Manifesto of Congress 1778

Sam Adam Author[i] of MANIFESTO OF THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS.

October 30, 1778.

The following Manifesto can be very easily used in our modern time if:

  1. The people had the same sense of Moral conviction and understanding
  2. By virtue of #1, Congress would have the Moral conviction and understanding base on knowledge of God owns the political realm
  3. Recognition of ‘Evil’ and that evil must be dealt with

Now the Manifesto with modern addition in itallics:

The United States having been driven to hostilities by the oppressive and tyrannous measures of Great Britain (Jihadists, cartels and radical globalists), having been compelled to commit the essential rights of men to the decision of arms, and having been at length forced to shake off a yoke which had grown too burdensome to bear, they declared themselves free and independent.

Confiding in the justice of their cause; confiding in Him who disposes of human events; although weak and unprovided, they set the power of their enemies at defiance.

In this confidence they have continued through the various fortunes of three bloody campaigns (continuous war on terror and various forms of border invasion), unawed by the power, unsubdued by the barbarity of their foes. Their virtuous citizens have borne without repining the loss of many things which make life desirable. Their brave troops have patiently endured the hardships and dangers of a situation fruitful in both beyond former example.

The Congress, considering themselves bound to love their enemies as children of that Being who is equally the Father of all, and desirous, since they could not prevent, at least to alleviate the calamities of war, have studied to spare those who were in arms against them, and to lighten the chains of captivity.

The conduct of those serving under the King of Great Britain (Jihadists, cartels and radical globalists), hath, with some few exceptions, been diametrically opposite. They have laid waste the open country, burned the defenceless villages, and butchered the citizens of America.

Their prisons have been the slaughter-houses of her soldiers, their ships of her seamen, and the severest injuries have been aggravated by the grossest insults.

Foiled in their vain attempts to subjugate the unconquerable spirit of freedom, they have meanly assailed the representatives of America with bribes, with deceit, and the servility of adulation. They have made a mock of religion by impious appeals to God, whilst in the violation of His sacred command. They have made a mock even of reason itself, by endeavoring to prove that the liberty and happiness of America could safely be intrusted to those who have sold their own, unawed by the sense of virtue or of shame.

Treated with the contempt which such conduct deserved, they have applied to individuals. They have solicited them to break the bonds of allegiance and imbue their souls with the blackest crimes. But fearing that none could be found through these United States equal to the wickedness of their purpose, to influence weak minds they have threatened more wide devastation.

While the shadow of hope remained that our enemies could be taught by our example to respect those laws which are held sacred among civilized nations, and to comply with the dictates of a religion which they pretend, in common with us (except for the Jihadists who reject our religious beliefs), to believe and revere, they have been left to the influence of that religion (radical islam, humanism and atheism) and that example. But since their incorrigible dispositions cannot be touched by kindness and compassion, it becomes our duty by other means to vindicate the rights of humanity.

We, therefore, the Congress of the United States of America, do solemnly declare and proclaim that if our enemies presume to execute their threats, or persist in their present career of barbarity, we will take such exemplary vengeance as shall deter others from a like conduct. We appeal to the God who searcheth the hearts of men for the rectitude of our intentions; and in his holy presence declare that, as we are not moved by any light or hasty suggestions of anger or revenge, so through every possible change of fortune we will adhere to this our determination.

Done in Congress by unanimous consent, the thirtieth day of October, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight.

[i] Also attributed to Adams by Niles, Principles and Acts, pp. 476, 477.

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The Shot Heard Around the World

As we remember April 19th and the Shot Heard Around the World concerning the Battles at Lexington and Concord; it is imperative to consider the Message from my friend and Harvard classmate Samuel Langdon.

Consider the full truth of that which he preached in remembrance of April 19th, 1775:

GOVERNMENT CORRUPTED BY VICE.

by Samuel Langdon

And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city.  — ISAIAH 1:26

Shall we rejoice, my fathers and brethren, or shall we weep together, on the return of this anniversary, which from the first settlement of this colony has been sacred to liberty, to perpetuate that invaluable privilege of choosing, from among ourselves, wise men, fearing God, and hating covetousness, to be honorable counselors, to constitute one essential branch of that happy government which was established on the faith of royal charters?

On this day, the people have from year to year assembled, from all our towns, in a vast congregation, with gladness and festivity, with every ensign of joy displayed in our metropolis, which now, alas!  is made a garrison of mercenary troops, the stronghold of despotism.  But how shall I now address you from this desk, remote from the capital (This sermon was preached at Watertown, Mass.), and remind you of the important business which distinguished this day in our calendar, without spreading a gloom over this assembly, by exhibiting the melancholy change made in the face of our public affairs?

We have lived to see the time when British liberty is just ready to expire; when that constitution of government which has so long been the glory and strength of the English nation, is deeply undermined and ready to tumble into ruins–when America is threatened with cruel oppression, and the arm of power is stretched out against New England, and especially against this colony, to compel us to submit to the arbitrary acts of legislators who are not our representatives, and who will not themselves bear the least part of the burdens which, without mercy, they are laying upon us.   The most formal and solemn grants of kings to our ancestors are deemed by our oppressors as of little value, and they have mutilated the charter of this colony in the most essential parts, upon false representations, and new invented maxims of policy, without the least regard to any legal process.  We are no longer permitted to fix our eyes on the faithful of the land, and trust in the wisdom of their counsels, and the equity of their judgment; but men in whom we can have no confidence, whose principles are subversive of our liberties, whose aim is to exercise lordship over us, and share among themselves the public wealth; men who are ready to serve any master, and execute the most unrighteous decrees for high wages, whose faces we never saw before, and whose interests and connections may be far divided from us by the wide Atlantic, are to be set over us as counselors and judges, at the pleasure of those who have the riches and power of the nation in their hands, and whose noblest plan is to subjugate the colonies first, and then the whole nation to their will.

That we might not have it in our power to refuse the most absolute submission to their unlimited claims of authority, they have not only endeavored to terrify us with fleets and armies sent to our capital, and distressed and put an end to our trade, particularly that important branch of it, the fishery, but at length attempted, by a sudden march of a body of troops in the night, to seize and destroy one of our magazines, formed by the people merely for their own security; if, as after such formidable military preparation on the other side, matters should not be pushed to an extremity.  By this, as might well be expected, a skirmish was brought on; and it is most evident, from a variety of concurring circumstances, as well as numerous depositions, both of the prisoners taken by us at that time, and our men then on the spot only as spectators, that the fire began first on the side of the king’s troops.  At least five or six of our inhabitants were murderously killed by the regulars at Lexington, before any man attempted to return the fire, and when they were actually complying with the command to disperse; and two more of our brethren were likewise killed at Concord Bridge by a fire from the king’s soldiers, before the engagement began on our side.   But whatever credit falsehoods transmitted to Great Britain from the other side may gain, the matter may be rested entirely on this–that he that arms himself to commit a robbery, and demands the traveler’s purse, by the terror of instant death, is the first aggressor, though the other should take the advantage of discharging his pistol first and killing the robber.

The alarm was sudden; but in a very short time spread far and wide; the nearest neighbors in haste ran together to assist their brethren, and save their country.  Not more than three or four hundred met in season, and bravely attacked and repulsed the enemies of liberty, who retreated with great precipitation.

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That ever-memorable day, the nineteenth of April, is the date of an unhappy war openly begun, by the ministers of the king of Great Britain, against his good subjects in this colony, and implicitly against all the colonies.   But for what?  Because they have made a noble stand for their natural and constitutional rights, in opposition to the machinations of wicked men, who are betraying their royal master, establishing Popery in the British dominions, and aiming to enslave and ruin the whole nation, that they may enrich themselves and their vile dependents with the public treasures, and the spoils of America.

We have used our utmost endeavors, by repeated humble petitions and remonstrances–by a series of unanswerable reasonings published from the press, in which the dispute has been fairly stated, and the justice of our opposition clearly demonstrated–and by the mediation of some of the noblest and most faithful friends of the British constitution, who have powerfully pleaded our cause in Parliament–to prevent such measures as may soon reduce the body politic to a miserable, dismembered, dying trunk, though lately the terror of all Europe.  But our king, as if impelled by some strange fatality, is resolved to reason with us only by the roar of his cannon, and the pointed arguments of muskets and bayonets.  Because we refuse submission to the despotic power of a ministerial Parliament, our own sovereign, to whom we have been always ready to swear true allegiance–whose authority we never meant to cast off–who might have continued happy in cheerful obedience, as faithful subjects as any in his dominions–has given us up to the rage of his ministers, to be seized at sea by the rapacious commanders of every little sloop of war and piratical cutter, and to be plundered and massacred by land by mercenary troops, who know no distinction betwixt an enemy and a brother, between right and wrong; but only, like brutal pursuers, to hunt and seize the prey pointed out by their masters.

We must keep our eyes fixed on the supreme government of the ETERNAL KING, as directing all events, setting up or pulling down the kings of the earth at His pleasure, suffering the best forms of human government to degenerate and go to ruin by corruption; or restoring the decayed constitutions of kingdoms and states, by reviving public virtue and religion, and granting the favorable interpositions of His providence.  To this our text leads us; and though I hope to be excused on this occasion from a formal discourse on the words in a doctrinal way, yet I must not wholly pass over the religious instruction contained in them.

Let us consider–that for the sins of a people God may suffer the best government to be corrupted, or entirely dissolved; and that nothing but a general reformation can give ground to hope that the public happiness will be restored, by the recovery of the strength and perfection of the state, and that Divine Providence will interpose to fill every department with wise and good men.

Isaiah prophesied about the time of the captivity of the ten tribes of Israel, and about a century before the captivity of Judah.  The kingdom of Israel was brought to destruction, because its iniquities were full; its counselors and judges were wholly taken away, because there remained no hope of reformation.  But the scepter did not entirely depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, till the Messiah came; yet greater and greater changes took place in their political affairs; their government degenerated in proportion as their vices increased, till few faithful men were left in any public offices; and, at length, when they were delivered up for seventy years into the hands of the king of Babylon, scarcely any remains of their original excellent civil polity appeared among them.

The Jewish government, according to the original constitution which was divinely established, if considered merely in a civil view, was a perfect republic.  The heads of their tribes, and elders of their cities, were their counselors and judges.  They called the people together in more general or particular assemblies, took their opinions, gave advice, and managed the public affairs according to the general voice.  Counselors and judges comprehend all the powers of that government, for there was no such thing as legislative authority belonging to it, their complete code of laws being given immediately from God by the hand of Moses.  And let them who cry up the divine right of kings consider, that the only form of government which had a proper claim to a divine establishment, was so far from including the idea of a king, that it was a high crime for Israel to ask to be in this respect like other nations; and when they were thus gratified,it was rather as a just punishment of their folly, that they might feel the burdens of court pageantry, of which they were warned by a very striking description, than as a divine recommendation of kingly authority.

Every nation, when able and agreed, has a right to set up over itself any form of government which to it may appear most conducive to its common welfare.  The civil polity of Israel is doubtless an excellent general model, allowing for some peculiarities; at least some principal laws and orders of it may be copied, to great advantage, in more modern establishments.

When a government is in its prime, the public good engages the attention of the whole; the strictest regard is paid to the qualifications of those who hold the offices of the state; virtue prevails–every thing is managed with justice, prudence, and frugality; the laws are founded on principles of equity rather than mere policy, and all the people are happy.  But vice will increase with the riches and glory of an empire; and this gradually tends to corrupt the constitution, and in time bring on its dissolution.  This may be considered not only as the natural effect of vice, but a righteous judgment of heaven, especially upon a nation which has been favored with the blessing of religion and liberty, and is guilty of undervaluing them; and eagerly going into the gratification of every lust.

In this chapter the prophet describes the very corrupt state of Judah in his day, both as to religion and common morality; and looks forward to that increase of wickedness which would bring on their desolation and captivity.  They were a sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil-doers, children that were corrupters, who had forsaken the Lord; and provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger.  The whole body of the nation, from head to foot, was full of moral and political disorders, without any remaining soundness.  Their religion was all mere ceremony and hypocrisy; and even the laws of common justice and humanity were disregarded in their public courts.  They had counselors and judges, but very different from those at the beginning of the commonwealth.  Their princes were rebellious against God, and the constitution of their country, and companions of thieves, giving countenance to every artifice for seizing the property of the subjects in their own hands, and robbing the public treasury.   Every one loved gifts, and followed after rewards; they regarded the perquisites more than the duties of their office; the general aim was at profitable places and pensions; they were influenced in every thing by bribery; and their avarice and luxury were never satisfied, but hurried them on to all kinds of oppression and violence, so that they even justified and encouraged the murder of innocent persons to support their lawless power, and increase their wealth.  And God, in righteous judgment, left them to run into all this excess of vice to their own destruction, because they had forsaken Him, and were guilty of willful inattention to the most essential parts of that religion which had been given them by a well-attested revelation from heaven.

The Jewish nation could  not but see and feel the unhappy consequences of so great a corruption of the state.  Doubtless, they complained much of men in power, and very heartily and liberally reproached them for their notorious misconduct.  The public greatly suffered, and the people groaned, and wished for better rulers and better management.  But in vain they hoped for a change of men and measures and better times, when the spirit of religion was gone, and the infection of vice was become universal.  The whole body being so corrupted, there could be no rational prospect of any great reformation in the state, but rather of its ruin; which accordingly came on in Jeremiah’s time.  Yet if a general reformation of religion and morals had taken place, and they had turned to God from all their sins–if they had again recovered the true spirit of their religion, God, by the gracious interpositions of His providence, would soon have found out methods to restore the former virtue of the state, and again have given them men of wisdom and integrity, according to their utmost wish, to be counselors and judges.  This was verified in fact, after the nation had been purged by a long captivity, and returned to their own land humbled, and filled with zeal for God and His law.

By all this we may be led to consider the true cause of the present remarkable troubles which are come upon Great Britain and these colonies; and the only effectual remedy.

We have rebelled against God.  We have lost the true spirit of Christianity, though we retain the outward profession and form of it.   We have neglected and set light by the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and His holy commands and institutions.  The worship of many is but mere compliment to the Deity, while their hearts are far from Him.  By many the gospel is corrupted into a superficial system of moral philosophy, little better than ancient Platonism.   And after all the pretended refinements of moderns in the theory of Christianity, very little of the pure practice of it is to be found among those who once stood foremost in the profession of the gospel.  In a general view of the present moral state of Great Britain it may be said: There is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.  By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, their wickedness breaks out; and one murder after another is committed, under the connivance and encouragement even of that authority by which such crimes ought to be punished, that the purposes of oppression and despotism may be answered.  As they have increased, so have they sinned, therefore God is changing their glory into shame.   The general prevalence of vice has changed the whole face of things in the British government.

The excellency of the constitution has been the boast of Great Britain, and the envy of neighboring nations.  In former times the great departments of the state, and the various places of trust and authority, were filled with men of wisdom, honesty and religion, who employed all their powers, and were ready to risk their fortunes and their lives for the public good.  They were faithful counselors to kings; directed their authority and majesty to the happiness of the nation; and opposed every step by which despotism endeavored to advance.  They were fathers of the people, and sought the welfare and prosperity of the whole body.  They did not exhaust the national wealth by luxury and bribery, or convert it to their own private benefit, or the maintenance of idle useless officers and dependents; but improved it faithfully for the proper purposes, for the necessary support of government, and defense of the kingdom.  Their laws were dictated by wisdom and equity; and justice was administered with impartiality.  Religion discovered its general influence among all ranks, and kept out great corruptions from places of power.

But in what does the British nation now glory?   In a mere shadow of its ancient political system?  In titles of dignity without virtue?  In vast public treasures continually lavished in corruption, till every fund is exhausted, notwithstanding the mighty streams perpetually flowing in?   In the many artifices to stretch the prerogatives of the crown beyond all constitutional bounds, and make the king an absolute monarch, while the people are deluded with a mere phantom of liberty?  What idea must we entertain of that government, if such an one can be found, which pretends to have made an exact counterbalance of power between the sovereign, the nobles, and the commons, so that the three branches shall be an effectual check upon each other, and the united wisdom of the whole shall conspire to promote the national felicity; but which in reality is reduced to such a situation that it may be managed at the sole will of one court favorite?  What difference is there betwixt one man’s choosing, at his own pleasure, by his single vote, the majority of those who are to represent the people; and his purchasing in such a majority, according to his own nomination, with money out of the public treasury, or other effectual methods of influencing elections?  And what shall we say, if in the same manner, by places, pensions, and other bribes, a minister of state can at any time gain over a nobler majority likewise, to be entirely subservient to his purposes, and moreover persuade his royal master to resign himself up wholly to the direction of his counsels?   If this should be the case of any nation from one seven years’ end to another, the bargain and sale being made sure for such a period, would they still have reason to boast of their excellent constitution?  Ought they not rather to think it high time to restore the corrupted dying state to its original perfection?  I will apply this to the Roman senate under Julius Caesar, which retained all its ancient formalities, but voted always only as Caesar dictated.  If the decrees of such a senate were urged on the Romans as fraught with all the blessings of Roman liberty, we must suppose them strangely deluded, if they were persuaded to believe it.

The pretense for taxing America has been that the nation contracted an immense debt for the defense of the American colonies; and that as they are now able to contribute some proportion toward the discharge of this debt, and must be considered as part of the nation, it is reasonable they should be taxed; and the Parliament has a right to tax and govern them in all cases whatever by its own supreme authority.  Enough has been already published on this grand controversy, which now threatens a final separation of the colonies from Great Britain.  But can the amazing national debt be paid by a little trifling sum squeezed from year to year out of America, which is continually drained of all its cash by a restricted trade with the parent country, and which in this way is taxed to the government of Britain in a very large proportion?  Would it not be much superior wisdom and sounder policy for a distressed kingdom to retrench the vast unnecessary expenses continually incurred by its enormous vices?  To stop the prodigious sums paid in pensions, and to numberless officers, without the least advantage to the public?  To reduce the number of devouring servants in the great family?  To turn their minds from the pursuit of pleasure and the boundless luxuries of life, to the important interests of their country and the salvation of the commonwealth?  Would not a reverend regard to the authority of divine revelation, a hearty belief of the gospel of the grace of God, and a general reformation of all those vices which bring misery and ruin upon individuals, families, and kingdoms, and which have provoked heaven to bring the nation into such perplexed and dangerous circumstances, be the surest way to recover the sinking state, and make it again rich and flourishing?  Millions might annually be saved, if the kingdom were generally and thoroughly reformed; and the public debt, great as it is, might in a few years be cancelled by a growing revenue, which now amounts to full ten millions per annum, without laying additional burdens on any of the subjects.  But the demands of corruption are constantly increasing, and will forever exceed all the resources of wealth which the wit of man can invent or tyranny impose.

Into what fatal policy has the nation been impelled by its public vices?  To wage a cruel war with its own children in these colonies, only to gratify the lust of power, and the demands of extravagance?  May God in His mercy recover Great Britain from this fatal infatuation; show them their errors, and give them a spirit of reformation, before it is too late to avert impending destruction.  May the eyes of the king be opened to see the ruinous tendency of the measures into which he has been led, and his heart inclined to treat his American subjects with justice and clemency, instead of forcing them still farther to the last extremities!   God grant some method may be found out to effect a happy reconciliation, so that the colonies may again enjoy the protection of their sovereign, with perfect security of all their natural rights, and civil and religious liberties.

