Chief Justice of the Government of NEW-CASTLE, KENT and SUSSEX upon DELAWARE:

Delivered from the BENCH to the GRAND-JURY of the County of New-Castle, Nov. 21. 1741; and now pub­lished at their Request.

PHILADELPHIA: Printed and sold by B. FRANKLIN.


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Gentlemen of the GRAND-JURY,

IT is with Pleasure I see, at this time, a Grand-Jury that I am convinced do not re­quire much to be said to them, to instruct them in their Duty, or the Occasion of their being called here: However, Custom makes it ne­cessary that something should be said to you from the Bench: I hope therefore you will give me your Patience, if, instead of confining myself to Sub­jects that relate more immediately to your Office as a Grand Jury, I take up some Part of your Time in treating of a Mat­ter of more general Use, and of the greatest Importance to the Publick Safety; the LAWFULNESS OF DEFENCE against an armed Enemy.

IT may, perhaps, at first View, seem strange that there should be any Occasion to prove a Thing in its own Nature so evident: But whoever reflects, that this very Point has taken up a considerable Part of the publick Debates in a neighbouring Government; to which we are nearly related, and what a Number of Abettors the Assertors of the Unlawfulness of all kind of Defence have sound, will be less surprized at it. For my own Part, I look upon this Doctrine not only to be with­out Warrant or Colour, either from Reason or Revelation; but in its Consequences pernicious to Society, and intirely in­consistent with, and destructive of all civil Government. But as Opinions, otherwise than as they are supported by Reason, ought to be but of little Authority; I will endeavour to discuss this Point fairly, and to set the Matter in a true Light. First, By shewing how the Case stood under the Law of Nature. [Page 4] Secondly, That no Religion whatsoever, founded upon any pre­tended supernatural Revelation of the Will of GOD, can be true, that is inconsistent with or repugnant to the Law of Nature: And Thirdly, I propose to examine some of the principal Au­thorities from Holy Writ, which the Patrons and Assertors of the Unlawfulness of Defence, under the Gospel-Dispensation, have adduced to prove their Point; and to shew that these Authorities are so far from supporting their Doctrine, that they are either quite foreign to the Case, or that they militate directly against the Adducers of them.

SOME Men of great Learning and Knowledge have amused themselves and the World, with endeavouring to discover what great End the Supream Being proposed to himself in the Creation of the World, and of Mankind in particular; and have formed various Conjectures about it. Certain, however, it is, that an Addition to His own Happiness could not be the Motive; because He must necessarily have been infinitely happy from all Eternity. And it is no less certain, that such a Being, as we all understand GOD to be, a Being of infinite Goodness and Benevolence, could not possibly intend the Misery and Unhappiness of a Number of rational Creatures, by him­self to be brought into Existence out of nothing: On the con­trary, no other End than the Happiness of Mankind in their Creation, can consist with the natural Notions we entertain of GOD. If then it be admitted, that GOD created them with a View to their own Happiness, it must necessarily follow, that he afforded them the Means of acquiring such a Degree of it as he intended them, and as was suitable to their Circumstances in the World wherein he had placed them. Accordingly, we find the great Author of our Being has so fashioned and contrived us, that a Desire of Happiness, which is of so much Importance to us and the End of our Creation, is made the very first Principle, or Law of our Natures. And it is reasonable to suppose, that in a State of Nature the first Things upon which Men cast their Thoughts, were the procuring Food to satisfy the Cravings of Appetite, Raiment and Houses to shelter them from the Injury and Inclemency of the Seasons, with such other Conveniences of Life as concerned their immediate Preservation and Comfort. But, alas! Experience must very soon have taught them, that these Things were vastly insufficient for their com­pleat Happiness; and that, were they to stop there, they would fall infinitely short of the End. Life and Liberty, the imme­diate Gifts of GOD, were common to all Men; and every Man had a natural Title to an uncontrouled Enjoyment of them, and, consequently, a Right to preserve and de [...]end them [Page 5] from the Injuries and Attempts of others, as they concern'd his Happiness: And what is called Estate, or Property, was as absolutely essential to humane Happiness as even Life or Liberty; and therefore some Means of securing and preserving Life and Liberty, and what every Individual had purchased and made his own, by his Labour and Sweat of his Brows, were in­dispensibly necessary. If, indeed, all Men, from the Beginning, had acted up to the genuine Law of Nature, and had done what was perfectly right, all other Provisions or Laws would have been useless. But instead of this, in the Order of Time, a Spirit of Rapaciousness and Corruption appeared in the World; and some, by a fatal Mistake, endeavoured to find their own private Advantages and Happiness, by making a Prey of the Lives, Liberties and Properties of others, by Violence and a strong Hand. And it is more than probable, that Men in a State of Nature, before they had incorporated themselves into political Societies, must have suffered much, as the more Inno­cent and Weak were exposed to the Insults and Invasions of the more rapacious and strong; and more especially, as it was no easy Matter for interested Persons, destitute of any other Rule than Moral Rectitude for the Determining Right and Wrong, to decide Disputes about Property and Jurisdiction. The na­tural Desire then of Happiness, and that Principle of Self-Pre­servation, common to all Men, must first have inspired them, for their common Protection and Safety, with Notions of Compacts, of Laws, and of Government, as absolutely necessary, and with­out which it was impossible for them to be happy in any Degree.

