A BREVIATE FOR THE Members of the Convention.

THE People of this Nation are by Birth a Free People, who are born to a Liberty of Person and Propriety in their Goods and Lands, and there­fore England is rightly called a Free State.

To understand the Government, we must know that these two things are always to be distinguished, the Constitution and the Administration.

The Constitution of a Government does lye in the Original Agreement of the People, which they make between themselves, or with their Governour, or Go­vernours before the Government be set up, whether there be none before, or the former at an end.

When the People are in such a State, while there is no Order of Superiority or Inferiority introduced, it is called a Community: When a Ruler is chose, so that there is a Ruling and Ruled Part, it is a Society, or called a Common-Wealth.

Let us suppose a Company of Families, that having no dependance on one another, nor any one having Power over the other, yet living near each other, do find it convenient to join together into a Society; for mutual Defence against some forreign Enemy, or for the reaping several Advantages, which they shall receive by it. The Heads or Representatives of these Families assemble, to con­sider what is to be done in order to these Ends. Three things more especially they must consult upon. What Government (as to the sort or kind) is best for them? Who shall be Governour or Governours? And by what Laws or Rules they shall Govern who are entrusted with the Supreme Power? And more particularly, in relation to what measure of it, they will allow them, to have over their Per­sons and Estates, to use them as they have occasion, for the Publick Good. For when they are yet Free in Both, the Governour can have power so far, but no farther than they at first Consent. Whatsoever Reservations of Liberty the People make in their Agreement, these are to be look'd upon as their Rights by the Laws of the Constitution, and Essential thereunto, and consequently inviolable by any of these Governours whom they set up for the Administration; the very Laws of the Administration being void, so far as they interfere with any of those of the Constitution.

The Constitution and Laws thereof being agreed upon, and it being impossible for humane Prudence to foresee all Accidents, which must be provided for there­fore as they arise, the Administration necessarily must lye in these two things. The making farther Laws (subordinate still to those foreprized) as occasion re­quires, [Page 2]and seeing them Executed, that is, in Legislation and Judgment. The one is the Business of the Supreme Authority, the other of the Inferiour Magi­strates, or Officers, and Executioners of the same, according to that Fundamental Agreement made by the People.

Our Government now as Constituted in order to this Administration, is, we know, a Mixt Government. A Government is known to be pure or mixt by the placing the Supreme Authority. If the People place it singly in the King, or singly in the Nobles, or singly in the People, then it is a pure Monarchy, Aristocracy, or Democracy: But when it is placed in all Three, then it is a Mixt Government, as Ours is, where there are no Laws in the Administration ever made but by King, Lords, and Commons.

These things I pursue only so far as is necessary to the reaching my main pur­pose; and the leading me to a right Discernment of the present Condition, into which wee are now brought, in regard to this said Government.

The Supreme Power of the Nation being placed in a Parliament, which is a Cor­poration of King, Lords, and Commons, that is, The Supreme Authority residing in King, Lords, and Commons, as one Corporation, there does appear, at this Conjun­cture, a Dissolution of the Government. This Appearance does arise from the opening of the last Scene. For the King being now gone, gone from his People, and departing from his Government, that one Corporation (we speak of) is broke, so that there remains now no subject for that supreme Authority; It being evident that a Parliament, wherein an Essential Point of our Constitution does consist, can­not now be assembled: And the Providence of GOD it self hath extraordina­rily determined our Case. If a King dies, he hath a Successor, and the Right de­volves upon him; but whilst the King lives, he hath no Successor, and the Right remaining in him and no other, and he being divided from his Lords and Com­mons, the Subject of the supreme Power, or this one Corporation (whereof the King is a Chief, Essential, and Constituent Part) does perfectly cease, and must necessarily cause a Dissolution.

