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ELECTIVE GOVERNMENTS IN ISRAEL.
as each exercising an independent, although harmonious, will in the matter. This led them to form free Societies of a variety of kinds, some of which, such as those for business in cities and burghs, still in a manner exist; and have been the strongholds even of national liberty at all times. They seem to have recognized the principle, " In the multitude of counsellors there is safety."
At the same time, they acted with concentration; —and when they did so, it was generally with efficiency. They pursued even their private ends in public bodies: yet not so as to sacrifice their individual rights, as either cowardly following each other, or tamely submitting to a leader. Even with regard to the relation of Vassal and Baron, Robertson observes,
It was a fundamental principle of the feudal system of policy, that no freeman could be subjected to new laws or taxes, unless by his own consent. quence of this, the vassals of every Baron were called to his court, in which they established, by mutual consent, such regulations as they deemed most beneficial to their small society, and granted their superiors such supplies of money as were proportionate to their abilities, or to his wants. The Barons themselves, conformably to the same maxim, were admitted into the supreme assembly of the nation, and concurred with the sovereign in enacting laws, or in imposing taxes."
Among the Anglo-Saxons, this system of self-government appears to have prevailed as much as was compatible with the military attitude in which they were generally obliged to hold themselves. The theory of their constitution seems to have been, that every ten men, or heads of families, should choose one from among them, to act for them in the council of their little community, consisting of generally ten such compartments or wards. Ten of these wards formed a tything or parish. And ten of these tythings formed a hundred, the elders of which, thus chosen, were supposed to meet for the management of matters belonging to the ten tythings in gene
ral: whilst each tything took charge of the affairs that especially belonged to itself. The County, which was still more extensive, corresponded to the tribe in Israel. The word county or comte seems to be derived from the Hebrew word signifying to rise up, to stand,—and refers to the rod or ensign of the tribe, to which they congregated themselves, in the larger assemblies of the people. The Cossacks were called, in the earlier part of their history, Comani,—most likely in regard to their tribes or standards : as also they were anciently called Khazares, on account of their skill in archery, for which the English also were remarkable. The word shire appears to be from the word Shehir, signifying a city, and still used in the country, south of the Caucasian mountains, in which Israel were placed by the Assyrians. A shire is a district of country, connected with a principal city.
The nation of Israel, we have seen, were, at an early period of their history, given proper rules for their association, such as were equally adapted for a small society, or for a large one. The people exercised a mutual oversight of each other in tens; each ten had one who represented and acted for them. The institution is very distinctly expressed, in Deut. i. 9—18, and appears clearly enough to account for the peculiar constitution of the Anglo-Saxons, about the origin of which, philosophers have been so puzzled, and such absurd notions have been entertained.
"And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone : the Lord your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye--this day as the stars of heaven for multitude. (The Lord God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye—and bless you, as he hath promised you !)
How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife? Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.
And ye answered me and said, The thing which thou hast spoken—good—to do. So 1 took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads
over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes.
And I charged your judges at that time, saying,- Hear — between your brethren, and judge righteously between—man and his brother, and the stranger—with him.
Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment—God's; and the cause that is too hard for you, bring—unto me, and I will hear it. And I commanded you at that time all the things which ye should do."
Here the people are enjoined to look out from among themselves, men qualified for official situations; and these are to be brought to the chief governor, ruling by the grace of God, and he gives them their authority, and the rules according to which they are to act. The people are divided into thousands, the elders representing which, came to be denominated the thousands of Israel. The subdivision of the people thus, and into hundreds and tens, is exactly that which existed among the Saxons, from the earliest period ; and, although the substance of the thing has been greatly lost, the terms hundred and tything, or ten, still exist with regard to civil divisions of the people in England.
dation, arched together both for peace
and war. By the law of Decenners, wherein justice was the band, their armies were gathered, not by the promiscuous flocking of people, but by orderly concurrence of families, kindreds, and decenners, all choosing their own leaders ; and so honour, love, and trust conspired together to leave no man's life in danger, nor death unrevenged.
