Legal Classics

Elements of Law, Natural and Politic:Thomas Hobbes-1640

Part II:

De Corpore Politico

Chapter 20

Of the Requisites to the Constitution of a Commonwealth

1. That part of this treatise which is already past, hath been wholly spent, in the consideration of the natural power, and the natural estate of man; namely of his cognition and passions in the first eleven chapters; and how from thence proceed his actions in the twelfth; how men know one another’s minds in the thirteenth; in what estate men’s passions set them in the fourteenth; what estate they are directed unto by the dictates of reason, that is to say, what be the principal articles of the law of nature, in the fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and lastly how a multitude of persons natural are united by covenants into one person civil or body politic. In this part therefore shall be considered, the nature of a body politic, and the laws thereof, otherwise called civil laws. And whereas it hath been said in the last chapter, and last section of the former part, that there be two ways of erecting a body politic; one by arbitrary institution of many men assembled together, which is like a creation out of nothing by human wit; the other by compulsion, which is as it were a generation thereof out of natural force; I shall first speak of such erection of a body politic, as proceedeth from the assembly and consent of a multitude.

2. Having in this place to consider a multitude of men about to unite themselves into a body politic, for their security, both against one another, and against common enemies; and that by covenants, the knowledge of what covenants, they must needs make, dependeth on the knowledge of the persons, and the knowledge of their end. First, for their persons they are many, and (as yet) not one; nor can any action done in a multitude of people met together, be attributed to the multitude, or truly called the action of the multitude, unless every man’s hand, and every man’s will, (not so much as one excepted) have concurred thereto. For multitude, though in their persons they run together, yet they concur not always in their designs. For even at that time when men are in tumult, though they agree a number of them to one mischief, and a number of them to another; yet, in the whole, they are amongst themselves in the state of hostility, and not of peace; like the seditious Jews besieged in Jerusalem, that could join against their enemies, and yet fight amongst themselves; whensoever therefore any man saith, that a number of men hath done any act: it is to be understood, that every particular man in that number hath consented thereunto, and not the greatest part only. Secondly, though thus assembled with intention to unite themselves, they are yet in that estate in which every man hath right to everything, and consequently, as hath been said, chap. XIV, sect. 10, in an estate of enjoying nothing: and therefore meum and tuum hath no place amongst them.

3. The first thing therefore they are to do, is expressly every man to consent to something by which they may come nearer to their ends; which can be nothing else imaginable but this: that they allow the wills of the major part of their whole number, or the wills of the major part of some certain number of men by them determined and named; or lastly the will of some one man, to involve and be taken for the wills of every man. And this done they are united, and a body politic. And if the major part of their whole number be supposed to involve the wills of all the particulars, then are they said to be a DEMOCRACY, that is to say a government wherein the whole number, or so many of them as please, being assembled together, are the sovereign, and every particular man a subject. If the major part of a certain number of men named or distinguished from the rest, be supposed to involve the wills of every one of the particulars, then are they said to be an OLIGARCHY, or ARISTOCRACY; which two words signify the same thing, together with the divers passions of those that use them; for when the men that be in that office please, they are called an aristocracy, otherwise an oligarchy; wherein those, the major part of which declare the wills of the whole multitude, being assembled, are the sovereign, and every man severally a subject. Lastly if their consent be such, that the will of one man, whom they name, shall stand for the wills of them all, then is their government or union called a MONARCHY; and that one man the sovereign, and every of the rest a subject.

4. And those several sorts of unions, governments, and subjections of man’s will, may be understood to be made, either absolutely, that is to say, for all future time, or for a time limited only. But forasmuch as we speak here of a body politic, instituted for the perpetual benefit and defence of them that make it; which therefore men desire should last for ever, I will omit to speak of those that be temporary, and consider those that be for ever.

5. The end for which one man giveth up, and relinquisheth to another, or others, the right of protecting and defending himself by his own power, is the security which he expecteth thereby, of protection and defence from those to whom he doth so relinquish it. And a man may then account himself in the estate of security, when he can foresee no violence to be done unto him, from which the doer may not be deterred by the power of that sovereign, to whom they have every one subjected themselves; and without that security there is no reason for a man to deprive himself of his own advantages, and make himself a prey to others. And therefore when there is not such a sovereign power erected, as may afford this security; it is to be understood that every man’s right of doing whatsoever seemeth good in his own eyes, remaineth still with him. And contrariwise, where any subject hath right by his own judgment and discretion, to make use of his force; it is to be understood that every man hath the like, and consequently that there is no commonwealth at all established. How far therefore in the making of a commonwealth, a man subjecteth his will to the power of others, must appear from the end, namely security. For whatsoever is necessary to be by covenant transferred for the attaining thereof, so much is transferred, or else every man is in his natural liberty to secure himself.

6. Covenants agreed upon by every man assembled for the making of a commonwealth, and put in writing without erecting of a power of coercion, are no reasonable security for any of them that so covenant, nor are to be called laws; and leave men still in the estate of nature and hostility. For seeing the wills of most men are governed only by fear, and where there is no power of coercion, there is no fear; the wills of most men will follow their passions of covetousness, lust, anger, and the like, to the breaking of those covenants, whereby the rest, also, who otherwise would keep them, are set at liberty, and have no law but from themselves.

7. This power of coercion, as hath been said chap. XV, sect. 3, of the former part, consisteth in the transferring of every man’s right of resistance against him to whom he hath transferred the power of coercion. It followeth therefore, that no man in any commonwealth whatsoever hath right to resist him, or them, on whom they have conferred this power coercive, or (as men use to call it) the sword of justice; supposing the not-resistance possible. For (Part I. chapter XV, sect. 18) covenants bind but to the utmost of our endeavour.

8. And forasmuch as they who are amongst themselves in security, by the means of this sword of justice that keeps them all in awe, are nevertheless in danger of enemies from without; if there be not some means found, to unite their strengths and natural forces in the resistance of such enemies, their peace amongst themselves is but in vain. And therefore it is to be understood as a covenant of every member to contribute their several forces for the defence of the whole; whereby to make one power as sufficient, as is possible, for their defence. Now seeing that every man hath already transferred the use of his strength to him or them, that have the sword of justice; it followeth that the power of defence, that is to say the sword of war, be in the same hands wherein is the sword of justice: and consequently those two swords are but one, and that inseparably and essentially annexed to the sovereign power.

9. Moreover seeing to have the right of the sword, is nothing else but to have the use thereof depending only on the judgment and discretion of him or them that have it; it followeth that the power of judicature (in all controversies, wherein the sword of justice is to be used) and (in all deliberations concerning war, wherein the use of that sword is required), the right of resolving and determining what is to be done, belong to the same sovereign.

10. Farther: considering it is no less, but much more necessary to prevent violence and rapine, than to punish the same when it is committed; and all violence proceedeth from controversies that arise between men concerning meum and tuum, right and wrong, good and bad, and the like, which men use every one to measure by their own judgments; it belongeth also to the judgment of the same sovereign power, to set forth and make known the common measure by which every man is to know what is his, and what another’s; what is good, and what bad; and what he ought to do, and what not; and to command the same to be observed. And these measures of the actions of the subjects are those which men call LAWS POLITIC, or civil. The making whereof must of right belong to him that hath the power of the sword, by which men are compelled to observe them; for otherwise they should be made in vain.

11. Farthermore: seeing it is impossible that any one man that hath such sovereign power, can be able in person to hear and determine all controversies, to be present at all deliberations concerning common good, and to execute and perform all those common actions that belong thereunto, whereby there will be necessity of magistrates and ministers of public affairs; it is consequent, that the appointment, nomination, and limitation of the same, be understood as an inseparable part of the same sovereignty, to which the sum of all judicature and execution hath been already annexed.

12. And: forasmuch as the right to Use the forces of every particular member, is transferred from themselves, to their sovereign; a man will easily fall upon this conclusion of himself: that to sovereign power (whatsoever it doth) there belongeth impunity.

13. The sum of these rights of sovereignty, namely the absolute use of the sword in peace and war, the making and abrogating of laws, supreme judicature and decision in all debates judicial and deliberative, the nomination of all magistrates and ministers, with other rights contained in the same, make the sovereign power no less absolute in the commonwealth, than before commonwealth every man was absolute in himself to do, or not to do, what he thought good; which men that have not had the experience of that miserable estate, to which men are reduced by long war, think so hard a condition that they cannot easily acknowledge, such covenants and subjection, on their parts, as are here set down, to have been ever necessary to their peace. And therefore some have imagined that a commonwealth may be constituted in such manner, as the sovereign power may be so limited, and moderated, as they shall think fit themselves. For example: they suppose a multitude of men to have agreed upon certain articles (which they presently call laws), declaring how they will be governed; and that done to agree farther upon some man, or number of men to see the same articles performed, and put in execution. And to enable him, or them thereunto, they allot unto them a provision limited, as of certain lands, taxes, penalties, and the like, than which (if mis-spent), they shall have no more, without a new consent of the same men that allowed the former. And thus they think they have made a commonwealth, in which it is unlawful for any private man to make use of his own sword for his security; wherein they deceive themselves.

14. For first, if to the revenue, it did necessarily follow that there might be forces raised, and procured at the will of him that hath such revenue; yet since the revenue is limited, so must also be the forces; but limited forces, against the power of an enemy, which we cannot limit, are unsufficient. Whensoever therefore there happeneth an invasion greater than those forces are able to resist, and there be no other right to levy more, then is every man, by necessity of nature, allowed to make the best provision he can for himself; and thus is the private sword, and the estate of war again reduced. But seeing revenue, without the right of commanding men, is of not use, neither in peace, nor war; it is necessary to be supposed, that he that hath the administration of those articles, which are in the former section supposed, must have also right to make use of the strengths of particular men; and what reason soever giveth him that right over any one, giveth him the same over them all. And then is his right absolute; for he that hath right to all their forces, hath right to dispose of the same. Again: supposing those limited forces and revenue, either by the necessary, or negligent use of them, to fail; and that for a supply, the same multitude be again to be assembled, who shall have power to assemble them, that is to compel them to come together? If he that demandeth the supply hath that right (viz.) the right to compel them all; then is his sovereignty absolute: if not, then is every particular man at liberty to come or not; to frame a new commonwealth or not; and so the right of the private sword returneth. But suppose them willingly and of their own accord assembled, to consider of this supply; if now it be still in their choice, whether they shall give it or not, it is also in their choice whether the commonwealth shall stand or not. And therefore there lieth not upon any of them any civil obligation that may hinder them from using force, in case they think it tend to their defence. This device therefore of them that will make civil laws first, and then a civil body afterwards, (as if policy made a body politic, and not a body politic made policy) is of no effect.

15. Others to avoid the hard condition, as they take it, of absolute subjection, (which in hatred thereto they also call slavery) have devised a government as they think mixed of the three sorts of sovereignty. As for example: they suppose the power of making laws given to some great assembly democratical, the power of judicature to some other assembly; and the administration of the laws to a third, or to some one man; and this policy they call mixed monarchy, or mixed aristocracy, or mixed democracy, according as any of these three sorts do most visibly predominate. And in this estate of government they think the use of the private sword excluded.

16. And supposing it were so: how were this condition which they call slavery eased thereby? For in this estate they would have no man allowed, either to be his own judge, or own carver, or to make any laws unto himself; and as long as these three agree, they are as absolutely subject to them, as is a child to the father, or a slave to the master in the state of nature. The ease therefore of this subjection, must consist in the disagreement of those, amongst whom they have distributed the rights of sovereign power. But the same disagreement is war. The division therefore of the sovereignty, either worketh no effect, to the taking away of simple subjection, or introduceth war; wherein the private sword hath place again. But the truth is, as hath been already shewed in 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 precedent sections: the sovereignty is indivisible; and that seeming mixture of several kinds of government, not mixture of the things themselves, but confusion in our understanding, that cannot find out readily to whom we have subjected ourselves.

17. But though the sovereignty be not mixed, but be always either simple democracy, or simple aristocracy, or pure monarchy; nevertheless in the administration thereof, all those sorts of government may have place subordinate. For suppose the sovereign power be democracy, as it was sometimes in Rome, yet at the same time they may have a council aristocratical, such as was the senate; and at the same time they may have a subordinate monarch, such as was their dictator, who had for a time the exercise of the whole sovereignty, and such as are all generals in war. So also in a monarchy there may be a council aristocratical of men chosen by the monarch; or democratical of men chosen by the consent (the monarch permitting) of all the particular men of the commonwealth. And this mixture is it that imposeth; as if it were the mixture of sovereignty. As if a man should think, because the great council of Venice doth nothing ordinarily but choose magistrates, ministers of state, captains, and governors of towns, ambassadors, counsellors, and the like; that therefore their part of the sovereignty is only choosing of magistrates; and that the making of war, and peace, and laws, were not theirs, but the part of such councillors as they appointed thereto; whereas it is the part of these to do it but subordinately, the supreme authority thereof being in the great council that choose them.

18. And as reason teacheth us, that a man considered out of subjection to laws, and out of all covenants obligatory to others, is free to do, and undo, and deliberate as long as he listeth; every member being obedient to the will of the whole man; that liberty being nothing else but his natural power, without which he is no better than an inanimate creature, not able to help himself; so also it teacheth us: that a body politic of what kind soever, not subject to another, nor obliged by covenants, ought to be free, and in all actions to be assisted by the members, every one in their place, or at the least not resisted by them. For otherwise, the power of a body politic (the essence whereof is the not-resistance of the members) is none, nor a body politic of any benefit. And the same is confirmed by the use of all nations and commonwealths in the world. For what nation is there or commonwealth wherein that man or council, which is virtually the whole, hath not absolute power over every particular member? or what nation or commonwealth is there, that hath not power and right to constitute a general in their wars? But the power of a general is absolute; and consequently there was absolute power in the commonwealth, from whom it was derived. For no person, natural or civil, can transfer unto another more power than himself hath.

19. In every commonwealth where particular men are deprived of their right to protect themselves, there resideth an absolute sovereignty, as I have already shewed. But in what man or in what assembly of men the same is placed, is not so manifest, as not to need some marks whereby it may be discerned. And first it is an infallible mark of absolute sovereignty in a man, or in an assembly of men, if there be no right in any other person natural or civil to punish that man, or to dissolve that assembly. For he that cannot of right be punished, cannot of right be resisted; and he that cannot of right be resisted, hath coercive power over all the rest, and thereby can frame and govern their actions at his pleasure; which is absolute sovereignty. Contrariwise he that in a commonwealth is punishable by any, or that assembly that is dissolvable, is not sovereign. For a greater power is always required to punish and dissolve, than theirs who are punished or dissolved; and that power cannot be called sovereign, than which there is a greater. Secondly, that man or assembly, that by their own right not derived from the present right of any other, may make laws, or abrogate them, at his, or their pleasure, have the sovereignty absolute. For seeing the laws they make, are supposed to be made by right, the members of the commonwealth to whom they are made, are obliged to obey them; and consequently not to resist the execution of them; which not-resistance maketh the power absolute of him that ordaineth them. It is likewise a mark of this sovereignty, to have the right original of appointing magistrates, judges, counsellors, and ministers of state. For without that power no act of sovereignty, or government, can be performed. Lastly, and generally. whosoever by his own authority independent can do any act, which another of the same commonwealth may not, must needs be understood to have the sovereign power. For by nature men have equal right; this inequality therefore must proceed from the power of the commonwealth. He therefore that doth any act lawfully by his own authority, which another may not, doth it by the power of the commonwealth in himself; which is absolute sovereignty.


