Infomotions, Inc.Second Treatise Of Government / Locke, John

Author: Locke, John
Title: Second Treatise Of Government
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John Locke's "Second Treatise of Government" was published in 1690.  
The complete unabridged text has been republished several times in 
edited commentaries. This is based on the paperback book, "John 
Locke Second Treatise of Government", Edited, with an Introduction, 
By C.B. McPherson, Hackett Publishing Company, Indianapolis and 
Cambridge, 1980. None of the McPherson edition is included in the 
Etext; only the original words contained in the 1690 Locke text is 
included. The 1690 edition text is free of copyright.  

This text is in the PUBLIC DOMAIN, posted to Wiretap 1 Jul 94.


                   BY IOHN LOCKE








      T.  LONGMAN,  B.  LAW,   C.  RIVINGTON,  E.









           LOWERS   ARE   DETECTED   AND




           EXTENT  AND  END  OF  CIVIL


                1764 EDITOR'S NOTE

The present Edition of this Book has not only been collated with 
the first three Editions, which were published during the 
Author's Life, but also has the Advantage of his last Corrections 
and  Improvements, from a Copy delivered by him to Mr. Peter 
Coste, communicated  to  the  Editor,  and  now lodged in Christ 
College, Cambridge.


Reader, thou hast here the beginning and end of a discourse 
concerning government; what fate has otherwise disposed of the 
papers that should have filled up the middle, and were more than 
all the rest, it is not worth while to tell thee.  These, which 
remain, I hope are sufficient to establish the throne of our 
great restorer, our present King William; to make good his title, 
in the consent of the people, which being the only one of all 
lawful governments, he has more fully and clearly, than any 
prince in Christendom; and to justify to the world the people of 
England, whose love of their just and natural rights, with their 
resolution to preserve them, saved the nation when it was on the 
very brink of slavery and ruin.  If these papers have that 
evidence, I flatter myself is to be found in them, there will be 
no great miss of those which are lost, and my reader may be 
satisfied without them: for I imagine, I shall have neither the 
time, nor inclination to repeat my pains, and fill up the wanting 
part of my answer, by tracing Sir Robert again, through all the 
windings and obscurities, which are to be met with in the several 
branches of his wonderful system.  The king, and body of the 
nation, have since so thoroughly confuted his Hypothesis, that I 
suppose no body hereafter will have either the confidence to 
appear against our common safety, and be again an advocate for 
slavery; or the weakness to be deceived with contradictions 
dressed up in a popular stile, and well-turned periods: for if 
any one will be at the pains, himself, in those parts, which are 
here untouched, to strip Sir Robert's discourses of the flourish 
of doubtful expressions, and endeavour to reduce his 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 
thro', 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  
shewed  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 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 shew 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, concerned really 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 
shew any just grounds for his scruples.

     I have nothing more, but to advertise the reader, that 
Observations stands for Observations on Hobbs, Milton, &c. and 
that a bare quotation of pages always means pages of his 
Patriarcha, Edition 1680.

                        OF CIVIL-GOVERNMENT

                             Book II

Chap. I. Sect. 1. It having been shewn in the foregoing 

     1. That Adam had not, either by natural right of 
fatherhood, or by positive donation from God, any  such  
authority  over  his children, or dominion over the world, as is 

     2. That if he had, his heirs, yet, had no right to it:

     3. That if his heirs had, there being no law of nature nor 
positive law of God that determines which is the right heir in 
all cases that may arise, the right of succession, and 
consequently of bearing rule, could not have been certainly 

     4. That if even that had been determined, yet the knowledge 
of which is the eldest line of Adam's posterity, being so long 
since utterly lost, that in the races of mankind and families of 
the world, there remains not to one above another, the least 
pretence to be the eldest house, and to have the right of 

    All these premises having, as I think, been clearly made out, 
it is impossible that the rulers now on earth should make any 
benefit, or derive any the least shadow of authority from that, 
which is held to be the fountain of all power, Adam's private 
dominion and paternal jurisdiction; so that he that will not 
give just occasion to think that all government in the world is 
the product only of force and violence, and that men live 
together by no other rules but that of beasts, where the 
strongest carries it, and so lay a foundation for perpetual 
disorder and mischief, tumult, sedition and rebellion, (things 
that the followers of that hypothesis so loudly cry out against) 
must of necessity find out another rise of government, another 
original of political power, and another way of designing and 
knowing the persons that have it, than what Sir Robert Filmer 
hath taught us.

     Sect. 2. To this purpose, I think it may not be amiss, to 
set down what I take to be political power; that the power of a 
MAGISTRATE over a subject may be distinguished from that of a 
FATHER over his children, a MASTER over his servant, a HUSBAND 
over his wife, and a LORD over his slave.  All which distinct 
powers happening sometimes together in the same man, if he be 
considered under these different relations, it may help us to 
distinguish these powers one from wealth, a father of a family, 
and a captain of a galley.

     Sect. 3. POLITICAL POWER, then, I take to be a RIGHT of 
making laws with penalties of death, and consequently all less 
penalties, for the regulating and preserving of property, and of 
employing the force of the community, in the execution of such 
laws, and in the defence of the common-wealth from foreign 
injury; and all this only for the public good.

                           C H A P. I I.

                    Of the State of Nature.

     Sect. 4. TO understand political power right, 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.

     Sect. 5. This equality of men by nature, the judicious 
Hooker looks upon as so evident in itself, and beyond all 
question, that he makes it the foundation of that obligation to 
mutual love amongst men, on which he builds the duties they owe 
one another, and from whence he derives the great maxims of 
justice and charity. His words are,

     The like natural inducement hath brought men to know 

   that it is no less their duty, to love others than 

   themselves; for seeing those things which are equal, must 

   needs all have one measure; if I cannot but wish to 

   receive good, even as much at every man's hands, as any 

   man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have 

   any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be 

   careful to satisfy the like desire, which is undoubtedly 

   in other men, being of one and the same nature? To have 

   any thing offered them repugnant to this desire, must 

   needs in all respects grieve them as much as me; so that 

   if I do harm, I must look to suffer, there being no 

   reason that others should shew greater measure of love 

   to me, than they have by me shewed unto them: my desire 

   therefore to be loved of my equals in nature as much as 

   possible may be, imposeth upon  me  a  natural duty of 

   bearing to them-ward fully the like affection; from which 

   relation of equality between ourselves and them that are  

   as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural 

   reason  hath drawn, for direction of life, no man is 

   ignorant, Eccl. Pol. Lib. 1.

     Sect. 6. But though this be a state of liberty, yet it is 
not a state of licence: though man in that state have an 
uncontroulable 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  another's 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 
another's uses, as the inferior ranks of creatures are for our's.  
Every one, as he is bound  to  preserve himself, and not to 
quit his station wilfully, 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, the liberty, 
health, limb, or goods of another.

    Sect. 7.  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 man's hands, whereby every one 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.      

     Sect. 8. And thus, in the state of nature, one man comes by 
a power over another; but yet no absolute or arbitrary power, to 
use a criminal, when he has got him in his hands, according to 
the passionate heats, or boundless extravagancy of his own will; 
but only to retribute to him, so far as calm reason and 
conscience dictate, what is proportionate to his transgression, 
which is so much as may serve for reparation and restraint: 
for these two are the only reasons, why one man may lawfully do 
harm to another, which is that we call punishment. In 
transgressing the law of nature, the offender declares himself to 
live by another rule than that of reason and common equity, which 
is that measure God has set to the actions of men, for their 
mutual security; and so  he  becomes dangerous to mankind, the 
tye, which is to secure them from injury and violence, being 
slighted and broken by him.  Which being a trespass against the 
whole species, and the peace and safety of it, provided for by 
the law of nature, every man upon this score, by the right he 
hath to preserve mankind in general, may restrain, or where it is 
necessary, destroy things noxious to them, and so may bring such 
evil on any one, who hath transgressed that law, as may make him 
repent the doing of it, and thereby deter him, and by his example 
others, from doing the like mischief.  And in the case, and upon 

     Sect. 9. 1 doubt not but this will seem a very strange 
doctrine to some men: but before they condemn it, I desire them 
to resolve me, by what right any prince or state can put to 
death, or punish an alien, for any crime he commits in their 
country.  It is certain their laws, by virtue of any sanction 
they receive from the promulgated will of the legislative, reach 
not a stranger: they speak not to him, nor, if they did, is he 
bound to hearken to them.  The legislative authority, by which 
they are in force over the subjects of that commonwealth, hath no 
power over him.   Those  who  have  the supreme power of making 
laws in England, France or Holland, are to an Indian, but 
like the rest of the world, men without authority: and therefore, 
if by the law of nature every man hath not a power to punish 
offences against it, as he soberly judges the case to require, I 
see not how the magistrates of any community can punish an 
alien of another country; since, in reference to him, they can 
have no more power than what every man naturally may have over 

     Sect, 10. Besides the crime which consists in violating the 
law, and varying from the right rule of reason, whereby a man so  
far becomes degenerate, and declares himself to quit the 
principles of human nature, and to be a noxious creature, there 
is commonly injury done to some person or other, and some other 
man receives damage by his transgression: in which case he who 
hath received any damage, has, besides the right of punishment 
common to him with other men, a particular right to seek 
reparation from him that has done it: and any other person, who 
finds it just, may also join with him that is injured, and assist 
him in recovering from the offender so much as may make 
satisfaction for the harm he has suffered.

     Sect. 11. From these two distinct rights, the one of 
punishing the crime for restraint, and preventing the like 
offence, which right of punishing is in every body; the other of 
taking reparation, which belongs only to the injured party, 
comes it to pass that the magistrate, who by being magistrate 
hath the common  right  of punishing put into his hands, can 
often, where the public good demands not the execution of the 
law, remit the punishment of criminal offences by his own 
authority, but yet cannot remit the satisfaction due to any 
private man for the damage he has received.  That, he who has 
suffered the damage has a right to demand in his own name, and he 
alone can remit: the damnified person has this power of 
appropriating to himself the goods or service of the offender, 
by right of self-preservation, as every man has a power to 
punish the crime, to prevent its being committed again, by the 
right he has of preserving all mankind, and doing all reasonable 
things he can in order to that end: and thus it is, that every 
man, in the state of nature, has a power to kill a murderer, both 
to deter others from doing the like injury, which no reparation 
can compensate, by the example of the punishment that attends it 
from every body, and also to secure men from the attempts of a 
criminal, who having renounced reason, the common rule and 
measure God hath given to mankind, hath, by the unjust violence 
and slaughter he hath committed upon one, declared war against 
all mankind, and therefore may be destroyed as a lion or a 
tyger, one of those wild savage beasts, with whom men can have 
no society nor security: and upon this is grounded that great law 
of nature, Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be 
shed. And Cain was so fully convinced, that every one had a 
right to destroy such a criminal, that after the murder of his 
brother, he cries out, Every one that findeth me, shall slay 
me; so plain was it writ in the hearts of all mankind.

     Sect. 12. By the same reason may a man in the state of 
nature punish the lesser breaches of that law.  It will perhaps 
be demanded, with death? I answer, each transgression may be 
punished to that degree, and with so much severity, as will 
suffice to make it an ill bargain to the offender, give him cause 
to repent, and terrify others from doing the like.  Every 
offence, that can be committed in the state of nature, may in the 
state of nature be also punished equally, and as far forth as it 
may, in a commonwealth: for though it would be besides my present 
purpose, to enter here into the particulars of the law of nature, 
or its measures of punishment; yet, it is certain there is such 
a law, and that too, as intelligible and plain to a rational 
creature, and a studier of that law, as the positive laws of 
commonwealths; nay, possibly plainer; as much as reason is easier 
to be understood, than the fancies and intricate contrivances of 
men, following contrary and hidden interests put into words; for 
so truly are a great part of the municipal laws of countries, 
which are only so far right, as they are founded on the law of 
nature, by which they are to be regulated and interpreted.  

     Sect. 13. 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 self-
love 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 inconveniencies of the state of nature, 
which must certainly be great, where men may be judges in their 
own case, since it is easy 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 men's being judges in their own cases, 
and the state of nature is therefore not to 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 liberty to 
any one to question or controul those who execute his pleasure7 
and in whatsoever he  cloth,  whether  led  by  reason, mistake 
or passion, must be submitted to7 much better it is in the state 
of nature, wherein men are not bound to submit to the unjust will 
of another: and if he that judges, judges amiss in his own, or 
any other case, he is answerable for it to the rest of mankind.

     Sect. 14. It is 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, it is plain the world never 
was, nor ever 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 it is 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 politic; 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.

     Sect. 15. 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, where he says, 
The laws which have been hitherto mentioned, i.e. the laws of 
nature, do bind men absolutely, even as they are men, although 
they have never any settled fellowship, never  any  solemn  
agreement  amongst  themselves what to do, or not to do: but 
forasmuch as we are not by ourselves sufficient to furnish 
ourselves with competent store of things, needful for such a life 
as our nature doth desire, a life fit for the dignity of man; 
therefore to supply those defects and imperfections which are in 
us, as living single and solely by ourselves, we are naturally 
induced to seek communion and fellowship with  others:  this  was 
the cause of men's uniting themselves at first in politic 
societies.  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 politic society; and I doubt not 
in the sequel of this discourse, to make it very clear.  

                          C H A P. I I I.


                     Of the State of War.

     16. THE state of war is a state of enmity and 
destruction: and therefore declaring by word or action, not a 
passionate and hasty, but a sedate settled design upon another 
man's life, puts him in a state of war with him against whom he 
has declared such an intention, and so has exposed his life to 
the other's power to be taken away by him, or any one that joins 
with him in his defence, and espouses his quarrel; it being 
reasonable and just, I should have a right to destroy that which 
threatens me with destruction: for, by the fundamental law of 
nature, man being to be preserved as much as possible, when all 
cannot be preserved, the safety of the innocent is to be 
preferred: and one may destroy a man who makes war upon him, or 
has discovered an enmity to his being, for the same reason that 
he may kill a wolf or a lion; because such men are not under 
the ties of the commonlaw of reason, have no other rule, but that 
of force and violence, and so may be treated as beasts of prey, 
those dangerous and noxious creatures, that will be sure to 
destroy him whenever he falls into their power.

     Sect, 17. And hence it is, that he who attempts to get 
another man into his absolute power, does thereby put himself 
into a state of war with him; it being to be understood as a 
declaration of a design upon his life: for I have reason to 
conclude, that he who would get me into his power without my 
consent, would use me as he pleased when he had got me there, and 
destroy me too when he had a fancy to it; for no body can desire 
to have me in his absolute power, unless it be to compel me by 
force to that which is against the right of my freedom, i.e. 
make me a slave.  To be free from such force is the only security 
of my preservation; and reason bids me look on him, as an enemy 
to my preservation, who would take away that freedom which is 
the fence to it; so that he who makes an attempt to enslave me, 
thereby puts himself into a state of war with me.  He that, in 
the state of nature, would take away the freedom that belongs 
to any one in that state, must necessarily be supposed to have a 
foundationtofeallathevrest;hasghelthat,hin theestateeofgsociety, 
would take away the freedom belonging to those of that society 
or commonwealth, must be supposed to design to take away from 
them every thing else, and so be looked on as in a state of war.

     Sec. 18.  This makes it lawful for a man to kill a thief, 
who has not in the least hurt him, nor declared any design upon 
his life, any farther than, by the use of force, so to get him in 
his power, as to take away his money, or what he pleases, from 
him; because using force, where he has no right, to get me into 
his power, let his pretence be what it will, I have no reason to 
suppose, that he, who would take away my liberty, would not, 
when he had me in his power, take away every thing else.  And 
therefore it is lawful for me to treat him as one who has put 
himself into a state of war with me, i.e.  kill him if I can; 
for to that hazard does he justly expose himself, whoever 
introduces a state of war, and is aggressor in it.

     Sec. 19.  And here we have the plain difference between the 
state of nature and the state of war, which however some men 
have confounded, are as far distant, as a state of peace, good 
will, mutual assistance and preservation, and a state of enmity, 
malice, violence and mutual destruction, are one from another.  
Men living together according to reason, without a common 
superior on earth, with authority to judge between them, is 
properly the state of nature.  But force, or a declared design 
of force, upon the person of another, where there is no common 
superior on earth to appeal to for relief, is the state of war: 
and it is the want of such an appeal gives a man the right of war 
even against an aggressor, tho' he be in society and a fellow 
subject.  Thus a thief, whom I cannot harm, but by appeal to 
the law, for having stolen all that I am worth, I may kill, when 
he sets on me to rob me but of my horse or coat; because the law, 
which was made for my preservation, where it cannot interpose to 
secure my life from present force, which, if lost, is capable of 
no reparation, permits me my own defence, and the right of war, a 
liberty to kill the aggressor, because the aggressor allows not 
time to appeal to our common judge, nor the decision of the law, 
for remedy in a case where the mischief may be irreparable.  Want 
of a common judge with authority, puts all men in a state of 
nature: force without right, upon a man's person, makes a state 
of war, both where there is, and is not, a common judge.

     Sec. 20.  But when the actual force is over, the state of 
war ceases between those that are in society, and are equally on 
both sides subjected to the fair determination of the law; 
because then there lies open the remedy of appeal for the past 
injury, and to prevent future harm: but where no such appeal is, 
as in the state of nature, for want of positive laws, and judges 
with authority to appeal to, the state of war once begun, 
continues, with a right to the innocent party to destroy the 
other whenever he can, until the aggressor offers peace, and 
desires reconciliation on such terms as may repair any wrongs he 
has already done, and secure the innocent for the future; nay, 
where an appeal to the law, and constituted judges, lies open, 
but the remedy is denied by a manifest perverting of justice, and 
a barefaced wresting of the laws to protect or indemnify the 
violence or injuries of some men, or party of men, there it is 
hard to imagine any thing but a state of war: for wherever 
violence is used, and injury done, though by hands appointed to 
administer justice, it is still violence and injury, however 
coloured with the name, pretences, or forms of law, the end 
whereof being to protect and redress the innocent, by an 
unbiassed application of it, to all who are under it; wherever 
that is not bona fide done, war is made upon the sufferers, who 
having no appeal on earth to right them, they are left to the 
only remedy in such cases, an appeal to heaven.

     Sec. 21.  To avoid this state of war (wherein there is no 
appeal but to heaven, and wherein every the least difference is 
apt to end, where there is no authority to decide between the 
contenders) is one great reason of men's putting themselves into 
society, and quitting the state of nature: for where there is an 
authority, a power on earth, from which relief can be had by 
appeal, there the continuance of the state of war is excluded, 
and the controversy is decided by that power.  Had there been any 
such court, any superior jurisdiction on earth, to determine the 
right between Jephtha and the Ammonites, they had never come to a 
state of war: but we see he was forced to appeal to heaven.  The 
Lord the Judge (says he) be judge this day between the children 
of Israel and the children of Ammon, Judg.  xi.  27.  and then 
prosecuting, and relying on his appeal, he leads out his army to 
battle: and therefore in such controversies, where the question 
is put, who shall be judge?  It cannot be meant, who shall decide 
the controversy; every one knows what Jephtha here tells us, that 
the Lord the Judge shall judge.  Where there is no judge on 
earth, the appeal lies to God in heaven.  That question then 
cannot mean, who shall judge, whether another hath put himself in 
a state of war with me, and whether I may, as Jephtha did, appeal 
to heaven in it? of that I myself can only be judge in my own 
conscience, as I will answer it, at the great day, to the supreme 
judge of all men.

                          CHAP.  IV.

                          Of SLAVERY.

     Sec. 22.  THE natural liberty of man is to be free from any 
superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or 
legislative authority of man, but to have only the law of nature 
for his rule.  The liberty of man, in society, is to be under no 
other legislative power, but that established, by consent, in the 
commonwealth; nor under the dominion of any will, or restraint of 
any law, but what that legislative shall enact, according to the 
trust put in it.  Freedom then is not what Sir Robert Filmer 
tells us, Observations, A. 55. a liberty for every one to do what 
he lists, to live as he pleases, and not to be tied by any laws: 
but freedom of men under government is, to have a standing rule 
to live by, common to every one of that society, and made by the 
legislative power erected in it; a liberty to follow my own will 
in all things, where the rule prescribes not; and not to be 
subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, arbitrary will of 
another man: as freedom of nature is, to be under no other 
restraint but the law of nature.

     Sec. 23.  This freedom from absolute, arbitrary power, is 
so necessary to, and closely joined with a man's preservation, 
that he cannot part with it, but by what forfeits his 
preservation and life together: for a man, not having the power 
of his own life, cannot, by compact, or his own consent, 
enslave himself to any one, nor put himself under the absolute, 
arbitrary power of another, to take away his life, when he 
pleases.  No body can give more power than he has himself; and he 
that cannot take away his own life, cannot give another power 
over it.  Indeed, having by his fault forfeited his own life, by 
some act that deserves death; he, to whom he has forfeited it, 
may (when he has him in his power) delay to take it, and make use 
of him to his own service, and he does him no injury by it: for, 
whenever he finds the hardship of his slavery outweigh the value 
of his life, it is in his power, by resisting the will of his 
master, to draw on himself the death he desires.

     Sec. 24.  This is the perfect condition of slavery, which 
is nothing else, but the state of war continued, between a 
lawful conqueror and a captive: for, if once compact enter 
between them, and make an agreement for a limited power on the 
one side, and obedience on the other, the state of war and 
slavery ceases, as long as the compact endures: for, as has been 
said, no man can, by agreement, pass over to another that which 
he hath not in himself, a power over his own life.

 I confess, we find among the Jews, as well as other nations, 
that men did sell themselves; but, it is plain, this was only to 
drudgery, not to slavery: for, it is evident, the person sold 
was not under an absolute, arbitrary, despotical power: for the 
master could not have power to kill him, at any time, whom, at a 
certain time, he was obliged to let go free out of his service; 
and the master of such a servant was so far from having an 
arbitrary power over his life, that he could not, at pleasure, so 
much as maim him, but the loss of an eye, or tooth, set him free, 
Exod. xxi.

                        CHAP.  V.

                      Of PROPERTY.

     Sec. 25.  Whether we consider natural reason, which tells 
us, that men, being once born, have a right to their 
preservation, and consequently to meat and drink, and such other 
things as nature affords for their subsistence: or revelation, 
which gives us an account of those grants God made of the world 
to Adam, and to Noah, and his sons, it is very clear, that 
God, as king David says, Psal. cxv.  16.  has given the 
earth to the children of men; given it to mankind in common.  But 
this being supposed, it seems to some a very great difficulty, 
how any one should ever come to have a property in any thing: I 
will not content myself to answer, that if it be difficult to 
make out property, upon a supposition that God gave the world 
to Adam, and his posterity in common, it is impossible that any 
man, but one universal monarch, should have any property upon a 
supposition, that God gave the world to Adam, and his heirs in 
succession, exclusive of all the rest of his posterity.  But I 
shall endeavour to shew, how men might come to have a property 
in several parts of that which God gave to mankind in common, and 
that without any express compact of all the commoners.

     Sec. 26.  God, who hath given the world to men in common, 
hath also given them reason to make use of it to the best 
advantage of life, and convenience.  The earth, and all that is 
therein, is given to men for the support and comfort of their 
being.  And tho' all the fruits it naturally produces, and beasts 
it feeds, belong to mankind in common, as they are produced by 
the spontaneous hand of nature; and no body has originally a 
private dominion, exclusive of the rest of mankind, in any of 
them, as they are thus in their natural state: yet being given 
for the use of men, there must of necessity be a means to 
appropriate them some way or other, before they can be of any 
use, or at all beneficial to any particular man.  The fruit, or 
venison, which nourishes the wild Indian, who knows no 
enclosure, and is still a tenant in common, must be his, and so 
his, i.e. a part of him, that another can no longer have any 
right to it, before it can do him any good for the support of his 

     Sec. 27.  Though the earth, and all inferior creatures, be 
common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own 
person: this no body has any right to but himself.  The 
labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, 
are properly his.  Whatsoever then he removes out of the state 
that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his 
labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and 
thereby makes it his property.  It being by him removed from 
the common state nature hath placed it in, it hath by this 
labour something annexed to it, that excludes the common right 
of other men: for this labour being the unquestionable property 
of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what that is 
once joined to, at least where there is enough, and as good, left 
in common for others.

     Sec. 28.  He that is nourished by the acorns he picked up 
under an oak, or the apples he gathered from the trees in the 
wood, has certainly appropriated them to himself.  No body can 
deny but the nourishment is his.  I ask then, when did they begin 
to be his? when he digested? or when he eat? or when he boiled? 
or when he brought them home? or when he picked them up? and it 
is plain, if the first gathering made them not his, nothing else 
could.  That labour put a distinction between them and common: 
that added something to them more than nature, the common mother 
of all, had done; and so they became his private right.  And will 
any one say, he had no right to those acorns or apples, he thus 
appropriated, because he had not the consent of all mankind to 
make them his?  Was it a robbery thus to assume to himself what 
belonged to all in common?  If such a consent as that was 
necessary, man had starved, notwithstanding the plenty God had 
given him.  We see in commons, which remain so by compact, that 
it is the taking any part of what is common, and removing it out 
of the state nature leaves it in, which begins the property; 
without which the common is of no use.  And the taking of this or 
that part, does not depend on the express consent of all the 
commoners.  Thus the grass my horse has bit; the turfs my servant 
has cut; and the ore I have digged in any place, where I have a 
right to them in common with others, become my property, 
without the assignation or consent of any body.  The labour 
that was mine, removing them out of that common state they were 
in, hath fixed my property in them.

     Sec. 29.  By making an explicit consent of every commoner, 
necessary to any one's appropriating to himself any part of what 
is given in common, children or servants could not cut the meat, 
which their father or master had provided for them in common, 

without assigning to every one his peculiar part.  Though the 
water running in the fountain be every one's, yet who can doubt, 
but that in the pitcher is his only who drew it out?  His 
labour hath taken it out of the hands of nature, where it was 
common, and belonged equally to all her children, and hath 
thereby appropriated it to himself.

     Sec. 30.  Thus this law of reason makes the deer that 
Indian's who hath killed it; it is allowed to be his goods, who 
hath bestowed his labour upon it, though before it was the common 
right of every one.  And amongst those who are counted the 
civilized part of mankind, who have made and multiplied positive 
laws to determine property, this original law of nature, for 
the beginning of property, in what was before common, still 
takes place; and by virtue thereof, what fish any one catches in 
the ocean, that great and still remaining common of mankind; or 
what ambergrise any one takes up here, is by the labour that 
removes it out of that common state nature left it in, made his 
property, who takes that pains about it.  And even amongst us, 
the hare that any one is hunting, is thought his who pursues her 
during the chase: for being a beast that is still looked upon as 
common, and no man's private possession; whoever has employed so 
much labour about any of that kind, as to find and pursue her, 
has thereby removed her from the state of nature, wherein she was 
common, and hath begun a property.

     Sec. 31.  It will perhaps be objected to this, that if 
gathering the acorns, or other fruits of the earth, &c. makes a 
right to them, then any one may ingross as much as he will.  To 
which I answer, Not so.  The same law of nature, that does by 
this means give us property, does also bound that property 
too.  God has given us all things richly, 1 Tim.  vi.  12.  is 
the voice of reason confirmed by inspiration.  But how far has he 
given it us?  To enjoy.  As much as any one can make use of to 
any advantage of life before it spoils, so much he may by his 
Tabour fix a property in: whatever is beyond this, is more than 
his share, and belongs to others.  Nothing was made by God for 
man to spoil or destroy.  And thus, considering the plenty of 
natural provisions there was a long time in the world, and the 
few spenders; and to how small a part of that provision the 
industry of one man could extend itself, and ingross it to the 
prejudice of others; especially keeping within the bounds, set 
by reason, of what might serve for his use; there could be then 
little room for quarrels or contentions about property so 

     Sec. 32.  But the chief matter of property being now not 
the fruits of the earth, and the beasts that subsist on it, but 
the earth itself; 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 
fellow-commoners, all mankind.  God, when he gave the world in 
common to all mankind, commanded man also to labour, and the 
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.

