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He concludes that even if a contract does exist it does not therefore allow a tyrant king to act unchecked. This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. But as I have neither their Motives, nor intend to use their dedicatory Stile, I hope I may venture to go out of their Path, and by following the Dictates of an affectionate Vanity, publickly boast of your Friendship and Patronage.Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. As the present Sheets, will not be perused by you till in Print, excuse me if I trouble you with the first Motive that induced me to write them; you may remember at the Time of the Dissolution of the last Parliament, a Pamphlet was published, addressed to one of the two Parties now dividing these Kingdoms, exhorting them to join and unite to an amphibious Sect, in order to wrest our Constitution from its original Basis; and in its Room, raise a Scheme of Arbitrary Power.
But as it is evident, that all these are here wanting, we may easily conclude that the Contractors are not depriv’d of free Agency, consequently are bound by the Conventions, they may enter into.
Suppose a Power was apprehensive of an Attack from any other, and to defend itself made a Treaty with a Third, in which mutual Services were stipulated; the latter Power performs his Part of the Engagement; will any Lawyer, or indeed any Man in his Senses, pretend to say, the Fear the first Power was under, can be a Pretence sufficient, to justify him in the Non-performance of the most minute Article, on his Side, provided only they were consistent with the Laws of Nature.
You will easily see this Address, is not to the Senator, the Man of Quality, or the Man IF we would be thoroughly informed of the Nature and Properties of any Object, we must necessarily first consider its Causes and Origin, for on them depend all the others; this close Connexion, which alway subsists between the defficient Cause, and the Object existing, ought totally to guide all the Actions of the latter, and shew us when, how, and where it should be employed.
This therefore being the Case, we ought no longer to wonder at the different Causes, which different Authors assign, as the Inducements to Men, to form civil Societies, and constitute Governments, to the Authority of which they submitted the Cognizance of all their Actions: Nor need we wonder at their disputing so warmly about which of the different Forms of Government is to claim the first Rank of Antiquity.
THis Remedy thus amended, served, while the World was in its Infancy, and the Produce of the Earth yielded the Inhabitants wherewith to live, within their several Family Districts; but when some Families began to be too populous to subsist on their Portions, without travelling farther, Disputes began to break out between the particular Members of different Families, which could not be decided in the common Manner, because the Parties acknowledged not a common Superior.
These could be appeased by no other Means, than the appointing an universal Arbitrator, who might decide all Disputes between any Parties whatsoever.Some attribute the Institution to a natural Appetite, some to the Avarice, Force or Ambition of Particulars, and others to the Apprehensions Men lay under from the Dangers they were exposed to from their Fellow-Creatures.Some too regarding a Democracy, as the most ancient Form of Government; others preferring Aristocracy; and a third placing Monarchies before either of the former.A Doctrine that cannot be refuted, ought to be propagated; and while an even Liberty is allowed to all Men to communicate their Thoughts to the Publick, there is no Danger, that any one will be able to impose any ridiculous Systems on the World.Besides, is it not a sufficient Check on Men, that they are punishable in an exemplary Manner, for publishing any thing contrary to the Laws of their Country; should their Foolhardiness lead them into any Attempts of that Sort!And if they attribute these stupendous Structures, which have been so often changed, repaired, beautified, and defaced, but never totally destroyed, to meer Force (without entering into the Improbability of such a Fact) they thereby open a Mine to sap and overturn them all, and they in fact tell us, we are no longer obliged to obey our sovereign Magistrate, ---for by the Law of Nature, all Contracts we enter into, through an immediate Fear of an impending Danger, either with the Party that causes such Fear, or any other through his Compulsion, are null, and of no Force; and we are at Liberty to break them, on the first Opportunity we can with Safety to oueselves; ---and this Rule of Reason is so absolute, that no written Law can repeal it, no Prescription render it obsolete, nor Oath, or Surrender of the Privilege of making use of it, deprive us of the Benefits it gives us.If therefore we admit that our Fore-fathers were compell’d, by some one among them more formidable than the rest, to constitute Governments, and grant to any Being a supreme Power; we must also allow, that such Constitution was illegal, and such Being could not acquire any Thing, with Justice, by such Grant; consequently, we their Successors have a right to re-demand whatsoever he may have usurped by the Pretext of such Grant, and in Case of Refusal, wrest it from his Hands by Force, and punish him for his Obstinacy, nay, call him to an Account for all his Actions, and compell him to restore what he may have thereby taken from us or our Parents; whither such a Principal tends, and what would be the ill Consequence of preaching such a Doctrine, to any Persons who think for themselves, and have the least Love for Liberty, I leave to any one to judge.Undoubtedly if we could imagine a Society, wherein Men had no other Law to guide their Actions, than those of natural Reason, nor no other Check on their Passions, than the Fear of receiving Punishments, from the divine Promulgator of those Laws, we should easily confess it the happiest that could possibly exist, and prefer it far beyond those wherein Men are kept to their Duty, (with more Difficulty than Hounds or Horses are broke) by the Fear of Scourges, Axes and Halters.But it is impossible for us, even to have the Idea of such a State, as we know too well the Nature of Man, how apt to be misled by his Appetites and Passions, how easy to be deceived in his Notions of Good and Evil, how prone to Vengeance, how slow to forgive, how little affected with the remote and uncertain Punishments, which attend the Transgressors of the natural Law in a future State, and how ready (if even sometimes the Reward of Crimes happens to be bestowed in this World,) to attribute them to some other Cause.Let us see therefore, if we can NO Cause can be better assigned, than the Fear which Men lay under, of the Ills they might suffer, from their Neighbour’s* Power and Wickedness; and which Fear was grounded, even on the Experience of those Inconveniencies they were inevitably subject to in the State of Nature†.As there is no Improbability, in supposing this to have been the first Motive, which Mankind had to form Governments, so neither is the establishing it as such, liable to any great Objection, or ill Consequence: For tho’ Contracts entered into through Fear, are void, yet three essential Requisites are wanting in the present Case, which intirely take it out of the Reason and Force of that Maxim. The Fear which may be objected against the Validity of a Contract, must be immediate. The Danger must be actually impending, and of a Nature to shock the most resolute Man. The Contract, as we said before, must be entered into, (from an Apprehension of the ill Consequence of disobeying the menacing Party) either with the Menacer or with his Privity.