Moses Mather On Free Agency

americas appeal to the impartial world moses matherCALLED UNTO LIBERTY, FOUNDING ERA SERMONS, MOSES MATHER


Free agency, or a rational existence, with its powers and faculties, and freedom of enjoying and exercising them, is the gift of God to man. The right of the donor, and the authenticity of the donation, are both incontestable; hence man hath an absolute property in, and right of dominion over himself, his powers and faculties; with self-love to stimulate, and reason to guide him, in the free use and exercise of them, independent of, and uncontrolable by any but him, who created and gave them. And whatever is acquired by the use, and application of a man’s faculties, is equally the property of that man, as the faculties by which the acquisitions are made; and that which is absolutely the property of a man, he cannot be divested of, but by his own voluntary act, or consent, either expressed, or implied. Expressed, by actual gift, sale, or exchange, by himself, or his lawful substitute: implied, as where a man enters into, and takes the benefits of a government, he implicitly consents to be subject to it’s laws; so, when he transgresses the laws, there is an implied consent to submit to it’s penalties. And from this principle, all the civil (1) exousiai, or rightful authorities, that are ordained of God, and exist in the world, are derived as from their native source. From whence are authorities, dominions and powers? from God, the sovereign ruler, as the fountain, through the voice and consent of the people. For what purpose are they erected? for the good of the people. Wherefore the sovereign ruler, condescends to cloath, with authority, the man who by the general voice, is exalted, from among the people, to bear rule; and to pronounce him his minister for their good. Hence, it is evident, that man hath the clearest right, by the most indefeasible title, to personal security, liberty, and private property. And whatever is a man’s own, he hath, most clearly, a right to enjoy and defend; to repel force by force; to recover what is injuriously pillaged or plundered from him, and to make reasonable reprisals for the unjust vexation. (2) And, upon this principle, an offensive war may sometimes be justifiable, viz. when it is necessary for preservation and defence.


[1] Exousia, in the original, which is translated power, signifies a rightful authority or moral power, and stands opposed to dunamis, a natural power or might.

[2] I have not noticed the authority of parents over children, it not being to the argument, but remark, that the Creator, foreseeing the necessity of civil government, arising from the depravity of human nature, hath wisely formed our infancy, and childhood, feeble and dependent on the protection, and government of parents, thereby preparing us, in childhood, for dependence on, and subjection to civil government, in manhood.

Source: Excerpt from Moses Mather’s “America’s Appeal to the Impartial World,” 1775.

Called Unto Liberty is researched, compiled, and edited (with occasional introductory notes and commentary) by Steve Farrell, Founder and Editor In Chief of Self-Educated American. Copyright © 2015 Steve Farrell.