While men sleep . . .

History, one may presume to say, affords no example of any nation, country or people long free, who did not take some care of themselves; and endeavour to guard and secure their own liberties. Power is of a grasping, encroaching nature, in all beings, except in him, to whom it emphatically “belongeth”; and who is the only King that, in a religious or moral sense, “can do no wrong.”

Power aims at extending itself, and operating according to mere will, where-ever it meets with no ballance, check, controul or opposition of any kind. For which reason it will always be necessary, as was said before, for those who would preserve and perpetuate their liberties, to guard them with a wakeful attention; and in all righteous, just and prudent ways, to oppose the first encroachments on them. “Obsta principiis.”

After a while it will be too late.

For in the states and kingdoms of this world, it happens as it does in the field or church, according to the well-known parable, to this purpose; That while men sleep, then the enemy cometh and soweth tares, which cannot be rooted out again till the end of the world, without rooting out the wheat with them.

— Jonathan Mayhew, “The Snare Broken. A Thanksgiving Discourse Preached at the Desire of the West Church in Boston, N. E. Friday May 23, 1766. Occasioned by the Repeal of the Stamp-Act.” In Political Sermons of the American Founding Era 1730-1805, (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 1990), p. 258

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