     Sec. 33.  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 enclosure 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 injured 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.

     Sec. 34.  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 
quarrelsome 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, it is 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.

     Sec. 35.  It is true, in land that is common in 
England, or any other country, where there is plenty of people 
under government, who have money and commerce, no one can inclose 
or appropriate any part, without the consent of all his fellow-
commoners; because this is left common by compact, i.e. by the 
law of the land, which is not to be violated.  And though it be 
common, in respect of some men, it is not so to all mankind; but 
is the joint property of this country, or this parish.  Besides, 
the remainder, after such enclosure, would not be as good to the 
rest of the commoners, as the whole was when they could all make 
use of the whole; whereas in the beginning and first peopling of 
the great common of the world, it was quite otherwise.  The law 
man was under, was rather for appropriating.  God commanded, and 
his wants forced him to labour.  That was his property which 
could not be taken from him where-ever he had fixed it.  And 
hence subduing or cultivating the earth, and having dominion, we 
see are joined together.  The one gave title to the other.  So 
that God, by commanding to subdue, gave authority so far to 
appropriate: and the condition of human life, which requires 
labour and materials to work on, necessarily introduces private 

     Sec. 36.  The measure of property nature has well set by 
the extent of men's labour and the conveniencies 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.  This 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 straitened 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 itself 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 straitening 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.

     Sec. 37.  This is certain, that in the beginning, before the 
desire of having more than man needed had altered the intrinsic 
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 of 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.  
To which let me add, that he who appropriates land to himself by 
his labour, does not lessen, but increase the common stock of 
mankind: for the provisions serving to the support of human life, 
produced by one acre of inclosed and cultivated land, are (to 
speak much within compass) ten times more than those which are 
yielded by an acre of land of an equal richness lying waste in 
common.  And therefore he that incloses land, and has a greater 
plenty of the conveniencies of life from ten acres, than he could 
have from an hundred left to nature, may truly be said to give 
ninety acres to mankind: for his labour now supplies him with 
provisions out of ten acres, which were but the product of an 
hundred lying in common.  I have here rated the improved land 
very low, in making its product but as ten to one, when it is 
much nearer an hundred to one: for I ask, whether in the wild 
woods and uncultivated waste of America, left to nature, 
without any improvement, tillage or husbandry, a thousand acres 
yield the needy and wretched inhabitants as many conveniencies of 
life, as ten acres of equally fertile land do in Devonshire, 
where they are well cultivated?

     Before the appropriation of land, he who gathered as much of 
the wild fruit, killed, caught, or tamed, as many of the beasts, 
as he could; he that so imployed his pains about any of the 
spontaneous products of nature, as any way to alter them from the 
state which nature put them in, by placing any of his labour 
on them, did thereby acquire a propriety in them: but if they 
perished, in his possession, without their due use; if the fruits 
rotted, or the venison putrified, before he could spend it, he 
offended against the common law of nature, and was liable to be 
punished; he invaded his neighbour's share, for he had no right, 
farther than his use called for any of them, and they might 
serve to afford him conveniencies of life.

     Sec. 38.  The same measures governed the possession of 
land too: whatsoever he tilled and reaped, laid up and made use 
of, before it spoiled, that was his peculiar right; whatsoever he 
enclosed, and could feed, and make use of, the cattle and product 
was also his.  But if either the grass of his enclosure rotted on 
the ground, or the fruit of his planting perished without 
gathering, and laying up, this part of the earth, notwithstanding 
his enclosure, was still to be looked on as waste, and might be 

the possession of any other.  Thus, at the beginning, Cain 
might take as much ground as he could till, and make it his own 
land, and yet leave enough to Abel's sheep to feed on; a few 
acres would serve for both their possessions.  But as families 
increased, and industry inlarged their stocks, their possessions 
inlarged with the need of them; but yet it was commonly without 
any fixed property in the ground they made use of, till they 
incorporated, settled themselves together, and built cities; and 
then, by consent, they came in time, to set out the bounds of 
their distinct territories, and agree on limits between them and 
their neighbours; and by laws within themselves, settled the 
properties of those of the same society: for we see, that in 
that part of the world which was first inhabited, and therefore 
like to be best peopled, even as low down as Abraham's time, 
they wandered with their flocks, and their herds, which was their 
substance, freely up and down; and this Abraham did, in a 
country where he was a stranger.  Whence it is plain, that at 
least a great part of the land lay in common; that the 
inhabitants valued it not, nor claimed property in any more than 
they made use of.  But when there was not room enough in the same 
place, for their herds to feed together, they by consent, as 
Abraham and Lot did, Gen. xiii.  5.  separated and inlarged 
their pasture, where it best liked them.  And for the same reason 
Esau went from his father, and his brother, and planted in 
mount Seir, Gen. xxxvi. 6.

     Sec. 39.  And thus, without supposing any private dominion, 
and property in Adam, over all the world, exclusive of all 
other men, which can no way be proved, nor any one's property be 
made out from it; but supposing the world given, as it was, to 
the children of men in common, we see how labour could make 
men distinct titles to several parcels of it, for their private 
uses; wherein there could be no doubt of right, no room for 

     Sec. 40.  Nor is it so strange, as perhaps before 
consideration it may appear, that the property of labour should 
be able to over-balance the community of land: for it is labour 
indeed that puts the difference of value on every thing; and 
let any one consider what the difference is between an acre of 
land planted with tobacco or sugar, sown with wheat or barley, 
and an acre of the same land lying in common, without any 
husbandry upon it, and he will find, that the improvement of 
labour makes the far greater part of the value.  I think it 
will be but a very modest computation to say, that of the 
products of the earth useful to the life of man nine tenths are 
the effects of labour: nay, if we will rightly estimate things 
as they come to our use, and cast up the several expences about 
them, what in them is purely owing to nature, and what to 
labour, we shall find, that in most of them ninety-nine 
hundredths are wholly to be put on the account of labour.  

     Sec. 41.  There cannot be a clearer demonstration of any 
thing, than several nations of the Americans are of this, who 
are rich in land, and poor in all the comforts of life; whom 
nature having furnished as liberally as any other people, with 
the materials of plenty, i.e. a fruitful soil, apt to produce 
in abundance, what might serve for food, raiment, and delight; 
yet for want of improving it by labour, have not one hundredth 
part of the conveniencies we enjoy: and a king of a large and 
fruitful territory there, feeds, lodges, and is clad worse than a 
day-labourer in England.  

     Sec. 42.  To make this a little clearer, let us but trace 
some of the ordinary provisions of life, through their several 
progresses, before they come to our use, and see how much they 
receive of their value from human industry.  Bread, wine and 
cloth, are things of daily use, and great plenty; yet 
notwithstanding, acorns, water and leaves, or skins, must be our 
bread, drink and cloathing, did not labour furnish us with 

these more useful commodities: for whatever bread is more worth 
than acorns, wine than water, and cloth or silk, than leaves, 
skins or moss, that is wholly owing to labour and industry; 
the one of these being the food and raiment which unassisted 
nature furnishes us with; the other, provisions which our 
industry and pains prepare for us, which how much they exceed the 
other in value, when any one hath computed, he will then see how 
much labour makes the far greatest part of the value of things 
we enjoy in this world: and the ground which produces the 
materials, is scarce to be reckoned in, as any, or at most, but a 
very small part of it; so little, that even amongst us, land that 
is left wholly to nature, that hath no improvement of pasturage, 
tillage, or planting, is called, as indeed it is, waste; and we 
shall find the benefit of it amount to little more than nothing.

 This shews how much numbers of men are to be preferred to 
largeness of dominions; and that the increase of lands, and the 
right employing of them, is the great art of government: and that 
prince, who shall be so wise and godlike, as by established laws 
of liberty to secure protection and encouragement to the honest 
industry of mankind, against the oppression of power and 
narrowness of party, will quickly be too hard for his neighbours: 
but this by the by.  To return to the argument in hand,

     Sec. 43.  An acre of land, that bears here twenty bushels of 
wheat, and another in America, which, with the same husbandry, 
would do the like, are, without doubt, of the same natural 
intrinsic value: but yet the benefit mankind receives from the 
one in a year, is worth 5l.  and from the other possibly not 
worth a penny, if all the profit an Indian received from it were 
to be valued, and sold here; at least, I may truly say, not one 
thousandth.  It is labour then which puts the greatest part of 
value upon land, without which it would scarcely be worth any 
thing: it is to that we owe the greatest part of all its useful 
products; for all that the straw, bran, bread, of that acre of 
wheat, is more worth than the product of an acre of as good land, 
which lies waste, is all the effect of labour: for it is not 
barely the plough-man's pains, the reaper's and thresher's toil, 
and the baker's sweat, is to be counted into the bread we eat; 
the labour of those who broke the oxen, who digged and wrought 
the iron and stones, who felled and framed the timber employed 
about the plough, mill, oven, or any other utensils, which are a 
vast number, requisite to this corn, from its being feed to be 
sown to its being made bread, must all be charged on the 
account of labour, and received as an effect of that: nature and 
the earth furnished only the almost worthless materials, as in 
themselves.  It would be a strange catalogue of things, that 
industry provided and made use of, about every loaf of bread, 
before it came to our use, if we could trace them; iron, wood, 
leather, bark, timber, stone, bricks, coals, lime, cloth, dying 
drugs, pitch, tar, masts, ropes, and all the materials made use 
of in the ship, that brought any of the commodities made use of 
by any of the workmen, to any part of the work; all which it 
would be almost impossible, at least too long, to reckon up.

     Sec. 44.  From all which it is evident, that though the 
things of nature are given in common, yet man, by being master of 
himself, and proprietor of his own person, and the actions or 
labour of it, had still in himself the great foundation of 
property; and that, which made up the great part of what he 
applied to the support or comfort of his being, when invention 
and arts had improved the conveniencies of life, was perfectly 
his own, and did not belong in common to others.

     Sec. 45.  Thus labour, in the beginning, gave a right of 
property, wherever any one was pleased to employ it upon what 
was common, which remained a long while the far greater part, and 
is yet more than mankind makes use of.  Men, at first, for the 
most part, contented themselves with what unassisted nature 
offered to their necessities: and though afterwards, in some 

parts of the world, (where the increase of people and stock, with 
the use of money, had made land scarce, and so of some value) 
the several communities settled the bounds of their distinct 
territories, and by laws within themselves regulated the 
properties of the private men of their society, and so, by 
compact and agreement, settled the property which labour and 
industry began; and the leagues that have been made between 
several states and kingdoms, either expresly or tacitly disowning 
all claim and right to the land in the others possession, have, 
by common consent, given up their pretences to their natural 
common right, which originally they had to those countries, and 
so have, by positive agreement, settled a property amongst 
themselves, in distinct parts and parcels of the earth; yet there 
are still great tracts of ground to be found, which (the 
inhabitants thereof not having joined with the rest of mankind, 
in the consent of the use of their common money) lie waste, and 
are more than the people who dwell on it do, or can make use of, 
and so still lie in common; tho' this can scarce happen amongst 
that part of mankind that have consented to the use of money.

     Sec. 46.  The greatest part of things really useful to the 
life of man, and such as the necessity of subsisting made the 
first commoners of the world look after, as it cloth the 
Americans now, are generally things of short duration; such 
as, if they are not consumed by use, will decay and perish of 
themselves: gold, silver and diamonds, are things that fancy or 
agreement hath put the value on, more than real use, and the 
necessary support of life.  Now of those good things which nature 
hath provided in common, every one had a right (as hath been 
said) to as much as he could use, and property in all that he 
could effect with his labour; all that his industry could 
extend to, to alter from the state nature had put it in, was his.  
He that gathered a hundred bushels of acorns or apples, had 
thereby a property in them, they were his goods as soon as 
gathered.  He was only to look, that he used them before they 
spoiled, else he took more than his share, and robbed others.  
And indeed it was a foolish thing, as well as dishonest, to hoard 
up more than he could make use of.  If he gave away a part to any 
body else, so that it perished not uselesly in his possession, 
these he also made use of.  And if he also bartered away plums, 
that would have rotted in a week, for nuts that would last good 
for his eating a whole year, he did no injury; he wasted not the 
common stock; destroyed no part of the portion of goods that 
belonged to others, so long as nothing perished uselesly in his 
hands.  Again, if he would give his nuts for a piece of metal, 
pleased with its colour; or exchange his sheep for shells, or 
wool for a sparkling pebble or a diamond, and keep those by him 
all his life he invaded not the right of others, he might heap up 
as much of these durable things as he pleased; the exceeding of 
the bounds of his just property not lying in the largeness of 
his possession, but the perishing of any thing uselesly in it.

     Sec. 47.  And thus came in the use of money, some lasting 
thing that men might keep without spoiling, and that by mutual 
consent men would take in exchange for the truly useful, but 
perishable supports of life.

     Sec. 48.  And as different degrees of industry were apt to 
give men possessions in different proportions, so this invention 
of money gave them the opportunity to continue and enlarge them: 
for supposing an island, separate from all possible commerce with 
the rest of the world, wherein there were but an hundred 
families, but there were sheep, horses and cows, with other 
useful animals, wholsome fruits, and land enough for corn for a 
hundred thousand times as many, but nothing in the island, either 
because of its commonness, or perishableness, fit to supply the 
place of money; what reason could any one have there to enlarge 
his possessions beyond the use of his family, and a plentiful 
supply to its consumption, either in what their own industry 

produced, or they could barter for like perishable, useful 
commodities, with others?  Where there is not some thing, both 
lasting and scarce, and so valuable to be hoarded up, there men 
will not be apt to enlarge their possessions of land, were it 
never so rich, never so free for them to take: for I ask, what 
would a man value ten thousand, or an hundred thousand acres of 
excellent land, ready cultivated, and well stocked too with 
cattle, in the middle of the inland parts of America, where he 
had no hopes of commerce with other parts of the world, to draw 
money to him by the sale of the product?  It would not be worth 
the enclosing, and we should see him give up again to the wild 
common of nature, whatever was more than would supply the 
conveniencies of life to be had there for him and his family.

     Sec. 49.  Thus in the beginning all the world was America, 
and more so than that is now; for no such thing as money was 
any where known.  Find out something that hath the use and value 
of money amongst his neighbours, you shall see the same man will 
begin presently to enlarge his possessions.

     Sec. 50.  But since gold and silver, being little useful to 
the life of man in proportion to food, raiment, and carriage, has 
its value only from the consent of men, whereof labour yet 
makes, in great part, the measure, it is plain, that men have 
agreed to a disproportionate and unequal possession of the 
earth, they having, by a tacit and voluntary consent, found out, 
a way how a man may fairly possess more land than he himself can 
use the product of, by receiving in exchange for the overplus 
gold and silver, which may be hoarded up without injury to any 
one; these metals not spoiling or decaying in the hands of the 
possessor.  This partage of things in an inequality of private 
possessions, men have made practicable out of the bounds of 
society, and without compact, only by putting a value on gold and 
silver, and tacitly agreeing in the use of money: for in 
governments, the laws regulate the right of property, and the 
possession of land is determined by positive constitutions.

     Sec. 51.  And thus, I think, it is very easy to conceive, 
without any difficulty, how labour could at first begin a title 
of property in the common things of nature, and how the spending 
it upon our uses bounded it.  So that there could then be no 
reason of quarrelling about title, nor any doubt about the 
largeness of possession it gave.  Right and conveniency went 
together; for as a man had a right to all he could employ his 
labour upon, so he had no temptation to labour for more than he 
could make use of.  This left no room for controversy about the 
title, nor for encroachment on the right of others; what portion 
a man carved to himself, was easily seen; and it was useless, as 
well as dishonest, to carve himself too much, or take more than 
he needed.

                        CHAP.  VI.

                   Of Paternal Power.

     Sec. 52.  IT may perhaps be censured as an impertinent 
criticism, in a discourse of this nature, to find fault with 
words and names, that have obtained in the world: and yet 
possibly it may not be amiss to offer new ones, when the old are 
apt to lead men into mistakes, as this of paternal power 
probably has done, which seems so to place the power of parents 
over their children wholly in the father, as if the mother 
had no share in it; whereas, if we consult reason or revelation, 
we shall find, she hath an equal title.  This may give one reason 
to ask, whether this might not be more properly called parental 
power?  for whatever obligation nature and the right of 
generation lays on children, it must certainly bind them equal to 

both the concurrent causes of it.  And accordingly we see the 
positive law of God every where joins them together, without 
distinction, when it commands the obedience of children, Honour 
thy father and thy mother, Exod. xx. 12.  Whosoever curseth his 
father or his mother, Lev. xx. 9.  Ye shall fear every man his 
mother and his father, Lev. xix. 3.  Children, obey your 
parents, &c. Eph. vi. 1.  is the stile of the Old and New 

     Sec. 53.  Had but this one thing been well considered, 
without looking any deeper into the matter, it might perhaps have 
kept men from running into those gross mistakes, they have made, 
about this power of parents; which, however it might, without any 
great harshness, bear the name of absolute dominion, and regal 
authority, when under the title of paternal power it seemed 
appropriated to the father, would yet have founded but oddly, and 
in the very name shewn the absurdity, if this supposed absolute 
power over children had been called parental; and thereby have 
discovered, that it belonged to the mother too: for it will but 
very ill serve the turn of those men, who contend so much for the 
absolute power and authority of the fatherhood, as they call 
it, that the mother should have any share in it; and it would 
have but ill supported the monarchy they contend for, when by 
the very name it appeared, that that fundamental authority, from 
whence they would derive their government of a single person 
only, was not placed in one, but two persons jointly.  But to let 
this of names pass.

     Sec. 54.  Though I have said above, Chap.  II. That all men 
by nature are equal, I cannot be supposed to understand all 
sorts of equality: age or virtue may give men a just 
precedency: excellency of parts and merit may place others 
above the common level: birth may subject some, and alliance 
or benefits others, to pay an observance to those to whom 
nature, gratitude, or other respects, may have made it due: and 
yet all this consists with the equality, which all men are in, 
in respect of jurisdiction or dominion one over another; which 
was the equality I there spoke of, as proper to the business in 
hand, being that equal right, that every man hath, to his 
natural freedom, without being subjected to the will or 
authority of any other man.

     Sec. 55.  Children, I confess, are not born in this full 
state of equality, though they are born to it.  Their parents 
have a sort of rule and jurisdiction over them, when they come 
into the world, and for some time after; but it is but a 
temporary one.  The bonds of this subjection are like the 
swaddling clothes they art wrapt up in, and supported by, in the 
weakness of their infancy: age and reason as they grow up, loosen 
them, till at length they drop quite off, and leave a man at his 
own free disposal.

     Sec. 56.  Adam was created a perfect man, his body and 
mind in full possession of their strength and reason, and so was 
capable, from the first instant of his being to provide for his 
own support and preservation, and govern his actions according to 
the dictates of the law of reason which God had implanted in him.  
From him the world is peopled with his descendants, who are all 
born infants, weak and helpless, without knowledge or 
understanding: but to supply the defects of this imperfect state, 
till the improvement of growth and age hath removed them, Adam 
and Eve, and after them all parents were, by the law of 
nature, under an obligation to preserve, nourish, and educate 
the children they had begotten; not as their own workmanship, 
but the workmanship of their own maker, the Almighty, to whom 
they were to be accountable for them.

     Sec. 57.  The law, that was to govern Adam, was the same 
that was to govern all his posterity, the law of reason.  But 
his offspring having another way of entrance into the world, 
different from him, by a natural birth, that produced them 

ignorant and without the use of reason, they were not presently 
under that law; for no body can be under a law, which is not 
promulgated to him; and this law being promulgated or made known 
by reason only, he that is not come to the use of his reason, 
cannot be said to be under this law; and Adam's children, 
being not presently as soon as born under this law of reason, 
were not presently free: for law, in its true notion, is 
not so much the limitation as the direction of a free and 
intelligent agent to his proper interest, and prescribes no 
farther than is for the general good of those under that law: 
could they be happier without it, the law, as an useless thing, 
would of itself vanish; and that ill deserves the name of 
confinement which hedges us in only from bogs and precipices.  So 
that, however it may be mistaken, the end of law is not to 
abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom: for 
in all the states of created beings capable of laws, where there 
is no law, there is no freedom: for liberty is, to be free 
from restraint and violence from others; which cannot be, where 
there is no law: but freedom is not, as we are told, a liberty 
for every man to do what he lists: (for who could be free, when 
every other man's humour might domineer over him?) but a 
liberty to dispose, and order as he lists, his person, actions, 
possessions, and his whole property, within the allowance of 
those laws under which he is, and therein not to be subject to 
the arbitrary will of another, but freely follow his own.

     Sec. 58.  The power, then, that parents have over their 
children, arises from that duty which is incumbent on them, to 
take care of their off-spring, during the imperfect state of 
childhood.  To inform the mind, and govern the actions of their 
yet ignorant nonage, till reason shall take its place, and ease 
them of that trouble, is what the children want, and the parents 
are bound to: for God having given man an understanding to direct 
his actions, has allowed him a freedom of will, and liberty of 
acting, as properly belonging thereunto, within the bounds of 
that law he is under.  But whilst he is in an estate, wherein he 
has not understanding of his own to direct his will, he is 
not to have any will of his own to follow: he that 
understands for him, must will for him too; he must prescribe 
to his will, and regulate his actions; but when he comes to the 
estate that made his father a freeman, the son is a freeman 

     Sec. 59.  This holds in all the laws a man is under, whether 
natural or civil.  Is a man under the law of nature?  What made 
him free of that law?  what gave him a free disposing of his 
property, according to his own will, within the compass of that 
law?  I answer, a state of maturity wherein he might be supposed 
capable to know that law, that so he might keep his actions 
within the bounds of it.  When he has acquired that state, he is 
presumed to know how far that law is to be his guide, and how far 
he may make use of his freedom, and so comes to have it; till 
then, some body else must guide him, who is presumed to know how 
far the law allows a liberty.  If such a state of reason, such an 
age of discretion made him free, the same shall make his son 
free too.  Is a man under the law of England?  What made him 
free of that law? that is, to have the liberty to dispose of his 
actions and possessions according to his own will, within the 
permission of that law?  A capacity of knowing that law; which is 
supposed by that law, at the age of one and twenty years, and in 
some cases sooner.  If this made the father free, it shall 
make the son free too.  Till then we see the law allows the 
son to have no will, but he is to be guided by the will of his 
father or guardian, who is to understand for him.  And if the 
father die, and fail to substitute a deputy in his trust; if he 
hath not provided a tutor, to govern his son, during his 
minority, during his want of understanding, the law takes care to 
do it; some other must govern him, and be a will to him, till he 

hath attained to a state of freedom, and his understanding be 
fit to take the government of his will.  But after that, the 
father and son are equally free as much as tutor and pupil 
after nonage; equally subjects of the same law together, without 
any dominion left in the father over the life, liberty, or estate 
of his son, whether they be only in the state and under the law 
of nature, or under the positive laws of an established 

     Sec. 60.  But if, through defects that may happen out of the 
ordinary course of nature, any one comes not to such a degree of 
reason, wherein he might be supposed capable of knowing the law, 
and so living within the rules of it, he is never capable of 
being a free man, he is never let loose to the disposure of his 
own will (because he knows no bounds to it, has not 
understanding, its proper guide) but is continued under the 
tuition and government of others, all the time his own 
understanding is uncapable of that charge.  And so lunatics and 
ideots are never set free from the government of their parents; 
children, who are not as yet come unto those years whereat they 
may have; and innocents which are excluded by a natural defect 
from ever having; thirdly, madmen, which for the present cannot 
possibly have the use of right reason to guide themselves, have 
for their guide, the reason that guideth other men which are 
tutors over them, to seek and procure their good for them, says 
Hooker, Eccl. Pol. lib. i. sec. 7.  All which seems no more than 
that duty, which God and nature has laid on man, as well as other 
creatures, to preserve their offspring, till they can be able to 
shift for themselves, and will scarce amount to an instance or 
proof of parents regal authority.

     Sec. 61.  Thus we are born free, as we are born rational; 
not that we have actually the exercise of either: age, that 
brings one, brings with it the other too.  And thus we see how 
natural freedom and subjection to parents may consist together, 
and are both founded on the same principle.  A child is free 
by his father's title, by his father's understanding, which is to 
govern him till he hath it of his own.  The freedom of a man at 
years of discretion, and the subjection of a child to his 
parents, whilst yet short of that age, are so consistent, and 
so distinguishable, that the most blinded contenders for 
monarchy, by right of fatherhood, cannot miss this 
difference; the most obstinate cannot but allow their 
consistency: for were their doctrine all true, were the right 
heir of Adam now known, and by that title settled a monarch in 
his throne, invested with all the absolute unlimited power Sir 
Robert Filmer talks of; if he should die as soon as his heir 
were born, must not the child, notwithstanding he were never so 
free, never so much sovereign, be in subjection to his mother and 
nurse, to tutors and governors, till age and education brought 
him reason and ability to govern himself and others?  The 
necessities of his life, the health of his body, and the 
information of his mind, would require him to be directed by the 
will of others, and not his own; and yet will any one think, that 
this restraint and subjection were inconsistent with, or spoiled 
him of that liberty or sovereignty he had a right to, or gave 
away his empire to those who had the government of his nonage?  
This government over him only prepared him the better and sooner 
for it.  If any body should ask me, when my son is of age to be 
free?  I shall answer, just when his monarch is of age to 
govern.  But at what time, says the judicious Hooker, Eccl. 
Pol. l. i. sect. 6.  a man may be said to have attained so far 
forth the use of reason, as sufficeth to make him capable of 
those laws whereby he is then bound to guide his actions: this is 
a great deal more easy for sense to discern, than for any one by 
skill and learning to determine.

     Sec. 62.  Common-wealths themselves take notice of, and 
allow, that there is a time when men are to begin to act like 

free men, and therefore till that time require not oaths of 
fealty, or allegiance, or other public owning of, or submission 
to the government of their countries.

     Sec. 63.  The freedom then of man, and liberty of acting 
according to his own will, is grounded on his having reason, 
which is able to instruct him in that law he is to govern himself 
by, and make him know how far he is left to the freedom of his 
own will.  To turn him loose to an unrestrained liberty, before 
he has reason to guide him, is not the allowing him the privilege 
of his nature to be free; but to thrust him out amongst brutes, 
and abandon him to a state as wretched, and as much beneath that 
of a man, as their's.  This is that which puts the authority 
into the parents hands to govern the minority of their 
children.  God hath made it their business to employ this care on 
their offspring, and hath placed in them suitable inclinations of 
tenderness and concern to temper this power, to apply it, as his 
wisdom designed it, to the children's good, as long as they 
should need to be under it.