NOW the Difference between Men in a State of Nature, and their being incorporated into political Societies, consists in this: That in a State of Nature there being no common Judge to whom Men could appeal, every Man had a Right to judge of and to punish Offences committed against him, according as the Heinousness of the Facts, in his Opinion, deserv'd: But in the other Case, having given up that natural Right of private Judgment into the Hands of the Community, he resorts to the Community, when he thinks he is injured, as to a common Judge or Umpire, and submits his Cause to be determined by the established Rules of the Society for deciding Controversies between the Members of it, indifferently. But Societies them­selves, with regard to one another, having no common Judge between them to whom they can appeal, may be properly said to be in a State of Nature, and to retain that Right of private Judgment, that every single Man naturally had, to repel and punish Injuries committed against them. And it would be exceedingly ridiculous to suppose, that a Number of Men, [Page 6] formed and united into a political Society for their common Safety and Happiness, should thereby lose any Part of that na­tural Right, of preserving and defending themselves from a fo­reign Enemy, that every Individual had before such Union.

IF then Men must have been miserable without the Aid of Government and civil Society; the Preservation and Defence of that Government or Society must necessarily have been right by the Law of Nature, and consequently agreeable to the Will of GOD, who was the Author of that Law, and had given Men no other general Rule. Let us then consider in what Manner any political Society can possibly be affected, so as to make any kind of Defence necessary for its Preservation. And it cannot possibly happen but one of these two Ways, to wit, either from some of the Members of the Society con­spiring against it, and acting contrary to the Laws and funda­mental Constitution of it; or from some foreign Enemy, by Force of Arms. It will be rea [...] yielded, by those that oppose the Lawfulness of Arms, that R [...]b [...]l [...] and Traitors ought to be punished according to the utmost R [...]gour of the Laws they violate, because they themselves are Parties to those Laws, and bound to the Observance of them by their own Compacts. But what is to be done in case of a foreign Enemy, seeing here is no Compact? I know of no Alternative, but the Relying upon Prayers and Tears, or resisting by Force. And if the Aid of Prayers and Tears may be relied on in such Cases, they may be depended on against Rebels and Traitors, and in all other Cases, and consequently all Government is useless. But the Usefulness and Necessity of Government has been already shewn, as also the Right of preserving it: And if Force is at all necessary or lawful, no Medium can possibly be assigned between the least and the greatest Degree of it; and there is no Way to resist an Army but by an Army, nor to repel Force but by Force. I believe it will hardly be insisted on, that an Indictment against the General and Principal Officers of an invading Army, would be any Security at all; and any Attempt of that Sort would serve only to be laugh'd at, and to be a standing Jest amongst the Rest of Mankind. If then Govern­ment is essential to human Happiness, as has been seen; if the Preservation of Government is equally essential; and if Force is necessary to the Preservation of Government; it very clearly follows, that War was lawful by the Law of Nature; because if it were otherwise, Men would be denied the Liberty of using the Means necessary to that Happiness which GOD designed them, and which was the End of their Creation; which would be absurd.