But, alas!  have not the sins of America, and of New England in particular, had a hand in bringing down upon us the righteous judgments of Heaven?  Wherefore is all this evil come upon us?  Is it not because we have forsaken the Lord?  Can we say we are innocent of crimes against God?  No, surely; it becomes us to humble ourselves under His mighty hand, that He may exalt us in due time.  However unjustly and cruelly we have been treated by man, we certainly deserve, at the hand of God, all the calamities in which we are now involved.  Have we not lost much of that spirit of genuine Christianity which so remarkably appeared in our ancestors, for which God distinguished them with the signal favors of providence, when they fled from tyranny and persecution into this western desert?  Have we not departed from their virtues?  Though I hope and am confident that as much true religion, agreeable to the purity and simplicity of the gospel, remains among us as among any people in the world, yet in the midst of the present great apostasy of the nations professing Christianity, have not we likewise been guilty of departing from the living God?  Have we not made light of the gospel of salvation, and too much affected the cold, formal, fashionable religion of countries grown old in vice and overspread with infidelity?  Do not our follies and iniquities testify against us?  Have we not, especially in our seaports, gone much too far into the pride and luxuries of life?   Is it not a fact open to common observation, that profaneness, intemperance, unchastity, the love of pleasure, fraud, avarice, and other vices, are increasing among us from year to year?  And have not even these young governments been in some measure infected with the corruptions of European courts?  Has there been no flattery, no bribery, no artifices practiced, to get into places of honor and profit, or carry a vote to serve a particular interest, without regard to right or wrong?  Have our statesmen always acted with integrity?  and every judge with impartiality, in the fear of God?

In short, have all ranks of men showed regard to the divine commands, and joined to promote the Redeemer’s kingdom and the public welfare?    I wish we could more fully justify ourselves in all these respects.  If such sins have not been so notorious among us as in older countries, we must, nevertheless, remember, that the sins of a people who have been remarkable for the profession of godliness, are more aggravated by all the advantages and favors they have enjoyed, and will receive more speedy and signal punishment; as God says of Israel: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth, therefore will I punish you for all your iniquities.”

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Let me address you in the words of the prophet–“O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God, for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.”  My brethren, let us repent and implore the Divine mercy.   Let us amend our ways and our doings; reform every thing which has been provoking to the Most High, and thus endeavor to obtain the gracious interpositions of Providence for our deliverance.

If true religion is revived by means of these public calamities, and again prevails among us; if it appears in our religious assemblies, in the conduct of our civil affairs, in our armies, in our families, in all our business and conversation, we may hope for the direction and blessing of the Most High, while we are using our best endeavors to preserve and restore the civil government of this colony, and defend America from slavery.

Our late happy government is changed into the terrors of military execution.  Our firm opposition to the establishment of an arbitrary system is called rebellion, and we are to expect no mercy but by yielding property and life at discretion.  This we are resolved at all events not to do; and therefore, we have taken arms in our own defense, and all the colonies are united in the great cause of liberty.

But how shall we live while civil government is dissolved?  What shall we do without counselors and judges?  A state of absolute anarchy is dreadful.  Submission to the tyranny of hundreds of imperious masters, firmly embodied against us, and united in the same cruel design of disposing of our substance and lives at their pleasure, and making their own will our law in all cases whatever, is the vilest slavery, and worse than death.

Thanks be to God, that He has given us, as men, natural rights, independent of all human laws whatever; and these rights are recognized by the grand charter of British liberties.  By the law of nature any body of people, destitute of order and government, may form themselves into a civil society according to their best prudence, and so provide for their common safety and advantage.   When one form is found, by the majority, not to answer the grand purpose in any tolerable degree, they may by common consent put an end to it, and set up another; only as all such great changes are attended with difficulty, and danger of confusion, they ought not to be attempted without urgent necessity, which will be determined always by the general voice of the wisest and best members of the community.  If the great servants of the public forget their duty, betray their trust and sell their country, or make war against the most valuable rights and privileges of the people; reason and justice require that they should be discarded, and others appointed in their room, without any regard to formal resignations of their forfeited power.

It must be ascribed to some supernatural influence on the minds of the main body of the people through this extensive continent, that they have so universally adopted the method of managing the important matters necessary to preserve among them a free government, by corresponding committees and congresses, consisting of the wisest and most disinterested patriots in America, chosen by the unbiased suffrages of the people assembled for that purpose, in their several towns, counties, and provinces.   So general agreement, through so many provinces of so large a country, in one mode of self-preservation, is unexampled in any history; and the effect has exceeded our most sanguine expectations.  Universal tumults, and all the irregularities and violence of mobbish factions, naturally arise when legal authority ceases.  But how little of this has appeared in the midst of the late obstructions of civil government!  Nothing more than what has often happened in Great Britain and Ireland, in the face of the civil powers in all their strength–nothing more than what is frequently seen in the midst of the perfect regulations of the great city of London; and, may I not add, nothing more than has been absolutely necessary to carry into execution the spirited resolutions of a people too sensible to deliver themselves up to oppression and slavery.  The judgment and advice of the continental assembly of delegates have been as readily obeyed as if they were authentic acts of a long-established Parliament.  And in every colony the votes of a congress have had equal effect with the laws of great and general courts.

It is now ten months since Massachusetts has been deprived of the benefit of that government which was so long enjoyed by charter.  They have had no general assembly for matters of legislation and the public revenue.  The courts of justice have been shut up; and almost the whole executive power has ceased to act.   Yet order among the people has been remarkably preserved; few crimes have been committed punishable by the judge; even former contentions between one neighbor and another have ceased; [….]

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A Congress succeeded to the honors of a General Assembly as soon as the latter was crushed by the hand of power.  It gained all the confidence of the people.  Wisdom and prudence secured all that the laws of the former constitution could have given.  And we now observe, with astonishment, an army of many thousands of well-disciplined troops suddenly assembled, and abundantly furnished with all the necessary supplies, in defense of the liberties of America.

But is it proper or safe for the colony to continue much longer in such imperfect order?  Must it not appear rational and necessary, to every man that understands the various movements requisite to good government, that the many parts should be properly settled, and every branch of the legislative and executive authority restored to that order and vigor on which the life and health of the body politic depend?  To the honorable gentlemen, now met in this new congress as the fathers of the people, this weighty matter must be referred.  Who knows but in the midst of all the distresses of the present war to defeat the attempts of arbitrary power, God may in mercy restore to us our judges as at first, and our counselors as at the beginning.

On your wisdom, religion, and public spirit, honored gentlemen, we depend, to determine what may be done as to the important matter of reviving the form of government, and settling all the necessary affairs relating to it in the present critical state of things, that we may again have law and justice, and avoid the danger of anarchy and confusion.  May GOD be with you, and by the influences of His Spirit direct all your counsels and resolutions for the glory of His name, and the safety and happiness of this colony.  We have great reason to acknowledge with thankfulness the evident tokens of the Divine presence with the former congress; that they were led to foresee present exigencies, and make such effectual provision for them.  It is our earnest prayer to the Father of lights, that He would irradiate your minds, make all your way plain, and grant you may be happy instruments of many and great blessings to the people by whom you are constituted, to New England, and all the united colonies.

Let us praise our God for the advantages already given us over the enemies of liberty; particularly, that they have been so dispirited by repeated experience of the efficiency of our arms; and that in the late action at Chelsea, [***] when several hundreds of our soldiery, the greater part open to the fire of so many cannon, swivels, and muskets from a battery advantageously situated, from two armed cutters, and many barges full of marines, and from ships of the line in the harbor, not one man on our side was killed, and but two or three wounded; when, by the best intelligence, a great number were killed and wounded on the other side, and one of their cutters was taken and burned, the other narrowly escaping with great damage.

If God be for us, who can be against us?  The enemy has reproached us for calling on His name, and professing our trust in Him.  They have made a mock of our solemn fasts, and every appearance of serious Christianity in the land.   On this account, by way of contempt, they call us saints; and, that they themselves may keep at the greatest distance from this character, their mouths are full of horrid blasphemies, cursing and bitterness, and vent all the rage of malice, and barbarity.   And may we not be confident that the Most High, who regards these things, will vindicate His own honor, and plead our righteous cause against such enemies to His government, as well as our liberties.  Oh, may our camp be free from every accursed thing!  May our land be purged from all its sins!  May we be truly a holy people, and all our towns, cities of righteousness!  Then the Lord will be our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble; and we shall have no reason to be afraid though thousands of enemies set themselves against us round about, though all nature should be thrown into tumults and convulsions.  He can command the stars in their courses to fight His battles, and all the elements to wage war with His enemies.  He can destroy them with innumerable plagues, or send faintness into their hearts, so that the men of might shall not find their hands.  In a variety of methods He can work salvation for us, as He did for His people in ancient days, and according to the many remarkable deliverances granted in former times to Great Britain and New England, when popish machinations threatened both countries with civil and ecclesiastical tyranny.   [***]

May the Lord hear us in this day of trouble, and the name of the God of Jacob defend us; send us help from His sanctuary; and strengthen us out of Zion.   We will rejoice in His salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners; let us look to Him to fulfill all our petitions.

Don’t Let the Few Determine the Outcome… GET OUT and VOTE!!!

Boston Gazette, April 2, 1781

Extract of a Letter from the Southward.

“As we have a Constitution (Articles of Confederation were adopted March of 1781) which is admired for its genuine Principles, I have been solicitous (def: eager or anxious) to know, whether our Countrymen at large partook of the Spirit of those who formed it. I have conceived strong Hopes, that in organizing their Government and electing Persons to fill the important Places of Trust, no Consideration would avail, to govern their Suffrages in Favour of any Candidate, unless he was possessed of those Qualities which are necessary, to enable him to perform the Duties of the Office to be filled, to the Advantage of the Publick. I have flattered my self, that both the Governors and the Governed would have lain aside the gawdy Trappings of Monarchy, and put on that Simplicity which is the Ornament and Strength of a free Republick. HOW far it has been done, I am not able to judge at this Distance. It is a great Satisfaction to me to be informed, that some of the best Men in the Commonwealth have been elected into the Principal Departments of Government. Men, who will dignify the Character of our Country—who will revive and disseminate those Principles, moral and political, to propagate which, our Ancestors transplanted themselves into this new World—Men who by the Wisdom of their Councils and their exemplary Manners, will establish the public Liberty on the Foundation of a Rock.—These Men will secure to themselves more of the Esteem of their virtuous, and even of their vicious Fellow-Citizens, than they could by a thousand courtly Addresses which are commonly the Breath of Vanity and Adulation.—There is a charm in Virtue to force Esteem.—If Men of a different Character have by any Means been advanced to those hallow’d Seats, who have even sollicited public Employments to give a Scope to Views of Ambition and Avarice, Passions which have in all Ages been the Bane of human Society; or, to gratify the raging Thirst for popular Applause, a Disease with which little minds are usually tormented, it is our Happiness that the Constitution requires annual Elections, and such Mistakes may be corrected at the next.

I was sorry to hear, that the Number of Votes returned, the last Time, did not amount to a Quarter of the Number of qualified Electors in the Commonwealth. The Choice of Legislators, Magistrates and Governors, is surely a Business of the greatest Moment, and claims the Attention of every Citizen. The Framers of our Constitution, while they gave due Attention to Political were not forgetful of Civil Liberty—that personal Freedom and those Rights of Property, which the meanest Citizen is intitled to, and the Security of which is the great End of political Society. It was not indeed their Province to make particular Laws for these Purposes. To do this, and to provide for the equal and impartial Execution of such Laws, agreeable to the Constitution, is the Duty of the Legislature. Hence every Citizen will see, and I hope will be deeply impressed with a Sense of it, how exceedingly important it is to himself, and how intimately the welfare of his Children is connected with it, that those who are to have a Share in making as well as in judging and executing the Laws should be Men of singular Wisdom and Integrity. Such as are conscious that they are deficient in either of these Qualities, should even TREMBLE at being named as Candidates! I hope the great Business of Elections will never be left by the Many, to be done by the Few; for before we are aware of it, that few may become the Engine of Corruption—the Tool of a Junto.—Heaven forbid! that our Countrymen should ever be byass’d in their Choice, by unreasonable Predilections for any man, or that an Attachment to the Constitution, as has been the Case in other Countries, should be lost in Devotion to Persons. The Effect of this would soon be, to change the Love of Liberty into the Spirit of Faction. Let each Citizen remember, at the Moment he is offering his Vote, that he is not making a Present or a Compliment to please an Individual, or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn Trusts in human Society, for which he is accountable to GOD and his Country.

“When the great Body of the People are determined not to be imposed upon by a false Glare of Virtues held before their Eyes, but, making up their own Minds, shall impartially give in their Suffrages, after their best Enquiries into the Characters of Candidates, for those whom they judge to be the fittest Persons, there will be no Danger that the generous Enthusiasm of Freedom, so characteristic of the People of Massachusetts, will ever sink into the Violence and Rage of Party, which has often proved fatal to free Republicks.”

[a draft is in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library. Endorsed by Adams: “The foregoing was sent to Mr Edes by the Post March 13, 1781.”]

Anti-Federalis Paper: Brutus VI

I appreciated Mr. Yates of New York addressing the potential dangers of the unamended constitution as submitted to the States for ratification.  Being a strong proponent of Liberty since my Masters Thesis in 1742 I too have many issues regarding this consolidation of government.  Hear the arguments of Mr. Yates relating to taxation, growth of government, lack of definition of the “general welfare” and virtually establishing a future despotic plan for posterity, IF moral and virtuous people are not holding the seats that would be the national government.  The fallen nature of man with this constitution as submitted by the 1787 convention, leaves open the opportunities for a future tyranny over the people.

I bolded and underlined that which I found very thought provoking and which could come to fruition for future generations.

S. Adams

Brutus  VI

 

 27 December 1787   

It is an important question, whether the general government of the United States should be so framed, as to absorb and swallow up the state governments? or whether, on the contrary, the former ought not to be confined to certain defined national objects, while the latter should retain all the powers which concern the internal police of the states?

I have, in my former papers, offered a variety of arguments to prove, that a simple free government could not be exercised over this whole continent, and that therefore we must either give up our liberties and submit to an arbitrary one, or frame a constitution on the plan of confederation.  Further reasons might be urged to prove this point — but it seems unnecessary, because the principal advocates of the new constitution admit of the position.  The question therefore between us, this being admitted, is, whether or not this system is so formed as either directly to annihilate the state governments, or that in its operation it will certainly effect it.  If this is answered in the affirmative, then the system ought not to be adopted, without such amendments as will avoid this consequence.  If on the contrary it can be shewn, that the state governments are secured in their rights to manage the internal police of the respective states, we must confine ourselves in our enquiries to the organization of the government and the guards and provisions it contains to prevent a misuse or abuse of power.  To determine this question, it is requisite, that we fully investigate the nature, and the extent of the powers intended to be granted by this constitution to the rulers.

In my last number I called your attention to this subject, and proved, as I think, uncontrovertibly, that the powers given the legislature under the 8th section of the 1st article, had no other limitation than the discretion of the Congress.  It was shewn, that even if the most favorable construction was given to this paragraph, that the advocates for the new constitution could wish, it will convey a power to lay and collect taxes, imposts, duties, and excises, according to the discretion of the legislature, and to make all laws which they shall judge proper and necessary to carry this power into execution. This I shewed would totally destroy all the power of the state governments.  To confirm this, it is worth while to trace the operation of the government in some particular instances.

The general government is to be vested with authority to levy and collect taxes, duties, and excises; the separate states have also power to impose taxes, duties, and excises, except that they cannot lay duties on exports and imports without the consent of Congress.  Here then the two governments have concurrent jurisdiction; both may lay impositions of this kind.  But then the general government have supperadded to this power, authority to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying the foregoing power into execution.   Suppose then that both governments should lay taxes, duties, and excises, and it should fall so heavy on the people that they would be unable, or be so burdensome that they would refuse to pay them both — would it not be necessary that the general legislature should suspend the collection of the state tax?  It certainly would.  For, if the people could not, or would not pay both, they must be discharged from the tax to the state, or the tax to the general government could not be collected. — The conclusion therefore is inevitable, that the respective state governments will not have the power to raise one shilling in any way, but by the permission of the Congress.  I presume no one will pretend, that the states can exercise legislative authority, or administer justice among their citizens for any length of time, without being able to raise a sufficiency to pay those who administer their governments.

 If this be true, and if the states can raise money only by permission of the general government, it follows that the state governments will be dependent on the will of the general government for their existence.

What will render this power in Congress effectual and sure in its operation is, that the government will have complete judicial and executive authority to carry all their laws into effect, which will be paramount to the judicial and executive authority of the individual states: in vain therefore will be all interference of the legislatures, courts, or magistrates of any of the   states on the subject; for they will be subordinate to the general government, and engaged by oath to support it, and will be constitutionally bound to submit to their decisions.

The general legislature will be empowered to lay any tax they chuse, to annex any penalties they please to the breach of their revenue laws; and to appoint as many officers as they may think proper to collect the taxes.  They will have authority to farm the revenues and to vest the farmer general, with his subalterns (an officer in the army below the rank of captain, esp. a second lieutenant.), with plenary (absolute) powers to collect them, in any way which to them may appear eligible.  And the courts of law, which they will be authorized to institute, will have cognizance of every case arising under the revenue laws, the conduct of all the officers employed in collecting them; and the officers of these courts will execute their judgments.  There is no way, therefore, of avoiding the destruction of the state governments, whenever the Congress please to do it, unless the people rise up, and, with a strong hand, resist and prevent the execution of constitutional laws.  The fear of this, will, it is presumed, restrain the general government, for some time, within proper bounds; but it will not be many years before they will have a revenue, and force, at their command, which will place them   above any apprehensions on that score.

How far the power to lay and collect duties and excises, may operate to dissolve the state governments, and oppress the people, it is impossible to say.  It would assist us much in forming a just opinion on this head, to consider the various objects to which this kind of taxes extend, in European nations, and the infinity of laws they have passed respecting them.  Perhaps, if leisure will permit, this may be essayed in some future paper.

 It was observed in my last number, that the power to lay and collect duties and excises, would invest the Congress with authority to impose a duty and excise on every necessary and convenience of life.  As the principal object of the government, in laying a duty or excise, will be, to raise money, it is obvious, that they will fix on such articles as are of the most general use and consumption; because, unless great quantities of the article, on which the duty is laid, is used, the revenue cannot be considerable.  We may therefore presume, that the articles which will be the object of this species of taxes will be either the real necessaries of life; or if not these, such as from custom and habit are esteemed so.  I will single out a few of the productions of our own country, which may, and probably will, be of the number.  

Cider (distilled alcohols and wines) is an article that most probably will be one of those on which an excise will be laid, because it is one, which this country produces in great abundance, which is in very general use, is consumed in great quantities, and which may be said too not to be a real necessary of life.  An excise on this would raise a large sum of money in the United States.  How would the power, to lay and collect an excise on cider, and to pass all laws proper and necessary to carry it into execution, operate in its exercise?  It might be necessary, in order to collect the excise on cider, to grant to one man, in each county, an exclusive right of building and keeping cider-mills, and oblige him to give bonds and security for payment of the excise; or, if this was not done, it might be necessary to license the mills, which are to make this liquor, and to take from them security, to account for the excise; or, if otherwise, a great number of officers must be employed, to take account of the cider made, and to collect the duties on it.   

Porter, ale, and all kinds of malt-liquors, are articles that would probably be subject also to an excise.  It would be necessary, in order to collect such an excise, to regulate the manufactory of these, that the quantity made might be ascertained or otherwise security could not be had for the payment of the excise.  Every brewery must then be licensed, and officers appointed, to take account of its product, and to secure the payment of the duty, or excise, before it is sold.  Many other articles might be named, which would be objects of this species of taxation, but I refrain from enumerating them.  It will probably be said, by those who advocate this system, that the observations already made on this head, are calculated only to inflame the minds of the people, with the apprehension of dangers merely imaginary.  That there is not the least reason to apprehend, the general legislature will exercise their power in this manner.  To this I would only say, that these kinds of taxes exist in Great Britain, and are severely felt.  The excise on cider and perry (an alcoholic drink made from the fermented juice of pears.), was imposed in that nation a few years ago, and it is in the memory of every one, who read the history of the transaction, what great tumults it occasioned.

