Sunday, February 26, 2012

Liberty, Part XL

Algernon Sydney, continued:

“[T]he law, which being, as I said before, Sanctio Recta, must be founded upon that eternal principle of reason and truth, from whence the rule of justice which is sacred and pure ought to be deduced, and not from the depraved will of man, which fluctuating according to the different interests, humours, and passions that at several times reign in several nations, one day abrogates what had been enacted the other. The sanction therefore that deserves the name of a law, ‘which derives not its excellency from antiquity, or from the dignity of legislators, but from an intrinsic equity and justice’ ought to be made in pursuance of that universal reason to which all nations at all times owe an equal veneration and obedience.”


“The usurpation of them can be no less than the most abominable and outrageous violation of the laws of nature that can be imagined: the laws of God must be in the like measure broken; and of all governments, democracy, in which every man’s liberty is least restrained, because every man hath an equal part, would certainly prove to be the most just, rational, and natural; whereas our author represents it as a perpetual spring of disorder, confusion, and vice.”


“He that inquires more exactly into the matter may find, that reason injoins every man not to arrogate to himself more than he allows to others, nor to retain that liberty which will prove hurtful to him; or to expect that others will suffer themselves to be restrained, whilst he, to their prejudice, remains in the exercise of that freedom which nature allows. He who would be exempted from this common rule, must shew for what reason he should be raised above his brethren; and, if he do not, he is an enemy to them.”

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