Founding Documents: Second Treatise
1694 John Locke
- State of Nature
- Right to Private Property
- Origins of Political Society
- Purpose of Government
- Right to Revolution
The State of Nature
To understand Political Power aright, and derive it from its Original, we must consider what State all Men are naturally in, and that is, a State of perfect Freedom to order 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 other Man.
A State also of Equality, wherein all the Power and Jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another, there being nothing more evident, than that Creatures of the same species and rank promiscuously born to all the same advantages of Nature, and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal one amongst another without Subordination or Subjection, unless the Lord and Master of them all, should by any manifest Declaration of his Will set one above another, and confer on him by an evident and clear appointment an undoubted Right to Dominion and Sovereignty.
But though this be a State of Liberty, yet it is not a State of Licence, though Man in that State have an uncontroleable Liberty, to dispose of his Person or Possessions, yet he has not Liberty to destroy himself, or so much as any Creature in his Possession, but where some nobler use, than its bare Preservation calls for it. The State of Nature, has a Law of Nature to govern [it] which obliges every one, and Reason, which is that Law, teaches all Mankind, who will but consult it; That being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his Life, Health, Liberty, or Possessions; for Men being all the Workmanship of one Omnipotent, and infinitely wise maker; All the Servants of one Sovereign Master, sent into the World by his order and about his business, they are his Property, whose Workmanship they are, made to last during his, not one anothers Pleasure. And being Furnished with like Faculties, sharing all in one Community of Nature, there cannot be supposed any such Subordination among us, that may Authorize us to destroy one another, as if we were made for one anothers uses, as the inferior ranks of Creatures are for ours, every one as he is bound to preserve himself, and not to quit his Station willfully; so by the like reason when his own Preservation comes not in competition, ought he as much as he can to preserve the rest of Mankind, and may not unless it be to do Justice on an offender, take away, or impair the life, or what tends to the Preservation of the Life, Liberty, Health, Limb or Goods of another.
And that all Men may be restrained from invading others Rights, and from doing hurt to one another, and the Law of Nature be observed, which willeth the Peace and Preservation of all Mankind, the Execution of the Law of Nature is in that State, put into every Mans hands, whereby everyone has a right to punish the transgressors of that Law to such a Degree, as may hinder its Violation. For the Law of Nature would as all other Laws that concern Men in this World be in vain, if there were no body that in the State of Nature, had a Power to Execute that Law, and thereby preserve the innocent and restrain offenders, and if any one in the State of Nature may punish another, for any evil he has done, every one may do so. For in that State of perfect Equality, where naturally there is no superiority or jurisdiction of one, over another, what any may do in Prosecution of that Law, every one must needs have a Right to do.
To this strange Doctrine, viz. That in the State of Nature, every one has the Executive Power of the Law of Nature, I doubt not but it will be objected; That it is unreasonable for Men to be Judges in their own Cases, that selflove will make Men partial to themselves and their Friends. And on the other side, that Ill Nature, Passion and Revenge will carry them too far in punishing others. And hence nothing but Confusion and Disorder will follow, and that therefore God hath certainly appointed Government to restrain the partiality and violence of Men. I easily grant, that Civil Government is the proper Remedy for the Inconveniences of the State of Nature, which must certainly be Great, where Men may be Judges in their own Case, since 'tis easie to be imagined, that he who was so unjust as to do his Brother an Injury, will scarce be so just as to condemn himself for it: But I shall desire those who make this Objection, to remember that Absolute Monarchs are but Men, and if Government is to be the Remedy of those Evils, which necessarily follow from Mens being Judges in their Own Cases, and the State of Nature is therefore not to be endured, I desire to know what kind of Government that is, and how much better it is than the State of Nature, where one Man commanding a multitude, has the Liberty to be Judge in his own Case, and may do to all his Subjects whatever he pleases, without the least question or controle those who Execute his Pleasure? And in whatsoever he doth, whether led by Reason, Mistake or Passion, must be submitted to? Which men in the State of Nature are not bound to do one to another; And if he he that Judges, Judges amiss in his own, or any other Case, he is answerable for it to the rest of Mankind.