Chapter 21

Of the Three Sorts of Commonwealth

1. Having spoken in general concerning instituted policy in the former chapter, I come in this to speak of the sorts thereof in special, how every one of them is instituted. The first in order of time of these three sorts is democracy, and it must be so of necessity, because an aristocracy and a monarchy, require nomination of persons agreed upon; which agreement in a great multitude of men must consist in the consent of the major part; and where the votes of the major part involve the votes of the rest, there is actually a democracy.

2. In the making of a democracy, there passeth no covenant, between the sovereign and any subject. For while the democracy is a making, there is no sovereign with whom to contract. For it cannot be imagined, that the multitude should contract with itself, or with any one man, or number of men, parcel of itself, to make itself sovereign; nor that a multitude, considered as one aggregate, can give itself anything which before it had not. Seeing then that sovereignty democratical is not conferred by the covenant of any multitude (which supposeth union and sovereignty already made), it resteth, that the same be conferred by the particular covenants of every several man; that is to say, every man with every man, for and in consideration of the benefit of his own peace and defence, covenanteth to stand to and obey, whatsoever the major part of their whole number, or the major part of such a number of them, as shall be pleased to assemble at a certain time and place, shall determine and command. And this is that which giveth being to a democracy; wherein the sovereign assembly was called of the Greeks by the name of Demus (id est, the people), from whence cometh democracy. So that where, to the supreme and independent court, every man may come that will and give his vote, there the sovereign is called the people.

3. Out of this that hath been already said, may readily be drawn: that whatsoever the people doth to any one particular member or subject of the commonwealth, the same by him ought not to be styled injury. For first, injury (by the definition, Part I. chap. XVI, sect. 2) is breach of covenant; but covenants (as hath been said in the precedent section) there passed none from the people to any private man; and consequently it (viz. the people) can do him no injury. Secondly, how unjust soever the action be, that this sovereign demus shall do, is done by the will of every particular man subject to him, who are therefore guilty of the same. If therefore they style it injury, they but accuse themselves. And it is against reason for the same man, both to do and complain; implying this contradiction, that whereas he first ratified the people’s acts in general, he now disalloweth some of them in particular. It is therefore said truly, volenti non fit injuria. Nevertheless nothing doth hinder, but that divers actions done by the people, may be unjust before God Almighty, as breaches of some of the laws of nature.

4. And when it happeneth, that the people by plurality of voices shall decree or command any thing contrary to the law of God or nature, though the decree and command be the act of every man, not only present in the assembly, but also absent from it; yet is not the injustice of the decree, the injustice of every particular man, but only of those men by whose express suffrages, the decree or command was passed. For a body politic, as it is a fictitious body, so are the faculties and will thereof fictitious also. But to make a particular man unjust, which consisteth of a body and soul natural, there is required a natural and very will.

5. In all democracies, though the right of sovereignty be in the assembly, which is virtually the whole body; yet the use thereof is always in one, or a few particular men. For in such great assemblies as those must be, whereinto every man may enter at his pleasure, there is no means any ways to deliberate and give counsel what to do, but by long and set orations; whereby to every man there is more or less hope given, to incline and sway the assembly to their own ends. In a multitude of speakers therefore, where always, either one is eminent alone, or a few being equal amongst themselves, are eminent above the rest, that one or few must of necessity sway the whole; insomuch, that a democracy, in effect, is no more than an aristocracy of orators, interrupted sometimes with the temporary monarchy of one orator.

6. And seeing a democracy is by institution the beginning both of aristocracy and monarchy, we are to consider next how aristocracy is derived from it. When the particular members of the commonwealth growing weary of attendance at public courts, as dwelling far off, or being attentive to their private businesses, and withal displeased with the government of the people, assemble themselves to make an aristocracy; there is no more required to the making thereof but putting to the question one by one, the names of such men as it shall consist of, and assenting to their election; and by plurality of vote, to transfer that power which before the people had, to the number of men so named and chosen.

7. And from this manner of erecting an aristocracy it is manifest that the few or optimates, have entered into no covenant, with any of the particular members of the commonwealth whereof they are sovereign; and consequently cannot do any thing to any private man that can be called injury to him, howsoever their act be wicked before Almighty God, according to that which hath been said before, section 3. Farther it is impossible that the people, as one body politic should covenant with the aristocracy or optimates, on whom they intend to transfer their sovereignty; for no sooner is the aristocracy erected, but the democracy is annihilated, and the covenants made unto them void.

8. In all aristocracies, the admission of such as are from time to time to have vote in the sovereign assembly, dependeth on the will and decree of the present optimates; for they being the sovereign, have the nomination (by the eleventh section of the former chapter) of all magistrates, ministers, and counsellors of state whatsoever, and may therefore choose either to make them elective, or hereditary, at their pleasure.

9. Out of the same democracy, the institution of a political monarch proceedeth in the same manner, as did the institution of the aristocracy (viz.) by a decree of the sovereign people, to pass the sovereignty to one man named, and approved by plurality of suffrage. And if this sovereignty be truly and indeed transferred, the estate or commonwealth is an absolute monarchy, wherein the monarch is at liberty, to dispose as well of the succession, as of the possession; and not an elective kingdom. For suppose a decree be made, first in this manner: that such a one shall have the sovereignty for his life; and that afterward they will choose a new; in this case, the power of the people is dissolved, or not. If dissolved, then after the death of him that is chosen, there is no man bound to stand to the decrees of them that shall, as private men, run together to make a new election: and consequently, if there be any man, who by the advantage of the reign of him that is dead, hath strength enough to hold the multitude in peace and obedience, he may lawfully, or rather is by the law of nature obliged so to do. If this power of the people were not dissolved, at the choosing of their king for life; then is the people sovereign still, and the king a minister thereof only, but so, as to put the whole sovereignty in execution; a great minister, but no otherwise for his time, than a dictator was in Rome. In this case, at the death of him that was chosen, they that meet for a new election, have no new, but their old authority for the same. For they were the sovereign all the time, as appeareth by the acts of those elective kings, that have procured from the people, that their children might succeed them. For it is to be understood, when a man receiveth any thing from the authority of the people, he receiveth it not from the people his subjects, but from the people his sovereign. And farther, though in the election of a king for his life, the people grant him the exercise of their sovereignty for that time; yet if they see cause, they may recall the same before the time. As a prince that conferreth an office for life, may nevertheless, upon suspicion of abuse thereof, recall it at his pleasure; inasmuch as offices that require labour and care, are understood to pass from him that giveth them as onera, burthens to them that have them; the recalling whereof are therefore not injury, but favour. Nevertheless, if in making an elective king with intention to reserve the sovereignty, they reserve not a power at certain known and determined times and places to assemble themselves; the reservation of their sovereignty is of no effect, inasmuch as no man is bound to stand to the decrees and determinations of those that assemble themselves without the sovereign authority.

10. In the former section is showed that elective kings, that exercise their sovereignty for a time, which determines with their life, either are subjects and not sovereigns; and that is, when the people in election of them reserve unto themselves the right of assembling at certain times and places limited and made known; or else absolute sovereigns, to dispose of the succession at their pleasure; and that is, when the people in their election hath declared no time nor place of their meeting, or have left it to the power of the elected king to assemble and dissolve them at such times, as he himself shall think good. There is another kind of limitation of time, to him that shall be elected to use the sovereign power (which whether it hath been practised anywhere or not, I know not, but it may be imagined, and hath been objected against the rigour of sovereign power), and it is this: that the people transfer their sovereignty upon condition. As for example: for so long as he shall observe such and such laws, as they then prescribe him. And here as before in elected kings, the question is to be made, whether in the electing of such a sovereign, they reserved to themselves a right of assembling at times and places limited and known, or not; if not, then is the sovereignty of the people dissolved, and they have neither power to judge of the breach of the conditions given him, nor to command any forces for the deposing of him, whom on that condition they had set up; but are in the estate of war amongst themselves, as they were before they made themselves a democracy; and consequently: if he that is elected, by the advantage of the possession he hath of the public means, be able to compel them to unity and obedience, he hath not only the right of nature to warrant him, but also the law of nature to oblige him thereunto. But if in electing him, they reserved to themselves a right of assembling, and appointed certain times and places to that purpose, then are they sovereign still, and may call their conditional king to account, at their pleasure, and deprive him of his government, if they judge he deserve it, either by breach of the condition set him, or otherwise. For the sovereign power can by no covenant with a subject, be bound to continue him in the charge he undergoeth by their command, as a burden imposed not particularly for his good, but for the good of the sovereign people.

11. The controversies that arise concerning the right of the people, proceed from the equivocation of the word. For the word people hath a double signification. In one sense it signifieth only a number of men, distinguished by the place of their habitation; as the people of England, or the people of France; which is no more, but the multitude of those particular persons that inhabit those regions, without consideration of any contracts or covenants amongst them, by which any one of them is obliged to the rest. In another sense, it signifieth a person civil, that is to say, either one man, or one council, in the will whereof is included and involved the will of every one in particular; as for example: in this latter sense the lower house of parliament is all the commons, as long as they sit there with authority and right thereto; but after they be dissolved, though they remain, they be no more the people, nor the commons, but only the aggregate, or multitude of the particular men there sitting; how well soever they agree, or concur, in opinions amongst themselves; whereupon they that do not distinguish between these two significations, do usually attribute such rights to a dissolved multitude, as belong only to the people virtually contained in the body of the commonwealth or sovereignty. And when a great number of their own authority flock together in any nation, they usually give them the name of the whole nation. In which sense they say the people rebelleth, or the people demandeth, when it is no more than a dissolved multitude, of which though any one man may be said to demand or have right to something, yet the heap, or multitude, cannot he said to demand or have right to any thing. For where every man hath his right distinct, there is nothing left for the multitude to have right unto; and when the particulars say: this is mine, this is thine, and this is his, and have shared all amongst them, there can be nothing whereof the multitude can say: this is mine; nor are they one body, as behoveth them to be, that demand anything under the name of mine or his; and when they say ours, every man is understood to pretend in several, and not the multitude. On the other side, when the multitude is united into a body politic, and thereby are a people in the other signification, and their wills virtually in the sovereign, there the rights and demands of the particulars do cease; and he or they that have the sovereign power, doth for them all demand and vindicate under the name of his, that which before they called in the plural, theirs.

12. We have seen how particular men enter into subjection, by transferring their rights; it followeth to consider how such subjection may be discharged. And first, if he or they have the sovereign power, shall relinquish the same voluntarily, there is no doubt but every man is again at liberty, to obey or not; likewise if he or they retaining the sovereignty over the rest, do nevertheless exempt some one or more from. their subjection, every man so exempted is discharged. For he or they to whom any man is obliged, hath the power to release him.

13. And here it is to be understood: that when he or they that have the sovereign power, give such exemption or privilege to a subject, as is not separable from the sovereignty, and nevertheless directly retain the sovereign power, not knowing the consequence of the privilege they grant, the person or persons exempted or privileged are not thereby released. For in contradictory significations of the will (Part I. chap. XIII, sect. 9), that which is directly signified, is to be understood for the will, before that which is drawn from it by consequence.

14. Also exile perpetual, is a release of subjection, forasmuch as being out of the protection of the sovereignty that expelled him, he hath no means of subsisting but from himself. Now every man may lawfully defend himself, that hath no other defence; else there had been no necessity that any man should enter into voluntary subjection, as they do in commonwealths.

15. Likewise a man is released of his subjection by conquest; for when it cometh to pass, that the power of a commonwealth is overthrown, and any particular man, thereby lying under the sword of his enemy yieldeth himself captive, he is thereby bound to serve him that taketh him, and consequently discharged of his obligation to the former. For no man can serve two masters.

16. Lastly, ignorance of the succession dischargeth obedience; for no man can be understood to be obliged to obey he knoweth not whom.


Chapter 22

Of the Power of Masters

1. Having set forth, in the two preceding chapters, the nature of a commonwealth institutive, by the consent of many men together; I come now to speak of dominion, or a body politic by acquisition, which is commonly called a patrimonial kingdom. But before I enter thereinto: it is necessary to make known, upon what title one man may acquire right, that is to say, property or dominion, over the person of another. For when one man hath dominion over another, there is a little kingdom; and to be a king by acquisition, is nothing else, but to have acquired a right or dominion over many.

2. Considering men therefore again in the state of nature, without covenants or subjection one to another, as if they were but even now all at once created male and female; there be three titles only, by which one man may have right and dominion over another; whereof two may take place presently, and those are: voluntary offer of subjection, and yielding by compulsion; the third is to take place, upon the supposition of children begotten amongst them. Concerning the first of these three titles, it is handled before in the two last chapters; for from thence cometh the right of sovereigns over their subjects in a commonwealth institutive. Concerning the second title (which is when a man submitteth to an assailant for fear of death), thereby accrueth a right of dominion. For where every man (as it happeneth in this case) hath right to all things, there needs no more for the making of the said right effectual, but a covenant from him that is overcome, not to resist him that overcometh. And thus cometh the victor to have a right of absolute dominion over the conquered. By which there is presently constituted a little body politic, which consisteth of two persons, the one sovereign, which is called the MASTER, or lord; the other subject, which is called the SERVANT. And when a man hath acquired right over a number of servants so considerable, as they cannot by their neighbours be securely invaded, this body politic is a kingdom despotical.

3. And it is to be understood: that when a servant taken in the wars, is kept bound in natural bonds, as chains, and the like, or in prison; there hath passed no covenant from the servant to his master; for those natural bonds have no need of strengthening by the verbal bonds of covenant; and they shew the servant is not trusted. But covenant (Part I. chap. XV, sect. 9) supposeth trust. There remaineth therefore in the servant thus kept bound, or in prison, a right of delivering himself, if he can, by what means soever. This kind of servant is that which ordinarily and without passion, is called a SLAVE. The Romans had no such distinct name, but comprehended all under the name of servus; whereof such as they loved and durst trust, were suffered to go at liberty, and admitted to places of office, both near to their persons, and in their affairs abroad; the rest were kept chained, or otherwise restrained with natural impediments to their resistance. And as it was amongst the Romans, so it was amongst other nations; the former sort having no other bond but a supposed covenant, without which the master had no reason to trust them; the latter being without covenant, and no otherwise tied to obedience, but by chains, or other like forcible custody.

