITICIAN [From Reformation in England, 1641]

It is a work good and prudent to be able to guide one man; of larger extended virtue to order well one house; but to govern a nation piously and justly, which only is to say happily, is for a spirit of the greatest size, and divinest mettle. And certainly of no less a mind, nor of less excellence in another way, were they who by writing laid the solid and true foundations of this science, which being of greatest importance to the life of man, yet there is no art that hath been more cankered in her principles,

more soiled and slubbered with aphorisming pedantry, than the art of policy; and that most, where a man would think should least be, in Christian commonwealths. They teach not, that to govern well, is to train up a nation in true wisdom and virtue, and that which springs from thence, magnanimity, (take heed of that,) and that which is our beginning, regeneration, and happiest end, likeness to God, which in one word we call godliness; and that this is the true flourishing of a land. Other things follow as the shadow does the substance: to teach thus were mera pulpitry to them.

This is the masterpiece of a modern poli


tician, how to qualify and mold the suffer- | by force and punishment what was violated ance and subjection of the people to the against peace and common right. length of that foot that is to tread on their This authority and power of self-defense necks; how rapine may serve itself with the and preservation being originally and natfair and honorable pretences of public urally in every one of them, and unitedly good; how the puny law may be brought in them all; for ease, for order, and lest under the wardship and control of lust and each man should be his own partial judge, will: in which attempt if they fall short, they communicated and derived either to then must a superficial color of reputation one, whon for the eminence of his wisdom by all means, direct or indirect, be gotten and integrity they chose above the rest, or to wash over the unsightly bruise of honor. to more than one, whom they thought of To make men governable in this manner, equal deserving: the first was called a king; their precepts mainly tend to break a na- the other, magistrates: not to be their lords ticnal spirit and courage, by countenancing and masters, (though afterward those open riot, luxury, and ignorance, till hav- names in some places were given voluntarily ing thus disfigured and made men beneath to such as have been authors of inestimable men, as Juno in the fable of Io, they de- good to the people,) but to be their deputies liver up the poor transformed heifer of the and commissioners, to execute by virtue of commonwealth to be stung and vexed with their intrusted power that justice, which the breese and goad of oppression, under else every man by the bond of nature and the custody of some Argus with a hundred of covenant must have executed for himself eyes of jealousy. To be plainer, sir, how to and for one another. And to him that shall solder, how to stop a leak, how to keep up consider well, why among free persons one the floating carcase of a crazy and diseased man by civil right should bear authority monarchy or state, betwixt wind and water, and jurisdiction over another, no other end swimming still upon her own dead lees, or reason can be imaginable. that now is the deep design of politician. These for a while governed well, and with A las, sir! a commonwealth ought to be but much equity decided all things at their own as one huge Christian

personage, arbitrament; till the temptation of such a mighty growth and stature of an honest power, left absolute in their hands, perman, as big and compact in virtue as in verted them at length to injustice and parbody; for look what the grounds and causes tiality. Then did they, who now by trial are of single happiness to one man, the had found the danger and inconveniences same ye shall find them to a whole state. of committing arbitrary power to any, in

vent laws, either framed or consented to by

all, that should contine and limit the authorTHE SOURCE OF POWER

ity of whom they chose to govern them: [From Tenure of Kings and Magistrates,

that so man, of whose failing they had 1648-9]

