« AnteriorContinuar »
particular person may lawfully, by force, resist illegal destructive ministers, though sent by the command of a legal sovereign, provided no other means of self-preservation be enough. This assumption the doctor seems to grant; he denies it to be lawful against the person of the prince, but, in effect, yields it against subordinate persons. But the main is against the proposition; and the doctor is so heavy a friend to the state, that he thinks it not fit to allow it that liberty he gives every private man. But, whose judgment will concur with his herein, I cannot imagine; for sure the reason is greater, the publick safety being far more precious and able to satisfy the damages of a publick resistance, than one particular man's is of a private. But of this more in answer to his reasons.
Fourthly, Because it is a power put into the two estates by the very reason of their institution; and therefore they not only may, but also ought to use it for publick safety; yea, they should betray the very trust reposed in them, by the fundamentals of the kingdom, if they should not. An authority legislative they have: Now to make laws, and to preserve laws, are acts of the same power; yea, if three powers jointly have interest in making of laws, surely either of these severally have, and ought to use that power in preserving them: Also, that the authority which the houses have is as well given them for preserving the government by established laws, as for establishment of laws to govern by, is a truth proved by the constant use of their power to that end, in correcting the exorbitance of inferior courts, and questioning delinquent judges and officers of state for violations; and much is done in this kind by the sole authority of the houses, without the concurrence or expectance of royal power: So then, supposing they have such an authority for safety of publick government, to question or censure inferior officers for transgressions, though pretending the king's authority, can it be denied but that their authority will bear them out to use forcible resistance against such, be they more or fewer?
Fifthly, The king's warrant, under his hand, exempts not a malefactor from the censure of a court of justice, nor punishment imposed by law, but the judge must proceed against him according to law; for the law is the king's publick and authoritative will; but a private warrant todoan unlawful act, is his private and unauthoritative will; wherefore the judge ought to take no notice of such warrant, but to deal with the offender as no other than a private man. This proves that such instruments, thus illegally warranted, are not authorised, and therefore their violence may be, by force, resisted, as the assaults of private men, by any; and then much rather by the houses of parliament; which, supposing them divided from the king to have no complete authority, yet, sure they have two parts of the greatest legislative authority. But I fear I shall seem superfluous, in producing arguments to prove so clear a truth. Is it credible that any one will maintain so abject an esteem of their authority, that it will not extend to resistance of private men, who should endeavour the subversion of the whole frame of government, on no other warrant than the king's will and pleasure? Must they be merely pas* sive? Is patience, and the denial of their votes to a subversion, aU the opposition they must use, if a king (which God forbid) should, on his royal pleasure, send cut-throats to destroy them as they sit in their houses? Is all their authority (if the king desert them or worse) no more than to petition, and suffer; and, by a moderate use of their power of denying, dissent from being willing to be destroyed? If the power of resisting by force subverters armed by the king's will (for by his authority they cannot) be unlawful for them, all these absurdities must follow: Yea, the vilest instrument of oppression, shewing but a warrant from the king to bear him out, may range and rage all his days through a kingdom, to waste and spoil, tax and distrain, and at the utmost of his insolence, must have no more done to him by the parliament itself, than to stay his hand, as the basest servant may his master's, or the meanest subject the king's own hand, by the doctor's own confession. Consider then, and admire, if any man of learning will deny this power of forcible resistance of ministers, of subverting commands to be lawful. I have, thus far, confirmed my assertion, not that I find any openly opposing it, but because the doctor and some others seem to have a mind that way, and do strike at it, though not professedly and in open dispute.
For the several proofs brought in behalf of resistance, some of them prove as much as is here asserted; others are not to the purpose: Particularly, that of the people's rescuing Jonathan from his father's bloody resolution, proves the lawfulness of hindering unreasonable self-destructive purposes, even in absolute monarchies, if it prove any thing. That of Uzzah's thrusting out by the priests, is not to the purpose; but David's raising and keeping forces about him, and his purpose at Keilah, proves the point directly, viz. lawfulness of forcible resistance of cut-throats, even though Saul himself were in presence: This the doctor sees plainly,and therefore shuffles it off, by saying, his example is extraordinary; as if he were not a present subject, because he was designed by God's revealed counsel to be a future king. And he confesses Elisha's example, of shutting the door against the king's messenger, proves personal defence against sudden illegal assaults of messengers, which is the thing in question.