This power, exercised without limitation, will introduce itself into every comer of the city, and country — It will wait upon the ladies at their toilett, and will not leave them in any of their domestic concerns; it will accompany them to the ball, the play, and the assembly; it will go with them when they visit, and will, on all occasions, sit beside them in their carriages, nor will it desert them even at church; it will enter the house of every gentleman, watch over his cellar, wait upon his cook in the kitchen, follow the servants into the parlour, preside over the table, and note down all he eats or drinks; it will attend him to his bed-chamber, and watch him while he sleeps; it will take cognizance of the professional man in his office, or his study; it will watch the merchant in the counting-house, or in his store; it will follow the mechanic to his shop, and in his work, and will haunt him in his family, and in his bed; it will be a constant companion of the industrious farmer in all his labour, it will be with him in the house, and in the field, observe the toil of his hands, and the sweat of his brow; it will penetrate into the most obscure cottage; and finally, it will light upon the head of every person in the United States.  To all these different classes of people, and in all these circumstances, in which it will attend them, the language in which it will address them, will be   GIVE! GIVE!

A power that has such latitude, which reaches every person in the community in every conceivable circumstance, and lays hold of every species of property they possess, and which has no bounds set to it, but the discretion of those who exercise it[,] I say, such a power must necessarily, from its very nature, swallow up all the power of the state governments.

I shall add but one other observation on this head, which is this — It appears to me a solecism (a breach of good manners; a piece of incorrect behavior.), for two men, or bodies of men, to have unlimited power respecting the same object.  It contradicts the scripture maxim, which saith, “no man can serve two masters,” the one power or the other must prevail, or else they will destroy each other, and neither of them effect their purpose.  It may be compared to two mechanic powers, acting upon the same body in opposite directions, the consequence would be, if the powers were equal, the body would remain in a state of rest, or if the force of the one was superior to that of the other, the stronger would prevail, and overcome the resistance of the weaker.

But it is said, by some of the advocates of this system, “That the idea that Congress can levy taxes at pleasure, is false, and the suggestion wholly unsupported: that the preamble to the constitution is declaratory of the   purposes of the union, and the assumption of any power not necessary to establish justice, &c. to provide for the common defence, &c. will be   unconstitutional.  Besides, in the very clause which gives the power of levying duties and taxes, the purposes to which the money shall be appropriated, are specified, viz. to pay the debts, and provide for the common defence and general welfare.”[1] I would ask those, who reason thus, to define what ideas are included under the terms, to provide for the common defence and general welfare?  Are these terms definite, and will they be understood in the same manner, and to apply to the same cases by every one?  No one will pretend they will.  It will then be matter of opinion, what tends to the general welfare; and the Congress will be the only judges in the matter.  To provide for the general welfare, is an abstract proposition, which mankind differ in the explanation of, as much as they do on any political or moral proposition that can be proposed; the most opposite measures may be pursued by different parties, and both may profess, that   they have in view the general welfare; and both sides may be honest in their professions, or both may have sinister views.  Those who advocate this new constitution declare, they are influenced by a regard to the general welfare; those who oppose it, declare they are moved by the same principle; and I have no doubt but a number on both sides are honest in their professions; and yet nothing is more certain than this, that to adopt this constitution, and not to adopt it, cannot both of them be promotive of the general welfare.

It is as absurd to say, that the power of Congress is limited by these general expressions, “to provide for the common safety, and general welfare,” as it would be to say, that it would be limited, had the constitution said they should have power to lay taxes, &c. at will and pleasure.  Were this authority given, it might be said, that under it the legislature could not do injustice, or pursue any measures, but such as were calculated to promote the public good, and happiness.  For every man, rulers as well as others, are bound by the immutable laws of God and reason, always to will what is right.  It is certainly right and fit, that the governors of every people should provide for the common defence and general welfare; every government, therefore, in the world, even the greatest despot, is limited in the exercise of his power.  But however just this reasoning may be, it would be found, in practice, a most pitiful restriction.  The government would always say, their measures were designed and calculated to promote the public good; and there being no judge between them and the people, the rulers themselves must, and would always, judge for themselves.

There are others of the favourers of this system, who admit, that the power of the Congress under it, with respect to revenue, will exist without limitation, and contend, that so it ought to be.

It is said, “The power to raise armies, to build and equip fleets, and to provide for their support, ought to exist without limitation, because it is impossible to foresee, or to define, the extent and variety of national exigencies (the exigencies of the war: need, demand, requirement, necessity.), or the correspondent extent and variety of the means which may be necessary to satisfy them.[“]

This, it is said, “is one of those truths which, to correct and unprejudiced minds, carries its own evidence along with it.  It rests upon axioms as simple as they are universal: the means ought to be proportioned to the end; the person, from whose agency the attainment of any end is expected, ought to possess the means by which it is to be attained.”[2]

This same writer insinuates, that the opponents to the plan promulgated by the convention (the constitution), manifests a want of candor, in objecting to the extent of the powers proposed to be vested in this government; because he asserts, with an air of confidence, that the powers ought to be unlimited as to the object to which they extend; and that this position, if not self-evident, is at least clearly demonstrated by the foregoing mode of reasoning.  But with submission to this author’s better judgment, I humbly conceive his reasoning will appear, upon examination, more specious (superficially plausible, but actually wrong) than solid.  The means, says the gentleman, ought to be proportioned to the end: admit the proposition to be true it is then necessary to enquire, what is the end of the government of the United States, in order to draw any just conclusions from it.  Is this end simply to preserve the general government, and to provide for the common defence and general welfare of the union only? certainly not: for beside this, the state governments are to be supported, and provision made for the managing such of their internal concerns as are allotted to them. It is admitted, “that the circumstances of our country are such, as to demand a compound, instead of a simple, a confederate, instead of a sole government,” that the objects of each ought to be pointed out, and that each ought to possess ample authority to execute the powers committed to them. The government then, being complex in its nature, the end it has in view is so also; and it is as necessary, that the state governments should possess the means to attain the ends expected from them, as for the general government.  Neither the general government, nor the state governments, ought to be vested with all the powers proper to be exercised for promoting the ends of government.  The powers are divided between them — certain ends are to be attained by the one, and other certain ends by the other; and these, taken together, include all the ends of good government.  This being the case, the conclusion follows, that each should be furnished with the means, to attain the ends, to which they are designed.

To apply this reasoning to the case of revenue; the general government is charged with the care of providing for the payment of the debts of the United States; supporting the general government, and providing for the defence of the union.  To obtain these ends, they should be furnished with means.  But does it thence follow, that they should command all the revenues   of the United States!  Most certainly it does not.  For if so, it will follow, that no means will be left to attain other ends, as necessary to the happiness of the country, as those committed to their care.  The individual states have debts to discharge; their legislatures and executives are to be supported, and provision is to be made for the administration of justice in the respective states.  For these objects the general government has no authority to provide; nor is it proper it should. It is clear then.  That the states should have the command of such revenues, as to answer the ends they have to obtain.  To say, “that the circumstances that endanger the safety of nations are infinite,” and from hence to infer, that all the sources of revenue in the states should be yielded to the general government, is not conclusive reasoning: for the Congress are authorized only to controul in general concerns, and not regulate local and internal ones; and these are as essentially requisite to be provided for as those.  The peace and happiness of a community is as intimately connected with the prudent direction of their domestic affairs, and the due administration of justice among themselves, as with a competent provision for their defence against foreign invaders, and indeed more so.

Upon the whole, I conceive, that there cannot be a clearer position than this, that the state governments ought to have an uncontroulable power to raise a revenue, adequate to the exigencies of their governments; and, I presume, no such power is left them by this constitution.                                                   

 Brutus.   

 

1. Vide an examination into the leading principles of the federal constitution, printed in Philadelphia, Page 34.

 2. Vide the Federalist, No. 23. 

Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Twinsburg, Ohio – 2013

Local, State and National Representatives from Twinsburg, Summit County and the 14th Ohio Congressional District took part in Reading the Declaration of Independence.  I was visiting this once frontier land and was asked to comment on the Declaration and the idea of Liberty.

Please view the video and then see my unabridged written comments from Loyalty and Sedition:

From Loyalty and Sedition written 1748

Edited for the Reading of the Declaration in Twinsburg Ohio July 4, 2013

About Liberty:

” There is no one thing which mankind are more passionately fond of, which they fight with more zeal for, which they possess with more anxious jealousy and fear of losing, than liberty.  But it has fared with this, as with many other things, that the true notion and just definition of it has been but little understood, at the same time that zeal for it and disputes about it have produced endless altercations.  There is, there certainly is such a thing as liberty, which distinguishes man from the beasts.  And though the notions of men were ten times more confused and unsettled, and their opinions more various about this matter than they are, there yet remains an internal and essential distinction between this same liberty and slavery.

“In the state of nature, every man has a right to think and act according to the dictates of his own mind, which, in that state, are subject to no other control and can be commanded by no other power than the laws and ordinances of God, the great Creator of all things.

“This is liberty in a state of nature, which, as no man ought to be abridged of, so no man has a right to give up, or even part with any portion of it, but in order to secure the rest and place it upon a more solid foundation; it being equally with our lives the gift of the same bounteous Author of all things.[1]  As, therefore, no man’s life is his own in such a sense as that he may wantonly destroy it at his own pleasure, or submit it to the wanton pleasure of another, so neither is his liberty. And had mankind continued in that innocent and happy state in which the sacred writings represent them as first created, it is possible that this liberty would have been enjoyed in such perfection as to have rendered the embodying into civil society and the security of human laws altogether needless.

“But though in the present corrupt and degenerate times no such state of nature can with any regularity exist, it will not, however, be difficult from the description we have given of liberty in that state to form the true notion and settle the just bounds of it in a state of society and civic government.  But here, too, we must distinguish and consider liberty as it respects the whole body and as it respects each individual.  As it respects the whole body, it is then enjoyed when neither legislative nor executive powers (by which I mean those men with whom are intrusted the power of making laws and of executing them) are disturbed by any internal passion or hindered by any external force from making the wisest laws and executing them in the best manner; when the safety, the security, and the happiness of all is the real care and steady pursuit of those whose business it is to care for and pursue it;

” As it respects individuals, a man is then free when he freely enjoys the security of the laws and the rights to which he is born; when he is hindered by no violence from claiming those rights and enjoying that security, but may at any time demand the protection of the laws under which he lives, and be sure when demanded to enjoy it.  This is what I take to be liberty; and considered in this light, all the fine things said of it by ancient and modern do justly belong to it.—it is the choicest gift that Heaven has “lent to man ; an emanation from the Father of Lights; an image and representation of the government of the Supreme Director of all things, which, though it can never be controlled by any superior force, is yet ever guided by the laws of infinite wisdom.

” But alas! in this exalted sense, liberty is rather admired in the world than truly enjoyed. What multitudes of persons are there who have not so much as the shadow of it!

” It has been a question much controverted in the world what form of government is best, and in what system this liberty is best consulted and preserved.  I cannot say that I am wholly free from that prejudice which generally possesses men in favor of their own country, and the manners they have been used to from their infancy.  But I must declare, for my own part, that there is no form of civil government, which I have ever heard of, appears to me so well calculated to preserve this blessing, or to secure to its subjects all the most valuable advantages of civil society, as ours.  For in none that I have ever met with is the power of the governors and the rights of the governed more nicely adjusted, or the power which is necessary in the very nature of government to be intrusted in the hands of some, by wiser checks prevented from growing exorbitant.  This Constitution has indeed passed through various amendations, but the principal parts of it are of very ancient standing, and have continued through the several successions of kings to this day; having never been in any great degree attacked by any, but they have lost their lives or their crowns in the attempt.

” The two main provisions by which a certain share in the government is secured to the people are their Legislatures and their juries.  By this means the Citizen can never be oppressed by bad laws, nor lose the security of good ones, but by his own fault; and though I am not such an extravagant admirer of my own country as to suppose that the Legislature never made unwise laws, or that jurors never put false constructions on wise ones, yet I will venture to assert that every man’s security and happiness is much safer in such hands than under an arbitrary or aristocratical form of government.  Especially since, by the wise provisions of our ancestors, both these powers are of short continuance; for power intrusted for a short time is not so likely to be perverted as that which is perpetual.

” From this happy Constitution of our mother country, ours in this is copied, or rather improved upon.  Our invaluable charter secures to us all the English liberties, besides which we have some additional privileges which the common people there have not.  Our fathers had so severely felt the effects of tyranny, that they underwent the greatest difficulties and toils to secure to themselves and transmit to their posterity those invaluable blessings; and we, their posterity, are this day reaping the fruits of their toils. Happy beyond expression! —in the form of our government, in the liberty we enjoy,—if we know our own happiness and how to improve it.  But neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man.  We must not conclude merely upon a man’s speaking upon liberty, and using the charming sound, that he is fit to be trusted with the liberties of his country.  It is not unfrequent to hear men declaim loudly upon liberty, who, if we may judge by the whole tenor of their actions, mean nothing else by it but their own liberty— to oppress without control or the restraint of laws all who are poorer or weaker than themselves.  It is not, I say, unfrequent to see such instances, though at the same time I esteem it a justice due to my country to say that it is not without shining examples of the contrary kind;— examples of men of a distinguished attachment to this same Liberty I have been describing; whom no hopes could draw, no terrors could drive, from steadily pursuing, in their sphere, the true interests of their country; whose fidelity has been tried in the nicest and tenderest manner, and has been ever firm and unshaken.

** The sum of all is, if we would most truly enjoy this gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people: then shall we both deserve and enjoy it.  While, on the other hand, if we are universally vicious and debauched in our manners, though the form of our Constitution carries the face of the most exalted freedom, we shall in reality be the most abject slaves.”

 

 


[1] Compare the Rights of the Colonists, November, 1772 ; and the Declaration of Rights in the Congress of 1774.

On the Right to Rebel Against Governors, 1776, by Rev. Samuel West

I think about the great ministers and preacher that spoke in our Churches.  Most not afraid of what the government might do to them.  They stood on Truth and Principles!  The understood what Liberty is based on the essence of God given Rights, Law and Principles for Life.

What is shocking to me is that the majority of you moderns are willing to sit for several hours to watch your electronic entertainment or what you call sporting events.  Your children must have information cut to five-minute explosions of what they think is information.  There are complaints that government does little for you and your youth believe that the source of their Rights is from government.  The primary purpose of Rev. West message to the legislature is: “a discourse upon the nature and design of government, and the rights and duties both of governors and governed, that so, justly understanding our rights and privileges, we may stand firm in our opposition to ministerial tyranny, while at the same time we pay all proper obedience and submission to our lawful magistrates; and that, while we are contending for liberty, we may avoid running into licentiousness; and that we may preserve the due medium between submitting to tyranny and running into anarchy. I acknowledge that I have undertaken a difficult task; but, as it appeared to me, the present state of affairs loudly called for such a discourse; and, therefore, I hope the wise, the generous, and the good, will candidly receive my good intentions to serve the public.

Those who believe in your modern liberation theology must read this sermon because you have to have your sense of Liberty corrected according to what we founders understood as truth.  Although, even during my time there were those who would rather blindly submit to the ruling government than standup for Liberty or who had a wrong sense of Liberty because they sought the wisdom of men instead of God.

I will plead with you to read and learn from this sermon, which was delivered to us who were in attendance in the Massachusetts Legislature in 1776.  Oh…. Just a moment as I consider that you have dissolved your modern elected of moral guidance by God and prefer the mores of men who create unto themselves what they consider right and wrong.  I know there will be ideas, comments and perspectives that you moderns do not understand because your history has not been properly taught in your places of education nor in your churches.

You will note that Rev. West identifies that the people were not lawless when the King of Britain and Parliament remove self-governance from the Colonies.  He articulates that the Citizens acted correctly because they had the rule of God in their hearts.  I don’t think that is universally true in these present United States.

I will tell you plainly, that humanist, socialist and any who promote earthly utopian ideas have deceived you.  I will verify that we studied Biblical principles – The morals and virtues for good governance as written about by leaders of the Reformation, especially the Scottish Reformation.  For me, it was critical to read and understand the writings of Bradford, the works of John Knox and Rutherford’s Lex, Rex .  We required that God would be brought into the halls of the Legislature so that men would understand that they are not supreme and all must individually submit to the King of all creation and the universe.  I spoke of this often in my speeches and especially after signing the Declaration of Independence in the August 1st, 1776 speech!

I implore you to understand that if the elected or bureaucrats are not moral and virtuous, following close their individual responsibilities to God first, then they will be treacherous tyrants seeking to enslave the people and seeking their own agenda for their own well being.  As Rev. West notes, “No man, therefore, can be a good member of the community that is not as zealous to oppose tyranny as he is ready to obey magistracy. A slavish submission to tyranny is a proof of a very sordid and base mind. Such a person cannot be under the influence of any generous human sentiments, nor have a tender regard for mankind.”

I gave a speech on August 1, 1776 where I noted many of the principles that you will hear from Rev. West.  Remember what I spoke regarding the Declaration of Independence:

  • We have this day restored the Sovereign, to whom alone men ought to be obedient.  He reigns in Heaven, and with a propitious eye beholds his subjects assuming that freedom of thought, and dignity of self-direction which He bestowed on them.  From the rising to the setting sun, may His kingdom come.
  • Were the talents and virtues, which Heaven has bestowed on men, given merely to make then more obedient drudges, to be sacrificed to the follies and ambition of a few?  Or, were not the noble gifts so equally dispensed with a divine purpose and law, that they should as nearly as possible be equally exerted, and the blessings of Providence be equally enjoyed by all?
  • My warning in the August speech: In a state of tranquility, wealth and luxury, our descendants would forget the arts of war, and the noble activity and zeal which made their ancestors invincible.  Every art of corruption would be employed to loosen the bond of union which renders our assistance formidable.  When the spirit of liberty which now animates our hearts and gives success to our arms is extinct, our numbers will accelerate our ruin, and render us easier victims to tyranny.  Ye abandoned minions of an infatuated ministry, if peradventure (uncertainty or doubt) any should yet remain among us! – remember that a Warren and Montgomery are numbered among the dead.  Contemplate the mangled bodies of our countrymen, and then say, What should be the reward of such sacrifices?  Bid us and our posterity bow the knee, supplicate the friendship, and plough, and sow, and reap, to glut the avarice (extreme greed for wealth) of the men who have let loose on us the dogs of war to riot in our blood, and hunt us from the face of the earth?  If we 1ove wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude, than the animating contest of freedom – go from us in peace.  We ask not your counsels or arms.  Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you.  May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.

Please, take the time – more so – make the time, you would otherwise spend bowing before your favorite indulgence or entertainment, to read this clear descriptor of self-governance and your Right to take a stand against tyranny.

(All emphasis are added by the modern blog writer.)

Now:  the sermon – ‘On the Right to Rebel Against Governors’, 1776, by Rev. Samuel West

One of the most influential citizens in Massachusetts during the founding era, Congregationalist minister Samuel West delivered this sermon before the Massachusetts Council and House of Representatives in Boston, 1776.

‘Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work.’ – Titus iii. 1.