'Tis often asked as a mighty Objection, Where are, or ever were, there any Men in such a State of Nature? To which it may suffice as an answer at present; That since all Princes and Rulers of Independent Governments all through the World, are in a State of Nature, 'tis plain the World never was, nor never will be, without Numbers of Men in that State. I have named all Governors of Independent Communities, whether they are, or are not, in League with others; For 'tis not every Compact that puts an end to the State of Nature between Men, but only this one of agreeing together mutually to enter into one Community, and make one Body Politick; other Promises and Compacts, Men may make one with another, and yet still be in the State of Nature. The Promises and Bargains for Truck, &c. between the two Men in the Desert Island, mentioned by Garcilasso De la vega, in his History of Peru, or between a Swiss and an Indian, in the Woods of America, are binding to them, though they are perfectly in a State of Nature, in reference to one another. For Truth and keeping of Faith belongs to Men, as Men, and not as Members of Society.
To those that say, There were never any Men in the State of Nature; I will not only oppose the Authority of the Judicious Hooker, Eccl. Pol. Lib. I. Sect 10…But I moreover affirm, That all Men are naturally in that State, and remain so, till by their own Consents they make themselves Members of some Politick Society; And I doubt not in the Sequel of this Discourse, to make it very clear.
The Right to Private Property
But the chief matter of Property being now not the Fruits of the Earth, and the Beasts that subsist on it, but the Earth it self; as that which takes in and carries with it all the rest: I think it is plain, that Property in that too is acquired as the former. As much Land as a Man Tills, Plants, Improves, Cultivates, and can use the Product of, so much is his Property. He by his Labour does, as it were, inclose it from the Common. Nor will it invalidate his right to say, Every body else has an equal Title to it; and therefore he cannot appropriate, he cannot inclose, without the Consent of all his FellowCommoners, all Mankind. God, when he gave the World in common to all Mankind, commanded Man also to labour, and penury of his Condition required it of him. God and his Reason commanded him to subdue the Earth, i.e. improve it for the benefit of Life, and therein lay out something upon it that was his own, his labour. He that in Obedience to this Command of God, subdued, tilled and sowed any part of it, thereby annexed to it something that was his Property, which another had no Title to, nor could without injury take from him.
Nor was this appropriation of any parcel of Land, by improving it, any prejudice to any other Man, since there was still enough, and as good left; and more than the yet unprovided could use. So that in effect, there was never the less left for others because of his inclosure for himself. For he that leaves as much as another can make use of, does as good as take nothing at all. No Body could think himself injur'd by the drinking of another Man, though he took a good Draught, who had a whole River of the same Water left him to quench his thirst. And the Case of Land and Water, where there is enough of both, is perfectly the same.
God gave the World to Men in Common; but since he gave it them for their benefit, and the greatest Conveniencies of Life they were capable to draw from it, it cannot be supposed he meant it should always remain common and uncultivated. He gave it to the use of the Industrious and Rational, (and Labour was to be his Title to it;) not to the Fancy or Covetousness of the Quarrelsom and Contentious. He that had as good left for his Improvement, as was already taken up, needed not complain, ought not to meddle with what was already improved by another's Labour: If he did, 'tis plain he desired the benefit of another's Pains which he had no right to, and not the Ground which God had given him in common with others to labour on, and whereof there was as good left, as that already possessed, and more than he knew what to do with, or his Industry could reach to.
The measure of Property, Nature has well set, by the Extent of Mens Labour, and the Conveniency of Life: No Man's Labour could subdue, or appropriate all; nor could his Enjoyment consume more than a small part; so that it was impossible for any Man, this way, to intrench upon the right of another, or acquire, to himself, a Property, to the Prejudice of his Neighbour, who would still have room, for as good, and as large a Possession (after the other had taken out his) as before it was appropriated, which measure did confine every Man's Possession, to a very moderate Proportion, and such as he might appropriate to himself, without Injury to any Body, in the first Ages of the World, when Men were more in danger to be lost, by wandering from their Company, in the then vast Wilderness of the Earth, than to be straitned for want of room to plant in. And the same measure may be allowed still, without prejudice to any Body, as full as the World seems. For supposing a Man, or Family, in the state they were at first peopling of the World by the Children of Adam, or Noah; let him plant in some inland, vacant places of America, we shall find that the Possessions he could make himself upon the measures we have given, would not be very large, nor, even to this day, prejudice the rest of Mankind, or give them reason to complain, or think themselves injured by this Man's Incroachment, though the Race of Men have now spread themselves to all the corners of the World, and do infinitely exceed the small number was at the beginning. Nay, the extent of Ground is of so little value, without labour, that, I have heard it affirmed, that in Spain it self, a Man may be permitted to plough, sow, and reap, without being disturbed, upon Land he has no other Title to, but only his making use of it. But, on the contrary, the Inhabitants think themselves beholden to him, who, by his Industry on neglected, and consequently waste Land, has increased the stock of Corn, which they wanted. But be this as it will, which I lay no stress on; this I dare boldly affirm, That the same Rule of Propriety, (viz.) that every Man should have as much as he could make use of, would hold still in the World, without straitning any body, since there is Land enough in the World to suffice double the Inhabitants, had not the Invention of Money, and the tacit Agreement of Men, to put a value on it, introduced (by Consent) larger Possessions, and a Right to them; which, how it has done, I shall, by and by, shew more at large.
