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power to make laws for the society's good, and to answer the purposes of civil association, just as the circumstances and the reason of things shall require. And,

Here it is to be observed, that natural legiflature or authority is not the natural offspring of power, but of paternity. God does not become a governor to the intelligent and moral world by his being possessed with Almighty power, but by his being a common parent to his creatures. For, as he called them into being without their consent; so reason requires that he should take care of their well being, which it is the business of government to secure, and it is this which constitutes him our guardian or governor. God's being poffeffed with great and uncontroulable power enables him to play the tyrant over us, (were he disposed to use his

power to fo vile a purpose) but it does not invest him with a right to be our guardian or governor, that being the result of his relation to us. And, this is the case of parents with respect to their children, their authority over them is not the natural offspring of power, but it naturally arises from that natural relation they stand in to them. And, indeed, in a secundary and less proper fense, this is the case in civil society, where legislative power is lodged in trust

. For, as in such societies every one is by nature upon an equality, (there being not any one who has a natural right of dominion over his fellow-creatures,) and, as law and government are necessary to the well

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being of society, seeing the end of civil aflociation cannot be obtained nor secured without it; fo this makes it necessary and reasonable that legislative and governing power should be lodged in trust, in the hands of some

person, or persons, to be exercised for the society's welfare; and the persons with whom this trust is lodged are by this constituted, not the natural, but the Rep-parents of the people, and guardians of their happiness; and by this they are invested with a right, not natural, but derived, a right derived from the people to make such laws as are for the society's good, and to answer the purposes of civil association. And,

As legislature itself is founded in geafon ; fo the reason of things is the rule and measure of it. That is, those upon whom legislative power naturally devolves, or to whom it is committed in trust by others, are not at liberty to make what laws they please, but they are directed, limited, and bounded in the exercise of that power, by the grounds and reasons, and by the ends and purposes upon which legislature itself is founded, viz. the publick or general good of those who are subjected to their jurisdiction : fo that law, strictly speaking, or that law which is in reason obliging, is nothing more than that rule of action exemplified, which is founded in the reason of things; and duty is not the effect or result, but it is the foundation of law. That is, an action does not become our duty because it is com

manded; manded; but it is commanded because it was our duty antecedent to the command. And consequently, a thing or action does not become fit, or unfit, by it's being commanded, or forbidden; but it is commanded, or forbidden because it was fit, or unfit, when confidered abstractedly from, and antecedent to the promulgation of that law; and which antecedent fitness, or unfitness, was the ground and reason of such law. This, I say, is, or at least, ought always to be the case. It is true, the word law, in it's common acceptation, signifies the will of a superior : but then, this supposes that the will of the superior is not lawless will, (if I may fo speak,) or a will which is exerted without rule, or reason, but á will which is directed by reason, a will which commands nothing to be done, but what was fit should be done, antecedent to the command, and which prohibits nothing but what was fit should be avoided, antecedent to the prohibition: I fay, this is supposed to be the will of the superior or law-giver, for otherwise legislature would be an unnatural and a monstrous thing. And,

When legislative power is rightly employed, in making laws to answer the true ends of government; then, it is in itself right; and then, it constitutes a legal or just authority. But when it is employed to answer other and contrary purposes, then, it is in itself wrong, and then, it degenerates into tyranny. When legislative power is employed in making bad

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laws, or laws which will serve a bad purpose ; this is manifestly wrong, and therefore, it cannot be deemed just authority, but properly comes under the denomination of tyranny. Or when it is employed idlely and triflingly, by commanding or forbidding actions which are perfectly indifferent, and which serve only to exemplify the commanding power of the lawgiver, and to extort submission from the subject; this is plainly, a prostitution of legislative power ; this is what the ends of law and government will not exçuse or justify; and therefore, this cannot justly be deemed legal authority, but properly comes under the denomination of tyranny, tho' in a much lower, and in a much less hurtful degree than in the former case. The case is the same whether legislative power be considered as lodged in a buman or in the divine hand; it being equally as unfit that God should act wrong in his legislative capacity, as it is that any of his creatures should do so. There is indeed this difference, if God should misapply his legislative power, he is above controul or correction whereas if men abuse their trust, they are liable to be controuled in, and be punished for that abuse.

I am sensible, it is commonly urged in this case, that God, as he is the great governor of the universe, has a right, or it is fit that he should, in some instances, command for com-, manding fake, that thereby he might make tryal of our obedience. But alas! our obedience

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is fufficiently tryed by the many' and strong
temptations with which we are surrounded on
every fide, without this expedient; and there-
fore, this expedient is not necessary to answer
that end. Besides, this expedient cannot an-
swer any good purpose to us, but may answer
many
bad ones.

It cannot raise in us a just and worthy sense of God, but may raise in us a mean and unworthy sense of him ; viz. as one who acts the part of an arbitrary and a tyrannical governor. It cannot excite in us the affection of love to God, but may excite in us a flavish fear and dread of him. It cannot increase our virtue, but may greatly increase our guilt, if our disobedience is to be considered as such. And supposing we yield obedience to such commands, that obedience, to say the most, would be only yielding to the humour and unreasonable will of a law-giver, whom it would be wrong to contend with, or disoblige. And obedience, surely, in such cases, cannot render a person equally valuable with him who obeys a moral law from a much nobler principle. And, to admit the fuppofition that the Deity would go fo far out of his way, (if I may fo speak,) and would act fo contrary to his general character as a wise and good governor, by commanding as aforesaid, is, (I think,) little less than blasphemy, as it iş blasting the moral character of the great go-, vernor of the universe. But then, it is to be remembered, that when I say God will not act arbitrarily, my meaning is that he will not act

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