John Wise, Vindication of the Government of the New England Churches, 1717
- I will disclose principles of natural knowledge,
the law of nature, true sentiments of natural reason, with respect to man’s
being & government under 2 heads – natural & the civil being of man
- Man in a state of natural being is a free-born
subject of the crown of heave owing no homage to anyone but God. Civil
government is a result of Providence & a huge benefit to man. But it’s
clear it is the result of human compacts & not necessarily a divine
institution. We use our reason to draw up our civil government. Society isn’t
possible without government, especially when best suited to the nature of a
people. Neither God nor nature never specifically says anything about their
favorite form of government.
- Man is subject to the laws of nature. We are God’s favorite animal on earth having made us in his image, i.e. endowed us with reason. God’s provided us with a rule for our actions, not just to justice but the very foundation of reason. The Bible declares it to be written on our hearts. If you have a soul, you have the ability to know how to act. The law of nature is in ourselves
- Our rational nature gives us an original
liberty. To violate this would be to violate nature. In this piece, we’ll look
at man as a creature created by God making him the most honored animal on
earth. The whole of the earth is our dominion so long as it is in accordance to
the laws of nature
- Man’s native liberty implies a faculty of doing or not doing things according to his own judgment. It’s not a loose & ungovernable liberty or absolute license. That absolute license would make him a lower form of life. He is guided by the laws of reason
- Man’s external personal, natural liberty necessary for all human alliances must also be looked at. Through our liberty we are within our own power & not to be controlled by any other authority. Every man is to be seen as the equal of every other man. A man is the sole judge of what is good for him & what makes him happy
- Until a man resigns himself to a civil state, his personal liberty & equality is to be cherished & preserved.
- Let’s consider man in a civil state of being
where see a big difference between natural & political state. A political
state shows us a great deal of differences amongst men
- Every man in a natural state must be free & at his own disposal. But man’s inclinations toward society have him in a civil community, divesting himself of natural freedom under a government (that controls life & death) to make him things he doesn’t want to do & prohibit things that he does want to do. This is a sacrifice of the private good for the public good. The real cause of forming governments, giving up natural liberty & throwing equality into a pile in exchange for new rules was to guard men against the injuries of other men
- The subject & the origin of civil power is the people. Every man has power over himself in a natural state & give it up together to create a civil state. When the sovereign power dies, the power returns to the people. Then a new government may or may not be formed.
- The formal reason for government is the will of a community given up & handed over to another subject in the following manner.
- Man in a state of natural being is a free-born subject of the crown of heave owing no homage to anyone but God. Civil government is a result of Providence & a huge benefit to man. But it’s clear it is the result of human compacts & not necessarily a divine institution. We use our reason to draw up our civil government. Society isn’t possible without government, especially when best suited to the nature of a people. Neither God nor nature never specifically says anything about their favorite form of government.
- Let’s imagine a bunch of men naturally free
& coming together to form a civil state. To do so, they have to agree upon
a few things
- They have to agree to a lasting society for the benefit of all in safety, measures to be taken in a vote
- The vote must set up a form of government over them. After the first vote, they leave the authority of the power in the hands of this government in matters that concern the public
- Once the form of government has been decided
upon, they need to decide how they will go about protecting common peace &
welfare. The subjects have submitted to the government’s authority to be placed
in one person’s hands. The civil state is a compound moral person whose will is
the will of all & any action it performs must be done as if done by one
man. In this way we are making a government by fiat in the same was God made
man be fiat.
- The sovereign power is the soul infused with the government as a body
- Subordinate officers are joints by which the body moves
- Wealth & riches are the strength
- Equity & laws are the reason
- Counselors are the memory
- The happiness of the people is the purpose
- Concord among the members is the health
- Sedition is sickness & civil war is death
- Parts of the Sovereign
- When it prescribes rule of action, it is legislative power
- When it determines controversies by a standard of rules, it is a judiciary power
- When it arms against foreigners or stops hostility, it is a power of peace & war
- As it takes in ministers to do its duty, it appoints magistrates. All public servants & officers owe their role to the creating power of sovereignty.
- The main point of civil communities is that men are secure against public injuries they might receive from others. Every man is his own & everyone else’s protector
- The sovereign authority, when it resides in one person or a council, produces different forms of a commonwealth
- Forms of a legitimate, regular state
- Democracy – sovereign power is lodged in a
council whose members each have a vote. This is necessary because regular men
do not have the time or inclination to vote on every matter brought to a vote.
The people of the state choose their representatives to vote on things for
them. Dissenters only have to follow along with rules when the majority have
- The council must have an appointed time & place to meet up
- Once the council is gathered, the vote of the majority must pass for the vote of the whole body
- Magistrates must be appointed to exercise the authority of the whole body. The only have the duty to enforce the authority so long as its laws agree with the laws of nature
- Aristocracy – the people or assembly are united by a covenant & cast themselves into the rudiments of a civil state & decree to devolve the sovereign power to a council of select members, once selected are invested with the sovereign command
- Monarchy – Sovereign power is conferred on one worthy person. The monarch is furnished with an immediate power of exercising sovereign command in all government
- Democracy – sovereign power is lodged in a council whose members each have a vote. This is necessary because regular men do not have the time or inclination to vote on every matter brought to a vote. The people of the state choose their representatives to vote on things for them. Dissenters only have to follow along with rules when the majority have chosen.
- Mixed governments can include elements of each of the 3 types above. The British Empire has the monarchy by the necessary subordinate concurrence of the lords & commons in making & repealing all statutes or acts of Parliament, having the advantages of an aristocracy, democracy & free of the disadvantages of both. The monarchy allows the occasional prerogative of any king who will own his people as subjects, not slaves. This kingdom is most like that of Jesus Christ, whose yoke is easy & burden is light