This is certain, That in the beginning, before the desire of having more than Man needed, had altered the intrinsick value of things, which depends only on their usefulness to the Life of Man; or had agreed, that a little piece of yellow Metal, which would keep without wasting or decay, should be worth a great piece of Flesh, or a whole heap of Corn; though Men had a Right to appropriate, by their Labour, each one to himself, as much of the things of Nature, as he could use: Yet this could not be much, nor to the Prejudice of others, where the same plenty was still left, to those who would use the same Industry.
Origin of Political Society
Man being born, as has been proved, with a Title to perfect Freedom, and an uncontrouled enjoyment of all the Rights and Priviledges of the Law of Nature, equally with any other Man, or Number of Men in the World, hath by Nature a Power, not only to preserve his Property, that is, his Life, Liberty and Estate, against the Injuries and Attempts of other Men; but to judge of, and punish the breaches of that Law in others, as he is perswaded the Offence deserves, even with Death it self, in Crimes where the heinousness of the fact, in his Opinion, requires it. But because no Political Society can be, nor subsist without having in it self the Power to preserve the Property, and in order thereunto punish the Offences of all those of that Society: There, and there only is Political Society, where every one of the Members hath quitted this natural Power, resign'd it up into the hands of the Community in all cases that exclude him not from appealing for Protection to the Law established by it. And thus all private judgment of every particular Member being excluded, the Community comes to be Umpire, by settled standing Rules, indifferent, and the same to all Parties; And by Men having Authority from the Community, for the execution of those Rules, decides all the differences that may happen between any Members of that Society, concerning any matter of right, and punishes those Offences which any Member hath committed against the Society with such Penalites as the Law has established; whereby it is easie to discern who are, and who are not, in Political Society together. Those who are united into one Body, and have a common establish'd Law and Judicature to appeal to, with Authority to decide Controversies between them, and punish Offenders, are in Civil Society one with another; but those who have no such common Appeal, I mean on Earth, are still in the state of Nature, each being, where there is no other, Judge for himself, and Executioner; which is, as I have before shew'd it, the perfect state of Nature.
And thus the Commonwealth comes by a power to set down what punishment shall belong to the several transgressions which they think worthy of it, committed amongst the Members of that Society, (which is the power of making Laws) as well as it has the power to punish any Injury done unto any of its Members, by any one that is not of it, (which is the power of War and Peace;) and all this for the preservation of the property of all the Members of that Society, as far as is possible. But though every Man enter'd into civil Society, has quitted his power to punish Offences against the Law of Nature, in prosecution of his own private Judgment; yet with the Judgment of Offences which he has given up to the Legislative in all Cases where he can Appeal to the Magistrate, he has given up a Right to the Commonwealth to imploy his force for the Execution of the Judgments of the Commonwealth, whenever he shall be called to it, which indeed are his own Judgments, they being made by himself, or his Representative. And herein we have the original of the Legislative and Executive Power of Civil Society, which is to judge by standing Laws how far Offences are to be punished when committed within the Commonwealth; and also by occasional Judgments founded on the present Circumstances of the Fact, how far Injuries from without are to be vindicated, and in both these to imploy all the force of all the Members when there shall be need.
