Lorenzo Dow.

The dealings of God, man, and the devil : as exemplified in the life, experience, and travels of Lorenzo Dow, in a period of over half a century: together with his polemic and miscellaneous writings, complete online

. (page 66 of 126)
Online LibraryLorenzo DowThe dealings of God, man, and the devil : as exemplified in the life, experience, and travels of Lorenzo Dow, in a period of over half a century: together with his polemic and miscellaneous writings, complete → online text (page 66 of 126)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

it from another, without his consent, or with-
out giving an equivalent, is to deprive him of
his personal rights, and must be an infringe-
ment upon natural justice.

All men may be considered thus equally
free, and independent in their individual capa-
city : but when taken in a social capacity, they
are certainly dependent on each other. And
none more so than those who consider them-
selves the most independent. Because the
Governor of the Universe hath determined, as
we see in the order of nature, that health and
laziness cannot dwell together ; so man must
not be a Stoic nor a machine, but an active
being. Therefore the ' laws of nature 1 are
fixed ; that self-interest shall be a stimulus, or
moving spring to action. — Hence there are
some things which man cann it do or subsist
without ; as food, water, & i. consequently
self-preservation is called t) e '■first law of
nature' in point of duty.

But there are some, yea, m^ny things which,
we cannot perform ourselve? , we are of course
dependent on others for th. ir assistance and
help ; such is the case in different operations
of mechanism, agriculture and commerce.
Each of these is mutually connected, and de-
pendent on each other. Therefore if I derive
advantage from others, why should not others
derive some benefit from me in return ? This
is equal and right; of course it is just and
proper. If therefore, I withhold that advan-
tage, which I could bestow on society, it is an



infringement upon natural justice. Of course
we must account to the Author of Nature, for
the neglect or abuse of those natural, or per-
sonal and social privileges, bestowed by him,
and enjoyed by us.


As a whole is composed of parts, and the
parts collectively form one whole, so to judge
correctly of social principles we must view
them as they apply naturally, individually.
collectively, and prospectively.

As our '■personal rights' are the same, so
are our obligations the same. And hence our
rights and obligations are naturally, and ne-
cessarily reciprocal.

To derive the benefit of society collectively
and individually, there is need for genera!
Rules, for the regulation of the whole. And
how shall general rules be formed, but by
general consent ? It is therefore our true in-
terest as individuals, to be involved and con-
nected with such regulations, as may be
formed for the benefit and safety of our 'per-
sonal rights? and such as prudence dictates.
as necessary to guarantee them from usurpa-

Our personal rights, privileges, and obliga-
tions, being equal, we have each, as an indi-
vidual, right to claim a voice in the formation
of those general rules — and personal duty ari-
sing from the Haw of nature" 1 calls upon us
collectively, to act our part as individuals —
and there would be an infringement upon
natural justice, to neglect the right of suffrage.

" Social Rights" are those which apper-
tain to man, in right of his being a ' member
of society? Every '■social right,'' has for its
foundation some 'personal right 1 pre-existing
in the individual ; arising from the ' law of
nature'' — but to the enjoyment of which his
individual power is not, in all cases, suffi-
ciently competent. Of this kind are all those
which relate to security and protection.
. From this short review, it will be easy to
distinguish, between that class of 'Personal
rights' which a man retains after entering into
society, and those which he throws into the
common stock as a member of society.

The ' Personal rights' which he retains, are
all those in which the power to execute, is
an perfect in the individual, as the right itself.
Among this class, as is before mentioned, are
all the intellectual rights, or rights of the
mind ; consequently religion, and the privilege
of private judgment, are some of those rights.
The 'Personal rights,' which are not re-
tained, are all those in which, though the
right is perfect in the individual, the row er
to execute them is defective. They answer
not this purpose. A man by the 'law of na-
ture' has a 'personal right' to judge in his

own cause ; and as far as the right of the
mind is concerned, he never sorrerj lers it :
But what availeth it him to judge, if he has
not the power to redress ! lie therefore de-
posits this right in the common stock of so-
ciety, and takes the arm of society, of which
he is a part, in preference, and in addition to
his own.

Society grants him nothing. Every man is
a proprietor in society, and draws on the
capital as a matter of right.

