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THE MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF LORDS,
THE MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS.
With the public at large, political truth needs no other recommendation than to be seen and recognized. From authority, it can never expect a hearty welcome. Every important accession will emanate from the people, and not from their rulers.-(Prinsep's Trans. of Say's Pol. Econ.)
I desire to be informed, whether the following may be addressed to you, without any violation of the law of this nation.
It has been stated in the preceding Essay, what the late judge Blackstone affirms : viz. “ upon these two foundations, the Law of Nature, and the Law of Revelation, depend all Human Laws; that is to say, no Human Laws should be suffered to contradict these."
The Essay also states, in accordance with the history of England, that, in October, 1066, William the Norman subjugated this country; and that he and his descendants, have since appointed themselves its chief magistrates.
That this William also appointed a hereditary legislative, (now called the house of lords,) since his time maintained by the persons appointed by him, and their descendants, and by others chosen by succeeding chief magistrates, and their descendants.
That one of William's successors, either with or without the concurrence of the members of the hereditary legislative, contemporary with such successor, allowed a portion of the people to return an elected legislative, (now called the house of commons,) which has been maintained by the appointment of the successors of such portion of the people, until very recently. The constitution of the house of commons was then altered ; the change being called a reform of parliament.
And that the chief magistrates, with the consent of the hereditary legislative, before the elected one was appointed, and after the latter arose, with the consent of it also, have made and executed laws for this nation.
It also appears that the late chief magistrates and yourselves, affirm, that the constitution of this nation was established and has been maintained, in accordance with the will of the Most High. This affirmation is particularly made in the two following ways : by the portraits of the present and late chief magis trates, being imprinted on its metallic currency, with an inscription as to each, purporting that he holds his office in accord. ance with the divine will; and by this being also declared in various places in the common prayer-books of the church.
When things are said to be done in accordance with this holy will, the expression may be taken either that they are simply permitted by Heaven, as is the case with all unlawful acts; or that they are sanctioned by Heaven, as is the case with all lawful ones. In this latter sense, the inscriptions on our metallic currency, and the expressions in the prayer-books of the church, are obviously intended.
But, however clearly yourselves, and some, or all, the constituents of the elected legislative, may comprehend that the Constitution of this nation is lawful in the sight of God; it is undeniable, that very many Englishmen are too ignorant to understand that it is so :-of these, I am not ashamed to confess myself one; for, though I have diligently studied the subject for some years, comparing the Constitution with the Divine Law ;—that is, the Law of Nature, republished in the Law of Revelation, comprised in the following words of the Lord Jesus Christ;— Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself;' or thus,• All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them ;'-I have not been able to discover that you have
any right whatever, to make and execute laws for the people of this nation; nor that the constituents of the elected legislative have any right whatever to appoint that body. I desire to be understood, not as affirming any thing, either for or against the right of any of you, or of those that appoint some of you; all that I say, is, that I have not sufficient capacity to understand in what manner, what you call your and their rights, accrue.
As to the Constitution of a nation, or any other matter, there can be but one way of obeying the Divine Law. Thus, though different nations, or the same nation in different ages, may vary as to the number of persons that shall form their legislatives and executives, one mode only of appointing the legislative and executive of any nation or age; i. e., what the number for both shall be, and who the particular persons are to be that shall constitute such number; can be in accordance with the Divine Law. There cannot be two ways of obeying any The government of a nation must obviously emanate from the whole or part of such nation; there being no other mode con
ceivable. Two things, therefore, demand inquiry :—the first, whether a Constitution, in accordance with the Divine Law, may, or may not, emanate from a part of the nation : the second, if it appears that it lawfully may, who, in accordance with the Divine Law, should constitute such part? Though it shall appear it may issue from a part, comprising, suppose, an hereditary executive, hereditary legislative, and an elected legislative, emanating from certain of the people ; this will only make known, what the Constitutions of all the nations of the world should be ; leaving the determination of the question as to the persons who are to be the chief magistrates, members of the two legislatives, and the constituents of the elected legislative, in all nations, and all their ages, wholly untouched.
It is therefore necessary to determine ;-first, whether the British Constitution is in accordance with the Divine Law or the will of God, and if it shall be found to be so; secondly,how it appears, also in accordance with this holy Law, that the chief magistrate has any exclusive or greater right to the chief magistracy, than any other adult native male of this nation ;how it appears, also in accordance with the Divine Law, that of the members of the lords' house of parliament, any one of them individually has any exclusive or greater right to assist to make and execute the laws, than any other native adult male ;-or that all the lords collectively have any exclusive or greater right to assist to make and execute the laws, than any other like number of native adult males of this nation:-and, lastly, how it appears, also in accordance with the Divine Law, that of the constituents of the members of the commons' house of parliament; any one of such constituents individually has any exclusive or greater right to assist in appointing persons, to assist to make and execute the laws of this nation, than any other native adult male; or that all the constituents collectively, have any exclusive or greater right, to appoint persons to assist to make and execute the laws, than any other like number of native adult males of this nation.
And it being apparent to all good men, that the constant application of the name of God, as a sanction to a thing that is lawful, even when it is indisputably so; is an act of great impiety, in those who do not clearly comprehend its lawfulness it is expedient, that the rigorous accordance of the Constitution and Code of this nation, and of the rights of yourselves by virtue of such constitution, with the standard laid down by judge Blackstone—the Divine Law; should be made out to the satisfaction of all reasonable men.