Whereever therefore any number of Men are so united into one Society, as to quit every one his Executive Power of the Law of Nature, and to resign it to the publick, there and there only is a Political, or Civil Society. And this is done whereever any number of Men, in the State of Nature, enter into Society to make one People, one Body Politick under one Supream Government, or else when any one joyns himself to, and incorporates with any Government already made. For hereby he authorizes the Society, or which is all one, the Legislative thereof to make Laws for him as the publick good of the Sociey shall require; to the Execution whereof, his own assistance (as to his own decrees) is due. And this puts Men out of a State of Nature into that of a Commonwealth, by setting up a Judge on Earth, with Authority to determine all the Controversies, and redress the injuries, that may happen to any Member of the Commonwealth; which Judge is the Legislative, or Magistrates appointed by it. And whereever there are any number of Men, however associated, that have no such decisive power to appeal to, there they are still in the state of Nature.
And hence it is evident, that Absolute Monarchy which by some Men is counted for the only Government in the World, is indeed inconsistent with Civil Society, and so can be no Form of Civil Government at all. For the end of Civil Society, being to avoid and remedy those inconveniencies of the State of Nature which necessarily follow from every Man's being Judge in his own Case, by setting up a known Authority, to which every one of that Society may Appeal upon any injury received, or Controversie that may arise, and which every one of the Society ought to obey; whereever any persons are, who have not such an Authority to Appeal to, for the decision of any difference between them, there those persons are still in the state of Nature. And so is every Absolute Prince in respect of those who are under his Dominion.
Whosoever therefore out of a State of Nature unite into a Community, must be understood to give up all the power necessary to the ends for which they unite into Society, to the majority of the Community, unless they expressly agreed in any number greater than the majority. And this is done by barely agreeing to unite into one Political Society, which is all the Compact that is, or needs be, between the Individuals that enter into or make up a Commonwealth. And thus that which begins and actually constitutes any Political Society, is nothing but the consent of any number of Freemen capable of a majority to unite and incorporate into such a Society. And this is that, and that only which did or could give beginning to any lawful Government in the World.
The Purpose of Government
If Man in the State of Nature be so free, as has been said; If he be absolute Lord of his own Person and Possessions, equal to the greatest, and subject to no Body, why will he part with his Freedom? Why will he give up this Empire, and subject himself to the Dominion and Controul of any other Power? To which 'tis obvious to Answer, that though in the state of Nature he hath such a right, yet the Enjoyment of it is very uncertain, and constantly exposed to the Invasion of others; for all being Kings as much as he, every Man his Equal, and the greater part no strict Observers of Equity and Justice, the enjoyment of the property he has in this state is very unsafe, very unsecure. This makes him willing to quit this Condition, which however free, is full of fears and continual dangers: And 'tis not without reason, that he seeks out, and is willing to joyn in Society with others who are already united, or have a mind to unite for the mutual Preservation of their Lives, Liberties, and Estates, which I call by the general Name, Property.
The great and chief end therefore, of Mens uniting into Commonwealths, and putting themselves under Government, is the Preservation of their Property. To which in the state of Nature there are many things wanting.
First, There wants an establish'd, settled, known Law, received and allowed by common consent to be the Standard of Right and Wrong, and the common measure to decide all Controversies between them. For though the Law of Nature be plain and intelligible to all rational Creatures; yet Men being biassed by their Interest, as well as ignorant for want of study of it, are not apt to allow of it as a Law binding to them in the application of it to their particular Cases.
Secondly, In the State of Nature there wants a known and indifferent Judge, with Authority to determine all differences according to the established Law. For every one in the state being both Judge and Executioner of the Law of Nature, Men being partial to themselves, Passion and Revenge is very apt to carry them too far, and with too much heat in their own Cases, as well as negligence, and unconcernedness, make them too remiss, in other Mens.
Thirdly, In the state of Nature there often wants Power to back and support the Sentence when right, and to give it due Execution. They who by any Injustice offended, will seldom fail, where they are able, by force to make good their Injustice, such resistance many times makes the punishment dangerous, and frequently destructive, to those who attempt it.