4. A master therefore is to be supposed to have no less right over those, whose bodies he leaveth at liberty, than over those he keepeth in bonds and imprisonment; and hath absolute dominion over both; and may say of his servant, that he is his, as he may of any other thing. And whatsoever the servant had, and might call his, is now the master’s; for he that disposeth of the person, disposeth of all the person could dispose of; insomuch as though there be meum and tuum amongst servants distinct from one another by the dispensation, and for the benefit of their master; yet there is no meum and tuum belonging to any of them against the master himself, whom they are not to resist, but to obey all his commands as law.

5. And seeing both the servant and all that is committed to him, is the property of the master, and every man may dispose of his own, and transfer the same at his pleasure, the master may therefore alienate his dominion over them,. or give the same, by his last will, to whom he list.

6. And if it happen, that the master himself by captivity or voluntary subjection, become servant to another, then is that other master paramount; and those servants of him that becometh servant, are no further obliged, than their master paramount shall think good; forasmuch as he disposing of the master subordinate, disposeth of all he hath, and consequently of his servants; so that the restriction of absolute power in masters proceedeth not from the law of nature, but from the political law of him that is their master supreme or sovereign.

7. Servants immediate to the supreme master, are discharged of their servitude or subjection in the same manner that subjects are released of their allegiance in a commonwealth institutive. As first, by release; for he that captiveth. (which is done by accepting what the captive transferreth to him) setteth again at liberty, by transferring back the same. And this kind of release is called MANUMISSION. Secondly, by exile; for that is no more but manumission given to a servant, not in the way of benefit, but punishment. Thirdly, by new captivity, where the servant having done his endeavour to defend himself, hath thereby performed his covenant to his former master, and for the safety of his life, entering into new covenant with the conqueror, is bound to do his best endeavour to keep that likewise. Fourthly, ignorance of who is successor to his deceased master, dischargeth him of obedience; for no covenant holdeth longer than a man knoweth to whom he is to perform it. And lastly, that servant that is no longer trusted, but committed to his chains and custody, is thereby discharged of the obligation in foro interno, and therefore if he can get loose, may lawfully go his way.

8. But servants subordinate, though manumitted by their immediate lord, are not thereby discharged of subjection to their lord paramount; for the immediate master hath no property in them, having transferred his right before to another, namely to his own and supreme master. Nor if the chief lord should manumit his immediate servant, doth he thereby release the servants of their obligation to him that is so manumitted. For by this manumission, he recovereth again the absolute dominion he had over them before. For after a release (which is the discharge of a covenant) the right standeth as it did before the covenant was made.

9. This right of conquest, as it maketh one man master over another, so also maketh it a man to be master of the irrational creatures. For if a man in the state of nature, be in hostility with men, and thereby have lawful title to subdue or kill, according as his own conscience and discretion shall suggest unto him for his safety and benefit; much more may he do the same to beasts; that is to say, save and preserve for his own service, according to his discretion, such as are of nature apt to obey, and commodious for use; and to kill and destroy, with perpetual war, all other, as fierce, and noisome to him. And this dominion is therefore of the law of nature, and not of the divine law positive. For if there had been no such right before the revealing of God’s will in the Scripture, then should no man, to whom the Scripture hath not come, have right to make use of those creatures, either for his food or sustenance. And it were a hard condition of mankind, that a fierce and savage beast should with more right kill a man, than the man a beast.


Chapter 23

Of the Power of Fathers, and of Patrimonial Kingdom

1. Of three ways by which a man becometh subject to another, mentioned section 2. chap. ult., namely voluntary offer, captivity and birth, the former two have been spoken of, under the name of subjects and servants. In the next place, we are to set down the third way of subjection, under the name of children; and by what title one man cometh to have propriety in a child, that proceedeth from the common generation of two, (viz.) of male and female. And considering men again dissolved from all covenants one with another, and that (Part I. chap. XVII, sect. 2) every man by the law of nature, hath right or propriety to his own body, the child ought rather to be the propriety of the mother (of whose body it is part, till the time of separation) than of the father. For the understanding therefore of the right that a man or woman hath to his or their child, two things are to be considered: first what title the mother or any other originally hath to a child new born; secondly, how the father, or any other man, pretendeth by the mother.

2. For the first: they that have written of this subject have made generation to be a title of dominion over persons, as well as the consent of the persons themselves. And because generation giveth title to two, namely, father and mother, whereas dominion is indivisible, they therefore ascribe dominion over the child to the father only, ob praestantiam sexus; but they shew not, neither can I find out by what coherence, either generation inferreth dominion, or advantage of so much strength, which, for the most part, a man hath more than a woman, should generally and universally entitle the father to a propriety in the child, and take it away from the mother.

3. The title to dominion over a child, proceedeth not from the generation, but from the preservation of it; and therefore in the estate of nature, the mother in whose power it is to save or destroy it, hath right thereto by that power, according to that which hath been said Part I. chap. XIV, sect. 13. And if the mother shall think fit to abandon, or expose her child to death, whatsoever man or woman shall find the child so exposed, shall have the same right which the mother had before; and for the same reason, namely for the power not of generating, but preserving. And though the child thus preserved, do in time acquire strength, whereby he might pretend equality with him or her that hath preserved him, yet shall that pretence be thought unreasonable, both because his strength was the gift of him, against whom he pretendeth; and also because it is to be presumed, that he which giveth sustenance to another, whereby to strengthen him, hath received a promise of obedience in consideration thereof. For else it would be wisdom in men, rather to let their children perish, while they are infants, than to live in their danger or subjection, when they are grown.

4. For the pretences which a man may have to dominion over a child by the right of the mother, they be of divers kinds. One by the absolute subjection of the mother: another, by some particular covenant from her, which is less than a covenant of such subjection. By absolute subjection, the master of the mother, hath right to her child, according to section 6, chap. XXII whether he be the father thereof, or not. And thus the children of the servant are the goods of the master in perpetuum.

5. Of covenants that amount not to subjection between a man and woman, there be some which are made for a time and some for life; and where they are for a time, they are covenants of cohabitation, or else of copulation only. And in this latter case, the children pass by covenants particular. And thus in the copulation of the Amazons with their neighbours, the fathers by covenant had the male children only, the mothers retaining the females.

6. And covenants of cohabitation are either for society of bed, or for society of all things; if for society of bed only, then is the woman called a CONCUBINE. And here also the child shall be his or hers, as they shall agree particularly by covenant; for although for the most part a concubine is supposed to yield up the right of her children to the father, yet doth not concubinate enforce so much.

7. But if the covenants of cohabitation be for society of all things, it is necessary that but one of them govern and dispose of all that is common to them both; without which (as hath been often said before) society cannot last. And therefore the man, to whom for the most part the woman yieldeth the government, hath for the most part also the sole right and dominion over the children. And the man is called the HUSBAND, and the woman the WIFE; but because sometimes the government may belong to the wife only, sometimes also the dominion over the children shall be in her only; as in the case of a sovereign queen, there is no reason that her marriage should take from her the dominion over her children.

8. Children therefore, whether they be brought up and preserved by the father, or by the mother, or by whomsoever, are in most absolute subjection to him or her, that so bringeth them up, or preserveth them. And they may alienate them, that is, assign his or her dominion, by selling or giving them in adoption or servitude to others; or may pawn them for hostages, kill them for rebellion, or sacrifice them for peace, by the law of nature, when he or she, in his or her conscience, think it to be necessary.

9. The subjection of them who institute a commonwealth amongst themselves, is no less absolute, than the subjection of servants. And therein they are in equal estate; but the hope of those is greater than the hope of these. For he that subjecteth himself uncompelled, thinketh there is reason he should be better used, than he that doth it upon compulsion; and coming in freely, calleth himself, though in subjection, a FREEMAN; whereby it appeareth, that liberty is not any exemption from subjection and obedience to the sovereign power, but a state of better hope than theirs, that have been subjected by force and conquest. And this was the reason, that the name that signifieth children, in the Latin tongue is liberi, which also signifieth freemen. And yet in Rome, nothing at that time was so obnoxious to the power of others, as children in the family of their fathers. For both the state had power over their life without consent of their fathers; and the father might kill his son by his own authority, without any warrant from the state. Freedom therefore in commonwealths is nothing but the honour of equality of favour with other subjects, and servitude the estate of the rest. A freeman therefore may expect employments of honour, rather than a servant. And this is all that can be understood by the liberty of the subject. For in all other senses, liberty is the state of him that is not subject.

10. Now when a father that hath children, hath servants also, the children (not by the right of the child, but by the natural indulgence of the parents) are such freemen. And the whole consisting of the father or mother, or both, and of the children, and of the servants, is called a FAMILY; wherein the father or master of the family is sovereign of the same; and the rest (both children and servants equally) subjects. The same family if it grow by multiplication of children, either by generation or adoption; or of servants, either by generation, conquest, or voluntary submission, to be so great and numerous, as in probability it may protect itself, then is that family called a PATRIMONIAL KINGDOM, or monarchy by acquisition; wherein the sovereignty is in one man, as it is in a monarch made by political institution. So that whatsoever rights be in the one, the same also be in the other. And therefore I shall no more speak of them, as distinct, but as of monarchy in general.

11. Having shewed by what right the several sorts of commonwealths, democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy, are erected; it followeth to shew by what right they are continued. The right by which they are continued, is called the right of succession to the sovereign power; whereof there is nothing to be said in a democracy, because the sovereign dieth not, as long as there be subjects alive; nor in an aristocracy, because it cannot easily fall out, that the optimates should every one fail at once; and if it should so fall out, there is no question, but the commonwealth is thereby dissolved. It is therefore in a monarchy only, that there can happen a question concerning the succession. And first: forasmuch as a monarch, which is absolute sovereign, hath the dominion in his own right, he may dispose thereof at his own will. If therefore, by his last will, he shall name his successor, the right passeth by that will.

12. Nor if the monarch die without any will concerning the succession declared, is it therefore to be presumed that it was his will, his subjects which are to him as his children and servants, should return again to the state of anarchy, that is, to war and hostility; for that were expressly against the law of nature, which commandeth to procure peace, and to maintain the same. It is therefore to be conjectured with reason, that it was his intention to bequeath them peace, that is to say, a power coercive, whereby to keep them from sedition amongst themselves; and rather in the form of monarchy, than any other government; forasmuch as he, by the exercise thereof in his own person, hath declared that he approveth of the same.

13. Further, it is to be supposed his intention was, that his own children should be preferred in the succession, (when nothing to the contrary is expressly declared) before any other. For men naturally seek their own honour, and that consisteth in the honour of their children after them.

14. Again, seeing every monarch is supposed to desire to continue the government in his successors, as long as he may; and that generally men are endued with greater parts of wisdom and courage, by which all monarchies are kept from dissolution, than women are; it is to be presumed, where no express will is extant to the contrary, he preferreth his male children before the female. Not but that women may govern, and have in divers ages and places governed wisely, but are not so apt thereto in general as men.

15. Because the sovereign power is indivisible, it cannot be supposed, that he intended the same should be divided, but that it should descend entirely upon one of them, which is to be presumed should be the eldest, assigned thereto by the lot of nature; because he appointed no other lot for the decision thereof. Besides, what difference of ability soever there may be amongst the brethren, the odds shall be adjudged to the elder, because no subject hath authority otherwise to judge thereof.

16. And for want of issue in the possessor, the brother shall be the presumed successor. For by the judgment of nature, next in blood is next. in love; and next in love is next to preferment.

17. And as the succession followeth the first monarch, so also it followeth him or her that is in possession; and consequently, the children of him in possession shall be preferred before the children of his father or predecessor.


Chapter 24

The Incommodities of Several Sorts of Government Compared

1. Having set forth the nature of a person politic, and the three sorts thereof, democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy; in this chapter shall be declared, the conveniences, and inconveniences, that arise from the same, both in general, and of the said several sorts in particular. And first, seeing a body politic is erected only for the ruling and governing of particular men, the benefit and damage thereof consisteth in the benefit or damage of being ruled. The benefit is that for which a body politic was instituted, namely, the peace and preservation of every particular man, than which it is not possible there can be a greater, as hath been touched before, Part I. chap. XIV, sect. 12. And this benefit extendeth equally both to the sovereign, and to the subjects. For he or they that have the sovereign power, have but the defence of their persons, by the assistance of the particulars; and every particular man hath his defence by their union in the sovereign. As for other benefits which pertain not to their safety and sufficiency, but to their well and delightful being, such as are superfluous riches, they so belong to the sovereign, as they must also be in the subject; and so to the subject, as they must also be in the sovereign. For the riches and treasure of the sovereign, is the dominion he hath over the riches of his subjects. If therefore the sovereign provide not so as that particular men may have means, both to preserve themselves, and also to preserve the public; the common or sovereign treasure can be none. And on the other side, if it were not for a common and public treasure belonging to the sovereign power, men’s private riches would sooner serve to put them into confusion and war, than to secure or maintain them. Insomuch, as the profit of the sovereign and subject goeth always together. That distinction therefore of government, that there is one government for the good of him that governeth, and another for the good of them that be governed; whereof the former is despotical (that is lordly); the other, a government of freemen, is not right; no more is the opinion of them that hold it to be no city, which consisteth of a master and his servants. They might as well say, it were no city, that consisted in a father and his own issue, how numerous soever they were. For to a master that hath no children, the servants have in them all those respects, for which men love their children; for they are his strength and his honour; and his power is no greater over them, than over his children.

2. The inconvenience arising from government in general to him that governeth, consisteth partly in the continual care and trouble about the business of other men, that are his subjects; and partly, in the danger of his person. For the head always is that part, not only where the care resideth, but also against which the stroke of an enemy most commonly is directed. To balance this incommodity, the sovereignty, together with the necessity of this care and danger, comprehendeth so much honour, riches, and means whereby to delight the mind, as no private man’s wealth can attain unto. The inconveniences of government in general to a subject are none at all, if well considered; but in appearance there be two things that may trouble his mind, or two general grievances. The one is loss of liberty; the other the uncertainty of meum and tuum. For the first, it consisteth in this, that a subject may no more govern his own actions according to his own discretion and judgment, or, (which is all one) conscience, as the present occasions from time to time shall dictate to him; but must be tied to do according to that will only, which once for all he had long ago laid up, and involved in the wills of the major part of an assembly, or in the will of some one man. But this is really no inconvenience. For, as it hath been shewed before, it is the only means by which we have any possibility of preserving ourselves; for if every man were allowed this liberty of following his conscience, in such difference of consciences, they would not live together in peace an hour. But it appeareth a great inconvenience to every man in particular, to be debarred of this liberty, because every one apart considereth it as in himself, and not as in the rest; by which means, liberty appeareth in the likeness of rule and government over others; for where one man is at liberty, and the rest bound, there that one hath government. Which honour, he that understandeth not so much, demanding by the name simply of liberty, thinketh it a great grievance and injury to be denied it. For the second grievance concerning meum and tuum, it is also none, but in appearance only. It consisteth in this, that the sovereign power taketh from him that which he used to enjoy, knowing no other propriety, but use and custom. But without such sovereign power, the right of men is not propriety to any thing, but a community; no better than to have no right at all, as hath been shewed Part I. chap. XIV, sect. 10. Propriety therefore being derived from the sovereign power, is not to be pretended against the same; especially when by it every subject hath his propriety against every other subject, which when sovereignty ceaseth, he hath not, because in that case they return to war amongst themselves. Those levies therefore which are made upon men’s estates, by the sovereign authority, are no more but the price of that peace and defence which the sovereignty maintaineth for them. If this were not so, no money nor forces for the wars or any other public occasion, could justly be levied in the world; for neither king, nor democracy, nor aristocracy, nor the estates of any land, could do it, if the sovereignty could not. For in all those cases, it is levied by virtue of the sovereignty; nay more, by the three estates here, the land of one man may be transferred to another, without crime of him from whom it was taken, and without pretence of public benefit; as hath been done. And this without injury, because done by the sovereign power; for the power whereby it is done, is no less than sovereign, and cannot be greater. Therefore this grievance for meum and tuum is not real; unless more be exacted than is necessary. But it seemeth a grievance, because to them that either know not the right of sovereignty, or to whom that right belongeth, it seemeth an injury; and injury, how light soever the damage, is always grievous, as putting us in mind of our disability to help ourselves; and into envy of the power to do us wrong.