[Page 7]AS I have mentioned the Law of Nature to you, and have proposed to shew, that no Religion, founded upon any pretended supernatural Revelation of GOD's Will, can be true, that is repugnant to the Law of Nature; it will be proper to explain to you what I mean by it. By the Law of Nature then, is meant the Law of Reason, or in other Words, it is such a Rule for the Doing what is fit and proper for rational Crea­tures to do as they are capable of discovering by the right Use of their natural Faculties, unassisted by supernatural Revelation. This Law of Reason is the general Law of our Natures, and claims GOD for its Author; and therefore may, with the greatest Truth and Propriety, be called the Law of GOD Him­self. And as GOD is infinitely wise and good, it would be down­right Blasphemy to say, or to suppose, that he would give Men a Rule for their Conduct that was not adequate to the End for which he gave it; or that a Conformity of human Actions to this general Law of GOD, would not justify Men in his Sight; and much more to say, it would displease him. Whatsoever therefore was right, whatsoever was fit, whatsoever was lawful for Men to do, in order to procure Happiness, under the Law of Nature, must have been eternally so, as being founded in the very Nature and Reason of Things: And whatsoever is right, fit and lawful from the Nature and Reason of Things, must necessarily continue to be right, fit and lawful to all Eternity. GOD is the same to Day, Yesterday and forever: In him is no Change or Variableness at all; but his Ways are constant and uniform. Hence it most evidently follows, that any Re­ligion, or any Part of a Religion, that is pretended to be built upon a supernatural Discovery of GOD's Will, cannot possibly be true, that is inconsistent with, or repugnant to the primary Law of GOD, or Law of Nature, which is the same Thing; because it would imply Imperfection, Change and Variableness in GOD, which are contrary to his very Nature. For In­stance; the Practice of Morality is of eternal Obligation; and Part of the Law of Nature, and is so absolutely essential to Man's Happiness, that without it he cannot possibly be happy in any Degree: Justice, Benevolence and Gratitude are moral Virtues: Now, suppose it possible that any Person having a Power, or appearing to have Power, to work the most stupen­dous Miracles, should pretend an Authority from GOD to teach Mankind, that the Exercise of Justice, Benevolence and Gratitude was wrong and displeasing to GOD; would such a Person deserve any Credit? And would not all wise and good Men conclude him to be either a Devil or an Impostor? Surely the would! And the Reason is plain, because such Doctrine is diametrically opposite to right Reason, and contrary to our [Page 8] natural Notions of GOD. Now as Government and political Society have been clearly shewn, from the very Nature and Reason of Things, to be essentially necessary to human Happi­ness; that the Preservation of Society is no less essential; and that Force is requisite to that Preservation; If any Man, or even an Angel from Heaven, should pretend an Authority from GOD to pronounce all kind of Defence to be unlawful, he ought to be rejected as a Liar and an Impostor. Those there­fore that pretend to make out from the Bible, that War, in every Shape, is forbidden under the Gospel-Dispensation, will infallibly prove the Bible itself to be wrong, or themselves to be very wrong Interpreters of it.

LET none, from this Manner of speaking, imagine that I intend to insinuate any thing to the Prejudice or Discredit of the sacred Writings, or to cast any Imputations upon the Bible: Far, very far, be that from my Thoughts. On the contrary, though I do insist that the Bible would be no Warrant, nor ought to be of any Authority to sup­port a Doctrine inconsistent with human Happiness, by prohibiting the necessary Means leading to it; yet, I do like­wise assert, that it cannot justly be impeached with any thing of this Nature. And I hope I shall be able clearly to make out, to your Satisfaction, that there is not the least Colour of Authority from the Scriptures, to prove that a just and necessary War is forbidden to Christians; but that those Texts of Scrip­ture that are commonly made use of by those who deny the Lawfulness of Self-Defence to Christians, are either misunder­stood or grosly perverted by them. It would detain you too long, Gentlemen, were I to examine and consider all the Parts of Scripture that have been frequently cited upon this Occasion. I shall therefore select some of the principal Texts that I find quoted by an Author of very great Note * and some others on the same Side of the Question, and endeavour to shew that they carry no such Interpretation as these People pretend.