     Sec. 64.  But what reason can hence advance this care of the 
parents due to their off-spring into an absolute arbitrary 
dominion of the father, whose power reaches no farther, than by 
such a discipline, as he finds most effectual, to give such 
strength and health to their bodies, such vigour and rectitude to 
their minds, as may best fit his children to be most useful to 
themselves and others; and, if it be necessary to his condition, 
to make them work, when they are able, for their own subsistence.  
But in this power the mother too has her share with the 

     Sec. 65.  Nay, this power so little belongs to the 
father by any peculiar right of nature, but only as he is 
guardian of his children, that when he quits his care of them, he 
loses his power over them, which goes along with their 
nourishment and education, to which it is inseparably annexed; 
and it belongs as much to the foster-father of an exposed 
child, as to the natural father of another.  So little power does 
the bare act of begetting give a man over his issue; if all his 
care ends there, and this be all the title he hath to the name 
and authority of a father.  And what will become of this 
paternal power in that part of the world, where one woman hath 
more than one husband at a time? or in those parts of America, 
where, when the husband and wife part, which happens frequently, 
the children are all left to the mother, follow her, and are 
wholly under her care and provision? If the father die whilst the 
children are young, do they not naturally every where owe the 
same obedience to their mother, during their minority, as to 
their father were he alive? and will any one say, that the mother 
hath a legislative power over her children? that she can make 
standing rules, which shall be of perpetual obligation, by which 
they ought to regulate all the concerns of their property, and 
bound their liberty all the course of their lives? or can she 
inforce the observation of them with capital punishments? for 
this is the proper power of the magistrate, of which the father 
hath not so much as the shadow.  His command over his children is 
but temporary, and reaches not their life or property: it is but 
a help to the weakness and imperfection of their nonage, a 
discipline necessary to their education: and though a father 
may dispose of his own possessions as he pleases, when his 
children are out of danger of perishing for want, yet his power 
extends not to the lives or goods, which either their own 
industry, or another's bounty has made their's; nor to their 
liberty neither, when they are once arrived to the 
infranchisement of the years of discretion.  The father's 
empire then ceases, and he can from thence forwards no more 
dispose of the liberty of his son, than that of any other man: 
and it must be far from an absolute or perpetual jurisdiction, 
from which a man may withdraw himself, having license from divine 

authority to leave father and mother, and cleave to his wife. 

     Sec. 66.  But though there be a time when a child comes to 
be as free from subjection to the will and command of his 
father, as the father himself is free from subjection to the will 
of any body else, and they are each under no other restraint, but 
that which is common to them both, whether it be the law of 
nature, or municipal law of their country; yet this freedom 
exempts not a son from that honour which he ought, by the law 
of God and nature, to pay his parents.  God having made the 
parents instruments in his great design of continuing the race of 
mankind, and the occasions of life to their children; as he hath 
laid on them an obligation to nourish, preserve, and bring up 
their offspring; so he has laid on the children a perpetual 
obligation of honouring their parents, which containing in it 
an inward esteem and reverence to be shewn by all outward 
expressions, ties up the child from any thing that may ever 
injure or affront, disturb or endanger, the happiness or life of 
those from whom he received his; and engages him in all actions 
of defence, relief, assistance and comfort of those, by whose 
means he entered into being, and has been made capable of any 
enjoyments of life: from this obligation no state, no freedom can 
absolve children.  But this is very far from giving parents a 
power of command over their children, or an authority to make 
laws and dispose as they please of their lives or liberties.  It 
is one thing to owe honour, respect, gratitude and assistance; 
another to require an absolute obedience and submission.  The 
honour due to parents, a monarch in his throne owes his mother; 
and yet this lessens not his authority, nor subjects him to her 

     Sec. 67.  The subjection of a minor places in the father a 
temporary government, which terminates with the minority of the 
child: and the honour due from a child, places in the parents a 
perpetual right to respect, reverence, support and compliance 
too, more or less, as the father's care, cost, and kindness in 
his education, has been more or less.  This ends not with 
minority, but holds in all parts and conditions of a man's life.  
The want of distinguishing these two powers, viz. that which 
the father hath in the right of tuition, during minority, and 
the right of honour all his life, may perhaps have caused a 
great part of the mistakes about this matter: for to speak 
properly of them, the first of these is rather the privilege of 
children, and duty of parents, than any prerogative of paternal 
power.  The nourishment and education of their children is a 
charge so incumbent on parents for their children's good, that 
nothing can absolve them from taking care of it: and though the 
power of commanding and chastising them go along with it, yet 
God hath woven into the principles of human nature such a 
tenderness for their off-spring, that there is little fear that 
parents should use their power with too much rigour; the excess 
is seldom on the severe side, the strong byass of nature drawing 
the other way.  And therefore God almighty when he would express 
his gentle dealing with the Israelites, he tells them, that 
though he chastened them, he chastened them as a man chastens 
his son, Deut. viii. 5. i.e. with tenderness and affection, 
and kept them under no severer discipline than what was 
absolutely best for them, and had been less kindness to have 
slackened.  This is that power to which children are commanded 
obedience, that the pains and care of their parents may not be 
increased, or ill rewarded.

     Sec. 68.  On the other side, honour and support, all 
that which gratitude requires to return for the benefits received 
by and from them, is the indispensable duty of the child, and the 
proper privilege of the parents.  This is intended for the 
parents advantage, as the other is for the child's; though 
education, the parents duty, seems to have most power, because 
the ignorance and infirmities of childhood stand in need of 

restraint and correction; which is a visible exercise of rule, 
and a kind of dominion.  And that duty which is comprehended in 
the word honour, requires less obedience, though the obligation 
be stronger on grown, than younger children: for who can think 
the command, Children obey your parents, requires in a man, 
that has children of his own, the same submission to his father, 
as it does in his yet young children to him; and that by this 
precept he were bound to obey all his father's commands, if, out 
of a conceit of authority, he should have the indiscretion to 
treat him still as a boy?

     Sec. 69.  The first part then of paternal power, or rather 
duty, which is education, belongs so to the father, that it 
terminates at a certain season; when the business of education is 
over, it ceases of itself, and is also alienable before: for a 
man may put the tuition of his son in other hands; and he that 
has made his son an apprentice to another, has discharged him, 
during that time, of a great part of his obedience both to 
himself and to his mother.  But all the duty of honour, the 
other part, remains never the less entire to them; nothing can 
cancel that: it is so inseparable from them both, that the 
father's authority cannot dispossess the mother of this right, 
nor can any man discharge his son from honouring her that bore 
him.  But both these are very far from a power to make laws, and 
enforcing them with penalties, that may reach estate, liberty, 
limbs and life.  The power of commanding ends with nonage; and 
though, after that, honour and respect, support and defence, 
and whatsoever gratitude can oblige a man to, for the highest 
benefits he is naturally capable of, be always due from a son to 
his parents; yet all this puts no scepter into the father's hand, 
no sovereign power of commanding.  He has no dominion over his 
son's property, or actions; nor any right, that his will should 
prescribe to his son's in all things; however it may become his 
son in many things, not very inconvenient to him and his family, 
to pay a deference to it.

     Sec. 70.  A man may owe honour and respect to an ancient, or 
wise man; defence to his child or friend; relief and support to 
the distressed; and gratitude to a benefactor, to such a degree, 
that all he has, all he can do, cannot sufficiently pay it: but 
all these give no authority, no right to any one, of making laws 
over him from whom they are owing.  And it is plain, all this is 
due not only to the bare title of father; not only because, as 
has been said, it is owing to the mother too; but because these 
obligations to parents, and the degrees of what is required of 
children, may be varied by the different care and kindness, 
trouble and expence, which is often employed upon one child more 
than another.

     Sec. 71.  This shews the reason how it comes to pass, that 
parents in societies, where they themselves are subjects, retain 
a power over their children, and have as much right to their 
subjection, as those who are in the state of nature.  Which could 
not possibly be, if all political power were only paternal, and 
that in truth they were one and the same thing: for then, all 
paternal power being in the prince, the subject could naturally 
have none of it.  But these two powers, political and paternal, 
are so perfectly distinct and separate; are built upon so 
different foundations, and given to so different ends, that every 
subject that is a father, has as much a paternal power over his 
children, as the prince has over his: and every prince, that has 
parents, owes them as much filial duty and obedience, as the 
meanest of his subjects do to their's; and can therefore contain 
not any part or degree of that kind of dominion, which a prince 
or magistrate has over his subject.  

     Sec. 72.  Though the obligation on the parents to bring up 
their children, and the obligation on children to honour their 
parents, contain all the power on the one hand, and submission on 
the other, which are proper to this relation, yet there is 

another power ordinarily in the father, whereby he has a tie on 
the obedience of his children; which tho' it be common to him 
with other men, yet the occasions of shewing it, almost consich 
tho' it be common to him with other men, yet the occasions of 
shewing it, almost constantly happening to fathers in their 
private families, and the instances of it elsewhere being rare, 
and less taken notice of, it passes in the world for a part of 
paternal jurisdiction.  And this is the power men generally have 
to bestow their estates on those who please them best; the 
possession of the father being the expectation and inheritance of 
the children, ordinarily in certain proportions, according to the 
law and custom of each country; yet it is commonly in the 
father's power to bestow it with a more sparing or liberal hand, 
according as the behaviour of this or that child hath comported 
with his will and humour.

     Sec. 73.  This is no small tie on the obedience of children: 
and there being always annexed to the enjoyment of land, a 
submission to the government of the country, of which that land 
is a part; it has been commonly supposed, that a father could 
oblige his posterity to that government, of which he himself was 
a subject, and that his compact held them; whereas, it being only 
a necessary condition annexed to the land, and the inheritance of 
an estate which is under that government, reaches only those who 
will take it on that condition, and so is no natural tie or 
engagement, but a voluntary submission: for every man's children 
being by nature as free as himself, or any of his ancestors ever 
were, may, whilst they are in that freedom, choose what society 
they will join themselves to, what common-wealth they will put 
themselves under.  But if they will enjoy the inheritance of 
their ancestors, they must take it on the same terms their 
ancestors had it, and submit to all the conditions annexed to 
such a possession.  By this power indeed fathers oblige their 
children to obedience to themselves, even when they are past 
minority, and most commonly too subject them to this or that 
political power: but neither of these by any peculiar right of 
fatherhood, but by the reward they have in their hands to inforce 
and recompence such a compliance; and is no more power than what 
a French man has over an English man, who by the hopes of an 
estate he will leave him, will certainly have a strong tie on his 
obedience: and if, when it is left him, he will enjoy it, he must 
certainly take it upon the conditions annexed to the possession 
of land in that country where it lies, whether it be France or 

     Sec. 74.  To conclude then, tho' the father's power of 
commanding extends no farther than the minority of his children, 
and to a degree only fit for the discipline and government of 
that age; and tho' that honour and respect, and all that which 
the Latins called piety, which they indispensably owe to their 
parents all their life-time, and in all estates, with all that 
support and defence is due to them, gives the father no power of 
governing, i.e.  making laws and enacting penalties on his 
children; though by all this he has no dominion over the property 
or actions of his son: yet it is obvious to conceive how easy it 
was, in the first ages of the world, and in places still, where 
the thinness of people gives families leave to separate into 
unpossessed quarters, and they have room to remove or plant 
themselves in yet vacant habitations, for the father of the 
family to become the prince of* it; he had been a ruler from the 
beginning of the infancy of his children: and since without some 
government it would be hard for them to live together, it was 
likeliest it should, by the express or tacit consent of the 
children when they were grown up, be in the father, where it 
seemed without any change barely to continue; when indeed nothing 
more was required to it, than the permitting the father to 
exercise alone, in his family, that executive power of the law of 
nature, which every free man naturally hath, and by that 

permission resigning up to him a monarchical power, whilst they 
remained in it.  But that this was not by any paternal right, but 
only by the consent of his children, is evident from hence, that 
no body doubts, but if a stranger, whom chance or business had 
brought to his family, had there killed any of his children, or 
committed any other fact, he might condemn and put him to death, 
or other-wise have punished him, as well as any of his children; 
which it was impossible he should do by virtue of any paternal 
authority over one who was not his child, but by virtue of that 
executive power of the law of nature, which, as a man, he had a 
right to: and he alone could punish him in his family, where the 
respect of his children had laid by the exercise of such a power, 
to give way to the dignity and authority they were willing should 
remain in him, above the rest of his family.  

     (*It is no improbable opinion therefore, which the 
archphilosopher was of, that the chief person in every houshold 
was always, as it were, a king: so when numbers of housholds 
joined themselves in civil societies together, kings were the 
first kind of governors amongst them, which is also, as it 
seemeth, the reason why the name of fathers continued still in 
them, who, of fathers, were made rulers; as also the ancient 
custom of governors to do as Melchizedec, and being kings, to 
exercise the office of priests, which fathers did at the first, 
grew perhaps by the same occasion.  Howbeit, this is not the only 
kind of regiment that has been received in the world.  The 
inconveniences of one kind have caused sundry others to be 
devised; so that in a word, all public regiment, of what kind 
soever, seemeth evidently to have risen from the deliberate 
advice, consultation and composition between men, judging it 
convenient and behoveful; there being no impossibility in nature 
considered by itself, but that man might have lived without any 
public regiment, Hooker's Eccl. Pol. lib. i. sect. 10.)

     Sec. 75.  Thus it was easy, and almost natural for children, 
by a tacit, and scarce avoidable consent, to make way for the 
father's authority and government.  They had been  accustomed  in  
their childhood to follow his direction, and to refer their 
little differences to him, and when they were men, who fitter to 
rule them?  Their little properties, and less covetousness, 
seldom afforded greater controversies; and when any should arise, 
where could they have a fitter umpire than he, by whose care they 
had every one been sustained and brought up, and who had a 
tenderness for them aII?  It is no wonder that they made no 
distinction betwixt minority and full age; nor looked after one 
and twenty, or any other age that might make them the free 
disposers of themselves and fortunes, when they could have no 
desire to be out of their pupilage: the government they had been 
under, during it, continued still to be more their protection 
than restraint; and they could no where find a greater security 
to their peace, liberties, and fortunes, than in the rule of a 

     Sec. 76.  Thus the natural fathers of families, by an 
insensible change, became the politic monarchs of them too: and 
as they chanced to live long, and leave able and worthy heirs, 
for several successions, or otherwise; so they laid the 
foundations of hereditary, or elective kingdoms, under several 
constitutions and mannors, according as chance, contrivance, or 
occasions happened to mould them.  But if princes have their 
titles in their fathers right, and it be a sufficient proof of 
the natural right of fathers to political authority, because they 
commonly were those in whose hands we find, de facto, the 
exercise of government: I say, if this argument be good, it will 
as strongly prove, that all princes, nay princes only, ought to 
be priests, since it is as certain, that in the beginning, the 
father of the family was priest, as that he was ruler in his own 

                        CHAP.  VII.

             Of Political or Civil Society.

     Sec. 77.  GOD having made man such a creature, that in his 
own judgment, it was not good for him to be alone, put him under 
strong obligations of necessity, convenience, and inclination to 
drive him into society, as well as fitted him with understanding 
and language to continue and enjoy it.  The first society was 
between man and wife, which gave beginning to that between 
parents and children; to which, in time, that between master and 
servant came to be added: and though all these might, and 
commonly did meet together, and make up but one family, wherein 
the master or mistress of it had some sort of rule proper to a 
family; each of these, or all together, came short of political 
society, as we shall see, if we consider the different ends, 
ties, and bounds of each of these.

     Sec. 78.  Conjugal society is made by a voluntary compact 
between man and woman; and tho' it consist chiefly in such a 
communion and right in one another's bodies as is necessary to 
its chief end, procreation; yet it draws with it mutual support 
and assistance, and a communion of interests too, as necessary 
not only to unite their care and affection, but also necessary to 
their common off-spring, who have a right to be nourished, and 
maintained by them, till they are able to provide for themselves.

     Sec. 79.  For the end of conjunction, between male and 
female, being not barely procreation, but the continuation of the 
species; this conjunction betwixt male and female ought to last, 
even after procreation, so long as is necessary to the 
nourishment and support of the young ones, who are to be 
even after procreation, so long as is necessary to the 
nourishment and support of the young ones, who are to be 
sustained by those that got them, till they are able to shift and 
provide for themselves.  This rule, which the infinite wise maker 
hath set to the works of his hands, we find the inferior 
creatures steadily obey.  In those viviparous animals which feed 
on grass, the conjunction between male and female lasts no longer 
than the very act of copulation; because the teat of the dam 
being sufficient to nourish the young, till it be able to feed on 
grass, the male only begets, but concerns not himself for the 
female or young, to whose sustenance he can contribute nothing.  
But in beasts of prey the conjunction lasts longer: because the 
dam not being able well to subsist herself, and nourish her 
numerous off-spring by her own prey alone, a more laborious, as 
well as more dangerous way of living, than by feeding on grass, 
the assistance of the male is necessary to the maintenance of 
their common family, which cannot subsist till they are able to 
prey for themselves, but by the joint care of male and female.  
The same is to be observed in all birds, (except some domestic 
ones, where plenty of food excuses the cock from feeding, and 
taking care of the young brood) whose young needing food in the 
nest, the cock and hen continue mates, till the young are able to 
use their wing, and provide for themselves.

     Sec. 80.  And herein I think lies the chief, if not the only 
reason, why the male and female in mankind are tied to a longer 
conjunction than other creatures, viz.  because the female is 
capable of conceiving, and de facto is commonly with child again, 
and brings forth too a new birth, long before the former is out 
of a dependency for support on his parents help, and able to 
shift for himself, and has all the assistance is due to him from 
his parents: whereby the father, who is bound to take care for 
those he hath begot, is under an obligation to continue in 
conjugal society with the same woman longer than other creatures, 

whose young being able to subsist of themselves, before the time 
of procreation returns again, the conjugal bond dissolves of 
itself, and they are at liberty, till Hymen at his usual 
anniversary season summons them again to chuse new mates.  
Wherein one cannot but admire the wisdom of the great Creator, 
who having given to man foresight, and an ability to lay up for 
the future, as well as to supply the present necessity, hath made 
it necessary, that society of man and wife should be more 
lasting, than of male and female amongst other creatures; that so 
their industry might be encouraged, and their interest better 
united, to make provision and lay up goods for their common 
issue, which uncertain mixture, or easy and frequent solutions of 
conjugal society would mightily disturb.

     Sec. 81.  But tho'these are ties upon mankind, which make 
the conjugal bonds more firm and lasting in man, than the other 
species of animals; yet it would give one reason to enquire, why 
this compact, where procreation and education are secured, and 
inheritance taken care for, may not be made determinable, either 
by consent, or at a certain time, or upon certain conditions, as 
well as any other voluntary compacts, there being no necessity in 
the nature of the thing, nor to the ends of it, that it should 
always be for life; I mean, to such as are under no restraint of 
any positive law, which ordains all such contracts to be 

     Sec. 82.  But the husband and wife, though they have but one 
common concern, yet having different understandings, will 
unavoidably sometimes have different wills too; it therefore 
being necessary that the last determination, i. e.  the rule, 
should be placed somewhere; it naturally falls to the man's 
share, as the abler and the stronger.  But this reaching but to 
the things of their common interest and property, leaves the wife 
in the full and free possession of what by contract is her 
peculiar right, and gives the husband no more power over her life 
than she has over his; the power of the husband being so far from 
that of an absolute monarch, that the wife has in many cases a 
liberty to separate from him, where natural right, or their 
contract allows it; whether that contract be made by themselves 
in the state of nature, or by the customs or laws of the country 
they live in; and the children upon such separation fall to the 
father or mother's lot, as such contract does determine.

     Sec. 83.  For all the ends of marriage being to be obtained 
under politic government, as well as in the state of nature, the 
civil magistrate cloth not abridge the right or power of either 
naturally necessary to those ends, viz.  procreation and mutual 
support and assistance whilst they are together; but only decides 
any controversy that may arise between man and wife about them.  
If it were otherwise, and that absolute sovereignty and power of 
life and death naturally belonged to the husband, and were 
necessary to the society between man and wife, there could be no 
matrimony in any of those countries where the husband is allowed 
no such absolute authority.  But the ends of matrimony requiring 
no such power in the husband, the condition of conjugal society 
put it not in him, it being not at all necessary to that state.  
Conjugal society could subsist and attain its ends without it; 
nay, community of goods, and the power over them, mutual 
assistance and maintenance, and other things belonging to 
conjugal society, might be varied and regulated by that contract 
which unites man and wife in that society, as far as may consist 
with procreation and the bringing up of children till they could 
shift for themselves; nothing being necessary to any society, 
that is not necessary to the ends for which it is made.

     Sec. 84.  The society betwixt parents and children, and the 
distinct rights and powers belonging respectively to them, I have 
treated of so largely, in the foregoing chapter, that I shall not 
here need to say any thing of it.  And I think it is plain, that 
it is far different from a politic society.

     Sec. 85.  Master and servant are names as old as history, 
but given to those of far different condition; for a freeman 
makes himself a servant to another, by selling him, for a certain 
time, the service he undertakes to do, in exchange for wages he 
is to receive: and though this commonly puts him into the family 
of his master, and under the ordinary discipline thereof; yet it 
gives the master but a temporary power over him, and no greater 
than what is contained in the contract between them.  But there 
is another sort of servants, which by a peculiar name we call 
slaves, who being captives taken in a just war, are by the right 
of nature subjected to the absolute dominion and arbitrary power 
of their masters.  These men having, as I say, forfeited their 
lives, and with it their liberties, and lost their estates; and 
being in the state of slavery, not capable of any property, 
cannot in that state be considered as any part of civil society; 
the chief end whereof is the preservation of property.

     Sec. 86.  Let us therefore consider a master of a family 
with all these subordinate relations of wife, children, servants, 
and slaves, united under the domestic rule of a family; which, 
what resemblance soever it may have in its order, offices, and 
number too, with a little common-wealth, yet is very far from it, 
both in its constitution, power and end: or if it must be thought 
a monarchy, and the paterfamilias the absolute monarch in it, 
absolute monarchy will have but a very shattered and short power, 
when it is plain, by what has been said before, that the master 
of the family has a very distinct and differently limited power, 
both as to time and extent, over those several persons that are 
in it; for excepting the slave (and the family is as much a 
family, and his power as paterfamilias as great, whether there be 
any slaves in his family or no) he has no legislative power of 
life and death over any of them, and none too but what a mistress 
of a family may have as well as he.  And he certainly can have no 
absolute power over the whole family, who has but a very limited 
one over every individual in it.  But how a family, or any other 
society of men, differ from that which is properly political 
society, we shall best see, by considering wherein political 
society itself consists.

     Sec. 87.  Man being born, as has been proved, with a title 
to perfect freedom, and an uncontrouled enjoyment of all the 
rights and privileges 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 
persuaded the offence deserves, even with death itself, 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 itself 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, resigned 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 penalties as the law has established: whereby 
it is easy to discern, who are, and who are not, in political 
society together.  Those who are united into one body, and have a 
common established 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 shewed it, 
the perfect state of nature.  

     Sec. 88.  And thus the common-wealth 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 who has entered into civil society, and is become a 
member of any commonwealth, has thereby 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 a right to the common-wealth to 
employ his force, for the execution of the judgments of the 
common-wealth, 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 common-wealth; and also to determine, 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 employ all the force of all the members, when there 
shall be need.  

     Sec. 89.  Where-ever 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 public, there and 
there only is a political, or civil society.  And this is done, 
where-ever any number of men, in the state of nature, enter into 
society to make one people, one body politic, under one supreme 
government; or else when any one joins 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 public good of the society 
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 common-wealth, 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 where-ever 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.  

     Sec. 90.  Hence it is evident, that absolute monarchy, which 
by some men is counted 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 controversy that 
may arise, and which every one of the* society ought to obey; 
where-ever 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.  

     (*The public power of all society is above every soul 
contained in the same society; and the principal use of that 
power is, to give laws unto all that are under it, which laws in 
such cases we must obey, unless there be reason shewed which may 
necessarily inforce, that the law of reason, or of God, doth 

enjoin the contrary, Hook. Eccl. Pol. l. i. sect. 16.)  

     Sec. 91.  For he being supposed to have all, both 
legislative and executive power in himself alone, there is no 
judge to be found, no appeal lies open to any one, who may 
fairly, and indifferently, and with authority decide, and from 
whose decision relief and redress may be expected of any injury 
or inconviency, that may be suffered from the prince, or by his 
order: so that such a man, however intitled, Czar, or Grand 
Seignior, or how you please, is as much in the state of nature, 
with all under his dominion, as he is with therest of mankind: 
for where-ever any two men are, who have no standing rule, and 
common judge to appeal to on earth, for the determination of 
controversies of right betwixt them, there they are still in the 
state of* nature, and under all the inconveniencies of it, with 
only this woful difference to the subject, or rather slave of an 
absolute prince: that whereas, in the ordinary state of nature, 
he has a liberty to judge of his right, and according to the best 
of his power, to maintain it; now, whenever his property is 
invaded by the will and order of his monarch, he has not only no 
appeal, as those in society ought to have, but as if he were 
degraded from the common state of rational creatures, is denied a 
liberty to judge of, or to defend his right; and so is exposed to 
all the misery and inconveniencies, that a man can fear from one, 
who being in the unrestrained state of nature, is yet corrupted 
with flattery, and armed with power.  

     (*To take away all such mutual grievances, injuries and 
wrongs, i.e. such as attend men in the state of nature, there was 
no way but only by growing into composition and agreement amongst 
themselves, by ordaining some kind of govemment public, and by 
yielding themselves subject thereunto, that unto whom they 
granted authority to rule and govem, by them the peace, 
tranquillity and happy estate of the rest might be procured.  Men 
always knew that where force and injury was offered, they might 
be defenders of themselves; they knew that however men may seek 
their own commodity, yet if this were done with injury unto 
others, it was not to be suffered, but by all men, and all good 
means to be withstood.  Finally, they knew that no man might in 
reason take upon him to determine his own right, and according to 
his own determination proceed in maintenance thereof, in as much 
as every man is towards himself, and them whom he greatly 
affects, partial; and therefore that strifes and troubles would 
be endless, except they gave their common consent, all to be 
ordered by some, whom they should agree upon, without which 
consent there would be no reason that one man should take upon 
him to be lord or judge over another, Hooker's Eccl. Pol. l. i. 
sect. 10.)  

     Sec. 92.  For he that thinks absolute power purifies men's 
blood, and corrects the baseness of human nature, need read but 
the history of this, or any other age, to be convinced of the 
contrary.  He that would have been insolent and injurious in the 
woods of America, would not probably be much better in a throne; 
where perhaps learning and religion shall be found out to justify 
all that he shall do to his subjects, and the sword presently 
silence all those that dare question it: for what the protection 
of absolute monarchy is, what kind of fathers of their countries 
it makes princes to be and to what a degree of happiness and 
security it carries civil society, where this sort of government 
is grown to perfection, he that will look into the late relation 
of Ceylon, may easily see.  

     Sec. 93.  In absolute monarchies indeed, as well as other 
governments of the world, the subjects have an appeal to the law, 
and judges to decide any controversies, and restrain any violence 
that may happen betwixt the subjects themselves, one amongst 
another.  This every one thinks necessary, and believes he 
deserves to be thought a declared enemy to society and mankind, 
who should go about to take it away.  But whether this be from a 

true love of mankind and society, and such a charity as we owe 
all one to another, there is reason to doubt: for this is no more 
than what every man, who loves his own power, profit, or 
greatness, may and naturally must do, keep those animals from 
hurting, or destroying one another, who labour and drudge only 
for his pleasure and advantage; and so are taken care of, not out 
of any love the master has for them, but love of himself, and the 
profit they bring him: for if it be asked, what security, what 
fence is there, in such a state, against the violence and 
oppression of this absolute ruler? the very question can scarce 
be borne.  They are ready to tell you, that it deserves death 
only to ask after safety.  Betwixt subject and subject, they will 
grant, there must be measures, laws and judges, for their mutual 
peace and security: but as for the ruler, he ought to be 
absolute, and is above all such circumstances; because he has 
power to do more hurt and wrong, it is right when he does it.  To 
ask how you may be guarded from harm, or injury, on that side 
where the strongest hand is to do it, is presently the voice of 
faction and rebellion: as if when men quitting the state of 
nature entered into society, they agreed that all of them but 
one, should be under the restraint of laws, but that he should 
still retain all the liberty of the state of nature, increased 
with power, and made licentious by impunity.  This is to think, 
that men are so foolish, that they take care to avoid what 
mischiefs may be done them by pole-cats, or foxes; but are 
content, nay, think it safety, to be devoured by lions.  