3. Having spoken of the inconveniences of the subject, by government in general, let us consider the same in the three several sorts thereof, namely, democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy; whereof the two former are in effect but one. For (as I have shewed before) democracy is but the government of a few orators. The comparison therefore will be between monarchy and aristocracy; and to omit that the world, as it was created, so also it is governed by one God Almighty; and that all the ancients have preferred monarchy before other governments, both in opinion, because they feigned a monarchical government amongst their gods; and also by their custom, for that in the most ancient times all people were so governed; and that paternal government, which is monarchy, was instituted in the beginning from the creation; and that other governments have proceeded from the dissolution thereof, caused by the rebellious nature of mankind, and be but pieces of broken monarchies cemented by human wit; I will insist only in this comparison upon the inconveniences that may happen to the subjects, in consequence to each of these governments.

4. And first it seemeth inconvenient, there should be committed so great a power to one man, as that it might be lawful to no other man or men to resist the same; and some think it inconvenient eo nomine, because he hath the power. But this reason we may not by any means admit, for it maketh it inconvenient to be ruled by Almighty God, who without question hath more power over every man, than can be conferred upon any monarch. This inconvenience therefore must be derived, not from the power, but from the affections and passions which reign in every one, as well monarch as subject; by which the monarch may be swayed to use that power amiss. And because an aristocracy consisteth of men, if the passions of many men be more violent when they are assembled together, than the passions of one man alone, it will follow, that the inconvenience arising from passion will be greater in an aristocracy, than a monarchy. But there is no doubt, when things are debated in great assemblies, but every man delivering his opinion at large, without interruption, endeavoureth to make whatsoever he is to set forth for good, better; and what he would have apprehended as evil, worse, as much as is possible; to the end his counsel may take place; which counsel also is never without aim at his own benefit, or honour: every man’s end being some good to himself. Now this cannot be done without working upon the passions of the rest. And thus the passions of those that are singly moderate, are altogether vehement; even as a great many coals, though but warm asunder, being put together inflame one another.

5. Another inconvenience of monarchy is this: that the monarch, besides the riches necessary for the defence of the commonwealth, may take so much more from the subjects, as may enrich his children, kindred and favourites, to what degree he pleaseth; which though it be indeed an inconvenience, if he should so do; yet is the same both greater in an aristocracy, and also more likely to come to pass; for there not one only, but many have children, kindred, and friends to raise; and in that point they are as twenty monarchs for one, and likely to set forward one another’s designs mutually, to the oppression of all the rest. The same also happeneth in a democracy, if they all do agree; otherwise they bring in a worse inconvenience, (viz.) sedition.

6. Another inconvenience of monarchy, is the power of dispensing with the execution of justice; whereby the family and friends of the monarch, may with impunity, commit outrages upon the people, or oppress them with extortion. But in aristocracies, not only one, but many have power of taking men out of the hands of justice; and no man is willing his kindred or friends should be punished according to their demerits. And therefore they understand amongst themselves without farther speaking, as a tacit covenant: Hodie mihi, cras tibi.

7. Another inconvenience of monarchy, is the power of altering laws; concerning which, it is necessary that such a power be, that the laws may be altered, according as men’s manners change, or as the conjuncture of all circumstances within and without the commonwealth shall require; the change of law being then inconvenient, when it proceedeth from the change, not of the occasion, but of the minds of him or them, by whose authority the laws are made. Now it is manifest enough of itself, that the mind of one man is not so variable in that point, as are the decrees of an assembly. For not only they have all their natural changes, but the change of any one man be enough, with eloquence and reputation, or by solicitation and faction, to make that law to-day, which another by the very same means, shall abrogate to-morrow.

8. Lastly, the greatest inconvenience that can happen to a commonwealth, is the aptitude to dissolve into civil war. and to this are monarchies much less subject, than any other governments. For where the union, or band of a commonwealth, is one man, there is no distraction; whereas in assemblies, those that are of different opinions, and give different counsel, are apt to fall out amongst themselves, and to cross the designs of commonwealth for one another’s sake: and when they cannot have the honour of making good their own devices, they yet seek the honour to make the counsels of their adversaries to prove vain. And in this contention, when the opposite factions happen to be anything equal in strength, they presently fall to war. Wherein necessity teacheth both sides, that an absolute monarch, (viz.) a general, is necessary both for their defence against one another, and also for the peace of each faction within itself. But this aptitude to dissolution, is to be understood for an inconvenience in such aristocracies only where the affairs of state are debated in great and numerous assemblies, as they were anciently in Athens, and in Rome; and not in such as do nothing else in great assemblies, but choose magistrates and counsellors, and commit the handling of state affairs to a few; such as is the aristocracy of Venice at this day. For these are no more apt to dissolve from this occasion, than monarchies, the counsel of state being both in the one and the other alike.


Chapter 25

That Subjects are not Bound to Follow Their Private Judgments in Controversies of Religion

1. Having showed that in all commonwealths whatsoever, the necessity of peace and government requireth, that there be existent some power, either in one man, or in one assembly of men, by the name of the power sovereign, to which it is not lawful for any member of the same commonwealth to disobey; there occurreth now a difficulty, which, if it be not removed, maketh it unlawful for any man. to procure his own peace and preservation, because it maketh it unlawful for a man to put himself under the command of such absolute sovereignty as is required thereto. And the difficulty is this: we have amongst us the Word of God for the rule of our actions; now if we shall subject ourselves to men also, obliging ourselves to do such actions as shall be by them commanded; when the commands of God and man shall differ, we are to obey God, rather than man: and consequently the covenant of general obedience to man is unlawful.

2. This difficulty hath not been of very great. antiquity in the world. There was no such dilemma amongst the Jews; for their civil law, and divine law, was one and the same law of Moses: the interpreters whereof were the priests, whose power was subordinate to the power of the king; as was the power-of Aaron to the power of Moses. Nor is it a controversy that was ever taken notice of amongst the Grecians, Romans, or other Gentiles; for amongst these their severAl civil laws were the rules whereby not only righteousness and virtue, but also religion and the external worship of God, was ordered and approved; that being esteemed the true worship of God, which was kata ta nomima, (i.e.) according to the laws civil. Also those Christians that dwell under the temporal dominion of the bishop of Rome, are free from this question; for that they allow unto him (their sovereign) to interpret the Scriptures, which are the law of God, as he in his own judgment shall think right. This difficulty therefore remaineth amongst, and troubleth those Christians only, to whom it is allowed to take for the sense of the Scripture that which they make thereof, either by their own private interpretation, or by the interpretation of such as are not called thereunto by public authority: they that follow their own interpretation, continually demanding liberty of conscience; and those that follow the interpretation of others not ordained thereunto by the sovereign of the commonwealth, requiring a power in matters of religion either above the power civil, or at least not depending on it.

3. To take away this scruple of conscience concerning obedience to human laws, amongst those that interpret to themselves the word of God in the Holy Scriptures; I propound to their consideration, first: that no human law is intended to oblige the. conscience of a man, but the actions only. For seeing no man (but God alone) knoweth the heart or conscience of a man, unless it break out into action, either of the tongue, or other part of the body; the law made thereupon would be of none effect, because no man is able to discern, but by word or Other action whether such law be kept or broken. Nor did the apostles themselves pretend dominion over men’s consciences concerning the faith they preached, but only persuasion and instruction. And therefore St. Paul saith 2 Cor. 1, 24, writing to the Corinthians, concerning their controversies, that he and the rest of the apostles, had no dominion over their faith, but were helpers of their joy.

4. And for the actions of men which proceed from their consciences, the regulating of which actions is the only means of peace; if they might not stand with justice, it were impossible that justice towards God, and peace amongst men should stand together in that religion that teacheth us, that justice and peace should kiss each other, and in which we have so many precepts of absolute obedience to human authority’. as Matth. 23, 2, 3, we have this precept: The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat; all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do. And yet were the Scribes and Pharisees not priests, but men of temporal authority. Again Luke 1 1, 17: Every kingdom divided against itself shall be desolate; and is not that kingdom divided against itself, where the actions of every one shall be ruled by his private opinion, or conscience; and yet those actions such as give occasion of offence and breach of peace? Again Rom. 13, 5, therefore you must be subject, not because of wrath only, but also for conscience sake. Titus 3, 1: Put them in remembrance, that they be subject to principalities and powers. 1 Peter 2, 3, 13-14: Submit yourselves unto all manner of ordinance of man, for the Lord’s sake, whether it be unto the king, as unto the superior, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent of him for the punishment of evil-doers. Jude, verse 8: These dreamers also that defile the flesh, and despise government, and speak evil of them that are in authority. And forasmuch as all subjects in commonwealths are in the nature of children and servants, that which is a command to them, is a command to all subjects. But to these St. Paul saith, Colos. 3, 20, 22: Children, obey your parents in all things; servants, be obedient to your masters according to the flesh, in all things. And verse 23: Do it heartily as to the Lord, These places considered, it seemeth strange to me, that any man in a Christian commonwealth should have any occasion to deny his obedience to public authority, upon this ground, that it is better to obey God than man. For though St. Peter and the apostles did so answer the council of the Jews that forbad them to preach Christ, there appeareth no reason that Christians should allege the same against their Christian governors, that command to preach Christ. To reconcile this seeming contradiction of simple obedience to God and simple obedience to man, we are to consider a Christian subject, as under a Christian sovereign, or under an infidel.

5. And under a Christian sovereign we are to consider, what actions we are forbidden by God Almighty to obey them in, and what not. The actions we are forbidden to obey them in, are such only as imply a denial of that faith which is necessary to our salvation; for otherwise there can be no pretence of disobedience. For why should a man incur the danger of a temporal death, by displeasing of his superior, if it were not for fear of eternal death hereafter? It must therefore be enquired, what those propositions and articles they be, the belief whereof our Saviour or his apostles have declared to be such, as without believing them a man cannot be saved; and then all other points that are now controverted, and make distinction of sects, Papists, Lutherans, Calvinists,. Arminians, &c., as in old time the like made Paulists, Apollonians, and Cephasians, must needs be such, as a man needeth not for the holding thereof deny obedience to his superiors. And for the points of faith necessary to salvation, I shall call them FUNDAMENTAL, and every other point a SUPERSTRUCTION.

6. And without all controversy, there is not any more necessary point to be believed for man’s salvation than this, that Jesus is the Messiah, that is, the Christ; which proposition is explicated in sundry sorts, but still the same in effect; as, that he is God’s anointed; for that is signified by the word Christ; that he was the true and lawful king of Israel, the son of David; and Saviour of the world, the redeemer of Israel; the salvation of God; he that should come into the world, the son of God, and (which I desire by the way to have noted, against the new sect of Arians), the begotten Son of God, Acts 3, 13; Heb. 1, 5; 5, 5: the only begotten Son of God, John 1, 14, 18; John 3, 16, 18; 1 John 4, 9: that he was God, John 1, 1; John 20, 28: that the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in him bodily. Moreover, the Holy One, the Holy One of God, the forgiver of sins, that he is risen from the dead: these are explications, and parts of that general article, that Jesus is the Christ. This point therefore, and all the explications thereof are fundamental; as also all such as be evidently inferred from thence; as, belief in God the Father: John 12, 44: He that believeth in me, believeth not in me, but in him that sent me; I John 2, 23: He that denieth the Son, hath not the. Father. belief in God the Holy Ghost, of Whom Christ saith, John 14, 26: But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name; and John 15, 26: But when the Comforter shall come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth: belief of the Scriptures, by which we believe those points, and of the immortality of the soul, without which we cannot believe he is a Saviour.