THOSE Parts of Scripture that are alledged as Authorities in this Case, are said to be either Prophesies, importing an en­tire Cessation of War under the Gospel; positive Precepts, forbidding the Use of the Sword to Christians; or general Precepts, that prove War to be incompatible with Christianity, and opposite to the Temper and Spirit of the Gospel. To the first of these, the famous Prophesies in the Books of Isaiah and Micah are constantly cited, and great Stress has been laid thereon. In order therefore to the clear Understanding this Prophesy, I [Page 9] will trouble you with the Passage at large, which runs thus: And it shall come to pass in the last Days, that the Mountain of the Lord's House shall be established in the Top of the Mountains▪ and shall be exalted above the Hills; And all Nations shall flow unto it. And many People shall go and say, Come ye and let us go up to the Mountain of the Lord, to the House of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his Way, and we will walk in his Paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the Law; and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the Nations and shall rebuke many People: And they shall beat their Swords into Plow-shares, and their Spears into Pruning-Hooks; Nation shall not lift up Sword against Nation, neither shall they learn War any more. Oh House of Jacob come ye and let us walk in the Light of the Lord. Happy, happy, oh happy indeed will the World be in the blessed Accomplishment of this Prophesy! The true and genuine Construction of this Passage appears ma­nifestly to be, That in the latter Ages of the World, or in the Fulness of the Gospel-Times, all Nations shall so universally adhere to the Law of GOD, that Righteousness shall be estab­lished in the Earth; every Man shall do what is right and just; none shall injure or violate the Right of his Brother, his Neigh­bour, or his Friend; and in Consequence of this, War will naturally cease and be abolished, as the Effect will naturally vanish when the Cause is taken away; Swords, Spears, and other warlike Implements will become useless Lumber, or in the Language of the Prophet, may be converted into Plow-Shares, and other Implements of Husbandry. Now as no Man can pretend that the Prophesy in this Sense is yet accomplished, but that these happy Days, this glorious Reformation is yet to be expected in GOD's due time, it is certainly a most unnatu­ral Conclusion, to infer, that War, which was lawful in order to repel lawless Force, shall become unlawful before lawless Force is eradicated and extinguished from amongst Men. Let us, for Illustration of this Matter, suppose the Prophets to have said, That in the Fulness of the Gospel-Times the Earth shall spon­taneously pour forth her Increase; Corn, Wine and Oil shall flow without the Hand of the Labourer; Plow-shares and Pruning-hooks shall then become useless; Labour and Toil, the sad Effects of the Fall of Man, shall utterly cease and be no more. Would not that Man, who in the Expectation of the Accomplishment of such a Prophesy, should neglect to cultivate and sow his Field, or to prune his Vineyard, before the promi­sed Time, be in Danger of Starving? And might he not justly be reputed mad by the rest of Mankind? And yet upon no better Foundation do they build, who affirm the Unlawfulness of War, upon the Authority of the before-cited Prophesy.

[Page 10]THE noted Writer before-mentioned urges against the Lawfulness of War, ‘That CHRIST said his Kingdom is not of this World, and therefore that his Servants shall not fight:’ Preposterously inferring, that because CHRIST would not permit his Disciples to fight in a Case wherein Fighting would have been quite improper, that therefore those that fight in any Case are not the Disciples or Servants of CHRIST. I have wonder'd to find the Place here alluded to, so mon­strously tortured and perverted by this Author, and others, contrary to the express Sense and Meaning of it! Our Saviour being questioned by Pilate concerning his being King of the Jews, and of the Offence he had been guilty of towards the Jews, by whom he stood accused, and who had delivered him unto Pilate, answered, My Kingdom is not of this World: If my Kingdom were of this World, then would my Servants fight that I should not be delivered to the Jews: But now is my Kingdom not from hence. The Design of this Decalaration seems to be in order to undeceive the Jews, who entertained gross and partial Conceptions about the End of CHRIST's Coming; and be­liev'd it was to establish an outward Kingdom at Jerusalem, and to restore the House of Israel. But this was not the Case. He came to erect a spiritual Kingdom to be set up in the Hearts of Men, there to bear Rule and Government, to reform a cor­rupt World, and restore Men to their primitive Natures. Here Reason, Persuasion, and such Things as tend to convict the Judgment and inlighten the Understanding, were the pro­per Means, were the only ones used by him. Force would have been absolutely improper, and therefore is disclaimed by him. But he is so far from condemning Force, in all Cases, that he expresly tells Pilate, that were his Kingdom of this World, then should his Servants fight in Defence of his Person. As if he had said, Were my Kingdom a temporal Kingdom, to the Preservation of which Fighting is not only lawful but necessary, my Servants would then have done their Duty, and have fought for me, as the Servants of other temporal Princes do in the like Cases.