The great Creator, having designed the human race for society, has made us dependent on one another for happiness. He has so constituted us that it becomes both our duty and interest to seek the public good; and that we may be the more firmly engaged to promote each other’s welfare, the Deity has endowed us with tender and social affections, with generous and benevolent principles: hence the pain that we feel in seeing an object of distress; hence the satisfaction that arises in relieving the afflictions, and the superior pleasure which we experience in communicating happiness to the miserable. The Deity has also invested us with moral powers and faculties, by which we are enabled to discern the difference between right and wrong, truth and falsehood, good and evil; hence the approbation of mind that arises upon doing a good action, and the remorse of conscience which we experience when we counteract the moral sense and do that which is evil. This proves that, in what is commonly called a state of nature, we are the subjects of the divine law and government; that the Deity is our supreme magistrate, who has written his law in our hearts, and will reward or punish us according as we obey or disobey his commands. Had the human race uniformly persevered in a state of moral rectitude, there would have been little or no need of any other law besides that which is written in the heart, — for every one in such a state would be a law unto himself. There could be no occasion for enacting or enforcing of penal laws; for such are “not made for the righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly, and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for men-stealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to” moral rectitude and the happiness of mankind. The necessity of forming ourselves into politic bodies, and granting to our rulers a power to enact laws for the public safety, and to enforce them by proper penalties, arises from our being in a fallen and degenerate state. The slightest view of the present state and condition of the human race is abundantly sufficient to convince any person of common sense and common honesty that civil government is absolutely necessary for the peace and safety of mankind; and, consequently, that all good magistrates, while they faithfully discharge the trust reposed in them, ought to be religiously and conscientiously obeyed. An enemy to good government is an enemy not only to his country, but to all mankind; for he plainly shows himself to be divested of those tender and social sentiments which are characteristic of a human temper, even of that generous and benevolent disposition which is the peculiar glory of a rational creature. An enemy to good government has degraded himself below the rank and dignity of a man, and deserves to be classed with the lower creation. Hence we find that wise and good men, of all nations and religions, have ever inculcated subjection to good government, and have borne their testimony against the licentious disturbers of the public peace.

Nor has Christianity been deficient in this capital point. We find our blessed Saviour directing the Jews to render to Caesar the things that were Caesar’s; and the apostles and first preachers of the gospel not only exhibited a good example of subjection to the magistrate, in all things that were just and lawful, but they have also, in several places in the New Testament, strongly enjoined upon Christians the duty of submission to that government under which Providence had placed them. Hence we find that those who despise government, and are not afraid to speak evil of dignities, are, by the apostles Peter and Jude, classed among those presumptuous, self-willed sinners that are reserved to the judgment of the great day. And the apostle Paul judged submission to civil government to be a matter of such great importance, that he thought it worth his while to charge Titus to put his hearers in mind to be submissive to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work; as much as to say, none can be ready to every good work, or be properly disposed to perform those actions that tend to promote the public good, who do not obey magistrates, and who do not become good subjects of civil government. If, then, obedience to the civil magistrates is so essential to the character of a Christian, that without it he cannot be disposed to perform those good works that are necessary for the welfare of mankind, –if the despisers of governments are those presumptuous, self-willed sinners who are reserved to the judgment of the great day, –it is certainly a matter of the utmost importance to us all to be thoroughly acquainted with the nature and extent of our duty, that we may yield the obedience required; for it is impossible that we should properly discharge a duty when we are strangers to the nature and extent of it.

In order, therefore, that we may form a right judgment of the duty enjoined in our text, I shall consider the nature and design of civil government, and shall show that the same principles which oblige us to submit to government do equally oblige us to resist tyranny; or that tyranny and magistracy are so opposed to each other that where the one begins the other ends. I shall then apply the present discourse to the grand controversy that at this day subsists between Great Britain and the American colonies.

That we may understand the nature and design of civil government, and discover the foundation of the magistrate’s authority to command, and the duty of subjects to obey, it is necessary to derive civil government from its original, in order to which we must consider what “state all men are naturally in, and that is (as Mr. Locke observes) a state of perfect freedom to order all their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave or depending upon the will of any man.” It is a state wherein all are equal, –no one having a right to control another, or oppose him in what he does, unless it be in his own defence, or in the defence of those that, being injured, stand in need of his assistance.

Had men persevered in a state of moral rectitude, every one would have been disposed to follow the law of nature, and pursue the general good. In such a state, the wisest and most experienced would undoubtedly be chosen to guide and direct those of less wisdom and experience than themselves,–there being nothing else that could afford the least show or appearance of any one’s having the superiority or precedency over another; for the dictates of conscience and the precepts of natural law being uniformly and regularly obeyed, men would only need to be informed what things were most fit and prudent to be done in those cases where their inexperience or want of acquaintance left their minds in doubt what was the wisest and most regular method for them to pursue. In such cases it would be necessary for them to advise with those who were wiser and more experienced than themselves. But these advisers could claim no authority to compel or to use any forcible measures to oblige any one to comply with their direction or advice. There could be no occasion for the exertion of such a power; for every man, being under the government of right reason, would immediately feel himself constrained to comply with everything that appeared reasonable or fit to be done, or that would any way tend to promote the general good. This would have been the happy state of mankind had they closely adhered to the law of nature, and persevered in their primitive state.

Thus we see that a state of nature, though it be a state of perfect freedom, yet is very far from a state of licentiousness. The law of nature gives men no right to do anything that is immoral, or contrary to the will of God, and injurious to their fellow-creatures; for a state of nature is properly a state of law and government, even a government founded upon the unchangeable nature of the Deity, and a law resulting from the eternal fitness of things. Sooner shall heaven and earth pass away, and the whole frame of nature be dissolved, than any part even the smallest iota, of this law shall ever be abrogated; it is unchangeable as the Deity himself, being a transcript of his moral perfections. A revelation, pretending to be from God, that contradicts any part of natural law, ought immediately to be rejected as an imposture; for the Deity cannot make a law contrary to the law of nature without acting contrary to himself, – a thing in the strictest sense impossible, for that which implies contradiction is not an object of the divine power. Had this subject been properly attended to and understood, the world had remained free from a multitude of absurd and pernicious principles, which have been industriously propagated by artful and designing men, both in politics and divinity. The doctrine of nonresistance and unlimited passive obedience to the worst of tyrants could never have found credit among mankind had the voice of reason been hearkened to for a guide, because such a doctrine would immediately have been discerned to be contrary to natural law.

In a state of nature we have a right to make the persons that have injured us repair the damages that they have done us; and it is just in us to inflict such punishment upon them as is necessary to restrain them from doing the like for the future, – the whole end and design of punishing being either to reclaim the individual punished, or to deter others from being guilty of similar crimes. Whenever punishment exceeds these bounds it becomes cruelty and revenge, and directly contrary to the law of nature. Our wants and necessities being such as to render it impossible in most cases to enjoy life in any tolerable degree without entering into society, and there being innumerable cases wherein we need the assistance of others, which if not afforded we should very soon perish; hence the law of nature requires that we should endeavor to help one another to the utmost of our power in all cases where our assistance is necessary. It is our duty to endeavor always to promote the general good; to do to all as we would be willing to be done by were we in their circumstances; to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before God. These are some of the laws of nature which every man in the world is bound to observe, and which whoever violates exposes himself to the resentment of mankind, the lashes of his own conscience, and the judgment of Heaven. This plainly shows that the highest state of liberty subjects us to the law of nature and the government of God. The most perfect freedom consists in obeying the dictates of right reason, and submitting to natural law. When a man goes beyond or contrary to the law of nature and reason, he becomes the slave of base passions and vile lusts; he introduces confusion and disorder into society, and brings misery and destruction upon himself. This, therefore, cannot be called a state of freedom, but a state of the vilest slavery and the most dreadful bondage. The servants of sin and corruption are subjected to the worst kind of tyranny in the universe. Hence we conclude that where licentiousness begins, liberty ends.

The law of nature is a perfect standard and measure of action for beings that persevere in a state of moral rectitude; but the case is far different with us, who are in a fallen and degenerate estate. We have a law in our members which is continually warring against the law of the mind, by which we often become enslaved to the basest lusts, and are brought into bondage to the vilest passions. The strong propensities of our animal nature often overcome the sober dictates of reason and conscience, and betray us into actions injurious to the public and destructive of the safety and happiness of society. Men of unbridled lusts, were they not restrained by the power of the civil magistrate, would spread horror and desolation all around them. This makes it absolutely necessary that societies should form themselves into politic bodies, that they may enact laws for the public safety, and appoint particular penalties for the violation of their laws, and invest a suitable number of persons with authority to put in execution and enforce the laws of the state, in order that wicked men may be restrained from doing mischief to their fellow-creatures, that the injured may have their rights restored to them, that the virtuous may be encouraged in doing good, and that every member of society may be protected and secured in the peaceable, quiet possession and enjoyment of all those liberties and privileges which the Deity has bestowed upon him; i.e., that he may safely enjoy and pursue whatever he chooses, that is consistent with the public good. This shows that the end and design of civil government cannot be to deprive men of their liberty or take away their freedom; but, on the contrary, the true design of civil government is to protect men in the enjoyment of liberty.

From hence it follows that tyranny and arbitrary power are utterly inconsistent with and subversive of the very end and design of civil government, and directly contrary to natural law, which is the true foundation of civil government and all politic law. Consequently, the authority of a tyrant is of itself null and void; for as no man can have a right to act contrary to the law of nature, it is impossible that any individual, or even the greatest number of men, can confer a right upon another of which they themselves are not possessed; i.e., no body of men can justly and lawfully authorize any person to tyrannize over and enslave his fellow-creatures, or do anything contrary to equity and goodness. As magistrates have no authority but what they derive from the people, whenever they act contrary to the public good, and pursue measures destructive of the peace and safety of the community, they forfeit their right to govern the people. Civil rulers and magistrates are properly of human creation; they are set up by the people to be the guardians of their rights, and to secure their persons from being injured or oppressed, –the safety of the public being the supreme law of the state, by which the magistrates are to be governed, and which they are to consult upon all occasions. The modes of administration may be very different, and the forms of government may vary from each other in different ages and nations; but, under every form, the end of civil government is the same, and cannot vary: It is like the laws of the Medes and Persians — it altereth not.

Though magistrates are to consider themselves as the servants of the people, seeing from them it is that they derive their power and authority, yet they may also be considered as the ministers of God ordained by him for the good of mankind; for, under him, as the Supreme Magistrate of the universe, they are to act: and it is God who has not only declared in his word what are the necessary qualifications of a ruler, but who also raises up and qualifies men for such an important station. The magistrate may also, in a more strict and proper sense, be said to be ordained of God, because reason, which is the voice of God, plainly requires such an order of men to be appointed for the public good. Now, whatever right reason requires as necessary to be done is as much the will and law of God as though it were enjoined us by an immediate revelation from heaven, or commanded in the sacred Scriptures.

From this account of the origin, nature, and design of civil government, we may be very easily led into a thorough knowledge of our duty; we may see the reason why we are bound to obey magistrates, viz., because they are the ministers of God for good unto the people. While, therefore, they rule in the fear of God, and while they promote the welfare of the state, – i.e., while they act in the character of magistrates, – it is the indispensable duty of all to submit to them, and to oppose a turbulent, factious, and libertine spirit, whenever and wherever it discovers itself. When a people have by their free consent conferred upon a number of men a power to rule and govern them, they are bound to obey them. Hence disobedience becomes a breach of faith; it is violating a constitution of their own appointing, and breaking a compact for which they ought to have the most sacred regard. Such a conduct discovers so base and disingenuous a temper of mind, that it must expose them to contempt in the judgment of all the sober, thinking part of mankind. Subjects are bound to obey lawful magistrates by every tender tie of human nature, which disposes us to consult the public good, and to seek the good of our brethren, our wives, our children, our friends and acquaintance; for he that opposes lawful authority does really oppose the safety and happiness of his fellow-creatures. A factious, seditious person, that opposes good government, is a monster in nature; for he is an enemy to his own species, and destitute of the sentiments of humanity.

Subjects are also bound to obey magistrates, for conscience’ sake, out of regard to the divine authority, and out of obedience to the will of God; for if magistrates are the ministers of God, we cannot disobey them without being disobedient to the law of God; and this extends to all men in authority, from the highest ruler to the lowest officer in the state. To oppose them when in the exercise of lawful authority is an act of disobedience to the Deity, and, as such, will be punished by him. It will, doubtless, be readily granted by every honest man that we ought cheerfully to obey the magistrate, and submit to all such regulations of government as tend to promote the public good; but as this general definition may be liable to be misconstrued, and every man may think himself at liberty to disregard any laws that do not suit his interest, humor, or fancy, I would observe that, in a multitude of cases, many of us, for want of being properly acquainted with affairs of state, may be very improper judges of particular laws, whether they are just or not. In such cases it becomes us, as good members of society, peaceably and conscientiously to submit, though we cannot see the reasonableness of every law to which we submit, and that for this plain reason: if any number of men should take it upon themselves to oppose authority for acts, which may be really necessary for the public safety, only because they do not see the reasonableness of them, the direct consequence will be introducing confusion and anarchy into the state.

It is also necessary that the minor part should submit to the major; e.g., when legislators have enacted a set of laws which are highly approved by a large majority of the community as tending to promote the public good, in this case, if a small number of persons are so unhappy as to view the matter in a very different point of light from the public, though they have an undoubted right to show the reasons of their dissent from the judgment of the public, and may lawfully use all proper arguments to convince the public of what they judge to be an error, yet, if they fail in their attempt, and the majority still continue to approve of the laws that are enacted, it is the duty of those few that dissent peaceably and for conscience’ sake to submit to the public judgment, unless something is required of them which they judge would be sinful for them to comply with; for in that case they ought to obey the dictates of their own consciences rather than any human authority whatever. Perhaps, also, some cases of intolerable oppression, where compliance would bring on inevitable ruin and destruction, may justly warrant the few to refuse submission to what they judge inconsistent with their peace and safety; for the law of self-preservation will always justify opposing a cruel and tyrannical imposition, except where opposition is attended with greater evils than submission, which is frequently the case where a few are oppressed by a large and powerful majority.[1] Except the above-named cases, the minor ought always to submit to the major; otherwise, there can be no peace nor harmony in society. And, besides, it is the major part of a community that have the sole right of establishing a constitution and authorizing magistrates; and consequently it is only the major part of the community that can claim the right of altering the constitution, and displacing the magistrates; for certainly common sense will tell us that it requires as great an authority to set aside a constitution as there was at first to establish it. The collective body, not a few individuals, ought to constitute the supreme authority of the state.

The only difficulty remaining is to determine when a people may claim a right of forming themselves into a body politic, and assume the powers of legislation. In order to determine this point, we are to remember that all men being by nature equal, all the members of a community have a natural right to assemble themselves together, and act and vote for such regulations as they judge are necessary for the good of the whole. But when a community is become very numerous, it is very difficult, and in many cases impossible, for all to meet together to regulate the affairs of the state; hence comes the necessity of appointing delegates to represent the people in a general assembly. And this ought to be looked upon as a sacred and inalienable right, of which a people cannot justly divest themselves, and which no human authority can in equity ever take from them, viz., that no one be obliged to submit to any law except such as are made either by himself or by his representative.

If representation and legislation are inseparably connected, it follows, that when great numbers have emigrated into a foreign land, and are so far removed from the parent state that they neither are or can be properly represented by the government from which they have emigrated, that then nature itself points out the necessity of their assuming to themselves the powers of legislation; and they have a right to consider themselves as a separate state from the other, and, as such, to form themselves into a body politic.

In the next place, when a people find themselves cruelly oppressed by the parent state, they have an undoubted right to throw off the yoke, and to assert their liberty, if they find good reason to judge that they have sufficient power and strength to maintain their ground in defending their just rights against their oppressors; for, in this case, by the law of self-preservation, which is the first law of nature, they have not only an undoubted right, but it is their indispensable duty, if they cannot be redressed any other way, to renounce all submission to the government that has oppressed them, and set up an independent state of their own, even though they may be vastly inferior in numbers to the state that has oppressed them. When either of the aforesaid cases takes place, and more especially when both concur, no rational man, I imagine, can have any doubt in his own mind whether such a people have a right to form themselves into a body politic, and assume to themselves all the powers of a free state. For, can it be rational to suppose that a people should be subjected to the tyranny of a set of men who are perfect strangers to them, and cannot be supposed to have that fellow-feeling for them that we generally have for those with whom we are connected and acquainted; and, besides, through their unacquaintedness with the circumstances of the people over whom they claim the right of jurisdiction, are utterly unable to judge, in a multitude of cases, which is best for them?

It becomes me not to say what particular form of government is best for a community, – whether a pure democracy, aristocracy, monarchy, or a mixture of all the three simple forms. They have all their advantages and disadvantages, and when they are properly administered may, any of them, answer the design of civil government tolerably. Permit me, however, to say, that an unlimited, absolute monarchy, and an aristocracy not subject to the control of the people, are two of the most exceptionable forms of government: firstly, because in neither of them is there a proper representation of the people; and, secondly, because each of them being entirely independent of the people, they are very apt to degenerate into tyranny. However, in this imperfect state, we cannot expect to have government formed upon such a basis but that it may be perverted by bad men to evil purposes. A wise and good man would be very loth to undermine a constitution that was once fixed and established, although he might discover many imperfections in it; and nothing short of the most urgent necessity would ever induce him to consent to it; because the unhinging a people from a form of government to which they had been long accustomed might throw them into such a state of anarchy and confusion as might terminate in their destruction, or perhaps, in the end, subject them to the worst kind of tyranny.

Having thus shown the nature, end, and design of civil government, and pointed out the reasons why subjects are bound to obey magistrates, – viz., because in so doing they both consult their own happiness as individuals, and also promote the public good and the safety of the state, – I proceed, in the next place, to show that the same principles that oblige us to submit to civil government do also equally oblige us, where we have power and ability, to resist and oppose tyranny; and that where tyranny begins government ends. For, if magistrates have no authority but what they derive from the people; if they are properly of human creation; if the whole end and design of their institution is to promote the general good, and to secure to men their just rights, – it will follow, that when they act contrary to the end and design of their creation they cease being magistrates, and the people which gave them their authority have the right to take it from them again. This is a very plain dictate of common sense, which universally obtains in all similar cases; for who is there that, having employed a number of men to do a particular piece of work for him, but what would judge that he had a right to dismiss them from his service when he found that they went directly contrary to his orders, and that, instead of accomplishing the business he had set them about, they would infallibly ruin and destroy it? If, then, men, in the common affairs of life, always judge that they have a right to dismiss from their service such persons as counteract their plans and designs, though the damage will affect only a few individuals, much more must the body politic have a right to depose any persons, though appointed to the highest place of power and authority, when they find that they are unfaithful to the trust reposed in them, and that, instead of consulting the general good, they are disturbing the peace of society by making laws cruel and oppressive, and by depriving the subjects of their just rights and privileges. Whoever pretends to deny this proposition must give up all pretence of being master of that common sense and reason by which the Deity has distinguished us from the brutal herd.

As our duty of obedience to the magistrate is founded upon our obligation to promote the general good, our readiness to obey lawful authority will always arise in proportion to the love and regard that we have for the welfare of the public; and the same love and regard for the public will inspire us with as strong a zeal to oppose tyranny as we have to obey magistracy. Our obligation to promote the public good extends as much to the opposing every exertion of arbitrary power that is injurious to the state as it does to the submitting to good and wholesome laws. No man, therefore, can be a good member of the community that is not as zealous to oppose tyranny as he is ready to obey magistracy. A slavish submission to tyranny is a proof of a very sordid and base mind. Such a person cannot be under the influence of any generous human sentiments, nor have a tender regard for mankind.