“ It was a beautiful composure, mutually dependent in every part, from the crown to the clown, the magistrates being all choice men, and the king the choicest of the chosen ; election being the birth of esteem, and that of merit ; this bred love and mutual trust, which made them as corner-stones pointed forward to break the wave of danger. Nor was other reward expected by the great men, but honour and admiration, which commonly brought a return of acts of renown. Lastly, it was a regular frame, in every part squared and made even, by laws which, in the people, ruled as lex loquens ; and in the magistrates, as lex intelligens; all of them be. ing founded on the wisdom of the Greeks, and judicials of Moses. Thus the Saxons became somewhat like the Jews, distinct from all other people: their laws, honourable for the king, easy for the subject; and their government, above all other, like unto Christ's kingdom, whose yoke is easy, and his burden light. But their motion was so irregular, as God was pleased to reduce them by another way."--Historical and Political Discourse of the Laws and Government of England, page 70.
“ In the Saxon times all were decenners, that is, ranked into several tens, each one being pledged for others' good abearance; and, in case of default, to answer it before the judge, that is, of the hundred ; and, in case of default of
appearance, his nine pledges should have one and thirty days to bring the delinquent forth to justice: if this failed, then the chief of those decenners was to purge himself and his fellow pledges, both of the guilt of the fact, and also of being parties to the flight of the delinquent. If they could not do this, then were they by their own oaths to acquit themselves, and come under a bond to bring the delinquent to justice as soon as they could; and in the meantime to pay the damage out of the estate of the delinquent; and if that were not sufficient, then out of their own estate. The master of the family was a pledge, or one of the ten, for his whole family. It was a building of great strength downward, even to the foun
So striking is the resemblance between the ancient Saxon constitution and that of Israel, that, more than a hundred years ago, a book was produced with this title : An Historical and Political Essay, discovering the Affinity or Resemblance of the Ancient and Modern Governments, both in our Neighbouring Nations, as also in the Jewish Commonwealth, in respect to our English Parliaments ;" and from which we extract these few following remarks:
“ Selden allots to the great assembly or Sanhedrim of the Jews, both a judiciary and deliberative power ; to the first he refers their judgment of all matters relating to the payment of the annual tithes or re
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venues, and concerning all manner of sacrifices; to the last, of all matters relating to peace or war, to the amplifying of the temple or city of Jerusalem, to the enacting of any new laws, or the erecting of any inferior Sanhedrims. All which are things frequently treated of in our parliaments ; the supreme judiciary power of the kingdom in civil affairs being also lodged in the House of Lords.
“ It is farther agreed, that it belongeth to this great Sanhedrim, or Jewish assembly, to give all the necessary instructions and injunctions how first fruits should be faithfully paid, and both sorts of tithes. Which course of making laws concerning the payments which the people were to make, as is shown before, is the proper business only of the Parliament.
« For the freedom of their votes, the king was not admitted into the College of the Senate; because it is a crime to dissent from him, and to contradict his words. In our Parliaments, whensoever the king came to the House of Peers, where his place and chair of state was, the house did forbear to proceed in any debate whatsoever in his presence, but only heard what he was pleased to say unto them. The reason is before given by these Rabbins, which doth suit with the usage and custom of our Parliaments, as it was the course in their great Sanhedrim, which was a supreme Council among them."
“ Acording to the early policy of the Anglo-Saxons, each of their villages was divided into ten wards, or petty districts; and hence they were called tythings or decennaries, as their leader was denominated a decanus or tything-man. This regulation appears to have been extended over all the kingdoms upon the neighbouring continent; and in all probability it originated from the influence of ecclesias tical institutions.