     Sec. 94.  But whatever flatterers may talk to amuse people's 
understandings, it hinders not men from feeling; and when they 
perceive, that any man, in what station soever, is out of the 
bounds of the civil society which they are of, and that they have 
no appeal on earth against any harm, they may receive from him, 
they are apt to think themselves in the state of nature, in 
respect of him whom they find to be so; and to take care, as soon 
as they can, to have that safety and security in civil society, 
for which it was first instituted, and for which only they 
entered into it.  And therefore, though perhaps at first , (as 
shall be shewed more at large hereafter in the following part of 
this discourse) some one good and excellent man having got a 
pre -eminency amongst the rest, had this deference paid to his 
goodness and virtue, as to a kind of natural authority, that the 
chief rule, with arbitration of their differences, by a tacit 
consent devolved into his hands, without any other caution, but 
the assurance they had of his uprightness and wisdom; yet when 
time, giving authority, and (as some men would persuade us) 
sacredness of customs, which the negligent, and unforeseeing 
innocence of the first ages began, had brought in successors of 
another stamp, the people finding their properties not secure 
under the government, as then it was, (whereas government has no 
other end but the preservation of * property) could never be safe 
nor at rest, nor think themselves in civil society, till the 
legislature was placed in collective bodies of men, call them 
senate, parliament, or what you please.  By which means every 
single person became subject, equally with other the meanest men, 
to those laws, which he himself, as part of the legislative, had 
established; nor could any one, by his own authority; avoid the 
force of the law, when once made; nor by any pretence of 
superiority plead exemption, thereby to license his own, or the 
miscarriages of any of his dependents.**  No man in civil society 
can be exempted from the laws of it: for if any man may do what 
he thinks fit, and there be no appeal on earth, for redress or 
security against any harm he shall do; I ask, whether he be not 
perfectly still in the state of nature, and so can be no part or 
member of that civil society; unless any one will say, the state 
of nature and civil society are one and the same thing, which I 
have never yet found any one so great a patron of anarchy as to 

     (*At the first, when some certain kind of regiment was once 
appointed, it may be that nothing was then farther thought upon 
for the manner of goveming, but all permitted unto their wisdom 
and discretion, which were to rule, till by experience they found 
this for all parts very inconvenient, so as the thing which they 
had devised for a remedy, did indeed but increase the sore, which 
it should have cured.  They saw, that to live by one man's will, 
became the cause of all men's misery.  This constrained them to 
come unto laws, wherein all men might see their duty beforehand, 
and know the penalties of transgressing them.  Hooker's Eccl. 
Pol. l. i. sect. 10.)  

     (**Civil law being the act of the whole body politic, cloth 
therefore over-rule each several part of the same body.  Hooker, 


                     CHAP.  VIII.

        Of the Beginning of Political Societies.

     Sec. 95.  MEN being, as has been said, by nature, all free, 
equal, and independent, no one can be put out of this estate, and 
subjected to the political power of another, without his own 
consent.  The only way whereby any one divests himself of his 
natural liberty, and puts on the bonds of civil society, is by 
agreeing with other men to join and unite into a community for 
their comfortable, safe, and peaceable living one amongst 
another, in a secure enjoyment of their properties, and a greater 
security against any, that are not of it.  This any number of men 
may do, because it injures not the freedom of the rest; they are 
left as they were in the liberty of the state of nature.  When 
any number of men have so consented to make one community or 
government, they are thereby presently incorporated, and make one 
body politic, wherein the majority have a right to act and 
conclude the rest.

     Sec. 96.  For when any number of men have, by the consent of 
every individual, made a community, they have thereby made that 
community one body, with a power to act as one body, which is 
only by the will and determination of the majority: for that 
which acts any community, being only the consent of the 
individuals of it, and it being necessary to that which is one 
body to move one way; it is necessary the body should move that 
way whither the greater force carries it, which is the consent of 
the majority: or else it is impossible it should act or continue 
one body, one community, which the consent of every individual 
that united into it, agreed that it should; and so every one is 
bound by that consent to be concluded by the majority.  And 
therefore we see, that in assemblies, impowered to act by 
positive laws, where no number is set by that positive law which 
impowers them, the act of the majority passes for the act of the 
whole, and of course determines, as having, by the law of nature 
and reason, the power of the whole.  

     Sec. 97.  And thus every man, by consenting with others to 
make one body politic under one government, puts himself under an 
obligation, to every one of that society, to submit to the 
determination of the majority, and to be concluded by it; or else 
this original compact, whereby he with others incorporates into 
one society, would signify nothing, and be no compact, if he be 
left free, and under no other ties than he was in before in the 
state of nature.  For what appearance would there be of any 
compact? what new engagement if he were no farther tied by any 
decrees of the society, than he himself thought fit, and did 
actually consent to?  This would be still as great a liberty, as 
he himself had before his compact, or any one else in the state 
of nature hath, who may submit himself, and consent to any acts 

of it if he thinks fit.  

     Sec. 98.  For if the consent of the majority shall not, in 
reason, be received as the act of the whole, and conclude every 
individual; nothing but the consent of every individual can make 
any thing to be the act of the whole: but such a consent is next 
to impossible ever to be had, if we consider the infirmities of 
health, and avocations of business, which in a number, though 
much less than that of a common-wealth, will necessarily keep 
many away from the public assembly.  To which if we add the 
variety of opinions, and contrariety of interests, which 
unavoidably happen in all collections of men, the coming into 
society upon such terms would be only like Cato's coming into the 
theatre, only to go out again.  Such a constitution as this would 
make the mighty Leviathan of a shorter duration, than the 
feeblest creatures, and not let it outlast the day it was bom in: 
which cannot be supposed, till we can think, that rational 
creatures should desire and constitute societies only to be 
dissolved: for where the majority cannot conclude the rest, there 
they cannot act as one body, and consequently will be immediately 
dissolved again.  

     Sec. 99.  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 expresly 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.  

     Sec. 100.  To this I find two objections made.

     First, That there are no instances to be found in story, of 
a company of men independent, and equal one amongst another, that 
met together, and in this way began and set up a government.  

     Secondly, It is impossible of right, that men should do so, 
because all men being born under government, they are to submit 
to that, and are not at liberty to begin a new one.  

     Sec. 101.  To the first there is this to answer, That it is 
not at all to be wondered, that history gives us but a very 
little account of men, that lived together in the state of 
nature.  The inconveniences of that condition, and the love and 
want of society, no sooner brought any number of them together, 
but they presently united and incorporated, if they designed to 
continue together.  And if we may not suppose men ever to have 
been in the state of nature, because we hear not much of them in 
such a state, we may as well suppose the armies of Salmanasser or 
Xerxes were never children, because we hear little of them, till 
they were men, and imbodied in armies.  Government is every where 
antecedent to records, and letters seldom come in amongst a 
people till a long continuation of civil society has, by other 
more necessary arts, provided for their safety, ease, and plenty: 
and then they begin to look after the history of their founders, 
and search into their original, when they have outlived the 
memory of it: for it is with commonwealths as with particular 
persons, they are commonly ignorant of their own births and 
infancies: and if they know any thing of their original, they are 
beholden for it, to the accidental records that others have kept 
of it.  And those that we have, of the beginning of any polities 
in the world, excepting that of the Jews, where God himself 
immediately interposed, and which favours not at all paternal 
dominion, are all either plain instances of such a beginning as I 
have mentioned, or at least have manifest footsteps of it.  

     Sec. 102.  He must shew a strange inclination to deny 
evident matter of fact, when it agrees not with his hypothesis, 
who will not allow, that shew a strange inclination to deny 
evident matter of fact, when it agrees not with his hypothesis, 
who will not allow, that the beginning of Rome and Venice were by 
the uniting together of several men free and independent one of 
another, amongst whom there was no natural superiority or 
subjection.  And if Josephus Acosta's word may be taken, he tells 
us, that in many parts of America there was no government at all.  
There are great and apparent conjectures, says he, that these 
men, speaking of those of Peru, for a long time had neither kings 
nor commonwealths, but lived in troops, as they do this day in 
Florida, the Cheriquanas, those of Brazil, and many other 
nations, which have no certain kings, but as occasion is offered, 
in peace or war, they choose their captains as they please, 1.  
i.  c.  25.  If it be said, that every man there was born subject 
to his father, or the head of his family; that the subjection due 
from a child to a father took not away his freedom of uniting 
into what political society he thought fit, has been already 
proved.  But be that as it will, these men, it is evident, were 
actually free; and whatever superiority some politicians now 
would place in any of them, they themselves claimed it not, but 
by consent were all equal, till by the same consent they set 
rulers over themselves.  So that their politic societies all 
began from a voluntary union, and the mutual agreement of men 
freely acting in the choice of their governors, and forms of 

     Sec. 103.  And I hope those who went away from Sparta with 
Palantus, mentioned by Justin, 1. iii. c. 4.  will be allowed to 
have been freemen independent one of another, and to have set up 
a government over themselves, by their own consent.  Thus I have 
given several examples, out of history, of people free and in the 
state of nature, that being met together incorporated and began a 
commonwealth.  And if the want of such instances be an argument 
to prove that government were not, nor could not be so begun, I 
suppose the contenders for paternal empire were better let it 
alone, than urge it against natural liberty: for if they can give 
so many instances, out of history, of governments begun upon 
paternal right, I think (though at best an argument from what has 
been, to what should of right be, has no great force) one might, 
without any great danger, yield them the cause.  But if I might 
advise them in the case, they would do well not to search too 
much into the original of governments, as they have begun de 
facto, lest they should find, at the foundation of most of them, 
something very little favourable to the design they promote, and 
such a power as they contend for.  

     Sec. 104.  But to conclude, reason being plain on our side, 
that men are naturally free, and the examples of history shewing, 
that the governments of the world, that were begun in peace, had 
their beginning laid on that foundation, and were made by the 
consent of the people; there can be little room for doubt, either 
where the right is, or what has been the opinion, or practice of 
mankind, about the first erecting of governments.  

     Sec. 105.  I will not deny, that if we look back as far as 
history will direct us, towards the original of commonwealths, we 
shall generally find them under the government and administration 
of one man.  And I am also apt to believe, that where a family 
was numerous enough to subsist by itself, and continued entire 
together, without mixing with others, as it often happens, where 
there is much land, and few people, the government commonly began 
in the father: for the father having, by the law of nature, the 
same power with every man else to punish, as he thought fit, any 
offences against that law, might thereby punish his transgressing 
children, even when they were men, and out of their pupilage; and 
they were very likely to submit to his punishment, and all join 
with him against the offender, in their turns, giving him thereby 

power to execute his sentence against any transgression, and so 
in effect make him the law-maker, and governor over all that 
remained in conjunction with his family.  He was fittest to be 
trusted; paternal affection secured their property and interest 
under his care; and the custom of obeying him, in their 
childhood, made it easier to submit to him, rather than to any 
other.  If therefore they must have one to rule them, as 
government is hardly to be avoided amongst men that live 
together; who so likely to be the man as he that was their common 
father; unless negligence, cruelty, or any other defect of mind 
or body made him unfit for it?  But when either the father died, 
and left his next heir, for want of age, wisdom, courage, or any 
other qualities, less fit for rule; or where several families 
met, and consented to continue together; there, it is not to be 
doubted, but they used their natural freedom, to set up him, whom 
they judged the ablest, and most likely, to rule well over them.  
Conformable hereunto we find the people of America, who (living 
out of the reach of the conquering swords, and spreading 
domination of the two great empires of Peru and Mexico) enjoyed 
their own natural freedom, though, caeteris paribus, they 
commonly prefer the heir of their deceased king; yet if they find 
him any way weak, or uncapable, they pass him by, and set up the 
stoutest and bravest man for their ruler.  

     Sec. 106.  Thus, though looking back as far as records give 
us any account of peopling the world, and the history of nations, 
we commonly find the government to be in one hand; yet it 
destroys not that which I affirm, viz. that the beginning of 
politic society depends upon the consent of the individuals, to 
join into, and make one society; who, when they are thus 
incorporated, might set up what form of government they thought 
fit.  But this having given occasion to men to mistake, and 
think, that by nature government was monarchical, and belonged to 
the father, it may not be amiss here to consider, why people in 
the beginning generally pitched upon this form, which though 
perhaps the father's pre-eminency might, in the first institution 
of some commonwealths, give a rise to, and place in the 
beginning, the power in one hand; yet it is plain that the 
reason, that continued the form of government in a single person, 
was not any regard, or respect to paternal authority; since all 
petty monarchies, that is, almost all monarchies, near their 
original, have been commonly, at least upon occasion, elective.  

     Sec. 107.  First then, in the beginning of things, the 
father's government of the childhood of those sprung from him, 
having accustomed them to the rule of one man, and taught them 
that where it was exercised with care and skill, with affection 
and love to those under it, it was sufficient to procure and 
preserve to men all the political happiness they sought for in 
society.  It was no wonder that they should pitch upon, and 
naturally run into that form of government, which from their 
infancy they had been all accustomed to; and which, by 
experience, they had found both easy and safe.  To which, if we 
add, that monarchy being simple, and most obvious to men, whom 
neither experience had instructed in forms of government, nor the 
ambition or insolence of empire had taught to beware of the 
encroachments of prerogative, or the inconveniences of absolute 
power, which monarchy in succession was apt to lay claim to, and 
bring upon them, it was not at all strange, that they should not 
much trouble themselves to think of methods of restraining any 
exorbitances of those to whom they had given the authority over 
them, and of balancing the power of government, by placing 
several parts of it in different hands.  They had neither felt 
the oppression of tyrannical dominion, nor did the fashion of the 
age, nor their possessions, or way of living, (which afforded 
little matter for covetousness or ambition) give them any reason 
to apprehend or provide against it; and therefore it is no wonder 
they put themselves into such a frame of government, as was not 

only, as I said, most obvious and simple, but also best suited to 
their present state and condition; which stood more in need of 
defence against foreign invasions and injuries, than of 
multiplicity of laws.  The equality of a simple poor way of 
living, confining their desires within the narrow bounds of each 
man's small property, made few controversies, and so no need of 
many laws to decide them, or variety of officers to superintend 
the process, or look after the execution of justice, where there 
were but few trespasses, and few offenders.  Since then those, 
who like one another so well as to join into society, cannot but 
be supposed to have some acquaintance and friendship together, 
and some trust one in another; they could not but have greater 
apprehensions of others, than of one another: and therefore their 
first care and thought cannot but be supposed to be, how to 
secure themselves against foreign force.  It was natural for them 
to put themselves under a frame of government which might best 
serve to that end, and chuse the wisest and bravest man to 
conduct them in their wars, and lead them out against their 
enemies, and in this chiefly be their ruler.

     Sec. 108.  Thus we see, that the kings of the Indians in 
America, which is still a pattern of the first ages in Asia and 
Europe, whilst the inhabitants were too few for the country, and 
want of people and money gave men no temptation to enlarge their 
possessions of land, or contest for wider extent of ground, are 
little more than generals of their armies; and though they 
command absolutely in war, yet at home and in time of peace they 
exercise very little dominion, and have but a very moderate 
sovereignty, the resolutions of peace and war being ordinarily 
either in the people, or in a council.  Tho' the war itself, 
which admits not of plurality of governors, naturally devolves 
the command into the king's sole authority.

     Sec. 109.  And thus in Israel itself, the chief business of 
their judges, and first kings, seems to have been to be captains 
in war, and leaders of their armies; which (besides what is 
signified by going out and in before the people, which was, to 
march forth to war, and home again in the heads of their forces) 
appears plainly in the story of lephtha.  The Ammonites making 
war upon Israel, the Gileadites in fear send to lephtha, a 
bastard of their family whom they had cast off, and article with 
him, if he will assist them against the Ammonites, to make him 
their ruler; which they do in these words, And the people made 
him head and captain over them, Judg.  xi, ii.  which was, as it 
seems, all one as to be judge.  And he judged Israel, judg.  xii.  
7.  that is, was their captain-general six years.  So when lotham 
upbraids the Shechemites with the obligation they had to Gideon, 
who had been their judge and ruler, he tells them, He fought for 
you, and adventured his life far, and delivered you out of the 
hands of Midian, Judg.  ix.  17.  Nothing mentioned of him but 
what he did as a general: and indeed that is all is found in his 
history, or in any of the rest of the judges.  And Abimelech 
particularly is called king, though at most he was but their 
general.  And when, being weary of the ill conduct of Samuel's 
sons, the children of Israel desired a king, like all the nations 
to judge them, and to go out before them, and to fight their 
battles, I.  Sam viii.  20.  God granting their desire, says to 
Samuel, I will send thee a man, and thou shalt anoint him to be 
captain over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of 
the hands of the Philistines, ix.  16.  As if the only business 
of a king had been to lead out their armies, and fight in their 
defence; and accordingly at his inauguration pouring a vial of 
oil upon him, declares to Saul, that the Lord had anointed him to 
be captain over his inheritance, x.  1.  And therefore those, who 
after Saul's being solemnly chosen and saluted king by the tribes 
at Mispah, were unwilling to have him their king, made no other 
objection but this, How shall this man save us?  v.  27.  as if 
they should have said, this man is unfit to be our king, not 

having skill and conduct enough in war, to be able to defend us.  
And when God resolved to transfer the government to David, it is 
in these words, But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord 
hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath 
commanded him to be captain over his people, xiii.  14.  As if 
the whole kingly authority were nothing else but to be their 
general: and therefore the tribes who had stuck to Saul's family, 
and opposed David's reign, when they came to Hebron with terms of 
submission to him, they tell him, amongst other arguments they 
had to submit to him as to their king, that he was in effect 
their king in Saul's time, and therefore they had no reason but 
to receive him as their king now.  Also (say they) in time past, 
when Saul was king over us, thou wast he that reddest out and 
broughtest in Israel, and the Lord said unto thee, Thou shalt 
feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain over Israel.

     Sec. 110.  Thus, whether a family by degrees grew up into a 
common-wealth, and the fatherly authority being continued on to 
the elder son, every one in his turn growing up under it, tacitly 
submitted to it, and the easiness and equality of it not 
offending any one, every one acquiesced, till time seemed to have 
confirmed it, and settled a right of succession by prescription: 
or whether several families, or the descendants of several 
families, whom chance, neighbourhood, or business brought 
together, uniting into society, the need of a general, whose 
conduct might defend them against their enemies in war, and the 
great confidence the innocence and sincerity of that poor but 
virtuous age, (such as are almost all those which begin 
governments, that ever come to last in the world) gave men one of 
another, made the first beginners of commonwealths generally put 
the rule into one man's hand, without any other express 
limitation or restraint, but what the nature of the thing, and 
the end of government required: which ever of those it was that 
at first put the rule into the hands of a single person, certain 
it is no body was intrusted with it but for the public good and 
safety, and to those ends, in the infancies of commonwealths, 
those who had it commonly used it.  And unless they had done so, 
young societies could not have subsisted; without such nursing 
fathers tender and careful of the public weal, all governments 
would have sunk under the weakness and infirmities of their 
infancy, and the prince and the people had soon perished 

     Sec. 111.  But though the golden age (before vain ambition, 
and amor sceleratus habendi, evil concupiscence, had corrupted 
men's minds into a mistake of true power and honour) had more 
virtue, and consequently better governors, as well as less 
vicious subjects, and there was then no stretching prerogative on 
the one side, to oppress the people; nor consequently on the 
other, any dispute about privilege, to lessen or restrain the 
power of the magistrate, and so no contest betwixt rulers and 
people about governors or goveernment: yet, when ambition and 
luxury in future ages* would retain and increase the power, 
without doing the business for which it was given; and aided by 
flattery, taught princes to have distinct and separate interests 
from their people, men found it necessary to examine more 
carefully the original and rights of government; and to find out 
ways to restrain the exorbitances, and prevent the abuses of that 
power, which they having intrusted in another's hands only for 
their own good, they found was made use of to hurt them.

     (*At first, when some certain kind of regiment was once 
approved, it may be nothing was then farther thought upon for the 
manner of governing, but all permitted unto their wisdom and 
discretion which were to rule, till by experience they found this 
for all parts very inconvenient, so as the thing which they had 
devised for a remedy, did indeed but increase the sore which it 
should have cured.  They saw, that to live by one man's will, 
became the cause of all men's misery.  This constrained them to 

come unto laws wherein all men might see their duty before hand, 
and know the penalties of transgressing them.  Hooker's Eccl. 
Pol. l. i. sect. 10.)

    Sec. 112.  Thus we may see how probable it is, that people 
that were naturally free, and by their own consent either 
submitted to the government of their father, or united together 
out of different families to make a government, should generally 
put the rule into one man's hands, and chuse to be under the 
conduct of a single person, without so much as by express 
conditions limiting or regulating his power, which they thought 
safe enough in his honesty and prudence; though they never 
dreamed of  monarchy  being  lure Divino, which we never heard of 
among mankind, till it was revealed to us by the divinity of this 
last age; nor ever allowed paternal power to have a right to 
dominion, or to be the foundation of all  government.  And thus 
much may suffice to shew, that as far as we have any light from 
history, we have reason to conclude, that all peaceful beginnings 
of government have been laid in the consent of the people.  I say 
peaceful, because I shall have occasion in another place to speak 
of conquest, which some esteem a way of beginning of governments.

     The other objection I find urged against the beginning of 
polities, in the way I have mentioned, is this, viz.

     Sec. 113.  That all men being born under government, some or 
other, it is impossible any of them should ever be free, and at 
liberty to unite together, and begin a new one, or ever be able 
to erect a lawful government.

     If this argument be good; I ask, how came so many lawful 
monarchies into the world? for if any body, upon this 
supposition, can shew me any one man in any age of the world free 
to begin a lawful monarchy, I will be bound to shew him ten other 
free men at liberty, at the same time to unite and begin a new 
government under a regal, or any other form; it being 
demonstration, that if any one, born under the dominion of 
another, may be so free as to have a right to command others in a 
new and distinct empire, every one that is born under the 
dominion of another may be so free too, and may become a ruler, 
or subject, of a distinct separate government.   And so by this 
their own principle, either all men, however born, are free, or 
else there is but one lawful prince, one lawful government in the 
world.  And then they have nothing to do, but barely to shew us 
which that is; which when they have done, I doubt not but all 
mankind will easily agree to pay obedience to him.

     Sec. 114.  Though it be a sufficient answer to their 
objection, to shew that it involves them in the same difficulties 
that it doth those they use it against; yet I shall endeavour to 
discover the weakness of this argument a little farther.    All 
men, say they, are born under government, and therefore they 
cannot be at liberty to begin a new one.  Every one is born a 
subject to his father, or his prince, and is therefore under the 
perpetual tie of subjection and allegiance.  It is plain mankind 
never owned nor considered any such natural subjection that they 
were born in, to one or to the other that tied them, without 
their own consents, to a subjection to them and their heirs.

     Sec. 115.  For there are no examples so frequent in history, 
both sacred and profane, as those of men withdrawing themselves, 
and their obedience, from the jurisdiction they were born under, 
and the family or community they were bred up in, and setting up 
new governments in other places; from whence sprang all that 
number of petty commonwealths in the beginning of ages, and which 
always multiplied, as long as there was room enough, till the 
stronger, or more fortunate, swallowed the weaker; and those 
great ones again breaking to pieces, dissolved into lesser 
dominions.  All which are so many testimonies against paternal 
sovereignty, and plainly prove, that it was not the natural right 
of the father descending to his heirs, that made governments in 
the beginning, since it was impossible, upon that ground, there 

should have been so many little kingdoms; all must have been but 
only one universal monarchy, if men had not been at liberty to 
separate themselves from their families, and the government, be 
it what it will, that was set up in it, and go and make distinct 
commonwealths and other governments, as they thought fit.

     Sec. 116.  This has been the practice of the world from its 
first beginning to this day; nor is it now any more hindrance to 
the freedom of mankind, that they are born under constituted and 
ancient polities, that have established laws, and set forms of 
government, than if they were born in the woods, amongst the 
unconfined inhabitants, that run loose in them: for those, who 
would persuade us, that by being born under any government, we 
are naturally subjects to it, and have no more any title or 
pretence to the freedom of the state of nature, have no other 
reason (bating that of paternal power, which we have already 
answered) to produce for it, but only, because our fathers or 
progenitors passed away their natural liberty, and thereby bound 
up themselves and their posterity to a perpetual subjection to 
the government, which they themselves submitted to.  It is true, 
that whatever engagements or promises any one has made for 
himself, he is under the obligation of them, but cannot, by any 
compact whatsoever, bind his children or posterity: for his son, 
when a man, being altogether as free as the father, any act of 
the father can no more give away the liberty of the son, than it 
can of any body else: he may indeed annex such conditions to the 
land, he enjoyed as a subject of any common-wealth, as may oblige 
his son to be of that community, if he will enjoy those 
possessions which were his father's; because that estate being 
his father's property, he may dispose, or settle it, as he 

     Sec. 117.  And this has generally given the occasion to 
mistake in this matter; because commonwealths not permitting any 
part of their dominions to be dismembered, nor to be enjoyed by 
any but those of their community, the son cannot ordinarily enjoy 
the possessions of his father, but under the same terms his 
father did, by becoming a member of the society; whereby he puts 
himself presently under the government he finds there 
established, as much as any other subject of that common-wealth.  
And thus the consent of freemen, born under government, which 
only makes them members of it, being given separately in their 
turns, as each comes to be of age, and not in a multitude 
together; people take no notice of it, and thinking it not done 
at all, or not necessary, conclude they are naturally subjects as 
they are men.

     Sec. 118.  But, it is plain, governments themselves 
understand it otherwise; they claim no power over the son, 
because of that they had over the father; nor look on children as 
being their subjects, by their fathers being so.  If a subject of 
England have a child, by an English woman in France, whose 
subject is he?  Not the king of England's; for he must have leave 
to be admitted to the privileges of it: nor the king of France's; 
for how then has his father a liberty to bring him away, and 
breed him as he pleases? and who ever was judged as a traytor or 
deserter, if he left, or warred against a country, for being 
barely born in it of parents that were aliens there?  It is plain 
then, by the practice of governments themselves, as well as by 
the law of right reason, that a child is born a subject of no 
country or government.  He is under his father's tuition and 
authority, till he comes to age of discretion; and then he is a 
freeman, at liberty what government he will put himself under, 
what body politic he will unite himself to: for if an 
Englishman's son, born in France, be at liberty, and may do so, 
it is evident there is no tie upon him by his father's being a 
subject of this kingdom; nor is he bound up by any compact of his 
ancestors.  And why then hath not his son, by the same reason, 
the same liberty, though he be born any where else?  Since the 

power that a father hath naturally over his children, is the 
same, where-ever they be born, and the ties of natural 
obligations, are not bounded by the positive limits of kingdoms 
and commonwealths.

     Sec. 119.  Every man being, as has been shewed, naturally 
free, and nothing being able to put him into subjection to any 
earthly power, but only his own consent; it is to be considered, 
what shall be understood to be a sufficient declaration of a 
man's consent, to make him subject to the laws of any government.  
There is a common distinction of an express and a tacit consent, 
which will concern our present case.  No body doubts but an 
express consent, of any man entering into any society, makes him 
a perfect member of that society, a subject of that government.  
The difficulty is, what ought to be looked upon as a tacit 
consent, and how far it binds, i.e.   how far any one shall be 
looked on to have consented, and thereby submitted to any 
government, where he has made no expressions of it at all.  And 
to this I say, that every man, that hath any possessions, or 
enjoyment, of any part of the dominions of any government, cloth 
thereby give his tacit consent, and is as far forth obliged to 
obedience to the laws of that government, during such enjoyment, 
as any one under it; whether this his possession be of land, to 
him and his heirs for ever, or a lodging only for a week; or 
whether it be barely travelling freely on the highway; and in 
effect, it reaches as far as the very being of any one within the 
territories of that government.

