Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECT. VI. - An Essay on Government
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SECT. VI. - Thomas Gordon, An Essay on Government 
An Essay on Government (London: J. Roberts, 1747).
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AS the judiciary Power was the sole, which Government had Occasion for originally, and the Exercise of it, as we before said, had by the Negligence of the Young, been totally devolved on the Elders of the State.—So when they found they wanted other Powers, and new Authorities to preserve the Community, no Wonder if they entrusted the leading the Forces voted by the Authority of the People, and which were in Truth, no others than the People themselves taking Arms, to the same Elders, who finding this Power of a Nature more easily and speedily to be executed by one, they chose such a one out of their own Body, who was accountable to them in like Manner as they were responsible to their supreme Constituents the People.
To this Election of a General, do many attribute the Rise not only of Monarchies, but of Governments; but was the Power of absolute Monarchs to be reduced to the same Plan, as that of these their pretended Predecessors; it will not be unreasonable to guess, that the Advocates of these Tyrants, would soon yield up their Pretensions to any Connexion with them; and chuse to lay the Foundation of this Tyranny, for it deserves not to be called Government: In some later, but more absolute Ruler, that this Power of a General, could not be considered as a Government will be without Difficulty allow’d of, if we do but reflect that in all Governments, the legislative federative and executive Power, are absolutely essential to its Being.—Now that these Generals were not intrusted with these Characteristicks of Supremacy, Barbeyrac himself allows, by what he observes of the first Generals, who were dignified with the Title of Kings, whom he imagines to have been Founders of Government; whose Province, he says, “was only to decide Causes, and command Armies.”—But where then is the Legislative, where the other more important Part of the federative Power, the making of War and of Peace; for as soon as Wars were introduced into the World, we may without any bold Guess, imagine, that the Making of Peace and Treaties between the belligerant Powers, began to be usual, at least we find this to be the Case so early as the Trojan War. But this Power was not lodged in the Breast of the King, as it is no Ways an incident to the Right of deciding Causes, or commanding Armies (which are only subordinate Branches of the legislative and executive Power.) As these Powers therefore must have been lodged somewhere, it must be with the People, or the Constituents of such General, consequently such Appointment of a General, cannot be regarded as the forming a Society, nor can the Advocates for absolute Monarchy, cite it as a Precedent for shelter to that illegal and inconsistent Tyranny.
But Isocrates in his Panathenaicks, is called in as arguing strongly for the Antiquity of Monarchy, the Passage is this P. 443.— “We will go back, says the Orator, to that Time, when Democracies, and Aristocracies were not mentioned, but Monarchs governed both the People of Barbary, and all the Cities of Greece:” But this Passage can never prove these Things to have had any other Authority, than That we have just been mentioning: That is, the Power of executing the judiciary Laws, i. e. of deciding Causes, and the executive one of leading the Armies of the State: a Quotation from Dionysius Harlicarnasseus, placed by Barbeyrac immediately before the precedent one, not only shews their Authority to have been of no greater Extent than this; but likewise proves that there must have been a Time more ancient than that of which Isocrates here speaks. “Originally, says he, all the Cities of Greece were governed by Kings, with this Difference, that these exercised not an absolute despotic Power like the Barbarians, but according to the Customs and Laws of their Country; so that he passed for the best King, who most religiously observed the Laws and departed least from the Customs of the Country, (which Homer tells us, by calling them distributors of Justice;) these Kingdoms subsisted long, being administered under fundamental Law, and certain Condition, as at Sparta.—But some Kings having abused their Trust, and quitted the Path of the Law, governed themselves arbitrarily and despotically, so that most of the Grecian States grew weary of them and revoked their Power.”
This Paragraph in more than one or two Places mentions the Laws, by which these Kings ought to have governed—Now surely these Laws which were to guide and direct the Actions of the Kings, must be made by some antecedent and superior Power to any King; for if They were intirely possessed of the legislative Power, what one King enacted could by no sort of Reason bind the other who had the same Power as his Successor, and Obligations of all Sorts may be dissolved by the same Power and Authority as contracts them; and if the supreme Power was lodged in the Hands of these Kings, they could not act arbitrarily nor despotically, for every one of their Acts would be an Act of the Legislature, tho’ it tended to the Breach of a Law of some former Legislator--Or supposing that these Laws were made by the Particulars at the Institution of a King, they must have either reserved their Authority in those Points or transferr’d it; had they transferr’d it to him, they could not tacitly or expresly prohibit him from the breaking those Laws, when once he had the same Power as the Makers who oblige him to observe them, and consequently they could not be justified in avenging the Breaches of them, unless accompanied with the Violation of the natural Law:—Had they on the other Hand preserved their Power, that Power must be superior to the regal one at that time, and still must have continued so, tho’ not perpetually in Use—And the particular Word which the Author makes use of, plainly demonstrates this to have been the Case; “the Greeks say he revoked their Power”—a Word which rather implies a judicial and conserted Repeal than a tumultuous and violent Expulsion, and at the same Time conveys an Idea of such Revocation being made, not only by Constituents but Superiors.