I choose not to found this upon what does rather convince others, which comes to this Account. The King by his frequent Malversation in the Government, and rooted Design of subverting our Religious and Civil Rights, for the Introduction of Arbitrary Power and Popery, which being aggravated by such an Endeavour, as the destroying that share in the Government which every Commoner hath, that hath Right to choose his Representative in Parliament, by his Garbling Corporations, and so evacuating this Liberty in effect; and by such an Endeavour also as the extermi­nating his Protestant Subjects, seeing that Religion which he would have introduced, is such, as by the Principles of it, if it comes into Domination, must do so to all Hereticks, and thereupon may he be look'd on no longer as Rex, but Hostis, and Hostis Publicus: Besides, the subjecting us to a Forreign Jurisdiction, and the very Changing the Government, by that indefinite Dispensing Power over the Laws, as was carved to him by his Judges, from Regal to Despotical: it is judged by them, that he is fallen thereupon from his Royal Dignity, and that the Ʋniversality thereby have Warrant, not only to defend themselves against him, but by Vertue of that Sanction which is tacitly implyed in the Laws of the Constitution, to proceed on to take the Forfeiture he hath made of his Government, and Depose him: For it is a fond thing (think they) to imagine any Laws without a Sanction, and impossible there should be any other Sanction in Treatys between Free Nations, or between a Free People, and the Governours they set over themselves, than Force, to be used by the Partyes concern'd, there being no Third Party on earth, to appeal to, in such Cases.

However this be, it being taken for granted, that the Goverment is dissolved, [Page 3]and I suppose upon that preceding Account, of the one Corporation (I say) being broke, the supreme Authority that lay before in the Three as united in One, does escheat, or fall to the Community; who must therefore choose a new Subject for that Power, and it lyes at their Discretion to place it in what Subject they please; They may lodge it in the Lords and Commons alone without a King, if they think that Government best, the matter lyes altogether upon their Agreement, and Consent. I suppose it most likely that they will agree to place it again in a Monarch, Lords, and Commons (the Person only left at Choice, and Care had to prevent all Dan­ger of Law in the case) according to the Ancient Constitution Though who [...] know the Mind of a Nation, when an [...] come together, if he knows his own Mind?

There is one thing we have now Opportunity to obtain, which we can never recover again, if it be lost, and that is, what His Highness the Prince of Orange hath made one of his two Designs, The Delivery of the People from Slavery, which can never be done effectually, and radically, but upon this Advantage. The Delivering us from Popery, is contained in the Setling our Religion, and that being a Work of great length, is the business more properly of a Parliament; but this is a thing must be done by the Community, and consequently by those that are the Representatives of it, a Convention, so Called, (in regard to a Higher Capa­city hereunto) and not a Parliament; for that represents the People, not as in a Community, but as in a Common-wealth where there is pars imperans as well as sub­dita, which now is not. A Parliament makes Laws for the Administration, but the People, as in a Community, make Laws for the Constitution.

I would therefore humbly offer it to the Consideration of those who shall meet as Members of this Convention, that, in order to the effect premised, they do but agree and pitch upon this one certain Point of good Polity, that wheresoever they place the supreme Authority, they do lay also the Rights or Propertyes of it, that is, the Jura Majestatis (Majes [...] being ma [...]a Potestas) all together.

The Rights of Majesty, or of the supreme Power, are mainly thes [...]. The [...]ir [...] is Legislation, or making Laws, and this undoubtedly lyes in a Parliament. The next, is the Power of raising Arms, or Armyes, or the Militia, the Power of making Peace and War, or the Power of the Sword, which is necessary to main­tain those Laws. The Third, is a Power over our Estates, or the Purse, or raising Money, which must maintain the Sword. A Fourth, is the Power of choosing Ma­gistrates, to rule us according to these Laws, such as Judges and Sheriffs, to name no other. A Fifth, is the last Appeal. Now let but the Power of the Militia, and choosing Magistrates, be laid where Legislation is, and we shall be fundamentally de­livered from all Slavery for ever in the Nation.

