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letters, threats, or promises, to obstruct the due course of the laws, or countenance and abet, or discountenance and brow-beat any man's cause whatsoever. In fine, they say the laws that are incapable of partiality, interest, or passion, ought so to govern, as no man should be subject to the crooked will, or corrupt affections, of any man.
IÍ. The levellers second maxim or principle about government is, that all the laws, levies of monies, war, and peace, ought to be made by the people's deputies in parliament, to be chosen by them successively at certain periods of time, and that no council. table, orders, or ordinances, or court-proclamations, to bind the people's persons or estates. It is the first principle of a people's liberty, that they shall not be bound but by their own consent; and this our ancestors left to England as its undoubted right, that no laws to bind our persons or estates could be imposed upon us against our wills; and they challenged it as their native right, not to be controuled in making such laws as concerned their common right and interests, as may appear by the parliaments records in the time of Edward the Sccoud, and Richard the Second. The levellers say, that those, whose interests are in all things one with the whole people's, are the only proper uninterested judges of what laws are most fit to preserve and provide for that common interest. Such are the people in parliament rightly constituted and methodised, and they may be depended upon to provide remedies for the people's grievances, because they themselves are sharers in every common grievance, and they will be naturally led to study the common good, because they shall share in it. But, if a mo. narch's pleasure should controul the people's deputies in their parliaments, the laws must be fitted for the interest of the monarch and his family, to keep him in a condition to overtop the people, not for the common and equal good of the whole nation; and then the monarch's fears on the one hand, lest the people should be able to diminish his greatness, or that he should hold his greatness at their mercy; and the people's fears on the other hanch lest the monarch should be able to make them slaves, and they come to hold their estates and lives at his mercy. These, I say, would set two opposite interests always at contention, in the composing of laws; and the wisdom and industry of the people's deputies, that should be spent in contriving the advancement of the people's common good in the laws, would be taken up, endeavouring to defend and preserve the people's interests against the monarch's: therefore, say the levellers, it is equal, necessary, and of natural right, that the people by their deputies should chuse their own laws. Yet they conceive it would be of much greater good to our country, if our parliaments were moulded into a better form, and some deputies were chosen by the people, only to give their consent or dis. sent unto laws proposed ; and other deputies were chosen for senators, that should consult and ate of the necessity and conveniency of all laws, levies of inonies, war, and peace, and then propose all to the great assembly of the people's deputies, tu res
solve ; that so the proposing and resolving power, not being in the same assembly, all faction and private interests may be avoided, which may possibly arise in a single council, vested with the sole sovereign law-making power. This second doctrine of the level. lers had been fit for all England to have asserted some years since, and then so many fatherless and widows had not now been weep. ing for their lost husbands and fathers in Jamaica, and other foreign countries ; nor had so many families been ruined, nor England impoverished by the loss of trade, occasioned by the Spanish war, begun and prosecuted upon private interests or fancies, without advice or consent of the people in parliament.
IJI. The levellers assert it, as another principle, that every man, of what quality or condition, place or office whatsoever, ought to be equally subject to the laws. Every man, say they, high and low, rich and poor, must be accountable to the laws, and either obey them, or suffer the penalties ordained for the transgressors. There ought to be no more respect of persons, in the execution of the laws, than is with God himself, if the law be transgressed. No regard should be had who is the offender, but of what kind, nature, and degree, is the offence. It is destructire to the end of a government by law, that any magistrate, or other, should be exempt from the obedience or justice of the laws. It dissolves the government, ipso facto, and exposeth all the peo. ple to rapine and oppression, without security of their persons and estates, for which the laws are intended ; therefore, say they, great thieves, and little, must alike to the gallows; and the meanest man as readily and easily obtain justice and relief of any injury and oppression, against the greatest, as he shall do against the lowest of the people; and therefore, say they, it ought not to be in the power of any single person to defend himself from the impartial stroke of the laws, or to pervert justice by force; and that brings in their fourth principle, viz.