7. And as these are the fundamental points of faith, necessary to salvation; so also are they only necessary as matter of faith, and only essential to the calling of a Christian; as may appear by many evident places of Holy Scripture: John 5, 39: Search the Scriptures, for in them you think to have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me. Now, forasmuch as by the Scripture is meant there the Old Testament (the New being then not written), the belief of that which was written concerning our Saviour in the Old Testament, was sufficient belief for the obtaining of eternal life; but in the Old Testament, there is nothing revealed concerning Christ, but that he is the Messiah, and such things as belong to the fundamental points thereupon depending; and therefore those fundamental points are sufficient to salvation, as of faith. And John 6, 28, 29: Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe in him, whom he hath sent. So that the point to be believed is, That Jesus Christ came forth from God, and he which believeth it, worketh the works of God. John 11, 26, 27: Whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die. Believest thou this? She said unto him, Yea, Lord, I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. Hence followeth that he that believeth this shall never die. John 20, 31: But these things are written, that ye might believe, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, ye might have life through his name. By which appeareth that this fundamental point is all that is required, as of faith to our salvation. 1 John 4, 2: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God: 1 John 5, 1: Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God; and verse 4; Who is it that overcometh the world, but he that believeth, that Jesus is the Son of God? and verse 13: These things have I written unto you that believe in the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life. Acts 8, 36, 37: The eunuch said, Here is water, what doth let me to be baptized? And Philip said unto him, If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. He answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. This point therefore was sufficient for the reception of a man to baptism, that is to say to Christianity. And Acts 16, 30: The keeper of the prison fell down before Paul and Silas, and said, Sirs, what shall I do to be saved? And they said, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. And the sermon of St. Peter, upon the day of Pentecost, was nothing else but an explication, that Jesus was the Christ. And when they that heard him, asked him, What shall we do? he said unto them, Acts 2, 38: Amend your lives, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins. Rom. 10, 9: If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart, that God raised him up from the dead, thou shalt be saved. To these places may be added: that wheresoever our Saviour Christ doth approve the faith of any man, the proposition believed (if the same be to be collected out of the text) is always some of these fundamental points before mentioned, or something equivalent; as the faith of the centurion, Matth. 8, 8: Speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed; believing he was omnipotent; the faith of the woman, which had an issue of blood, Matth. 9, 21: If I may but touch the hem of his garment; implying, he was the Messiah; the faith required of the blind men, Matth. 9, 28: Believe you that I am able to do this? the faith of the Canaanitish woman, Matth. 15, 22, that he was the Son of David, implying the same. And so it is in every one of those places (none excepted) where our Saviour commendeth any man’s faith; which because they are too many to insert here, I omit, and refer them to his inquisition that is not otherwise satisfied. And as there is no other faith required, so there was no other preaching; for the prophets of the Old Testament preached no other; and John the Baptist preached only the approach of the kingdom of heaven, that is to say, of the kingdom of Christ. The same was the commission of the apostles, Matth. 10, 7: Go preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. And Paul preaching amongst the Jews, Acts 18, 5, did but testify unto the Jews, that Jesus was the Christ. And the heathens took notice of Christians no otherwise, but by this name that they believed Jesus to be a king, crying out, Acts 17, 6: These are they that have subverted the state of the world, and here they are, whom Jason hath received. And these all do against the decrees of Caesar, saying, that there is another king, one Jesus. And this was the sum of the predictions, the sum of the confessions of them that believed, as well men as devils. This was the title of his cross, Jesus of Nazareth, king of the Jews; this the occasion of the crown of thorns, sceptre of reed, and a man to carry his cross;. this was the subject of the Hosannas; and this the title, by which our Saviour, commanding to take another man’s goods, bade them say, The Lord hath need; and by this title he purged the temple of the profane market kept there. Nor did the apostles themselves believe any more than that Jesus was the Messiah nor understand so much; for they understood the Messiah to be no more than a temporal king, till after our Saviour’s resurrection. Farthermore, this point that Christ is the Messiah, is particularly set forth for fundamental by that word, or some other equivalent thereunto in divers places. Upon the confession of Peter, Matth. 16, 16: Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God, our Saviour, verse 18, saith, Upon this rock will I build my Church. This point therefore is the whole foundation of Christ’s church. Rom. 15, 20, St. Paul saith, So I enforced myself to preach the Gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should have built upon another man’s foundation. I Cor. 3, 10, St. Paul when he had reprehended the Corinthians for their sects, and curious doctrines and questions, he distinguisheth between fundamental points, and superstruction; and saith, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereupon; but let every man take heed how he buildeth upon it. For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus the Christ. Colos. 2, 6: As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and builded in him, and stablished in the faith.

8. Having showed this proposition, Jesus is the Christ, to be the only fundamental and necessary point of faith; I shall set down a few places more to show that other points, though they may be true, are not so necessary to be believed, as that a man may not be saved though he believe them not. And first, if a man could not be saved without assent of the heart to the truth of all controversies, which are now in agitation concerning religion, I cannot see how any man living can be saved; so full of subtilty, and curious knowledge it is, to be so great a divine. Why therefore should a man think that our Saviour, who Matth. 11, 30, saith, that his yoke is easy, should require a matter of that difficulty?. or how are little children said to believe? Matth. 18, 6; or how could the good thief be thought sufficiently catechised upon the cross? or St. Paul so perfect a Christian presently upon his conversion? and though there may be more obedience required in him that hath the fundamental points explicated upon him, than in him, that hath received the same but implicitly; yet there is no more faith required for salvation in one man than in another. For if it be true, that whosoever shall confess with his mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in his heart that God raised him from the dead, shall be saved; as it is, Rom. 10, 9; and that whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God; the belief of that point is sufficient for the salvation of any man whosoever he be, forasmuch as concerneth faith. And seeing he that believeth not, that Jesus s the Christ, whatsoever he believe else, cannot be saved; it followeth that there is no more required to the salvation of one man, than of another, in matter of faith.

9. About these points fundamental there is little controversy amongst Christians, though otherwise of different sects amongst themselves. And therefore the controversies of religion, are altogether about points unnecessary to salvation; whereof some are doctrines raised by human ratiocination, from the points fundamental. As for example: such doctrines as concern the manner of the real presence, wherein are mingled tenets of faith concerning the omnipotency and divinity of Christ, with the tenets of Aristotle and the Peripatetics concerning substance and accidents, species, hypostasis and the subsistence and migration of accidents from place to place; words some of them without meaning, and nothing but the canting of Grecian sophisters; and these doctrines are condemned expressly Col. 2, 8, where after St. Paul had exhorted them to be rooted and builded in Christ, he giveth them this further caveat: Beware lest there be any man that spoil you through philosophy and vain deceits, through the traditions of men, according to the rudiments of the world. And such are such doctrines, as are raised out of such places of the Scriptures, as concern not the foundation, by men’s natural reason; as about the concatenation of causes, and the manner of God’s predestination; which are also mingled with philosophy; as if it were possible for men that know not in what manner God seeth, heareth, or speaketh, to know nevertheless the manner how he intendeth, and predestinateth. A man therefore ought not to examine by reason any point, or draw any consequence out of Scripture by reason, concerning the nature of God Almighty, of which reason is not capable. And therefore St. Paul, Rom. 12, 3, giveth a good rule, That no man presume to understand above that which is meet to understand, but that he understand according to sobriety’. which they do not who presume out of Scripture, by their own interpretation to raise any doctrine to the understanding, concerning those things which are incomprehensible. And this whole controversy concerning the predestination of God, and the freewill of man, is not peculiar to Christian men. For we have huge volumes of this subject, under the name of fate and contingency, disputed between the Epicureans and the Stoics, and consequently it is not matter of faith, but of philosophy; and so are also all the questions concerning any other point, but the foundation before named; and God receiveth a man, which part of the question soever he holdeth. It was a controversy in St. Paul’s time, whether a Christian Gentile might eat freely of any thing which the Christian Jews did not; and the Jew condemned the Gentile that he did eat; to whom St. Paul saith, Rom. 14, 3: Let not him that eateth not, judge him that eateth; for God hath received him. And verse 6, in the question concerning the observing of holy days, wherein the Gentiles and the Jews differed, he saith unto them, He that observeth the day, observeth it to the Lord; and he that observeth not the day, observeth it not, to the Lord. And they who strive concerning such questions, and divide themselves into sects, are not therefore to be accounted zealous of the faith, their strife being but carnal, which is confirmed by St. Paul, 1 Cor. 3, 4: When one saith, I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos, are ye not carnal? For they are not questions of faith, but of wit, wherein, carnally, men are inclined to seek the mastery one of another. For nothing is truly a point of faith, but that Jesus is the Christ; as St. Paul testifieth, 1 Cor. 2, 2: For I esteemed not the knowledge of any thing amongst you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And 1 Tim. 6, 20, 21: O Timotheus, keep that which is committed unto thee, and avoid profane and vain babblings, and opposition of science falsely so called, which while some profess, they have erred, concerning the faith. 2 Tim. 2, 16: Stay profane and vain babblings, &c. Verse 17: Of which sort is Hymenaeus and Philetus, which as concerning the truth, have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already. Whereby St. Paul sheweth that the raising of questions by human ratiocination, though it be from the fundamental points themselves, is not only not necessary, but most dangerous to the faith of a Christian. Out of all these places I draw only this conclusion in general, that neither the points now in controversy amongst Christians of different sects, or in any point that ever shall be in controversy, excepting only those that are contained in this article, Jesus is the Christ, are necessary to salvation, as of faith; though as matter of obedience, a man may be bound not to oppose the same.

10. Although to the obtaining of salvation, there be required no more, as hath been already declared out of the Holy Scriptures, as matter of faith, but the belief of those fundamental articles before set forth; nevertheless, there are required other things, as matter of obedience. For, as it is not enough in temporal kingdoms (to avoid the punishment which kings may inflict) to acknowledge the right and title of the king, without obedience also to his laws; so also it is not enough to acknowledge our Saviour Christ to be the king of heaven, in which consisteth Christian faith, unless also we endeavour to obey his laws, which are the laws of the kingdom of heaven, in which consisteth Christian obedience. And forasmuch as the laws of the kingdom of heaven, are the laws of nature, as hath been shewed Part I. chap. XVIII, not only faith, but also the observation of the law of nature, which is that for which a man is called just or righteous (in that sense in which justice is taken not for the absence of all guilt, but for the endeavour, and constant will to do that which is just), not only faith, but this justice, which also from the effect thereof, is called repentance, and sometimes works, is necessary to salvation. So that faith and justice do both concur thereto; and in the several acceptation of this word justification, are properly said both of them to justify; and the want of either of them is properly said to condemn. For not only he that resisteth a king upon doubt of his title, but also he that doth it upon the inordinateness of his passions, deserveth punishment. And when faith and works are separated, not only the faith is called dead, without works, but also works are called dead works, without faith. And therefore St. James, chap. 2, 17, saith, Even so the faith, if it have no works, is dead in itself; and verse 26: For as the body without the spirit is dead, even so faith without works is dead. And St. Paul, Heb. 6, 1, calleth works without faith, dead works, where he saith, Not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works. And by these dead works, is understood not the obedience and justice of the inward man, but the opus Operatum, or external action, proceeding from fear of punishment, or from vain glory, and desire to be honoured of men; and these may be separated from faith, and conduce no way to a man’s justification. And for that cause St. Paul, Rom. 4, excludeth the righteousness of the law, from having part in the justification of a sinner. For by the law of Moses, which is applied to men’s actions, and requireth the absence of guilt, all men living are liable to damnation; and therefore no man is justified by works, but by faith only. But if works be taken for the endeavour to do them, that is, if the will be taken for the deed, or internal for external righteousness, then do works contribute to salvation. And then taketh place that of St. James, chap. 2, 24: Ye see then, how that of works a man is justified, and not of faith only. And both of these are joined to salvation, as in St. Mark 1, 15: Repent and believe the Gospel. And Luke 18, 18, when a certain ruler asked our Saviour, what he ought to do to inherit eternal life, he propounded to him the keeping of the commandments; which when the ruler said he had kept, he propounded to him the faith, Sell all that thou hast, and follow me. And John 3, 36: He that believeth in the Son, hath everlasting life. And He that obeyeth not the Son, shall not see life. Where he manifestly joineth obedience and faith together. And Rom: 1, 17: The just shall live by faith; not every one, but the just. For also the devils believe and tremble. But though both faith and justice (meaning still by justice, not absence of guilt, but the good intentions of the mind, which is called righteousness by God, that taketh the will for the deed) be both of them said to justify, yet are their parts in the act of justification to be distinguished. For justice is said to justify, not because it absolveth, but because it denominates him just, and setteth him in an estate or capacity of salvation, whensoever he shall have faith. But faith is said to justify, that is, to absolve; because by it a just man is absolved of, and forgiven his unjust actions. And thus are reconciled the places of St. Paul and St. James, that faith only justifieth, and a man is not justified by faith only; and shewed how faith and repentance must concur to salvation.

11. These things considered it will easily appear: that under the sovereign power of a Christian commonwealth, there is no danger of damnation from simple obedience to human laws; for in that the sovereign alloweth Christianity, no man is compelled to renounce that faith which is enough for his salvation; that is to say, the fundamental points. And for other points,. seeing they are not necessary to salvation, if we conform our actions to the laws, we do not only what we are allowed, but also what we are commanded, by the law of nature, which is the moral law taught by our Saviour himself. And it is part of that obedience which must concur to our salvation.

12. And though it be true, whatsoever a man doth contrary to his conscience, is sin; yet the obedience in these cases, is neither sin, nor against the conscience. For the conscience being nothing else but a man’s settled judgment and opinion, when he hath once transferred his right of judging to another, that which shall be commanded, is no less his judgment, than the judgment of that other. so that in obedience to laws, a man doth still according to his conscience, but not his private conscience. And whatsoever is done contrary to private conscience, is then a sin, when the laws have left him to his own liberty, and never else. And then whatsoever a man doth, not only believing it is ill done, but doubting whether it be ill or not, is done ill; in case he may lawfully omit the doing.

13. And as it hath been proved, that a man must submit his opinions, in matters of controversy, to the authority of the commonwealth; so also is the same confessed by the practice of every one of them that otherwise deny it. For who is there differing in opinion from another, and thinking himself to be in the right, and the other in the wrong, that would not think it reasonable, if he be of the same opinion that the whole state alloweth, that the other should submit his opinion also thereunto? or that would not be content, if not that one or a few men, yet that all the divines of a whole nation, or at least an assembly of all those he liketh, should have the power to determine of all the controversies of religion? or, who is there that would not be content, to submit his opinions, either to the pope, or to a general council, or to a provincial council, or to a presbytery of his own nation? And yet in all these cases he submitteth himself to no greater than human authority. Nor can a man be said to submit himself to Holy Scripture, that doth not submit himself to some or other for the interpretation thereof; or why should there be any church government at all instituted, if the Scripture itself could do the office of a judge in controversies of faith? But the truth is apparent, by continual experience, that men seek not only liberty of conscience, but of their actions; nor that only, but a farther liberty of persuading others to their opinions; nor that only for every man desireth, that the sovereign authority should admit no other opinions to be maintained but such as he himself holdeth.

14. The difficulty therefore of obeying both God and man, in a Christian commonwealth is none: all the difficulty resteth in this point, whether he that hath received the faith of Christ, having before subjected himself to the authority of an infidel, be discharged of his obedience thereby, or not, in matters of religion. In which case it seemeth reasonable to think, that since all covenants of obedience are entered into for the preservation of a man’s life, if a man be content, without resistance to lay down his life, rather than to obey the commands of an infidel; in so hard a case he hath sufficiently discharged himself thereof. For no covenant bindeth farther than to endeavour; and if a man cannot assure himself to perform a just duty, when thereby he is assured of present death, much less can it be expected that a man should perform that, for which he believeth in his heart he shall be damned eternally. And thus much concerning the scruple of conscience that may arise concerning obedience to human laws, in them that interpret the law of God to themselves. It remaineth, to remove the same scruple from them that submit their controversies to others, not ordained thereunto by the sovereign authority. And this I refer to the chapter following.


Chapter 26

That Subjects are not bound to follow the Judgment of any Authorities in Controversies of Religion which is not Dependent on the Sovereign Power

1. In the former chapter have been removed those difficulties opposing our obedience to human authority, which arise from misunderstanding of our Saviour’s title and laws; in the former whereof, namely his title, consisteth our faith; and in the latter, our justice. Now they who differ not amongst themselves concerning his title and laws, may nevertheless have different opinions concerning his magistrates, and the authority he hath given them. And this is the cause why many Christians have denied obedience to their princes; pretending that our Saviour Christ hath not given this magistracy to them, but to others. As for example: some say, to the pope universally; some, to a synod aristocratical; some, to a synod democratical in every several commonwealth; and the magistrates of Christ being they by whom he speaketh: the question is, whether he speak unto us by the pope, or by convocations of bishops and ministers, or by them that have the sovereign power in every commonwealth.