THE Apostle saith, That the Weapons of our Warfare are not carnal but spiritual: But says our celebrated Writer, ‘The Weapons of outward Warfare are carnal, such as Cannon, Muskets, Spears, Swords, &c. of which there is no mention in the Armour described by Paul, and thence infers that War is noways lawful to such as will be the Disci­ples of CHRIST. A hopeful Inference truely! Here was a Question about a Matter of Fact; whether the Weapons made use of in the Propagation of CHRIST's Kingdom were carnal [Page 11] or spiritual: The Apostle, who figuratively was a Soldier in CHRIST's Cause, decides the Question, and declares the Weapons were spiritual and not carnal; Ergo, quoth our Author, the Use of carnal Weapons are unlawful to Christians. Is this a fair Conclusion? It is, no doubt, unlawful to propagate Re­ligion by the Sword; but, surely, that does not render the Use of the Sword unlawful in all Cases. It is somewhere said, the same Apostle was a Tent-maker, and if it had been added, that he was not a Shoemaker; the Conclusion that therefore Shoemaking was unlawful, would be equally just, as to infer, that because carnal Weapons were not used by Christian Priests in a Case wherein they could have been of no Service, that therefore it is unlawful to use them in any Case.

THE Apostle James testifies, That Wars and Strifes come from the Lusts which war in the Members of carnal Men: But, says our Author, ‘true Christians have crucified the Flesh with its Affections and Lusts:’ Therefore War is unlawful. How does this Conclusion follow from the Premises? Every kind of Wickedness proceeds from the same Cause here assigned by the Apostle for Wars and Strifes: Does it therefore follow that no Sort of Wickedness is to be resisted or punished? If so, we may shake Hands with all Government: Treasons, Murders, Rapes, and every other Crime, shall go unpunished, seeing they all come from the Lusts that war in the Members of carnal Men. It is not denied but War is a very bad Thing, and brings dreadful Consequences along with it. The same may be said of Law-Suits. But does it therefore follow that an un­just Invasion of our Country, by foreign Enemies, is not to be opposed or resisted; or that we are not to contest an unjust Claim set up against our Estates. In either Case, one Side must be wrong; and it is the Agressor, the Wrong-Doer, that is chargeable with the Consequences, and not those who inno­cently and rightfully defend their Lives or their Properties. And I should be glad to learn from such as infer the Unlaw­fulness of War from this Text, how any other Strife comes to be lawful; and in particular, how they will justify going to Law upon any Pretence whatsoever; for surely it will not be contended, that going to Law is not Strife.

AGAIN, the Apostle saith, That we fight not with Flesh and Blood: But, says our Author, ‘outward War is accord­ing to the Flesh, and against Flesh and Blood: Therefore War is noways lawful to Christians.’ But how fairly is this Consequence drawn? Saint Paul was a Christian Priest, im­ployed to spread and propagate the Gospel; Preaching was his [Page 12] Profession, not War. This being the real Fact, the Apostle mentions it as such. And if he had said, we dispute not about Men's Properties or Estates, which was likewise true, he would thereby as much have condemn'd the Profession of the Law, as he does, in this Place, the Unlawfulness of War.

BUT, it is said, we are commanded not to resist Evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on the one Cheek, to turn the other: And if any Man sue thee at the Law, and take away thy Coat, give him thy Cloak also, &c. Now these Words are either to be taken in a restrained and qualified Sense, or in a literal and unqualified Sense. Let the Advocates for the Unlawfulness of War, upon this Authority, take them either way, and they will find themselves hooked into a Dilemma. If the Words be taken in a qualified Sense, they will not prove the Point contended for: And taken the other Way, they will prove too much; for not only War becomes unlawful, but going to Law in Defence of Property, and all Punishment of Criminals, will be likewise unlawful, which is contrary to their avowed Principles and Practices. For it can never be pretended, that the Hanging a Thief or a Murderer is not resisting of Evil; or, that he that prosecutes another at the Law, for an unjust Violence committed against his Person or Estate, conforms to the literal Sense of the Text. The Truth is, that the Words cited, with all that follow to the End of the Chapter, were spoken by CHRIST to his Disciples only, and seem to be in­tended as Rules to them, for their Conduct and Behaviour, in the Discharge of their Ministry, in order to convert Men to Christianity. But if we admit that they were intended as Lessons to Christians in general, they can import no more than that it is not lawful to revenge Injuries, and that, in many Cases, it is better patiently to bear some Injuries than to seek Redress and Satisfaction by returning them.