Further: if magistrates are no farther ministers of God than they promote the good of the community, then obedience to them neither is nor can be unlimited; for it would imply a gross absurdity to assert that, when magistrates are ordained by the people solely for the purpose of being beneficial to the state, they must be obeyed when they are seeking to ruin and destroy it. This would imply that men were bound to act against the great law of self-preservation, and to contribute their assistance to their own ruin and destruction, in order that they may please and gratify the greatest monsters in nature, who are violating the laws of God and destroying the rights of mankind. Unlimited submission and obedience is due to none but God alone. He has an absolute right to command; he alone has an uncontrollable sovereignty over us, because he alone is unchangeably good; he never will nor can require of us, consistent with his nature and attributes, anything that is not fit and reasonable; his commands are all just and good; and to suppose that he has given to any particular set of men a power to require obedience to that which is unreasonable, cruel, and unjust, is robbing the Deity of his justice and goodness, in which consists the peculiar glory of the divine character, and it is representing him under the horrid character of a tyrant.

If magistrates are ministers of God only because the law of God and reason points out the necessity of such an institution for the good of mankind, it follows, that whenever they pursue measures directly destructive of the public good they cease being God’s ministers, they forfeit their right to obedience from the subject, they become the pests of society, and the community is under the strongest obligation of duty, both to God and to its own members, to resist and oppose them, which will be so far from resisting the ordinance of God that it will be strictly obeying his commands. To suppose otherwise will imply that the Deity requires of us an obedience that is self-contradictory and absurd, and that one part of his law is directly contrary to the other; i.e., while he commands us to pursue virtue and the general good, he does at the same time require us to persecute virtue, and betray the general good, by enjoining us obedience to the wicked commands of tyrannical oppressors. Can any one not lost to the principles of humanity undertake to defend such absurd sentiments as these? As the public safety is the first and grand law of society, so no community can have a right to invest the magistrate with any power or authority that will enable him to act against the welfare of the state and the good of the whole. If men have at any time wickedly and foolishly given up their just rights into the hands of the magistrate, such acts are null and void, of course; to suppose otherwise will imply that we have a right to invest the magistrate with a power to act contrary to the law of God, – which is as much as to say that we are not the subjects of divine law and government. What has been said is, I apprehend, abundantly sufficient to show that tyrants are no magistrates, or that whenever magistrates abuse their power and authority to the subverting the public happiness, their authority immediately ceases, and that it not only becomes lawful, but an indispensable duty to oppose them; that the principle of self-preservation, the affection and duty that we owe to our country, and the obedience we owe the Deity, do all require us to oppose tyranny.

If it be asked, Who are the proper judges to determine when rulers are guilty of tyranny and oppression? I answer, the public. Not a few disaffected individuals, but the collective body of the state, must decide this question; for, as it is the collective body that invests rulers with their power and authority, so it is the collective body that has the sole right of judging whether rulers act up to the end of their institution or not. Great regard ought always to be paid to the judgment of the public. It is true the public may be imposed upon by a misrepresentation of facts; but this may be said of the public, which cannot always be said of individuals, viz., that the public is always willing to be rightly informed, and when it has proper matter of conviction laid before it its judgment is always right.

This account of the nature and design of civil government, which is so clearly suggested to us by the plain principles of common sense and reason, is abundantly confirmed by the sacred Scriptures, even by those very texts which have been brought by men of slavish principles to establish the absurd doctrine of unlimited passive obedience and nonresistance, as will abundantly appear by examining the two most noted texts that are commonly brought to support the strange doctrine of passive obedience. The first that I shall cite is in 1 Peter ii. 13, 14: “submit yourselves to every ordinance of man,” – or, rather, as the words ought to be rendered from the Greek, submit yourselves to every human creation, or human constitution, – “for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well.” Here we see that the apostle asserts that magistracy is of human creation or appointment; that is, that magistrates have no power or authority but what they derive from the people; that this power they are to exert for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well; i.e., the end and design of the appointment of magistrates is to restrain wicked men, by proper penalties, from injuring society, and to encourage and honor the virtuous and obedient. Upon this account Christians are to submit to them for the Lord’s sake; which is as if he had said, Though magistrates are of mere human appointment, and can claim no power or authority but what they derive from the people, yet, as they are ordained by men to promote the general good by punishing evil-doers and by rewarding and encouraging the virtuous and obedient, you ought to submit to them out of a sacred regard to the divine authority; for as they, in the faithful discharge of their office, do fulfill the will of God, so ye, by submitting to them, do fulfill the divine command. If the only reason assigned by the apostle why magistrates should be obeyed out of a regard to the divine authority is because they punish the wicked and encourage the good, it follows, that when they punish the virtuous and encourage the vicious we have a right to refuse yielding any submission or obedience to them; i.e., whenever they act contrary to the end and design of their institution, they forfeit their authority to govern the people, and the reason for submitting to them, out of regard to the divine authority, immediately ceases; and they being only of human appointment, the authority which the people gave them the public have a right to take from them, and to confer it upon those who are more worthy. So far is this text from favoring arbitrary principles, that there is nothing in it but what is consistent with and favorable to the highest liberty that any man can wish to enjoy; for this text requires us to submit to the magistrate no further than he is the encourager and protector of virtue and the punisher of vice; and this is consistent with all that liberty which the Deity has bestowed upon us.

The other text which I shall mention, and which has been made use of by the favorers of arbitrary government as their great sheet anchor and main support, is in Rom. xiii., the first six verses: “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers; for there is no power but of God. The powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation; for rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For, for this cause pay you tribute also; for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.” A very little attention, I apprehend, will be sufficient to show that this text is so far from favoring arbitrary government, that, on the contrary, it strongly holds forth the principles of true liberty. Subjection to the higher powers is enjoined by the apostle because there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God; consequently, to resist the power is to resist the ordinance of God: and he repeatedly declares that the ruler is the minister of God. Now, before we can say whether this text makes for or against the doctrine of unlimited passive obedience, we must find out in what sense the apostle affirms that magistracy is the ordinance of God, and what he intends when he calls the ruler the minister of God.

I can think but of three possible senses in which magistracy can with any propriety be called God’s ordinance, or in which rulers can be said to be ordained of God as his ministers. The first is a plain declaration from the word of God that such a one and his descendants are, and shall be, the only true and lawful magistrates: thus we find in Scripture the kingdom of Judah to be settled by divine appointment in the family of David. Or,

Secondly, By an immediate commission from God, ordering and appointing such a one by name to be the ruler over the people: thus Saul and David were immediately appointed by God to be kings over Israel. Or,

Thirdly, Magistracy may be called the ordinance of God, and rulers may be called the ministers of God, because the nature and reason of things, which is the law of God, requires such an institution for the preservation and safety of civil society. In the two first senses the apostle cannot be supposed to affirm that magistracy is God’s ordinance, for neither he nor any of the sacred writers have entailed the magistracy to any one particular family under the gospel dispensation. Neither does he nor any of the inspired writers give us the least hint that any person should ever be immediately commissioned from God to bear rule over the people. The third sense, then, is the only sense in which the apostle can be supposed to affirm that the magistrate is the minister of God, and that magistracy is the ordinance of God; viz., that the nature and reason of things require such an institution for the preservation and safety of mankind. Now, if this be the only sense in which the apostle affirms that magistrates are ordained of God as his ministers, resistance must be criminal only so far forth as they are the ministers of God, i.e., while they act up to the end of their institution, and ceases being criminal when they cease being the ministers of God, i.e., when they act contrary to the general good, and seek to destroy the liberties of the people.

That we have gotten the apostle’s sense of magistracy being the ordinance of God, will plainly appear from the text itself for, after having asserted that to resist the power is to resist the ordinance of God, and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation, he immediately adds as the reason of this assertion, “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil.” Here is a plain declaration of the sense in which he asserts that the authority of the magistrate is ordained of God, viz., because rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil; therefore we ought to dread offending them, for we cannot offend them but by doing evil; and if we do evil we have just reason to fear their power; for they bear not the sword in vain, but in this case the magistrate is a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil: but if we are found doers of that which is good, we have no reason to fear the authority of the magistrate; for in this case, instead of being punished, we shall be protected and encouraged. The reason why the magistrate is called the minister of God is because he is to protect, encourage, and honor them that do well, and to punish them that do evil; therefore it is our duty to submit to them, not merely for fear of being punished by them, but out of regard to the divine authority, under which they are deputed to execute judgment and to do justice. For this reason, according to the apostle, tribute is to be paid them, because, as the ministers of God, their whole business is to protect every man in the enjoyment of his just rights and privileges, and to punish every evil-doer.

If the apostle, then, asserts that rulers are ordained of God only because they are a terror to evil works and a praise to them that do well; if they are ministers of God only because they encourage virtue and punish vice; if for this reason only they are to be obeyed for conscience’ sake; if the sole reason why they have a right to tribute is because they devote themselves wholly to the business of securing to men their just rights, and to the punishing of evil-doers, – it follows, by undeniable consequence, that when they become the pests of human society, when they promote and encourage evil-doers, and become a terror to good works, they then cease being the ordinance of God; they are no longer rulers nor ministers of God; they are so far from being the powers that are ordained of God that they become the ministers of the powers of darkness, and it is so far from being a crime to resist them, that in many cases it may be highly criminal in the sight of Heaven to refuse resisting and opposing them to the utmost of our power; or, in other words, that the same reasons that require us to obey the ordinance of God, do equally oblige us, when we have power and opportunity, to oppose and resist the ordinance of Satan.

Hence we see that the apostle Paul, instead of being a friend to tyranny and arbitrary government, turns out to be a strong advocate for the just rights of mankind, and is for our enjoying all that liberty with which God has invested us; for no power (according to the apostle) is ordained of God but what is an encourage of every good and virtuous action, – “Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same.” No man need to be afraid of this power which is ordained of God who does nothing but what is agreeable to the law of God; for this power will not restrain us from exercising any liberty which the Deity has granted us; for the minister of God is to restrain US from nothing but the doing of that which is evil, and to this we have no right. To practise evil is not liberty, but licentiousness. Can we conceive of a more perfect, equitable, and generous plan of government than this which the apostle has laid down, viz., to have rulers appointed over us to encourage us to every good and virtuous action, to defend and protect us in our just rights and privileges, and to grant us everything that can tend to promote our true interest and happiness; to restrain every licentious action, and to punish everyone that would injure or harm us; to become a terror of evil-doers; to make and execute such just and righteous laws as shall effectually deter and hinder men from the commission of evil, and to attend continually upon this very thing; to make it their constant care and study, day and night, to promote the good and welfare of the community, and to oppose all evil practices? Deservedly may such rulers be called the ministers of God for good. They carry on the same benevolent design towards the community which the great Governor of the universe does towards his whole creation. `Tis the indispensable duty of a people to pay tribute, and to afford an easy and comfortable subsistence to such rulers, because they are the ministers of God, who are continually laboring and employing their time for the good of the community. He that resists such magistrates does, in a very emphatical sense, resist the ordinance of God; he is an enemy to mankind, odious to God, and justly incurs the sentence of condemnation from the great Judge of quick and dead. Obedience to such magistrates is yielding obedience to the will of God, and, therefore, ought to be performed from a sacred regard to the divine authority.

For any one from hence to infer that the apostle enjoins in this text unlimited obedience to the worst of tyrants, and that he pronounces damnation upon those that resist the arbitrary measures of such pests of society, is just as good sense as if one should affirm, that because the Scripture enjoins us obedience to the laws of God, therefore we may not oppose the power of darkness; or because we are commanded to submit to the ordinance of God, therefore we may not resist the ministers of Satan. Such wild work must be made with the apostle before he can be brought to speak the language of oppression! It is as plain, I think, as words can make it, that, according to this text, no tyrant can be a ruler; for the apostle’s definition of a ruler is, that he is not a terror to good works, but to the evil; and that he is one who is to praise and encourage those that do well. Whenever, then, the ruler encourages them that do evil, and is a terror to those that do well, – i.e., as soon as he becomes a tyrant, – he forfeits his authority to govern, and becomes the minister of Satan, and, as such, ought to be opposed.

I know it is said that the magistrates were, at the time when the apostle wrote, heathens, and that Nero, that monster of tyranny, was then Emperor of Rome; that therefore the apostle, by enjoining submission to the powers that then were, does require unlimited obedience to be yielded to the worst of tyrants. Now, not to insist upon what has been often observed, viz., that this epistle was written most probably about the beginning of Nero’s reign, at which time he was a very humane and merciful prince, did everything that was generous and benevolent to the public, and showed every act of mercy and tenderness to particulars, and therefore might at that time justly deserve the character of the minister of God for good to the people, – I say, waiving this, we will suppose that this epistle was written after that Nero was become a monster of tyranny and wickedness; it will by no means follow from thence that the apostle meant to enjoin unlimited subjection to such an authority, or that he intended to affirm that such a cruel, despotic authority was the ordinance of God. The plain, obvious sense of his words, as we have already seen, forbids such a construction to be put upon them, for they plainly imply a strong abhorrence and disapprobation of such a character, and clearly prove that Nero, so far forth as he was a tyrant, could not be the minister of God, nor have a right to claim submission from the people; so that this ought, perhaps, rather to be viewed as a severe satire upon Nero, than as enjoining any submission to him.

It is also worthy to be observed that the apostle prudently waived mentioning any particular persons that were then in power, as it might have been construed in an invidious light, and exposed the primitive Christians to the severe resentments of the men that were then in power. He only in general requires submission to the higher powers, because the powers that be are ordained of God. Now, though the emperor might at that time be such a tyrant that he could with no propriety be said to be ordained of God, yet it would be somewhat strange if there were no men in power among the Romans that acted up to the character of good magistrates, and that deserved to be esteemed as the ministers of God for good unto the people. If there were any such, notwithstanding the tyranny of Nero, the apostle might with great propriety enjoin submission to those powers that were ordained of God, and by so particularly pointing out the end and design of magistrates, and giving his definition of a ruler, he might design to show that neither Nero, nor any other tyrant, ought to be esteemed as the minister of God. Or, rather, –which appears to me to be the true sense, – the apostle meant to speak of magistracy in general, without any reference to the emperor, or any other person in power, that was then at Rome; and the meaning of this passage is as if he had said, It is the duty of every Christian to be a good subject of civil government, for the power and authority of the civil magistrate are from God; for the powers that be are ordained of God; i.e., the authority of the magistrates that are now either at Rome or elsewhere is ordained of the Deity. Wherever you find any lawful magistrates, remember, they are of divine ordination. But that you may understand what I mean when I say that magistrates are of divine ordination, I will show you how you may discern who are lawful magistrates, and ordained of God, from those who are not. Those only are to be esteemed lawful magistrates, and ordained of God, who pursue the public good by honoring and encouraging those that do well and punishing all that do evil. Such, and such only, wherever they are to be found, are the ministers of God for good: to resist such is resisting the ordinance of God, and exposing yourselves to the divine wrath and condemnation.

In either of these senses the text cannot make anything in favor of arbitrary government. Nor could he with any propriety tell them that they need not be afraid of the power so long as they did that which was good, if he meant to recommend an unlimited submission to a tyrannical Nero; for the best characters were the likeliest to fall a sacrifice to his malice. And, besides, such an injunction would be directly contrary to his own practice, and the practice of the primitive Christians, who refused to comply with the sinful commands of men in power; their answer in such cases being this, We ought to obey God rather than men. Hence the apostle Paul himself suffered many cruel persecutions because he would not renounce Christianity, but persisted in opposing the idolatrous worship of the pagan world.

This text, being rescued from the absurd interpretations which the favorers of arbitrary government have put upon it, turns out to be a noble confirmation of that free and generous plan of government which the law of nature and reason points out to us. Nor can we desire a more equitable plan of government than what the apostle has here laid down; for, if we consult our happiness and real good, we can never wish for an unreasonable liberty, viz., a freedom to do evil, which, according to the apostle, is the only thing that the magistrate is to refrain us from. To have a liberty to do whatever is fit, reasonable, or good, is the highest degree of freedom that rational beings can possess. And how honorable a station are those men placed in, by the providence of God, whose business it is to secure to men this rational liberty, and to promote the happiness and welfare of society, by suppressing vice and immorality, and by honoring and encouraging everything that is honorable, virtuous, and praiseworthy! Such magistrates ought to be honored and obeyed as the ministers of God and the servants of the King of Heaven. Can we conceive of a larger and more generous plan of government than this of the apostle? Or can we find words more plainly expressive of a disapprobation of an arbitrary and tyrannical government? I never read this text without admiring the beauty and nervousness of it; and I can hardly conceive how he could express more ideas in so few words than he has done. We see here, in one view, the honor that belongs to the magistrate, because he is ordained of God for the public good. We have his duty pointed out, viz., to honor and encourage the virtuous, to promote the real good of the community, and to punish all wicked and injurious persons. We are taught the duty of the subject, viz., to obey the magistrate for conscience’ sake, because he is ordained of God; and that rulers, being continually employed under God for our good, are to be generously maintained by the paying them tribute; and that disobedience to rulers is highly criminal, and will expose us to the divine wrath. The liberty of the subject is also clearly asserted, viz., that subjects are to be allowed to do everything that is in itself just and right, and are only to be restrained from being guilty of wrong actions. It is also strongly implied, that when rulers become oppressive to the subject and injurious to the state, their authority, their respect, their maintenance, and the duty of submitting to them, must immediately cease; they are then to be considered as the ministers of Satan, and, as such, it becomes our indispensable duty to resist and oppose them.

Thus we see that both reason and revelation perfectly agree in pointing out the nature, end, and design of government, viz., that it is to promote the welfare and happiness of the community; and that subjects have a right to do everything that is good, praiseworthy, and consistent with the good of the community, and are only to be restrained when they do evil and are injurious either to individuals or the whole community; and that they ought to submit to every law that is beneficial to the community for conscience’ sake, although it may in some measure interfere with their private interest; for every good man will be ready to forgo his private interest for the sake of being beneficial to the public. Reason and revelation, we see, do both teach us that our obedience to rulers is not unlimited, but that resistance is not only allowable, but an indispensable duty in the case of intolerable tyranny and oppression. From both reason and revelation we learn that, as the public safety is the supreme law of the state, – being the true standard and measure by which we are to judge whether any law or body of laws are just or not, – so legislatures have a right to make, and require subjection to, any set of laws that have a tendency to promote the good of the community.

Our governors have a right to take every proper method to form the minds of their subjects so that they may become good members of society. The great difference that we may observe among the several classes of mankind arises chiefly from their education and their laws: hence men become virtuous or vicious, good commonwealthsmen or the contrary, generous, noble, and courageous, or base, mean-spirited, and cowardly, according to the impression that they have received from the government that they are under, together with their education and the methods that have been practised by their leaders to form their minds in early life. Hence the necessity of good laws to encourage every noble and virtuous sentiment, to suppress vice and immorality, to promote industry, and to punish idleness, that parent of innumerable evils; to promote arts and sciences, and to banish ignorance from among mankind.

And as nothing tends like religion and the fear of God to make men good members of the commonwealth, it is the duty of magistrates to become the patrons and promoters of religion and piety, and to make suitable laws for the maintaining public worship, and decently supporting the teachers of religion. Such laws, I apprehend, are absolutely necessary for the well-being of civil society. Such laws may be made, consistent with all that liberty of conscience which every good member of society ought to be possessed of; for, as there are few, if any, religious societies among us but what profess to believe and practise all the great duties of religion and morality that are necessary for the well-being of society and the safety of the state, let every one be allowed to attend worship in his own society, or in that way that he judges most agreeable to the will of God, and let him be obliged to contribute his assistance to the supporting and defraying the necessary charges of his own meeting. In this case no one can have any right to complain that he is deprived of liberty of conscience, seeing that he has a right to choose and freely attend that worship that appears to him to be most agreeable to the will of God; and it must be very unreasonable for him to object against being obliged to contribute his part towards the support of that worship which he has chosen. Whether some such method as this might not tend, in a very eminent manner, to promote the peace and welfare of society, I must leave to the wisdom of our legislators to determine; be sure it would take off some of the most popular objections against being obliged by law to support public worship while the law restricts that support only to one denomination.

