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their representatives, should have a voice in the enactment of these laws; that mild and moderate laws should be invested with energy; that the life, liberty, and property of no man should be infringed upon, except by process of law; that every man who respects and obeys the laws has a right to protection and support ; and that all that is valuable in civil institutions rests on the intelligence and virtue of the people. Such, as far as I am acquainted with them, are the great principles of civil liberty and a free government, let the form of that government be what it may. It may be monarchical or republican; its constitution may be written or unwritten; but wherever the duties of magistrates and subjects are prescribed and defined, and their rights protected by the preceding principles, a people may be said to be free.
There never has been any such thing as true freedom among those who were ignorant of the word of God. The great mass of men from the more early ages of the world to the present time, have been controlled by mere arbitrary power. They have known very little of exemption from the arbitrary will of others. In many countries, this exemption has indeed been secured by established laws, and has had the semblance of salutary restraint; while the laws themselves have been lawless and arbitrary; at one time extravagantly severe, and at another extravagantly indulgent, and the mere expression of individual fickleness and authority.
There are few profane historians, with the exception of Herodotus and Thucydides, who give any account of the world earlier than Alexander, that can be relied upon. From that time downwards, the history of nations becomes more clear, just, and authentic; but from that time upwards, the Bible is the only source of authentic information. There was a general dispersion of mankind into various parts of the world, as early as the days of Peleg, and probably just before the death of Noah, and under his direction. Eusebius and Winder give some very plausible reasons, to say the least, for this opinion. The dispersion was completed at the tower of Babel, when the posterity of Ham, who, under the direction of Nimrod had wrested the plains of Babylon from the descendants of Shem, were scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. The beginning of Nimrod's kingdom was Babel. And the Bible informs us what : despot he was; everywhere instigating war and bloodshed, laying the nations under tribute, and transmitting his despotic and warlike power from generation to generation, till the Egyptians drove his descendants into Canaan, and Joshua drove them into Greece. Ninus inherited the tyranny of his father; and the whole history of the Assyrian empire from the days of Ninus to its overthrow by the Babylonians and the Medes, is a history of the most absolute despotism. Such also was the character of the Babylonian empire from the revolt of Nebopolassar to its destruction by Cyrus. Egypt and Persia also were equally strangers to civil liberty. And with some partial restrictions, by which the authority of the former was controlled by established customs, and that of the latter by the senate, such was the character of imperial Greece and Rome. The republics of Greece and Rome were comparatively free; though their freedom was far from being founded upon a correct understanding of the rights of man. I do not know that there is in antiquity a single example of a free state, in which the people have exerted any due influence upon the government until you come to the Jewish republic. When I cast my eyes over the earth at the present day, I cannot fix them on a single Pagan, Mahommedan, or Antichristian country, where the genius of liberty has a dwelling place. She may at times have hovered over them, like the dove over the waste of waters, but like her, has found no rest for the sole of her foot.
The Bible is the great protector and guardian of the liberties of men. It is the true basis, and the only basis of the temple of freedom. It is the necessary result of an acquaintance with the word of God that a people should be restive under a tyrant's yoke, and sooner or later break from their chains. It is a maxim in the Romish Church, that “ignorance is the mother of devotion;" but the true origin of this aphorism is, that ignorance rivets the chains of civil as well as ecclesiastical power. It were impossible for a people to be ignorant of their own rights, or the responsibilities of their rulers, who are deeply and honestly imbued with the principles of the Bible. Where the Bible forms public opinion, a nation must be free. Who does not see that such a tyrant as Nero, or Caligula ; or such a wretch as Henry VIII. of England, or Charles IX. of France, or popes Julius II. or Alexander IV. would not be tolerated in Protestant Christendom for an hour? The reason is, men read and understand the Bible. Moral and religious knowledge is everywhere circulated, and men can no more submit to chains in a Christian land, than they can be suffocated while they live and breathe a vital atmosphere.
Considering the age of the world in which the Jewish code was established, and how little the doctrine of personal rights was understood in the world generally, is it not somewhat remarkable that the laws of Moses were so decidedly the friend of civil liberty? I have taken some pains to examine some of the most instructive writers, for the purpose of ascertaining whether the beau-ideal of a free government were not realized in the Hebrew state. And I confess I have been not a little delighted and surprised. I know not where to look for any single work which is so full of the great principles of political wisdom as the laws of Moses and the history of the Kings of Judah and Israel. There are not to my knowledge any where to be found such abundant and effective illustrations of these great principles, as are found in the laws and history of this people. Notwithstanding their recent servitude to a foreign and despotic prince, and though just entering upon a tedious pilgrimage in the deserts of Arabia, they adopted a regular form of government. It was a government which lasted almost half a century before they came to their promised land; and which, when they were ultimately settled in that land, remained for a series of years undisturbed, and enabled them to maintain their independence throughout all the varieties of their national history. And yet, with the exception of the writ of habeas corpus, a privilege not required under their government, because it did not allow of imprisonment, I do not know that there is a single feature of a free state, but is here distinctly developed. They were a people remarkably well acquainted with their rights and form of government. One reason, no doubt, why God left them wandering forty years in the desert of Arabia, was that the various parts of their political machinery might be arranged and adjusted, and well understood among themselves, before they took possession of the promised land. And it was thus arranged and understood, and proved itself not less adapted to their prosperity, than their adversity; to their final settlement in Palestine, than to their pilgrimage in the wilderness. Though rich in resources, and powerful in arms, they were free. Though holding, as they did in the time of David and Solomon, the balance of power between the two great monarchies of Egypt and Assyria, and giving law to all the petty kingdoms between the Euphrates and the Mediterranean, they remained a free people. They were free in choosing their own form of government; free in the enactment of their laws; free in that “the laws governed and not men." The superior excellence of the Mosaic institutions, when compared with the institutions of the most celebrated pagan nations, is strikingly displayed in their attachment to the cause of freedom. They were founded on a sound knowledge of human nature, and such as the art and science of government rest upon every where. There was every security for the preservation of social order which could be imparted on the one hand by a veneration for power, and on the other by a high sense of personal independence and individual right.
The form of government established by Moses was republican ; though, with salutary restrictions, the people were at liberty to change it when they desired. It consisted of twelve great tribes; each under its own leader constituting a little commonwealth, while all were united in one great republic. They were a nation of confederated states, bound together for the purposes of defence and conquest. Their government was more nearly assimilated to that of the Cantons of Switzerland, and the Confederated States of our own Union, than any other government. It bore some resemblance to that of the ancient Gauls or Celtæ; and still more to that of the ancient Britons, except that the Gauls and Britons had no federative bond. During the commonwealth, they chose and accepted God as