2. This controversy was the cause of those two mutinies that happened against Moses in the wilderness. The first by Aaron and his sister Miriam, who took upon them to censure Moses, for marrying an Ethiopian woman. And the state of the question between them and Moses they set forth Numbers 12, 2, in these words: What hath the Lord spoken but only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the Lord heard this, &c., and punished the same in Miriam, forgiving Aaron upon his repentance. And this is the case of all them that set up the priesthood against the sovereignty. The other was of Corah, Dathan, and Abiram, who with two hundred and fifty captains gathered themselves together against Moses, and against Aaron. The state of their controversy was this: Whether God were not with the multitude, as well as with Moses, and every man as holy as he. For, Numb. 16, 3, thus they say, You take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation is holy,. every one of them, and the Lord is amongst them: wherefore then lift ye yourselves above the congregation of the Lord? And this is the case of them that set up their private consciences, and unite themselves to take the government of religion out of the hands of him or them, that have the sovereign power of the commonwealth; which how well it pleaseth God, may appear by the hideous punishment of Corah and his accomplices.

3. In the government therefore of Moses, there was no power neither civil nor spiritual, that was not derived from him; nor in the state of Israel under kings, was there any earthly power, by which those kings were compellable to any thing, or any subject allowed to resist them, in any case whatsoever. For though the prophets by extraordinary calling, did often admonish and threaten them, yet had they no authority over them. And therefore amongst the Jews, the power spiritual and temporal, was always in the same hand.

4. Our Saviour Christ, as he was the rightful king of the Jews in particular, as well as king of the kingdom of Heaven, in the ordaining of magistrates; revived that form of policy which was used by Moses. According to the number of the children of Jacob, Moses took unto him by the appointment of God, Numb. 1, 4, twelve men, every one of the chief of their tribe, which were to assist him in the muster of Israel. And these twelve, verse 24, are called the princes of Israel, twelve men, every one for the house of their fathers; which are said also Numb. 7, 2, to be heads over the houses of their fathers, and princes of the tribes, and over them that were numbered. And these were every one equal amongst themselves. In like manner our Saviour took unto him twelve apostles, to be next unto him in authority; of whom he saith Matth. 19, 28, When the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of his majesty, ye which follow me in the regeneration, shall sit also upon twelve thrones, and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. And concerning the equality of the twelve apostles amongst themselves our Saviour saith, Matth. 20, 25: Ye know that the Lords of the Gentiles have domination over them, &c. Verse 26: But it shall not be so amongst you; but whosoever will be greatest among you, let him be your servant. And Matth. 23, 11: He that is greatest among you, let him be your servant. And a little before, verse 8, Be not called Rabbi; for one is your doctor Christ; and all ye are brethren. And Acts 1, in choosing of Matthias to be an apostle, though St. Peter used the part of a prolocutor, yet did no man take upon him the authority of election, but referred the same to lot.

5. Again, Moses had the command of God, Numb. 11, 16: Gather to me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest that they are the elders of the people, and governors over them, and bring them into the tabernacle, &c. And Moses did accordingly, verse 24. And these were chosen to help Moses in bearing the burthen of the government, as appeareth verse 17 of the same chapter. And as the twelve princes of the tribes were according to the number of Jacob’s children; so were the seventy elders according to the number of the persons that went down with Jacob into Egypt. In like manner our Saviour in his kingdom of Heaven, the church, out of the whole number of those that believed in him, ordained seventy persons, which peculiarly were called the seventy disciples, to whom he gave power to preach the Gospel and baptize.

6. In our Saviour’s time therefore, the hierarchy of the church consisted, besides himself that was the head, of twelve apostles, who were equal amongst themselves, but ordained over others, as were the twelve heads of the tribes; and seventy. disciples, who had every one of them power to baptize and teach, and help to govern the whole flock.

7. And whereas in the commonwealth instituted by Moses, there was not only a high-priest for the present, but also a succession and order of priests; it may be demanded why our Saviour Christ did not ordain the like? To which may be answered, that the high-priesthood, forasmuch as concerneth the authority thereof, was in the person of Christ, as he was Christ-King. So also was it in Moses, Aaron having the ministerial part only. For notwithstanding that Aaron was the high-priest, yet the consecration of him belonged to Moses, Exod. 29, 1. All the utensils of sacrifice, and other holy things, were ordered by Moses; and in sum: the whole Levitical law was delivered by God by the hand of Moses, who was to Aaron a God, and Aaron to him a mouth. And for the ministerial part, there could no highpriest be ordained but himself; for seeing our Saviour was himself the sacrifice, who but himself could offer him up? And for the celebration of that sacrifice for ever after, our Saviour annexed the priesthood to those whom he had appointed to govern in the church.

8. After the ascension of our Saviour, the apostles dispersed themselves for the spreading of the Gospel; and continually as they converted any number of men, in any city or region, to the faith, they chose out such as they thought fittest, to direct them in matter of conversation and life, according to Christ’s law, and to explicate unto them that mystery of Christ come in the flesh; that is to say, to unfold unto them at large the office of the Messiah. And of those elders some were subordinate to others, according as the apostles, who ordained them, thought meet. So St. Paul gave power to Titus, to ordain elders in Crete, and to redress things that were amiss. So that Titus was both an elder, and ordained elders, Tit. 1. 5: For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest continue to redress the things that remain, and ordain elders in every city; where the word is katasteses, that is constitute; whereby it appeareth that in the apostles’ times, one elder had authority over another, to ordain and rule them. For 1 Tim. 5, 19, Timothy an elder, is made judge of accusations against other elders. And Acts 14, 23, the disciples are said to ordain elders for all the congregations of the cities they had preached in; and though the word there be cheirotonesantes, yet it signifieth not election by holding up of hands, but simply and absolutely ordination. For the ordinary choosing of magistrates amongst the Grecians, which were all either popularly governed, or else by oligarchy, being performed by holding up of hands, made that word be taken simply for an election or ordination howsoever made. And thus in the primitive church, the hierarchy of the church was: apostles; elders that governed other elders; and elders that ruled not, but their office was to preach, to administer the sacraments, to offer up prayers and thanksgiving in the name of the people. But at that time there appeared no distinction between the names of bishop and elder. But immediately after the apostles’ time, the word bishop was taken to signify such an elder as had the government of elders, and other elders were called by the name of priests, which signifieth the same that elder doth. And thus the government of bishops hath a divine pattern in the twelve rulers, and seventy elders of Israel, in the twelve apostles and seventy disciples of our Saviour; in the ruling elders, and not ruling elders, in the time of the apostles.

9. And thus much of the magistrates over Christ’s flock in the primitive church; for the office of a minister, or ministress, was to be subject to the flock, and to serve them in those things which appertain to their temporal business. The next thing to be considered is the authority which our Saviour gave to them, either over those whom they had converted, or those whom they were about to convert. And for these latter, which as yet were without the church, the authority which our Saviour gave to his apostles was no more but this: to preach unto them that Jesus was the Christ, to explicate the same in all points that concern the kingdom of heaven, and to persuade men to embrace our Saviour’s doctrine, but by no means to compel any man to be subject to them. For seeing the laws of the kingdom of heaven, as hath been showed, Part I. chap. XVIII, sect. 10, are dictated to the conscience only, which is not subject to. compulsion and constraint; it was not congruent to the style of the King of Heaven to constrain men to submit their actions to him, but to advise them only; nor for him that professeth the sum of his law to be love, to extort any duty from us with fear of temporal punishment. And therefore as the mighty men in the world, that hold others in subjection by force, are called in Scripture by the name of hunters; so our Saviour calleth those whom he appointed to draw the world unto him, by subduing their affections, fishers; and therefore he saith to Peter and Andrew, Matth. 4, 19: Follow me, and I will make ye fishers of men. And Luke 10, 3: Behold, saith Christ, I send ye forth as lambs amongst wolves. And it were to no end to give them the right of compelling, without strengthening the same with greater power than of lambs amongst wolves. Moreover, Matth. 10, where our Saviour giveth a commission to his twelve apostles to go forth and convert the nations to the faith, he giveth them no authority of coercion and punishment, but only saith, verse 14: Whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house, or that city, shake off the dust of your feet. Truly I say unto you, it shall be easier for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city. Whereby it is manifest, that all that the apostles could do by their authority, was no more than to renounce communion with them, and leave their punishment to God Almighty, in the day of judgment. Likewise the comparisons of the kingdom of heaven to the seed, Matth. 13, 3, and to the leaven, Matth. 13, 33, doth intimate unto us that the increase thereof ought to proceed from internal operation of God’s word preached, and not from any law or compulsion of them that preach it. Moreover our Saviour himself saith, John 28, 36, that his kingdom is not of this world; and consequently his magistrates derive not from him any authority of punishing men in this world. And therefore also, Matth. 26, 52, after St. Peter had drawn his sword in his defence, our Saviour saith, Put up thy sword into his place. For all that take the sword shall perish by the sword. And, verse 54, How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say, that it must be so? showing out of the Scriptures, that the kingdom of Christ was not to be defended by the sword.

10. But concerning the authority of the apostles or bishops over those who were already converted and within the church, there be that think it greater than over them without. For some have said (Bellarmin. Lib. de Rom. Pont. cap. 29): Though the law of Christ deprive no prince of his dominion, and Paul did rightly appeal to Caesar, whilst kings were infidels and out of the church; yet when they became Christians, and of their own accord underwent the laws of the gospel, presently as sheep to a shepherd, and as members to the head, they became subject to the prelate of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Which, whether it be true or not, is to be considered by that light which we have from the Holy Scripture, concerning the power of our Saviour and his apostles, over such as they had converted. But our Saviour, as he imitated the commonwealth of the Jews in his magistrates, the twelve and the seventy; so did he also in the censure of the church, which was excommunication; but amongst the Jews, the church did put the excommunicated persons from the congregation, which they might do by their power temporal; but our Saviour and his apostles, who took upon them no such power, could not forbid the excommunicated person to enter into any place and congregation, into which he was permitted to enter by the prince, or sovereign of the place; for that had been to deprive the sovereign of his authority. and therefore the excommunication of a person subject to an earthly power, was but a declaration of the church, which did excommunicate, that the person so excommunicated was to be reputed still as an infidel, but not to be driven by their authority out of any company he might otherwise lawfully come into. And this is it our Saviour saith, Matth. 18, 17: If he refuseth to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. So that the whole effect of excommunicating a Christian prince, is no more than he or they that so excommunicate him, depart, and banish themselves out of his dominion. Nor can they thereupon discharge any of his subjects of their obedience to him; for that were to deprive him of his dominion, which they may not do; for being out of the church, it is confessed by them that make this objection, and proved in the former section, that our Saviour gave no authority to his apostles to be judges over them. And therefore in no case can the sovereign power of a commonwealth be subject to any authority ecclesiastical, besides that of Christ himself. And though he be informed concerning the kingdom of heaven, and subject himself thereto at the persuasions of persons ecclesiastical, yet is not he thereby subject to their government and rule. For if it were by their authority he took that yoke upon him, and not by their persuasion, then by the same authority he might cast it off; but this is unlawful. For if all the churches in the world should renounce the Christian faith, yet is not this sufficient authority for any of the members to do the same. It is manifest therefore that they who have sovereign power, are immediate rulers of the church under Christ, and all others but subordinate to them. If that were not, but kings should command one thing upon pain of death, and priests another upon pain of damnation, it would be impossible that peace and religion should stand together.

11. And therefore there is no just cause for any man to withdraw his obedience from the sovereign state, upon pretence that Christ hath ordained any state ecclesiastical above it. And though kings take not upon them the ministerial priesthood (as they might if it pleased them) yet are they not so merely laic, as not to have sacerdotal jurisdiction. To conclude this chapter: since God speaketh not in these days to any man by his private interpretation of the Scriptures, nor by the interpretation of any power, above, or not depending on the sovereign power of every commonwealth; it remaineth that he speaketh by his vice-gods, or lieutenants here on earth, that is to say, by sovereign kings, or such as have sovereign authority as well as they.


Chapter 27

Of the Causes of Rebellion

1. Hitherto of the causes why, and the manner how, men have made commonwealths. In this chapter I shall show briefly, by what causes, and in what manner, they be again destroyed; not meaning to say anything concerning the dissolution of a commonwealth from foreign invasions, which is as it were the violent death thereof, I shall speak only of sedition, which is also the death of the commonwealth, but like to that which happeneth to a man from sickness and distemper. To dispose men to sedition three things concur. The first is discontent; for as long as a man thinketh himself well, and that the present government standeth not in his way to hinder his proceeding from well to better; it is impossible for him to desire the change thereof. The second is pretence of right; for though a man be discontent, yet if in his own opinion there be no just cause of stirring against, or resisting the government established, nor any pretence to justify his resistance, and to procure aid, he will never show it. The third is hope of success; for it were madness to attempt without hope, when to fail is to die the death of a traitor. Without these three: discontent, pretence, and hope, there can be no rebellion; and when the same are all together, there wanteth nothing thereto, but a man of credit to set up the standard, and to blow the trumpet.

2. And as for discontent, it is of two sorts: for it consisteth either in bodily pain present or expected, or else in trouble of the mind (which is the general division of pleasure and pain, Part I. chap. VII, sect. 9). The presence of bodily pain disposeth not to sedition; the fear of it doth. As for example: when a great multitude, or heap of people, have concurred to a crime worthy of death, they join together, and take arms to defend themselves for fear thereof. So also the fear of want, or in present want the fear of arrests and imprisonment, dispose to sedition. And therefore great exactions, though the right thereof be acknowledged, have caused great seditions. As in the time of Henry VII. the seditions of the Cornish men that refused to pay a subsidy, and, under the conduct of the Lord Audley, gave the King battle upon Blackheath; and that of the northern people, who in the same king’s time, for demanding a subsidy granted in parliament, murdered the Earl of Northumberland in his house.

3. Thirdly, the other sort of discontent which troubleth the mind of them who otherwise live at ease, without fear of want, or danger of violence, ariseth only from a sense of their want of that power, and that honour and testimony thereof, which they think is due unto them. For all joy and grief of mind consisting (as hath been said, Part I. chap. IX, sect. 21) in a contention for precedence to them with whom they compare themselves; such men must needs take it ill, and be grieved with the state, as find themselves postponed to those in honour, whom they think they excel in virtue and ability to govern. And this is it for which they think themselves regarded but as slaves. Now seeing freedom cannot stand together with subjection, liberty in a commonwealth is nothing but government and rule, which because it cannot be divided, men must expect in common; and that can be no where but in the popular state, or democracy. And Aristotle saith well (lib. 6, cap. 2 of his Politics), The ground or intention of a democracy, is liberty; which he confirmeth in these words: For men ordinarily say this: that no man can partake of liberty, but only in a popular commonwealth. Whosoever therefore in a monarchical estate, where the sovereign power is absolutely in one man, claimeth liberty, claimeth (if the hardest construction should be made thereof) either to have the sovereignty in his turn, or to be colleague with him that hath it, or to have the monarchy changed into a democracy. But if the same be construed (with pardon of that unskilful expression) according to the intention of him that claimeth, then doth he thereby claim no more but this, that the sovereign should take notice of his ability and deserving, and put him into employment and place of subordinate government, rather than others that deserve less. And as one claimeth, so doth another, every man esteeming his own desert greatest. Amongst all those that pretend to, or are ambitious of such honour, a few only can be served, unless it be in a democracy; the rest therefore must be discontent. And so much of the first thing that disposeth to rebellion, namely, discontent, consisting in fear and ambition.

