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.
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.
When Fashion hath once established, what folly or craft began, custom makes it sacred, and it will be thought impudence, or madness, to contradict or question it.
To understand political power right, and derive from it its original, we must consider what estate 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.
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.
The imagination is always restless, and suggests variety of thoughts, and the will, reason being laid aside, is ready for every extravagant project, and in this state, he that goes farthest out the way, is thought fittest to lead, and is sure of most followers: and when fashion hath once established what folly or craft began, custom makes it sacred, and it will be thought impudence, or madness, to contradict or question it. He that will impartially survey the nations of the world, will find so much of the governments, religion, and manners brought in and continued amongst them by these means, that they will have but little reverence for the practices which are in use and credit amongst men.
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 law, where there is no law, there is no freedom.
Slavery is so vile and miserable an Estate of Man, and so directly opposite to the generous Temper and Courage of our Nation; that ’tis hardly to be conceived, that an Englishman, much less a Gentleman, should plead foret.
In transgressing the law of nature, the offender declares himself to live by another rule than that of reason and common equity.