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and rebel.' He that will be false to God, when he is tempted to it, was never true to him. No temptation can bring so much for sin, as God giveth us against it; nor can offer us so much gain, or honour, or pleasure by it, as he offereth us on condition we obey him. And that the world is full of such temptations, experience putteth past dispute; of which, more anon.
Sect. 7. No price can be offered by any creature, which, to a subject of God, should seem sufficient to hire him to the smallest sin.g
Sin hath such aggravations (which shall be opened anon) that no gain or pleasure that cometh by it, can counterbalance; there being no proportion between the creature and the infinite Creator, there can nothing by, or of, the creature be proportionable, or considerable, to be put into the balance against the Creator's authority and will. The command of kings, the winning of kingdoms, the pleasure of the flesh, the applause of all the world, if they are offered as a price or bait to hire or tempt a man to sin, should weigh no more against the command of God, than a feather in the balance against a mountain. All this common reason will attest, however sense and appetite reclaim.
Sect. 8. No man can reasonably fear lest his true obedience to such a governor, should prove his final detriment or hurt; but if it did, it were nevertheless our duty to obey.h
1. No man can reasonably think that God is less able to reward, protect, and encourage his subjects in their duty, than any tempter whatsoever in their disobedience. And no man can think that he is less wise to know how to perform it: nor can any think that infinite goodness is less disposed to do good to the good, than any tempter whosoever can be, to do good to the evil. These things being all as clear as light itself to the considerate, it must needs follow that no reason can allow a man to hope to be finally a gainer or saver by his disobedience to his Maker, or to fear to be a loser by him.
2. But if it were so, obedience would be our duty still; for
8 Sic vive cum hominibus tanquam Deus videat: sic loquere cum Deo tanquam homines audiant.-Sen. Ep. 10. Chilon (in Laert. p. 43.) inquit, Damnum potius quàm turpe lucrum eligendum, nam id semel tautum dolori esse: hoc semper.
h Plus apud bonos pietatis jura quàm omnes opes valent.—Justin. Hist. 1. 3. Because God hath penalties to promote obedience, all religion is called, "The fear of God." Laertius saith of Cleanthes, Cum aliquando probro illi daretur, quod esset timidus: at ideo, inquit, parum pecco. Fear is a preserving, cautelous passion, though it make not a good man of itself, but as joined with
the authority of God, as his propriety, is absolute, and he that giveth us power to require the analogical obedience of our horse or ox, though it be to our benefit only, and his hurt, yea, though it be in going to the slaughter, if he did so by us, could do us no wrong, nor give us any just excuse for our disobedience. For as sweet as life is to us, it is not so much ours in right as his, and therefore should be at his disposal.
Sect. 9. The breaking of God's laws must needs deserve a greater penalty than the breaking of any man's laws, as such. The difference of the rulers and their authority, puts this past all controversy; of which, yet I shall say more anon.
Sect. 10. What is said of the subjection of individuals to God, is true of all just societies as such, the kingdoms of the world being all under God, the universal King, as small parcels of his kingdom, as particular corporations are under a human king.
Therefore, kings and kingdoms owe their absolute obedience to God, and may not intend any ultimate end, but the pleasing of their universal Sovereign; nor set up any interest against him, or above him, or in co-ordination with him; nor manage any way of government, but in dependence on him, as the principle and the end of it; nor make any laws, but such as stand in due subordination to his laws; nor command any duty but what hath in its order a true subserviency and conducibility to his pleasure.
Of God's particular Laws, as known in Nature.
It is not
THE true nature of a law I have opened before. 1 necessary that it be written or spoken, but that it be in general any apt signification of the will of the rector to his subjects, instituting what shall be due from them, and to them, for the ends of government. Therefore, whatsoever is a signification of God's will to man, appointing us our duty, and telling us what benefit shall be ours upon the performance, and what loss or hurt shall befal us, if we sin, is a law of God.
Sect. 1. A law being the rector's instrument of governing, there can be no law where there is no government; and, therefore, that which some call the eternal law, is indeed no law at all, but it is the principle of all just laws.
