Military Government
by Samuel Butler (1658)

CERTAINLY Soldiers are the most unfit Men of all others to be Keepers of Liberties, unless it be to keep them from us; nor is there any thing so ruinous to the very being of a Commonwealth as a Militia out of the command of the civil magistrate: For as they that have the possession of the sword cannot be compelled by it; so is it a strange vanity to suppose, that they should submit themselves voluntarily to that equal justice, which all other men do by compulsion. It hath been said, that an injust Peace is to be preferred before a just War; because the safety of the people, the end of all government, is more concerned in the one than the other. If that be true, no doubt a just civil power is infinitely more fit to be supreme, than an unjust military power, or indeed than a just; if there were any such thing in being. But if these men were the most just and pious men in the world, as certainly they are not, and as wise and prudent as just, yet imposing a government by force upon a nation, so utterly against the will of the people, that they abhor and detest it, it will be impossible to continue it without extremity of rigour and tyranny; beside an unavoidable civil war, which will be most certain frequently to break out, both from the reluctancy of the people, and the perpetual occasions they will find in these often changes of governors, which must necessarily fall out, where possession is sufficient title; and the will of the soldiery taking upon it, like the devil, to dispose of the kingdom, which hither to they have done with so much wisdom and fidelity, that we have seen them set up and pull down three governments in almost as few months. For undoubtedly these discreet tumults and peaceful seditions, these pious and conscientious rebellions, and honest and faithful treacheries will become the only fundamental constitution of all future governments, that we can settle; and are the only probable Way to produce that equal Rotation, which our modern Statesmen do so much dream of.

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