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OF NATURAL RELIGION,
II. Of Man's Subjection to God, or Relation to him as our
SECT. 1. Man being made thus a rational, free agent, and sociable to be governed, and God being his rightful Governor, is immediately related to God as his subject, as to right and obligation. a There is no sovereign without a subject: subjection is our relation to our governor, or else our consent to that relation. In the former sense we take it here. A subject is one that is bound to obey another as his ruler. He that is a subject by right and obligation, and yet doth not consent and actually subject himself to his rightful governor, is a rebel. There cannot be greater obligations to subjection imagined by a created understanding, than the rational creature hath to God. Sect. 2. All men are obliged to consent to this subjection, and to give up themselves absolutely to the government of God. b God's absolute propriety in us, as his creatures, giveth him so full a title to govern us, that our consent is not at all necessary to our obligation and subjection-relative; but only to our actual obedience, which cannot be performed by one that consenteth not. Therefore, God's right and our natural condition are the foundation of our subjection to him, as to obligation and duty; and he that consenteth not, sinneth by high treason against his sovereign. As God did not ask our consent whether he should make us men, so neither whether he should be our
Seneca (Epist. ad Luc. 83, p. (mihi) 711.,) saith, Sic certe vivendum est, tanquam in conspectu vivamus. Sic cogitandum tanquam aliquis in pectus inspicere posset et potest: quid enim prodest ab homine aliquid esse secretum. Nihil Deo clausum interest animis nostris, et cogitationibus mediis intervenit.
b Diogenes (in Laert.) said to an immodest woman: Non vereris mulier, ne forte stante post tergum Deo (cuncta enim plena ipso sunt) inhoneste te habeas?
Governor, and we his subjects as to obligation, nor yet whether he shall punish the rebellious and disobedient: but he asketh our consent to obey him, and to be rewarded by him; for we shall neither be holy nor happy but by our own consent. Those, therefore, whom I have confuted in my treatise of policy, who say, 'God is not our King, till we make him King, nor his laws obligatory to us till we consent to them;' speaking, de debito, do not reason, but rave, and are unworthy of a confutation. ©
Sect. 3. All men, therefore, are obliged to subject their understandings to the revealed wisdom of God, and their wills to his revealed will; and to employ all the powers of soul and body, and all their possessions, in his most exact obedience,
Subjection is an obligation to obedience. Where the authority and subjection are absolute and unlimited, there the obedience must be absolute and most exact. The understanding of our absolute Ruler is the absolute rule of our understandings. No man must set up his conceits against him, or quarrel with his government or laws. If any thing of his revelation or prescription seem questionable, unjust, or unnecessary to us, it is through our want of due subjection, through the arroganey and enmity of our carnal minds. His will, de debito, must be the absolute rule of all our wills. So much secret exceptions and reserves as we have in our resignation and subjection, so much hypocrisy and secret rebellion we have. Our subjective obligation is so full and absolute, and our Ruler so infallible, just, and perfect, that it is not possible for any man's obedience to God to be too absolute, exact, or full. Nothing can be more certain, than that a creature, subject to the government of his Creator, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, doth owe him the most perfect and exact obedience, according to the utmost of his powers, without any dissent, exception, resistance, unwillingness, or neglect. d
Sect. 4. All obedience which rulers require of their subjects,
• Primus est Deorum cultus, Deos credere; deinde reddere illis majestatem suam reddere bonitatem, sine qua nulla majestas est: scire illos esse qui præsident mundo, qui universa, ut sua, temperant : qui humani generis tutelam gerunt.-Senec. Epist. 92.
d Nihil mihi videtur frigidius, nihil ineptius, quàm lex cum prolegomeno : Dic quid me velis fecisse; non disco, sed pareo.-Idem. Ep. 95. If men's laws must have so great authority, much more God's. Ex quo intelliges par est, eos qui perniciosa et injusta populis jussa descripserint, cum contra fecerint quod polliciti professique sint, quidvis potius tulisse quàm leges.- Cicero de Leg. 1. 2. p. 235. Multa perniciosa, multa pestifera sciscuntur in populis, quæ non magis legis nomen attingunt, quam si latrones, &c.—Id. Ibid.
or subjects give to any governors, must be in full subordination to the government and will of God.
For all powers, under the absolute Sovereign of the world, are derivative and dependent, and are no more than he hath given : they are from him, under him, and for him; and can no more have any authority against him, than a worm against a king, or than they could have being and authority without him. He that contradicteth this proposition, must take down God, and deify man, and so defy and conquer heaven, or else he will never make it good. As for the difficulties that seem to rise, by allowing subjects to prefer God's authority before their parents or princes; it belongeth no more to the clearing of the present subject that I resolve them, than that I resolve such as arise from our allowing subjects to disobey a justice or constable when he is against the king. *
Sect. 5. They that are obliged to such absolute and exact obedience, are obliged to use their utmost diligence to understand God's laws, which they must obey.
For no man can obey a law which he doth not know of, and understand. Subjection includeth an obligation to study our Maker's laws, so far as we must do them: indeed, those that concern others, we are not so much bound to know, as a subject to know God's laws for kings and pastors of the church; but for our own duty, we cannot do it before we know it. Those that are ignorant of their Maker's will, through unwillingness, contempt, or negligence, are so far disobedient to his government.
Sect. 6. There are many and great temptations to draw us to disobey our Maker, which every one is bound with greatest vigilancy and constancy to resist.f
He that is bound to obey, is certainly bound to resist all temptations to disobedience. For that is far from absolute or true obedience which will fail, if a man be but tempted to disobey. Kings and parents will not accept of such obedience as this; they will not say, 'Be true to me, and honour me, and obey me, till you are tempted to betray me, and to reproach me,
← Plutarch (de Tranquil. Anim.) saith, that it is one of Aristotle's sayings, "That he that believed as he ought, of the gods, should think as well of him. self as Alexander, who commanded so many men."—(P. 155.) ́
' Dicebat Thales, homines existimare oportere Deos omnia cernere, deorumque omnia esse plena, et tunc fore omnes castiores.—Cicero 2. de Leg. Athenodorus dicere prudenter solebat, ita cum hominibus homines vivere debere, acsi Deus retributor bonorum malorumque ultor, omni loco ac tempore ac tiones nostras intueretur, conspicereturque humanis nostrisoculis.—Fulgos. 1.7.c.2.