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Algernon Sidney

Who will wear a shoe that hurts him, because the shoemaker tells him it is well made? or who will live in a house that yields no defense against the extremities of weather, because the mason or carpenter assures him it is a very good house? Such as have reason, understanding, or common sense, will, and ought to make use of it in those things that concern themselves, and their prosperity, and suspect the words of such as are interested in deceiving or persuading them not to see with their own eyes, that they may be more easily deceived. This rule obliges us so far to search into matters of state, as to examine the original principles of government in general, and of our own in particular. We cannot distinguish truth from falsehood, right from wrong, or know what obedience we owe to the magistrate, or what we may justly expect from him, unless we know what he is, why he is, and by whom he is made to be what he is. These perhaps may be called ‘mysteries of state,’ and some would persuade us they are to be esteemed ‘arcana;’ but whosoever confesses himself to be ignorant of them, must acknowledge that he is uncapable of giving any judgement upon things relating to the superstructure; and in so doing evidently shows to others, that they ought not at all hearken to what he says.

– Algernon Sidney, Discourses Concerning Government [1698]