4. The second thing that disposeth to rebellion, is pretence of right. And that is when men have an opinion, or pretend to have an opinion: that in certain cases they may lawfully resist him or them that have the sovereign power, or deprive him or them of the means to execute the same. Of which pretences there be six special cases. One is, when the command is against their conscience, and they believe it is unlawful for a subject at the command of the sovereign power to do any action, which he thinketh in his own conscience not lawful for him to do, or to omit any action, which he thinketh not lawful for him to omit. Another is, when the command is against the laws, and they think the sovereign power in such sort obliged to his own laws, as the subject is; and that when he performeth not his duty, they may resist his power. A third is, when they receive commands from some man or men, and a supersedeas to the same from others, and think the authority is equal, as if the sovereign power were divided. A fourth is, when they are commanded to contribute their persons or money to the public service, and think they have a propriety in the same distinct from the dominion of the sovereign power; and that therefore they are not bound to contribute their goods and persons, no more than every man shall of himself think fit. A fifth, when the commands seem hurtful to the people; and they think, every one of them, that the opinion and sense of the people is the same with the opinion of himself, and those that consent with him; calling by the name of people, any multitude of his own faction. The sixth is, when the commands are grievous; and they account him that commandeth grievous things, a tyrant; and tyrannicide, that is, the killing of a tyrant, not only lawful, but also laudable.

5. All these opinions are maintained in the books of the dogmatics, and divers of them taught in public chairs, and nevertheless are most incompatible with peace and government, and contradictory to the necessary and demonstrable rules of the same. And for the first, namely, that a man may lawfully do or omit any thing against his conscience, and from whence arise all seditions concerning religion and ecclesiastical government, it hath been plainly declared in the two last chapters, that such opinion is erroneous. For those two chapters have been wholly spent, to prove, that Christian religion not only forbiddeth not, but also commandeth, that in every commonwealth, every subject should in all things to the uttermost of his power obey the commands of him or them that is the sovereign thereof; and that a man in so obeying, doth according to his conscience and judgment, as having deposited his judgment in all controversies in the hands of the sovereign power; and that this error proceedeth from the ignorance of what and by whom God Almighty speaketh.

6. As for the second opinion which is: that the sovereign is in such sort obliged to his own laws, as the subject is; the contrary thereof hath been showed, Part II. chap. XX sections 7-12, by which it appeareth that the sovereign power is not to be resisted; that it carrieth the sword both of war and justice; that it hath the right of deciding all controversies, both judicial and deliberative; that it hath the making of all the laws civil; that it appointeth magistrates and public ministers, and that it implieth a universal impunity. How can he or they be said to be subject to the laws which they may abrogate at their pleasure, or break without fear of punishment? And this error seemeth to proceed from this, that men ordinarily understand not aright, what is meant by this word law, confounding law and covenant, as if they signified the same thing. But law implieth a command; covenant is but a promise. And not every command is a law, but only (Part I. chap. XIII, sect. 6) when the command is the reason we have of doing the action commanded. And then only is the reason of our actions in the command, when the omitting is therefore hurtful, because the action was commanded, not because it was hurtful of itself; and doing contrary to a command, were not at all hurtful, if there were not a right in him that commandeth to punish him that so doth. He or they that have all punishments in their own disposing, cannot be so commanded, as to receive hurt for disobeying, and consequently no command can be a law unto them. It is an error therefore to think: that the power which is virtually the whole power of the commonwealth, and which in whomsoever it resideth, is usually called supreme or sovereign, can be subject to any law but that of God Almighty.

7. The third. opinion: that the sovereign power may be divided, is no less an error than the former, as hath been proved, Part II. chap. XX, sect. 15. And if there were a commonwealth, wherein the rights of sovereignty were divided, we must confess with Bodin, Lib. II. chap. I. De Republica, that they are not rightly to be called commonwealths, but the corruption of commonwealths. For if one part should have power to make the laws for all, they would by their laws, at their pleasure, forbid others to make peace or war, to levy taxes, or to yield fealty and homage without their leave; and they that had the right to make peace and war, and command the militia, would forbid the making of other laws, than what themselves liked. And though monarchies stand long, wherein the right of sovereignty hath seemed so divided, because monarchy of itself is a durable kind of government; yet monarchs have been thereby divers times thrust out of their possession. But the truth is, that the right of sovereignty is such, as he or they that have it, cannot, though they would, give away any part thereof, and retain the rest. As for example: if we should suppose the people of Rome to have had the absolute sovereignty of the Roman state, and to have chosen them a council by the name of the senate, and that to this senate they had given the supreme power of making laws, reserving nevertheless to themselves, in direct and express terms, the whole right and title of the sovereignty (which may easily happen amongst them that see not the inseparable connexion between the sovereign power and the power of making laws), I say, this grant of the people to the senate is of no effect, and the power of making laws is in the people sill. For the senate understanding it to be the will and intention of the people, to retain the sovereignty, ought not to take that for granted, which was contradictory thereto, and passed by error. For, Part I. chap. XIII, sect. 9, in contradictory promises, that which is directly promised, is preferred before that which is opposite thereunto by consequence; because the consequence of a thing is not always observed, as is the thing itself. The error concerning mixed government hath proceeded from want of understanding of what is meant by this word body politic, and how it signifieth not the concord, but the union of many men. And though in the charters of subordinate corporations, a corporation be declared to be one person in law, yet the same hath not been taken notice of in the body of a commonwealth or city, nor have any of those innumerable writers of politics observed any such union.

8. The fourth opinion (viz.): that subjects have their meum, tuum, and suum, in property, not only by virtue of the sovereign power over them all, distinct from one another, but also against the sovereign himself, by which they would pretend to contribute nothing to the public, but what they please, hath been already confuted, by proving the absoluteness of the sovereignty; and more particularly, Part II. chap. XXIV, sect. 2; and ariseth from this: that they understand not ordinarily, that before the institution of sovereign power meum and tuum implied no propriety, but a community, where every man had right to every thing, and was in state of war with every man.

9. The fifth opinion: that the people is a distinct body from him or them that have the sovereignty over them, is an error already confuted, Part II. chap. XXI, sect. 11, where it is showed, that when men say: the people rebelleth, it is to be understood of those particular persons only, and not of the whole nation. And when the people claimeth any thing otherwise than by the voice of the sovereign power, it is not the claim of the people, but only of those particular men, that claim in their own persons; and this error ariseth from the equivocation of the word people.

10. Lastly, for the opinion, that tyrannicide is lawful, meaning by a tyrant any man in whom resideth the right of sovereignty, it is no less false and pernicious to human society, than frequent in the writings of those moral philosophers, Seneca and others, so greatly esteemed amongst us. For when a man hath the right of sovereignty, he cannot justly be punished, as hath been often showed already, and therefore much less deposed, or put to death. And howsoever he might deserve punishment, yet punishment is unjust without judgment preceding, and judgment unjust without power of judicature, which a subject hath not over his sovereign. But this doctrine proceedeth from the Schools of Greece, and from those that writ in the Roman state, in which not only the name of a tyrant, but of a king, was hateful.

11. Besides discontent, to the disposing of a man to rebellion, and pretence, there is required, in the third place, hope of success, which consisteth in four points: 1. That the discontented have mutual intelligence; 2. that they have sufficient number; 3. that they have arms; 4. that they agree upon a head. For these four must concur to the making of one body of rebellion, in which intelligence is the life, number the limbs, arms the strength, and a head the unity, by which they are directed to one and the same action.

12. The authors of rebellion, that is, the men that breed these dispositions to rebel in others, of necessity must have in them these three qualities: 1. To be discontented themselves; 2. to be men of mean judgment and capacity; and 3. to be eloquent men or good orators. And as for their discontent, from whence it may proceed, hath been already declared. And for the second and third, I am to show now, first, how they may stand together; for it seemeth a contradiction, to place small judgment and great eloquence, or, as they call it, powerful speaking, in the same man: and then in what manner they both concur to dispose other men to sedition.

13. It was noted by Sallust, that in Catiline (who was author of the greatest sedition that ever was in Rome) there was Eloquentiae satis, sapientiae parum; eloquence sufficient, but little wisdom. And perhaps this was said of Catiline, as he was Catiline: but it was true of him as an author of sedition. For the conjunction of these two qualities made him not Catiline, but seditious. And that it may be understood, how want of wisdom, and store of eloquence, may stand together, we are to consider, what it is we call wisdom, and what eloquence. And therefore I shall here again remember some things that have been said already, Part I. chap. V, VI. It is manifest that wisdom consisteth in knowledge. Now of knowledge there are two kinds; whereof the one is the remembrance of such things, as we have conceived by our senses, and of the order in which they follow one another. And this knowledge is called experience; and the wisdom that proceedeth from it, is that ability to conjecture by the present, of what is past, and to come, which men call prudence. This being so, it is manifest presently, that the author of sedition, whosoever he be, must not be prudent. For if he consider and take his experiences aright, concerning the success which they have had, who have been the movers and authors of sedition, either in this or any other state, he shall find that of one man that hath thereby advanced himself to honour, twenty have come to a reproachful end. The other kind of knowledge is the remembrance of the names or appellations of things, and how every thing is called, which is, in matters of common conversation, a remembrance of pacts and covenants of men made amongst themselves, concerning how to be understood of one another. And this kind of knowledge is generally called science, and the conclusions thereof truth. But when men remember not how things are named, by general agreement, but either mistake and misname things, or name them aright by chance, they are not said to have science, but opinion; and the conclusions thence proceeding are uncertain, and for the most part erroneous. Now that science in particular from which proceed the true and evident conclusions of what is right and wrong, and what is good and hurtful to the being and well-being of mankind, the Latins call sapientia, and we by the general name of wisdom. For generally, not he that hath skill in geometry, or any other science speculative, but only he that understandeth what conduceth to the good and government of the people, is called a wise man. Now that no author of sedition can be wise in this acceptation of the word, is sufficiently proved, in that it hath been already demonstrated, that no pretence of sedition can be right or just; and therefore the authors of sedition must be ignorant of the right of state, that is to say, unwise. It remaineth therefore, that they be such, as name things not according to their true and generally agreed-upon names; but call right and wrong, good and bad, according to their passions, or according to the authorities of such as they admire, as Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, and others of like authority, who have given the names of right and wrong, as their passions have dictated; or have followed the authority of other men, as we do theirs. It is required therefore in an author of sedition, that he think right, that which is wrong; and profitable, that which is pernicious; and consequently that there be in him sapientiae parum, little wisdom.

14. Eloquence is nothing else but the power of winning belief of what we say; and to that end we must have aid from the passions of the hearer. Now to demonstration and teaching of the truth, there are required long deductions, and great attention, which is unpleasant to the hearer; therefore they which seek not truth, but belief, must take another way, and not only derive what they would have to be believed, from somewhat believed already, but also by aggravations and extenuations make good and bad, right and wrong, appear great or less, according as it shall serve their turns. And such is the power of eloquence, as many times a man is made to believe thereby, that he sensibly feeleth smart and damage, when he feeleth none, and to enter into rage and indignation, without any other cause, than what is in the words and passion of the speaker. This considered, together with the business that he hath to do, who is the author of rebellion, (viz.) to make men believe that their rebellion is just, their discontents grounded upon great injuries, and their hopes great; there needeth no more to prove, there can be no author of rebellion, that is not an eloquent and powerful speaker, and withal (as hath been said before) a man of little wisdom. For the faculty of speaking powerfully, consisteth in a habit gotten of putting together passionate words, and applying them to the present passions of the hearer.

15. Seeing then eloquence and want of discretion concur to the stirring of rebellion, it may be demanded, what part each of these acteth therein? The daughters of Pelias, king of Thessaly, desiring to restore their old decrepit father to the vigour of his youth, by the counsel of Medea chopped him in pieces, and set him a boiling with I know not what herbs in a cauldron, but could not make him revive again. So when eloquence and want of judgment go together, want of judgment, Like the daughters of Pelias, consenteth, through eloquence, which is as the witchcraft of Medea, to cut the commonwealth in pieces, upon pretence or hope of reformation, which when things are in combustion, they are not able to effect.


Chapter 28

Of the Duty of Them That Have Sovereign Power

1. Having hitherto set forth how a body politic is made, and how it may be destroyed, this place requireth to say something concerning the preservation of the same. Not purposing to enter into the particulars of the art of government, but to sum up the general heads, wherein such art is to be employed, and in which consisteth the duty of him or them that have the sovereign power. For the duty of a sovereign consisteth in the good government of the people; and although the acts of sovereign power be no injuries to the subjects who have consented to the same by their implicit wills, yet when they tend to the hurt of the people in general, they be breaches of the law of nature, and of the divine Law; and consequently, the contrary acts are the duties of sovereigns, and required at their hands to the utmost of their endeavour, by God Almighty, under the pain of eternal death. And as the art and duty of sovereigns consist in the same acts, so also doth their profit. For the end of art is profit; and governing to the profit of the subjects, is governing to the profit of the sovereign, as hath been showed Part II. chapter XXIV, section 1. And these three: 1. the law over them that have sovereign power; 2. their duty; 3. their profit: are one and the same thing contained in this sentence, Salus populi suprema lex; by which must be understood, not the mere preservation of their lives, but generally their benefit and good. So that this is the general law for sovereigns: that they procure, to the uttermost of their endeavour, the good of the people.

2. And forasmuch as eternal is better than temporal good, it is evident, that they who are in sovereign authority, are by the law of nature obliged to further the establishing of all such doctrines and rules, and the commanding of all such actions, as in their conscience they believe to be the true way thereunto. For unless they do so, it cannot be said truly, that they have done the uttermost of their endeavour.

3. For the temporal good of people, it consisteth in four points: 1. Multitude. 2. Commodity of living. 3. Peace amongst ourselves. 4. Defence against foreign power. Concerning multitude, it is the duty of them that are in sovereign authority, to increase the people, in as much as they are governors of mankind under God Almighty, who having created but one man, and one woman, declared that it was his will they should be multiplied and increased afterwards. And seeing this is to be done by ordinances concerning copulation: they are by the law of nature bound to make such ordinances concerning the same, as may tend to the increase of mankind. And hence it cometh, that in them who have sovereign authority: not to forbid such copulations as are against the use of nature; not to forbid the promiscuous use of women; not to forbid one woman to have many husbands; not to forbid marriages within certain degrees of kindred and affinity: are against the Law of nature. For though it be not evident, that a private man living under the law of natural reason only, doth break the same, by doing any of these things aforesaid; yet it is manifestly apparent, that being so prejudicial as they are to the improvement of mankind, that not to forbid the same, is against the law of natural reason, in him that hath taken into his hands any portion of mankind to improve.

4. The commodity of living consisteth in liberty and wealth. By Liberty I mean, that there be no prohibition without necessity of any thing to any man, which was lawful to him in the law of nature; that is to say, that there be no restraint of natural liberty, but what is necessary for the good of the commonwealth; and that well-meaning men may not fall into the danger of laws, as into snares, before they be aware. It appertaineth also to this liberty, that a man may have commodious passage from place to place, and not be imprisoned or confined with the difficulty of ways, and want of means for transportation of things necessary. And for the wealth of people, it consisteth in three things: the well ordering of trade, procuring of labour, and forbidding the superfluous consuming of food and apparel. All those therefore that are in sovereign authority, and have taken upon them the government of people, are bound by the law of nature to make ordinances consisting in the points aforenamed; as being contrary to the law of nature, unnecessarily, either for one’s own fancy, to enthral, or tie men so, as they cannot move without danger; or to suffer them whose maintenance is our benefit, to want anything necessary for them, by our negligence.

5. For maintaining of peace at home, there be so many things necessarily to be considered, and taken order in, as there be several causes concurring to sedition. And first, it is necessary to set out to every subject his propriety, and distinct lands and goods, upon which he may exercise and have the benefit of his own industry, and without which men would fall out amongst themselves, as did the herdsmen of Abraham and Lot, every man encroaching and usurping as much of the common benefit as he can, which tendeth to quarrel and sedition. Secondly, to divide the burthens, and charge of the commonwealth proportionably. Now there is a proportionably to every man’s ability, and there is a proportionably to his benefit by commonwealth: and this latter is it, which is according to the law of nature. For the burdens of the commonwealth being the price that we pay for the benefit thereof, they ought to be measured thereby. And there is no reason, when two men equally enjoying, by the benefit of the commonwealth, their peace and liberty, to use their industry to get their livings, whereof one spareth, and layeth up somewhat, the other spendeth all he gets, why they should not equally contribute to the common charge. That seemeth therefore to be the most equal way of dividing the burden of public charge, when every man shall contribute according to what he spendeth, and not according to what he gets; and this is then done, when men pay the commonwealth’s part in the payments they make for their own provision. And this seemeth not only most equal, but also least sensible, and least to trouble the mind of them that pay it. For there is nothing so aggravateth the grief of parting with money, to the public, as to think they are overrated, and that their neighbours whom they envy, do thereupon insult over them; and this disposeth them to resistance, and (after that such resistance hath produced a mischief) to rebellion.

6. Another thing necessary for the maintaining of peace, is the due execution of justice; which consisteth principally in the right performance of their duties, on the parts of those, who are the magistrates ordained for the same by and under the authority of the sovereign power; which being private men in respect of the sovereign, and consequently such as may have private ends, whereby they may be corrupted by gifts, or intercession of friends, ought to be kept in awe, by a higher power, lest people, grieved by their injustice, should take upon them to make their own revenges, to the disturbance of the common peace; which can by no way be avoided in the principal and immediate magistrates, without the judicature of the sovereign himself, or some extraordinary power delegated by him. It is therefore necessary, that there be a power extraordinary, as there shall be occasion from time to time, for the syndication of judges and other magistrates, that shall abuse their authority, to the wrong and discontent of the people; and a free and open way for the presenting of grievances to him or them that have the sovereign. authority.

7. Besides those considerations by which are prevented the discontents that arise from oppression, there ought to be some means for the keeping under of those, that are disposed to rebellion by ambition; which consist principally in the constancy of him that hath the sovereign power, who ought therefore constantly to grace and encourage such, as being able to serve the commonwealth, do nevertheless contain themselves within the bounds of modesty, without repining at the authority of such as are employed, and without aggravating the errors, which (as men) they may commit; especially when they suffer not in their own particular. and constantly to show displeasure and dislike of the contrary. And not only so, but also to ordain severe punishments, for such as shall by reprehension of public actions, affect popularity and applause amongst the multitude, by which they may be enabled to have a faction in the commonwealth at their devotion.

8. Another thing necessary, is the rooting out from the consciences of men all those opinions which seem to justify, and give pretence of right to rebellious actions; such as are: the opinion, that a man can do nothing lawfully against his private conscience; that they who have the sovereignty, are subject to the civil laws; that there is any authority of subjects, whose negative may hinder the affirmative of the sovereign power; that any subject hath a propriety distinct from the dominion of the commonwealth; that there is a body of the people without him or them that have the sovereign power; and that any lawful sovereign may be resisted under the name of a tyrant; which opinions are they, which, Part II. chap. XXVII, sect. 5-10, have been declared to dispose men to rebellion. And because opinions which are gotten by education, and in length of time are made habitual, cannot be taken away by force, and upon the sudden: they must therefore be taken away also, by time and education. And seeing the said opinions have proceeded from private and public teaching, and those teachers have received them from grounds and principles, which they have learned in the Universities, from the doctrine of Aristotle, and others (who have delivered nothing concerning morality and policy demonstratively; but being passionately addicted to popular government, have insinuated their opinions, by eloquent sophistry): there is no doubt, if the true doctrine concerning the law of nature, and the properties of a body politic, and the nature of law in general, were perspicuously set down, and taught in the Universities, but that young men, who come thither void of prejudice, and whose minds are yet as white paper, capable of any instruction, would more easily receive the same, and afterward teach it to the people, both in books and otherwise, than now they do the contrary.

9. The last thing contained in that supreme law, salus populi, is their defence; and consisteth partly in the obedience and unity of the subjects, of which hath been already spoken, and in which consisteth the means of levying soldiers, and of having money, arms, ships, and fortified places in readiness of defence; and partly, in the avoiding of unnecessary wars. For such commonwealths, or such monarchs, as affect war for itself, that is to say, out of ambition, or of vain-glory, or that make account to revenge every little injury, or disgrace done by their neighbours, if they ruin not themselves, their fortune must be better than they have reason to expect.


Chapter 29

Of the Nature and Kinds of Laws

1. Thus far concerning the Nature of Man, and the constitution and properties of a Body Politic. There remaineth only for the last chapter, to speak of the nature and sorts of law. And first it is manifest, that all laws are declarations of the mind, concerning some action future to be done, or omitted. And all declarations and expressions of the mind concerning future actions and omissions, are either promissive, as I will do, or not do; or provisive, as for example, If this be done or not done, this will follow; or imperative, as Do this, or do it not. In the first sort of these expressions, consisteth the nature of a covenant; in the second, consisteth counsel; in the third, command.

2. It is evident, when a man doth, or forbeareth to do any action, if he be moved thereto by this only consideration, that the same is good or evil in itself; and that there be no reason why the will or pleasure of another should be of any weight in his deliberation, that then neither to do nor omit the action deliberated, is any breach of law. And consequently, whatsoever is a law to a man, respecteth the will of another, and the declaration thereof. But a covenant is the declaration of a man’s own will. And therefore a law and a covenant differ; and though they be both obligatory, and a law obligeth no otherwise than by virtue of some covenant made by him who is subject thereunto, yet they oblige by several sorts of promises. For a covenant obligeth by promise of an action, or omission, especially named and limited; but a law bindeth by a promise of obedience in general, whereby the action to be done, or left undone, is referred to the determination of him, to whom the covenant is made. So that the difference between a covenant and a law, standeth thus: in simple covenants the action to be done, or not done, is first limited and made known, and then followeth the promise to do or not do; but in a law, the obligation to do or not to do, precedeth, and the declaration what is to be done, or not done, followeth after.

3. And from this may be deduced, that which to some may seem a paradox: that the command of him, whose command is a law in one thing, is a law in every thing. For seeing a man is obliged to obedience before what he is to do be known, he is obliged to obey in general, that is to say, in every thing.

4. That the counsel of a man is no law to him that is counselled, and that he who alloweth another to give him counsel, doth not thereby oblige himself to follow the same, is manifest enough; and yet men usually call counselling by the name of governing; not that they are not able to distinguish between them, but because they envy many times those men that are called to counsel, and are therefore angry with them that are counselled. But if to counsellors there should be given a right to have their counsel followed, then are they no more counsellors, but masters of them whom they counsel; and their counsels no more counsels, but laws. For the difference between a law and a counsel being no more but this, that in counsel the expression is, Do, because it is best; in a law, Do, because I have right to compel you; or Do, because I say, do: when counsel which should give the reason of the action it adviseth to, becometh the reason thereof itself, it is no more counsel, but a law.

5. The names lex, and jus, that is to say, law and right, are often confounded; and yet scarce are there any two words of more contrary signification. For right is that liberty which law leaveth us; and laws those restraints by which we agree mutually to abridge one another’s liberty. Law and right therefore are no less different than restraint and liberty, which are contrary; and whatsoever a man doth that liveth in a commonwealth, jure, he doth it jure civili, jure naturae, and jure divino. For whatsoever is against any of these laws, cannot be said to be jure. For the civil law cannot make that to be done jure, which is against the law divine, or of nature. And therefore whatsoever any subject doth, if it be not contrary to the civil law, and whatsoever a sovereign doth, if it be not against the law of nature, he doth it jure divino, by divine right. But to say, lege divina, by divine law, is another thing. For the laws of God and nature allowing greater liberty than is allowed by the law civil (for subordinate laws do still bind more than the superior laws, the essence of law being not to loose, but to bind): a man may be commanded that by a law civil, which is not commanded by the law of nature, nor by the law divine. So that of things done lege, that is to say, by command of the law, there is some place for a distinction between lege divina and lege civili. As when a man giveth an alms, or helpeth him that is in need, he doth it not lege civili, but lege divina, by the divine law, the precept whereof is charity. But of things that are done jure, nothing can be said done jure divino, that is not also jure civili, unless it be done by them that having sovereign power, are not subject to the civil law.

6. The differences of laws are according to the differences, either of the authors and lawmakers, or of the promulgation, or of those that are subject to them. From the difference of the authors, or lawmakers, cometh the division of law into divine, natural, and civil. From the difference of promulgation, proceedeth the division of laws into written and unwritten. And from the difference of the persons to whom the law appertaineth, it proceedeth, that some laws are called simply laws, and some penal. As for example: thou shalt not steal, is simply a law; but this: he that stealeth an ox, shall restore four-fold, is a penal, or as others call it, a judicial law. Now in those laws, which are simply laws, the commandment is addressed to every man; but in penal laws the commandment is addressed to the magistrate, who is only guilty of the breach of it, when the penalties ordained are not inflicted; to the rest appertaineth nothing, but to take notice of their danger.

7. As for the first division of law into divine, natural, and civil, the first two branches are one and the same law. For the law of nature, which is also the moral law, is the law of the author of nature, God Almighty; and the law of God, taught by our Saviour Christ, is the moral law. For the sum of God’s law is: Thou shalt love God above all, and thy neighbour as thyself; and the same is the sum of the law of nature, as hath been showed, Part I chap. XVIII. And although the doctrine of our Saviour be of three parts moral, theological, and ecclesiastical; the former part only, which is the moral, is of the nature of a law universal; the latter part is a branch of the law civil; and the theological which containeth those articles concerning the divinity and kingdom of our Saviour, without which there is no salvation, is not delivered in the nature of laws, but of counsel and direction, how to avoid the punishment, which by the violation of the moral law, men are subject to. For it is not infidelity that condemneth (though it be faith that saveth), but the breach of the law and commandments of God, written first in man’s heart, and afterwards in tables, and delivered to the Jews by the hands of Moses.

8. In the state of nature, where every man is his own judge, and differeth from other concerning the names and appellations of things, and from those differences arise quarrels, and breach of peace; it was necessary there should be a common measure of all things that might fall in controversy; as for example: of what is to be called right, what good, what virtue, what much, what little, what meum and tuum, what a pound, what a quart, &c. For in these things private judgments may differ, and beget controversy. This common measure, some say, is right reason: with whom I should consent, if there were any such thing to be found or known in rerum natura. But commonly they that call for right reason to decide any controversy, do mean their own. But this is certain, seeing right reason is not existent, the reason of some man, or men, must supply the place thereof; and that man, or men, is he or they, that have the sovereign power, as hath been already proved; and consequently the civil laws are to all subjects the measures of their actions, whereby to determine, whether they be right or wrong, profitable or unprofitable, virtuous or vicious; and by them the use and definition of all names not agreed upon, and tending to controversy, shall be established. As for example, upon the occasion of some strange and deformed birth, it shall not be decided by Aristotle, or the philosophers, whether the same be a man or no, but by the laws. The civil law containeth in it the ecclesiastical, as a part thereof, proceeding from the power of ecclesiastical government, given by our Saviour to all Christian sovereigns, as his immediate vicars, as hath been said Part II. chap. XXVI, sect. 10.

9. But seeing it hath been said, that all laws are either natural or civil; it may be demanded, to which of these shall be referred that law, which is called martial law, and by the Romans disciplina militaris? And it may seem to be the same with the law of nature; because the laws by which a multitude of soldiers are governed in an army, are not consent, but continually changing with the occasion; and that is still a law, which is reason for the present, and reason is the law of nature. It is nevertheless true that martial law is, civil law. because an army is a body politic, the whole power whereof is in the General, and the laws thereof made by him; and though they still follow and change as reason requireth, yet it is not, as the reason of every private man (as in the law of nature), but as the reason of the General requireth.

10. When he, or they, in whom is the sovereign power of a commonwealth, are to ordain laws for the government and good order of the people, it is not possible they should comprehend all cases of controversy that may fall out, nor perhaps any considerable diversity of them; but as time shall instruct them by the rising of new occasions, so are also laws from time to time to be ordained: and in such cases where no special law is made, the law of nature keepeth its place, and the magistrates ought to give sentence according thereunto, that is to say, according to natural reason. The constitutions therefore of the sovereign power, by which the liberty of nature is abridged, are written, because there is no other way to take notice of them; whereas the laws of nature are supposed to be written in men’s hearts. Written laws therefore are the constitutions of a commonwealth expressed; and unwritten, are the laws of natural reason. Custom of itself maketh no law. Nevertheless when a sentence hath been once given, by them that judge by their natural reason; whether the same be right or wrong, it may attain to the vigour of a law; not because the like sentence hath of custom been given in the like case; but because the sovereign power is supposed tacitly to have approved such sentence for right; and thereby it cometh to be a law, and numbered amongst the written laws of the commonwealth. For if custom were sufficient to introduce a law, then it would be in the power of every one that is deputed to hear a cause, to make his errors laws. In like manner, those laws that go under the title of responsa prudentum, that is to say, the opinions of lawyers, are not therefore laws, because responsa prudentum, but because they are admitted by the sovereign. And from this may be collected, that when there is a case of private contract between the sovereign and the subject, a precedent against reason shall not prejudice the cause of the sovereign; no precedent being made a law, but upon supposition that the same was reasonable from the beginning.

And thus much concerning the Elements and general grounds of Laws Natural and Politic. As for the law of nations, it is the same with the law of nature. For that which is the law of nature between man and man, before the constitution of commonwealth, is the law of nations between sovereign and sovereign, after.


 

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