Thus Mankind, notwithstanding all the Priviledges of the state of Nature, being but in an ill condition while they remain in it, are quickly driven into Society. Hence it comes to pass, that we seldom find any number of Men live any time together in this State. The inconveniencies that they are therein exposed to, by the irregular and uncertain exercise of the Power every Man has of punishing the transgressions of others, make them take Sanctuary under the establish'd Laws of Government, and therein seek the preservation of their Property. 'Tis this makes them so willingly give up every one his single power of punishing to be exercised by such alone as shall be appointed to it amongst them; and by such Rules as the Community, or those authorised by it to them to that purpose shall agree on. And in this we have the original right and rise of both the Legislative and Executive Power, as well as of the Governments and Societies themselves.
For in the State of Nature, to omit the liberty he has of innocent Delights, a Man has two Powers.
The first is to do whatsoever he thinks fit for the preservation of himself and others within the permission of the Law of Nature: by which Law common to them all, he and all the rest of Mankind are one Community, make up one Society distinct from all other Creatures, and were it not for the corruption and vitiousness of degenerate Men, there would be no need of any other, no necessity that Men should separate from this great and associate into less Combinations.
The other power a Man has in the State of Nature, is the power to punish the Crimes committed against that Law. Both these he gives up when he joyns in a private, if I may so call it, or particular Political Society, and incorporates into any Commonwealth, separate from the rest of Mankind.
The first Power, viz. of doing whatsoever he thought fit for the preservation of himself, and the rest of Mankind, he gives up to be regulated by Laws made by the Society, so far forth as the preservation of himself, and the rest of that Society shall require; which Laws of the Society in many things confine the liberty he had by the Law of Nature.
Secondly, the Power of punishing he wholly gives up, and engages his natural force, (which he might before imploy in the Execution of the Law of Nature, by his own single Authority, as he thought fit) to assist the Executive Power of the Society, as the Law thereof shall require. For being now in a new State, wherein he is to enjoy many Conveniencies from the labour, assistance and society of others in the same Community, as well as protection from its whole strength; he is to part also with as much of his natural liberty in providing for himself, as the good, prosperity and safety of the Society shall require; which is not only necessary but just, since the other Members of the Society do the like.
But though Men when they enter into Society, give up the Equality, Liberty, and Executive Power they had in the State of Nature, into the hands of the Society, to be so far disposed of by the Legislative, as the good of the Society shall require; yet it being only with an intention in every one the better to preserve himself his Liberty and Property; (For no rational Creature can be supposed to change his condition with an intention to be worse) the power of the Society, or Legislative constituted by them, can never be suppos'd to extend farther than the common good; but is obliged to secure every ones Property by providing against those three defects abovementioned, that made the State of Nature so unsafe and uneasie. And so whoever has the Legislative or supream Power of any Commonwealth, is bound to govern by establish'd standing Laws, promulgated and known to the People, and not by Extemporary Decrees; by indifferent and upright Judges, who are to decide Controversies by those Laws; And to imploy the force of the Community sat home, only in the Execution of such Laws, or abroad to prevent or redress Foreign Injuries, and secure the Community from Inroads and Invasion. And all this to be directed to no other end, but the Peace, Safety, and publick good of the People.
These are the Bounds which the trust that is put in them by the Society, and the Law of God and Nature, have set to the Legislative Power of every Commonwealth, in all Forms of Government.
First, They are to govern by promulgated establish'd Laws, not to be varied in particular Cases, but to have one Rule for the Rich and Poor, for the Favourite at Court, and the Country Man at Plough.
Secondly, These Laws also ought to be designed for no other end ultimately but the good of the People.
Thirdly, they must not raise Taxes on the Property of the People, without the Consent of the People, given by themselves, or their Deputies. And this properly concerns only such Governments where the Legislative is always in being, or at least where the People have not reserv'd any part of the Legislative to Deputies, to be from time to time chosen by themselves.
Fourthly, The Legislative neither must nor can transfer the Power of making Laws to any Body else, or place it any where but where the People have.