Arguments on the contrary dissolved.
Let Us now view the strength of what is said against resistance, whether any thing comes home against this assertion. The doctor's proofs from the Old Testament come not to the matter: Moses, and afterwards the kings, were of God's particular designation, setting them absolutely over the people, on no condition or limitation; so that, did they prove any thing, yet they concern not us, respecting a government of another nature: But particularly, that of Corah, and the princes, rebelling against Moses, is not to the matter; it was a resistance of Moses's own person and office; and, doubtless, penury of other proofs caused this, and the rest here, to be alledged: For that, \ Sam, viii, 18, how inconsequent is it to say, the pcopla should cry unto the Lord, therefore they had no other means to help them but cries to God; though, I confess, in that monarchy they had aot. That speech, 1 Sam. xxvi. 9, was most true there, and is as true here, but not to the purpose, being spoken of the king's own person. But the main authority, brought against resistance, is that, Rom. xiii. and on that Dr. Fern builds his whole discourse. Let us therefore something more largely consider what is deduced out of that text: First, he supposes the king to be the supreme in St. Peter, and the higher power in St. Paul. Secondly, He collects all persons, every soul is forbidden to resist. Thirdly, That then was a standing senate, which, not long before, had the supreme power in the Roman state, it is confessed; but that they could challenge more at that time when St. Paul writ, than our great council will or can, I deny; for, that state devolving into monarchy by conquest, they were brought under an absolute monarchy, the senate itself swearing full subjection to the prince; his edicts and acts of will were laws, and the senate's consent only pro forma, and at pleasure required. He who reads Tacitus, cannot but see the senate brought to a con. dition of basest servitude, and all laws and lives depending on the will of the prince: I wonder then the doctor should make such a parallel. Indeed, the senate had been far more than ever our par. liaments were, or ought to be; but now, that was far less than our parliament hath been, or, I hope, ever will be: They were become the sworn vassals of an absolute emperor; ours, the sworn subjects of a liege or legal prince. Fourthly, he says, Then was more cause of resistance, when kings were enemies to religion, and had over. thrown laws and liberties. I answer, there were no causes for resistance; not their enmity to religion, had they but a legal power, because religion then was no part of the laws, and so its violation was no subversion of established government. And, for the over. throw of laws and liberties, that was past and done, and the govern. ment new, the senate and all the rest actually sworn to absolute principality. Now an ordinance of absolute monarchy was con. stituted, the sacred bond of an oath had made it inviolate. But what would he infer hence, all being granted him? Sure this he doth intend, that every soul amongst us, several, and conjoined in a senate, must be subject for conscience, must not resist, under pain of damnation. All this, and whatever besides he can justly infer out of this text, we readily grant. But can any living man hence collect, that therefore no resistance may be made to fellow-subjects, executing destructive illegal acts of the prince's will in a legal monarchy? Will he affirm that the ordinance of God is resisted, and damnation incurred there. by? God's ordinance is the power, and the person invested with that power; but here, force is offered to neither, as before I have made it appear. And herein we have Bishop Bilson consenting, where he says, * that the superior power, here forbidden to be resisted, is not the prince's will against his laws, but agreeing with his laws. I think the day itself is not more clear than this satisfaction, to all that can be concluded out of that text; so the foundation of all that discourse is taken from it, if his intent was thence to prove unlawfulness of resistance of instruments of arbitrariness in this kingdom.
Let us also consider the force of his reasons, whether they impugn this point in hand. He says, such power of resistance would be no fit means of safety to a state, but prove a remedy worse than the diseases. His reasons, 1. Because it doth tend to the overthrow of that order, which is the life of a commonwealth; it would open a way to people, upon the like pretences, to resist, and even overthrow power duly administered. 2. It may proceed to a change of government. 3. It is accompanied with the evils of civil war. 4. On the same ground the two houses proceed against the king, may the people proceed to resistance against them, accusing them not to discharge their trust. Lastly, seeing some must be trusted in every state, it is reason the highest and final trust should be in the highest power. These are his main reasons on which he builds his con, elusion against resistance.