proof, might no more rule over them, but

law and reason, abstracted as much as might No man who knows aught can be so be from personal errors and frailties. stupid to deny that all men naturally were “While, as the magistrate was set above born free, being the image and resemblance the people, so the law was set above the of God himself, and were by privilege above magistrate.” When this would not serve, all the creatures born to command, and not but that the law was either not executed, to obey; and that they lived so, till from or misapplied, they were constrained from the root of Adam's transgression falling that time, the only remedy left them, to put among themselves to do wrong and violence, conditions and take oaths from all kings and foreseeing that such courses must needs and magistrates at their first instalment, to tend to the destruction of them all, they do impartial justice by law: who, upon agreed by common league to bind each other those terms and no other, received allegifrom mutual injury, and jointly to defend ance from the people, that is to say, bond themselves against any that give disturbance or covenant to obey them in execution of or opposition to such agreement. Hence those laws which they, the people, had themcame cities, towns, and commonwealths. selves made or assented to. And this oftAnd because no faith in all was found suf- times with express warning, that if the ficiently binding, they saw it needful to king or magistrate proved unfaithful to ordain some authority that might restrain his trust, the people would be disengageil. They added also counselors and parliaments, (as how many of them do not,) we hold not to be only at his beck, but, with him or then our lives and estates by the tenure of without him, at set times, or at all times, his mere grace and mercy, as from a god, when any danger threatened, to have care not a mortal magistrate; a position that of the public safety.

none but court-parasites or men besotted It being thus manifest that the power of would maintain ! Aristotle, therefore, whom kings and magistrates is nothing else but we commonly allow for one of the best what is only derivative, transferred, and interpreters of nature and morality, writes committed to them in trust from the people in the fourth of his Politics, chap. x, that to the common good of them all, in whom "monarchy unaccountable is the worst sort the power yet remains fundamentally, and of tyranny, and least of all to be endured cannot be taken from them, without a vio- by free-born men.” lation of their natural birthright; and see- It follows, lastly, that since the king or ing that from hence Aristotle, and the best magistrate holds his authority of the peoof political writers, have defined a king, ple, both originally and naturally for their "him who governs to the good and profit | good, in the first place, and not his own, of his people, and not for his own ends”; then may the people, as oft as they shall it follows from necessary causes that the judge it for the best, either choose him or titles of sovereign lord, natural lord, and the reject him, retain him or depose him, though like, are either arrogancies or flatteries, not no tyrant, merely by the liberty and right admitted by emperors and kings of best of free-born men to be governed as seems note, and disliked by the church both of to them best. This, though it cannot but Jews (Isa. xxvi, 13) and ancient Christians, stand with plain reason, shall be made good as appears by Tertullian and others. Al- also by Scripture (Deut. xvii, 14): "When though generally the people of Asia, and thou art come into the land which the with them the Jews also, especially since Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt say, the time they chose a king against the ad- I will set a king over me, like as all the navice and counsel of God, are noted by wise tions above me." These words confirm us authors much inclinable to slavery.

that the right of choosing, yea of changing Secondly, that to say, as is usual, the their own government, is by the grant of king hath as good right to his crown and God himself in the people. dignity as any man to his inheritance, is to make the subject no better than the king's

OF JUSTICE slave, his chattel, or his possession that may be bought and sold: and doubtless, if heredi

[From Eikonoklastes, 1649] tary title were sufficiently inquired, the best foundation of it would be found but It happened once, as we find in Esdras either in courtesy or convenience. But and Josephus, authors not less believed suppose it to be of right hereditary, what than any under sacred, to be a great and can be more just and legal, if a subject for solemn debate in the court of Darius, what certain crimes be to forfeit by law from thing was to be counted strongest of all himself and posterity all his inheritance to other. He that could resolve this, in rethe king, than that a king, for crimes pro- ward of his excellent wisdom, should be portional, should forefeit all his title and clad in purple, drink in gold, sleep on a inheritance to the people? Unless the peo- bed of gold, and sit next Darius. None but ple must be thought created all for him, he they, doubtless, who were reputed wise, had not for them, and they all in one body in- the question propounded to them; who after ferior to him single; which were a kind of some respite given them by the king to contreason against the dignity of mankind to sider, in full assembly of all his lords and affirm.