The Right to Revolution
The Reason why Men enter into Society, is the preservation of their Property; and the end why they chuse and authorize a Legislative, is, that there may be Laws made, and Rules set as Guards and Fences to the Properties of all the Members of the Society, to limit the Power, and moderate the Dominion of every Part and Member of the Society. For since it can never be supposed to be the Will of the Society, that the Legislative should have a Power to destroy that which every one designs to secure, by entering into Society, and for which the People submitted themselves to Legislators of their own making; whenever the Legislators endeavour to take away, and destroy the Property of the People, or to reduce them to Slavery under Arbitrary Power, they put themselves into a state of War with the People, who are thereupon absolved from any farther Obedience, and are left to the common Refuge, which God hath provided for all Men, against Force and Violence. Whensoever therefore the Legislative shall transgress this fundamental Rule of Society; and either by Ambition, Fear, Folly or Corruption, endeavour to grasp themselves, or put into the hands of any other and Absolute Power over the Lives, Liberties, and Estates of the People: By this breach of Trust they forfeit the Power, the People had put into their hands for quite contrary ends, and it devolves to the People; who have a Right to resume their original Liberty, and, by the Establishment of a new Legislative (such as they shall think fit) provide for their own Safety and Security, which is the end for which they are in Society. What I have said here, concerning the Legislative in general, holds true also concerning the supreme Executor, who having a double trust put in him, both to have a part in the Legislative, and the supreme Execution of the Law, acts against both, when he goes about to set up his own Arbitrary Will, as the Law of the Society. He acts also contrary to his Trust, when he either imploys the Force, Treasure, and Offices of the Society, to corrupt the Representatives, and gain them to his purposes: When he openly preingages the Electors, and prescribes to their choice, such, whom he has by Sollicitations, Threats, Promises, or otherwise won to his designs; and imploys them to bring in such, who have promised beforehand, what to Vote, and what to Enact. Thus to regulate Candidates and Electors, and new model the ways of Election what is it but to cut up the Government by the Roots, and poison the very Fountain of publick Security? For the People having reserved to themselves the Choice of Representatives, as the Fence to their Properties, could do it for no other end, but that they might always be freely chosen, and so chosen, freely act and advise, as the necessity of the Commonwealth, and the publick Good should, upon examination, and mature debate, be judged to require. This, those who give their Votes before they hear the Debate, and have weighed the Reasons on all sides, are not capable of doing. To prepare such an Assembly as this, and endeavour to set up the declared Abettors of his own Will, for the true Representatives of the People, and the Lawmakers of the Society, is certainly as great a breach of trust, and as perfect a Declaration of a design to subvert the Government, as is possible to be met with. To which, if one shall add Rewards and Punishments visibly imploy'd to the same end, and all the Arts of perverted Law made use of to take off and destroy all that stand in the way of such a design, and will not comply and consent to betray the Liberties of their Country, 'twill be past doubt what is doing. What Power they ought to have in the Society, who thus imploy it contrary to the trust went along with it in its first Institution, is easie to determine; and one cannot but see, that he who has once attempted any such thing as this, cannot any longer be trusted.
To this perhaps it will be said, that the People being ignorant and always discontented, to lay the Foundation of Government in the unsteady Opinion and uncertain Humour of the People, is to expose it to certain ruine: And no Government will be able long to subsist, if the People may set up a new Legislative whenever they take offence at the old one. To this I Answer quite the contrary. People are not so easily got out of their old Forms, as some are apt to suggest. They are hardly to be prevailed with to amend the acknowledg'd Faults in the Frame they have been accustom'd to. And if there be any Original defects, or adventitious ones introduced by time or corruption; 'tis not an easie thing to get them changed, even when all the World sees there is an opportunity for it. This slowness and aversion in the People to quit their old Constitutions, has in the many Revolutions which have been seen in this Kingdom, in this and former Ages, still kept us to, or after some interval of fruitless attempts, still brought us back again to our old Legislative of King, Lords and Commons: And whatever provocations have made the Crown be taken from some of our Princes Heads, they never carried the People so far as to place it in another Line.
But 'twill be said, this Hypothesis lays a ferment for frequent Rebellion. To which I Answer,
First, No more than any other Hypothesis. For when the People are made miserable, and find themselves exposed to the ill usage of Arbitrary Power; cry up their Governors as much as you will for Sons of Jupiter, let them be Sacred and Divine, descended or authoriz'd from Heaven; give them out for whom or what you please the same will happen. The People generally ill treated, and contrary to right, will be ready upon any occasion to ease themselves of a burden that sits heavy upon them. They will wish and seek for the opportunity, which in the change, weakness and accidents of humane affairs seldom delays long to offer it self. He must have lived but a little while in the World, who has not seen Examples of this in his time; and he must have read very little, who cannot produce Examples of it in all sorts of Governments in the World.
