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[383] of, the government of Virginia, ought to be
Chap. LXIV.} 1776 May.
erected or established within the limits thereof.

No free government can be preserved but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.

Religion can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and, therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of it, according to the dictates of conscience; and it is the mutual duty of all to practise Christian forbearance, love, and charity, towards each other.

Other colonies had framed bills of rights in reference to their relations with Britain; Virginia moved from charters and customs to primal principles; from a narrow altercation with lawyers about facts to the contemplation of immutable truth. She summoned the eternal laws of man's being to protest against all tyranny. The English petition of right in 1688, was historic and retrospective; the Virginia declaration came directly out of the heart of nature, and announced governing principles for all peoples in all future times. It was the voice of reason going forth to create new institutions, to speak a new political world into being. Virginia presented herself at the bar of the world, and gave the name and fame of her sons as hostages, that her public life should show a likeness to the highest ideas of right and equal freedom among men.

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