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Sect. 22. THE natural liberty of man
is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the
will or legislative authority of man, but to have only the law of nature
for his rule. The liberty of man, in society, is to be under no other
legislative power, but that established, by consent, in the commonwealth;
nor under the dominion of any will, or restraint of any law, but what that
legislative shall enact, according to the trust put in it. Freedom then is
not what Sir Robert Filmer tells us, Observations, A. 55. a
liberty for every one to do what he lists, to live as he pleases, and not
to be tied by any laws: but freedom of men under government
is, to have a standing rule to live by, common to every one of that
society, and made by the legislative power erected in it; a liberty to
follow my own will in all things, where the rule prescribes not; and not
to be subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, arbitrary will of
another man: as freedom of nature is, to be under no other
restraint but the law of nature.
Sect. 23. This freedom from absolute,
arbitrary power, is so necessary to, and closely joined with a man's
preservation, that he cannot part with it, but by what forfeits his
preservation and life together: for a man, not having the power of his own
life, cannot, by compact, or his own consent, enslave
himself to any one, nor put himself under the absolute, arbitrary
power of another, to take away his life, when he pleases. No body can give
more power than he has himself; and he that cannot take away his own life,
cannot give another power over it. Indeed, having by his fault forfeited
his own life, by some act that deserves death; he, to whom he has
forfeited it, may (when he has him in his power) delay to take it, and
make use of him to his own service, and he does him no injury by it: for,
whenever he finds the hardship of his slavery outweigh the value of his
life, it is in his power, by resisting the will of his master, to draw on
himself the death he desires.
Sect. 24. This is the perfect condition of
slavery, which is nothing else, but the state of war
continued,between a lawful conqueror and a captive: for, if once
compact enter between them, and make an agreement for a limited
power on the one side, and obedience on the other, the state of war
and slavery ceases, as long as the compact endures: for, as has been
said, no man can, by agreement, pass over to another that which he hath
not in himself, a power over his own life.
I confess, we find among the Jews, as well as other
nations, that men did sell themselves; but, it is plain, this was only to
drudgery, not to slavery: for, it is evident, the person sold was
not under an absolute, arbitrary, despotical power: for the master could
not have power to kill him, at any time, whom, at a certain time, he was
obliged to let go free out of his service; and the master of such a
servant was so far from having an arbitrary power over his life, that he
could not, at pleasure, so much as maim him, but the loss of an eye, or
tooth, set him free, Exod. xxi.
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The text digitized by Dave Gowan.
John Locke's "Second Treatise of Government" was published in 1690. The complete unabridged text has been republished several times in edited
commentaries. This is based on the paperback book, "John Locke Second Treatise of Government", Edited, with an Introduction, By C.B. McPherson, Hackett Publishing Company, Indianapolis and Cambridge, 1980. None of the McPherson edition is included in the Etext; only the original words contained in the 1690 Locke text is included. The 1690 edition text is free of copyright.
This text is in the PUBLIC DOMAIN, posted to Wiretap 1 Jul 94.
©Copyright, 2000, Mike Rosenberg