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into Whitehall Chapel, I remained during the service. He is rather above the common height, and bulk greatly exceeding; large legs, walks heavily, manner clumsy ; very large featured, thick lips, wide mouth, high forehead, large nose, eyes not lively; head well covered with hair, which he wears high before.
Dined and passed the day at Capt. Hay's. Mrs. Chapman, with whom these my friends board at Kennington Common, near Vauxhall Gardens, says that the famous Sterne, author of "Tristram Shandy,” “Sentimental Journey," etc., was totally void of the fine feelings of humanity which he so beautifully paints and are characteristic of his writings, which in respect thereto show him to be an original genius; and but ill discharged the various relative duties of life, one instance only excepted, which was an immoderate fondness of an only daughter. As a proof among others, he suffered an aged mother—which but for the proof of it is hardly to be credited—to die in a jail for want of money to discharge a debt of twenty pounds. The public ought to know the character of a writer who so ill in practice exemplified what his pen so justly and beautifully describes. This was told her by a very intimate acquaintance of Sterne, who was personally informed of his whole history.
BORN in Martha's Vineyard, Mass., 1720. Diep in Boston, Mass., 1766.
ON THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF REBELLION.
(A Discourse concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-resistance to the Higher Powers.
be imagined more directly contrary to common sense than to suppose that millions of people should be subjected to the arbitrary, precarious pleasure of one single man,—who has naturally no superiority over them in point of authority,—so that their estates, and everything that is valuable in life, and even their lives also, shall be absolutely at his disposal, if he happens to be wanton and capricious enough to demand them. What unprejudiced man can think that God made all to be thus subservient to the lawless pleasure and frenzy of one, so that it shall always be a sin to resist him? Nothing but the most plain and express revelation from heaven could make a sober, impartial man believe such
a monstrous, unaccountable doctrine; and, indeed, the thing itself appears so shocking, so out of all proportion, that it may be questioned whether all the miracles that ever were wrought could make it credible that this doctrine really came from God. At present there is not the least syllable in Scripture which gives any countenance to it. The hereditary, indefeasible, divine right of kings, and the doctrine of non-resistance, which is built upon the supposition of such a right, are altogether as fabulous and chimerical as transubstantiation, or any of the most absurd reveries of ancient or modern visionaries. These notions are fetched neither from divine revelation nor human reason; and, if they are derived from neither of those sources, it is not much matter from whence they come or whither
We may very safely assert these two things in general, without undermining government: One is, that no civil rulers are to be obeyed when they enjoin things that are inconsistent with the commands of God. All such disobedience is lawful and glorious; particularly if to comply with any legal establishment of religion, because it is a gross perversion and corruption—as to doctrine, worship, and discipline—of a pure and divine religion, brought from heaven to earth by the Son of God,—the only King and Head of the Christian Church,—and propagated through the world by his inspired apostles. All commands running counter to the declared will of the Supreme Legislator of heaven and earth are null and void, and therefore disobedience to them is a duty, not a crime. Another thing that may be asserted with equal truth and safety is, that no government is to be submitted to at the expense of that which is the sole end of all government–the common good and safety of society. Because to submit in this case, if it should ever happen, would evidently be to set up the means as more valuable and above the end, than which there cannot be a greater solecism and contradiction. The only reason of the institution of civil government, and the only rational ground of submission to it, is the common safety and utility. If, therefore, in any case, the common safety and utility would not be promoted by submission to government, but the contrary, there is no ground or motive for obedience and submission, but for the contrary.
Whoever considers the nature of civil government, must indeed be sensible that a great degree of implicit confidence must unavoidably be placed in those that bear rule: this is implied in the very notion of authority's being originally a trust committed by the people to those who are vested with it,—as all just and righteous authority is. All besides is mere lawless force and usurpation; neither God nor nature having given any man a right of dominion over any society independently of that society's approbation and consent to be governed by him. Now, as all men are fallible, it cannot be supposed that the public affairs of any
state should be always administered in the best manner possible, even by persons of the greatest wisdom and integrity. Nor is it sufficient to legitimate disobedience to the higher powers that they are not so administered, or that they are in some instances very ill-managed; for, upon this principle, it is scarcely supposable that any government at all could be supported, or subsist. Such a principle manifestly tends to the dissolution of government, and to throw all things into confusion and anarchy. But it is equally evident, upon the other hand, that those in authority may abuse their trust and power to such a degree, that neither the law of reason nor of religion requires that any obedience or submission should be paid to them; but, on the contrary, that they should be totally discarded, and the authority which they were before vested with transferred to others, who may exercise it more to those good purposes for which it is given. Nor is this principle, that resistance to the higher powers is in some extraordinary cases justifiable, so liable to abuse as many persons seem to apprehend it. For, although there will be always some petulant, querulous men in every state,-men of factious, turbulent, and carping dispositions, glad to lay hold of any trifle to justify and legitimate their caballing against their rulers, and other seditious practices,-yet there are, comparatively speaking, but few men of this contemptible character. It does not appear but that mankind in general have a disposition to be as submissive and passive and tame under government as they ought to be. Witness a great, if not the greatest, part of the known world, who are now groaning, but not murmuring, under the heavy yoke of tyranny! While those who govern do it with any tolerable degree of moderation and justice, and in any good measure act up to their office and character by being public benefactors, the people will generally be easy and peaceable, and be rather inclined to flatter and adore than to insult and resist them. Nor was there ever any general complaint against any administration, which lasted long, but what there was good reason for. Till people find themselves greatly abused and oppressed by their governors, they are not apt to complain; and whenever they do, in fact, find themselves thus abused and oppressed, they must be stupid not to complain. To say that subjects in general are not proper judges when their governors oppress them and play the tyrant, and when they defend their rights, administer justice impartially, and promote the public welfare, is as great treason as ever man uttered. 'Tis treason, not against one single man, but the state—against the whole body politic; 'tis treason against mankind, 'tis treason against common sense, 'tis treason against God. And this impious principle lays the foundation for justifying all the tyranny and oppression that ever any prince was guilty of. The people know for what end they set up and maintain their governors, and they are the proper judges when
they execute their trust as they ought to do it;—when their prince exercises an equitable and paternal authority over them; when from a prince and common father he exalts himself into a tyrant; when from subjects and children he degrades them into the classes of slaves, plunders them, makes them his prey, and unnaturally sports himself with their lives and fortunes.
