Of Governments and Laws in General.
That our belief, with regard to earthly
governments and laws in general, may not be misinterpreted nor misunderstood,
we have thought proper to present, at the close of this volume, our
opinion concerning the same.
1 We believe that Governments were instituted of God for the
benefit of man, and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to
them, either in making laws or administer ing them, for the good and safety of
2 We believe that no Government can exist, in peace, ex cept such
laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free
exercise of con[s]cience, the right and control
of property and the protection of life.
3 We believe that all Governments necessarily require civil
officers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same, and that such as will administer the law in equity and
justice should be sought for and upheld by the voice of the people, (if a
Republic,) or the will of the Sovereign.
4 We believe that religion is instituted of God, and that men are
amenable to him and to him only for the exercise of it, unless their religious
opinion prompts them to infringe up on the rights and liberties of others; but we
do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of
wor ship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for pub lic or
private devotion; that the civil magistrate should re strain crime, but never
control conscience; should punish guilt, but never surpress the freedom of the
5 We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the
respective Governments in which they reside, while pro tected in their inherent
and unalienable rights by the laws of such Governments, and that sedition and rebellion are unbe coming every
citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all
Governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best
calculated to se cure the public interest, at the same time, however, holding
sac red the freedom of conscience.
6 We believe that every man should be honored in his sta tion:
rulers and magistrates as such—being placed for the pro tection of the innocent
and the punishment of the guilty; and that to the laws all men owe respect and
deference, as without [p. 252]