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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

Cannot be owned but a possessory occupation giving right


The

commands of public justice, to whom are they given but to magistrates? They must then be magistrates, before they can be owned as the ministers of justice: he must be a magistrate, before he can have the power of the sword: he cannot, by the power of the sword, make himself magistrate. 5. That which would make every one in the possession of the magistracy a tyrant, cannot be owned: but a possessory occupation giving right, would make every one in possession a tyrant; for, that which enervates, and takes away that necessary distinction between the king's personal capacity and his legal capacity, his natural and his moral power, will make every king a tyrant (seeing it makes every thing that he can do as a man, to be legally done as a king) but a possessory occupation giving right, would enervate and take away that distinction: for how can these be distinguished in a mere possessory power? The man's possession is all his legal power; and if possession give a right, his power will give legality. 6. What sort or size of possession can be owned to give a right? Either it must be partial or plenary possession: not partial, for then others may be equally entitled to the government, in competition with that partial possessor, having also a part of it: not plenary, for then every interruption or usurpation on a part, would make a dissolution of the government. 7. Hence would follow infinite absurdities; this would give equal warrant, in case of vacancy, to all men to step to, and stickle
for the throne, and expose the commonwealth as a booty to all aspiring spirits: for they needed no more to make them sovereigns, and lay a tie of subjection upon the consciences of people, but to get into possession: and in case of competition, it would leave people still in suspense and uncertainties whom to own; for they behoved to be subject only to the uppermost, which could not be known until the controversy be decided: it would cassate and make void all pre-obligations, cautions, and restrictions from God about the government: it would cancel and make vain all other titles of any, or constitutions, or provisions, or oaths of allegiance: yea, to what purpose were laws or pactions made about ordering the government, if possession gave right, and laid an obligation on all to own it? Yea, then it were sinful to make any such provisions, to fence in and limit the determination of providence, if providential possession may authorize every intrusive acquisition to be owned: then also in case of competition of two equal pretenders to the government, there would be no place left for arbitrations.

If this were true, that he has the power that is in possession, the difference were at an end; no man could plead for his own right then; in this also it is inconsistent with itself, condemning all resistance against the present occupant, yet justifying every resistance that is but successful to give possession. 8. That which would oblige us to own the devil and the pope, cannot be a ground to own any man; but if this were true, that possession gave right, it would oblige us to own the devil and the pope. Satan


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