From these premises, a few certain conclu-
sions will follow.

First. That every : social right" groivs out
of a ' personal right,' and is founded on the
' Law of Nature' or in other words, it is a
• personal right' exchanged agreeable to natu-
ral justice.

Secondly. That Civil power, which i- de-
rived from society, when applied to the body,
is called political, but when applied individual-
ly is called civil authority. This power, when
properly considered as l legal authority.' is
made up of the aggregate of that class of the
personal rights of man. which becomes defect-
ive in the individual, in point of power, and
answers not his purpose ; but when collected
to a focus, becomes competent to the purpose
of every one.

Thirdly. That the power produced from the
aggregate of personal rights, imperfect in
power in the individual, cannot be applied to
invade the ' personal rights, which are re-
tained in the individual, and in which the
power to execute is as perfect as the right it-
self without intruding on natural justice ;
seeing the rights are personal only and con-
cern no body else.

Thus we have seen, man traced as a natu-
ral individual, to a member of society: and
observed the qualities of the 'personal rights'
retained, and those which are exchanged for
' social rights.'

Those principles, when digested and proper-
ly applied, show the origin and foundation of
the only true and proper fountain of govern-
ment, which is, properly speaking, the "per-
sonal social compact.'' Because mankind
in their individual capacity, are equally free
and independent; by the 'law of nature? as
established by its author. Therefore the
facts must be, that the individuals themselves,
each in his own personal and sovereign right,
entered into a compact, (not with a govern-
ment, but) with each other, to produce a gov-
ernment. And this is the only mode, in which
governments have a right to arise, and the
only principles on which they ought to exist;
or possibly can exist agreeably to natural jus-

It is a self-evident fact, that the People are
the original and only true and proper source



from whom a government can be deduced, and
spring into existence, on just and equitable
principles, agreeable to the ' law of nature,'
because the people existed before any govern-
ment came to exist. Of course society, on so-
cial principles, have a right to three things.

First. To form their own government.

Secondly. To choose their own rulers.

And Thirdly. To cashier them for miscon-

Hence it follows, first, that the authority of
rulers is only delegated authority. Secondly,
that they are accountable to the fountain from
whom they derived it. — And thirdly, that they
are not to serve themselves, but society, whose
servants they are, and by whom they are em-
ployed and paid for their services.


' Moral rights' are the personal privilege to
think, and judge, and act for one's self in
point of moral duty. This is the more plain
and clear, as no one is concerned but God the
judge, and the individual man, as a responsi-
ble agent.

For what right hath any one to meddle
with that which does not concern him ?

Moral Duties are the result of ' Moral Law,'
which is the Divine prerogative alone ; and
man hath no right to invade the moral duty of
another — for this is the right of the Divine
Government. No man, therefore, nor set of
men, have a right to infringe upon or bind the
conscience of another. Man, therefore, as a
rational creature, must be convinced before he
can be converted, in order to act consistently,
as an agent accountable to the Supreme Gov-
ernor of the Universe. Consequently, sub-
mission of will to a eompulsatory power, in
matters of religion, in repugnance to the dic-
tates of tender conscience, is nothing but an
empty show, a piece of hypocrisy, without
any mixture of moral goodness or genuine

All Natural Religious Establishments, or
1 Churches established by Law,'' have been a
curse to mankind, and a pest to society. Vice
and corruption in religion are encouraged and
upheld, and virtue lies deprest. If a man
from a principle of duty would support reli-
gion voluntarily, by being compelled to do it,
he is prevented the opportunity of showing the
virtue of his heart, and the influence of his
example is lost. If his Religion be different
from that ' established by law,' his conscience
is bound, and he is prevented from supporting
his own religion by taking away from him
that which he would give to his own Minister
for the support of those in whom he does not
believe. Law-Religion, will cause people to
be hypocrites, but cannot cure them of error.
A man must be convinced in his judgment, by

evidence to his understanding, before he is
converted in his heart. Of course, to form
articles of faith, for people to subscribe under
severe penalties is not founded upon common
sense, nor on equitable principles. For to
suppose people capable of believing whhout
reason or evidence, is contrary to the ' Law of
Nature,' and repugnant to natural justice, in
as much as all men are free and independent,
in their individual capacity, and of course
their rights and privileges are equal ; to think
and to judge, and also to act for themselves,
in point of Moral Duty, and in all matters of
opinion in Religion.