But for the civil authority to pretend to establish particular modes of faith and forms of worship, and to punish all that deviate from the standard which our superiors have set up, is attended with the most pernicious consequences to society. It cramps all free and rational inquiry, fills the world with hypocrits and superstition bigots – nay, with infidels and skeptics; it exposes men of religion and conscience to the rage and malice of fiery, blind zealots, and dissolves every tender tie of human nature; in short, it introduces confusion and every evil work. And I cannot but look upon it as a peculiar blessing of Heaven that we live in a land where every one can freely deliver his sentiments upon religious subjects, and have the privilege of worshipping God according to the dictates of his own conscience without any molestation or disturbance, – a privilege which I hope we shall ever keep up and strenuously maintain. No principles ought ever to be discountenanced by civil authority but such as tend to the subversion of the state. So long as a man is a good member of society, he is accountable to God alone for his religious sentiments; but when men are found disturbers of the public peace, stirring up sedition, or practicing against the state, no pretence of religion or conscience ought to screen them from being brought to condign punishment. But then, as the end and design of punishment is either to make restitution to the injured or to restrain men from committing the like crimes for the future, so, when these important ends are answered, the punishment ought to cease; for whatever is inflicted upon a man under the notion of punishment after these important ends are answered, is not a just and lawful punishment, but is properly cruelty and base revenge.

From this account of civil government we learn that the business of magistrates is weighty and important. It requires both wisdom and integrity. When either are wanting, government will be poorly administered; more especially if our governors are men of loose morals and abandoned principles; for if a man is not faithful to God and his own soul, how can we expect that he will be faithful to the public? There was a great deal of propriety in the advice that Jethro gave to Moses to provide able men, – men of truth, that feared God, and that hated covetousness, – and to appoint them for rulers over the people. For it certainly implies a very gross absurdity to suppose that those who are ordained of God for the public good should have no regard to the laws of God, or that the ministers of God should be despisers of the divine commands. David, the man after God’s own heart, makes piety a necessary qualification in a ruler: “He that ruleth over men (says he) must be just, ruling in the fear of God.” It is necessary it should be so, for the welfare and happiness of the state; for, to say nothing of the venality and corruption, of the tyranny and oppression, that will take place under unjust rulers, barely their vicious and irregular lives will have a most pernicious effect upon the lives and manners of their subjects: their authority becomes despicable in the opinion of discerning men. And, besides, with what face can they make or execute laws against vices which they practise with greediness? A people that have a right of choosing their magistrates are criminally guilty in the sight of Heaven when they are governed by caprice and humor, or are influenced by bribery to choose magistrates that are irreligious men, who are devoid of sentiment, and of bad morals and base lives. Men cannot be sufficiently sensible what a curse they may bring upon themselves and their posterity by foolishly and wickedly choosing men of abandoned characters and profligate lives for their magistrates and rulers.

We have already seen that magistrates who rule in the fear of God ought not only to be obeyed as the ministers of God, but that they ought also to be handsomely supported, that they may cheerfully and freely attend upon the duties of their station; for it is a great shame and disgrace to society to see men that serve the public laboring under indigent and needy circumstances; and, besides, it is a maxim of eternal truth that the laborer is worthy of his reward.

It is also a great duty incumbent on people to treat those in authority with all becoming honor and respect, – to be very careful of casting any aspersion upon their characters. To despise government, and to speak evil of dignities, is represented in Scripture as one of the worst of characters; and it was an injunction of Moses, “Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.” Great mischief may ensue upon reviling the character of good rulers; for the unthinking herd of mankind are very apt to give ear to scandal, and when it falls upon men in power, it brings their authority into contempt, lessens their influence, and disheartens them from doing that service to the community of which they are capable; whereas, when they are properly honored, and treated with that respect which is due to their station, it inspires them with courage and a noble ardor to serve the public: their influence among the people is strengthened, and their authority becomes firmly established. We ought to remember that they are men like to ourselves, liable to the same imperfections and infirmities with the rest of us, and therefore, so long as they aim at the public good, their mistakes, misapprehensions, and infirmities, ought to be treated with the utmost humanity and tenderness.

But though I would recommend to all Christians, as a part of the duty that they owe to magistrates, to treat them with proper honor and respect, none can reasonably suppose that I mean that they ought to be flattered in their vices, or honored and caressed while they are seeking to undermine and ruin the state; for this would be wickedly betraying our just rights, and we should be guilty of our own destruction. We ought ever to persevere with firmness and fortitude in maintaining and contending for all that liberty that the Deity has granted us. It is our duty to be ever watchful over our just rights, and not suffer them to be wrested out of our hands by any of the artifices of tyrannical oppressors. But there is a wide difference between being jealous of our rights, when we have the strongest reason to conclude that they are invaded by our rulers, and being unreasonably suspicious of men that are zealously endeavoring to support the constitution, only because we do not thoroughly comprehend all their designs. The first argues a noble and generous mind; the other, a low and base spirit.

Thus have I considered the nature of the duty enjoined in the text, and have endeavored to show that the same principles that require obedience to lawful magistrates do also require us to resist tyrants; this I have confirmed from reason and Scripture.

It was with a particular view to the present unhappy controversy that subsists between us and Great Britain (and now in your modern times, the administrations, congress and especially the bureaucracies that are acting as Great Britain did in the 1700’s) that I chose to discourse upon the nature and design of government, and the rights and duties both of governors and governed, that so, justly understanding our rights and privileges, we may stand firm in our opposition to ministerial tyranny, while at the same time we pay all proper obedience and submission to our lawful magistrates; and that, while we are contending for liberty, we may avoid running into licentiousness; and that we may preserve the due medium between submitting to tyranny and running into anarchy. I acknowledge that I have undertaken a difficult task; but, as it appeared to me, the present state of affairs loudly called for such a discourse; and, therefore, I hope the wise, the generous, and the good, will candidly receive my good intentions to serve the public. I shall now apply this discourse to the grand controversy that at this day subsists between Great Britain and the American colonies. (And here, modern pastors, priest and rabbi should apply the afore mentioned truths to what is happening in every level of governance in these United States.  Even at the local level where international laws, treaties and rules are being imposed over the Liberties and Rights of the Citizenry)

And here, in the first place, I cannot but take notice how wonderfully Providence has smiled upon us by causing the several colonies to unite so firmly together against the tyranny of Great Britain, though differing from each other in their particular interest, forms of government, modes of worship, and particular customs and manners, besides several animosities that had subsisted among them. That, under these circumstances, such a union should take place as we now behold, was a thing that might rather have been wished than hoped for.

And, in the next place, who could have thought that, when our charter was vacated, when we became destitute of any legislative authority, and when our courts of justice in many parts of the country were stopped, so that we could neither make nor execute laws upon offenders, – who, I say, would have thought, that in such a situation the people should behave so peaceably, and maintain such good order and harmony among themselves? This is a plain proof that they, having not the civil law to regulate themselves by, became a law unto themselves; and by their conduct they have shown that they were regulated by the law of God written in their hearts. This is the Lord’s doing, and it ought to be marvelous in our eyes.

From what has been said in this discourse, it will appear that we are in the way of our duty in opposing the tyranny of Great Britain; for, if unlimited submission is not due to any human power, if we have an undoubted right to oppose and resist a set of tyrants that are subverting our just rights and privileges, there cannot remain a doubt in any man, that will calmly attend to reason, whether we have a right to resist and oppose the arbitrary measures of the King and Parliament; for it is plain to demonstration, nay, it is in a manner self-evident, that they have been and are endeavoring to deprive us not only of the privileges of Englishmen, and our charter rights, but they have endeavored to deprive us of what is much more sacred, viz., the privileges of men and Christians;[2] i.e., they are robbing us of the inalienable rights that the God of nature has given us as men and rational beings, and has confirmed to us in his written word as Christians and disciples of that Jesus who came to redeem us from the bondage of sin and the tyranny of Satan, and to grant us the most perfect freedom, even the glorious liberty of the sons and children of God; that here they have endeavored to deprive us of the sacred charter of the King of Heaven. But we have this for our consolation: the Lord reigneth; he governs the world in righteousness, and will avenge the cause of the oppressed when they cry unto him. We have made our appeal to Heaven, and we cannot doubt but that the Judge of all the earth will do right.

Need I upon this occasion descend to particulars? Can any one be ignorant what the things are of which we complain? Does not every one know that the King and Parliament have assumed the right to tax us without our consent? And can any one be so lost to the principles of humanity and common sense as not to view their conduct in this affair as a very grievous imposition? Reason and equity require that no one be obliged to pay a tax that he has never consented to, either by himself or by his representative. But, as Divine Providence has placed us at so great a distance from Great Britain that we neither are nor can be properly represented in the British Parliament, it is a plain proof that the Deity designed that we should have the powers of legislation and taxation among ourselves; for can any suppose it to be reasonable that a set of men that are perfect strangers to us should have the uncontrollable right to lay the most heavy and grievous burdens upon us that they please, purely to gratify their unbounded avarice and luxury? Must we be obliged to perish with cold and hunger to maintain them in idleness, in all kinds of debauchery and dissipation? But if they have the right to take our property from us without our consent, we must be wholly at their mercy for our food and raiment, and we know by sad experience that their tender mercies are cruel.

But because we were not willing to submit to such an unrighteous and cruel decree, – though we modestly complained and humbly petitioned for a redress of our grievances, – instead of hearing our complaints, and granting our requests, they have gone on to add iniquity to transgression, by making several cruel and unrighteous acts. Who can forget the cruel act to block up the harbor of Boston, whereby thousands of innocent persons must have been inevitably ruined had they not been supported by the continent? Who can forget the act for vacating our charter[3], together with many other cruel acts which it is needless to mention? But, not being able to accomplish their wicked purposes by mere acts of Parliament, they have proceeded to commence open hostilities against us, and have endeavored to destroy us by fire and sword. Our towns they have burnt, our brethren they have slain, our vessels they have taken, and our goods they have spoiled.[4] And, after all this wanton exertion of arbitrary power, is there the man that has any of the feeling of humanity left who is not fired with a noble indignation against such merciless tyrants, who have not only brought upon us all the horrors of a civil war, but have also added a piece of barbarity unknown to Turks and Mohammedan infidels,[5] yea, such as would be abhorred and detested by the savages of the wilderness, – I mean their cruelly forcing our brethren whom they have taken prisoners, without any distinction of whig or tory, to serve on board their ships of war, thereby obliging them to take up arms against their own countrymen, and to fight against their brethren, their wives, and their children, and to assist in plundering their own estates! This, my brethren, is done by men who call themselves Christians, against their Christian brethren, – against men who till now gloried in the name of Englishmen, and who were ever ready to spend their lives and fortunes in the defence of British rights. Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon, lest it cause our enemies to rejoice and our adversaries to triumph! Such a conduct as this brings a great reproach upon the profession of Christianity; nay, it is a great scandal even to human nature itself.

It would be highly criminal not to feel a due resentment against such tyrannical monsters. It is an indispensable duty, my brethren, which we owe to God and our country, to rouse up and bestir ourselves, and, being animated with a noble zeal for the sacred cause of liberty, to defend our lives and fortunes, even to the shedding the last drop of blood. The love of our country, the tender affection that we have for our wives and children, the regard we ought to have for unborn posterity, yea, everything that is dear and sacred, do now loudly call upon us to use our best endeavors to save our country. We must beat our ploughshares into swords, and our pruning-hooks into spears, and learn the art of self-defence against our enemies. To be careless and remiss, or to neglect the cause of our country through the base motives of avarice and self-interest, will expose us not only to the resentments of our fellow-creatures, but to the displeasure of God Almighty; for to such base wretches, in such a time as this, we may apply with the utmost propriety that passage in Jeremiah xlviii. 10: “Cursed be he that doth the work of the Lord deceitfully, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood.” To save our country from the hands of our oppressors ought to be dearer to us even than our own lives, and, next the eternal salvation of our own souls, is the thing of the greatest importance, – a duty so sacred that it cannot justly be dispensed with for the sake of our secular concerns. Doubtless for this reason God has been pleased to manifest his anger against those who have refused to assist their country against its cruel oppressors. Hence, in a case similar to ours, when the Israelites were struggling to deliver themselves from the tyranny of Jabin, the King of Canaan, we find a most bitter curse denounced against those who refused to grant their assistance in the common cause; see Judges v. 23: “Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.”

Now, if such a bitter curse is denounced against those who refused to assist their country against its oppressors, what a dreadful doom are those exposed to who have not only refused to assist their country in this time of distress, but have, through motives of interest or ambition, shown themselves enemies to their country by opposing us in the measures that we have taken, and by openly favoring the British Parliament! He that is so lost to humanity as to be willing to sacrifice his country for the sake of avarice or ambition, has arrived to the highest stage of wickedness that human nature is capable of, and deserves a much worse name than I at present care to give him. But I think I may with propriety say that such a person has forfeited his right to human society, and that he ought to take up his abode, not among the savage men, but among the savage beasts of the wilderness. Nor can I wholly excuse from blame those timid persons who, through their own cowardice, have been induced to favor our enemies, and have refused to act in defence of their country; for a due sense of the ruin and destruction that our enemies are bringing upon us is enough to raise such a resentment in the human breast that would, I should think, be sufficient to banish fear from the most timid male. And, besides, to indulge cowardice in such a cause argues a want of faith in God; for can he that firmly believes and relies upon the providence of God doubt whether he will avenge the cause of the injured when they apply to him for help? For my own part, when I consider the dispensations of Providence towards this land ever since our fathers first settled in Plymouth, I find abundant reason to conclude that the great Sovereign of the universe has planted a vine in this American wilderness which he has caused to take deep root, and it has filled the land, and that he will never suffer it to be plucked up or destroyed.

Our fathers fled from the rage of prelatical tyranny and persecution, and came into this land in order to enjoy liberty of conscience, and they have increased to a great people. Many have been the interposition of Divine Providence on our behalf, both in our fathers’ days and ours; and, though we are now engaged in a war with Great Britain, yet we have been prospered in a most wonderful manner. And can we think that he who has thus far helped us will give us up into the hands of our enemies? Certainly he that has begun to deliver us will continue to show his mercy towards us, in saving us from the hands of our enemies: he will not forsake us if we do not foresake him. Our cause is so just and good that nothing can prevent our success but only our sins. Could I see a spirit of repentance and reformation prevail through the land, I should not have the least apprehension or fear of being brought under the iron rod of slavery, even though all the powers of the globe were combined against us. And though I confess that the irreligion and profaneness which are so common among us gives something of a damp to my spirits, yet I cannot help hoping, and even believing, that Providence has designed this continent for to be the asylum of liberty and true religion; for can we suppose that the God who created us free agents, and designed that we should glorify and serve him in this world that we might enjoy him forever hereafter, will suffer liberty and true religion to be banished from off the face of the earth? But do we not find that both religion and liberty seem to be expiring and gasping for life in the other continent? – where, then, can they find a harbor or place of refuge but in this?

There are some who pretend that it is against their consciences to take up arms in defence of their country; but can any rational being suppose that the Deity can require us to contradict the law of nature which he has written in our hearts, a part of which I am sure is the principle of self-defence, which strongly prompts us all to oppose any power that would take away our lives, or the lives of our friends? Now, for men to take pains to destroy the tender feelings of human nature, and to eradicate the principles of self-preservation, and then to persuade themselves that in so doing they submit to and obey the will of God, is a plain proof how easily men may be led to pervert the very first and plainest principles of reason and common sense, and argues a gross corruption of the human mind. We find such persons are very inconsistent with themselves; for no men are more zealous to defend their property, and to secure their estates from the encroachments of others, while they refuse to defend their persons, their wives, their children, and their country, against the assaults of the enemy. We see to what unaccountable lengths men will run when once they leave the plain mad of common sense, and violate the law which God has written in the heart. Thus some have thought they did God service when they unmercifully butchered and destroyed the lives of the servants of God; while others, upon the contrary extreme, believe that they please God while they sit still and quietly behold their friends and brethren killed by their unmerciful enemies, without endeavoring to defend or rescue them. The one is a sin of omission, and the other is a sin of commission, and it may perhaps be difficult to say, under certain circumstances, which is the most criminal in the sight of Heaven. Of this I am sure, that they are, both of them, great violations of the law of God.

Having thus endeavored to show the lawfulness and necessity of defending ourselves against the tyranny of Great Britain, I would observe that Providence seems plainly to point to us the expediency, and even necessity, of our considering ourselves as an independent state. For, not to consider the absurdity implied in making war against a power to which we profess to owe subjection, to pass by the impracticability of our ever coming under subjection to Great Britain upon fair and equitable terms, we may observe that the British Parliament has virtually declared us an independent state by authorizing their ships of war to seize all American property, wherever they can find it, without making any distinction between the friends of administration and those that have appeared in opposition to the acts of Parliament. This is making us a distinct nation from themselves. They can have no right any longer to style us rebels; for rebellion implies a particular faction risen up in opposition to lawful authority, and, as such, the factious party ought to be punished, while those that remain loyal are to be protected. But when war is declared against a whole community without distinction, and the property of each party is declared to be seizable, this, if anything can be, is treating us as an independent state. Now, if they are pleased to consider us as in a state of independency, who can object against our considering ourselves so too?

But while we are nobly opposing with our lives and estates the tyranny of the British Parliament, let us not forget the duty which we owe to our lawful magistrates; let us never mistake licentiousness for liberty. The more we understand the principles of liberty, the more readily shall we yield obedience to lawful authority; for no man can oppose good government but he that is a stranger to true liberty.

Let us ever check and restrain the factious disturbers of the peace; whenever we meet with persons that are loth to submit to lawful authority, let us treat them with the contempt which they deserve, and even esteem them as the enemies of their country and the pests of society. It is with peculiar pleasure that I reflect upon the peaceable behavior of my countrymen at a time when the courts of justice were stopped and the execution of laws suspended. It will certainly be expected of a people that could behave so well when they had nothing to restrain them but the laws written in their hearts, that they will yield all ready and cheerful obedience to lawful authority. There is at present the utmost need of guarding ourselves against a seditious and factious temper; for when we are engaged with so powerful an enemy from without, our political salvation, under God, does, in an eminent manner, depend upon our being firmly united together in the bonds of love to one another, and of due submission to lawful authority. I hope we shall never give any just occasion to our adversaries to reproach us as being men of turbulent dispositions and licentious principles, that cannot bear to be restrained by good and wholesome laws, even though they are of our own making, nor submit to rulers of our own choosing. But I have reason to hope much better things of my countrymen, though I thus speak. However, in this time of difficulty and distress, we cannot be too much guarded against the least approaches to discord and faction. Let us, while we are jealous of our rights, take heed of unreasonable suspicions and evil surmises which have no proper foundation; let us take heed lest we hurt the cause of liberty by speaking evil of the ruler of the people.

Let us treat our rulers with all that honor and respect which the dignity of their station requires; but let it be such an honor and respect as is worthy of the sons of freedom to give. Let us ever abhor the base arts that are used by fawning parasites and cringing courtiers, who by their low artifices and base flatteries obtain offices and posts which they are unqualified to sustain, and honors of which they are unworthy, and oftentimes have a greater number of places assigned them than any one person of the greatest abilities can ever properly fill, by means of which the community becomes greatly injured, for this reason, that many an important trust remains undischarged, and many an honest and worthy member of society is deprived of those honors and privileges to which he has a just right, whilst the most despicable, worthless courtier is loaded with honorable and profitable commissions. In order to avoid this evil, I hope our legislators will always despise flattery as something below the dignity of a rational mind, and that they will ever scorn the man that will be corrupted or take a bribe. And let us all resolve with ourselves that no motives of interest, nor hopes of preferment shall ever induce us to act the part of fawning courtiers towards men in power. Let the honor and respect which we show our superiors be true and genuine, flowing from a sincere and upright heart.