It we be Enslaved or oppressed by any Prince for the time to come, it must be either by Force, or by Injustice. We cannot be oppressed by Force, because no Forces then can be raised by him, but by a Parliament. He cannot rule by an Army, or by Violence, for the Militia is in the Lords and Commons, as well as in him, and they will not let him do so: We cannot be oppressed with Injustice, for the Judges and Officers entrusted with the Execution of Justice, shall be Chosen also by them, and they will look to that.

It is true, while no Parliament sits, the King by Vertue of the Executive power lying in him, may raise Arms, and put in Officers and Magistrates as there is need, but both these are to be done under the Controul of the next Parliament, which are therefore to sit often by ancient Statutes, there being no War to be levied, nor Magistrates Confirmed without their Approbation.

Let us remember the State we are in, a State that puts the supreme power in the [Page 4] hands of the People, to place it as they will, and therefore to bound and limit it as they see fit, for the publick Utility; and if they do it not now, the Ages to come will have occasion to blame them for ever. When the supreme Power is upon the dis­posing, if they do not take this Item, as part of their proper Work, To bind the descent of it to a Protestant, I shall blame them: But I shall do so much more, if after the danger we have been in of Arbitrary Domination and Popery, by the King's raising Arms, and putting in and out of Judges at his own pleasure, they do not take more care of the supreme Power, to lay it and its Rights better toge­ther. Especially, seeing nothing can i [...]deed be that in nature, which it is, with­out its Properties. This is uniform ( [...] must persist) to the nature of Government, that where the supreme Authority is, there must be its Prerogatives, and where the chief or principal Rights of it is, there should all the rest which depend upon, and belong to it, be placed also; Where Legislation is lodged, there should the Mi­litia, there should the power of making Judges, to name nothing more than serves my turn, be lodged also. It is this hath been the great Declension, Fault, or De­fect of our English Common-wealth, that the People have suffered these Rights of Soveraignty to come to be divided, arising, we must conceive, from the Administra­tion, that is Mal Administration, as appears, for Example, in the Militia, which upon the fresh coming in of the late King, was indeed, in two or three hot Acts de­clared to be, and ever to have been in the King; when both the Assertion was gross Flattery, and such Acts void, as fundamentally repugnant with the Consti­tution.

There is one difficulty to be thought on, and that is the Negative Voice of the Prince in his Parliament. The Lords and Commons may agree upon some Law for the Publick Benefit, and the King alone may refuse to pass it. If he be obstinate, this is a great evil, and might really make one think it would be better therefore to place the supreme power in Lords and Commons only without a Controuler, for the preventing this Inconvenience: Bren there will be no need of Change upon that account, for the King sometimes may see more than both his Houses: And forasmuch as this Prerogative of his hath been disputed, and deny'd by many Ju­dicious Men, who have pleaded the Obligation of former Princes to confirm those Laws, quas Vulgus elegerit, it is to be hoped that the Wisdom of the Nation will be able to find out some Expedient or Salve for this difficulty, and for more than that also: So long as they have the Golden Opportunity, to bring a Crown in one hand, with their Terms or Conditions in the other.

As for the several Grievances that need Redress, and many good things that are wanting to compleat the Happiness of our Kingdom, there may be some Founda­tions laid happily, or Preparations made in order thereunto, by this Convention; but as belonging to the Administration, and being Matters of long Debate, they are the Work more properly of an Ensuing Parliament. Only let not the Mem­bers of this present Great Assembly forget, that they having so unlimited a Power, and the Nation such an Opportunity, which, as the Secular Games, they are never like to see but once, they are more strictly therefore bound in Conscience and in Duty to their Country, to neglect no kind of thing which they judge absolutely ne­cessary to the publick Good. I care not if I commend three or four such Particulars to Consultation, which shall be these. A Regulation of Westminster-Hall. A Register of Estates. A Freedom from Persecution, (by a Bill for Comprehension and Indulgence) in the Business of Religion. A Redemption of the Chimney-Money, which bringing in the King to be Lord of every mans House, is against Property, and an Over-ballance in the Revenue, is against the Interest of the Nation.


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