Excerpts from President Reagan's speech yesterday in Philadelphia:

In a very real sense, it was . . . in 1787 . . . that the revolution truly began. For it was with the writing of our Constitution, setting down the architecture of democratic government, that the noble sentiments and brave rhetoric of 1776 took on substance, that the hopes and dreams of the revolutionists could become a living, enduring reality.

All men are created equal, and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. Until that moment some might have said that was just a high-blown sentiment, the dreams of a few philosophers and their hot-headed followers. But could one really construct a government, run a country, with such idealistic notions?

But once those ideals took root in living, functioning institutions, once those notions became a nation, well, then, as I said, the revolution could really begin, not just in America, but around the world, a revolution to free man from tyranny of every sort and secure his freedom the only way possible in this world -- through the checks and balances and institutions of limited, democratic government.

Checks and balances; limited government -- the genius of our constitutional system is its recognition that no one branch of government alone could be relied on to preserve our freedoms. The great safeguard of our liberty is the totality of the constitutional system, with no one part getting the upper hand. That is why the judiciary must be independent. And that is why it also must exercise restraint.

If our Constitution has endured, through times perilous as well as prosperous, it has not been simply as a plan of government, no matter how ingenious or inspired that might be. This document that we honor today has always been something more to us, filled us with a deeper feeling than one of simple admiration -- a feeling, one might say, more of reverence . . . . It is a covenant we have made not only with ourselves, but with all of mankind . . . . It is an oath of allegiance to that in man that is truly universal, that core of being that exists before and beyond distinctions of class, race or national origin. It is a dedication of faith to the humanity we all share . . . .