The honors that have been paid to arbitrary princes have often been very hypocritical and insincere. Tyrants have been flattered in their vices, and have often had an idolatrous reverence paid them. The worst princes have been the most flattered and adored; and many such, in the pagan world, assumed the title of gods, and had divine honors paid them. This idolatrous reverence has ever been the inseparable concomitant of arbitrary power and tyrannical government; for even Christian princes, if they have not been adored under the character of gods, yet the titles given them strongly savor of blasphemy, and the reverence paid them is really idolatrous. What right has a poor sinful worm of the dust to claim the title of his most sacred Majesty? Most sacred certainly belongs only to God alone, – for there is none holy as the Lord, – yet how common is it to see this title given to kings! And how often have we been told that the king can do no wrong! Even though he should be so foolish and wicked as hardly to be capable of ever being in the right, yet still it must be asserted and maintained that it is impossible for him to do wrong!

The cruel, savage disposition of tyrants, and the idolatrous reverence that is paid them, are both most beautifully exhibited to view by the apostle John in the Revelation, thirteenth chapter, from the first to the tenth verse, where the apostle gives a description of a horrible wild beast which he saw rise out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his heads the names of blasphemy. By heads are to be understood forms of government, and by blasphemy, idolatry; so that it seems implied that there will be a degree of idolatry in every form of tyrannical government. This beast is represented as having the body of a leopard, the feet of a bear, and the mouth of a lion; i.e., a horrible monster, possessed of the rage and fury of the lion, the fierceness of the bear, and the swiftness of the leopard to seize and devour its prey. Can words more strongly point out, or exhibit in more lively colors, the exceeding rage, fury, and impetuosity of tyrants, in their destroying and making havoc of mankind? To this beast we find the dragon gave his power, seat, and great authority; i.e., the devil constituted him to be his vicegerent on earth; this is to denote that tyrants are the ministers of Satan, ordained by him for the destruction of mankind…

… Such a horrible monster, we should have thought, would have been abhorred and detested of all mankind, and that all nations would have joined their powers and forces together to oppose and utterly destroy him from off the face of the earth; but, so far are they from doing this, that, on the contrary, they are represented as worshipping him (verse 8): “And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him,” viz., all those “whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life”, i.e., the wicked world shall pay him an idolatrous reverence, and worship him with a godlike adoration. What can in a more lively manner show the gross stupidity and wickedness of mankind, in thus tamely giving up their just rights into the hands of tyrannical monsters, . . . and in so readily paying them such an unlimited obedience as is due to God alone?

We may observe, further, that these men are said (verse 4) to “worship the dragon”; – not that it is to be supposed that they, in direct terms, paid divine homage to Satan, but that the adoration paid to the beast, who was Satan’s vicegerent, did ultimately centre in him. Hence we learn that those who pay an undue and sinful veneration to tyrants are properly the servants of the devil; they are worshipers of the prince of darkness, for in him all that undue homage and adoration centres that is given to his ministers. Hence that terrible denunciation of divine wrath against the worshippers of the beast and his image: “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation, and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and the smoke of their torment ascendeth for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and who receive the mark of his name.”[6] We have here set forth in the clearest manner, by the inspired apostle, God’s abhorrence of tyranny and tyrants, together with the idolatrous reverence that their wretched subjects are wont to pay them, and the awful denunciation of divine wrath against those who are guilty of this undue obedience to tyrants.

Does it not, then, highly concern us all to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Heaven hath made us free, and to strive to get the victory over the beast and his image – over every species of tyranny? Let us look upon a freedom from the power of tyrants as a blessing that cannot be purchased too dear, and let us bless God that he has so far delivered us from that idolatrous reverence which men are so very apt to pay to arbitrary tyrants; and let us pray that he would be pleased graciously to perfect the mercy he has begun to show us by confounding the devices of our enemies and bringing their counsels to nought, and by establishing our just rights and privileges upon such a firm and lasting basis that the powers of earth and hell shall not prevail against it.

Under God, every person in the community ought to contribute his assistance to the bringing about so glorious and important an event; but in a more eminent manner does this important business belong to the gentlemen that are chosen to represent the people in this General Assembly, including those that have been appointed members of the Honorable Council Board.

Honored fathers, we look up to you, in this day of calamity and distress, as the guardians of our invaded rights, and the defenders of our liberties against British (in modern times it is the statist/socialist/radicals elected or appointed into the highest offices of governance in these United State that are carrying out) tyranny. You are called, in Providence (who are electec), to save your country from ruin. A trust is reposed in you of the highest importance to the community that can be conceived of, its business the most noble and grand, and a task the most arduous and difficult to accomplish that ever engaged the human mind – I mean as to things of the present life. But as you are engaged in the defence of a just and righteous cause, you may with firmness of mind commit your cause to God, and depend on his kind providence for direction and assistance. You will have the fervent wishes and prayers of all good men that God would crown all your labors with success, and direct you into such measures as shall tend to promote the welfare and happiness of the community, and afford you all that wisdom and prudence which is necessary to regulate the affairs of state at this critical period.

Honored fathers of the House of Representatives: We trust to your wisdom and goodness that you will be led to appoint such men to be in council whom you know to be men of real principle, and who are of unblemished lives; that have shown themselves zealous and hearty friends to the liberties of America; and men that have the fear of God before their eyes; for such only are men that can be depended upon uniformly to pursue the general good.

My reverend fathers and brethren in the ministry will remember that, according to our text, it is part of the work and business of a gospel minister to teach his hearers the duty they owe to magistrates. Let us, then, endeavor to explain the nature of their duty faithfully, and show them the difference between liberty and licentiousness; and, while we are animating them to oppose tyranny and arbitrary power, let us inculcate upon them the duty of yielding due obedience to lawful authority. In order to the right and faithful discharge of this part of our ministry, it is necessary that we should thoroughly study the law of nature, the rights of mankind, and the reciprocal duties of governors and governed. By this means we shall be able to guard them against the extremes of slavish submission to tyrants on one hand, and of sedition and licentiousness on the other. We may, I apprehend, attain a thorough acquaintance with the law of nature and the rights of mankind, while we remain ignorant of many technical terms of law, and are utterly unacquainted with the obscure and barbarous Latin that was so much used in the ages of popish darkness and Superstition.

To conclude: While we are fighting for liberty, and striving against tyranny, let us remember to fight the good fight of faith, and earnestly seek to be delivered from that bondage of corruption which we are brought into by sin, and that we may be made partakers of the glorious liberty of the sons and children of God: which may the Father of Mercies grant us all, through Jesus Christ.

AMEN.


[1] This shows the reason why the primitive Christians did not oppose the cruel persecutions that were inflicted upon them by the heathen magistrates. They were few compared with the heathen world, and for them to have attempted to resist their enemies by force would have been like a small parcel of sheep endeavoring to oppose a large number of ravening wolves and savage beasts of prey. It would, without a miracle, have brought upon them inevitable ruin and destruction. Hence the wise and prudent advice of our Saviour to them is, “When they persecute you in this city, flee ye to another.”

[2] The meaning is not that they have attempted to deprive us of liberty of conscience, but that they have attempted to take away those rights which God has invested us with as his creatures and confirmed in his gospel, by which believers have a covenant right to the good things of this present life and world.

[3] Each colony had a charter granted by the King at the time of the Colonies establishment.  The key element of these charters always included the element of self-governance.  When the charters were vacate, then the local assemblies did not have the capacity to regulate and chose judges and others as previously established in the charters. Additionally, the method of compensating the governor, judges and other official went from the colonial people to the King and Parliament.  This was a major affront since now those officials were dependent on the King and not the people for their salaries.

[4] The modern application is the driving of business off-shore due to regulation and taxation, the encroachment of international rules on private property and the destruction of morality and Christian religious freedom by international agreements.

[5] The modern application is accepting the encroachment of the Mohammedan such that the fundamental truths of Christianity are being wiped out of every aspect of the public squre.

[6] Rev. xiv. 9, 10.

Continued Parallels in Time…. Treachery, Conspiracy & Nepotism

You moderns have nothing over us, regarding all that we were challenged with!  In fact, You have many of the exact same core issues that we dealt with.  There have always been those devising plans to enslave there fellow man.  Constitutional self-governance is suppose to squelch this but as both the Federalist and Anti-federalist argued, it would require men of Christian morals and values to hold true to the fundamental purposes of governance, else treachery, conspiracy and nepotism would overcome the Rights of the Citizens.  An ever watchful Citizenry is required where as, the majority of you moderns are lulled to complacency and easy of entertainment.

You must come to the honest realization that mankind is of the same nature in your time as in mine regarding lust, self-interest, power-hunger and more characteristics that are inherently bent toward evil; to think that mankind is constantly improving for good and inherently good is to fool yourselves.  You have not proven that humanism and what we called utopianism – which is your Fabian socialist/Marxist ideologies have ever worked. You do not have an understanding of the real nature of humans as we clearly did through our Puritan, Protestant and Reformation Biblical worldview.  We approached our perspective of self-governance from the fundamental Truths that mankind cannot be trusted in and of themselves.  Writers like Knox and Rutherford challenged rulers to act according to principles of good governance, especially Biblical principles that govern the inner intentions and hearts of mankind.

With that, we will look at the corruption in bureaucratic governance, just as you too are experiencing at your present time.  (all emphasis added by the modern composer.)

TO: ARTHUR LEE

BOSTON April 19 1771.[i]

SIR

Your Letter of the 31 Decr which I receivd by Cap Scott a few days past affords me great Satisfaction; especially as it promises a Correspondence which I dare say will be carried on with an Openness & Sincerity becoming those who are anxiously concernd for the publick Liberty at so alarming a Crisis.[ii] Perhaps there never was a time when the political Affairs of America were in a more dangerous State; Such is the Indolence (wanting to avoid activity or exertion; lazy.) of Men in general, or their Inattention to the real Importance of things, that a steady & animated perseverance in the rugged path of Virtue at the hazard of trifles (a thing of little value or importance) is hardly to be expected. The Generality (the majority) are necessarily engaged in Application to private Business for the Support of their own families and when at a lucky Season the publick are awakened to a Sense of Danger, & a manly resentment is enkindled, it is difficult, for so many separate Communities as there are in all the Colonies (individual States), to agree in one consistent plan of Opposition while those who are the appointed Instruments of Oppression (the bureaucrats as in the IRS, EPA and other agencies not established directly in the Constitution), have all the Means put into their hands, of applying to the passions of Men & availing themselves of the Necessities of some, the Vanity of others & the timidity of all.

I have long thought that a Design has been on foot to render ineffectual the Democratical part of this Government, even before the province was cursed with the Appointment of Bernard (federal and bureaucrats loyal to statist, power mongers and Fabian ideologies), and so unguarded have the people been in former times, so careless in the Choice of their representatives as to send too many who either through Ignorance or Wickedness have favored that Design. Of late the lower house of Assembly (republican house of representatives and the Liberty Caucus) have been more sensible of this Danger & supported in some Measure their own Weight, which has alarmd the Conspirators and been in my opinion the true Source of Bernards Complaint (the present administration and bureaucrats) against them as having set up a faction against the Kings Authority (The President). The 4 Judges of the Supreme Court, the Secretary (of State) & the Kings Attourny (Attorney General) who had been Councellors were left out at the annual Election in 1766 (But fully included in your present time as are the unelected czars); (in the 20th & 21st centuries, the equivalent action would be at the local/state level as well as if the Senate refused to confirm any justices or agency heads.  This would cause great issue for the executive branch in the federal system of modern times); this gave great offence to the Govr, and was followd with two Speeches to both Houses perhaps as infamous & irritating as ever came from a Stuart to the English parliamt.[iii] (in modern times, most often the liberal/socialist leaning legislators as the supporters of big government and control over the people.  These self-seeking and self-promoting supporters of tyranny and despotism are the ones that give speeches that sound nice but are full of vile corruptions at the core.) Happy indeed it was for the Province (Massachusetts) that such a Man was at the Head of it, for it occasiond such a Jealousy & Watchfulness in the people as prevented their immediate & total Ruin. (The people must have an understanding of true liberty so that when the politicians and bureaucrats spew their sooth saying tyranny, the watchful rise up and call them what they are: liars, tyrants and thieves of the peoples wellbeing and resources.

The plan however is still carried on tho in a Manner some what different; (even in modern times there continues to be a plan to enslave America.) and that is by making the Governor altogether independent of the People for his Support (this has not happened in your modern times but you have bureaucratic agencies that trample the rights of the Citizenry); this is depriving the House of Representatives of the only Check they have upon him (and the agencies like the EPA, IRS, DHS and other) & must consequently render them the Objects of the Contempt of a Corrupt Administration. Thus the peoples Money being first taken from them without their Consent (in your day, with the consent of Congress you are over-burdened), is appropriated for the Maintenance of a Governor and agencies at the Discretion of one in the Kingdom of Great Britain (in the modern US, the President,) upon whom he absolutely depends for his Support. If this be not a Tyranny I am at a Loss to conceive what a Tyranny is. The House of Representatives did a few days since, grant the Govr the usual Sum for his Support and it is expected that this Matter will be made certain upon his refusal of it. The Govr of New York was explicit at the late Session of their Assembly, upon the like Occasion: But I confess I should not be surprisd if our good Govr, should accept the Grant & discount it out of what he is to receive out of the Kings Chest; thinking it will be conceivd by the Minister as highly meritorious in him, in thus artfully concealing his Independency (for the Apprehension of it is alarming to the people) & saving 1000 Pounds sterling of the revenue at the same time. –> (I hope that you moderns understand what corruption is being discussed here.  This would be similar to the issue in 2013 where an agent of the President (HHS Secretary) seeks, almost demands money’s, from private citizens and businesses to fund government activities when in fact there had already been some funding appropriated.  To the larger extent, our issue in my day was that the House of Representatives ensured that the officials in America were paid as per our original Charters of Self-governance, so that those officials in office would be beholding of the Citizenry.  Whereas, when the crown began to appoint the Govnr and the other bureaucrats, our Charters were being obviated.  Worse, when the crown via the Parliament began to pay these positions, including judges, directly; then they became beholden to their purchasers in England instead of having an attachment to the Liberties of the People. My original letter continues:

While the Representative Body of the people is thus renderd a mere Name, it is . . . considerd that the other Branch of the Legislative tho annually elective, is at the same time subject to the Governors Negative (veto): A Consideration which I doubt not has its full Weight in the minds of some of them at least, whenever any Matter comes before them which they can possibly think will affect the Measures of Administration. You will easily conjecture how far this may tend to annihilate that Branch or produce Effects more fatal. -> (In effect, this is what your modern Senate has become since the ratification of the 17th Amendment: A limited branch of government or the pawn of the administration if the majority is of the same party persuasion. You do not have the balance of legislature as the architects of the Constitution intended.  You have lost a primary means of the States to guard against a runaway administration!) continuing with my original thoughts:

It seems then that we are in effect to be under the absolute Governm’ of one Man – ostensively the Governor of the province (the modern states for the most part have lost their sovereignty due to the 17th Amendment and the strings attached to the federal dollars they take.) but in Reality some other person residing in Great Britain (and in your modern times, he who resides in DC, and that the Congress has granted the Administrative branch powers and authority it never should have had.  In essence establishing the expectations of the people to a one-man responsibility to rule.), whose Instructions the Govr must punctually observe upon pain of forfeiting his place (the federal dollars). So that any little advantage that might now & then arise from his happening to form Connections with wise Men in the province are totally lost. As Matters are now circumstanced he must associate with (all the federal agencies and bureaucrats that were called:) Pensioners, Commissioners of the Customs Officers of the Army & Navy, Tools Sycophants &c who together with him are to make such representations as to them shall seem meet, & joyntly if Occasion shall require it, execute such Orders as they shall from time to time receive. Such is to be the happy Government of free British Subjects in America. I will however do Govr Hutchinson the Justice to say that tho he may [iv], yet he has a very natural Connection with some of the principal Gentlemen Inhabitants of the province for his Excellencys own Brother is a Justice of the Superior Court, & also a Judge of the probate of Wills & he has also a Brother by marriage upon the same superior Bench. Moreover the Lt Govr is his Brother by marriage who has an own Brother & a Brother by marriage who are justices of the Superior Court. As these Gentlemen are Natives of the province it is hoped the Channells of Justice will remain unpolluted notwithstanding his Excellencys other Connections.

The Modern Application and Conclusion:  There has always been corruption in government and to the extent that Great Britain was suffering the debauchery of immoral men on the throne and his agents in Parliament, the actions of rejecting the original Charters of self-governance for the Colonies and establishing rule through a non-representative group only loyal to the king.  The correlation to the U. S. at the beginning of the 21st Century and the majority of the early 1700’s in America is uncanny.  The moral substance was at a low in the Colonies until the Preaching of the First Great Awakening moved the people to understand personal responsibility and reignited the desire for moral self-governance extended into the leadership.  Nepotism was rampant but the hope always was that those born in America and holding various positions of authority would be true to the principles of those that settled the Colonies in the 1600’s.

Such is true in modern times, that the hope that those who are Natural Citizens and elected to office would hold true to the principles of those that set the United States onto the world scene as an independent sovereign nation.  And so in modern times there is also the plans of statists via many affronts, especially from international treaties initiated in the United Nations that are destroying the sovereignty of the individual, community, states and nation. So too as in the 1700, the people are lulled by the jumble of patronizing politicians and distractions including frivolity, and sadly those that are maintaining the substance of life for their families have little time to engage in the activities for the soul of their Liberties.

As Sam Adams pressed into the hearts and minds of the Citizens in the 1700’s, It is only through individuals understanding personal responsibility through a moral guide established on Reformed Religion, that Liberty can be clearly understood.  And in the case of this letter, the corruption in government is at hand and only through the actions of the Citizenry can it be made to reflect the Liberty that the Founders set into motion.


[i] Ms., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.

[ii] On January 10, 1771, Lee wrote to Adams: Our friend Mr. Sayre has done me the favour of communicating to me your very obliging invitation to a correspondence.”-R. H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, vol. i., p. 249.

[iii] See Vol. I., pages 79, 83.

[iv] At this point the words “mar a State of Absolute Independency in both Houses of Assembly” are erased in the draft.  Pages 76 – 78  http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/2092/pg2092.html      4/16/11 11:41 AM

 

 

Tyranny By Any Other Name

In a letter to the Town of Plymouth, March 24, 1766, I commented that those in the central government were imposing on us what we saw initially as a form of subtle tyranny and expansion in oppression: I wrote: “In the Times in which we live, even these very Times, (they) may furnish some future Historian with a Catalogue of those (events), who look upon our rising Greatness with an envious eye; and while we and our Sister Colonies, have been exerting our growing Strength in the most substantial services to the Mother Country (the central government), (national politicians) by Art (strategy) and Intrigue (secret plans) have wickedly attempted to deceive her (Parliament) into Measures to enslave us…”  Yet your modern historians have No or little regard to all that was endeavored by our early founders and How our Charters, being the same as your state constitutions, were maligned by those who hated our Christian faith as Puritans to the degree that our Original Charters were annulled in in 1684; and then the central government even turned our merchants into “smugglers” by virtue of the Navigation Acts.  This tyranny, or unreasonable and arbitrary use of power, was an assault on our Religious Liberty, our Commerce, our Manufacturing and on our secured Liberties under the Magna Charta.