gravest counselors, returned severally what Thirdly, it follows, that to say kings are they thought. The first held that wine was accountable to none but God, is the over- strongest; another, that the king was strongturning of all law and government. For est; but Zorobabel, prince of the capif they may refuse to give account, then tive Jews, and heir to the crown of Judah, all covenants made with them at coronation, being one of them, proved women to be all oaths are in vain, and mere mockeries; stronger than the king, for that he himself all laws which they swear to keep, made to had seen a concubine take his crown from no purpose; for if the king fear not God, | off his head to set it upon her own; and

sword of justice hath delivered them, I shail have done a work not much inferior to that of Zorobabel; who, by well-praising and extolling the force of truth, in that contemplative strength conquered Darius, and freed his country and the people of God from the captivity of Babylon. Which I shall yet not despair to do, if they in this land whose minds are yet captive be but as ingenuous to acknowledge the strength and supremacy of justice, as that heathen king was to confess the strength of truth: or let them but, as he did, grant that, and they will soon perceive that truth resigns all her outward strength to justice: justice therefore must needs be strongest, both in her own, and in the strength of truth. But if a king may do among men whatsoever is his will and pleasure, and notwithstanding be unaccountable to men, then, contrary to the magnified wisdom of Zorobabel, neither truth nor justice, but the king, is strongest of all other things, which that Persian monarch himself, in the midst of all his pride and glory, durst not assume.

others beside him have likewise seen the like feat done, and not in jest. Yet he proved on, and it was so yielded by the king himself, and all his sages, that neither wine, nor women, nor the king, but truth of all other things was the strongest.

For me, though neither asked, nor in a nation that gives such rewards to wisdom, I shall pronounce my sentence somewhat different from Zorobabel; and shall defend that either truth and justice are all one, (for truth is but justice in our knowledge, and justice is but truth in our practice;) and he indeed so explains himself, in saying that with truth is no accepting of persons, which is the property of justice, or else if there be any odds, that justice, though not stronger than truth, yet by her office, is to put forth and exhibit more strength in the affairs of mankind. For truth is properly no more than contemplation; and her utmost efficiency is but teaching: but justice in her very essence is all strength and activity; and hath a sword put into her hand, to use against all violence and oppression on the earth. She it is most truly, who accepts no person, and exempts none from the severity of her stroke. She never suffers injury to prevail, but when falsehood first prevails over truth; and that also is a kind of justice done on them who are so deluded. Though wicked kings and tyrants counterfeit her sword, as some did that buckler fabled to fall from heaven into the capitol, yet she communicates her power to none but such as, like herself, are just, or at least will do justice. For it were extreme partiality and justice, the flat denial and overthrow of herself, to put her own authentic sword into the hand of an unjust and wicked man, or so far to accept and exalt one mortal person above his equals, that he alone shall have the punishing of all other men transgressing, and not receive like punishment from men, when he himself shall be found the highest transgressor.

We may conclude, therefore, that justice, above all other things, is and ought to be the strongest; she is the strength, the kingdom, the power, and majesty of all ages. Truth herself would subscribe to this, though Darius and all the monarchs of the world should deny. And if by sentence thus written it were my happiness to set free the minds of Englishmen from longing to return poorly under that captivity of kings from which the strength and supreme

A FREE COMMONWEALTII [From A Ready and Easy Way to Estab

lish a Free Commonwealth, 1660] The whole freedom of man consists either in spiritual or civil liberty. As for spiritual, who can be at rest, who can enjoy anything in this world with contentment, who hath not liberty to serve God, and to save his own soul, according to the best light which God hath planted in him to that purpose, by the reading of his revealed will, and the guidance of his Holy Spirit? That this is best pleasing to God, and that the whole protestant church allows no supreme judge or rule in matters of religion, but the Scriptures; and these to be interpreted by the Scriptures themselves, which necessarily infers liberty of conscience, I have heretofore proved at large in another treatise; and might yet further, by the public declarations, confessions, and admonitions of whole churches and states, obvious in all histories since the reformation.