"As upon the first establishment of Christianity, under the Roman dominion, the form of church government was in some respects modelled by the political constitution of the empire, so the civil government, in the modern states of Europe, was afterwards regulated in many particulars according to the system of ecclesiastical policy. When the western provinces of the Roman empire were conquered by the barbarous nations, and erected into separate kingdoms, the conquerors, who embraced the Christian religion, and felt the highest respect for its teachers, were disposed in many cases to improve their own political institutions, by an imitation of that regularity and subordination which was observed in the order and discipline of the church.
“ In the distribution of persons or of things, which fell under the regulation of the Christian clergy, it appears that, in conformity to the customs of the Jewish nation, a decimal arrangement was more frequently employed than any other. By the Mosaic institutions, the people were placed under rulers of thousands, of hun. dreds, of fifties, and of tens. A Jewish synagogue, corresponding to a modern parish, appears at a subsequent period to have been put under the direction of ten elders, of whom one became the chief ruler of that ecclesiastical division. A tenth part of the annual produce was appropriated for the support of the Levites; as the same proportion of ecclesiastical livings was claimed by the high-priest. Hence we find that, in modern Europe, the members of a cathedral church, as well as those of a monastery, were divided into ten branches, each of which was put under a director, and the tenth of these persons, or decanus, was intrusted with a superintendence of all the rest.
Hence, too, the modern institution of tythes, and the pretensions of the Roman Pontiff, the Christian high-priest, to the tenth of all the revenues of the clergy."--Historical View of the English Government.
This author thereafter proceeds to prove, from a vast number of instances, recorded in Scripture, that the representative system prevailed in ancient Israel, as in the Anglo-Saxon constitution.
To those who have attentively studied the institutions of Moses, and compared them with the Saxon, there must appear so striking a similarity, as will be apt to lead to the conclusion that the Saxon commonwealth was thus framed, after their becoming acquainted with Christianity. This, however, does not appear to be the case. They brought these institutions with them into England, and left similar institutions among the people in the north of Europe, with whom they had been from time immemorial. Yet, even granting this, we find Millar making the following remarks:
WITH THE SAXON RACE IN EUROPE,
This writer seems to have been prepared to look upon the Saxons as being in a state of barbarism,—and as if they had been obliged for every thing to the Romans, to whom they were superior in arms,--and to whom their descendants are certainly not inferior in intellectual power, or moral dignity. Such writers are greatly at a loss to account for these Mosaic institutions, existing in so perfect a state among a people they reckon so rude. By this, one of the most skilful of these writers, the conjecture is here hazarded, that, without any concert, and even as separated into their minuter divisions, all these northern nations fell into this arrangement and coalescence, as copying after the ecclesiastical institutions then planted among them. It happens, however, rather awkwardly for this theory, that these institutions were most distinctly possessed by the Danes, and the Danish colonies,—who were among the latest in receiving Christianity ; and they rather became fainter, the farther they departed from their early manners. It was not a very likely thing, to say the least of it, that these nations required to build up society from the very base, after acquaintance with Christianity,—when previously they had, by their combined energy and wise counsels, broken down the strength and policy of Rome. This they did not do as individuals, nor even small parties merely, but as nations, as a company of nations. Was it likely that these people, acting thus successfully in concert, would all at once, as if with common consent, and yet without any concert, throw away their old associations into utter forgetfulness, and adopt what was entirely new : whilst, with regard to the names of the days of the week, and even religious festivals, as in the case of Easter,—and, further, as to the names of the Supreme Being, they retained those they had used previous to their knowledge of Christianity? We can readily believe that, had the author of this “ Historical View of the English Go
vernment" been acquainted with our view of the case, he would not have been so puzzled in accounting for the planting of the institutions of Moses in the north:—he would not have been under the necessity of supposing such a simultaneous growth of like political constitutions, the most perfect in theory, among many independent, and as he supposed, barbarous nations ; a thing of which we have no experience in the history of the world.
The same writer, it may be observed, has been led to acknowledge what is grossly inconsistent with his own view of the case, and which, indeed, deprives it of its only seeming foundation ; which is, that it was in modern Europe that the ecclesiastical constitution and arrangements were assimilated to the Hebrew ; so that this ecclesiastical change, (equally favourable to our view,) requires to be accounted for, as much as the other.