WHEN I consider the Abilities of the Author so often quoted, and how great a Master of Reason he appears to be when he has Reason on his Side; and compare therewith his Manner of Defending the Position, ‘That War is unlawful to Christians▪’ I confess, I am tempted to call his Sincerity [...]n Question. His Inferences and Conclusions are certainly un­worthy his great Parts. And his constantly Coupling Revenge and War together, as if they were convertible Terms, seems to [...]e a Piece of Craft, calculated to deceive and mislead the Un­wary. No Christian, I believe, ever doubted that Revenge was unlawful to Christians: but how will it be made out that there can be no War without Revenge? As well may it be [Page 13] said, that putting a Malefactor to Death is Revenge, as that Killing Men, in Defence of our Lives, is so. Nay, it looks more like Revenge to put a Man to Death in cool Blood, after the Fact, than to kill him in the Attempt, in order to prevent him. ‘CHRIST, saith our Author, the Prince of Peace, hath expressly prohibited his Children all Violence.’ Could this Man be ignorant that the Violence here prohibited is an unjust and forceible Attack upon the Rights of others▪ and not the Resisting of such unjust Force? I should be glad to know how Hanging a Murderer or Thief can be done without Vio­lence? And if Violence is la [...]ful after the Fact is committed, I should gladly be informed, by some distinguishing Head, how Violence comes to be unlawful (when all other Means fail) in order to prevent the Mischief.

DOING Good for Evil, Loving our Enemies, and Praying for those that persecute and calumniate us, are, no doubt, Christian Duties: So are Cloathing the Naked and Feeding the Hungry. But, as we are not required to cloath the Naked and feed the Hungry, and want ourselves; so neither are we obliged to strengthen the Hands of an Enemy against ourselves; nor to pray for his Success, when he aims Destruction at our Heads; nor to love him as if he was our Friend. We ought, indeed, to exercise Kindness and Humanity towards our Enemies, when we have them in our Power, and may do it with Security to ourselves; try to win and reclaim them, by Gentleness, For­bearance and Charity, and to pray that GOD may turn their Hearts; which is all that these Precepts require.

I proved to you in the Beginning, Gentlemen, that no super­natural Revelation of GOD's Will, can possibly be contradic­tory or repugnant to Reason, which is the natural Revelation of his Will. I laid it down, as a Ground-Work, that GOD intended our Happiness in our Creation. I have shewn that Government and Political Society are absolutely essential to human Happiness; that the Preservation of Government is equally essential; that Force is necessary to that Preservation, and consequently, that War was allowable under the Law of Nature. And, I think, it is so apparent, from what has been said, that the Scripture cannot be justly impeached with Altering the Law of Nature in this Point; or of having taken away Man's natural Right to seek that Happiness which GOD origi­nally design'd him, by forbidding Christians to defend their Lives and Properties when they are unjustly invaded; that no intelligent Man, who examines it with an impartial, unpreju­diced Mind, can have the least Doubt about it.

[Page 14]IF the Right to use Force is not connected with and insepara­ble from Government, and included in the very Idea of it, I should be glad to know, how the lawful Commands or Mandates of the civil Magistrate can possibly be executed in Case of Disobedience? We see that these very People who assert the Unlawfulness of all Manner of Defence, willingly serve in the Legislature, consent to the Enacting Sanguinary and other Penal Laws, act as Sheriffs, serve upon Juries, sit in Courts of Judicature, and there try and condemn Men to Death. Is it not Amazing, that any Men should take it into their Heads that it is lawful for one Christian forceibly to put another to Death, after his Hands are tied behind him, and yet think it unlawful to bind him by Force, or even to kill him, in his unlawful Resistance? Suppose a Banditti of an Hundred stout, resolute Fellows should assemble together, com­mit Murthers, Rapes, Robberies, destroy and lay waste all be­fore them; what stead do you think the Constables and their Staves would stand you in, in order to subdue so many associated Villains; and more especially, if it be not lawful even for the Constables to make any Use of their Staves in Case of Resistance. If it be said, that a Constable, being an Officer of the Law, may be allowed to make Use of his Staff in Case of Necessity, seeing the Law has put it into his Ilands; I ask why [...]e may not make Use of a Gun, or a Sword, in the like Necessity, put into his Hands by the same Authority. If it be answered, that a Gun or a Sword may kill: I reply, so may a Constable's Staff. And if Constables, or other Officers of the Law, may make Use of Guns and Swords, in Cases of Necessity, I would willingly be informed, why all other Men have not the same Liberty under the like Necessity. In a Word, Gentlemen, to admit the Usefulness of civil Government to Mankind; and yet to advance the Position, that Force and all Manner of Self-Defence is unlawful, is a System full of Inconsistencies, and big with Absurdities and Nonsense.