Suppose that one man believes in one God,
another believes in ten, what is that to the
first ? ' It neither picks his pocket nor breaks
his leg,' of course, why should he Persecute
him 1 Persecution is contrary to Natural
Justice, in as much as it assumes a power
which no mortal can claim, it being the Di-
vine right only to judge in such cases. But
nevertheless, moral duty from pity, and a con-
cern for his welfare, may excite a man to
strive to convince another for his good, to
shun the error and find the happy road.

Universal right of Conscience, is given by
the Author of Nature, who is the Moral Gov-
ernor of the Human Family. And such liber-
ty of conscience ought to be established in


Intolerance assumes to itself the right of
withholding liberty of conscience. ' Tolera-
tion' assumes the right of granting it. Both
are despotisms in their nature. Man worships
not himself but his Maker ; and liberty of
conscience which he claims, is not for the
service of himself, but of his God. In this
case, therefore, we must necessarily have the
associated ideas of two beings; the mortal
who renders the worship, and the Immortal
Being who is worshipped.

' Toleration,' therefore, places itself not be-
tween man and man, nor between church and
church, nor between one denomination of re-
ligion and another, but between God and
Man : between the being who worships, and
the being who is worshipped ; and by the
same act of assumed authority, by which it
' tolerates' man to pay his worship, it pre-
sumptuously and blasphemously sets itself up,
to ' tolerate' the Almighty to receive it.

Suppose a bill was brought into any Legis-
lature, entitled an ' Act to tolerate or grant
liberty to the Almighty, to receive the wor-
ship of a Jew or a Turk,' or ' to prohibit the
Almighty to receive it,' all men would startle
and call it blasphemy. There would be an up-
roar. The presumption of ' toleration' in reli-
gious matters would then present itself unmask-
ed. But the presumption is not the less, because
the name of 'Man only appears to those



laws ; for the associated ideas of the worship-
per and the worshipped cannot be separated.
Well may one exclaim — ' Who then art thou,
vain dust and ashes — by whatever name thou
art called, whether an Emperor or a King, a
Bishop or a State, or anything else that ob-
trudes thine insignificance, between the soul
of Man and its Maker ? Mind thine own
concerns. If he believes not as thou believ-
es!, it is a proof that thou believest not as he
believeth. and there is no earthly power can
determine between you.'

With respect to what are called Denomina-
tions of Religion, if every one is left to judge
lit' his own religion, there is not such a thing
as a Religion that is wrong. But if they are
to judge of each other's Religion, there is no such
a thing as a Religion that is right, and therefore
all th" world is right or all the world is wrong.
Bu1 with respect to Religion itself, without any
regard to names, and as directed from the
Universal Family of mankind to the Divine
object of all adoration — it is Man bringing to
his Maker the fruits of his heart, and the
grateful tribute of every one is accepted.
"Like as a Father pitieth his children, so the
Lord pitieth them that fear him." HE look-
eth at the heart, and judgeth according to in-
tentions, ' of a truth is no respecter of persons,
but in every nation, he that feareth God and
worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.'
It is required of a man according to what is
given him, whether ' one, two, or five talents,'
'and he that knoweth his master's will, and
doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes'
— for 'where there is no law, there is no trans-
gression' — ' sin is the transgression of the law.'
Man is under a Moral Law — the Law of the
Mind, of right and wrong. There is a moral
duty — and a moral obligation on the man to
perform that duly. If he does not perform it,
he falls under condemnation : which he is
conscious of, for not acting as well as he knew
how : — hence the propriety of the words.
' This is the condemnation, that light has come
into the world, and men love darkness rather
; l ,;ni light, because their deeds are evil,! Man
is a rational agent, actuated by motives ; his
actions are deliberate, and his motives of two
kinds. Good and Evil — One is called ' moral
good,' the good principle existing in the mi i I
— the other is called ' mora! evil,' because the
spirit of the mind is bad. and the intention of
the mind is to do wrong, which motive is not
right, not agreeable to natural justice and
moral obligation. Because, as all men have
equal rights and wants, so their dutii
obligations are equal in their social capacity,
as established in the 'Law oi Nature, 1 by the
' Jreator and Governor of the World ; of course
there is need for a definite rule by which to
measure our duties towards each other ; be-