Secondly, I Answer, such Revolutions happen not upon every little mismanagement in publick affairs. Great mistakes in the ruling part, many wrong and inconvenient Laws, and all the slips of humane frailty will be born by the People, without mutiny or murmur. But if a long train of Abuses, Prevarications and Artifices, all tending the same way, make the design visible to the People, and they cannot but feel what they lie under, and see whither they are going; 'tis not to be wonder'd that they should then rouze themselves, and endeavour to put the rule into such hands, which may secure to them the ends for which Government was at first erected; and without which, ancient Name, and specious Forms, are so far from being better, that they are much worse than the state of Nature, or pure Anarchy; the inconveniencies being all as great and as near, but the remedy farther off and more difficult.
Thirdly, I Answer, That this Power in the People of providing for their safety anew, by a new Legislative, when their Legislators have acted contrary to their trust, by invading their Property, is the best fence against Rebellion, and the probablest means to hinder it. For Rebellion being an Opposition, not to Persons, but Authority, which is founded only in the Constitutions and Laws of the Government; those, whoever they be, who by force break through, and by force justifie their violation of them, are truly and properly Rebels. For when Men by entering into Society and Civil Government, have excluded force, and introduced Laws for the preservation of Property Peace and Unity amongst themselves; those who set up force again in opposition to the Laws, do Rebellare, that is, bring back again the state of War, and are properly Rebels: Which they who are in Power, by the pretence they have to Authority, the temptation of force they have in their hands, and the Flattery of those about them being likeliest to do; the properest way to prevent the evil, is to shew them the danger and injustice of it, who are under the greatest temptation to run into it.
In both the forementioned Cases, when either the Legislative is changed, or the Legislators act contrary to the end for which they were constituted; those who are guilty are guilty of Rebellion. For if any one by force takes away the establish'd Legislative of any Society, and the Laws by them made, pursuant to their trust, he thereby takes away the Umpirage which every one had consented to, for a peaceable decision of all their Controversies, and a bar to the state of War amongst them. They who remove, or change the Legislative, take away this decisive power, which no Body can have, but by the appointment and consent of the People; and so destroying the Authority which the People did, and no Body else can set up, and introducing a Power which the People hath not authoriz'd; actually introduce a state of War, which is that of Force without Authority: And thus by removing the Legislative establish'd by the Society, in whose decisions the People acquiesced and united, as to that of their own will; they unty the Knot, and expose the People a new to the state of War. And if those, who by force take away the Legislative, are Rebels, the Legislators themselves, as has been shewn, can be no less esteemed so; when they who were set up for the protection and preservation of the People, their Liberties and Properties shall by force invade and indeavour to take them away; and so they putting themselves into a state of War with those who made them the Protectors and Guardians of their Peace, are properly, and with the greatest aggravation, Rebellantes Rebels.
But if they who say it lays a foundation for Rebellion, mean that it may occasion Civil Wars, or Intestine Broils, to tell the People they are absolved from Obedience, when illegal attempts are made upon their Liberties or Properties, and may oppose the unlawful violence of those who were their Magistrates when they invade their Properties contrary to the trust put in them; and that therefore this Doctrine is not to be allow'd, being so destructive to the Peace of the World. They may as well say upon the same ground, that honest Men may not oppose Robbers or Pirats, because this may occasion disorder or bloodshed. If any mischief come in such Cases, it is not to be charged upon him who defends his own right, but on him that invades his Neighbours. If the innocent honest Man must quietly quit all he has for Peace sake, to him who will lay violent hands upon it, I desire it may be consider'd, what a kind of Peace there will be in the World, which consists only in Violence and Rapine; and which is to be maintain'd only for the benefit of Robbers and Oppressors. Who would not think it an admirable Peace betwixt the Mighty and the Mean, when the Lamb, without resistance, yielded his Throat to be torn by the imperious Wolf? Polyphemus's Den gives us a perfect Pattern of such a Peace. Such a Government wherein Ulysses and his Companions had nothing to do, but quietly to suffer themselves to be devour'd. And no doubt, Ulysses who was a prudent Man, preach'd up Passive Obedience, and exhorted them to a quiet Submission, by representing to them of what concernment Peace was to Mankind; and by shewing the inconveniencies might happen, if they should offer to resist Polyphemus, who had now the power over them.