The other part of our freedom consists in the civil rights and advancements of every person according to his merit: the enjoyment of those never more certain, and the access to these never more open than in a free commonwealth. Both which, in my opinion, may be best and soonest obtained

if every county in the land were made a

grammar only, but in all liberal arts and kind of subordinate commonalty or com- exercises. This would soon spread much monwealth, and one chief town or more, more knowledge and civility, yea, religion, according as the shire is in circuit, made through all parts of the land, by communicities, if they be not so called already; cating the natural heat of government and where the nobility and chief gentry, from culture more distributively to all extreme a proportionable compass of territory an- parts, which now lie numb and neglected; nexed to each city, may build houses or would soon make the whole nation more inpalaces befitting their quality; may bear dustrious, more ingenious at home, more part in the government, make their own potent, more honorable abroad. To this a judicial laws, or use those that are, and ex- free commonwealth will easily assent; nay, ecute them by their own elected judicatures the parliament hath had already some such and judges without appeal, in all things of thing in design; for of all governments a civil government between man and man. So commonwealth aims most to make the peothey shall have justice in their own hands, ple flourishing, virtuous, noble, and high law executed fully and finally in their spirited.

Monarchs will never permit; counties and precincts, long wished and whose aim is to make the people wealthy inspoken of but never yet obtained. They deed perhaps, and well fleeced, for their own shall have none then to blame but them- shearing, and the supply of regal prodigalselves, if it be not well administered; and ity; but otherwise softest, basest, viciousest, fewer laws to expect or fear from the su- servilest, easiest to be kept under. And not preme authority; or to those that shall be only in fleece, but in mind also sheepishest; made, of any great concernment to public and will have all the benches of judicature liberty, they may, without much trouble in annexed to the throne, as a gift of royal these commonalties, or in more general as- grace, that we have justice done us; whenas semblies called to their cities from the whole nothing can be more essential to the freedom territory on such occasion, declare and pub- of a people than to have the administration lish their assent or dissent by deputies, with- of justice and all public ornaments in their in a time limited, sent to the grand council ; own election and within their own bounds, yet so as this their judgment declared shall without long traveling or depending upon submit to the greater number of other coun- remote places to obtain their right or any ties or commonalties, and not avail them civil accomplishment, so it be not supreme to any exemption of themselves or refusal but subordinate to the general power and of agreement with the rest, as it may in union of the whole republic. any of the United Provinces, being sover- In which happy firmness as in the pareign within itself, ofttimes to the great dis- ticular above-mentioned we shall also far esadvantage of that union.

ceed the United Provinces, by having not as In these employments they may, much they, (to the retarding and distracting oftbetter than they do now, exercise and fit times of their counsels or urgentest occathemselves till their lot fall to be chosen sions,) many sovereignties united in one into the grand council, according as their commonwealth, but many commonwealths worth and merit shall be taken notice of by under one united and intrusted sovereignty, the people. As for controversies that shall And when we have our forces by sea and happen between men of several counties, land either of a faithful army or a settled they may repair, as they do now, to the militia in our own hands, to the firm estabcapital city, or any other more commodious, lishing of a free commonwealth, public acindifferent place, and equal judges. And counts under our own inspection, general this I find to have been practiced in the old laws, and taxes, with their causes in our own Athenian commonwealth, reputed the first domestic suffrages, judicial laws, offices, and ancientest place of civility in all and ornaments at home in Greece; that they had in their several cit- ordering and administration, all distinction ies a peculiar, in Athens a common govern- of lords and commoners, that may any way ment, and their right as it befell them to divide or sever the public interest, removed; the administration of both.

what can a perpetual senate have then, They should have here also schools and wherein to grow corrupt, wherein to enacademies at their own choice, wherein their croach upon us, or usurp? Or if they do, children may be bred up in their own sight wherein to be formidable? Yet if all this to all learning and noble education; not in avail not to remove the fear or envy of a


[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »