BY philosophy is understood the knowledge acquired by reasoning, from the manner of the generation of anything, to the properties; or from the properties, to some possible way of generation of the same; to the end to be able to produce, as far as matter and human force permit, such effects as human life requireth. So the geometrician, from the construction of figures, findeth out many properties thereof; and from the properties, new ways of their construction, by reasoning; to the end to be able to measure land and water; and for infinite other uses. So the astronomer, from the rising, setting, and moving of the sun and stars in diverse parts of the heavens, findeth out the causes of day and night, and of the different seasons of the year, whereby he keepeth an account of time; and the like of other sciences.
By which definition it is evident that we are not to account as any part thereof that original knowledge called experience, in which consisteth prudence, because it is not attained by reasoning, but found as well in brute beasts as in man; and is but a memory of successions of events in times past, wherein the omission of every little circumstance, altering the effect frustrateth the expectation of the most prudent: whereas nothing is produced by reasoning aright, but general, eternal, and immutable truth.
Nor are we therefore to give that name to any false conclusions; for he that reasoneth aright in words he understandeth can never conclude an error:
Nor to that which any man knows by supernatural revelation; because it is not acquired by reasoning:
Nor that which is gotten by reasoning from the authority of books; because it is not by reasoning from the cause to the effect, nor from the effect to the cause; and is not knowledge, but faith.
The faculty of reasoning being consequent to the use of speech, it was not possible but that there should have been some general truths found out by reasoning, as ancient almost as language itself. The savages of America are not without some good moral sentences; also they have a little arithmetic, to add and divide in numbers not too great; but they are not therefore philosophers. For as there were plants of corn and wine in small quantity dispersed in the fields and woods, before men knew their virtue, or made use of them for their nourishment, or planted them apart in fields and vineyards; in which time they fed on acorns and drank water: so also there have been diverse true, general, and profitable speculations from the beginning, as being the natural plants of human reason. But they were at first but few in number; men lived upon gross experience; there was no method; that is to say, no sowing nor planting of knowledge by itself, apart from the weeds and common plants of error and conjecture. And the cause of it being the want of leisure from procuring the necessities of life, and defending themselves against their neighbours, it was impossible, till the erecting of great Commonwealths, it should be otherwise. Leisure is the mother of philosophy; and Commonwealth, the mother of peace and leisure. Where first were great and flourishing cities, there was first the study of philosophy. The Gymnosophists of India, the Magi of Persia, and the Priests of Chaldaea and Egypt are counted the most ancient philosophers; and those countries were the most ancient of kingdoms. Philosophy was not risen to the Grecians and other people of the West, whose Commonwealths, no greater perhaps than Lucca or Geneva, had never peace but when their fears of one another were equal; nor the leisure to observe anything but one another. At length, when war had united many of these Grecian lesser cities into fewer and greater, then began seven men, of several parts of Greece, to get the reputation of being wise; some of them for moral and politic sentences, and others for the learning of the Chaldaeans and Egyptians, which was astronomy and geometry. But we hear not yet of any schools of philosophy.
After the Athenians, by the overthrow of the Persian armies, had gotten the dominion of the sea; and thereby, of all the islands and maritime cities of the archipelago, as well of Asia as Europe; and were grown wealthy; they that had no employment, neither at home nor abroad, had little else to employ themselves in but either, as St. Luke says, "in telling and hearing news," [Acts, 17. 21] or in discoursing of philosophy publicly to the youth of the city. Every master took some place for that purpose: Plato, in certain public walks called Academia, from one Academus; Aristotle in the walk of the temple of Pan, called Lycaeum; others in the Stoa, or covered walk, wherein the merchants' goods were brought to land; others in other places, where they spent the time of their leisure in teaching or in disputing of their opinions; and some in any place where they could get the youth of the city together to hear them talk. And this was it which Carneades also did at Rome, when he was ambassador, which caused Cato to advise the Senate to dispatch him quickly, for fear of corrupting the manners of the young men that delighted to hear him speak, as they thought, fine things.
From this it was that the place where any of them taught and disputed was called schola, which in their tongue signifieth leisure; and their disputations, diatribae, that is to say, passing of the time. Also the philosophers themselves had the name of their sects, some of them, from these their schools: for they that followed Plato's doctrine were called Academics; the followers of Aristotle, Peripatetics, from the walk he taught in; and those that Zeno taught, Stoics, from the Stoa: as if we should denominate men from More-fields, from Paul's Church, and from the Exchange, because they meet there often to prate and loiter.
Nevertheless, men were so much taken with this custom, that in time it spread itself over all Europe, and the best part of Africa; so as there were schools, publicly erected and maintained, for lectures and disputations, almost in every Commonwealth.
There were also schools, anciently, both before and after the time of our Saviour, amongst the Jews: but they were schools of their law. For though they were called synagogues, that is to say, congregations of the people; yet, inasmuch as the law was every Sabbath day read, expounded, and disputed in them, they differed not in nature, but in name only, from public schools; and were not only in Jerusalem, but in every city of the Gentiles where the Jews inhabited. There was such a school at Damascus, whereinto Paul entered, to persecute. There were others at Antioch, Iconium and Thessalonica, whereinto he entered, to dispute. And such was the synagogue of the Libertines, Cyrenians, Alexandrians, Cilicians, and those of Asia; that is to say, the school of Libertines, and of Jews, that were strangers in Jerusalem: and of this school they were that disputed with St. Stephen.[Acts, 6. 9]
But what has been the utility of those schools? What science is there at this day acquired by their readings and disputings? That we have of geometry, which is the mother of all natural science, we are not indebted for it to the schools. Plato, that was the best philosopher of the Greeks, forbade entrance into his school to all that were not already in some measure geometricians. There were many that studied that science to the great advantage of mankind: but there is no mention of their schools; nor was there any sect of geometricians; nor did they then pass under the name of philosophers. The natural philosophy of those schools was rather a dream than science, and set forth in senseless and insignificant language, which cannot be avoided by those that will teach philosophy without having first attained great knowledge in geometry. For nature worketh by motion; the ways and degrees whereof cannot be known without the knowledge of the proportions and properties of lines and figures. Their moral philosophy is but a description of their own passions. For the rule of manners, without civil government, is the law of nature; and in it, the law civil, that determineth what is honest and dishonest; what is just and unjust; and generally what is good and evil. Whereas they make the rules of good and bad by their own liking and disliking; by which means, in so great diversity of taste, there is nothing generally agreed on; but every one doth, as far as he dares, whatsoever seemeth good in his own eyes, to the subversion of Commonwealth. Their logic, which should be the method of reasoning, is nothing else but captions of words, and inventions how to puzzle such as should go about to pose them. To conclude, there is nothing so absurd that the old philosophers (as Cicero saith, who was one of them) have not some of them maintained. And I believe that scarce anything can be more absurdly said in natural philosophy than that which now is called Aristotle's Metaphysics; nor more repugnant to government than much of that he hath said in his Politics, nor more ignorantly, than a great part of his Ethics.
The school of the Jews was originally a school of the law of Moses, who commanded that at the end of every seventh year, at the Feast of the Tabernacles, it should be read to all the people, that they might hear and learn it. [Deuteronomy, 31. 10] Therefore the reading of the law (which was in use after the Captivity) every Sabbath day ought to have had no other end but the acquainting of the people with the Commandments which they were to obey, and to expound unto them the writings of the prophets. But it is manifest, by the many reprehensions of them by our Saviour, that they corrupted the text of the law with their false commentaries, and vain traditions; and so little understood the prophets that they did neither acknowledge Christ, nor the works he did, of which the prophets prophesied. So that by their lectures and disputations in their synagogues, they turned the doctrine of their law into a fantastical kind of philosophy, concerning the incomprehensible nature of God and of spirits; which they compounded of the vain philosophy and theology of the Grecians, mingled with their own fancies, drawn from the obscurer places of the Scripture, and which might most easily be wrested to their purpose; and from the fabulous traditions of their ancestors.
That which is now called a University is a joining together, and an incorporation under one government, of many public schools in one and the same town or city, in which the principal schools were ordained for the three professions; that is to say, of the Roman religion, of the Roman law, and of the art of medicine. And for the study of philosophy it hath no otherwise place than as a handmaid to the Roman religion: and since the authority of Aristotle is only current there, that study is not properly philosophy (the nature whereof dependeth not on authors), but Aristotelity. And for geometry, till of very late times it had no place at all, as being subservient to nothing but rigid truth. And if any man by the ingenuity of his own nature had attained to any degree of perfection therein, he was commonly thought a magician, and his art diabolical.
Now to descend to the particular tenets of vain philosophy, derived to the Universities, and thence into the Church, partly from Aristotle, partly from blindness of understanding; I shall first consider their principles. There is a certain philosophia prima on which all other philosophy ought to depend; and consisteth principally in right limiting of the significations of such appellations, or names, as are of all others the most universal; which limitations serve to avoid ambiguity and equivocation in reasoning, and are commonly called definitions; such as are the definitions of body, time, place, matter, form, essence, subject, substance, accident, power, act, finite, infinite, quantity, quality, motion, action, passion, and diverse others, necessary to the explaining of a man's conceptions concerning the nature and generation of bodies. The explication (that is, the settling of the meaning) of which, and the like terms, is commonly in the Schools called metaphysics; as being a part of the philosophy of Aristotle, which hath that for title. But it is in another sense; for there it signifieth as much as "books written or placed after his natural philosophy": but the Schools take them for books of supernatural philosophy: for the word metaphysics will bear both these senses. And indeed that which is there written is for the most part so far from the possibility of being understood, and so repugnant to natural reason, that whosoever thinketh there is anything to be understood by it must needs think it supernatural.
From these metaphysics, which are mingled with the Scripture to make School divinity, we are told there be in the world certain essences separated from bodies, which they call abstract essences, and substantial forms; for the interpreting of which jargon, there is need of somewhat more than ordinary attention in this place. Also I ask pardon of those that are not used to this kind of discourse for applying myself to those that are. The world (I mean not the earth only, that denominates the lovers of it "worldly men," but the universe, that is, the whole mass of all things that are) is corporeal, that is to say, body; and hath the dimensions of magnitude, namely, length, breadth, and depth: also every part of body is likewise body, and hath the like dimensions; and consequently every part of the universe is body, and that which is not body is no part of the universe: and because the universe is all that which is no part of it is nothing, and consequently nowhere. Nor does it follow from hence that spirits are nothing: for they have dimensions and are therefore really bodies; though that name in common speech be given to such bodies only as are visible or palpable; that is, that have some degree of opacity: but for spirits, they call them incorporeal, which is a name of more honour, and may therefore with more piety be attributed to God Himself; in whom we consider not what attribute expresseth best His nature, which is incomprehensible, but what best expresseth our desire to honour Him.
To know now upon what grounds they say there be essences abstract, or substantial forms, we are to consider what those words do properly signify. The use of words is to register to ourselves, and make manifest to others, the thoughts and conceptions of our minds. Of which words, some are the names of the things conceived; as the names of all sorts of bodies that work upon the senses and leave an impression in the imagination: others are the names of the imaginations themselves; that is to say, of those ideas or mental images we have of all things we see or remember: and others again are names of names, or of different sorts of speech; as universal, plural, singular, are the names of names; and definition, affirmation, negation, true, false, syllogism, interrogation, promise, covenant, are the names of certain forms of speech. Others serve to show the consequence or repugnance of one name to another; as when one saith, "a man is a body," he intendeth that the name of body is necessarily consequent to the name of man, as being but serval name of the same thing, man; which consequence is signified by coupling them together with the word is. And as we use the verb is; so the Latins use their verb est, and the Greeks their esti through all its declinations. Whether all other nations of the world have in their several languages a word that answereth to it, or not, I cannot tell; but I am sure they have not need of it: for the placing of two names in order may serve to signify their consequence, if it were the custom (for custom is it that gives words their force), as well as the words is, or be, or are, and the like.
And if it were so, that there were a language without any verb answerable to est, or is, or be; yet the men that used it would be not a jot the less capable of inferring, concluding, and of all kind of reasoning, than were the Greeks and Latins. But what then would become of these terms, of entity, essence, essential, essentiality, that are derived from it, and of many more that depend on these, applied as most commonly they are? They are therefore no names of things; but signs, by which we make known that we conceive the consequence of one name or attribute to another: as when we say, "a man is a living body," we mean not that the man is one thing, the living body another, and the is, or being, a third; but that the man and the living body is the same thing, because the consequence, "If he be a man, he is a living body," is a true consequence, signified by that word is. Therefore, to be a body, to walk, to be speaking, to live, to see, and the like infinitives; also corporeity, walking, speaking, life, sight, and the like, that signify just the same, are the names of nothing; as I have elsewhere more amply expressed.
But to what purpose, may some man say, is such subtlety in a work of this nature, where I pretend to nothing but what is necessary to the doctrine of government and obedience? It is to this purpose, that men may no longer suffer themselves to be abused by them that by this doctrine of "separated essences," built on the vain philosophy of Aristotle, would fright them from obeying the laws of their country, with empty names; as men fright birds from the corn with an empty doublet, a hat, and a crooked stick. For it is upon this ground that, when a man is dead and buried, they say his soul, that is his life, can walk separated from his body, and is seen by night amongst the graves. Upon the same ground, they say that the figure, and colour, and taste of a piece of bread has a being, there, where they say there is no bread: and upon the same ground they say that faith, and wisdom, and other virtues are sometimes poured into a man, sometimes blown into him, from heaven; if the virtuous and their virtues could be asunder; and a great many other things that serve to lessen the dependence of subjects on the sovereign power of their country. For who will endeavour to obey the laws, if he expect obedience to be poured or blown into him? Or who will not obey a priest, that can make God, rather than his sovereign; nay, than God Himself? Or who that is in fear of ghosts will not bear great respect to those that can make the holy water that drives them from him? And this shall suffice for an example of the errors which are brought into the Church from the entities and essences of Aristotle: which it may be he knew to be false philosophy, but wrote it as a thing consonant to, and corroborative of, their religion; and fearing the fate of Socrates.
Being once fallen into this error of "separated essences," they are thereby necessarily involved in many other absurdities that follow it. For seeing they will have these forms to be real, they are obliged to assign them some place. But because they hold them incorporeal, without all dimension of quantity, and all men know that place is dimension, and not to be filled but by that which is corporeal, they are driven to uphold their credit with a distinction, that they are not indeed anywhere circumscriptive, but definitive: which terms being mere words, and in this occasion insignificant, pass only in Latin, that the vanity of them may be concealed. For the circumscription of a thing is nothing else but the determination or defining of its place; and so both the terms of the distinction are the same. And in particular, of the essence of a man, which, they say, is his soul, they affirm it to be all of it in his little finger, and all of it in every other part, how small soever, of his body; and yet no more soul in the whole body than in any one of those parts. Can any man think that God is served with such absurdities? And yet all this is necessary to believe, to those that will believe the existence of an incorporeal soul, separated from the body.
And when they come to give account how an incorporeal substance can be capable of pain, and be tormented in the fire of hell or purgatory, they have nothing at all to answer, but that it cannot be known how fire can burn souls.
Again, whereas motion is change of place, and incorporeal substances are not capable of place, they are troubled to make it seem possible how a soul can go hence, without the body, to heaven, hell, or purgatory; and how the ghosts of men (and I may add, of their clothes which they appear in) can walk by night in churches, churchyards, and other places of sepulture. To which I know not what they can answer, unless they will say, they walk definitive, not circumscriptive, or spiritually, not temporally: for such egregious distinctions are equally applicable to any difficulty whatsoever.
For the meaning of eternity, they will not have it to be an endless succession of time; for then they should not be able to render a reason how God's will and pre-ordaining of things to come should not be before His prescience of the same, as the efficient cause before the effect, or agent before the action; nor of many other their bold opinions concerning the incomprehensible nature of God. But they will teach us that eternity is the standing still of the present time, a nunc-stans, as the Schools call it; which neither they nor any else understand, no more than they would a hic-stans for an infinite greatness of place.
And whereas men divide a body in their thought, by numbering parts of it, and in numbering those parts, number also the parts of the place it filled; it cannot be but in making many parts, we make also many places of those parts; whereby there cannot be conceived in the mind of any man more or fewer parts than there are places for: yet they will have us believe that by the Almighty power of God, one body may be at one and the same time in many places; and many bodies at one and the same time in one place; as if it were an acknowledgement of the Divine Power to say, that which is, is not; or that which has been, has not been. And these are but a small part of the incongruities they are forced to, from their disputing philosophically, instead of admiring and adoring of the divine and incomprehensible Nature; whose attributes cannot signify what He is, but ought to signify our desire to honour Him with the best appellations we can think on. But they that venture to reason of His nature, from these attributes of honour, losing their understanding in the very first attempt, fall from one inconvenience into another, without end and without number; in the same manner as when a man ignorant of the ceremonies of court, coming into the presence of a greater person than he is used to speak to, and stumbling at his entrance, to save himself from falling, lets slip his cloak; to recover his cloak, lets fall his hat; and, with one disorder after another, discovers his astonishment and rusticity.
Then for physics, that is, the knowledge of the subordinate and secondary causes of natural events, they render none at all but empty words. If you desire to know why some kind of bodies sink naturally downwards toward the earth, and others go naturally from it, the Schools will tell you, out of Aristotle, that the bodies that sink downwards are heavy; and that this heaviness is it that causes them to descend. But if you ask what they mean by heaviness, they will define it to be an endeavour to go to the center of the earth: so that the cause why things sink downward is an endeavour to be below; which is as much as to say that bodies descend, or ascend, because they do. Or they will tell you the center of the earth is the place of rest and conservation for heavy things, and therefore they endeavour to be there: as if stones and metals had a desire, or could discern the place they would be at, as man does; or loved rest, as man does not; or that a piece of glass were less safe in the window than falling into the street.
If we would know why the same body seems greater, without adding to it, one time than another; they say, when it seems less, it is condensed; when greater, rarefied. What is that condensed and rarefied? Condensed is when there is in the very same matter less quantity than before; and rarefied, when more. As if there could be matter that had not some determined quantity; when quantity is nothing else but the determination of matter; that is to say, of body, by which we say one body is greater or lesser than another by thus, or thus much. Or as if a body were made without any quantity at all, and that afterwards more or less were put into it, according as it is intended the body should be more or less dense.
For the cause of the soul of man, they say, creatur infundendo and creando infunditur: that is, "It is created by pouring it in," and "poured in by creation."
For the cause of sense, an ubiquity of species; that is, of the shows or apparitions of objects; which when they be apparitions to the eye is sight; when to the ear, hearing; to the palate, taste; to the nostril, smelling; and to the rest of the body, feeling.
For cause of the will to do any particular action, which is called volitio, they assign the faculty, that is to say, the capacity in general, that men have to will sometimes one thing, sometimes another, which is called voluntas; making the power the cause of the act: as if one should assign for cause of the good or evil acts of men their ability to do them.
And in many occasions they put for cause of natural events, their own ignorance, but disguised in other words: as when they say, fortune is the cause of things contingent; that is, of things whereof they know no cause: and as when they attribute many effects to occult qualities; that is, qualities not known to them, and therefore also, as they think, to no man else: and to sympathy, antipathy, antiperistasis, specifical qualities, and other like terms, which signify neither the agent that produceth them, nor the operation by which they are produced.
If such metaphysics and physics as this be not vain philosophy, there was never any; nor needed St. Paul to give us warning to avoid it.
And for their moral and civil philosophy, it hath the same or greater absurdities. If a man do an action of injustice, that is to say, an action contrary to the law, God, they say, is the prime cause of the law and also the prime cause of that and all other actions; but no cause at all of the injustice; which is the inconformity of the action to the law. This is vain philosophy. A man might as well say that one man maketh both a straight line and a crooked, and another maketh their incongruity. And such is the philosophy of all men that resolve of their conclusions before they know their premises, pretending to comprehend that which is incomprehensible; and of attributes of honour to make attributes of nature; as this distinction was made to maintain the doctrine of free will, that is, of a will of man not subject to the will of God.
Aristotle and other heathen philosophers define good and evil by the appetite of men; and well enough, as long as we consider them governed every one by his own law: for in the condition of men that have no other law but their own appetites, there can be no general rule of good and evil actions. But in a Commonwealth this measure is false: not the appetite of private men, but the law, which is the will and appetite of the state, is the measure. And yet is this doctrine still practised, and men judge the goodness or wickedness of their own and of other men's actions, and of the actions of the Commonwealth itself, by their own passions; and no man calleth good or evil but that which is so in his own eyes, without any regard at all to the public laws; except only monks and friars, that are bound by vow to that simple obedience to their superior to which every subject ought to think himself bound by the law of nature to the civil sovereign. And this private measure of good is a doctrine, not only vain, but also pernicious to the public state.
It is also vain and false philosophy to say the work of marriage is repugnant to chastity or continence, and by consequence to make them moral vices; as they do that pretend chastity and continence for the ground of denying marriage to the clergy. For they confess it is no more but a constitution of the Church that requireth in those holy orders, that continually attend the altar and administration of the Eucharist, a continual abstinence from women, under the name of continual chastity, continence, and purity. Therefore they call the lawful use of wives want of chastity and continence; and so make marriage a sin, or at least a thing so impure and unclean as to render a man unfit for the altar. If the law were made because the use of wives is incontinence, and contrary to chastity, then all marriage is vice: if because it is a thing too impure and unclean for a man consecrated to God, much more should other natural, necessary, and daily works, which all men do, render men unworthy to be priests, because they are more unclean.
But the secret foundation of this prohibition of marriage of priests is not likely to have been laid so slightly as upon such errors in moral philosophy; nor yet upon the preference of single life to the estate of matrimony; which proceeded from the wisdom of St. Paul, who perceived how inconvenient a thing it was for those that in those times of persecution were preachers of the gospel, and forced to fly from one country to another, to be clogged with the care of wife and children; but upon the design of the popes and priests of after times, to make themselves, (the clergy, that is to say,) sole heirs of the kingdom of God in this world, to which it was necessary to take from them the use of marriage, because our Saviour saith that at the coming of his kingdom the children of God "shall neither marry, nor be given in marriage, but shall be as the angels in heaven"; that is to say, spiritual. Seeing then they had taken on them the name of spiritual, to have allowed themselves, when there was no need, the propriety of wives, had been an incongruity.
From Aristotle's civil philosophy, they have learned to call all manner of Commonwealths but the popular (such as was at that time the state of Athens), tyranny. All kings they called tyrants; and the aristocracy of the thirty governors set up there by the Lacedaemonians that subdued them, the thirty tyrants: as also to call the condition of the people under the democracy, liberty. A tyrant originally signified no more, simply, but a monarch. But when afterwards in most parts of Greece that kind of government was abolished, the name began to signify, not only the thing it did before, but with it the hatred which the popular states bore towards it: as also the name of king became odious after the deposing of the kings in Rome, as being a thing natural to all men to conceive some great fault to be signified in any attribute that is given in despite, and to a great enemy. And when the same men shall be displeased with those that have the administration of the democracy, or aristocracy, they are not to seek for disgraceful names to express their anger in; but call readily the one anarchy, and the other oligarchy, or the tyranny of a few. And that which offendeth the people is no other thing but that they are governed, not as every one of them would himself, but as the public representant, be it one man or an assembly of men, thinks fit; that is, by an arbitrary government: for which they give evil names to their superiors, never knowing (till perhaps a little after a civil war) that without such arbitrary government, such war must be perpetual; and that it is men and arms, not words and promises, that make the force and power of the laws.
And therefore this is another error of Aristotle's politics, that in a well-ordered Commonwealth, not men should govern, but the laws. What man that has his natural senses, though he can neither write nor read, does not find himself governed by them he fears, and believes can kill or hurt him when he obeyeth not? Or that believes the law can hurt him; that is, words and paper, without hands and swords of men? And this is of the number of pernicious errors: for they induce men, as oft as they like not their governors, to adhere to those that call them tyrants, and to think it lawful to raise war against them: and yet they are many times cherished from the pulpit, by the clergy.
There is another error in their civil philosophy (which they never learned of Aristotle, nor Cicero, nor any other of the heathen), to extend the power of the law, which is the rule of actions only, to the very thoughts and consciences of men, by examination and inquisition of what they hold, notwithstanding the conformity of their speech and actions. By which men are either punished for answering the truth of their thoughts, or constrained to answer an untruth for fear of punishment. It is true that the civil magistrate, intending to employ a minister in the charge of teaching, may enquire of him if he be content to preach such and such doctrines; and, in case of refusal, may deny him the employment: but to force him to accuse himself of opinions, when his actions are not by law forbidden, is against the law of nature; and especially in them who teach that a man shall be damned to eternal and extreme torments, if he die in a false opinion concerning an article of the Christian faith. For who is there (that knowing there is so great danger in an error) whom the natural care of himself compelleth not to hazard his soul upon his own judgement, rather than that of any other man that is unconcerned in his damnation?
For a private man, without the authority of the Commonwealth; that is to say, without permission from the representant thereof, to interpret the law by his own spirit, is another error in the politics: but not drawn from Aristotle, nor from any other of the heathen philosophers. For none of them deny but that in the power of making laws is comprehended also the power of explaining them when there is need. And are not the Scriptures, in all places where they are law, made law by the authority of the Commonwealth and, consequently, a part of the civil law?
Of the same kind it is also when any but the sovereign restraineth in any man that power which the Commonwealth hath not restrained; as they do that impropriate the preaching of the gospel to one certain order of men, where the laws have left it free. If the state give me leave to preach or teach; that is, if it forbid me not, no man can forbid me. If I find myself amongst the idolaters of America, shall I that am a Christian, though not in orders, think it a sin to preach Jesus Christ, till I have received orders from Rome? Or when I have preached, shall not I answer their doubts and expound the Scriptures to them; that is, shall I not teach? But for this may some say, as also for administering to them the sacraments, the necessity shall be esteemed for a sufficient mission; which is true. But this is true also, that for whatsoever a dispensation is due for the necessity, for the same there needs no dispensation when there is no law that forbids it. Therefore to deny these functions to those to whom the civil sovereign hath not denied them is a taking away of a lawful liberty, which is contrary to the doctrine of civil government.
More examples of vain philosophy, brought into religion by the doctors of School divinity, might be produced; but other men may if they please observe them of themselves. I shall only add this, that the writings of School divines are nothing else, for the most part, but insignificant trains of strange and barbarous words, or words otherwise used than in the common use of the Latin tongue; such as would pose Cicero, and Varro, and all the grammarians of ancient Rome. Which, if any man would see proved, let him (as I have said once before) see whether he can translate any School divine into any of the modern tongues, as French, English, or any other copious language: for that which cannot in most of these be made intelligible is not intelligible in the Latin. Which insignificancy of language, though I cannot note it for false philosophy, yet it hath a quality, not only to hide the truth, but also to make men think they have it, and desist from further search.
Lastly, for the errors brought in from false or uncertain history, what is all the legend of fictitious miracles in the lives of the saints; and all the histories of apparitions and ghosts alleged by the doctors of the Roman Church, to make good their doctrines of hell and purgatory, the power of exorcism, and other doctrines which have no warrant, neither in reason nor Scripture; as also all those traditions which they call the unwritten word of God; but old wives' fables? Whereof, though they find dispersed somewhat in the writings of the ancient Fathers, yet those Fathers were men that might too easily believe false reports. And the producing of their opinions for testimony of the truth of what they believed hath no other force with them that, according to the counsel of St. John, [I John, 4. 1] examine spirits than in all things that concern the power of the Roman Church (the abuse whereof either they suspected not, or had benefit by it), to discredit their testimony in respect of too rash belief of reports; which the most sincere men without great knowledge of natural causes, such as the Fathers were, are commonly the most subject to: for naturally, the best men are the least suspicious of fraudulent purposes. Gregory the Pope and St. Bernard have somewhat of apparitions of ghosts that said they were in purgatory; and so has our Bede: but nowhere, I believe, but by report from others. But if they, or any other, relate any such stories of their own knowledge, they shall not thereby confirm the more such vain reports, but discover their own infirmity or fraud.
With the introduction of false, we may join also the suppression of true philosophy by such men as neither by lawful authority nor sufficient study are competent judges of the truth. Our own navigations make manifest, and all men learned in human sciences now acknowledge, there are antipodes: and every day it appeareth more and more that years and days are determined by motions of the earth. Nevertheless, men that have in their writings but supposed such doctrine, as an occasion to lay open the reasons for and against it, have been punished for it by authority ecclesiastical. But what reason is there for it? Is it because such opinions are contrary to true religion? That cannot be, if they be true. Let therefore the truth be first examined by competent judges, or confuted by them that pretend to know the contrary. Is it because they be contrary to the religion established? Let them be silenced by the laws of those to whom the teachers of them are subject; that is, by the laws civil: for disobedience may lawfully be punished in them that against the laws teach even true philosophy. Is it because they tend to disorder in government, as countenancing rebellion or sedition? Then let them be silenced, and the teachers punished, by virtue of his power to whom the care of the public quiet is committed; which is the authority civil. For whatsoever power ecclesiastics take upon themselves (in any place where they are subject to the state) in their own right, though they call it God's right, is but usurpation.
CICERO maketh honourable mention of one of the Cassii, a severe judge amongst the Romans, for a custom he had in criminal causes, when the testimony of the witnesses was not sufficient, to ask the accusers, cui bono; that is to say, what profit, honour, or other contentment the accused obtained or expected by the fact. For amongst presumptions, there is none that so evidently declareth the author as doth the benefit of the action. By the same rule I intend in this place to examine who they may be that have possessed the people so long in this part of Christendom with these doctrines contrary to the peaceable societies of mankind. And first, to this error that the present Church, now militant on earth, is the kingdom of God (that is, the kingdom of glory, or the land of promise; not the kingdom of grace, which is but a promise of the land), are annexed these worldly benefits: first, that the pastors and teachers of the Church are entitled thereby, as God's public ministers, to a right of governing the Church; and consequently, because the Church and Commonwealth are the same persons, to be rectors and governors of the Commonwealth. By this title it is that the Pope prevailed with the subjects of all Christian princes to believe that to disobey him was to disobey Christ himself; and in all differences between him and other princes (charmed with the word power spiritual) to abandon their lawful sovereigns; which is in effect a universal monarchy over all Christendom. For though they were first invested in the right of being supreme teachers of Christian doctrine, by and under Christian emperors within the limits of the Roman Empire (as is acknowledged by themselves), by the title of Pontifex Maximus, who was an officer subject to the civil state; yet after the Empire was divided and dissolved, it was not hard to obtrude upon the people already subject to them, another title, namely, the right of St. Peter; not only to save entire their pretended power, but also to extend the same over the same Christian provinces, though no more united in the Empire of Rome. This benefit of a universal monarchy, considering the desire of men to bear rule, is a sufficient presumption that the Popes that pretended to it, and for a long time enjoyed it, were the authors of the doctrine by which it was obtained; namely, that the Church now on earth is the kingdom of Christ. For that granted, it must be understood that Christ hath some lieutenant amongst us by whom we are to be told what are his commandments.
After that certain Churches had renounced this universal power of the Pope, one would expect, in reason, that the civil sovereigns in all those Churches should have recovered so much of it as (before they had unadvisedly let it go) was their own right and in their own hands. And in England it was so in effect; saving that they by whom the kings administered the government of religion, by maintaining their employment to be in God's right, seemed to usurp, if not a supremacy, yet an independency on the civil power: and they but seemed to usurp it, inasmuch as they acknowledged a right in the king to deprive them of the exercise of their functions at his pleasure.
But in those places where the presbytery took that office, though many other doctrines of the Church of Rome were forbidden to be taught; yet this doctrine, that the kingdom of Christ is already come, and that it began at the resurrection of our Saviour, was still retained. But cui bono? What profit did they expect from it? The same which the popes expected: to have a sovereign power over the people. For what is it for men to excommunicate their lawful king, but to keep him from all places of God's public service in his own kingdom; and with force to resist him when he with force endeavoureth to correct them? Or what is it, without authority from the civil sovereign, to excommunicate any person, but to take from him his lawful liberty, that is, to usurp an unlawful power over their brethren? The authors therefore of this darkness in religion are the Roman and the Presbyterian clergy.
To this head, I refer also all those doctrines that serve them to keep the possession of this spiritual sovereignty after it is gotten. As first, that the Pope, in his public capacity, cannot err. For who is there that, believing this to be true, will not readily obey him in whatsoever he commands?
Secondly, that all other bishops, in what Commonwealth soever, have not their right, neither immediately from God, nor mediately from their civil sovereigns, but from the Pope, is a doctrine by which there comes to be in every Christian Commonwealth many potent men (for so are Bishops) that have their dependence on the Pope, owe obedience to him, though he be a foreign prince; by which means he is able, as he hath done many times, to raise a civil war against the state that submits not itself to be governed according to his pleasure and interest.
Thirdly, the exemption of these and of all other priests, and of all monks and friars, from the power of the civil laws. For by this means, there is a great part of every Commonwealth that enjoy the benefit of the laws and are protected by the power of the civil state, which nevertheless pay no part of the public expense; nor are liable to the penalties, as other subjects, due to their crimes; and, consequently, stand not in fear of any man, but the Pope; and adhere to him only, to uphold his universal monarchy.
Fourthly, the giving to their priests (which is no more in the New Testament but presbyters, that is, elders) the name of sacerdotes, that is, sacrificers, which was the title of the civil sovereign, and his public ministers, amongst the Jews, whilst God was their king. Also, the making the Lord's Supper a sacrifice serveth to make the people believe the Pope hath the same power over all Christians that Moses and Aaron had over the Jews; that is to say, all power, both civil and ecclesiastical, as the high priest then had.
Fifthly, the teaching that matrimony is a sacrament giveth to the clergy the judging of the lawfulness of marriages; and thereby, of what children are legitimate; and consequently, of the right of succession to hereditary kingdoms.
Sixthly, the denial of marriage to priests serveth to assure this power of the Pope over kings. For if a king be a priest, he cannot marry and transmit his kingdom to his posterity; if he be not a priest, then the Pope pretendeth this authority ecclesiastical over him, and over his people.
Seventhly, from auricular confession they obtain, for the assurance of their power, better intelligence of the designs of princes and great persons in the civil state than these can have of the designs of the state ecclesiastical.
Eighthly, by the canonization of saints, and declaring who are martyrs, they assure their power in that they induce simple men into an obstinacy against the laws and commands of their civil sovereigns, even to death, if by the Pope's excommunication they be declared heretics or enemies to the Church; that is, as they interpret it, to the Pope.
Ninthly, they assure the same, by the power they ascribe to every priest of making Christ; and by the power of ordaining penance, and of remitting and retaining of sins.
Tenthly, by the doctrine of purgatory, of justification by external works, and of indulgences, the clergy is enriched.
Eleventhly, by their demonology, and the use of exorcism, and other things appertaining thereto, they keep, or think they keep, the people more in awe of their power.
Lastly, the metaphysics, ethics, and politics of Aristotle, the frivolous distinctions, barbarous terms, and obscure language of the Schoolmen, taught in the universities (which have been all erected and regulated by the Pope's authority), serve them to keep these errors from being detected, and to make men mistake the ignis fatuus of vain philosophy for the light of the Gospel.
To these, if they sufficed not, might be added other of their dark doctrines, the profit whereof redoundeth manifestly to the setting up of an unlawful power over the lawful sovereigns of Christian people; or for the sustaining of the same when it is set up; or to the worldly riches, honour, and authority of those that sustain it. And therefore by the aforesaid rule of cui bono, we may justly pronounce for the authors of all this spiritual darkness, the Pope, and Roman clergy, and all those besides that endeavour to settle in the minds of men this erroneous doctrine, that the Church now on earth is that kingdom of God mentioned in the Old and New Testament.
But the emperors, and other Christian sovereigns, under whose government these errors and the like encroachments of ecclesiastics upon their office at first crept in, to the disturbance of their possessions and of the tranquillity of their subjects, though they suffered the same for want of foresight of the sequel, and of insight into the designs of their teachers, may nevertheless be esteemed accessaries to their own and the public damage. For without their authority there could at first no seditious doctrine have been publicly preached. I say they might have hindered the same in the beginning: but when the people were once possessed by those spiritual men, there was no human remedy to be applied that any man could invent. And for the remedies that God should provide, who never faileth in His good time to destroy all the machinations of men against the truth, we are to attend His good pleasure that suffereth many times the prosperity of His enemies, together with their ambition, to grow to such a height as the violence thereof openeth the eyes, which the wariness of their predecessors had before sealed up, and makes men by too much grasping let go all, as Peter's net was broken by the struggling of too great a multitude of fishes; whereas the impatience of those that strive to resist such encroachment, before their subjects' eyes were opened, did but increase the power they resisted. I do not therefore blame the Emperor Frederick for holding the stirrup to our countryman Pope Adrian; for such was the disposition of his subjects then, as if he had not done it, he was not likely to have succeeded in the empire. But I blame those that, in the beginning, when their power was entire, by suffering such doctrines to be forged in the universities of their own dominions, have held the stirrup to all the succeeding popes, whilst they mounted into the thrones of all Christian sovereigns, to ride and tire both them and their people, at their pleasure.
But as the inventions of men are woven, so also are they ravelled out; the way is the same, but the order is inverted. The web begins at the first elements of power, which are wisdom, humility, sincerity, and other virtues of the Apostles, whom the people, converted, obeyed out of reverence, not by obligation. Their consciences were free, and their words and actions subject to none but the civil power. Afterwards the presbyters, as the flocks of Christ increased, assembling to consider what they should teach, and thereby obliging themselves to teach nothing against the decrees of their assemblies, made it to be thought the people were thereby obliged to follow their doctrine, and, when they refused, refused to keep them company (that was then called excommunication), not as being infidels, but as being disobedient: and this was the first knot upon their liberty. And the number of presbyters increasing, the presbyters of the chief city or province got themselves an authority over the parochial presbyters, and appropriated to themselves the names of bishops: and this was a second knot on Christian liberty. Lastly, the bishop of Rome, in regard of the Imperial City, took upon him an authority (partly by the wills of the emperors themselves, and by the title of Pontifex Maximus, and at last when the emperors were grown weak, by the privileges of St. Peter) over all other bishops of the Empire: which was the third and last knot, and the whole synthesis and construction of the pontifical power.
And therefore the analysis or resolution is by the same way, but beginneth with the knot that was last tied; as we may see in the dissolution of the preterpolitical Church government in England. First, the power of the popes was dissolved totally by Queen Elizabeth; and the bishops, who before exercised their functions in right of the Pope, did afterwards exercise the same in right of the Queen and her successors; though by retaining the phrase of jure divino they were thought to demand it by immediate right from God: and so was untied the first knot. After this, the Presbyterians lately in England obtained the putting down of Episcopacy: and so was the second knot dissolved. And almost at the same time, the power was taken also from the Presbyterians: and so we are reduced to the independency of the primitive Christians to follow Paul, or Cephas, or Apollos, every man as he liketh best: which if it be without contention, and without measuring the doctrine of Christ by our affection to the person of his minister (the fault which the Apostle reprehended in the Corinthians), is perhaps the best: first, because there ought to be no power over the consciences of men, but of the word itself, working faith in every one, not always according to the purpose of them that plant and water, but of God Himself, that giveth the increase. And secondly, because it is unreasonable in them, who teach there is such danger in every little error, to require of a man endued with reason of his own to follow the reason of any other man, or of the most voices of many other men, which is little better than to venture his salvation at cross and pile. Nor ought those teachers to be displeased with this loss of their ancient authority: for there is none should know better than they that power is preserved by the same virtues by which it is acquired; that is to say, by wisdom, humility, clearness of doctrine, and sincerity of conversation; and not by suppression of the natural sciences, and of the morality of natural reason; nor by obscure language; nor by arrogating to themselves more knowledge than they make appear; nor by pious frauds; nor by such other faults as in the pastors of God's Church are not only faults, but also scandals, apt to make men stumble one time or other upon the suppression of their authority.
But after this doctrine, that the Church now militant is the kingdom of God spoken of in the Old and New Testament, was received in the world, the ambition and canvassing for the offices that belong thereunto, and especially for that great office of being Christ's lieutenant, and the pomp of them that obtained therein the principal public charges, became by degrees so evident that they lost the inward reverence due to the pastoral function: insomuch as the wisest men of them that had any power in the civil state needed nothing but the authority of their princes to deny them any further obedience. For, from the time that the Bishop of Rome had gotten to be acknowledged for bishop universal, by pretence of succession to St. Peter, their whole hierarchy, or kingdom of darkness, may be compared not unfitly to the kingdom of fairies; that is, to the old wives' fables in England concerning ghosts and spirits, and the feats they play in the night. And if a man consider the original of this great ecclesiastical dominion, he will easily perceive that the papacy is no other than the ghost of the deceased Roman Empire, sitting crowned upon the grave thereof: for so did the papacy start up on a sudden out of the ruins of that heathen power.
The language also which they use, both in the churches and in their public acts, being Latin, which is not commonly used by any nation now in the world, what is it but the ghost of the old Roman language?
The fairies in what nation soever they converse have but one universal king, which some poets of ours call King Oberon; but the Scripture calls Beelzebub, prince of demons. The ecclesiastics likewise, in whose dominions soever they be found, acknowledge but one universal king, the Pope.
The ecclesiastics are spiritual men and ghostly fathers. The fairies are spirits and ghosts. Fairies and ghosts inhabit darkness, solitudes, and graves. The ecclesiastics walk in obscurity of doctrine, in monasteries, churches, and churchyards.
The ecclesiastics have their cathedral churches, which, in what town soever they be erected, by virtue of holy water, and certain charms called exorcisms, have the power to make those towns, cities, that is to say, seats of empire. The fairies also have their enchanted castles, and certain gigantic ghosts, that domineer over the regions round about them.
The fairies are not to be seized on, and brought to answer for the hurt they do. So also the ecclesiastics vanish away from the tribunals of civil justice.
The ecclesiastics take from young men the use of reason, by certain charms compounded of metaphysics, and miracles, and traditions, and abused Scripture, whereby they are good for nothing else but to execute what they command them. The fairies likewise are said to take young children out of their cradles, and to change them into natural fools, which common people do therefore call elves, and are apt to mischief.
In what shop or operatory the fairies make their enchantment, the old wives have not determined. But the operatories of the clergy are well enough known to be the universities, that received their discipline from authority pontifical.
When the fairies are displeased with anybody, they are said to send their elves to pinch them. The ecclesiastics, when they are displeased with any civil state, make also their elves, that is, superstitious, enchanted subjects, to pinch their princes, by preaching sedition; or one prince, enchanted with promises, to pinch another.
The fairies marry not; but there be amongst them incubi that have copulation with flesh and blood. The priests also marry not.
The ecclesiastics take the cream of the land, by donations of ignorant men that stand in awe of them, and by tithes: so also it is in the fable of fairies, that they enter into the dairies, and feast upon the cream, which they skim from the milk.
What kind of money is current in the kingdom of fairies is not recorded in the story. But the ecclesiastics in their receipts accept of the same money that we do; though when they are to make any payment, it is in canonizations, indulgences, and masses.
To this and such like resemblances between the papacy and the kingdom of fairies may be added this, that as the fairies have no existence but in the fancies of ignorant people, rising from the traditions of old wives or old poets: so the spiritual power of the Pope (without the bounds of his own civil dominion) consisteth only in the fear that seduced people stand in of their excommunications, upon hearing of false miracles, false traditions, and false interpretations of the Scripture.
It was not therefore a very difficult matter for Henry the Eighth by his exorcism; nor for Queen Elizabeth by hers, to cast them out. But who knows that this spirit of Rome, now gone out, and walking by missions through the dry places of China, Japan, and the Indies, that yield him little fruit, may not return; or rather, an assembly of spirits worse than he enter and inhabit this clean-swept house, and make the end thereof worse than the beginning? For it is not the Roman clergy only that pretends the kingdom of God to be of this world, and thereby to have a power therein, distinct from that of the civil state. And this is all I had a design to say, concerning the doctrine of the POLITICS. Which, when I have reviewed, I shall willingly expose it to the censure of my country.
FROM the contrariety of some of the natural faculties of the mind, one to another, as also of one passion to another, and from their reference to conversation, there has been an argument taken to infer an impossibility that any one man should be sufficiently disposed to all sorts of civil duty. The severity of judgement, they say, makes men censorious and unapt to pardon the errors and infirmities of other men: and on the other side, celerity of fancy makes the thoughts less steady than is necessary to discern exactly between right and wrong. Again, in all deliberations, and in all pleadings, the faculty of solid reasoning is necessary: for without it, the resolutions of men are rash, and their sentences unjust: and yet if there be not powerful eloquence, which procureth attention and consent, the effect of reason will be little. But these are contrary faculties; the former being grounded upon principles of truth; the other upon opinions already received, true or false; and upon the passions and interests of men, which are different and mutable.
And amongst the passions, courage (by which I mean the contempt of wounds and violent death) inclineth men to private revenges, and sometimes to endeavour the unsettling of the public peace: and timorousness many times disposeth to the desertion of the public defence. Both these, they say, cannot stand together in the same person.
And to consider the contrariety of men's opinions and manners in general, it is, they say, impossible to entertain a constant civil amity with all those with whom the business of the world constrains us to converse: which business consisteth almost in nothing else but a perpetual contention for honour, riches, and authority.
To which I answer that these are indeed great difficulties, but not impossibilities: for by education and discipline, they may be, and are sometimes, reconciled. Judgement and fancy may have place in the same man; but by turns; as the end which he aimeth at requireth. As the Israelites in Egypt were sometimes fastened to their labour of making bricks, and other times were ranging abroad to gather straw: so also may the judgement sometimes be fixed upon one certain consideration, and the fancy at another time wandering about the world. So also reason and eloquence (though not perhaps in the natural sciences, yet in the moral) may stand very well together. For wheresoever there is place for adorning and preferring of error, there is much more place for adorning and preferring of truth, if they have it to adorn. Nor is there any repugnancy between fearing the laws, and not fearing a public enemy; nor between abstaining from injury, and pardoning it in others. There is therefore no such inconsistence of human nature with civil duties, as some think. I have known clearness of judgement, and largeness of fancy; strength of reason, and graceful elocution; a courage for the war, and a fear for the laws, and all eminently in one man; and that was my most noble and honoured friend, Mr. Sidney Godolphin; who, hating no man, nor hated of any, was unfortunately slain in the beginning of the late civil war, in the public quarrel, by an undiscerned and an undiscerning hand.
To the Laws of Nature declared in the fifteenth Chapter, I would have this added: that every man is bound by nature, as much as in him lieth, to protect in war the authority by which he is himself protected in time of peace. For he that pretendeth a right of nature to preserve his own body, cannot pretend a right of nature to destroy him by whose strength he is preserved: it is a manifest contradiction of himself. And though this law may be drawn by consequence from some of those that are there already mentioned, yet the times require to have it inculcated and remembered.
And because I find by diverse English books lately printed that the civil wars have not yet sufficiently taught men in what point of time it is that a subject becomes obliged to the conqueror; nor what is conquest; nor how it comes about that it obliges men to obey his laws: therefore for further satisfaction of men therein, I say, the point of time wherein a man becomes subject to a conqueror is that point wherein, having liberty to submit to him, he consenteth, either by express words or by other sufficient sign, to be his subject. When it is that a man hath the liberty to submit, I have shown before in the end of the twenty-first Chapter; namely, that for him that hath no obligation to his former sovereign but that of an ordinary subject, it is then when the means of his life is within the guards and garrisons of the enemy; for it is then that he hath no longer protection from him, but is protected by the adverse party for his contribution. Seeing therefore such contribution is everywhere, as a thing inevitable, notwithstanding it be an assistance to the enemy, esteemed lawful; a total submission, which is but an assistance to the enemy, cannot be esteemed unlawful. Besides, if a man consider that they submit, assist the enemy but with part of their estates, whereas they that refuse, assist him with the whole, there is no reason to call their submission or composition an assistance, but rather a detriment, to the enemy. But if a man, besides the obligation of a subject, hath taken upon him a new obligation of a soldier, then he hath not the liberty to submit to a new power, as long as the old one keeps the field and giveth him means of subsistence, either in his armies or garrisons: for in this case, he cannot complain of want of protection and means to live as a soldier. But when that also fails, a soldier also may seek his protection wheresoever he has most hope to have it, and may lawfully submit himself to his new master. And so much for the time when he may do it lawfully, if he will. It therefore he do it, he is undoubtedly bound to be a true subject: for a contract lawfully made cannot lawfully be broken.
By this also a man may understand when it is that men may be said to be conquered; and in what the nature of conquest, and the right of a conqueror consisteth: for this submission is it implieth them all. Conquest is not the victory itself; but the acquisition, by victory, of a right over the persons of men. He therefore that is slain is overcome, but not conquered: he that is taken and put into prison or chains is not conquered, though overcome; for he is still an enemy, and may save himself if he can: but he that upon promise of obedience hath his life and liberty allowed him, is then conquered and a subject; and not before. The Romans used to say that their general had pacified such a province, that is to say, in English, conquered it; and that the country was pacified by victory when the people of it had promised imperata facere, that is, to do what the Roman people commanded them: this was to be conquered. But this promise may be either express or tacit: express, by promise; tacit, by other signs. As, for example, a man that hath not been called to make such an express promise, because he is one whose power perhaps is not considerable; yet if he live under their protection openly, he is understood to submit himself to the government: but if he live there secretly, he is liable to anything that may be done to a spy and enemy of the state. I say not, he does any injustice (for acts of open hostility bear not that name); but that he may be justly put to death. Likewise, if a man, when his country is conquered, be out of it, he is not conquered, nor subject: but if at his return he submit to the government, he is bound to obey it. So that conquest, to define it, is the acquiring of the right of sovereignty by victory. Which right is acquired in the people's submission, by which they contract with the victor, promising obedience, for life and liberty.
In the twenty-ninth Chapter I have set down for one of the causes of the dissolutions of Commonwealths their imperfect generation, consisting in the want of an absolute and arbitrary legislative power; for want whereof, the civil sovereign is fain to handle the sword of justice unconstantly, and as if it were too hot for him to hold: one reason whereof (which I have not there mentioned) is this, that they will all of them justify the war by which their power was at first gotten, and whereon, as they think, their right dependeth, and not on the possession. As if, for example, the right of the kings of England did depend on the goodness of the cause of William the Conqueror, and upon their lineal and directest descent from him; by which means, there would perhaps be no tie of the subjects' obedience to their sovereign at this day in all the world: wherein whilst they needlessly think to justify themselves, they justify all the successful rebellions that ambition shall at any time raise against them and their successors. Therefore I put down for one of the most effectual seeds of the death of any state, that the conquerors require not only a submission of men's actions to them for the future, but also an approbation of all their actions past; when there is scarce a Commonwealth in the world whose beginnings can in conscience be justified.
And because the name of tyranny signifieth nothing more nor less than the name of sovereignty, be it in one or many men, saving that they that use the former word are understood to be angry with them they call tyrants; I think the toleration of a professed hatred of tyranny is a toleration of hatred to Commonwealth in general, and another evil seed, not differing much from the former. For to the justification of the cause of a conqueror, the reproach of the cause of the conquered is for the most part necessary: but neither of them necessary for the obligation of the conquered. And thus much I have thought fit to say upon the review of the first and second part of this discourse.
In the thirty-fifth Chapter, I have sufficiently declared out of the Scripture that in the Commonwealth of the Jews, God Himself was made the Sovereign, by pact with the people; who were therefore called His "peculiar people," to distinguish them from the rest of the world, over whom God reigned, not by their consent, but by His own power: and that in this kingdom Moses was God's lieutenant on earth; and that it was he that told them what laws God appointed them to be ruled by. But I have omitted to set down who were the officers appointed to do execution; especially in capital punishments; not then thinking it a matter of so necessary consideration as I find it since. We know that generally in all Commonwealths, the execution of corporeal punishments was either put upon the guards, or other soldiers of the sovereign power, or given to those in whom want of means, contempt of honour, and hardness of heart concurred to make them sue for such an office. But amongst the Israelites it was a positive law of God their Sovereign that he that was convicted of a capital crime should be stoned to death by the people; and that the witnesses should cast the first stone, and after the witnesses, then the rest of the people. This was a law that designed who were to be the executioners; but not that any one should throw a stone at him before conviction and sentence, where the congregation was judge. The witnesses were nevertheless to be heard before they proceeded to execution, unless the fact were committed in the presence of the congregation itself, or in sight of the lawful judges; for then there needed no other witnesses but the judges themselves. Nevertheless, this manner of proceeding, being not thoroughly understood, hath given occasion to a dangerous opinion, that any man may kill another, in some cases, by a right of zeal; as if the executions done upon offenders in the kingdom of God in old time proceeded not from the sovereign command, but from the authority of private zeal: which, if we consider the texts that seem to favour it, is quite contrary.