     Sec. 120.  To understand this the better, it is fit to 
consider, that every man, when he at first incorporates himself 
into any commonwealth, he, by his uniting himself thereunto, 
annexed also, and submits to the community, those possessions, 
which he has, or shall acquire, that do not already belong to any 
other government: for it would be a direct contradiction, for any 
one to enter into society with others for the securing and 
regulating of property; and yet to suppose his land, whose 
property is to be regulated by the laws of the society, should be 
exempt from the jurisdiction of that government, to which he 
himself, the proprietor of the land, is a subject.   By the same 
act therefore, whereby any one unites his person, which was 
before free, to any common-wealth, by the same he unites his 
possessions, which were before free, to it also; and they become, 
both of them, person and possession, subject to the government 
and dominion of that common-wealth, as long as it hath a being.  
VVhoever therefore, from thenceforth, by inheritance, purchase, 
permission, or otherways, enjoys any part of the land, so annexed 
to, and under the government of that common-wealth, must take it 
with the condition it is under; that is, of submitting to the 
government of the common-wealth, under whose jurisdiction it is, 
as far forth as any subject of it.

     Sec. 121.  But since the government has a direct 
jurisdiction only over the land, and reaches the possessor of it, 
(before he has actually incorporated himself in the society) only 
as he dwells upon, and enjoys that; the obligation any one is 
under, by virtue of such enjoyment, to submit to the government, 
begins and ends with the enjoyment; so that whenever the owner, 
who has given nothing but such a tacit consent to the government, 
will, by donation, sale, or otherwise, quit the said possession, 
he is at liberty to go and incorporate himself into any other 
common-wealth; or to agree with others to begin a new one, in 
vacuis locis, in any part of the world, they can find free and 
unpossessed: whereas he, that has once, by actual agreement, and 
any express declaration, given his consent to be of any common-
wealth, is perpetually and indispensably obliged to be, and 
remain unalterably a subject to it, and can never be again in the 
liberty of the state of nature; unless, by any calamity, the 
government he was under comes to be dissolved; or else by some 
public act cuts him off from being any longer a member of it.

     Sec. 122.  But submitting to the laws of any country, living 
quietly, and enjoying privileges and protection under them, makes 
not a man a member of that society: this is only a local 
protection and homage due to and from all those, who, not being 
in a state of war, come within the territories belonging to any 
government, to all parts whereof the force of its laws extends.  
But this no more makes a man a member of that society, a 
perpetual subject of that common-wealth, than it would make a man 
a subject to another, in whose family he found it convenient to 
abide for some time; though, whilst he continued in it, he were 
obliged to comply with the laws, and submit to the government he 
found there.  And thus we see, that foreigners, by living all 
their lives under another government, and enjoying the privileges 
and protection of it, though they are bound, even in conscience, 
to submit to its administration, as far forth as any denison; yet 
do not thereby come to be subjects or members of that common-
wealth.  Nothing can make any man so, but his actually entering 
into it by positive engagement, and express promise and compact.  
This is that, which I think, concerning the beginning of 
political societies, and that consent which makes any one a 
member of any common-wealth.

                      CHAP.  IX.


    Of the Ends of Political Society and Government.

    Sec. 123.  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 it is 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 a condition, 
which, however free, is full of fears and continual dangers: and 
it is not without reason, that he seeks out, and is willing to 
join 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, 

     Sec. 124.  The great and chief end, therefore, of men's 
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 established, 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.

     Sec. 125.  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 
that 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, to make them 
too remiss in other men's.

     Sec. 126.  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.

     Sec. 127.  Thus mankind, notwithstanding all the privileges 
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 established laws of 
government, and therein seek the preservation of their property.  
It is 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 authorized by 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.

     Sec. 128.  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 
natural community, and by positive agreements combine into 
smaller and divided associations.

     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 joins in a private, if I may so call 
it, or particular politic society, and incorporates into any 
common-wealth, separate from the rest of mankind.

     Sec. 129.  The first power, viz.  of doing whatsoever he 
thought 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.

     Sec. 130.  Secondly, The power of punishing he wholly gives 
up, and engages his natural force, (which he might before employ 
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.

     Sec. 131.  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 supposed to extend farther, 
than the common good; but is obliged to secure every one's 

property, by providing against those three defects above 
mentioned, that made the state of nature so unsafe and uneasy.  
And so whoever has the legislative or supreme power of any 
common-wealth, is bound to govern by established 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 employ the force of the 
community at 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 public good of the people.


                         CHAP.  X.

             Of the Forms of a Common-wealth.

    Sec. 132.  THE majority having, as has been shewed, upon 
men's first uniting into society, the whole power of the 
community naturally in them, may employ all that power in making 
laws for the community from time to time, and executing those 
laws by officers of their own appointing; and then the form of 
the government is a perfect democracy: or else may put the power 
of making laws into the hands of a few select men, and their 
heirs or successors; and then it is an oligarchy: or else into 
the hands of one man, and then it is a monarchy: if to him and 
his heirs, it is an hereditary monarchy: if to him only for life, 
but upon his death the power only of nominating a successor to 
return to them; an elective monarchy.  And so accordingly of 
these the community may make compounded and mixed forms of 
government, as they think good.  And if the legislative power be 
at first given by the majority to one or more persons only for 
their lives, or any limited time, and then the supreme power to 
revert to them again; when it is so reverted, the community may 
dispose of it again anew into what hands they please, and so 
constitute a new form of government: for the form of government 
depending upon the placing the supreme power, which is the 
legislative, it being impossible to conceive that an inferior 
power should prescribe to a superior, or any but the supreme make 
laws, according as the power of making laws is placed, such is 
the form of the common-wealth.

     Sec. 133.  By common-wealth, I must be understood all along 
to mean, not a democracy, or any form of government, but any 
independent community, which the Latines signified by the word 
civitas, to which the word which best answers in our language, is 
common-wealth, and most properly expresses such a society of men, 
which community or city in English does not; for there may be 
subordinate communities in a government; and city amongst us has 
a quite different notion from common-wealth: and therefore, to 
avoid ambiguity, I crave leave to use the word common-wealth in 
that sense, in which I find it used by king James the first; and 
I take it to be its genuine signification; which if any body 
dislike, I consent with him to change it for a better.

                        CHAP.  XI.

         Of the Extent of the Legislative Power.

     Sec. 134.  THE great end of men's entering into society, 
being the enjoyment of their properties in peace and safety, and 
the great instrument and means of that being the laws established 
in that society; the first and fundamental positive law of all 
commonwealths is the establishing of the legislative power; as 

the first and fundamental natural law, which is to govern even 
the legislative itself, is the preservation of the society, and 
(as far as will consist with the public good) of every person in 
it.  This legislative is not only the supreme power of the 
common-wealth, but sacred and unalterable in the hands where the 
community have once placed it; nor can any edict of any body 
else, in what form soever conceived, or by what power soever 
backed, have the force and obligation of a law, which has not its 
sanction from that legislative which the public has chosen and 
appointed: for without this the law could not have that, which is 
absolutely necessary to its being a law, * the consent of the 
society, over whom no body can have a power to make laws, but by 
their own consent, and by authority received from them; and 
therefore all the obedience, which by the most solemn ties any 
one can be obliged to pay, ultimately terminates in this supreme 
power, and is directed by those laws which it enacts: nor can any 
oaths to any foreign power whatsoever, or any domestic 
subordinate power, discharge any member of the society from his 
obedience to the legislative, acting pursuant to their trust; nor 
oblige him to any obedience contrary to the laws so enacted, or 
farther than they do allow; it being ridiculous to imagine one 
can be tied ultimately to obey any power in the society, which is 
not the supreme.

     (*The lawful power of making laws to command whole politic 
societies of men, belonging so properly unto the same intire 
societies, that for any prince or potentate of what kind soever 
upon earth, to exercise the same of himself, and not by express 
commission immediately and personally received from God, or else 
by authority derived at the first from their consent, upon whose 
persons they impose laws, it is no better than mere tyranny.  
Laws they are not therefore which public approbation hath not 
made so.  Hooker's Eccl. Pol. l. i. sect. 10.  Of this point 
therefore we are to note, that sith men naturally have no full 
and perfect power to command whole politic multitudes of men, 
therefore utterly without our consent, we could in such sort be 
at no man's commandment living.  And to be commanded we do 
consent, when that society, whereof we be a part, hath at any 
time before consented, without revoking the same after by the 
like universal agreement.

     Laws therefore human, of what kind so ever, are available by 
consent.  Ibid.)

     Sec. 135.  Though the legislative, whether placed in one or 
more, whether it be always in being, or only by intervals, though 
it be the supreme power in every common-wealth; yet,

     First, It is not, nor can possibly be absolutely arbitrary 
over the lives and fortunes of the people: for it being but the 
joint power of every member of the society given up to that 
person, or assembly, which is legislator; it can be no more than 
those persons had in a state of nature before they entered into 
society, and gave up to the community: for no body can transfer 
to another more power than he has in himself; and no body has an 
absolute arbitrary power over himself, or over any other, to 
destroy his own life, or take away the life or property of 
another.  A man, as has been proved, cannot subject himself to 
the arbitrary power of another; and having in the state of nature 
no arbitrary power over the life, liberty, or possession of 
another, but only so much as the law of nature gave him for the 
preservation of himself, and the rest of mankind; this is all he 
cloth, or can give up to the common-wealth, and by it to the 
legislative power, so that the legislative can have no more than 
this.   Their power, in the utmost bounds of it, is limited to 
the public good of the society.  It is a power, that hath no 
other end but preservation, and therefore can never* have a right 
to destroy, enslave, or designedly to impoverish the subjects.  
The obligations of the law of nature cease not in society, but 
only in many cases are drawn closer, and have by human laws known 

penalties annexed to them, to inforce their observation.  Thus 
the law of nature stands as an eternal rule to all men, 
legislators as well as others.  The rules that they make for 
other men's actions, must, as well as their own and other men's 
actions, be conformable to the law of nature, i.e.  to the will 
of God, of which that is a declaration, and the fundamental law 
of nature being the preservation of mankind, no human sanction 
can be good, or valid against it.

     (*Two foundations there are which bear up public societies; 
the one a natural inclination, whereby all men desire sociable 
life and fellowship; the other an order, expresly or secretly 
agreed upon, touching the manner of their union in living 
together: the latter is that which we call the law of a common-
weal, the very soul of a politic body, the parts whereof are by 
law animated, held together, and set on work in such actions as 
the common good requireth.  Laws politic, ordained for external 
order and regiment amongst men, are never framed as they should 
be, unless presuming the will of man to be inwardly obstinate, 
rebellious, and averse from all obedience to the sacred laws of 
his nature; in a word, unless presuming man to be, in regard of 
his depraved mind, little better than a wild beast, they do 
accordingly provide, notwithstanding, so to frame his outward 
actions, that they be no hindrance unto the common good, for 
which societies are instituted.  Unless they do this, they are 
not perfect.  Hooker's Eccl. Pol. l. i. sect. 10.)

     Sec. 136.  Secondly,* The legislative, or supreme authority, 
cannot assume to its self a power to rule by extemporary 
arbitrary decrees, but is bound to dispense justice, and decide 
the rights of the subject by promulgated standing laws, and known 
authorized judges: for the law of nature being unwritten, and so 
no where to be found but in the minds of men, they who through 
passion or interest shall miscite, or misapply it, cannot so 
easily be convinced of their mistake where there is no 
established judge: and so it serves not, as it ought, to 
determine the rights, and fence the properties of those that live 
under it, especially where every one is judge, interpreter, and 
executioner of it too, and that in his own case: and he that has 
right on his side, having ordinarily but his own single strength, 
hath not force enough to defend himself from injuries, or to 
punish delinquents.  To avoid these inconveniences, which 
disorder men's propperties in the state of nature, men unite into 
societies, that they may have the united strength of the whole 
society to secure and defend their properties, and may have 
standing rules to bound it, by which every one may know what is 
his.  To this end it is that men give up all their natural power 
to the society which they enter into, and the community put the 
legislative power into such hands as they think fit, with this 
trust, that they shall be governed by declared laws, or else 
their peace, quiet, and property will still be at the same 
uncertainty, as it was in the state of nature.

     (*Human laws are measures in respect of men whose actions 
they must direct, howbeit such measures they are as have also 
their higher rules to be measured by, which rules are two, the 
law of God, and the law of nature; so that laws human must be 
made according to the general laws of nature, and without 
contradiction to any positive law of scripture, otherwise they 
are ill made.  Hooker's Eccl. Pol. l. iii. sect. 9.

     To constrain men to any thing inconvenient cloth seem 
unreasonable.  Ibid. l. i. sect. 10.)

     Sec. 137.  Absolute arbitrary power, or governing without 
settled standing laws, can neither of them consist with the ends 
of society and government, which men would not quit the freedom 
of the state of nature for, and tie themselves up under, were it 
not to preserve their lives, liberties and fortunes, and by 
stated rules of right and property to secure their peace and 
quiet.  It cannot be supposed that they should intend, had they a 

power so to do, to give to any one, or more, an absolute 
arbitrary power over their persons and estates, and put a force 
into the magistrate's hand to execute his unlimited will 
arbitrarily upon them.  This were to put themselves into a worse 
condition than the state of nature, wherein they had a liberty to 
defend their right against the injuries of others, and were upon 
equal terms of force to maintain it, whether invaded by a single 
man, or many in combination.  Whereas by supposing they have 
given up themselves to the absolute arbitrary power and will of a 
legislator, they have disarmed themselves, and armed him, to make 
a prey of them when he pleases; he being in a much worse 
condition, who is exposed to the arbitrary power of one man, who 
has the command of 100,000, than he that is exposed to the 
arbitrary power of 100,000 single men; no body being secure, that 
his will, who has such a command, is better than that of other 
men, though his force be 100,000 times stronger.  And therefore, 
whatever form the common-wealth is under, the ruling power ought 
to govern by declared and received laws, and not by extemporary 
dictates and undetermined resolutions: for then mankind will be 
in a far worse condition than in the state of nature, if they 
shall have armed one, or a few men with the joint power of a 
multitude, to force them to obey at pleasure the exorbitant and 
unlimited decrees of their sudden thoughts, or unrestrained, and 
till that moment unknown wills, without having any measures set 
down which may guide and justify their actions: for all the power 
the government has, being only for the good of the society, as it 
ought not to be arbitrary and at pleasure, so it ought to be 
exercised by established and promulgated laws; that both the 
people may know their duty, and be safe and secure within the 
limits of the law; and the rulers too kept within their bounds, 
and not be tempted, by the power they have in their hands, to 
employ it to such purposes, and by such measures, as they would 
not have known, and own not willingly.

     Sec. 138.  Thirdly, The supreme power cannot take from any 
man any part of his property without his own consent: for the 
preservation of property being the end of government, and that 
for which men enter into society, it necessarily supposes and 
requires, that the people should have property, without which 
they must be supposed to lose that, by entering into society, 
which was the end for which they entered into it; too gross an 
absurdity for any man to own.   Men therefore in society having 
property, they have such a right to the goods, which by the law 
of the community are their's, that no body hath a right to take 
their substance or any part of it from them, without their own 
consent: without this they have no property at all; for I have 
truly no property in that, which another can by right take from 
me, when he pleases, against my consent.  Hence it is a mistake 
to think, that the supreme or legislative power of any common-
wealth, can do what it will, and dispose of the estates of the 
subject arbitrarily, or take any part of them at pleasure.  This 
is not much to be feared in governments where the legislative 
consists, wholly or in part, in assemblies which are variable, 
whose members, upon the dissolution of the assembly, are subjects 
under the common laws of their country, equally with the rest.  
But in governments, where the legislative is in one lasting 
assembly always in being, or in one man, as in absolute 
monarchies, there is danger still, that they will think 
themselves to have a distinct interest from the rest of the 
community; and so will be apt to increase their own riches and 
power, by taking what they think fit from the people: for a man's 
property is not at all secure, tho' there be good and equitable 
laws to set the bounds of it between him and his fellow subjects, 
if he who commands those subjects have power to take from any 
private man, what part he pleases of his property, and use and 
dispose of it as he thinks good.

     Sec. 139.  But government, into whatsoever hands it is put, 

being, as I have before shewed, intrusted with this condition, 
and for this end, that men might have and secure their 
properties; the prince, or senate, however it may have power to 
make laws, for the regulating of property between the subjects 
one amongst another, yet can never have a power to take to 
themselves the whole, or any part of the subjects property, 
without their own consent: for this would be in effect to leave 
them no property at all.  And to let us see, that even absolute 
power, where it is necessary, is not arbitrary by being absolute, 
but is still limited by that reason, and confined to those ends, 
which required it in some cases to be absolute, we need look no 
farther than the common practice of martial discipline: for the 
preservation of the army, and in it of the whole common-wealth, 
requires an absolute obedience to the command of every superior 
officer, and it is justly death to disobey or dispute the most 
dangerous or unreasonable of them; but yet we see, that neither 
the serjeant, that could command a soldier to march up to the 
mouth of a cannon, or stand in a breach, where he is almost sure 
to perish, can command that soldier to give him one penny of his 
money; nor the general, that can condemn him to death for 
deserting his post, or for not obeying the most desperate orders, 
can yet, with all his absolute power of life and death, dispose 
of one farthing of that soldier's estate, or seize one jot of his 
goods; whom yet he can command any thing, and hang for the least 
disobedience; because such a blind obedience is necessary to that 
end, for which the commander has his power, viz.  the 
preservation of the rest; but the disposing of his goods has 
nothing to do with it.

     Sec. 140.  It is true, governments cannot be supported 
without great charge, and it is fit every one who enjoys his 
share of the protection, should pay out of his estate his 
proportion for the maintenance of it.   But still it must be with 
his own consent, i.e.  the consent of the majority, giving it 
either by themselves, or their representatives chosen by them: 
for if any one shall claim a power to lay and levy taxes on the 
people, by his own authority, and without such consent of the 
people, he thereby invades the fundamental law of property, and 
subverts the end of government: for what property have I in that, 
which another may by right take, when he pleases, to himself?

     Sec. 141.  Fourthly, The legislative cannot transfer the 
power of making laws to any other hands: for it being but a 
delegated power from the people, they who have it cannot pass it 
over to others.  The people alone can appoint the form of the 
common-wealth, which is by constituting the legislative, and 
appointing in whose hands that shall be.  And when the people 
have said, We will submit to rules, and be governed by laws made 
by such men, and in such forms, no body else can say other men 
shall make laws for them; nor can the people be bound by any 
laws, but such as are enacted by those whom they have chosen, and 
authorized to make laws for them.   The power of the legislative, 
being derived from the people by a positive voluntary grant and 
institution, can be no other than what that positive grant 
conveyed, which being only to make laws, and not to make 
legislators, the legislative can have no power to transfer their 
authority of making laws, and place it in other hands.

     Sec. 142.  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 common-wealth, in all forms of 

     First, They are to govern by promulgated established laws, 
not to be varied in particular cases, but to have one rule for 
rich and poor, for the favourite at court, and the country man at 

     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 reserved 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.

                       CHAP.  XII.

       Of the Legislative, Executive, and Federative

               Power of the Common-wealth.

     Sec. 143.  THE legislative power is that, which has a right 
to direct how the force of the common-wealth shall be employed 
for preserving the community and the members of it.  But because 
those laws which are constantly to be executed, and whose force 
is always to continue, may be made in a little time; therefore 
there is no need, that the legislative should be always in being, 
not having always business to do.  And because it may be too 
great a temptation to human frailty, apt to grasp at power, for 
the same persons, who have the power of making laws, to have also 
in their hands the power to execute them, whereby they may exempt 
themselves from obedience to the laws they make, and suit the 
law, both in its making, and execution, to their own private 
advantage, and thereby come to have a distinct interest from the 
rest of the community, contrary to the end of society and 
government: therefore in well
ordered commonwealths, where the good of the whole is so con
sidered, as it ought, the legislative power is put into the hands 
of divers persons, who duly assembled, have by themselves, or 
jointly with others, a power to make laws, which when they have 
done, being separated again, they are themselves subject to the 
laws they have made; which is a new and near tie upon them, to 
take care, that they make them for the public good.

     Sec. 144.  But because the laws, that are at once, and in a 
short time made, have a constant and lasting force, and need a 
perpetual execution, or an attendance thereunto; therefore it is 
necessary there should be a power always in being, which should 
see to the execution of the laws that are made, and remain in 
force.  And thus the legislative and executive power come often 
to be separated.

     Sec. 145.  There is another power in every common-wealth, 
which one may call natural, because it is that which answers to 
the power every man naturally had before he entered into society: 
for though in a common-wealth the members of it are distinct 
persons still in reference to one another, and as such as 
governed by the laws of the society; yet in reference to the rest 
of mankind, they make one body, which is, as every member of it 
before was, still in the state of nature with the rest of 
mankind.  Hence it is, that the controversies that happen between 
any man of the society with those that are out of it, are managed 
by the public; and an injury done to a member of their body, 
engages the whole in the reparation of it.  So that under this 
consideration, the whole community is one body in the state of 
nature, in respect of all other states or persons out of its 

     Sec. 146.  This therefore contains the power of war and 
peace, leagues and alliances, and all the transactions, with all 
persons and communities without the common-wealth, and may be 
called federative, if any one pleases.  So the thing be 
understood, I am indifferent as to the name.

     Sec. 147.  These two powers, executive and federative, 

though they be really distinct in themselves, yet one 
comprehending the execution of the municipal laws of the society 
within its self, upon all that are parts of it; the other the 
management of the security and interest of the public without, 
with all those that it may receive benefit or damage from, yet 
they are always almost united.  And though this federative power 
in the well or ill management of it be of great moment to the 
common-wealth, yet it is much less capable to be directed by 
antecedent, standing, positive laws, than the executive; and so 
must necessarily be left to the prudence and wisdom of those, 
whose hands it is in, to be managed for the public good: for the 
laws that concern subjects one amongst another, being to direct 
their actions, may well enough precede them.  But what is to be 
done in reference to foreigners, depending much upon their 
actions, and the variation of designs and interests, must be left 
in great part to the prudence of those, who have this power 
committed to them, to be managed by the best of their skill, for 
the advantage of the common-wealth.

     Sec. 148.  Though, as I said, the executive and federative 
power of every community be really distinct in themselves, yet 
they are hardly to be separated, and placed at the same time, in 
the hands of distinct persons: for both of them requiring the 
force of the society for their exercise, it is almost 
impracticable to place the force of the common-wealth in 
distinct, and not subordinate hands; or that the executive and 
federative power should be placed in persons, that might act 
separately, whereby the force of the public would be under 
different commands: which would be apt some time or other to 
cause disorder and ruin.

                    C H A P.  X I I I.

         Of the Subordination of the Powers of the


     Sec. 149.  THOUGH in a constituted common-wealth, standing 
upon its own basis, and acting according to its own nature, that 
is, acting for the preservation of the community, there can be 
but one supreme power, which is the legislative, to which all the 
rest are and must be subordinate, yet the legislative being only 
a fiduciary power to act for certain ends, there remains still in 
the people a supreme power to remove or alter the legislative, 
when they find the legislative act contrary to the trust reposed 
in them: for all power given with trust for the attaining an end, 
being limited by that end, whenever that end is manifestly 
neglected, or opposed, the trust must necessarily be forfeited, 
and the power devolve into the hands of those that gave it, who 
may place it anew where they shall think best for their safety 
and security.  And thus the community perpetually retains a 
supreme power of saving themselves from the attempts and designs 
of any body, even of their legislators, whenever they shall be so 
foolish, or so wicked, as to lay and carry on designs against the 
liberties and properties of the subject: for no man or society of 
men, having a power to deliver up their preservation, or 
consequently the means of it, to the absolute will and arbitrary 
dominion of another; when ever any one shall go about to bring 
them into such a slavish condition, they will always have a right 
to preserve, what they have not a power to part with; and to rid 
themselves of those, who invade this fundamental, sacred, and 
unalterable law of self-preservation, for which they entered into 
society.  And thus the community may be said in this respect to 
be always the supreme power, but not as considered under any form 
of government, because this power of the people can never take 
place till the government be dissolved.

     Sec. 150.  In all cases, whilst the government subsists, the 
legislative is the supreme power: for what can give laws to 
another, must needs be superior to him; and since the legislative 
is no otherwise legislative of the society, but by the right it 
has to make laws for all the parts, and for every member of the 
society, prescribing rules to their actions, and giving power of 
execution, where they are transgressed, the legislative must 
needs be the supreme, and all other powers, in any members or 
parts of the society, derived from and subordinate to it.

     Sec. 151.  In some commonwealths, where the legislative is 
not always in being, and the executive is vested in a single 
person, who has also a share in the legislative; there that 
single person in a very tolerable sense may also be called 
supreme: not that he has in himself all the supreme power, which 
is that of law-making; but because he has in him the supreme 
execution, from whom all inferior magistrates derive all their 
several subordinate powers, or at least the greatest part of 
them: having also no legislative superior to him, there being no 
law to be made without his consent, which cannot be expected 
should ever subject him to the other part of the legislative, he 
is properly enough in this sense supreme.  But yet it is to be 
observed, that tho' oaths of allegiance and fealty are taken to 
him, it is not to him as supreme legislator, but as supreme 
executor of the law, made by a joint power of him with others; 
allegiance being nothing but an obedience according to law, which 
when he violates, he has no right to obedience, nor can claim it 
otherwise than as the public person vested with the power of the 
law, and so is to be considered as the image, phantom, or 
representative of the common-wealth, acted by the will of the 
society, declared in its laws; and thus he has no will, no power, 
but that of the law.  But when he quits this representation, this 
public will, and acts by his own private will, he degrades 
himself, and is but a single private person without power, and 
without will, that has any right to obedience; the members owing 
no obedience but to the public will of the society.

     Sec. 152.  The executive power, placed any where but in a 
person that has also a share in the legislative, is visibly 
subordinate and accountable to it, and may be at pleasure changed 
and displaced; so that it is not the supreme executive power, 
that is exempt from subordination, but the supreme executive 
power vested in one, who having a share in the legislative, has 
no distinct superior legislative to be subordinate and 
accountable to, farther than he himself shall join and consent; 
so that he is no more subordinate than he himself shall think 
fit, which one may certainly conclude will be but very little.  
Of other ministerial and subordinate powers in a commonwealth, we 
need not speak, they being so multiplied with infinite variety, 
in the different customs and constitutions of distinct 
commonwealths, that it is impossible to give a particular account 
of them all.  Only thus much, which is necessary to our present 
purpose, we may take notice of concerning them, that they have no 
manner of authority, any of them, beyond what is by positive 
grant and commission delegated to them, and are all of them 
accountable to some other power in the common-wealth.

     Sec. 153.  It is not necessary, no, nor so much as 
convenient, that the legislative should be always in being; but 
absolutely necessary that the executive power should, because 
there is not always need of new laws to be made, but always need 
of execution of the laws that are made.  When the legislative 
hath put the execution of the laws, they make, into other hands, 
they have a power still to resume it out of those hands, when 
they find cause, and to punish for any maladministration against 
the laws.  The same holds also in regard of the federative power, 
that and the executive being both ministerial and subordinate to 
the legislative, which, as has been shewed, in a constituted 
common-wealth is the supreme.  The legislative also in this case 

being supposed to consist of several persons, (for if it be a 
single person, it cannot but be always in being, and so will, as 
supreme, naturally have the supreme executive power, together 
with the legislative) may assemble, and exercise their 
legislature, at the times that either their original 
constitution, or their own adjournment, appoints, or when they 
please; if neither of these hath appointed any time, or there be 
no other way prescribed to convoke them: for the supreme power 
being placed in them by the people, it is always in them, and 
they may exercise it when they please, unless by their original 
constitution they are limited to certain seasons, or by an act of 
their supreme power they have adjourned to a certain time; and 
when that time comes, they have a right to assemble and act 

     Sec. 154.  If the legislative, or any part of it, be made up 
of representatives chosen for that time by the people, which 
afterwards return into the ordinary state of subjects, and have 
no share in the legislature but upon a new choice, this power of 
chusing must also be exercised by the people, either at certain 
appointed seasons, or else when they are summoned to it; and in 
this latter case ' the power of convoking the legislative is 
ordinarily placed in the executive, and has one of these two 
limitations in respect of time: that either the original 
constitution requires their assembling and acting at certain 
intervals, and then the executive power does nothing but 
ministerially issue directions for their electing and assembling, 
according to due forms; or else it is left to his prudence to 
call them by new elections, when the occasions or exigencies of 
the public require the amendment of old, or making of new laws, 
or the redress or prevention of any inconveniencies, that lie on, 
or threaten the people.

