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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

That though we cannot formally exauctorate a tyrant


1.

To begin at home, besides many passages related already for confirmation, we may add, (1.) That for about 1025 years, the people had in their choice whom to own, or admit to succeed in the government, 'Even though the kingdom was hereditary; and used to elect, not such who were nearest in blood and line, but these that were judged most fit in government, being of the same progeny of Fergus,' Buchanan's History of Scotland, book vi. pag. 195. in the life of Kenneth III. This continued until the days of Kenneth III. who to cover his villainous murder of his brother's son Malcolm, and prevent his, and secure his own son's succession, procured this charter for tyranny, the settlement of the succession of the next in line from the parliament: which, as it pretended the prevention of many inconveniencies, arising from contentions and competitions about the succession; so it was limited by laws, precluding the succession of fools or monsters, and preserving the people's liberty to shake off the yoke when tyranny should thereby be introduced: otherwise it would have been not only an irrational surrender of all their own rights, and enslaving the posterity, but an irreligious contempt of providence, refuting and anticipating its determination in such a case. However it is clear, before this time, that as none but the fittest were admitted to the government; so if any did usurp upon it, or afterwards did degenerate into tyranny, they took such order with him, as if he had not been admitted
at all; as is clear in the instances of the first period, and would never own every pretender to hereditary succession. (2.) As before Kenneth's days, it is hard to reckon the numerous instances of kings that were dethroned, or imprisoned, or slain, upon no other account than that of their oppression and tyranny; so afterwards they maintained the same power and privilege of repressing them, when ever they began to encroach. And although no nation hath been more patient towards bad kings, as well as loyal towards good ones; yet, in all former times, they understood so well the right they had, and the duty they owed to their own preservation, as that they seldom failed of calling the exorbitantly flagitious to an account. And albeit, instead of condoling or avenging the death of the tyrannous, they have often both excused and justified it, yet no kingdom hath inflicted severer punishments upon the murders of just and righteous princes: and therefore, though they did neither enquire after, nor animadvert upon those that slew James III. a flagitious tyrant, yet they did, by most exquisite torments, put them to death who slew James the I. a virtuous monarch. Hence, because these and other instances I mind to adduce of deposing tyrants, may be excepted against, as not pertinent to my purpose, who am not pleading for exauctoration and deposition of tyrants, being impracticable in our case: I shall once for all remove that, and desire it may be considered, (1.) That though we cannot formally exauctorate a tyrant; yet he may, by law itself, fall from his right, and may exauctorate himself, by his laws by whom kings reign; and this is all we plead for as a foundation of not owning him. (2.) Though we have not the same power, yet we have the same grounds, and as great and good, if not greater and better reasons to reject and disown our tyrant, as they, whose example is here adduced, had to depose of their tyrannizing princes. (3.) If they had power and ground to depose them, then a fortiori, they had power and ground to disown them; for that is less, and included in the other, and this we have. (4.) Though it should be granted, that they did not disown them before they were deposed; yet it cannot be said that they did disown them only because they were deposed: for it is not deposition that makes a tyrant; it only declares him to be justly punished


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