IV. That the people ought to be formed into such a constant military postore, by and under the commands of their parliament, that, by their own strength, they may be able to compel every man to be subject to the laws, and to defend their country from foreigners, and inforce right and justice from them, upon all emergent occasions. No government can stand without force' of arms, to subdue such as shall rebel against the laws, and to defend their territories from the rapine and violence of strangers; and the people must either hire mercenary soldiers, to be the guardians of their laws, and their country, or take the care upon themselves, by disposing themselves into a posture of arms, that may make. them ready and able to be their own guard. Now, say the level. lers, it is neither prudent nor sale that the people's arms should be put into mercenary soldiers hands. What reason can induce any people to believe that their laws, estates, liherties, and lives, shall be more secure in the hands of mercenaries, than in their own? Who can think his estate, his liberty, or his lise, in safety, when he knows they are all at the mercy and will of hirelings,
that are led by no other motive than that of profit or pay to serve them ? and may be led by any proposal, or temptation of greater profit or pay, to desert them.
All ages have afforded sad experiments of trusting their strength in the hands of mercenary armies ; most nations who have kept them, at least in their own bowels, having been devoured by them. Did not the Egyptian king, by trusting the arms in hirelings hands, lose both his crown and life, and brought the people to be slaves to the Mamulakes for near two hundred years? Was not the famous commonwealth of Rome ruined and inslaved by their negligent permission of Julius Cæsar (upon his advantage of long continuing general) to form a mercenary army? Did not the inha. bitants of Rhegium perish by the hands of the Roman legion, left to be their mercenary defenders ? And were not our ncighbours of Amsterdam lately very near the loss of their estates and liber. ties by their own mercenary army? And, say the levellers, the people have less reason to trust to mercenaries, to defend their country from foreigners, than they have to preserve their estates and liberties from domestick oppression. How can their valour or fidelity be depended upon, when a small stipend only obligeth them to either? and, if they be conquered one day, they are ready to serve the conqueror next day, it being their professed principle to serve where they can have best and most certain pay.
But, say the levellers, when the people, who are owners of a country, are disposed into a military form, they fight pro aris & focis; they are sensible that they have more at stake than a daily stipend, and are in no hopes to better their conditions, by division amongst themselves, or by betraying their country to foreigners. Thus, say they, is it prudent and safe for the people to be masters of their own arms, and to be commanded, in the use of them, by a part of themselves (that is, their parliaments) whose interest is the same with theirs.
These four foregoing maxims contain the sum of all the level. lers doctrine about our government in externals; (whose princi. ples, without naming one of them, have been rendered so prodi. gious, and of such dangerous consequence) but let the reader judge, whether the liberty, happiness, and security of every En. glishman be not sought in the endeavours to establish those foun. dations of equal justice and safety; neither can they be charged herein with novelty or inconstancy, the same fundamentals of go. vernment having been claimed by our ancestors, as their right, for many hundred years.
And the late long parliament proposing the same to the people, as the things to be defended by the late war; alledging, that the king had set up courtiers to govern, instead of laws, by imprison. ing at pleasure, and during pleasure; and that he had attempted to make proclamations, and council-table orders, to be as binding as the laws that the people made by their parliaments; and that the king had cxempted himseli, and others, from subjection to the
laws, and pretended a right to the militia, to command the peo. ple's arms, without their consent; and, in confidence of the pár. liament's real intentions and fidelity in what they proposed, the people spared neither treasure nor blood to preserve themselves, and their declared native rights. And, therefore those, called Levellers, do now challenge their principles of justice and freedom, as the price of their blood; and, however many of the parliament's friends, and adherents, have since deserted their first pretences, yet, the levellers say, they can give no account to the righteous God of the blood they have shed in the quarrel, nor to their own consciences, of their duty to themselves, their fanilies, and country, to preserve their laws, rights, and liberties; if they should not persist in their demands and endeavours, to establish the go. Ferament in what form soever, upon the foundation of the princi. ples herein declared ; and therein they would acquiesce, humbly praying the Father of all Wisdom, so to direct their law-makers and magistrates, that all God's people might enjoy their spiritual christian liberties, in worshipping God according to their consciences; and they heartily wish, that such a liberty may be settled, as another fundamental or corner-stone in the goo Ternment.
