Government is not instituted for the good of the Governor, but of the Governed; and Power is not an Advantage, but a Burden.

THE follies with which our author endeavours to corrupt and trouble the world, seem to proceed from his fundamental mistakes of the ends for which governments are constituted; and from an opinion, that an excessive power is good for the governor, or the diminution of it a prejudice: whereas common sense teaches, and all good men acknowledge, that governments are not set up for the advantage, profit, pleasure or glory of one or a few men, but for the good of the society. For this reason Plato and Aristotle find no more certain way of distinguishing between a lawful king and a tyrant, than that the first seeks to procure the common good, and the other his own pleasure or profit; and doubt not to declare, that he who according to his institution was the first, destroys his own being, and degenerates into the latter, if he deflect from that rule: He that was the best of men, becomes the worst; and the father or shepherd of the people makes himself their enemy. And we may from hence collect, that in all controversies concerning the power of magistrates, we are not to examine what conduces to their profit or glory, but what is good for the publick.

His second error is no less gross and mischievous than the first; and that absolute power to which he would exalt the chief magistrate, would be burdensome, and desperately dangerous if he had it. The highest places are always slippery: Men's eyes dazzle when they are carried up to them; and all falls from them are mortal. Few kings or tyrants, says Juvenal, go down to the grave in peace;[1] and he did not imprudently couple them together, because in his time few or no kings were known who were not tyrants. Dionysius thought no man left a tyranny, till he was drawn out by the heels. But Tacitus says, Nescit quam grave & intolerandum sit cuncta regendi onus.[2] Moses could not bear it: Gideon would not accept of any resemblance of it. The moral sense of Jotham's wise parable is eternal: The bramble coveted the power, which the vine, olive and fig tree refused.[3] The worst and basest of men are ambitious of the highest places, which the best and wisest reject; or if some, who may be otherwise well qualified [...]

[In this place two pages are wanting in the original manuscript.]

[...] as the fittest to be followed by mankind. If these philosophers and divines deserve credit, Nimrod, Ninus, Pharaoh, and the rest of that accursed crew, did not commit such excesses as were condemned by God, and abhorred by good men; but gaining to themselves the glorious character of his vicegerents, left their practices as a perpetual law to all succeeding generations; whereby the world, and every part of it, would be forever exposed to the violence, cruelty and madness of the most wicked men that it should produce. But if these opinions comprehend an extravagancy of wickedness and madness, that was not known among men, till some of these wretches presumed to attempt the increase of that corruption under which mankind groans, by adding fuel to the worst of all vices; we may safely return to our propositions, that God having established no such authority as our author fancies, nations are left to the use of their own judgment, in making provision for their own welfare: That there is no lawful magistrate over any of them, but such as they have set up; that in creating them, they do not seek the advantage of their magistrate, but their own: and having found that an absolute power over a people, is a burden which no man can bear; and that no wise or good man ever desired it; from thence conclude, that it is not good for any to have it, nor just for any to affect it, tho it were personally good for himself; because he is not exalted to seek his own good, but that of the publick.

[1] Sine caede & sanguine pauci/Descendunt reges, & sicca morte tyranni. Juven. Sat. [Juvenal, Satire 10, li. 112.]

[2] [Tacitus, Annals, bk. 1, ch. 11.]

[3] [Judges 9:7-15.]