A PATRIOT'S THANKSGIVING.
[The Snare Broken : A Thanksgiving Discourse, occasioned by the Repeal of the Stamp
Act. Preached May 23, 1766.]
E have never known so quick and general a transition from the depth
of sorrow to the height of joy, as on this occasion ; nor, indeed, so great and universal a flow of either on any other occasion whatever. It is very true, we have heretofore seen times of great adversity. We have known seasons of drought, dearth, and spreading mortal diseases; the pestilence walking in darkness, and the destruction wasting at noonday. We have seen wide devastations made by fire; and amazing tempests, the heavens on flame, the winds and the waves roaring. We have known repeated earthquakes, threatening us with speedy destruction. We have been under great apprehensions by reason of formidable fleets of an enemy on our coasts, menacing fire and sword to all our maritime towns. We have known times when the French and savage armies made terrible havoc on our frontiers, carrying all before them for a while; when we were not without fear that some capital towns in the colonies would fall into their merciless hands. Such times as these we have known; at some of which almost every "face gathered paleness,” and the knees of all but the good and brave waxed feeble. But never have we known a season of such universal consternation and anxiety among people of all ranks and ages, in these colonies, as was occasioned by that parliamentary procedure which threatened us and our posterity with perpetual bondage and slavery. For they, as we generally suppose, are really slaves to all intents and
purposes, who are obliged to labor and toil only for the benefit of others; or, which comes to the same thing, the fruit of whose labor and industry may be lawfully taken from them without their consent, and they justly punished if they refuse to surrender it on demand, or apply it to other purposes than those which their masters, of their mere grace and pleasure, see fit to allow. Nor are there many American understandings acute enough to distinguish any material difference between this being done by a single person, under the title of an absolute monarch, and done by a far-distant legislature, consisting of many persons, in
which they are not represented; and the members whereof, instead of feeling and sharing equally with them in the burden thus imposed, are eased of their own in proportion to the greatness and weight of it.
The repeal, the repeal, has at once, in a good measure, restored things to order, and composed our minds by removing the chief ground of our fears. The course of justice between man and man is no longer obstructed; commerce lifts up her head, adorned with golden tresses, pearls, and precious stones. All things that went on right before are returning gradually to their former course; those that did not we have reason to hope will go on better now; almost every person you meet wears the smiles of contentment and joy; and even our slaves rejoice as though they had received their manumission. Indeed, all the lovers of liberty in Europe, in the world, have reason to rejoice; the cause is, in some measure common to them and us. Blessed revolution! glorious change! How great are our obligations for it to the Supreme Governor of the world!
Born in Northampton, West New Jersey, 1720. Dies at York, England, 1772.
HOW HE TESTIFIED IN MEETING AGAINST SLAVERY.
[The Works of John Woolman. 1774.] THE monthly meeting of Philadelphia having been under a concern
on account of some Friends who, this summer (1758), had bought negro slaves: the said meeting moved it to their quarterly-meeting, to have the minute reconsidered in the yearly-meeting, which was made last on that subject; and the said quarterly-meeting appointed a committee to consider it and report to their next; which committee having met once and adjourned, and I going to Philadelphia to meet a committee of the yearly-meeting, was in town the evening on which the quarterly-meeting's committee met the second time, and finding an inclination to sit with them, was, with some others, admitted; and Friends had a weighty conference on the subject. And, soon after their next quarterly-meeting I heard that the case was coming to our yearly-meeting, which brought a weighty exercise upon me, and under a sense of my own infirmities and the great danger I felt of turning aside from perfect purity, my mind was often drawn to retire alone and put up my prayers to the Lord, that he would be graciously pleased to strengthen me; that, setting