cause if our rights and obligations are the
same and equal, then we are to expect no
more than we can justly claim, or would
be willing to bestow, agreeable to that which
is just and equal, and hence the command
which is agreeable to the 'Law of Nature.'
' Love thy neighbor as thyself.' which is al-
ways agreeable to the ' Moral Law," an ! cor-
responds with the rule, 'as ye would that
others should do to you, do ye even so to
them — for this is the Law and the Prophets'
— or what the Law of Moses and the Proph-
ets and Jesus Christ taught, which ought
therefore to be the leading principle of every
heart, and the rule of the spirit and conduct of
every one in practice, in our actions and deal-
ings with mankind in all things whatever.

Here the ' Moral Law' and the ' Law of
Nature' and the 'Rule of Practice,' all cor-
respond and harmonize together, in securing
the ' social rights, obligations and duties of
man which have the Almighty for their Au-
thor ; to whom man is accountable.' Of
course man ought to be actuated by noble
Principles, conforming himself accordingly —
seeing his eternity depends upon it.

But to deprive man of the right to think
and judge, and act for himself, in point of
Moral duty, is an infringement on the Crea-
tor's government, as well as on Natural Jus-
tice, and contrary to every rule of Right, and
is attended with complicated misery to the
human family. It creates broils, animosities
and contentions in society ; and raises a domi-
neering spirit in one, and a spirit of :
ment and resistance in another ; and thus
more blood hath been shed in consequence of
such a line of prescription and practice, than
from all other sources put together. And
hath been attended with more apparent cruelty
and misery to mankind, than all other tilings
whatsoever. — Therefore, such national Estab-
lishments of Religion, are well styled the
TVliore of Babylon, or the ' Mother of Harlots,
and the abominations of the Earth.' The
Mother, must be the old 'W****,' and if
she he a l Mother f who can her daughters lie.
but the corrupt established Protestanl Churches,
which came out of her, and have not forgo! to
trea 1 in her steps of persecution, towards those
who differ from them in opinion '. And hence
the] an' said to he 'drunk with th" blood <>t
the Saints and Martyr-.' which GOD. as a
.lust Governor, will cause to be visited on
them in their turn : that the Earth may revert
to its original an 1 proper owner, and the in-
liabitants know that HIS Kingdom is over all.


from what authority, shall one person or
if men, have power and exercise a com-
mand over others'?



It must be obtained in one of these three
ways. 1st. It must be the gift of the Creator
and governor of the Universe — or 2dly, it
must be delegated by the people — or else
3dly must be self created or usurped*


First. With regard to that authority,
which is said to be the gift of the Creator,
and derived from the Governor of the Uni-
verse as his delegated power. It hath not for
its foundation or support, either Scripture or
Common Sense.

Before any conclusion can be admitted, cer-
tain facts, or first principles, or data must be
established or admitted for its confirmation.

The error of those who reason by prece-
dents drawn from antiquity, respecting the
Rights of Man, is, that they do not go far
enough into antiquity. They do not go the
whole way. They stop in some of the inter-
mediate stages, of a hundred or a thousand
years, and produce what was men done, as
their precedent. This is no autncrity at all.
If we travel still further into antiquity, we
shall find a direct contrary opinion and prac-
tice prevailing. And if antiquity is to be au-
thority, a thousand such authorities may be
produced, successively contradicting each
other. But if we proceed on, we shall at last
come out right — we shall come to the time,
when man came from the hands of his Maker.

What was he then 1 ' Man !' Man was
his high and only title, and a higher cannot
be given him.

We have now gone back to the origin of
man and to the origin of his rights. As to
the manner in which the world has been
governed from that day to this, it is no farther
any concern of ours, than to help us to make
a proper use of former errors, and suitable im-
provements upon ancient history. Those who
lived a hundred or a thousand years ago, were
then moderns as we are now. They had their
ancients, and those ancients diad others, and
we shall be ancients in our turn. If the mere
name of antiquity is to govern in the affairs
of life, the people who are to live an hundred
or a thousand years hence, will be as much
hound to take us for a precedent, as we are to
take as a precedent those who lived an hun-
dred or a thousand years ago.