     Sec. 155.  It may be demanded here, What if the executive 
power, being possessed of the force of the common-wealth, shall 
make use of that force to hinder the meeting and acting of the 
legislative, when the original constitution, or the public 
exigencies require it?  I say, using force upon the people 
without authority, and contrary to the trust put in him that does 
so, is a state of war with the people, who have a right to 
reinstate their legislative in the exercise of their power: for 
having erected a legislative, with an intent they should exercise 
the power of making laws, either at certain set times, or when 
there is need of it, when they are hindered by any force from 
what is so necessary to the society, and wherein the safety and 
preservation of the people consists, the people have a right to 
remove it by force.  In all states and conditions, the true 
remedy of force without authority, is to oppose force to it.  The 
use of force without authority, always puts him that uses it into 
a state of war, as the aggressor, and renders him liable to be 
treated accordingly.

     Sec. 156.  The power of assembling and dismissing the 
legislative, placed in the executive, gives not the executive a 
superiority over it, but is a fiduciary trust placed in him, for 
the safety of the people, in a case where the uncertainty and 
variableness of human affairs could not bear a steady fixed rule: 
for it not being possible, that the first framers of the 
government should, by any foresight, be so much masters of future 
events, as to be able to prefix so just periods of return and 
duration to the assemblies of the legislative, in all times to 
come, that might exactly answer all the exigencies of the common-
wealth; the best remedy could be found for this defect, was to 
trust this to the prudence of one who was always to be present, 
and whose business it was to watch over the public good.   
Constant frequent meetings of the legislative, and long 
continuations of their assemblies, without necessary occasion, 
could not but be burdensome to the people, and must necessarily 
in time produce more dangerous inconveniencies, and yet the quick 

turn of affairs might be sometimes such as to need their present 
help: any delay of their convening might endanger the public; and 
sometimes too their business might be so great, that the limited 
time of their sitting might be too short for their work, and rob 
the public of that benefit which could be had only from their 
mature deliberation.  What then could be done in this case to 
prevent the community from being exposed some time or other to 
eminent hazard, on one side or the other, by fixed intervals and 
periods, set to the meeting and acting of the legislative, but to 
intrust it to the prudence of some, who being present, and 
acquainted with the state of public affairs, might make use of 
this prerogative for the public good? and where else could this 
be so well placed as in his hands, who was intrusted with the 
execution of the laws for the same end?  Thus supposing the 
regulation of times for the assembling and sitting of the 
legislative, not settled by the original constitution, it 
naturally fell into the hands of the executive, not as an 
arbitrary power depending on his good pleasure, but with this 
trust always to have it exercised only for the public weal, as 
the occurrences of times and change of affairs might require.  
Whether settled periods of their convening, or a liberty left to 
the prince for convoking the legislative, or perhaps a mixture of 
both, hath the least inconvenience attending it, it is not my 
business here to inquire, but only to shew, that though the 
executive power may have the prerogative of convoking and 
dissolving such conventions of the legislative, yet it is not 
thereby superior to it.

     Sec. 157.  Things of this world are in so constant a flux, 
that nothing remains long in the same state.  Thus people, 
riches, trade, power, change their stations, flourishing mighty 
cities come to ruin, and prove in times neglected desolate 
corners, whilst other unfrequented places grow into populous 
countries, filled with wealth and inhabitants.  But things not 
always changing equally, and private interest often keeping up 
customs and privileges, when the reasons of them are ceased, it 
often comes to pass, that in governments, where part of the 
legislative consists of representatives chosen by the people, 
that in tract of time this representation becomes very unequal 
and disproportionate to the reasons it was at first established 
upon.   To what gross absurdities the following of custom, when 
reason has left it, may lead, we may be satisfied, when we see 
the bare name of a town, of which there remains not so much as 
the ruins, where scarce so much housing as a sheepcote, or more 
inhabitants than a shepherd is to be found, sends as many 
representatives to the grand assembly of law-makers, as a whole 
county numerous in people, and powerful in riches.  This 
strangers stand amazed at, and every one must confess needs a 
remedy; tho' most think it hard to find one, because the 
constitution of the legislative being the original and supreme 
act of the society, antecedent to all positive laws in it, and 
depending wholly on the people, no inferior power can alter it.   
And therefore the people, when the legislative is once 
constituted, having, in such a government as we have been 
speaking of, no power to act as long as the government stands; 
this inconvenience is thought incapable of a remedy.

     Sec. 158.  Salus populi suprema lex, is certainly so just 
and fundamental a rule, that he, who sincerely follows it, cannot 
dangerously err.  If therefore the executive, who has the power 
of convoking the legislative, observing rather the true 
proportion, than fashion of representation, regulates, not by old 
custom, but true reason, the number of members, in all places 
that have a right to be distinctly represented, which no part of 
the people however incorporated can pretend to, but in proportion 
to the assistance which it affords to the public, it cannot be 
judged to have set up a new legislative, but to have restored the 
old and true one, and to have rectified the disorders which 

succession of time had insensibly, as well as inevitably 
introduced: For it being the interest as well as intention of the 
people, to have a fair and equal representative; whoever brings 
it nearest to that, is an undoubted friend to, and establisher of 
the government, and cannot miss the consent and approbation of 
the community; prerogative being nothing but a power, in the 
hands of the prince, to provide for the public good, in such 
cases, which depending upon unforeseen and uncertain occurrences, 
certain and unalterable laws could not safely direct; whatsoever 
shall be done manifestly for the good of the people, and the 
establishing the government upon its true foundations, is, and 
always will be, just prerogative, The power of erecting new 
corporations, and therewith new representatives, carries with it 
a supposition, that in time the measures of representation might 
vary, and those places have a just right to be represented which 
before had none; and by the same reason, those cease to have a 
right, and be too inconsiderable for such a privilege, which 
before had it.  'Tis not a change from the present state, which 
perhaps corruption or decay has introduced, that makes an inroad 
upon the government, but the tendency of it to injure or oppress 
the people, and to set up one part or party, with a distinction 
from, and an unequal subjection of the rest.  Whatsoever cannot 
but be acknowledged to be of advantage to the society, and people 
in general, upon just and lasting measures, will always, when 
done, justify itself; and whenever the people shall chuse their 
representatives upon just and undeniably equal measures, suitable 
to the original frame of the government, it cannot be doubted to 
be the will and act of the society, whoever permitted or caused 
them so to do.

                        CHAP.  XIV.

                      Of PREROGATIVE.

    Sec. 159.  WHERE the legislative and executive power are in 
distinct hands, (as they are in all moderated monarchies, and 
well-framed governments) there the good of the society requires, 
that several things should be left to the discretion of him that 
has the executive power: for the legislators not being able to 
foresee, and provide by laws, for all that may be useful to the 
community, the executor of the laws having the power in his 
hands, has by the common law of nature a right to make use of it 
for the good of the society, in many cases, where the municipal 
law has given no direction, till the legislative can conveniently 
be assembled to provide for it.  Many things there are, which the 
law can by no means provide for; and those must necessarily be 
left to the discretion of him that has the executive power in his 
hands, to be ordered by him as the public good and advantage 
shall require: nay, it is fit that the laws themselves should in 
some cases give way to the executive power, or rather to this 
fundamental law of nature and government, viz.   That as much as 
may be, all the members of the society are to be preserved: for 
since many accidents may happen, wherein a strict and rigid 
observation of the laws may do harm; (as not to pull down an 
innocent man's house to stop the fire, when the next to it is 
burning) and a man may come sometimes within the reach of the 
law, which makes no distinction of persons, by an action that may 
deserve reward and pardon; 'tis fit the ruler should have a 
power, in many cases, to mitigate the severity of the law, and 
pardon some offenders: for the end of government being the 
preservation of all, as much as may be, even the guilty are to be 
spared, where it can prove no prejudice to the innocent.

     Sec. 160.  This power to act according to discretion, for 
the public good, without the prescription of the law, and 

sometimes even against it, is that which is called prerogative: 
for since in some governments the lawmaking power is not always 
in being, and is usually too numerous, and so too slow, for the 
dispatch requisite to execution; and because also it is 
impossible to foresee, and so by laws to provide for, all 
accidents and necessities that may concern the public, or to make 
such laws as will do no harm, if they are executed with an 
inflexible rigour, on all occasions, and upon all persons that 
may come in their way; therefore there is a latitude left to the 
executive power, to do many things of choice which the laws do 
not prescribe.   

     Sec. 161.  This power, whilst employed for the benefit of 
the community, and suitably to the trust and ends of the 
government, is undoubted prerogative, and never is questioned: 
for the people are very seldom or never scrupulous or nice in the 
point; they are far from examining prerogative, whilst it is in 
any tolerable degree employed for the use it was meant, that is, 
for the good of the people, and not manifestly against it: but if 
there comes to be a question between the executive power and the 
people, about a thing claimed as a prerogative; the tendency of 
the exercise of such prerogative to the good or hurt of the 
people, will easily decide that question.   

     Sec. 162.  It is easy to conceive, that in the infancy of 
governments, when commonwealths differed little from families in 
number of people, they differed from them too but little in 
number of laws: and the governors, being as the fathers of them, 
watching over them for their good, the government was almost all 
prerogative.  A few established laws served the turn, and the 
discretion and care of the ruler supplied the rest.  But when 
mistake or flattery prevailed with weak princes to make use of 
this power for private ends of their own, and not for the public 
good, the people were fain by express laws to get prerogative 
determined in those points wherein they found disadvantage from 
it: and thus declared limitations of prerogative were by the 
people found necessary in cases which they and their ancestors 
had left, in the utmost latitude, to the wisdom of those princes 
who made no other but a right use of it, that is, for the good of 
their people.

     Sec. 163.  And therefore they have a very wrong notion of 
government, who say, that the people have encroached upon the 
prerogative, when they have got any part of it to be defined by 
positive laws: for in so doing they have not pulled from the 
prince any thing that of right belonged to him, but only 
declared, that that power which they indefinitely left in his or 
his ancestors hands, to be exercised for their good, was not a 
thing which they intended him when he used it otherwise: for the 
end of government being the good of the community, whatsoever 
alterations are made in it, tending to that end, cannot be an 
encroachment upon any body, since no body in government can have 
a right tending to any other end: and those only are 
encroachments which prejudice or hinder the public good.  Those 
who say otherwise, speak as if the prince had a distinct and 
separate interest from the good of the community, and was not 
made for it; the root and source from which spring almost all 
those evils and disorders which happen in kingly governments.  
And indeed, if that be so, the people under his government are 
not a society of rational creatures, entered into a community for 
their mutual good; they are not such as have set rulers over 
themselves, to guard, and promote that good; but are to be looked 
on as an herd of inferior creatures under the dominion of a 
master, who keeps them and works them for his own pleasure or 
profit.  If men were so void of reason, and brutish, as to enter 
into society upon such terms, prerogative might indeed be, what 
some men would have it, an arbitrary power to do things hurtful 
to the people.

     Sec. 164.  But since a rational creature cannot be supposed, 

when free, to put himself into subjection to another, for his own 
harm; (though, where he finds a good and wise ruler, he may not 
perhaps think it either necessary or useful to set precise bounds 
to his power in all things) prerogative can be nothing but the 
people's permitting their rulers to do several things, of their 
own free choice, where the law was silent, and sometimes too 
against the direct letter of the law, for the public good; and 
their acquiescing in it when so done: for as a good prince, who 
is mindful of the trust put into his hands, and careful of the 
good of his people, cannot have too much prerogative, that is, 
power to do good; so a weak and ill prince, who would claim that 
power which his predecessors exercised without the direction of 
the law, as a prerogative belonging to him by right of his 
office, which he may exercise at his pleasure, to make or promote 
an interest distinct from that of the public, gives the people an 
occasion to claim their right, and limit that power, which, 
whilst it was exercised for their good, they were content should 
be tacitly allowed.        Sec. 165.  And therefore he that will 
look into the history of England, will find, that prerogative was 
always largest in the hands of our wisest and best princes; 
because the people, observing the whole tendency of their actions 
to be the public good, contested not what was done without law to 
that end: or, if any human frailty or mistake (for princes are 
but men, made as others) appeared in some small declinations from 
that end; yet 'twas visible, the main of their conduct tended to 
nothing but the care of the public.  The people therefore, 
finding reason to be satisfied with these princes, whenever they 
acted without, or contrary to the letter of the law, acquiesced 
in what they did, and, without the least complaint, let them 
inlarge their prerogative as they pleased, judging rightly, that 
they did nothing herein to the prejudice of their laws, since 
they acted conformable to the foundation and end of all laws, the 
public good.

     Sec. 166.  Such god-like princes indeed had some title to 
arbitrary power by that argument, that would prove absolute 
monarchy the best government, as that which God himself governs 
the universe by; because such kings partake of his wisdom and 
goodness.  Upon this is founded that saying, That the reigns of 
good princes have been always most dangerous to the liberties of 
their people: for when their successors, managing the government 
with different thoughts, would draw the actions of those good 
rulers into precedent, and make them the standard of their 
prerogative, as if what had been done only for the good of the 
people was a right in them to do, for the harm of the people, if 
they so pleased; it has often occasioned contest, and sometimes 
public disorders, before the people could recover their original 
right, and get that to be declared not to be prerogative, which 
truly was never so; since it is impossible that any body in the 
society should ever have a right to do the people harm; though it 
be very possible, and reasonable, that the people should not go 
about to set any bounds to the prerogative of those kings, or 
rulers, who themselves transgressed not the bounds of the public 
good: for prerogative is nothing but the power of doing public 
good without a rule.   

     Sec. 167.  The power of calling parliaments in England, as 
to precise time, place, and duration, is certainly a prerogative 
of the king, but still with this trust, that it shall be made use 
of for the good of the nation, as the exigencies of the times, 
and variety of occasions, shall require: for it being impossible 
to foresee which should always be the fittest place for them to 
assemble in, and what the best season; the choice of these was 
left with the executive power, as might be most subservient to 
the public good, and best suit the ends of parliaments.

     Sec. 168.  The old question will be asked in this matter of 
prerogative, But who shall be judge when this power is made a 
right use of ?  1 answer: between an executive power in being, 

with such a prerogative, and a legislative that depends upon his 
will for their convening, there can be no judge on earth; as 
there can be none between the legislative and the people, should 
either the executive, or the legislative, when they have got the 
power in their hands, design, or go about to enslave or destroy 
them.  The people have no other remedy in this, as in all other 
cases where they have no judge on earth, but to appeal to heaven: 
for the rulers, in such attempts, exercising a power the people 
never put into their hands, (who can never be supposed to consent 
that any body should rule over them for their harm) do that which 
they have not a right to do.  And where the body of the people, 
or any single man, is deprived of their right, or is under the 
exercise of a power without right, and have no appeal on earth, 
then they have a liberty to appeal to heaven, whenever they judge 
the cause of sufficient moment.  And therefore, though the people 
cannot be judge, so as to have, by the constitution of that 
society, any superior power, to determine and give effective 
sentence in the case; yet they have, by a law antecedent and 
paramount to all positive laws of men, reserved that ultimate 
determination to themselves which belongs to all mankind, where 
there lies no appeal on earth, viz.  to judge, whether they have 
just cause to make their appeal to heaven.  And this judgment 
they cannot part with, it being out of a man's power so to submit 
himself to another, as to give him a liberty to destroy him; God 
and nature never allowing a man so to abandon himself, as to 
neglect his own preservation: and since he cannot take away his 
own life, neither can he give another power to take it.  Nor let 
any one think, this lays a perpetual foundation for disorder; for 
this operates not, till the inconveniency is so great, that the 
majority feel it, and are weary of it, and find a necessity to 
have it amended.  But this the executive power, or wise princes, 
never need come in the danger of: and it is the thing, of all 
others, they have most need to avoid, as of all others the most 

                         CHAP.  XV.

        Of Paternal, Political, and Despotical Power,

                    considered together.

     Sec. 169.  THOUGH I have had occasion to speak of these 
separately before, yet the great mistakes of late about 
government, having, as I suppose, arisen from confounding these 
distinct powers one with another, it may not, perhaps, be amiss 
to consider them here together.

     Sec. 170.  First, then, Paternal or parental power is 
nothing but that which parents have over their children, to 
govern them for the children's good, till they come to the use of 
reason, or a state of knowledge, wherein they may be supposed 
capable to understand that rule, whether it be the law of nature, 
or the municipal law of their country, they are to govern 
themselves by: capable, I say, to know it, as well as several 
others, who live as freemen under that law.  The affection and 
tenderness which God hath planted in the breast of parents 
towards their children, makes it evident, that this is not 
intended to be a severe arbitrary government, but only for the 
help, instruction, and preservation of their offspring.  But 
happen it as it will, there is, as I have proved, no reason why 
it should be thought to extend to life and death, at any time, 
over their children, more than over any body else; neither can 
there be any pretence why this parental power should keep the 
child, when grown to a man, in subjection to the will of his 
parents, any farther than having received life and education from 

his parents, obliges him to respect, honour, gratitude, 
assistance and support, all his life, to both father and mother.  
And thus, 'tis true, the paternal is a natural government, but 
not at all extending itself to the ends and jurisdictions of that 
which is political.  The power of the father doth not reach at 
all to the property of the child, which is only in his own 

     Sec. 171.  Secondly, Political power is that power, which 
every man having in the state of nature, has given up into the 
hands of the society, and therein to the governors, whom the 
society hath set over itself, with this express or tacit trust, 
that it shall be employed for their good, and the preservation of 
their property: now this power, which every man has in the state 
of nature, and which he parts with to the society in all such 
cases where the society can secure him, is to use such means, for 
the preserving of his own property, as he thinks good, and nature 
allows him; and to punish the breach of the law of nature in 
others, so as (according to the best of his reason) may most 
conduce to the preservation of himself, and the rest of mankind.  
So that the end and measure of this power, when in every man's 
hands in the state of nature, being the preservation of all of 
his society, that is, all mankind in general, it can have no 
other end or measure, when in the hands of the magistrate, but to 
preserve the members of that society in their lives, liberties, 
and possessions; and so cannot be an absolute, arbitrary power 
over their lives and fortunes, which are as much as possible to 
be preserved; but a power to make laws, and annex such penalties 
to them, as may tend to the preservation of the whole, by cutting 
off those parts, and those only, which are so corrupt, that they 
threaten the sound and healthy, without which no severity is 
lawful.  And this power has its original only from compact and 
agreement, and the mutual consent of those who make up the 

     Sec. 172.  Thirdly, Despotical power is an absolute, 
arbitrary power one man has over another, to take away his life, 
whenever he pleases.  This is a power, which neither nature 
gives, for it has made no such distinction between one man and 
another; nor compact can convey: for man not having such an 
arbitrary power over his own life, cannot give another man such a 
power over it; but it is the effect only of forfeiture, which the 
aggressor makes of his own life, when he puts himself into the 
state of war with another: for having quitted reason, which God 
hath given to be the rule betwixt man and man, and the common 
bond whereby human kind is united into one fellowship and 
society; and having renounced the way of peace which that 
teaches, and made use of the force of war, to compass his unjust 
ends upon another, where he has no right; and so revolting from 
his own kind to that of beasts, by making force, which is 
their's, to be his rule of right, he renders himself liable to be 
destroyed by the injured person, and the rest of mankind, that 
will join with him in the execution of justice, as any other wild 
beast, or noxious brute, with whom mankind can have neither 
society nor security*.  And thus captives, taken in a just and 
lawful war, and such only, are subject to a despotical power, 
which, as it arises not from compact, so neither is it capable of 
any, but is the state of war continued: for what compact can be 
made with a man that is not master of his own life? what 
condition can he perform? and if he be once allowed to be master 
of his own life, the despotical, arbitrary power of his master 
ceases.  He that is master of himself, and his own life, has a 
right too to the means of preserving it; so that as soon as 
compact enters, slavery ceases, and he so far quits his absolute 
power, and puts an end to the state of war, who enters into 
conditions with his captive.

     (*Another copy corrected by Mr.  Locke, has it thus, Noxious 
brute that is destructive to their being.)

     Sec. 173.  Nature gives the first of these, viz.  paternal 
power to parents for the benefit of their children during their 
minority, to supply their want of ability, and understanding how 
to manage their property.  (By property I must be understood 
here, as in other places, to mean that property which men have in 
their persons as well as goods.) Voluntary agreement gives the 
second, viz.  political power to governors for the benefit of 
their subjects, to secure them in the possession and use of their 
properties.  And forfeiture gives the third despotical power to 
lords for their own benefit, over those who are stripped of all 

     Sec. 174.  He, that shall consider the distinct rise and 
extent, and the different ends of these several powers, will 
plainly see, that paternal power comes as far short of that of 
the magistrate, as despotical exceeds it; and that absolute 
dominion, however placed, is so far from being one kind of civil 
society, that it is as inconsistent with it, as slavery is with 
property.  Paternal power is only where minority makes the child 
incapable to manage his property; political, where men have 
property in their own disposal; and despotical, over such as have 
no property at all.

                         CHAP.  XVI.

                         Of CONQUEST.

     Sec. 175.  THOUGH governments can originally have no other 
rise than that before mentioned, nor polities be founded on any 
thing but the consent of the people; yet such have been the 
disorders ambition has filled the world with, that in the noise 
of war, which makes so great a part of the history of mankind, 
this consent is little taken notice of: and therefore many have 
mistaken the force of arms for the consent of the people, and 
reckon conquest as one of the originals of government.  But 
conquest is as far from setting up any government, as demolishing 
an house is from building a new one in the place.  Indeed, it 
often makes way for a new frame of a common-wealth, by destroying 
the former; but, without the consent of the people, can never 
erect a new one. 

       Sec. 176.  That the aggressor, who puts himself into the 
state of war with another, and unjustly invades another man's 
right, can, by such an unjust war, never come to have a right 
over the conquered, will be easily agreed by all men, who will 
not think, that robbers and pyrates have a right of empire over 
whomsoever they have force enough to master; or that men are 
bound by promises, which unlawful force extorts from them.  
Should a robber break into my house, and with a dagger at my 
throat make me seal deeds to convey my estate to him, would this 
give him any title?  Just such a title, by his sword, has an 
unjust conqueror, who forces me into submission.  The injury and 
the crime is equal, whether committed by the wearer of a crown, 
or some petty villain.  The title of the offender, and the number 
of his followers, make no difference in the offence, unless it be 
to aggravate it.  The only difference is, great robbers punish 
little ones, to keep them in their obedience; but the great ones 
are rewarded with laurels and triumphs, because they are too big 
for the weak hands of justice in this world, and have the power 
in their own possession, which should punish offenders.  What is 
my remedy against a robber, that so broke into my house?  Appeal 
to the law for justice.  But perhaps justice is denied, or I am 
crippled and cannot stir, robbed and have not the means to do it.  
If God has taken away all means of seeking remedy, there is 
nothing left but patience.  But my son, when able, may seek the 
relief of the law, which I am denied: he or his son may renew his 

appeal, till he recover his right.  But the conquered, or their 
children, have no court, no arbitrator on earth to appeal to.  
Then they may appeal, as lephtha did, to heaven, and repeat their 
appeal till they have recovered the native right of their 
ancestors, which was, to have such a legislative over them, as 
the majority should approve, and freely acquiesce in.  If it be 
objected, This would cause endless trouble; I answer, no more 
than justice does, where she lies open to all that appeal to her.  
He that troubles his neighbour without a cause, is punished for 
it by the justice of the court he appeals to: and he that appeals 
to heaven must be sure he has right on his side; and a right too 
that is worth the trouble and cost of the appeal, as he will 
answer at a tribunal that cannot be deceived, and will be sure to 
retribute to every one according to the mischiefs he hath created 
to his fellow subjects; that is, any part of mankind: from whence 
it is plain, that he that conquers in an unjust war can thereby 
have no title to the subjection and obedience of the conquered.

     Sec. 177.  But supposing victory favours the right side, let 
us consider a conqueror in a lawful war, and see what power he 
gets, and over whom.

     First, It is plain he gets no power by his conquest over 
those that conquered with him.  They that fought on his side 
cannot suffer by the conquest, but must at least be as much 
freemen as they were before.  And most commonly they serve upon 
terms, and on condition to share with their leader, and enjoy a 
part of the spoil, and other advantages that attend the 
conquering sword; or at least have a part of the subdued country 
bestowed upon them.  And the conquering people are not, I hope, 
to be slaves by conquest, and wear their laurels only to shew 
they are sacrifices to their leaders triumph.  They that found 
absolute monarchy upon the title of the sword, make their heroes, 
who are the founders of such monarchies, arrant Draw-can-sirs, 
and forget they had any officers and soldiers that fought on 
their side in the battles they won, or assisted them in the 
subduing, or shared in possessing, the countries they mastered.  
We are told by some, that the English monarchy is founded in the 
Norman conquest, and that our princes have thereby a title to 
absolute dominion: which if it were true, (as by the history it 
appears otherwise) and that William had a right to make war on 
this island; yet his dominion by conquest could reach no farther 
than to the Saxons and Britons, that were then inhabitants of 
this country.  The Normans that came with him, and helped to 
conquer, and all descended from them, are freemen, and no 
subjects by conquest; let that give what dominion it will.  And 
if 1, or any body else, shall claim freedom, as derived from 
them, it will be very hard to prove the contrary: and it is 
plain, the law, that has made no distinction between the one and 
the other, intends not there should be any difference in their 
freedom or privileges.

     Sec. 178.  But supposing, which seldom happens, that the 
conquerors and conquered never incorporate into one people, under 
the same laws and freedom; let us see next what power a lawful 
conqueror has over the subdued: and that I say is purely 
despotical.  He has an absolute power over the lives of those who 
by an unjust war have forfeited them; but not over the lives or 
fortunes of those who engaged not in the war, nor over the 
possessions even of those who were actually engaged in it.

     Sec. 179.  Secondly, I say then the conqueror gets no power 
but only over those who have actually assisted, concurred, or 
consented to that unjust force that is used against him: for the 
people having given to their governors no power to do an unjust 
thing, such as is to make an unjust war, (for they never had such 
a power in themselves) they ought not to be charged as guilty of 
the violence and unjustice that is committed in an unjust war, 
any farther than they actually abet it; no more than they are to 
be thought guilty of any violence or oppression their governors 

should use upon the people themselves, or any part of their 
fellow subjects, they having empowered them no more to the one 
than to the other.  Conquerors, it is true, seldom trouble 
themselves to make the distinction, but they willingly permit the 
confusion of war to sweep all together: but yet this alters not 
the right; for the conquerors power over the lives of the 
conquered, being only because they have used force to do, or 
maintain an injustice, he can have that power only over those who 
have concurred in that force; all the rest are innocent; and he 
has no more title over the people of that country, who have done 
him no injury, and so have made no forfeiture of their lives, 
than he has over any other, who, without any injuries or 
provocations, have lived upon fair terms with him.