First, where the Levites fell upon the people that had made and worshipped the golden calf, and slew three thousand of them, it was by the commandment of Moses from the mouth of God; as is manifest, Exodus, 32. 27. And when the son of a woman of Israel had blasphemed God, they that heard it did not kill him, but brought him before Moses, who put him under custody, till God should give sentence against him; as appears, Leviticus, 24. 11, 12. Again, when Phinehas killed Zimri and Cozbi, [Numbers, 25. 6, 7] it was not by right of private zeal: their crime was committed in the sight of the assembly; there needed no witness; the law was known, and he the heir apparent to the sovereignty; and, which is the principal point, the lawfulness of his act depended wholly upon a subsequent ratification by Moses, whereof he had no cause to doubt. And this presumption of a future ratification is sometimes necessary to the safety of a Commonwealth; as in a sudden rebellion any man that can suppress it by his own power in the country where it begins, without express law or commission, may lawfully do it, and provide to have it ratified, or pardoned, whilst it is in doing, or after it is done. Also, it is expressly said, "Whosoever shall kill the murderer shall kill him upon the word of witnesses":[Ibid., 35. 30] but witnesses suppose a formal judicature, and consequently condemn that pretence of jus zelotarum. The Law of Moses concerning him that enticeth to idolatry, that is to say, in the kingdom of God to a renouncing of his allegiance, forbids to conceal him, and commands the accuser to cause him to be put to death, and to cast the first stone at him; [Deuteronomy, 13. 8] but not to kill him before he be condemned. And the process against idolatry is exactly set down: for God there speaketh to the people as Judge, and commandeth them, when a man is accused of idolatry, to enquire diligently of the fact, and finding it true, then to stone him; but still the hand of the witness throweth the first stone. [Ibid., 17. 4, 5, 6] This is not private zeal, but public condemnation. In like manner when a father hath a rebellious son, the law is that he shall bring him before the judges of the town, and all the people of the town shall stone him. [Ibid., 21. 18-21] Lastly, by pretence of these laws it was that St. Stephen was stoned, and not by pretence of private zeal: for before he was carried away to execution, he had pleaded his cause before the high priest. There is nothing in all this, nor in any other part of the Bible, to countenance executions by private zeal; which, being oftentimes but a conjunction of ignorance and passion, is against both the justice and peace of a Commonwealth.
In the thirty-sixth Chapter I have said that it is not declared in what manner God spoke supernaturally to Moses: not that He spoke not to him sometimes by dreams and visions, and by a supernatural voice, as to other prophets; for the manner how He spoke unto him from the mercy seat is expressly set down in these words, "From that time forward, when Moses entered into Tabernacle of the congregation to speak with God, he heard a voice which spake unto him from over the mercy seat, which is over the Ark of the testimony; from between the cherubims he spake unto him." [Numbers, 7. 89] But it is not declared in what consisted the pre-eminence of the manner of God's speaking to Moses, above that of His speaking to other prophets, as to Samuel and to Abraham, to whom He also spoke by a voice (that is, by vision), unless the difference consist in the clearness of the vision. For "face to face," and "mouth to mouth," cannot be literally understood of the infiniteness and incomprehensibility of the Divine Nature.
And as to the whole doctrine, I see not yet, but the principles of it are true and proper, and the ratiocination solid. For I ground the civil right of sovereigns, and both the duty and liberty of subjects, upon the known natural inclinations of mankind, and upon the articles of the law of nature; of which no man, that pretends but reason enough to govern his private family, ought to be ignorant. And for the power ecclesiastical of the same sovereigns, I ground it on such texts as are both evident in themselves and consonant to the scope of the whole Scripture, and therefore am persuaded that he that shall read it with a purpose only to be informed, shall be informed by it. But for those that by writing or public discourse, or by their eminent actions, have already engaged themselves to the maintaining of contrary opinions, they will not be so easily satisfied. For in such cases, it is natural for men, at one and the same time, both to proceed in reading and to lose their attention in the search of objections to that they had read before: of which, in a time wherein the interests of men are changed (seeing much of that doctrine which serveth to the establishing of a new government must needs be contrary to that which conduced to the dissolution of the old), there cannot choose but be very many.
In that part which treateth of a Christian Commonwealth, there are some new doctrines which, it may be, in a state where the contrary were already fully determined, were a fault for a subject without leave to divulge, as being a usurpation of the place of a teacher. But in this time that men call not only for peace, but also for truth, to offer such doctrines as I think true, and that manifestly tend to peace and loyalty, to the consideration of those that are yet in deliberation, is no more but to offer new wine, to be put into new casks, that both may be preserved together. And I suppose that then, when novelty can breed no trouble nor disorder in a state, men are not generally so much inclined to the reverence of antiquity as to prefer ancient errors before new and well-proved truth.
There is nothing I distrust more than my elocution, which nevertheless I am confident (excepting the mischances of the press) is not obscure. That I have neglected the ornament of quoting ancient poets, orators, and philosophers, contrary to the custom of late time, whether I have done well or ill in it, proceedeth from my judgement, grounded on many reasons. For first, all truth of doctrine dependeth either upon reason or upon Scripture; both which give credit to many, but never receive it from any writer. Secondly, the matters in question are not of fact, but of right, wherein there is no place for witnesses. There is scarce any of those old writers that contradicteth not sometimes both himself and others; which makes their testimonies insufficient. Fourthly, such opinions as are taken only upon credit of antiquity are not intrinsically the judgement of those that cite them, but words that pass, like gaping, from mouth to mouth. Fifthly, it is many times with a fraudulent design that men stick their corrupt doctrine with the cloves of other men's wit. Sixthly, I find not that the ancients they cite took it for an ornament to do the like with those that wrote before them. Seventhly, it is an argument of indigestion, when Greek and Latin sentences unchewed come up again, as they use to do, unchanged. Lastly, though I reverence those men of ancient time that either have written truth perspicuously, or set us in a better way to find it out ourselves; yet to the antiquity itself I think nothing due. For if we will reverence the age, the present is the oldest: if the antiquity of the writer, I am not sure that generally they to whom such honour is given, were more ancient when they wrote than I am that am writing: but if it be well considered, the praise of ancient authors proceeds not from the reverence of the dead, but from the competition and mutual envy of the living.
To conclude, there is nothing in this whole discourse, nor in that I wrote before of the same subject in Latin, as far as I can perceive, contrary either to the word of God or to good manners; or to the disturbance of the public tranquillity. Therefore I think it may be profitably printed, and more profitably taught in the Universities, in case they also think so, whom the judgement of the same belongeth. For seeing the Universities are the fountains of civil and moral doctrine, from whence the preachers and the gentry, drawing such water as they find, use to sprinkle the same (both from the pulpit and in their conversation) upon the people, there ought certainly to be great care taken, to have it pure, both from the venom of heathen politicians, and from the incantation of deceiving spirits. And by that means the most men, knowing their duties, will be the less subject to serve the ambition of a few discontented persons in their purposes against the state, and be the less grieved with the contributions necessary for their peace and defence; and the governors themselves have the less cause to maintain at the common charge any greater army than is necessary to make good the public liberty against the invasions and encroachments of foreign enemies.
And thus I have brought to an end my discourse of civil and ecclesiastical government, occasioned by the disorders of the present time, without partiality, without application, and without other design than to set before men's eyes the mutual relation between protection and obedience; of which the condition of human nature, and the laws divine, both natural and positive, require an inviolable observation. And though in the revolution of states there can be no very good constellation for truths of this nature to be born under (as having an angry aspect from the dissolvers of an old government, and seeing but the backs of them that erect a new); yet I cannot think it will be condemned at this time, either by the public judge of doctrine, or by any that desires the continuance of public peace. And in this hope I return to my interrupted speculation of bodies natural; wherein, if God give me health to finish it, I hope the novelty will as much please as in the doctrine of this artificial body it useth to offend. For such truth as opposeth no man's profit nor pleasure is to all men welcome.