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of doubtful expressions, and endeavour to reduce ris words to direct, positive, intelligible propositions, and then compare them one with another, he will quickly be satisfied there was never so much glib nonsense put together in well sounding English. If he think it not worth while to examine his works all through, let him make an experiment in that part where he treats of usurpation; and let him try whether he can, with all his skill, make sir Robert intelligible, and consistent with himself, or common sense. I should not speak so plainly of a gentleman, long since past answering, had not the pulpit, of late years, publicly owned his doctrine, and made it the current divinity of the times. It is necessary those men, who, taking on them to be teachers, have so dangerously misled others, should be openly showed of what authority this their patriarch is, whom they have so blindly followed; that so they may either retract what upon so ill grounds they have vented, and cannot be maintained; or else justify those principles which they have preached up for gospel, though they had no better an author than an english courtier. For I should not have writ against sir Robert, or taken the pains to show his mistakes, inconsistencies, and want of (what he so much boasts of, and pretends wholly to build on) scripture-proofs, were there not men amongst us, who, by crying up his books, and espousing his doctrine, save me from the reproach of writing against a dead adversary. They have been so zealous in this point, that, if I have done him any wrong, I cannot hope they should spare me. I wish, where they have done the truth and the public wrong, they would be as ready to redress it, and allow its just weight to this reflection, viz. that there cannot be done a greater mischief to prince and people, than the propagating wrong notions concerning government; that so at last all times might not have reason to complain of the "drum ecclesiastic." If any one, really concerned for truth, undertake the confutation of my hypothesis, I promise him either to recant my mistake, upon fair conviction; or to answer his difficulties. But he must remember two things,
First, That cavilling here and there, at some expression, or little incident of my discourse, is not an answer to my book.
Secondly, That I shall not take railing for arguments, nor think either of these worth my notice: though I shall always look on myself as bound to give satisfaction to any one, who shall appear to be conscientiously scrupulous in the point, and shall show any just grounds for his scruples.
I have nothing more, but to advertise the reader that A. stands for our author, and O. for his Observations on Hobbes, Milton, &c. And that a bare tation of pages always means pages of his Patriarcha, edit. 1680.
§. 1. SLAVERY is so vile and miserable an estate of man, and so directly opposite to the generous temper and courage of our nation, that it is hardly to be conceived, that an Englishman, much less a gentleman, should plead for it. And truly, I should have taken sir Robert Filmer's Patriarcha, as any other treatise, which would persuade all men that they are slaves, and ought to be so, for such another exercise of wit as was his who writ the encomium of Nero; rather than for a serious discourse, meant in earnest: had not the gravity of the title and epistle, the picture in the front of the book, and the applause that followed it, required me to believe that the author and publisher were both in earnest. I therefore took it into my hands with all the expectation, and read it through with all the attention due to a treatise that made such a noise at its coming abroad; and cannot but confess myself mightily surprized, that in a book, which was to provide chains for all mankind, I should find nothing but a rope of sand; useful perhaps to such, whose skill and business it is to raise a dust, and would blind the people, the better to mislead them; but in truth not of any force to draw those into bondage who have their eyes open, and so much sense about them, as to consider, that chains are but an ill wearing, how much care soever hath been taken to file and polish them.
§. 2. If
§. 2. If any one think I take too much liberty in speaking so freely of a man, who is the great champion of absolute power, and the idol of those who worship it; I beseech him to make this small allowance for once, to one, who, even after the reading of sir Robert's book, cannot but think himself, as the laws allow him, a freeman and I know no fault it is to do so, unless any one, better skilled in the fate of it than I, should have it revealed to him, that this treatise, which has lain dormant so long, was, when it appeared in the world, to carry, by strength of its arguments, all liberty out of it; and that, from thenceforth, our author's short model was to be the pattern in the mount, and the perfect standard of politics for the future. His system lies in a little compass, it is no more but this,
"That all government is absolute monarchy." And the ground he builds on is this,
"That no man is born free."
§. 3. In this last age a generation of men has sprung up amongst us, that would flatter princes with an opinion, that they have a divine right to absolute power, let the laws by which they are constituted and are to govern, and the conditions under which they enter upon their authority, be what they will; and their engagements to observe them ever so well ratified, by solemn oaths and promises. To make way for this doctrine, they have denied mankind a right to natural freedom; whereby they have not only, as much as in them lies, exposed all subjects to the utmost misery of tyranny and oppression, but have also unsettled the titles, and shaken the thrones of princes: (for they too, by these men's system, except only one, are all born slaves, and by divine right are subjects to Adam's right heir;) as if they had designed to make war upon all government, and subvert the very foundations of human society, to serve their present turn.
§. 4. However we must believe them upon their own bare words, when they tell us, "We are all born slaves, "and we must continue so;" there is no remedy for it; life and thraldom we entered into together, and can never be quit of the one, till we part with the
other. Scripture or reason, I am sure, do not any where say so, notwithstanding the noise of divine right, as if divine authority hath subjected us to the unlimited will of another. An admirable state of mankind, and that which they have not had wit enough to find out till this latter age! For, however sir Robert Filmer seems to condemn the novelty of the contrary opinion, Patr. p. 3, yet I believe it will be hard for him to find any other age, or country of the world, but this, which has asserted monarchy to be jure divino. And he confesses, Patr. p. 4, That "Heyward, Blackwood, Barclay, and others, that have bravely vindicated the right of kings in most points, never thought of this; "but with one consent admitted the natural liberty and "equality of mankind."
§. 5. By whom this doctrine came at first to be broached, and brought in fashion amongst us, and what sad effects it gave rise to, I leave to historians to relate, or to the memory of those who were contemporaries with Sibthorp and Manwaring, to recollect. My business at present is only to consider what sir Robert Filmer, who is allowed to have carried this argument farthest, and is supposed to have brought it to perfection, has said in it: for from him every one, who would be as fashionable as French was at court, has learned, and runs away with this short system of politics, viz. "Men are "not born free, and therefore could never have the li"berty to choose either governors, or forms of govern"ment." Princes have their power absolute, and by divine right; for slaves could never have a right to compact or consent. Adam was an absolute monarch, and so are all princes ever since.