Political Theory against Royal Absolutism
Men being…by Nature all free, equal, and independent, no one can be put out of his estate and subjected to the political power of another without his own consent, which is done by agreeing with other men, to join and unite into a Community, for their comfortable, safe and peaceable living one amongst another….
When any number of men have by the consent of every individual, made a Community, they have thereby made that Community one body, with a power to act as one body, which is only by the will and determination of the majority….
And thus every man, by consenting with others to make one body politic under one Government, puts himself under an obligation to every one of that Society, to submit to the determination of the majority….
But though men when they enter into Society, give up the equality, liberty, and executive power they had…, into the hands of the Society, to be…disposed of by the legislative, as the good of the Society shall require; yet…[they do so] only with an intention in every one the better to preserve himself, his liberty and property;…[and therefore] the power of the Society, or legislative, constituted by them, can never be supposed to extend farther that the common good….
The great end of men’s entering into Society being the enjoyment of their properties in peace and safety, and the great instrument and means of that being the laws established in that Society: the first and fundamental positive law of all Commonwealths is the establishing of the legislative power. The first and fundamental law, which is to govern even the Legislative itself, is the preservation of the Society, and (as far as will consist with the public good) of every person in it. This legislative is not only the supreme power of the Commonwealth, but sacred and unalterable in the hands where the community have once placed it; nor can any edict of anybody else, in what form soever conceived, or by what power soever backed, have the force and obligation of a law,…[unless it has] its sanction from the legislative which the public has chosen and appointed….
As usurpation is the exercise of power which another has a right to; so tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which nobody can have a right to. An this is making use of the power any one has in his hands; not for the good of those who are under it, but for his own private separate advantage….
Wherever law ends, tyranny begins, if the law be transgressed to another’s harm; and whosoever in authority exceeds the power given him by the law and makes use of the force he has under his command…which the law allows not, ceases in that to be a magistrate, and [since he is] acting without authority, may be opposed.