PERHAPS some may think it strange, that I, who have been educated amongst, and have always profess'd myself to be of the Society of the People called Quakers, should, in this publick Manner, declare myself so opposite to their Sentiments, in the Point of Defence. I would have such to believe, that the Love of my Country, the Love of Mankind in general, but above all, the Love of Truth, is of greater Concernment to me, than what is called Uniformity, or the being so attached to any particular Party in Religion, as to espouse, or seem to espouse, any of the Errors of it. That of the Unlawfulness of Self-Defence to Christians, is, to me, a most capital Error; [Page 15] not only dangerous to Society in general, as I have already said, and inconsistent with the very Nature of civil Communities; but, more particularly, of extream Danger to ourselves, at this critical Conjuncture. His Majesty is already engaged in a just and necessary War with Spain: And a War with France is ge­nerally look'd upon as unavoidable. The Province of Penn­sylvania, and these Counties, are in the very Centre of his Ma­jesty's Colonies in America. The French are settled within a few Days March of our Frontiers to the North-West of us: The Ocean bounds us to the Eastward, and will admit of the Landing of any Number of Men, almost every where. In Case then of War with France, so much to be apprehended; how dismal is our Situation! seeing we are so much exposed on each Side, and of all his Majesty's Colonies in America, are the only ones that are without Troops, without Arms, and without Ammunition: And all this owing to an Opposition in our several Assemblies, made by People whose religious Per­suasion leads them to condemn the Use of Arms in general. Military Provisions can only be made by the Legislature. Our Governor, from a Zeal to his Majesty's Service, and the Secu­rity of such of his Majesty's Subjects as he is by the Royal Authority appointed to protect and govern, has frequently, in vain, warmly recommended this Thing to the Assemblies of both Governments; and has been expressly answered by one of them, ‘that all Defence was, according to the religious Per­suasion of the Majority of their House, unlawful.’ And here I profess myself at a very great Loss, in what Manner to justify, or even excuse, the Conduct of my Brethren. The being really principled against the Lawfulness of Self-Defence, is, in itself innocent, as proceeding from an ill-informed Judgment, and only shews the Unfitness of those who are so principled to be imployed in Legislation. But when such Per­sons, by Plotting and Management, procure themselves to be chosen into the Legislature, at a critical Time, meerly to keep out and tie up the Hands of others, whose religious Principles leave them at Liberty to provide for the Defence of their Coun­try, in Case of a foreign Invasion; it amounts to a negative Persecution, and becomes highly blameable. The General Assembly of these Counties, at the pressing Instance of our Honourable Governor, hath, indeed, very lately pass'd a Mi­litia-Law, in spight of the Opposition made, by those who affirm all War to be unlawful, who happened to be the Mino­rity. This is so far right, as it is Doing all in our Power; but, in Truth, can be of very little Security to us, so long as the Province of Pennsylvania continues unprovided of all Means of Defence; and it must ever continue so unprovided, so long [Page 16] as nine Tenths of the Members of Assembly are such as are persuaded Defence is unlawful. I therefore thought it, Gentle­men, high Time to examine and expose a Doctrine so absurd in itself, and so ruinous in its Consequences. It has been with this View that I have taken up so much of your Time. How well I have succeeded in it, I leave others to judge.

May it please your Honours,

THE Grand-Inquest for the Body of this County return You their Thanks for the Charge de­liver'd to them from the Bench. And as the same is intended for the Benefit of Society, we desire Your Honours will order it to be printed, for the Use of the Publick.

Novemb. 21. 1741.

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