« PreviousContinue »
PRE FAC E.
OST of the following regula
tions are mere temporary expedients, devised, indeed, with sincere intention to promote the happiness of the new settlement in its infant state i but subject, nevertheless, either to be entirely set aside, rejected in part, or altered on revision, according to the prevailing sentiment, from time to time, of the majority of the settlers, after mature deliberation in their common Council; because they themselves will certainly be the most competent judges of their own situation and affairs; and, of course, will be best able to propose the most effectual temporary measures and expedients for their own safety and welfare.
But whatever alterations they may hereafter think neceffary, or more conducive to their happiness or profit, they inust be careful not to adopt any regue lations that are at all inconsistent with the fundamental principles of the Common Law of England; because the majority of the settlers have been sent out at the expence of the British Governmnent, which is restrained by the fundamental and unalterable principles of the British state, from establishing or promoting any form of government, even in the most distant part of the world, that is at all inconsistent with its own excellent constitution either in church or state : and therefore it is not only the Common Law of England which the settlers ought, of right, to adopeand retain ; but, for the same reason, they must be careful also not to establish any Religion that is inconsistent with the religious Establiffoment of England, though, as individuals, they are certainly entitled to a perfect liberty of conscience, and to à free exercise of their several modes of worship in private assemblies; but not as public, or equal establishments. For the Common Law of England, and the estabiished Religion of England, are really more closely connected together
thani is either generally conceived by the good people of England at large, or than is ordinarily apprehended even by the learned professors themselves, of the two excellent establishments; both of them being built on the very fame principal foundations which were laid by THE LORD OF THE UNIVERSE, for the correction and limitation of all other foundations, viz. NATURAL AND REVEALED RELIGION. Let not the meanest and most ignorant member of the new settlement despair of obtaining a sufficient comprehension of all that is necessary for him to know, either of the only Religion, or of the only civil Polity which the government of England may lawfully favour and establish, if he will but sincerely endeavour to exert and improve his natural knowledge of Good and Evil, and to compare and discern Right from Wrong, and Truth from Falsekood. For such a manly exertion of natural reason or conscience is properly NATURAL RELIGION, the firf foundation of our Common Law, that by which we are required to discern justice from injustice,