To his first, I say, it were strange, if resistance of destructive disorder should tend to the overthrow of order. It may, for the time, disturb, as physick, while it is in working, disturbs the natural body, if the peccant humours make strong opposition; but sure it tends to health, and so doth this resistance of disorder to order. Neither would it open a way for the people to violate the powers; for doing right can open no way to the doing of wrong. If any wicked seditious spirits should make use of the veil of justice to cover unnatural rebellion, shall a people's right and liberty be taken from them to prevent such possible abuse? Rather let the foulness of such pretences discover itself, so God and good men will abhor them; such clokes of rebellion have, in former ages, been taken off, and the authors brought to just confusion, without the expence of the liberties of this kingdom.
To the second, must not instruments be resisted, which actually intend, and seek a change of government, because such resistance may proceed to a change of government? Is not an unlikely possibility of change to be hazarded, rather than a certain one suffered? But I say, it cannot proceed to a change of government, unless it exceed the measure of lawful resistance; yea, it is impossible that resistance of instruments should ever proceed to a change of government; for that includeth the greatest resistance and violation of the person and power of the monarch, the lawfulness of which I utterly disclaim.
Thirdly, It is not ever accompanied with the evils of civil war, but when the prince's will finds enough instruments of their country's ruin to raise it; and then the mischiefs of that war must light on those which raise it. But suppose it may ensue, yet a temporary evil of war is to be chosen rather than a perpetual loss of liberty, and subversion of the established frame of a government.
In the fourth, I deny the parity of reason; for the two houses are bodies constituted and endowed with legislative authority, and trust of preservation of the frame, by the fundamentals of the kingdom; which the people, out of those houses, are not. Again, the government being composed of a threefold consenting power, one to restrain the exorbitance of another: All three together are absolute and equivalent to the power of the most absolute monarch. The concurrent will of all three makes a law, and so it is the kingdom's law. • ■
To the last, I answer, In every state some must be trusted, and the highest trust is in him who hath the supreme power. These two, the supreme trust, and the supreme power, are inseparable; and such as the power is, such is the trust; an absolute power supposes an absolute trust! A power, allied with the connexion of another power, as here it is, supposeth a trust of the same nature. A joint trust, yet, saving the supremacy of the monarch, so far forth as it may be saved, and not be absolute, and the other's authority nullified. It may be further argued, that it being the prerogative royal to have the managing of the sword, that is, legal force in the kingdom; none can, on any pretence whatever, use lawful force, either against him, or any, but by his will; for it is committed to him by law, and to none but whom he assigns it to; so that the laws of the kingdom, putting all power of force and arms into his trust, have placed him, and all those who serve him, in a state of irresistibleness in respect of any lawful force. This is a point much stood on, and, on this ground, the parliament now assuming the disposing of the militia by an ordinance, it is complained on, as a usurping of what the law hath committed to the king, as his prerogative; the opposing of which ordinance, by a commission of array, was the beginning of this miserable civil war. I will distinctly lay down my answer hereto, submitting it to every impartial judgment.
1. The power of the sword, being for defence of the laws, by punishing violators, and protecting subjects, it is subservient to government, and must needs belong to him who is intrusted with the government, as a necessary requisite, without which he cannot perform his trust.
2. As it is an appendix to the power of government, and goes along with it, so it goes under the same terms, belonging to the prince, as the other doth, scil. absolutely, to use at will, where the monarchy is absolute, or with limitation, to use according to law, where the monarchy is limited; so that, in this government, the arms and sword of the kingdom is the king's, to a defined use committed to him, viz. For defence of the laws and frame of government established, and not for arbitrary purposes, or to inable ministers to execute commands of mere will.
3. The two houses, in vertue of the legislative authority, in part residing in them, are interested in the preservation of laws and government, as well as the king: And, in case the king should misemploy that power of arms to strengthen subverting instruments; or, in case the laws and government be in apparent danger, the king refusing to use the sword to that end of preservation for which it was committed to him; I say, in this case, the two estates may, by