Wherefore, in the glorious and fearful name of the Lord God Almighty! and in vindication of his government of mankind ; I solemnly declare to you, that it is expedient, that, with the least possible delay, you appoint a Committee; the members thereof all being able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness, selected from all the people;' —who in the sight,—not only of their own countrymen,but of all mankind, the holy angels in Heaven, and the Lord God Almighty himself;—do make the undermentioned inquisitions. And that your Committee be directed to report to you thereon, as well as of such other matters, as to it shall seem meet:
1. Whether the Constitution and Code of this nation are appointed in accordance with the Divine Law?
2. Supposing they are found to be so,-Whether the persons who make and execute the laws, and those that elect some of those that assist to do these things, are or are not appointed in accordance with the Divine Law?
3. If the Constitution, as at present appointed, is not in accordance with the Divine Law;-what is that Constitution which does therewith accord?
4. Supposing the Constitution of any country in any age, and the persons appointed by virtue of it, are both in accordance with the Divine Law; whether any and what persons, may lawfully supersede, or alter the Constitution; and change any or all those appointed to make and execute the laws ?
If, then, your Committee reports as follows :
Let it be assumed, that precisely the same things may occur in North America, in reference to its Constitution and Code, as have occurred here, since the Norman conquest. In such case, at their termination, the Americans may be thus addressed :
The Divine Law, as far as relates to the intercourse of men with each other, is all comprised in the following words :- Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' And this law is binding on every individual of the human race, as to the whole conduct of each, in all nations, and in all ages; from the time of the appearance of the Lord Jesus on earth, now upwards of eighteen hundred years since, until another dispensation arrives from Heaven. He therefore who appoints himself, or actively permits others to be appointed to make or execute the laws in any nation, to the exclusion of any native adult males, from having a voice in such appointments; utterly contravenes the Divine Law; as, by so acting, he does not love his excluded neighbours as himself. superiority,” says Blackstone,“ any man can obtain over another, is to make laws by which he shall be bound.”
The only Constitution, therefore, that can be established and maintained in any country or age in accordance with the Divine Law, or will of God, is a legislative and executive appointed by all the native adult males, determining by their majority;--that is, a PURE DEMOCRACY. Hereby, alone, can those who appoint the persons that shall make and execute the laws, -and the members of the legislative and executive themselves, obey the Divine Law; that is, as to each, love his neighbours as himself.–Thus it is, by this holy Law, that erery man that comes into the world, derives from God himself, the Author of the Law, an exact equality of political right, with all other men! Every man is therefore necessarily accountable to the Most High for the exercise of such right: it being the divine prerogative alone, to determine the rights of any and all men. And what God purposes,-who shall disannul?
Consequently, supposing a Constitution to be purely Democratic, the nation, declaring by their majority, have a right to supersede any or all the persons appointed to make and execute the laws, for no other reason, than that so to do is their will. As then, when the makers and executors of the laws of any nation,
« The greatest in any age, are appointed in accordance with the Divine Law, the majority of the nation have a right to supersede any or all such law-makers and executors; no question can be made about their having the right so to do, when the makers and executors of the laws are not appointed in accordance with this holy Law.
No principles of sound law being more clear, than that all the members of any nation in any age, declaring by their majority, are those who by divine appointment,-alone have the right to establish, maintain, or alter a constitution, and change (whenever so to do shall to them seem fit,) any or all the persons appointed by virtue of it, to make or execute the laws : no power, human or divine, being lawfully able to interfere between men and their Creator.
But where from a long course of unrighteous government, the state of the people generally renders them unfit to have an instant change, made to that which is righteous; a legislative and executive appointed not in accordance with the Divine Law, may retain its power; but sufficiently long only, to prevent some of the evils arising out of such instant change.
With this exception, the assumption or retention of the legislative or executive offices is unlawful in the sight of God. And all the acts done by a legislative and executive, appointed in contravention of the Divine Law, for however many ages they may have been maintained, are not only null and void, to all intents and purposes whatever, as far as the object of righteous government is concerned; but each separate act is a treasonable one against the administration of Heaven.
The whole of the chief magistrates, from and including the Conqueror, down to and including the present one, have been appointed in contravention of the Divine Law. No one of them ever has held office for the purpose of superseding his appointment by a state of things conforming to this Law. No one of the chief magistrates, from the conquest to the demise of the late chief magistrate, consequently, ever had, nor the present one now has, any title whatever to his or her office, in accordance with such holy Law. All the acts of each, therefore, have been of power without right !
The members of the house of lords, having been appointed by the chief magistrates, it necessarily follows that neither such members, nor the descendants of any of them, ever had, nor the existing members now have; any title whatever, in accordance with the Divine Law, to assist in legislating for the American nation. All the acts of such house, from its foundation to the present hour, have, therefore, also been of power without right!
The constituents of the elected legislative, having been originally appointed by the chief magistrate and hereditary legislators living at the time of such appointment, and such constituents always comprising a part only of the native adult males; have never had any title whatever, either individually or collectively, in accordance with the Divine Law; exclusively to appoint, or exclusively to assist in appointing, an elected body, to assist in legislating for the American nation. All the acts of its constituents, have, therefore, also been of power without right!
The members, therefore, of the house of commons, appointed by such constituency, necessarily, neither individually nor collectively, have ever, in accordance with the Divine Law, had any right to assist in legislating for the American nation. All the acts of such elected legislative, have, therefore, also been of power without right!
The Constitution and Code of laws, having thus been appointed and maintained, in contravention of the Divine Law, are utterly unlawful ; and therefore binding on the nation until such time only, as they can be conveniently superseded by those that accord with this holy Law.
Not only, therefore, the chief magistrate, and the members of both houses of parliament, are all illegally appointed; but necessarily all other persons by any of them chosen, or that they have directed others to choose, to administer the laws, or in any way uphold their administration.
The whole of the land is unlawfully held.
The whole of the taxation, whether parliamentary, parochial, or ecclesiastical, is unlawfully assessed and levied.