The fact is, that an appeal to antiquity,
may prove any tiling, and establish nothing.
It is authority against authority, still ascend-
ing till we come to the Divine origin of the
Rights of Man at the Creation. Here our
inquiries find a resting place, and reason finds
a home. If a dispute about the Rights of
Man had arisen at the distance of an hundred

- * By the Creator's " Law of Nature," is Man a Cosmo-
polite or the Local property of another !

years from the Creation, to this source of au-
thority they must have referred — and to the
same source of authority, we must now refer.

The genealogy of Christ is traced to Adam.
— Why not trace the Rights of Man up to his
creation 1 The answer is — ' That upstart
governments,' through ambition founded in
' Moral Evil," 1 have arisen and thrust them-
selves between, to unmake man, and trample
upon all his precious rights, to keep him in
profound ignorance, that they may be served
at his expense.

If any generation of men ever possessed the
right of dictating the mode by which the
world should be governed forever, it was the
first generation that existed : and if that gene-
ration did not, no succeeding generation can
show authority for so doing. The illuminating
and divine principle of the equal rights of
man, (for it has its origin from the Maker of
man) relates not only to living individuals,
but to all generations of men succeeding each
other. Every generation is equal in rights, to
the generation which preceded it ; by the
same rule that every individual is born equal
in rights to his cotemporanj.

Every history of the creation, and every
traditionary account ; whether from the letter-
ed or unlettered world, however they may
vary in their opinion or belief of certain par-
ticulars, all agree in establishing one point :
the unity of man. By which I mean that all
men are of one degree : and consequently, that
all men are born equal, and with equal natural
rights ; in the same manner as if posterity had
been continued by Creation instead of Gene-
ration. The latter being only the mode by
which the former is carried forward ; and con-
sequently, every child born into the world,
must be considered as deriving its existence
from GOD. The world is as new to him, as
it was to the first man that existed, and his
natural rights are of the same kind.

The Mosaic account of the Creation, whe-
ther taken as Divine authority, or merely his-
torical, fully maintains the unity or equality
of man. The following expression admits of
no controversy. "And God said, let us make
man in our own image. In the image of God
created he him ; male and female created he
them." The distinction of the sexes is point-
ed out, but no other distinction is implied. If
this be not divine authority, it is at least his-
torical authority, and shows the equality of
man so far from being a modern doctrine, to
be the oldest upon record.

It is also to be observed, that all the reli-
gions known in the world, are founded, as far
as they relate to man, on the unity of Man,
as being all of one degree. Whether in heaven
or hell, or in whatever state man may be sup-
posed to exist hereafter, the bad and good are



the only distinctions. Nay. even the laws of
government are obligated to slide into this prin-
ciple, by making degree to consist in crimes
and not in persons.

This is one of the greatest of all truths, and
it is our highest interest to cultivate it. By
considering man in this light, it places him in
a close connection with his duties, whether to
his Creator, or the creation, of which he is a
part ; and it is only when he forgets his birth
or origin, or to use a more fashionable phrase.
"his Birth and family," that he becomes dis-

The distinction of the sexes only, is men-
tioned at the creation of man. Hence, the
.man was considered as the head of his family :
and so established by the law of custom,
which gave rise to the simple Patriarchal

But so far are the Scriptures from justifying
the idea that monarchy is the "Delegated
power of God," that they speak directly to
the reverse. — They inform us that the Jews
were the peculiar people of God, and ' : they
desired a KING to reign over them, to be like
all the nations round about," after they had
been a Commonwealth for several hundred
years. And a ktng they obtained, as a judg-
ment for their " Moral Evil ;" and he proved
a scourge for their national sin.

Thus, "the nations round about." had
Kings at an early period. The Israelites also

Online LibraryLorenzo DowThe dealings of God, man, and the devil : as exemplified in the life, experience, and travels of Lorenzo Dow, in a period of over half a century: together with his polemic and miscellaneous writings, complete → online text (page 66 of 126)