Even granting, however, that the Mosaic institutions did exist among these nations, anterior to their embrace of Christianity, may it not still be objected, that they were given them by some legislator, who had, somehow, been made acquainted with the writings of Moses? Neither will this objection stand good. What is imposed upon a people as foreign to their former habits, exists only, as it were, in law. It is long before it becomes familiar to the every-day habits of the people, and acquires a perpetuity independent of the statute-book, so as to endure throughout all migrations and changes whatsoever, of the people. What is naturally everywhere part of a people's political existence, and distinguishes them continuously through all their known history, from all other nations, may well be supposed to have been taught them in their infancy, and to have grown with their growth. It has been early put into the very nature of the people. But we know of no people to whom this was done, except to Israel. The presumption is, certainly, altogether in our favour.—We find the English, in their earliest poli
COMMON LAW.-SAXON CHRONICLE.
death of the king, these different accounts were brought together, and consolidated into one general history of the nation during the period. After their conversion to Christianity, this business fell into the hands of the monks, of the Benedictine order, in whose several monasteries the district records were kept; and afterwards the whole were reduced into one statement by a chapter of the order. So regularly was every thing of importance noted in this way, that, it is said, no history of the same period is so complete as that of the Saxons, from their arrival in Britain, until the Norman invasion. In the books of the Kings of Israel, and the Chronicles of the kingdom of Judah,—written after the same plan, according to the lives of the kings ; and taking a religious view of men and events, noting particularly the hand of Providence in national affairs,—we have the origin of all this. As the learned Mr. Ingram has observed,
tical history, with these institutions ; and it remains to be proved how otherwise they received them. The theories hitherto formed to account for them, have no foundation in history, and are too fanciful to be admitted as philosophy.
Our argument for the priority of the Mosaic institutions among the English,—and their being independent of the ecclesiastical institutions,—will still more appear, when we consider that, in the people's courts, they followed their own customs and laws, the body of which was called the Common Law; and which had been handed down to them from time immemorial: whereas, in the ecclesiastical courts, that were now, for the first time in Europe, allowed the Christian priesthood, after the Israelitish pattern, (in which the Levites had so much to do in the administration of justice,) there was no such favour shown to the common law; but rather, of course, to their own canon law, and also to the Roman civil law. The Common Law,—a body of law, written in the very habits of the people, and not merely in writing, but so engraved, as in the rock for ever, as to subsist, together with this people, throughout all their migrations, revolutions, and changes, even of religion, is a perpetual witness to their having been, in the earliest period of their history, under strict moral training, and accustomed to the careful and regular administration of justice; such as could not accidentally have been given to a nation, far less to a body of nations but such as we certainly know was given to Israel.
Nor was the manner of preserving the national records so imperfect as Millar has rashly asserted, thus showing that he was less acquainted with this people, than with their enemies, the Romans. Before their conversion to Christianity, their priests, in different parts of the country, kept, it is most likely, distinct records, in each section, according to their several knowledge of what was passing, of a public and interesting nature. At the
“ The Saxon Chronicle may be philosophically considered the second great phenomenon in the history of mankind. For if we except the sacred annals of the Jews, contained in the books of the Old Testament, there is no other work extant, ancient or modern, which exhibits at one view a regular and chronological panorama of a people, described in rapid succession by different writers, through so many ages, in their own vernacular language."
The Scythians, among whom were the Goths and Saxons, are as clearly distinguished (Col. iii. 11) from the barbarians, as are the Jews from the Greeks; yet historians, at the expense of many inconsistencies, have been in the habit of confounding them. We shall close this line of argument with a quotation from Turner, who, having very gratuitously assumed that the Saxons were barbarians, proceeds to give a statement of the results of their settlement in Europe, such as fully justifies his suspicion, elsewhere expressed, that the Saxons were not so