But the designers of oppression having also thrown dirt in the faces of those, whom they have named levellers, in the matters of retigion, and aspersed them sometimes as jesuits, sometimes as notorious hereticks, and sometimes as licentious atheists, men of no religion ; it is necessary that I should acquaint the reader with their principles that relate unto religion. I do not mean to give an account of their faith ; for the men, branded with the name of levellers, are, and may be under several dispensations of light and knowledge in spiritual things, in which they do not one judge the other; yet they are all professors of the christian reformed reli. gion, and do all agree in these general opinions about religion, and the
power of men over it.
First, 'They say, that all true religion in men is founded upon the inward consent of their understandings and hearts, to the truths revealed; and that the understanding is so free, that it is not in the power of men to compel it to, or restrain it from a consent; nothing but the irresistible evidence of a truth can gain a consent, and, when the evidence is clear to any man's understanding, he himself, much less another howsoever potent, cannot so much as suspend an assent. Therefore, no man can compel another to be religious, or by force or terror constrain the people to be of the true religion.
Secondly, They say, that the last dictate of every man's under. standing, in matters of faith and God's worship, is the last voice of God to him, and obligeth him to practise accordingly; if a man be crroneously informed, yet the misconceptions, he hath of truth, bind him to practise erroneously, and, should he resist that seeming light, though it should be in truth darkness, his sin would
be much greater, and of worse consequence, than if he follows by his actions his erroneous conceptions; therefore the only means to promote the true religion, under any government, is to endeavour rightly to inform the people's consciences, by whose dictates God commands them to be guided; and therefore Christ ordained the preaching of the gospel, as the outward means for converting souls; faith coming by hearing: and he also ordained spiritual ordinances for the conviction, instruction, and punishment of erroneous and heretical persons; the scripture commanding the erroneous to be instructed with the spirit of meekness, and admo. nished privately, publickly, &c. And Christ never mentioned any penalties to be inflicted on the bodies or purses of unbelievers, because of their unbelief.
Thirdly, 'levellers say, that there are two parts of true reli.. gion, the first consists in the right conceptions, and receptions of God, as he is revealed by Christ, and sincere adorations of him in the heart or spirit, and the expressions or declarations of that worship outwardly, in and by the use of those ordinances that are appointed by Christ, for that purpose. The second part of it consists in works of righteousness, and mercy, towards all men, done in obedience to the will of God, and in imitation of his jus. tice and goodness to the whole world.
The first part, being wholly built upon the foundation of re. vealed truths, doth in its own nature absolutely exclude all possi. bility of man's being lord of his brother's faith, unless the under. standing or faith of a magistrate could constrain the faith or understanding of others, to be obedient to his, or rather to be transformed into the likeness of his : And therefore therein every man must stand or fall to his own master, and having done his duty, rightly to inform his neighbour, must give an account to God, of himself only.
But the second part of religion falls both under the cognisance or judgment of man, and the law-makers, or magistrates power. Christ hath taught his followers to judge of men's religion by their works: By their fruits,” saith he, ye shall know them, for men do not gather grapes of thorns.” Whosoever, be it a court, or an army, or a single person, pretend to religion, and yet remain treacherous wherein they are trusted, and continue in the breach of their promises, and are not conscientious to do to others, as they would that they should do to them, but can, without regard to justice, seize by force of arms upon the people's rights, due to them by God's law of nature, and their ancestors agreement; and subject their persons, and estates, to their wills, or their ambition and covetousness, and make themselves great by oppressions out of the people's purses ; those men's religion, men may clearly judge, being vain by the scriptures judgment, yea their prayers, and their preaching, as abominable in God's eyes, as were the fasts, new moons, and sabbaths of the Jews, which were then also God's ordinances, whilst their hands were defiled