     Sec. 180.  Thirdly, The power a conqueror gets over those he 
overcomes in a just war, is perfectly despotical: he has an 
absolute power over the lives of those, who, by putting 
themselves in a state of war, have forfeited them; but he has not 
thereby a right and title to their possessions.  This I doubt 
not, but at first sight will seem a strange doctrine, it being so 
quite contrary to the practice of the world; there being nothing 
more familiar in speaking of the dominion of countries, than to 
say such an one conquered it; as if conquest, without any more 
ado, conveyed a right of possession.  But when we consider, that 
the practice of the strong and powerful, how universal soever it 
may be, is seldom the rule of right, however it be one part of 
the subjection of the conquered, not to argue against the 
conditions cut out to them by the conquering sword.

     Sec. 181.  Though in all war there be usually a complication 
of force and damage, and the aggressor seldom fails to harm the 
estate, when he uses force against the persons of those he makes 
war upon; yet it is the use of force only that puts a man into 
the state of war: for whether by force he begins the injury, or 
else having quietly, and by fraud, done the injury, he refuses to 
make reparation, and by force maintains it, (which is the same 
thing, as at first to have done it by force) it is the unjust use 
of force that makes the war: for he that breaks open my house, 
and violently turns me out of doors; or having peaceably got in, 
by force keeps me out, does in effect the same thing; supposing 
we are in such a state, that we have no common judge on earth, 
whom I may appeal to, and to whom we are both obliged to submit: 
for of such I am now speaking.  It is the unjust use of force 
then, that puts a man into the state of war with another; and 
thereby he that is guilty of it makes a forfeiture of his life: 
for quitting reason, which is the rule given between man and man, 
and using force, the way of beasts, he becomes liable to be 
destroyed by him he uses force against, as any savage ravenous 
beast, that is dangerous to his being.

     Sec. 182.  But because the miscarriages of the father are no 
faults of the children, and they may be rational and peaceable, 
notwithstanding the brutishness and injustice of the father; the 
father, by his miscarriages and violence, can forfeit but his own 
life, but involves not his children in his guilt or destruction.  
His goods, which nature, that willeth the preservation of all 
mankind as much as is possible, hath made to belong to the 
children to keep them from perishing, do still continue to belong 
to his children: for supposing them not to have joined in the 
war, either thro'infancy, absence, or choice, they have done 
nothing to forfeit them: nor has the conqueror any right to take 
them away, by the bare title of having subdued him that by force 
attempted his destruction; though perhaps he may have some right 
to them, to repair the damages he has sustained by the war, and 
the defence of his own right; which how far it reaches to the 
possessions of the conquered, we shall see by and by.  So that he 
that by conquest has a right over a man's person to destroy him 
if he pleases, has not thereby a right over his estate to possess 
and enjoy it: for it is the brutal force the aggressor has used, 

that gives his adversary a right to take away his life, and 
destroy him if he pleases, as a noxious creature; but it is 
damage sustained that alone gives him title to another man's 
goods: for though I may kill a thief that sets on me in the 
highway, yet I may not (which seems less) take away his money, 
and let him go: this would be robbery on my side.  His force, and 
the state of war he put himself in, made him forfeit his life, 
but gave me no title to his goods.  The right then of conquest 
extends only to the lives of those who joined in the war, not to 
their estates, but only in order to make reparation for the 
damages received, and the charges of the war, and that too with 
reservation of the right of the innocent wife and children.

     Sec. 183.  Let the conqueror have as much justice on his 
side, as could be supposed, he has no right to seize more than 
the vanquished could forfeit: his life is at the victor's mercy; 
and his service and goods he may appropriate, to make himself 
reparation; but he cannot take the goods of his wife and 
children; they too had a title to the goods he enjoyed, and their 
shares in the estate he possessed: for example, I in the state of 
nature (and all commonwealths are in the state of nature one with 
another) have injured another man, and refusing to give 
satisfaction, it comes to a state of war, wherein my defending by 
force what I had gotten unjustly, makes me the aggressor.  I am 
conquered: my life, it is true, as forfeit, is at mercy, but not 
my wife's and children's.  They made not the war, nor assisted in 
it.  I could not forfeit their lives; they were not mine to 
forfeit.  My wife had a share in my estate; that neither could I 
forfeit.  And my children also, being born of me, had a right to 
be maintained out of my labour or substance.  Here then is the 
case: the conqueror has a title to reparation for damages 
received, and the children have a title to their father's estate 
for their subsistence: for as to the wife's share, whether her 
own labour, or compact, gave her a title to it, it is plain, her 
husband could not forfeit what was her's.  What must be done in 
the case?  I answer; the fundamental law of nature being, that 
all, as much as may be, should be preserved, it follows, that if 
there be not enough fully to satisfy both, viz, for the 
conqueror's losses, and children's maintenance, he that hath, and 
to spare, must remit something of his full satisfaction, and give 
way to the pressing and preferable title of those who are in 
danger to perish without it.

     Sec. 184.  But supposing the charge and damages of the war 
are to be made up to the conqueror, to the utmost farthing; and 
that the children of the vanquished, spoiled of all their 
father's goods, are to be left to starve and perish; yet the 
satisfying of what shall, on this score, be due to the conqueror, 
will scarce give him a title to any country he shall conquer: for 
the damages of war can scarce amount to the value of any 
considerable tract of land, in any part of the world, where all 
the land is possessed, and none lies waste.  And if I have not 
taken away the conqueror's land, which, being vanquished, it is 
impossible I should; scarce any other spoil I have done him can 
amount to the value of mine, supposing it equally cultivated, and 
of an extent any way coming near what I had overrun of his.  The 
destruction of a year's product or two (for it seldom reaches 
four or five) is the utmost spoil that usually can be done: for 
as to money, and such riches and treasure taken away, these are 
none of nature's goods, they have but a fantastical imaginary 
value: nature has put no such upon them: they are of no more 
account by her standard, than the wampompeke of the Americans to 
an European prince, or the silver money of Europe would have been 
formerly to an American.  And five years product is not worth the 
perpetual inheritance of land, where all is possessed, and none 
remains waste, to be taken up by him that is disseized: which 
will be easily granted, if one do but take away the imaginary 
value of money, the disproportion being more than between five 

and five hundred; though, at the same time, half a year's product 
is more worth than the inheritance, where there being more land 
than the inhabitants possess and make use of, any one has liberty 
to make use of the waste: but there conquerors take little care 
to possess themselves of the lands of the vanquished, No damage 
therefore, that men in the state of nature (as all princes and 
governments are in reference to one another) suffer from one 
another, can give a conqueror power to dispossess the posterity 
of the vanquished, and turn them out of that inheritance, which 
ought to be the possession of them and their descendants to all 
generations.  The conqueror indeed will be apt to think himself 
master: and it is the very condition of the subdued not to be 
able to dispute their right.  But if that be all, it gives no 
other title than what bare force gives to the stronger over the 
weaker: and, by this reason, he that is strongest will have a 
right to whatever he pleases to seize on.

     Sec. 185.  Over those then that joined with him in the war, 
and over those of the subdued country that opposed him not, and 
the posterity even of those that did, the conqueror, even in a 
just war, hath, by his conquest, no right of dominion: they are 
free from any subjection to him, and if their former government 
be dissolved, they are at liberty to begin and erect another to 

     Sec. 186.  The conqueror, it is true, usually, by the force 
he has over them, compels them, with a sword at their breasts, to 
stoop to his conditions, and submit to such a government as he 
pleases to afford them; but the enquiry is, what right he has to 
do so?  If it be said, they submit by their own consent, then 
this allows their own consent to be necessary to give the 
conqueror a title to rule over them.  It remains only to be 
considered, whether promises extorted by force, without right, 
can be thought consent, and how far they bind.  To which I shall 
say, they bind not at all; because whatsoever another gets from 
me by force, I still retain the right of, and he is obliged 
presently to restore.  He that forces my horse from me, ought 
presently to restore him, and I have still a right to retake him.   
By the same reason, he that forced a promise from me, ought 
presently to restore it, i.e.  quit me of the obligation of it; 
or I may resume it myself, i.e.  chuse whether I will perform it: 
for the law of nature laying an obligation on me only by the 
rules she prescribes, cannot oblige me by the violation of her 
rules: such is the extorting any thing from me by force.  Nor 
does it at all alter the case to say, I gave my promise, no more 
than it excuses the force, and passes the right, when I put my 
hand in my pocket, and deliver my purse myself to a thief, who 
demands it with a pistol at my breast.   

     Sec. 187.  From all which it follows, that the government of 
a conqueror, imposed by force on the subdued, against whom he had 
no right of war, or who joined not in the war against him, where 
he had right, has no obligation upon them.

     Sec. 188.  But let us suppose, that all the men of that 
community, being all members of the same body politic, may be 
taken to have joined in that unjust war wherein they are subdued, 
and so their lives are at the mercy of the conqueror.

     Sec. 189.  1 say, this concerns not their children who are 
in their minority: for since a father hath not, in himself, a 
power over the life or liberty of his child, no act of his can 
possibly forfeit it.  So that the children, whatever may have 
happened to the fathers, are freemen, and the absolute power of 
the conqueror reaches no farther than the persons of the men that 
were subdued by him, and dies with them: and should he govern 
them as slaves, subjected to his absolute arbitrary power, he has 
no such right of dominion over their children.  He can have no 
power over them but by their own consent, whatever he may drive 
them to say or do; and he has no lawfull authority, whilst force, 
and not choice, compels them to submission.

     Sec. 190.  Every man is born with a double right: first, a 
right of freedom to his person, which no other man has a power 
over, but the free disposal of it lies in himself.  Secondly, a 
right, before any other man, to inherit with his brethren his 
father's goods.

     Sec. 191.  By the first of these, a man is naturally free 
from subjection to any government, tho' he be born in a place 
under its jurisdiction; but if he disclaim the lawful government 
of the country he was born in, he must also quit the right that 
belonged to him by the laws of it, and the possessions there 
descending to him from his ancestors, if it were a government 
made by their consent.

     Sec. 192.  By the second, the inhabitants of any country, 
who are descended, and derive a title to their estates from those 
who are subdued, and had a government forced upon them against 
their free consents, retain a right to the possession of their 
ancestors, though they consent not freely to the government, 
whose hard conditions were by force imposed on the possessors of 
that country: for the first conqueror never having had a title to 
the land of that country, the people who are the descendants of, 
or claim under those who were forced to submit to the yoke of a 
government by constraint, have always a right to shake it off, 
and free themselves from the usurpation or tyranny which the 
sword hath brought in upon them, till their rulers put them under 
such a frame of government as they willingly and of choice 
consent to.  Who doubts but the Grecian Christians, descendants 
of the ancient possessors of that country, may justly cast off 
the Turkish yoke, which they have so long groaned under, whenever 
they have an opportunity to do it?  For no government can have a 
right to obedience from a people who have not freely consented to 
it; which they can never be supposed to do, till either they are 
put in a full state of liberty to chuse their government and 
governors, or at least till they have such standing laws, to 
which they have by themselves or their representatives given 
their free consent, and also till they are allowed their due 
property, which is so to be proprietors of what they have, that 
no body can take away any part of it without their own consent, 
without which, men under any government are not in the state of 
freemen, but are direct slaves under the force of war.

     Sec. 193.  But granting that the conqueror in a just war has 
a right to the estates, as well as power over the persons, of the 
conquered; which, it is plain, he hath not: nothing of absolute 
power will follow from hence, in the continuance of the 
government; because the descendants of these being all freemen, 
if he grants them estates and possessions to inhabit his country, 
(without which it would be worth nothing) whatsoever he grants 
them, they have, so far as it is granted, property in.  The 
nature whereof is, that without a man's own consent it cannot be 
taken from him,

     Sec. 194.  Their persons are free by a native right, and 
their properties, be they more or less, are their own, and at 
their own dispose, and not at his; or else it is no property.  
Supposing the conqueror gives to one man a thousand acres, to him 
and his heirs for ever; to another he lets a thousand acres for 
his life, under the rent of 501.  or 5001.  per arm.  has not the 
one of these a right to his thousand acres for ever, and the 
other, during his life, paying the said rent? and hath not the 
tenant for life a property in all that he gets over and above his 
rent, by his labour and industry during the said term, supposing 
it be double the rent?  Can any one say, the king, or conqueror, 
after his grant, may by his power of conqueror take away all, or 
part of the land from the heirs of one, or from the other during 
his life, he paying the rent? or can he take away from either the 
goods or money they have got upon the said land, at his pleasure?  
If he can, then all free and voluntary contracts cease, and are 
void in the world; there needs nothing to dissolve them at any 

time, but power enough: and all the grants and promises of men in 
power are but mockery and collusion: for can there be any thing 
more ridiculous than to say, I give you and your's this for ever, 
and that in the surest and most solemn way of conveyance can be 
devised; and yet it is to be understood, that I have right, if I 
please, to take it away from you again to morrow?

     Sec. 195.  1 will not dispute now whether princes are exempt 
from the laws of their country; but this I am sure, they owe 
subjection to the laws of God and nature.  No body, no power, can 
exempt them from the obligations of that eternal law.  Those are 
so great, and so strong, in the case of promises, that 
omnipotency itself can be tied by them.  Grants, promises, and 
oaths, are bonds that hold the Almighty: whatever some flatterers 
say to princes of the world, who all together, with all their 
people joined to them, are, in comparison of the great God, but 
as a drop of the bucket, or a dust on the balance, 
inconsiderable, nothing!

     Sec. 196.  The short of the case in conquest is this: the 
conqueror, if he have a just cause, has a despotical right over 
the persons of all, that actually aided, and concurred in the war 
against him, and a right to make up his damage and cost out of 
their labour and estates, so he injure not the right of any 
other.  Over the rest of the people, if there were any that 
consented not to the war, and over the children of the captives 
themselves, or the possessions of either, he has no power; and so 
can have, by virtue of conquest, no lawful title himself to 
dominion over them, or derive it to his posterity; but is an 
aggressor, if he attempts upon their properties, and thereby puts 
himself in a state of war against them, and has no better a right 
of principality, he, nor any of his successors, than Hingar, or 
Hubba, the Danes, had here in England; or Spartacus, had he 
conquered Italy, would have had; which is to have their yoke cast 
off, as soon as God shall give those under their subjection 
courage and opportunity to do it.  Thus, notwithstanding whatever 
title the kings of Assyria had over Judah, by the sword, God 
assisted Hezekiah to throw off the dominion of that conquering 
empire.  And the lord was with Hezekiah, and he prospered; 
wherefore he went forth, and he rebelled against the king of 
Assyria, and served him not, 2 Kings xviii.  7.  Whence it is 
plain, that shaking off a power, which force, and not right, hath 
set over any one, though it hath the name of rebellion, yet is no 
offence before God, but is that which he allows and countenances, 
though even promises and covenants, when obtained by force, have 
intervened: for it is very probable, to any one that reads the 
story of Ahaz and Hezekiah attentively, that the Assyrians 
subdued Ahaz, and deposed him, and made Hezekiah king in his 
father's lifetime; and that Hezekiah by agreement had done him 
homage, and paid him tribute all this time.

                      CHAP.  XVII.

                     Of USURPATION.

     Sec. 197.  AS conquest may be called a foreign usurpation, 
so usurpation is a kind of domestic conquest, with this 
difference, that an usurper can never have right on his side, it 
being no usurpation, but where one is got into the possession of 
what another has right to.   This, so far as it is usurpation, is 
a change only of persons, but not of the forms and rules of the 
government: for if the usurper extend his power beyond what of 
right belonged to the lawful princes, or governors of the 
commonwealth, it is tyranny added to usurpation.

     Sec. 198.  In all lawful governments, the designation of the 
persons, who are to bear rule, is as natural and necessary a part 

as the form of the government itself, and is that which had its 
establishment originally from the people; the anarchy being much 
alike, to have no form of government at all; or to agree, that it 
shall be monarchical, but to appoint no way to design the person 
that shall have the power, and be the monarch.  Hence all 
commonwealths, with the form of government established, have 
rules also of appointing those who are to have any share in the 
public authority, and settled methods of conveying the right to 
them: for the anarchy is much alike, to have no form of 
government at all; or to agree that it shall be monarchical, but 
to appoint no way to know or design the person that shall have 
the power, and be the monarch.  Whoever gets into the exercise of 
any part of the power, by other ways than what the laws of the 
community have prescribed, hath no right to be obeyed, though the 
form of the commonwealth be still preserved; since he is not the 
person the laws have appointed, and consequently not the person 
the people have consented to.  Nor can such an usurper, or any 
deriving from him, ever have a title, till the people are both at 
liberty to consent, and have actually consented to allow, and 
confirm in him the power he hath till then usurped.

                     CHAP.  XVIII.

                      Of TYRANNY.

     Sec. 199.  AS usurpation is the exercise of power, which 
another hath a right to; so tyranny is the exercise of power 
beyond right, which no body can have a right to.  And this is 
making use of the power any one has in his hands, not for the 
good of those who are under it, but for his own private separate 
advantage.  When the governor, however intitled, makes not the 
law, but his will, the rule; and his commands and actions are not 
directed to the preservation of the properties of his people, but 
the satisfaction of his own ambition, revenge, covetousness, or 
any other irregular passion.

     Sec. 200.  If one can doubt this to be truth, or reason, 
because it comes from the obscure hand of a subject, I hope the 
authority of a king will make it pass with him.  King James the 
first, in his speech to the parliament, 1603, tells them thus, I 
will ever prefer the weal of the public, and of the whole 
commonwealth, in making of good laws and constitutions, to any 
particular and private ends of mine; thinking ever the wealth and 
weal of the commonwealth to be my greatest weal and worldly 
felicity; a point wherein a lawful king doth directly differ from 
a tyrant: for I do acknowledge, that the special and greatest 
point of difference that is between a rightful king and an 
usurping tyrant, is this, that whereas the proud and ambitious 
tyrant doth think his kingdom and people are only ordained for 
satisfaction of his desires and unreasonable appetites, the 
righteous and just king doth by the contrary acknowledge himself 
to be ordained for the procuring of the wealth and property of 
his people, And again, in his speech to the parliament, 1609, he 
hath these words, The king binds himself by a double oath, to the 
observation of the fundamental laws of his kingdom; tacitly, as 
by being a king, and so bound to protect as well the people, as 
the laws of his kingdom; and expressly, by his oath at his 
coronation, so as every just king, in a settled kingdom, is bound 
to observe that paction made to his people, by his laws, in 
framing his government agreeable thereunto, according to that 
paction which God made with Noah after the deluge.  Hereafter, 
seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, 
and day and night, shall not cease while the earth remaineth.  
And therefore a king governing in a settled kingdom, leaves to be 
a king, and degenerates into a tyrant, as soon as he leaves off 

to rule according to his laws, And a little after, Therefore all 
kings that are not tyrants, or perjured, will be glad to bound 
themselves within the limits of their laws; and they that 
persuade them the contrary, are vipers, and pests both against 
them and the commonwealth.  Thus that learned king, who well 
understood the notion of things, makes the difference betwixt a 
king and a tyrant to consist only in this, that one makes the 
laws the bounds of his power, and the good of the public, the end 
of his government; the other makes all give way to his own will 
and appetite.

     Sec. 201.  It is a mistake, to think this fault is proper 
only to monarchies; other forms of government are liable to it, 
as well as that: for wherever the power, that is put in any hands 
for the government of the people, and the preservation of their 
properties, is applied to other ends, and made use of to 
impoverish, harass, or subdue them to the arbitrary and irregular 
commands of those that have it; there it presently becomes 
tyranny, whether those that thus use it are one or many.  Thus we 
read of the thirty tyrants at Athens, as well as one at Syracuse; 
and the intolerable dominion of the Decemviri  at Rome was 
nothing better.

     Sec. 202.  Where-ever law ends, tyranny begins, if the law 
be transgressed to another's harm; and whosoever in authority 
exceeds the power given him by the law, and makes use of the 
force he has under his command, to compass that upon the subject, 
which the law allows not, ceases in that to be a magistrate; and, 
acting without authority, may be opposed, as any other man, who 
by force invades the right of another.  This is acknowledged in 
subordinate magistrates.  He that hath authority to seize my 
person in the street, may be opposed as a thief and a robber, if 
he endeavours to break into my house to execute a writ, 
notwithstanding that I know he has such a warrant, and such a 
legal authority, as will impower him to arrest me abroad.  And 
why this should not hold in the highest, as well as in the most 
inferior magistrate, I would gladly be informed.  Is it 
reasonable, that the eldest brother, because he has the greatest 
part of his father's estate, should thereby have a right to take 
away any of his younger brothers portions? or that a rich man, 
who possessed a whole country, should from thence have a right to 
seize, when he pleased, the cottage and garden of his poor 
neighbour?  The being rightfully possessed of great power and 
riches, exceedingly beyond the greatest part of the sons of Adam, 
is so far from being an excuse, much less a reason, for rapine 
and oppression, which the endamaging another without authority 
is, that it is a great aggravation of it: for the exceeding the 
bounds of authority is no more a right in a great, than in a 
petty officer; no more justifiable in a king than a constable; 
but is so much the worse in him, in that he has more trust put in 
him, has already a much greater share than the rest of his 
brethren, and is supposed, from the advantages of his education, 
employment, and counsellors, to be more knowing in the measures 
of right and wrong.

     Sec. 203.  May the commands then of a prince be opposed? may 
he be resisted as often as any one shall find himself aggrieved, 
and but imagine he has not right done him?  This will unhinge and 
overturn all polities, and, instead of government and order, 
leave nothing but anarchy and confusion.

     Sec. 204.  To this I answer, that force is to be opposed to 
nothing, but to unjust and unlawful force; whoever makes any 
opposition in any other case, draws on himself a just 
condemnation both from God and man; and so no such danger or 
confusion will follow, as is often suggested: for,

     Sec. 205.  First, As, in some countries, the person of the 
prince by the law is sacred; and so, whatever he commands or 
does, his person is still free from all question or violence, not 
liable to force, or any judicial censure or condemnation.  But 

yet opposition may be made to the illegal acts of any inferior 
officer, or other commissioned by him; unless he will, by 
actually putting himself into a state of war with his people, 
dissolve the government, and leave them to that defence which 
belongs to every one in the state of nature: for of such things 
who can tell what the end will be? and a neighbour kingdom has 
shewed the world an odd example.  In all other cases the 
sacredness of the person exempts him from all inconveniencies, 
whereby he is secure, whilst the government stands, from all 
violence and harm whatsoever; than which there cannot be a wiser 
constitution: for the harm he can do in his own person not being 
likely to happen often, nor to extend itself far; nor being able 
by his single strength to subvert the laws, nor oppress the body 
of the people, should any prince have so much weakness, and ill 
nature as to be willing to do it, the inconveniency of some 
particular mischiefs, that may happen sometimes, when a heady 
prince comes to the throne, are well recompensed by the peace of 
the public, and security of the government, in the person of the 
chief magistrate, thus set out of the reach of danger: it being 
safer for the body, that some few private men should be sometimes 
in danger to suffer, than that the head of the republic should be 
easily, and upon slight occasions, exposed.

     Sec. 206.  Secondly, But this privilege, belonging only to 
the king's person, hinders not, but they may be questioned, 
opposed, and resisted, who use unjust force, though they pretend 
a commission from him, which the law authorizes not; as is plain 
in the case of him that has the king's writ to arrest a man, 
which is a full commission from the king; and yet he that has it 
cannot break open a man's house to do it, nor execute this 
command of the king upon certain days, nor in certain places, 
though this commission have no such exception in it; but they are 
the limitations of the law, which if any one transgress, the 
king's commission excuses him not: for the king's authority being 
given him only by the law, he cannot impower any one to act 
against the law, or justify him, by his commission, in so doing; 
the commission, or command of any magistrate, where he has no 
authority, being as void and insignificant, as that of any 
private man; the difference between the one and the other, being 
that the magistrate has some authority so far, and to such ends, 
and the private man has none at all: for it is not the 
commission, but the authority, that gives the right of acting; 
and against the laws there can be no authority.  But, 
notwithstanding such resistance, the king's person and authority 
are still both secured, and so no danger to governor or 

     Sec. 207.  Thirdly, Supposing a government wherein the 
person of the chief magistrate is not thus sacred; yet this 
doctrine of the lawfulness of resisting all unlawful exercises of 
his power, will not upon every slight occasion indanger him, or 
imbroil the government: for where the injured party may be 
relieved, and his damages repaired by appeal to the law, there 
can be no pretence for force, which is only to be used where a 
man is intercepted from appealing to the law: for nothing is to 
be accounted hostile force, but where it leaves not the remedy of 
such an appeal; and it is such force alone, that puts him that 
uses it into a state of war, and makes it lawful to resist him.  
A man with a sword in his hand demands my purse in the high-way, 
when perhaps I have not twelve pence in my pocket: this man I may 
lawfully kill.  To another I deliver lool.  to hold only whilst I 
alight, which he refuses to restore me, when I am got up again, 
but draws his sword to defend the possession of it by force, if I 
endeavour to retake it.  The mischief this man does me is a 
hundred, or possibly a thousand times more than the other perhaps 
intended me (whom I killed before he really did me any); and yet 
I might lawfully kill the one, and cannot so much as hurt the 
other lawfully.  The reason whereof is plain; because the one 

using force, which threatened my life, I could not have time to 
appeal to the law to secure it: and when it was gone, it was too 
late to appeal.  The law could not restore life to my dead 
carcass: the loss was irreparable; which to prevent, the law of 
nature gave me a right to destroy him, who had put himself into a 
state of war with me, and threatened my destruction.  But in the 
other case, my life not being in danger, I may have the benefit 
of appealing to the law, and have reparation for my lool.  that 

     Sec. 208.  Fourthly, But if the unlawful acts done by the 
magistrate be maintained (by the power he has got), and the 
remedy which is due by law, be by the same power obstructed; yet 
the right of resisting, even in such manifest acts of tyranny, 
will not suddenly, or on slight occasions, disturb the 
government: for if it reach no farther than some private men's 
cases, though they have a right to defend themselves, and to 
recover by force what by unlawful force is taken from them; yet 
the right to do so will not easily engage them in a contest, 
wherein they are sure to perish; it being as impossible for one, 
or a few oppressed men to disturb the government, where the body 
of the people do not think themselves concerned in it, as for a 
raving mad-man, or heady malcontent to overturn a well settled 
state; the people being as little apt to follow the one, as the 

     Sec. 209.  But if either these illegal acts have extended to 
the majority of the people; or if the mischief and oppression has 
lighted only on some few, but in such cases, as the precedent, 
and consequences seem to threaten all; and they are persuaded in 
their consciences, that their laws, and with them their estates, 
liberties, and lives are in danger, and perhaps their religion 
too; how they will be hindered from resisting illegal force, used 
against them, I cannot tell.  This is an inconvenience, I 
confess, that attends all governments whatsoever, when the 
governors have brought it to this pass, to be generally suspected 
of their people; the most dangerous state which they can possibly 
put themselves in.  wherein they are the less to be pitied, 
because it is so easy to be avoided; it being as impossible for a 
governor, if he really means the good of his people, and the 
preservation of them, and their laws together, not to make them 
see and feel it, as it is for the father of a family, not to let 
his children see he loves, and takes care of them.

     Sec. 210.  But if all the world shall observe pretences of 
one kind, and actions of another; arts used to elude the law, and 
the trust of prerogative (which is an arbitrary power in some 
things left in the prince's hand to do good, not harm to the 
people) employed contrary to the end for which it was given: if 
the people shall find the ministers and subordinate magistrates 
chosen suitable to such ends, and favoured, or laid by, 
proportionably as they promote or oppose them: if they see 
several experiments made of arbitrary power, and that religion 
underhand favoured, (tho' publicly proclaimed against) which is 
readiest to introduce it; and the operators in it supported, as 
much as may be; and when that cannot be done, yet approved still, 
and liked the better: if a long train of actions shew the 
councils all tending that way; how can a man any more hinder 
himself from being persuaded in his own mind, which way things 
are going; or from casting about how to save himself, than he 
could from believing the captain of the ship he was in, was 
carrying him, and the rest of the company, to Algiers, when he 
found him always steering that course, though cross winds, leaks 
in his ship, and want of men and provisions did often force him 
to turn his course another way for some time, which he steadily 
returned to again, as soon as the wind, weather, and other 
circumstances would let him?