The end of Government is the good of Mankind; and which is best for Mankind, that the People should be always expos'd to the boundless will of Tyranny, or that the Rulers should be sometimes liable to be oppos'd, when they grow exorbitant in the use of their Power, and imploy it for the destruction, and not the preservation of the Properties of their People?
Nor let any one say, that mischief can arise from hence, as often as it shall please a busie head or turbulent spirit to desire the alteration of the Government. 'Tis true, such Men may stir whenever they please, but it will be only to their own just ruine and perdition. For till the mischief be grown general, and the ill designs of the Rulers become visible, or their attempts sensible to the greater part, the People, who are more disposed to suffer, than right themselves by Resistance, are not apt to stir. The examples of particular Injustice, or Oppression of here and there an unfortunate Man, moves them not. But if they universally have a perswasion grounded upon manifest evidence, that designs are carrying on against their Liberties, and the general course and tendency of things cannot but give them strong suspicions of the evil intention of their Governors, who is to be blamed for it? Who can help it, if they, who might avoid it, bring themselves into suspicion? Are the People to be blamed, if they have the sence of rational Creatures, and can think of things no otherwise than as they find and feel them? And is it not rather their fault who puts things in such a posture that they would not have them thought as they are? I grant, that the Pride, Ambition, and Turbulency of private Men have sometimes caused great Disorders in Commonwealths, and Factions have been fatal to States and Kingdoms. But whether the mischief hath oftner begun in the Peoples Wantonness, and a Desire to cast off the lawful Authority of their Rulers; or in the Rulers Insolence, and Endeavours to get, and exercise an Arbitrary Power over their People; whether Oppression, or Disobedience gave the first rise to the Disorder, I leave it to impartial History to determine. This I am sure, whoever, either Ruler or Subject, by force goes about to invade the Rights of either Prince or People, and lays the foundation for overturning the Constitution and Frame of any Just Government; he is guilty of the greatest Crime, I think, a Man is capable of, being to answer for all those mischiefs of Blood, Rapine, and Desolation, which the breaking to pieces of Governments bring on a Countrey. And he who does it, is justly to be esteemed the common Enemy and Pest of Mankind; and is to be treated accordingly.
Here, 'tis like, the common Question will be made, Who shall be Judge whether the Prince or Legislative act contrary to their Trust? This, perhaps, ill affected and factious Men may spread amongst the People, when the Prince only makes use of his due Prerogative. To this I reply; The People shall be Judge; for who shall be Judge whether his Trustee or Deputy acts well, and according to the Trust reposed in him, but he who deputes him, and must, by having deputed him have still a Power to discard him, when he fails in his Trust? If this be reasonable in particular Cases of private Men, why should it be otherwise in that of the greatest moment, where the Welfare of Millions is concerned, and also where the evil, if not prevented, is greater, and the Redress very difficult, dear, and dangerous?
But farther, this Question, (Who shall be Judge?) cannot mean, that there is no Judge at all. For where there is no Judicature on Earth, to decide Controversies amongst Men, God in Heaven is Judge: He alone, 'tis true, is Judge of the Right. But every Man is Judge for himself, as in all other Cases, so in this, whether another hath put himself into a State of War with him, and whether he should appeal to the Supreme Judge, as Jeptha did.
To conclude, The Power that every individual gave the Society, when he entered into it, can never revert to the Individuals again, as long as the Society lasts, but will always remain in the Community; because without this, there can be no Community, no Commonwealth, which is contrary to the original Agreement: So also when the Society hath placed the Legislative in any Assembly of Men, to continue in them and their Successors, with Direction and Authority for providing such Successors, the Legislative can never revert to the People whilst that Government lasts: Because having provided a Legislative with Power to continue for ever, they have given up their Political Power to the Legislative, and cannot resume it. But if they have set Limits to the Duration of their Legislative, and made this Supreme Power in any Person, or Assembly, only temporary: Or else when by the Miscarriages of those in Authority, it is forfeited; upon the Forfeiture of their Rulers, or at the Determination of the Time set, it reverts to the Society, and the People have a Right to act as Supreme, and continue the Legislative in themselves, or place in it a new Form, or new hands, as they think good.