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wealths to be absolute.
lar, and aristocratical commonwealths, is as great, PART II. as possibly men can be imagined to make it. And though of so unlimited a power, men may fancy Sovereign many evil consequences, yet the consequences of power
cought the want of it, which is perpetual war of
every man against his neighbour, are much worse.
The condition of man in this life shall never be without inconveniences; but there happeneth in no commonwealth any great inconvenience, but what proceeds from the subject's disobedience, and breach of those covenants, from which the commonwealth hath its being. And whosoever thinking sovereign power too great, will seek to make it less, must subject himself, to the power, that can limit it; that is to say, to a greater.
The greatest objection is, that of the practice; when men ask, where, and when, such by subjects been acknowledged. But one may ask them again, when, or where has there been a kingdom long free from sedition and civil war. In those nations, whose commonwealths have been long-lived, and not been destroyed but by foreign war, the subjects never did dispute of the sovereign power. But howsoever, an argument from the practice of men, that have not sifted to the bottom, and with exact reason weighed the causes, and nature of commonwealths, and suffer daily those miseries, that proceed from the ignorance thereof, is invalid. For though in all places of the world, men should lay the foundation of their houses on the sand, it could not thence be inferred, that so it ought to be. The skill of making, and maintaining commonwealths, consisteth in certain rules, as doth arithmetic and geometry ; not, as
PART II. tennis-play, on practice only: which rules, neither
poor men have the leisure, nor men that have had the leisure, have hitherto had the curiosity, or the method to find out.
OF THE LIBERTY OF SUBJECTS.
Liberty what. LIBERTY, or FREEDOM, signifieth, properly, the
absence of opposition; by opposition, I mean external impediments of motion ; and may be applied no less to irrational, and inanimate creatures, than to rational. For whatsoever is so tied, or environed, as it cannot move but within a certain space, which space is determined by the opposition of some external body, we say it hath not liberty to go further. And so of all living creatures, whilst they are imprisoned, or restrained, with walls, or chains; and of the water whilst it is kept in by banks, or vessels, that otherwise would spread itself into a larger space, we use to say, they are not at liberty, to move in such manner, as without those external impediments they would. But when the impediment of motion, is in the constitution of the thing itself, we use not to say; it wants the liberty ; but the power to move; as when a stone lieth still, or a man is fastened to his bed by
sickness. What it is And according to this proper, and generally
received meaning of the word, a FREEMAN, is he, that in those things, which by his strength and wit he is able to do, is not hindered to do what he
to be free.
has a will to. But when the words free, and PART II. liberty, are applied to any thing but bodies, they are abused; for that which is not subject to motion, is not subject to impediment : and therefore, when it is said, for example, the way is free, no liberty of the way is signified, but of those that walk in it without stop. And when we say a gift is free, there is not meant any liberty of the gift, but of the giver, that was not bound by any law or covenant to give it. So when we speak freely, it is not the liberty of voice, or pronunciation, but of the man, whom no law hath obliged to speak otherwise than he did. Lastly, from the use of the word free-will, no liberty can be inferred of the will, desire, or inclination, but the liberty of the man; which consisteth in this, that he finds no stop, in doing what he has the will, desire, or inclination to do.
Fear and liberty are consistent; as when a man Fear and throweth his goods into the sea for fear the ship consistent. should sink, he doth it nevertheless very willingly, and may refuse to do it if he will: it is therefore the action of one that was free: so a man sometimes
pays his debt, only for fear of imprisonment, which because nobody hindered him from detaining, was the action of a man at liberty. And generally all actions which men do in commonwealths, for fear of the law, are actions, which the doers had liberty to omit.
Liberty, and necessity are consistent: as in the Liberty and water, that hath not only liberty, but a necessity consistent. of descending by the channel; so likewise in the actions which men voluntarily do: which, because they proceed from their will, proceed from liberty;
PART II. and yet, because every act of man's will, and every
desire, and inclination proceedeth from some cause, and that from another cause, in a continual chain, whose first link is in the hand of God the first of all causes, proceed from necessity. So that to him that could see the connexion of those causes, the necessity of all men's voluntary actions, would appear manifest. And therefore God, that seeth, and disposeth all things, seeth also that the liberty of man in doing what he will, is accompanied with the necessity of doing that which God will, and no more, nor less. For though men may do many things, which God does not command, nor is therefore author of them; yet they can have no passion, nor appetite to anything, of which appetite God's will is not the cause. And did not his will assure the necessity of man's will, and consequently of all that on man's will dependeth, the liberty of men would be a contradiction, and impediment to the omnipotence and liberty of God. And this shall suffice, as to the matter in hand, of that natural liberty, which only is properly called liberty.
But as men, for the attaining of peace, and conbonds, or covenants. servation of themselves thereby, have made an
artificial man, which we call a commonwealth ; so also have they made artificial chains, called civil laws, which they themselves, by mutual covenants, have fastened at one end, to the lips of that man, or assembly, to whom they have given the sovereign power; and at the other end to their own
These bonds, in their own nature but weak, may nevertheless be made to hold, by the danger, though not by the difficulty of breaking them.
In relation to these bonds only it is, that I am to
speak now, of the liberty of subjects. For seeing PART 11. there is no commonwealth in the world, wherein there be rules enough set down, for the regulating of all the Liberty of subactions, and words of men; as being a thing impos- in liberty from sible: it followeth necessarily, that in all kinds of covenants. actions by the laws prætermitted, men have the liberty, of doing what their own reasons shall suggest, for the most profitable to themselves. For if we take liberty in the proper sense, for corporal liberty ; that is to say, freedom from chains and prison; it were very absurd for men to clamour as they do, for the liberty they so manifestly enjoy. Again, if we take liberty, for an exemption from laws, it is it no less absurd, for men to demand as they do, that liberty, by which all other men may be masters of their lives. And yet, as absurd as it is, this is it they demand; not knowing that the laws are of no power to protect them, without a sword in the hands of a man, or men, to cause those laws to be put in execution. The liberty of a subject, lieth therefore only in those things, which in regulating their actions, the sovereign hath prætermitted : such as is the liberty to buy, and sell, and otherwise contract with one another; to choose their own abode, their own diet, their own trade of life, and institute their children as they themselves think fit; and the like.
Nevertheless we are not to understand, that by such liberty, the sovereign power of life and death, Liberty of is either abolished, or limited. For it has been consistent with already shown, that nothing the sovereign repre- power of the
the unlimited sentative can do to a subject, on what pretence
sovereign. soever, can properly be called injustice, or injury; because every subject is author of every act the