                       CHAP.  XIX.

           Of the Dissolution of Government.

     Sec. 211.  HE that will with any clearness speak of the 
dissolution of government, ought in the first place to 
distinguish between the dissolution of the society and the 
dissolution of the government.   That which makes the community, 
and brings men out of the loose state of nature, into one politic 
society, is the agreement which every one has with the rest to 
incorporate, and act as one body, and so be one distinct common-
wealth.  The usual, and almost only way whereby this union is 
dissolved, is the inroad of foreign force mak
ing a conquest upon them: for in that case, (not being able to 
maintain and support themselves, as one intire and independent 
body) the union belonging to that body which consisted therein, 
must necessarily cease, and so every one return to the state he 
was in before, with a liberty to shift for himself, and provide 
for his own safety, as he thinks fit, in some other society.  
Whenever the society is dissolved, it is certain the government 
of that society cannot remain.  Thus conquerors swords often cut 
up governments by the roots, and mangle societies to pieces, 
separating the subdued or scattered multitude from the protection 
of, and dependence on, that society which ought to have preserved 
them from violence.  The world is too well instructed in, and too 
forward to allow of, this way of dissolving of governments, to 
need any more to be said of it; and there wants not much argument 
to prove, that where the society is dissolved, the government 
cannot remain; that being as impossible, as for the frame of an 
house to subsist when the materials of it are scattered and 
dissipated by a whirl-wind, or jumbled into a confused heap by an 

     Sec. 212.  Besides this over-turning from without, 
governments are dissolved from within,

     First, When the legislative is altered.  Civil society being 
a state of peace, amongst those who are of it, from whom the 
state of war is excluded by the umpirage, which they have 
provided in their legislative, for the ending all differences 
that may arise amongst any of them, it is in their legislative, 
that the members of a commonwealth are united, and combined 
together into one coherent living body.  This is the soul that 
gives form, life, and unity, to the common-wealth: from hence the 
several members have their mutual influence, sympathy, and 
connexion: and therefore, when the legislative is broken, or 
dissolved, dissolution and death follows: for the essence and 
union of the society consisting in having one will, the 
legislative, when once established by the majority, has the 
declaring, and as it were keeping of that will.  The constitution 
of the legislative is the first and fundamental act of society, 
whereby provision is made for the continuation of their union, 
under the direction of persons, and bonds of laws, made by 
persons authorized thereunto, by the consent and appointment of 
the people, without which no one man, or number of men, amongst 
them, can have authority of making laws that shall be binding to 
the rest.   When any one, or more, shall take upon them to make 
laws, whom the people have not appointed so to do, they make laws 
without authority, which the people are not therefore bound to 
obey; by which means they come again to be out of subjection, and 
may constitute to themselves a new legislative, as they think 
best, being in full liberty to resist the force of those, who 
without authority would impose any thing upon them.  Every one is 
at the disposure of his own will, when those who had, by the 
delegation of the society, the declaring of the public will, are 
excluded from it, and others usurp the place, who have no such 
authority or delegation.

     Sec. 213.  This being usually brought about by such in the 
commonwealth who misuse the power they have; it is hard to 
consider it aright, and know at whose door to lay it, without 
knowing the form of government in which it happens.  Let us 
suppose then the legislative placed in the concurrence of three 
distinct persons.

     1.  A single hereditary person, having the constant, 
supreme, executive power, and with it the power of convoking and 
dissolving the other two within certain periods of time.

     2.  An assembly of hereditary nobility.

     3.  An assembly of representatives chosen, pro tempore, by 
the people.  Such a form of government supposed, it is evident,

     Sec. 214.  First, That when such a single person, or prince, 
sets up his own arbitrary will in place of the laws, which are 
the will of the society, declarad by the legislative, then the 
legislative is changed: for that being in effect the legislative, 
whose rules and laws are put in execution, and required to be 
obeyed; when other laws are set up, and other rules pretended, 
and inforced, than what the legislative, constituted by the 
society, have enacted, it is plain that the legislative is 
changed.  Whoever introduces new laws, not being thereunto 
authorized by the fundamental appointment of the society, or 
subverts the old, disowns and overturns the power by which they 
were made, and so sets up a new legislative.

     Sec. 215.  Secondly, When the prince hinders the legislative 
from assembling in its due time, or from acting freely, pursuant 
to those ends for which it was constituted, the legislative is 
altered: for it is not a certain number of men, no, nor their 
meeting, unless they have also freedom of debating, and leisure 
of perfecting, what is for the good of the society, wherein the 
legislative consists: when these are taken away or altered, so as 
to deprive the society of the due exercise of their power, the 
legislative is truly altered; for it is not names that constitute 
governments, but the use and exercise of those powers that were 
intended to accompany them; so that he, who takes away the 
freedom, or hinders the acting of the legislative in its due 
seasons, in effect takes away the legislative, and puts an end to 
the government,

     Sec. 216.  Thirdly, When, by the arbitrary power of the 
prince, the electors, or ways of election, are altered, without 
the consent, and contrary to the common interest of the people, 
there also the legislative is altered: for, if others than those 
whom the society hath authorized thereunto, do chuse, or in 
another way than what the society hath prescribed, those chosen 
are not the legislative appointed by the people.

     Sec. 217.  Fourthly, The delivery also of the people into 
the subjection of a foreign power, either by the prince, or by 
the legislative, is certainly a change of the legislative, and so 
a dissolution of the government: for the end why people entered 
into society being to be preserved one intire, free, independent 
society, to be governed by its own laws; this is lost, whenever 
they are given up into the power of another.

     Sec. 218.  Why, in such a constitution as this, the 
dissolution of the government in these cases is to be imputed to 
the prince, is evident; because he, having the force, treasure 
and offices of the state to employ, and often persuading himself, 
or being flattered by others, that as supreme magistrate he is 
uncapable of controul; he alone is in a condition to make great 
advances toward such changes, under pretence of lawful authority, 
and has it in his hands to terrify or suppress opposers, as 
factious, seditious, and enemies to the government: whereas no 
other part of the legislative, or people, is capable by 
themselves to attempt any alteration of the legislative, without 
open and visible rebellion, apt enough to be taken notice of, 
which, when it prevails, produces effects very little different 
from foreign conquest.  Besides, the prince in such a form of 

government, having the power of dissolving the other parts of the 
legislative, and thereby rendering them private persons, they can 
never in opposition to him, or without his concurrence, alter the 
legislative by a law, his conse power, neglects and abandons that charge, so that the 
laws already made can no longer be put in execution.  This is 
demonstratively to reduce all to anarchy, and so effectually to 
dissolve the government: for laws not being made for themselves, 
but to be, by their execution, the bonds of the society, to keep 
every part of the body politic in its due place and function; 
when that totally ceases, the government visibly ceases, and the 
people become a confused multitude, without order or connexion.  
Where there is no longer the administration of justice, for the 
securing of men's rights, nor any remaining power within the 
community to direct the force, or provide for the necessities of 
the public, there certainly is no government left.  Where the 
laws cannot be executed, it is all one as if there were no laws; 
and a government without laws is, I suppose, a mystery in 
politics, unconceivable to human capacity, and inconsistent with 
human society.

     Sec. 220.  In these and the like cases, when the government 
is dissolved, the people are at liberty to provide for 
themselves, by erecting a new legislative, differing from the 
other, by the change of persons, or form, or both, as they shall 
find it most for their safety and good: for the society can 
never, by the fault of another, lose the native and original 
right it has to preserve itself, which can only be done by a 
settled legislative, and a fair and impartial execution of the 
laws made by it.  But the state of mankind is not so miserable 
that they are not capable of using this remedy, till it be too 
late to look for any.  To tell people they may provide for 
themselves, by erecting a new legislative, when by oppression, 
artifice, or being delivered over to a foreign power, their old 
one is gone, is only to tell them, they may expect relief when it 
is too late, and the evil is past cure.  This is in effect no 
more than to bid them first be slaves, and then to take care of 
their liberty; and when their chains are on, tell them, they may 
act like freemen.  This, if barely so, is rather mockery than 
relief; and men can never be secure from tyranny, if there be no 
means to escape it till they are perfectly under it: and 
therefore it is, that they have not only a right to get out of 
it, but to prevent it.

     Sec. 221.  There is therefore, secondly, another way whereby 
governments are dissolved, and that is, when the legislative, or 
the prince, either of them, act contrary to their trust.    
First, The legislative acts against the trust reposed in them, 
when they endeavour to invade the property of the subject, and to 
make themselves, or any part of the community, masters, or 
arbitrary disposers of the lives, liberties, or fortunes of the 

     Sec. 222.  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, an 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 employs the force, treasure, and 
offices of the society, to corrupt the representatives, and gain 
them to his purposes; or openly preengages the electors, and 
prescribes to their choice, such, whom he has, by sollicitations, 
threats, promises, or otherwise, won to his designs; and employs 
them to bring in such, who have promised before-hand 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 public security? for the people having reserved to themselves 
the choice of their 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 common-wealth, and the public 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 law-makers 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 employed 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, it will be past doubt what 
is doing.  What power they ought to have in the society, who thus 
employ it contrary to the trust went along with it in its first 
institution, is easy to determine; and one cannot but see, that 
he, who has once attempted any such thing as this, cannot any 
longer be trusted.

     Sec. 223.  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 ruin; 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 acknowledged faults in the 
frame they have been accustomed to.   And if there be any 
original defects, or adventitious ones introduced by time, or 
corruption; it is not an easy 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.

     Sec. 224.  But it will 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 authorized 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 human affairs, seldom delays long to 
offer itself.  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.

     Sec. 225.  Secondly, I answer, such revolutions happen not 
upon every little mismanagement in public affairs.  Great 
mistakes in the ruling part, many wrong and inconvenient laws, 
and all the slips of human 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; it is not to be 
wondered, 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 names, 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.

     Sec. 226.  Thirdly, I answer, that this doctrine of a power 
in the people of providing for their safety a-new, 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 
justify 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.

     Sec. 227.  In both the fore-mentioned 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 
established 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 authorized, they 
actually introduce a state of war, which is that of force without 

authority: and thus, by removing the legislative established by 
the society, (in whose decisions the people acquiesced and 
united, as to that of their own will) they untie 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 
endeavour 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.

     Sec. 228.  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 
allowed, 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 pirates, 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 considered, what a kind of 
peace there will be in the world, which consists only in violence 
and rapine; and which is to be maintained only for the benefit of 
robbers and oppressors.  VVho would not think it an admirable 
peace betwix 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, and 
such a government, wherein Ulysses and his companions had nothing 
to do, but quietly to suffer themselves to be devoured.  And no 
doubt Ulysses, who was a prudent man, preached 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 inconveniences might happen, if they should 
offer to resist Polyphemus, who had now the power over them.

     Sec. 229.  The end of government is the good of mankind; and 
which is best for mankind, that the people should be always 
exposed to the boundless will of tyranny, or that the rulers 
should be sometimes liable to be opposed, when they grow 
exorbitant in the use of their power, and employ it for the 
destruction, and not the preservation of the properties of their 

     Sec. 230.  Nor let any one say, that mischief can arise from 
hence, as often as it shall please a busy head, or turbulent 
spirit, to desire the alteration of the government.  It is true, 
such men may stir, whenever they please; but it will be only to 
their own just ruin 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 persuation, 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 this suspicion?  Are the people 
to be blamed, if they have the sense 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 put things into such a 

posture, that they would not have them thought to be 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 oftener 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, is highly 
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 country.  And he who does it, is justly to be esteemed the 
common enemy and pest of mankind, and is to be treated 

         Sec. 231.  That subjects or foreigners, attempting by 
force on the properties of any people, may be resisted with 
force, is agreed on all hands.  But that magistrates, doing the 
same thing, may be resisted, hath of late been denied: as if 
those who had the greatest privileges and advantages by the law, 
had thereby a power to break those laws, by which alone they were 
set in a better place than their brethren: whereas their offence 
is thereby the greater, both as being ungrateful for the greater 
share they have by the law, and breaking also that trust, which 
is put into their hands by their brethren.

         Sec. 232.  Whosoever uses force without right, as every 
one does in society, who does it without law, puts himself into a 
state of war with those against whom he so uses it; and in that 
state all former ties are cancelled, all other rights cease, and 
every one has a right to defend himself, and to resist the 
aggressor.  This is so evident, that Barclay himself, that great 
assertor of the power and sacredness of kings, is forced to 
confess, That it is lawful for the people, in some cases, to 
resist their king; and that too in a chapter, wherein he pretends 
to shew, that the divine law shuts up the people from all manner 
of rebellion.  Whereby it is evident, even by his own doctrine, 
that, since they may in some cases resist, all resisting of 
princes is not rebellion.  His words are these.  Quod siquis 
dicat, Ergone populus tyrannicae crudelitati & furori jugulum 
semper praebebit?  Ergone multitude civitates suas fame, ferro, & 
flamma vastari, seque, conjuges, & liberos fortunae ludibrio & 
tyranni libidini exponi, inque omnia vitae pericula omnesque 
miserias & molestias a rege deduci patientur?  Num illis quod 
omni animantium generi est a natura tributum, denegari debet, ut 
sc. vim vi repellant, seseq; ab injuria, tueantur?  Huic breviter 
responsum sit, Populo universo negari defensionem, quae juris 
naturalis est, neque ultionem quae praeter naturam est adversus 
regem concedi debere.   Quapropter si rex non in singulares 
tantum personas aliquot privatum odium exerceat, sed corpus etiam 
reipublicae, cujus ipse caput est, i.e.  totum populum, vel 
insignem aliquam ejus partem immani & intoleranda saevitia seu 
tyrannide divexet; populo, quidem hoc casu resistendi ac tuendi 
se ab injuria potestas competit, sed tuendi se tantum, non enim 
in principem invadendi: & restituendae injuriae illatae, non 
recedendi a debita reverentia propter acceptam injuriam.  
Praesentem denique impetum propulsandi non vim praeteritam 
ulciscenti jus habet.  Horum enim alterum a natura est, ut vitam 
scilicet corpusque tueamur.  Alterum vero contra naturam, ut 
inferior de superiori supplicium sumat.  Quod itaque populus 
malum, antequam factum sit, impedire potest, ne fiat, id postquam 
factum est, in regem authorem sceleris vindicare non potest: 
populus igitur hoc amplius quam privatus quispiam habet: quod 

huic, vel ipsis adversariis judicibus, excepto Buchanano, nullum 
nisi in patientia remedium superest.  Cum ille si intolerabilis 
tyrannus est (modicum enim ferre omnino debet) resistere cum 
reverentia possit, Barclay contra Monarchom.  1. iii. c. 8.

     In English thus:

     Sec. 233.  But if any one should ask, Must the people then 
always lay themselves open to the cruelty and rage of tyranny?  
Must they see their cities pillaged, and laid in ashes, their 
wives and children exposed to the tyrant's lust and fury, and 
themselves and families reduced by their king to ruin, and all 
the miseries of want and oppression, and yet sit still?  Must men 
alone be debarred the common privilege of opposing force with 
force, which nature allows so freely to all other creatures for 
their preservation from injury?  I answer: Self-defence is a part 
of the law of nature; nor can it be denied the community, even 
against the king himself: but to revenge themselves upon him, 
must by no means be allowed them; it being not agreeable to that 
law.  Wherefore if the king shall shew an hatred, not only to 
some particular persons, but sets himself against the body of the 
common-wealth, whereof he is the head, and shall, with 
intolerable ill usage, cruelly tyrannize over the u7hole, or a 
considerable part of the people, in this case the people have a 
right to resist and defend themselves from injury: but it must be 
with this caution, that they only defend themselves, but do not 
attack their prince: they may repair the damages received, but 
must not for any provocation exceed the bounds of due reverence 
and respect.  They may repulse the present attempt, but must not 
revenge past violences: for it is natural for us to defend life 
and limb, but that an inferior should punish a superior, is 
against nature.  The mischief which is designed them, the people 
may prevent before it be done; but when it is done, they must not 
revenge it on the king, though author of the villany.  This 
therefore is the privilege of the people in general, above what 
any private person hath; that particular men are allowed by our 
adversaries themselves (Buchanan only excepted) to have no other 
remedy but patience; but the body of the people may with respect 
resist intolerable tyranny; for when it is but moderate, they 
ought to endure it.

     Sec. 234.  Thus far that great advocate of monarchical power 
allows of resistance.

     Sec. 235.  It is true, he has annexed two limitations to it, 
to no purpose:

     First, He says, it must be with reverence.

     Secondly, It must be without retribution, or punishment; and 
the reason he gives is, because an inferior cannot punish a 

     First, How to resist force without striking again, or how to 
strike with reverence, will need some skill to make intelligible.  
He that shall oppose an assault only with a shield to receive the 
blows, or in any more respectful posture, without a sword in his 
hand, to abate the confidence and force of the assailant, will 
quickly be at an end of his resistance, and will find such a 
defence serve only to draw on himself the worse usage.  This is 
as ridiculous a way of resisting, as juvenal thought it of 
fighting; ubi tu pulsas, ego vapulo tantum.   And the success of 
the combat will be unavoidably the same he there describes it:

      ----- Libertas pauperis haec est:

      Pulsatus rogat, & pugnis concisus, adorat,

      Ut liceat paucis cum dentibus inde reverti.

This will always be the event of such an imaginary resistance, 
where men may not strike again.  He therefore who may resist, 
must be allowed to strike.  And then let our author, or any body 

else, join a knock on the head, or a cut on the face, with as 
much reverence and respect as he thinks fit.  He that can 
reconcile blows and reverence, may, for aught I know, desire for 
his pains, a civil, respectful cudgeling where-ever he can meet 
with it.

     Secondly, As to his second, An inferior cannot punish a 
superior; that is true, generally speaking, whilst he is his 
superior.  But to resist force with force, being the state of war 
that levels the parties, cancels all former relation of 
reverence, respect, and superiority: and then the odds that 
remains, is, that he, who opposes the unjust agressor, has this 
superiority over him, that he has a right, when he prevails, to 
punish the offender, both for the breach of the peace, and all 
the evils that followed upon it.  Barclay therefore, in another 
place, more coherently to himself, denies it to be lawful to 
resist a king in any case.  But he there assigns two cases, 
whereby a king may un-king himself.  His words are,

     Quid ergo, nulline casus incidere possunt quibus populo sese 
erigere atque in regem impotentius dominantem arma capere & 
invadere jure suo suaque authoritate liceat?  Nulli certe quamdiu 
rex manet.  Semper enim ex divinis id obstat, Regem honorificato; 
& qui potestati resistit, Dei ordinationi resisit: non alias 
igitur in eum populo potestas est quam si id committat propter 
quod ipso jure rex esse desinat.  Tunc enim se ipse principatu 
exuit atque in privatis constituit liber: hoc modo populus & 
superior efficitur, reverso ad eum sc.  jure illo quod ante regem 
inauguratum in interregno habuit.   At sunt paucorum generum 
commissa ejusmodi quae hunc effectum pariunt.  At ego cum plurima 
animo perlustrem, duo tantum invenio, duos, inquam, casus quibus 
rex ipso facto ex rege non regem se facit & omni honore & 
dignitate regali atque in subditos potestate destituit; quorum 
etiam meminit Winzerus.  Horum unus est, Si regnum disperdat, 
quemadmodum de Nerone fertur, quod is nempe senatum populumque 
Romanum, atque adeo urbem ipsam ferro flammaque vastare, ac novas 
sibi sedes quaerere decrevisset.  Et de Caligula, quod palam 
denunciarit se neque civem neque principem senatui amplius fore, 
inque animo habuerit interempto utriusque ordinis electissimo 
quoque Alexandriam commigrare, ac ut populum uno ictu 
interimeret, unam ei cervicem optavit.  Talia cum rex aliquis 
meditator & molitur serio, omnem regnandi curam & animum ilico 
abjicit, ac proinde imperium in subditos amittit, ut dominus 
servi pro derelicto habiti dominium.

     Sec. 236.  Alter casus est, Si rex in alicujus clientelam se 
contulit, ac regnum quod liberum a majoribus & populo traditum 
accepit, alienae ditioni mancipavit.  Nam tunc quamvis forte non 
ea mente id agit populo plane ut incommodet: tamen quia quod 
praecipuum est regiae dignitatis amifit, ut summus scilicet in 
regno secundum Deum sit, & solo Deo inferior, atque populum etiam 
totum ignorantem vel invitum, cujus libertatem sartam & tectam 
conservare debuit, in alterius gentis ditionem & potestatem 
dedidit; hac velut quadam regni ab alienatione effecit, ut nec 
quod ipse in regno imperium habuit retineat, nec in eum cui 
collatum voluit, juris quicquam transferat; atque ita eo facto 
liberum jam & suae potestatis populum relinquit, cujus rei 
exemplum unum annales Scotici suppeditant.   Barclay contra 
Monarchom. 1. iii. c. 16.

    Which in English runs thus:

     Sec. 237.  What then, can there no case happen wherein the 
people may of right, and by their own authority, help themselves, 
take arms, and set upon their king, imperiously domineering over 
them?  None at all, whilst he remains a king.  Honour the king, 
and he that resists the power, resists the ordinance of God; are 
divine oracles that will never permit it, The people therefore 
can never come by a power over him, unless he does something that 

makes him cease to be a king: for then he divests himself of his 
crown and dignity, and returns to the state of a private man, and 
the people become free and superior, the power which they had in 
the interregnum, before they crowned him king, devolving to them 
again.  But there are but few miscarriages which bring the matter 
to this state.  After considering it well on all sides, I can 
find but two.  Two cases there are, I say, whereby a king, ipso 
facto, becomes no king, and loses all power and regal authority 
over his people; which are also taken notice of by Winzerus.

     The first is, If he endeavour to overturn the government, 
that is, if he have a purpose and design to ruin the kingdom and 
commonwealth, as it is recorded of Nero, that he resolved to cut 
off the senate and people of Rome, lay the city waste with fire 
and sword, and then remove to some other place.  And of Caligula, 
that he openly declared, that he would be no longer a head to the 
people or senate, and that he had it in his thoughts to cut off 
the worthiest men of both ranks, and then retire to Alexandria: 
and he wisht that the people had but one neck, that he might 
dispatch them all at a blow, Such designs as these, when any king 
harbours in his thoughts, and seriously promotes, he immediately 
gives up all care and thought of the common-wealth; and 
consequently forfeits the power of governing his subjects, as a 
master does the dominion over his slaves whom he hath abandoned.

     Sec. 238.  The other case is, When a king makes himself the 
dependent of another, and subjects his kingdom which his 
ancestors left him, and the people put free into his hands, to 
the dominion of another: for however perhaps it may not be his 
intention to prejudice the people; yet because he has hereby lost 
the principal part of regal dignity, viz.  to be next and 
immediately under God, supreme in his kingdom; and also because 
he betrayed or forced his people, whose liberty he ought to have 
carefully preserved, into the power and dominion of a foreign 
nation.  By this, as.  it were, alienation of his kingdom, he 
himself loses the power he had in it before, without transferring 
any the least right to those on whom he would have bestowed it; 
and so by this act sets the people free, and leaves them at their 
own disposal.  One example of this is to be found in the Scotch 

     Sec. 239.  In these cases Barclay, the great champion of 
absolute monarchy, is forced to allow, that a king may be 
resisted, and ceases to be a king.  That is, in short, not to 
multiply cases, in whatsoever he has no authority, there he is no 
king, and may be resisted: for wheresoever the authority ceases, 
the king ceases too, and becomes like other men who have no 
authority.  And these two cases he instances in, differ little 
from those above mentioned, to be destructive to governments, 
only that he has omitted the principle from which his doctrine 
flows: and that is, the breach of trust, in not preserving the 
form of government agreed on, and in not intending the end of 
government itself, which is the public good and preservation of 
property.  When a king has dethroned himself, and put himself in 
a state of war with his people, what shall hinder them from 
prosecuting him who is no king, as they would any other man, who 
has put himself into a state of war with them, Barclay, and those 
of his opinion, would do well to tell us.  This farther I desire 
may be taken notice of out of Barclay, that he says, The mischief 
that is designed them, the people may prevent before it be clone: 
whereby he allows resistance when tyranny is but in design.  Such 
designs as these (says he) when any king harbours in his thoughts 
and seriously promotes, he immediately gives up all care and 
thought of the common-wealth; so that, according to him, the 
neglect of the public good is to be taken as an evidence of such 
design, or at least for a sufficient cause of resistance.  And 
the reason of all, he gives in these words, Because he betrayed 
or forced his people, whose liberty he ought carefully to have 
preserved.  What he adds, into the power and dominion of a 

foreign nation, signifies nothing, the fault and forfeiture lying 
in the loss of their liberty, which he ought to have preserved, 
and not in any distinction of the persons to whose dominion they 
were subjected.  The peoples right is equally invaded, and their 
liberty lost, whether they are made slaves to any of their own, 
or a foreign nation; and in this lies the injury, and against 
this only have they the right of defence.  And there are 
instances to be found in all countries, which shew, that it is 
not the change of nations in the persons of their governors, but 
the change of government, that gives the offence.  Bilson, a 
bishop of our church, and a great stickler for the power and 
prerogative of princes, does, if I mistake not, in his treatise 
of Christian subjection, acknowledge, that princes may forfeit 
their power, and their title to the obedience of their subjects; 
and if there needed authority in a case where reason is so plain, 
I could send my reader to Bracton, Fortescue, and the author of 
the Mirrour, and others, writers that cannot be suspected to be 
ignorant of our government, or enemies to it.  But I thought 
Hooker alone might be enough to satisfy those men, who relying on 
him for their ecclesiastical polity, are by a strange fate 
carried to deny those principles upon which he builds it.   
Whether they are herein made the tools of cunninger workmen, to 
pull down their own fabric, they were best look.  This I am sure, 
their civil policy is so new, so dangerous, and so destructive to 
both rulers and people, that as former ages never could bear the 
broaching of it; so it may be hoped, those to come, redeemed from 
the impositions of these Egyptian under-task-masters, will abhor 
the memory of such servile flatterers, who, whilst it seemed to 
serve their turn, resolved all government into absolute tyranny, 
and would have all men born to, what their mean souls fitted them 
for, slavery.

     Sec. 240.  Here, it is 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?

     Sec. 241.  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, it is 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 leptha 

     Sec. 242.  If a controversy arise betwixt a prince and some 
of the people, in a matter where the law is silent, or doubtful, 
and the thing be of great consequence, I should think the proper 
umpire, in such a case, should be the body of the people: for in 
cases where the prince hath a trust reposed in him, and is 
dispensed from the common ordinary rules of the law; there, if 
any men find themselves aggrieved, and think the prince acts 
contrary to, or beyond that trust, who so proper to judge as the 
body of the people, (who, at first, lodged that trust in him) how 
far they meant it should extend?  But if the prince, or whoever 
they be in the administration, decline that way of determination, 
the appeal then lies no where but to heaven; force between either 
persons, who have no known superior on earth, or which permits no 
appeal to a judge on earth, being properly a state of war, 

wherein the appeal lies only to heaven; and in that state the 
injured party must judge for himself, when he will think fit to 
make use of that appeal, and put himself upon it.

     Sec. 243.  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 common-wealth, 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, 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 
erect a new form, or under the old form place it in new hands, as 
they think good.

                          F I N I S.



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