My question to you must be: What is Liberty to you moderns?  Do you have any real heart-felt sense of what we viewed Liberty to be?  I am convinced that your view of Liberty is nothing like that which we fought for – humanists have perverted your ideas – whereas we clearly defined our perspective of Liberty based on Covenant ideas as set forth by our Puritan Fathers.  With that foundational idea of Liberty in mind, I continued in the letter to Plymouth, “If then Gentlemen, the Inhabitants of this Metropolis, have discovered an invariable Attachment to the Principles of Liberty, when it has been invaded:  If they have made the most vigorous Exertions for our Country when she has been threatened with the Loss of every Thing that has been dear: If they have used their utmost Endeavors that she may be relieved from those Difficulties, with which She is at this Time embarrassed; If they have taken the Legal and warrantable Measures to prevent that Misfortune of all others the most to be dreaded, the Execution of the Stamp Act; and as a necessary Means of preventing it, have made any Spirited Applications for opening the Custom House and Courts of Justice; If at the same Time they have bore their Testimony against outrageous Tumults and illegal proceedings, and given any Example of the Love of Peace & good order next to the consciousness of having done their Duty is the Satisfaction of meeting with the Approbation of any of their Fellow Countrymen – “

When a central government acts with the form of law to impose the will of a few over the Rights of the Citizenry – This is called Tyranny.  “Where Law ends, (says Mr. Locke) Tyranny begins, if the Law be transgress’d to anothers harm”: During these times of trouble pressed on us by the national government, we had to make decisions as individual communities and as colonies, now states, to not allow the national government to restrict our Rights as citizens and impose fees and taxes that restricted our abilities to commerce, manufacture, print news papers, engage in legal proceedings, educate and suspend virtually every act of living – with out government requiring oversight and payment.  It is obvious that you moderns are facing almost the entire same conundrum from your central government by it wanting to consolidate power and obviate the state charters – state constitutions.

We acted with request for redress and relief from the acts of usurpation and tyrannical impositions.  The use of law to over-regulate and tax is a means of enslavement.  Even more so, when it came to the keeping of the peace in the communities we were for the most part self-policing.  We had no law enforcement other than administratively with the Sheriff.  And, when the law enforcers are militarized, this is a tyranny we lived through as well as central government troops sent to “keep the peace” with the quartering of armed troops in our city.  I noted “No man can pretend to say that the peace and good order of the community is so secure with soldiers quartered in the body of a city as without them. Besides, where military power is introduced, military maxims are propagated and adopted, which are inconsistent with and must soon eradicate every idea of civil government – Do we not already find some persons weak enough to believe, that an officer is obliged to obey the orders of his superior, tho it be even AGAINST the law!”

Militarization of your modern law moderators, law enforcement, is akin to quartering troops within your towns and cities.  This we would have abhorred now as we did in Boston in 1768 and again in 1774.  With this I added in my Article in the Boston Gazette, “And let any one consider whether this doctrine does not directly lead even to the setting up that superior officer, whoever he may be, as a tyrant.  It is morever to be observ’d that military government and civil, are so different from each other, if not opposite, that they cannot long subsist together.  Soldiers (federal agencies like your Department of Homeland Security) are not govern’d properly by the laws of their country (or your State), but by a law made for them only:  This may in time make them look upon themselves as a body of men different from the rest of the people; and as they and they only have the sword (in your day, fully select-fire arms and ammunition) in their hands, they may sooner or later begin to look upon themselves as the LORDS and not the SERVANTS of the people: Instead of enforcing the execution of law, which by the way is far from being the original intent of soldiers (and militarized local law enforcement or federal agents), they may refuse to obey it themselves:  Nay, they may even make laws for themselves and enforce them by the power of the sword (or modern arms)!  Such instances are not uncommon in history, and they always will happen when troops (or militarized police and agents) are put under the direction of an ambitious or a covetous governor (or an appointed government official)!”  You saw and accepted this militarized action in Boston in April 2013! You did not act as a citizenry that understands self-governance but allowed your Liberty to be trampled on for the sake of momentary security.  Mr. Franklin would have retorted that you “deserve neither security or Liberty”!

“…Whenever it becomes a question in prudence, whether we shall make use of legal and constitutional methods to prevent the incroachments of ANY KIND OF POWER, what will it be but to depart from the straight line, to give up the LAW and the CONSTITUTION, which is fixed and stable, and is the collected and long digested sentiment OF THE WHOLE, and to substitute in its room the opinion of individuals, than which nothing can be more uncertain: The sentiments of men in such a case would in all likelihood be as various as their sentiments in religion or anything else; and as there would then be no settled ride for the publick to advert to, the safety of the people would probably be at an end.”  So then your president, who is know to have and stated that he will obviate Congress, in 2013 tells university graduates to fully trust the government and not listen to those that talk about Tyranny.  What a Tory usurper you have elected!  When I presented my Masters thesis in 1743 it was entitled: “Whether it be lawful to resist the Supreme Magistrate, if the Commonwealth cannot be otherwise preserved.”  This challenge was in Respect to all that my Founding Fathers had endured, what I learned from studying Reformation History and leaders such as Knox, Winthrop, Rutherford and others that understood good governance based on Godly principles.  But you reject those principles of this Nations Foundation for the likes of humanist and vain philosophies of Darwin, Marx, Alinsky and their ilk.

Oh my Fellow Citizens, My desire is “That the Spirit of our venerable Forefathers, may revive and be defused through every Community in this Land: That Liberty Civil and Religeous, the grand Object of their View, may still be felt enjoyd & vindicated by the present Generation, and the fair Inheritance, transmitted to our latest Posterity, is the fervent wish of the Metropolis (and this modern nation as a whole).” That you clearly understand, as de Tocqueville described “the softer form of Tyranny” – That hides itself in the words of “elected guardians” encouraging the citizenry to search for false hopes, security and economy – without understanding their Foundational History – becomes known to you if a manner of real oppression such that you will take heart to rise up and demand the Liberty of your Forefathers.  That you will desire this Liberty with such passion that you will Act in your local communities – Restoring true Foundational Principles for yourselves and your posterity.

**Parens and Italics added for modernization and emphasis.

Parallels In Time

How does this description of England in 1772 describe your present day?

“But, in England, during the reign of George the Third, society among both sexes had reached the extreme of profligacy (definition: recklessly extravagant or wasteful in the use of resources; a licentious, dissolute person), corruption, and immorality. The severe virtues of the New England creed and practice, if known, would have been ridiculed in polite society, where all sacred things were habitually treated with disrespect. The rotten borough system, by which seats in Parliament were openly bought and sold, was but a small portion of the universal depravity.  The Twelfth Parliament, which closed in 1768, “had never been rivalled for its bold profligacy.” It was the most “shameless in its corruption ” of any that had ever been ‘known.  “It was corrupt, and knew itself to be corrupt, and made a jest of its corruption.” Nor was this changed when the New House succeeded. “Corruption lost nothing of its effrontery; ten and even a hundred thousand pounds were paid for boroughs; and the purchasers were the legislators whose measures stripped England of her great inheritance,—America.  Franklin bears witness to the mobs and riots at this time. Clergymen, by their loose morals, cast discredit upon the Church, and it was fashionable to scoff at religion.  The greatest statesmen were notorious for their excesses. The beaus were perfumed and painted like women, took a woman’s time over the toilette, wore silks, brocades, and lace embroidery, and, even to cross the street, were carried in chairs. Gaming was the reigning vice, in which all classes engaged: whole fortunes were lost and won at a sitting, and ladies compromised themselves at the card-table. Some of the chief places of resort where fashionable ladies and gentlemen assembled, such as Ranelagh, Vauxhall, Mrs. Cornely’s, and the Pantheon, were sinks of indescribable infamy; and Mr. Massey, in his History of this period, declares that, from the accession of the House of Hanover to the end at least of the first ten years of the reign of George the Third, the depravity of English manners was not excelled in the decline of the Roman Empire or the decay of the old French monarchy.”[1]

“It was to guard their own remote land from the like vices of England and the Europe mainland, that the Boston press constantly enjoined upon the people the values frugality, moderation, and temperance. I, Samuel Adams, above all others, interwove these counsels into my writings, and never ceased to warn my countrymen, “in their little corner of the world,” against the introduction of English luxuries and effeminacy. Devoid of bigotry or intolerance in any form, I could promote innocent pleasures, but sternly warred against the demoralizing influence of these foreign invaders, which I held up as embodied in “standing armies and ships of war, episcopates (definition: the office or term of office of a bishop), and their numerous ecclesiastical retinue, pensioners, placemen, and other jobbers for an abandoned and shameless Ministry (bureaucracy), hirelings, pimps, parasites, panders, prostitutes, and whores.”  I held that the “religion and public liberty of a people are intimately connected,” and I warned my readers of the apparent plan to poison their morals, as a preliminary to the destruction of their liberties! “Remember, my countrymen,” said I, “it will be better to have your liberties wrested from you by force, than to have it said that you implicitly surrendered them.”[2]

You must under stand that one of the formidable books that I read and took to heart in every aspect, such that my Masters Thesis “Whether it be lawful to resist the Supreme

Magistrate, if the Commonwealth cannot be otherwise preserved,” was the “Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos – A Defense of Liberty Against Tyrants.”  I highly suggest that you read it to understand one book that touched the minds and hearts of Liberty loving leaders of my day. You moderns can find it to read at this location.

Regarding Liberty, I must bring this Circular to your minds and hearts again!  At the age of twenty-six, in 1748 I wrote “Loyalty and Sedition.” Here is what you need to hear again for this very moment in history:

“There is no one thing which mankind are more passionately fond of, which they fight with more zeal for, which they possess with more anxious jealousy and fear of losing, than liberty. But it has fared with this, as with many other things, that the true notion and just definition of it has been but little understood, at the same time that zeal for it and disputes about it have produced endless altercations.

“There is, there certainly is such a thing as liberty, which distinguishes man from the beasts, and a society of wise and reasonable creatures from the brutal herd, where the strongest horns are the strongest laws. And though the notions of men were ten times more confused and unsettled, and their opinions more various about this matter than they are, there yet remains an internal and essential distinction between this same liberty and slavery.

“…In the state of nature, every man has a right to think and act according to the dictates of his own mind, which, in that state, are subject to no other control and can be commanded by no other power than the laws and ordinances of the great Creator of all things. The perfection of liberty therefore, in a state of nature, is for every man to be free from any external force, and to perform such actions as in his own mind and conscience he judges to be Tightest; which liberty no man can truly possess whose mind is enthralled by irregular and inordinate passions ; since it is no great privilege  to be free from external violence if the dictates of the mind are controlled by a force within, which exerts itself above reason.

“This is liberty in a state of nature, which, as no man ought to be abridged of, so no man has a right to give up, or even part with any portion of it, but in order to secure the rest and place it upon a more solid foundation; it being equally with our lives the gift of the same bounteous Author of all things.  As, therefore, no man’s life is his own in such a sense as that he may wantonly destroy it at his own pleasure, or submit it to the wanton pleasure of another, so neither is his liberty. And had mankind continued in that innocent and happy state in which the sacred writings represent them as first created, it is possible that this liberty would have been enjoyed in such perfection as to have rendered the embodying into civil society and the security of human laws altogether needless.

“But though in the present corrupt and degenerate times no such state of nature can with any regularity exist, it will not, however, be difficult from the description we have given of liberty in that state to form the true notion and settle the just bounds of it in a state of society and civic government. But here, too, we must distinguish and consider liberty as it respects the whole body and as it respects each individual. As it respects the whole body, it is then enjoyed when neither legislative nor executive powers (by which I mean those men with whom are intrusted the power of making laws and of executing them) are disturbed by any internal passion or hindered by any external force from making the wisest laws and executing them in the best manner; when the safety, the security, and the happiness of all is the real care and steady pursuit of those whose business it is to care for and pursue it; in one short word, where no laws are carried through humor or prejudice, nor controlled in their proper execution by lust of power in the great, nor wanton licentiousness in the vulgar.

“As it respects individuals, a man is then free when he freely enjoys the security of the laws and the rights to which he is born; when he is hindered by no violence from claiming those rights and enjoying that security, but may at any time demand the protection of the laws under which he lives, and be sure when demanded to enjoy it. This is what I take to be liberty; and considered in this light, all the  fine things said of it by ancient and modern do justly belong to it. O Libertas! Dea certe! — it is the choicest gift that Heaven has “lent to man; an emanation from the Father of Lights; an image and representation of the government of the Supreme Director of all things, which, though it can never be controlled by any superior  force, is yet ever guided by the laws of infinite wisdom.

“But alas! in this exalted sense, liberty is rather admired in the world than truly enjoyed. What multitudes of persons are there who have not so much as the shadow of it! who hold their property and even their lives by no other tenure than the sovereign will of a tyrant, and he often the worst and most detestable of men, who, to gratify the least humor or passion in his nature, does not scruple to massacre them by thousands! Sure it is true what orthodox divines tell us, that men are apostate from God, since in his righteous providence he subjects so many of them to such miserable fate!

“But there are other states and civil societies in the world, the model of whose government seems to promise the sure enjoyment of this blessing; which yet, if we attentively examine, we shall find to be really destitute of it. We shall often find, that where the forms of it are observed, the substance of it is wanting; for, as that man is truly a slave, who, though impelled by no external violence, is yet carried away by the impetuosity of his passions to do those things which are abhorrent from his nature and his reason, so neither can the people be called free, who, though they make their own laws, are yet blinded by prejudice and diverted by undue influence from uniformly pursuing their own interest.”

I’ll not bore you moderns with much more of what I wrote about securing Liberty but I will leave you with this, “From this happy Constitution of our mother country, ours in this is copied, or rather improved upon. Our invaluable charter secures to us all the English liberties, besides which we have some additional privileges which the common people there have not. Our fathers had so severely felt the effects of tyranny and the weight of the bishop’s yoke, that they underwent the greatest difficulties and toils to secure to themselves and transmit to their posterity those invaluable blessings; and we, their posterity, are this day reaping the fruits of their toils. Happy beyond expression! – in the form of our government, in the liberty we enjoy,— if we know our own happiness and how to improve it. But neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man. We must not conclude merely upon a man’s haranguing upon liberty, and using the charming sound, that he is fit to be trusted with the liberties of his country.  It is not unfrequent to hear men declaim loudly upon liberty, who, if we may judge by the whole tenor of their actions, mean nothing else by it but their own liberty — to oppress without control or the restraint of laws all who are poorer or weaker than themselves. It is not, I say, unfrequent to see such instances, though at the same time I esteem it a justice due to my country to say that it is not without shining examples of the contrary kind;— examples of men of a  distinguished attachment to  this same Liberty I have been describing; whom no hopes could draw, no terrors could drive, from steadily pursuing, in their sphere, the true interests of their country; whose fidelity has been tried in the nicest and tenderest manner, and has been ever firm and unshaken.

“The sum of all is, if we would most truly enjoy this gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people: then shall we both deserve and enjoy it. While, on the other hand, if we are universally vicious and debauched in our manners, though the form of our Constitution carries the face of the most exalted freedom, we shall in reality be the most abject slaves.”


[1] Life & Public Service of Samuel Adams, Vol. 1, William Wells, 1865, Pg. 503

[2] Ibid

Is Your Healthcare Laws Like the Stamp Act?

Yes, there are again the similarities to my day and yours.  Is your new healthcare laws not similar in cost and effect to “the Stamp Act” of my day? Is it not that the forced purchase of a government approved method or system removing your choices and like the Stamp Act forcing government approval of every activity of your freedom to live?  Are not the cost such that there are no benefit to you but are excessive and impacting businesses – driving up their cost to function and become even more the forced “tax collector” of the government?  And, is not that government hiring more agents to enforce this healthcare debacle?  Oh, how many are the parallels to the Stamp Act!

Are not the many other Liberty affecting costly regulations and laws not like the marshaling of Parliament against the We The People of the 1700’s? Do not fall into the servitude of those who would lull you to sleep with words of “for the common good” since they only have their good – their best interests in mind.  Remember, it was the merchants of England and the war debt that pressured the Parliament to enslave the American people by taxing and restricting their ability to do local manufacturing and other local business.  Your impositions by our own elective bodies brings tears to my eyes and grieves my heart.  I hoped for a moral people to live in Liberty but I see a shackled people licking the hands of tyrants.

We forced the repeal of the Stamp Act! Will you have the courage and will to force the repeal of this same destroyer of Liberty and economy?  I pray you do!

Here is an exert of the article I wrote in 1771 in the Boston Gazette:

“For my own part, I cannot but at present be of opinion, and “I have reason to believe” that my opinion is well founded, that the measures of the British administration of the colonies, are still as disgustful and odious to the inhabitants of this respectable metropolis in general, as they ever have been: And I will venture further to add, that nothing, in my opinion, can convey a more unjust idea of the spirit of a true American, than to suppose he would even compliment, much less make an adulating address to any person sent here to trample on the Rights of his Country; or that he would ever condescend to kiss the hand which is ready prepared to rivet his own fetters – There are among us, it must be confess’d, needy expectants and dependents; and a few others of sordid and base minds, form’d by nature to bend and crouch even to little great men: – But whoever thinks, that by the most refined art and assiduous application of the most ingenious political oculist, the “public eye” can yet look upon the chains which are forg’d for them, or upon those detestable men who are employ’d to put them on, without abhorrence and indignation, are very much mistaken – I only wish that my Countrymen may be upon their guard against being led by the artifices of the tools of Administration, into any indiscreet measures, from whence they may take occasion to give such a coloring. “There have been, says the celebrated American Farmer, in every age and in every country bad men: Men who either hold or expect to hold certain advantages by fitting examples of SERVILITY to their countrymen: Who train’d to the employment, or self-taught by a natural versatility of genius, serve as decoys for drawing the innocent and unwary into snares. It is not to be doubted but that such men will diligently bestir themselves on this and every like occasion, to spread the infection of their meanness as far as they can. On the plans they have adopted this is their course. This is the method to recommend themselves to their patrons. They act consistently in a bad cause. They run well in a mean race. From them we shall learn, how pleasant and profitable a thing it is, to be, for our submissive behavior, well spoken of at St. James’s or St. Stephen’s, at Guildhall or the Royal Exchange.”

“We cannot surely have forgot the accursed designs of a most detestable set of men, to destroy the Liberties of America as with one blow, by the Stamp-Act; nor the noble and successful efforts we then made to divert the impending stroke of ruin aimed at ourselves and our posterity. The Sons of Liberty on the 14th of August 1765, a Day which ought to be for ever remembered in America, animated with a zeal for their country then upon the brink of destruction, and resolved, at once to save her, or like Samson, to perish in the ruins, exerted themselves with such distinguished vigor, as made the house of Dogon to shake from its very foundation; and the hopes of the lords of the Philistines even while their hearts were merry, and when they were anticipating the joy of plundering this continent, were at that very time buried in the pit they had digged. The People shouted; and their shout was heard to the distant end of this Continent. In each Colony they deliberated and resolved, and every Stampman trembled; and swore by his Maker, that he would never execute a commission which he had so infamously received

“We cannot have forgot, that at the very Time when the stamp-act was repealed, another was made in which the Parliament of Great- Britain declared, that they had right and authority to make any laws whatever binding on his Majesty’s subjects in America – How far this declaration can be consistent with the freedom of his Majesty’s subjects in America, let any one judge who pleases – In consequence of such right and authority claim’d, the commons of Great Britain very soon fram’d a bill and sent it up to the Lords, wherein they pray’d his Majesty to accept of their grant of such a part as they were then pleas’d, by virtue of the right and authority inherent in them to make, of the property of his Majesty’s subjects in America by a duty upon paper, glass, painter’s colours and tea. And altho’ these duties are in part repeal’d, there remains enough to answer the purpose of administration, which was to fix the precedent. We remember the policy of Mr. Grenville, who would have been content for the present with a pepper corn establish’d as a revenue in America: If therefore we are voluntarily silent while the single duty on tea is continued, or do any act, however innocent, simply considered, which may be construed by the tools of administration, (some of whom appear to be fruitful in invention) as an acquiescence in the measure, we are in extreme hazard; if ever we are so distracted as to consent to it, we are undone.”

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