The eternal wisdom and goodness of God, that is, the
i Though Cicero's books De Legibus be usually read by us when we are boys, they are worthy the perusal of the wisest men, and fit for the edification and pleasure of the learned.
perfection of his nature and will, as related to a possible, or future kingdom, is denominated justice; and this justice some call the eternal law; but it is truly no law, because it is the will of God in himself, and not as rector; nor is it any signification of that will, nor doth it suppose any governed subjects in being from eternity; nor doth it make any duty to any from eternity: but all the laws which God maketh in time, and, consequently, which men make, which are just and good, are but the products of this eternal will and justice.
And whereas some say, that there is an eternal truth in such axioms as these, Thou shalt love God above all, and do as thou wouldst be done by, and the good should be encouraged, and the bad punished, &c.; I answer, God formeth not propositions, and therefore there were no such propositions from eternity; nor was there any creature to love God, or to do good or evil, and be the subject of such propositions; that proposition, therefore, which was not from eternity, was neither true nor false from eternity; for non entis non sunt accidentia vel modi. But this is true, that from eternity there were the grounds of the verity of such propositions when they should after be; and that if there had been subjects from eternity for such propositions, and intellects to frame them, they would have been of eternal truth.
Sect. 2. At the same time of his creation, that God made man his subject, he also made him some laws to govern him.
For subjection, being a general obligation to obedience, would signify nothing, if there were no particular duties to be the matter of that obedience. Else, man should owe God no obedience from the beginning, but be lawless; for where there is no law, there is no obedience, taking a law in the true comprehensive sense, as I here do.
Sect. 3. All the objective significations, in natura rerum, within us, or without us, of the will of God, concerning our duty, reward, or punishment, are the true law of nature, in the primary proper sense.
Sect. 4. Therefore, it is falsely defined by all writers, who make it consist in certain axioms, as some say, born in us, or written on our hearts from our birth; as others say, dispositively there.
It is true that there is, in the nature of man's soul, a certain
Quod (de magistra loquitur) cum dico legem, a me dici nihil aliud intelligi volo quàm imperium, sine quo nec domus ulla, nec civitas, &c.-Cic. de leg. 3. init.
aptitude to understand certain truths as soon as they are revealed, that is, as soon as the very natura rerum is observed; and it is true that this disposition is brought to actual knowledge as soon as the mind comes to actual consideration of the things; but it is not true that there is any actual knowledge of any principles born in man, nor is it true that the said disposition to know is truly a law, nor yet that the actual knowledge following it is a law but the disposition may be called a law, metonymically, as being the aptitude of the faculties to receive and obey a law, as the light of the eye, which is the potentia et dispositio videndi, may be called the light of the sun, but unhandsomely. And the subsequent, actual knowledge of principles, may be called the law of nature, metonymically, as being the perception of it, and an effect of it; as actual sight may be called the light of the sun; and as actual knowledge of the king's laws may be called his laws within us, that is, the effect of them, or the reception of them; but this is far from propriety of speech.
That the inward axioms, as known, are not laws, is evident, 1. Because a law is in genere objectivo, and this is in genere actionum. A law is in genere signorum; but this is the discerning of the sign. A law is the will of the rector signified: this is his will known. A law is obligatory: this is the perception of an obligation. A law maketh duty; but this is the knowledge of a duty made. 2. The law is not in our power to change or abrogate; but a man's inward dispositions and perceptions are much in his power to increase, or diminish, or obliterate. Every man that is wilfully sensual and wicked, may do much to blot out the law of nature, which is said to be written on his heart; but wickedness cannot alter or obliterate the law of God. If this were God's law which is upon the heart, when a sinner hath blotted it out, he is disobliged from duty and punishment; for where there is no law, there is no duty or transgression: but no sinner can so disoblige himself by altering his Maker's laws. 3. Else, there would be as many laws of nature, not only as there are men, but as there is diversity of perceptions; but God's law is not so uncertain and multiform a thing. 4. And if man's disposition, or actual knowledge, be God's law, it may be also called man's law; and so the king's law should be the subject's perception of it.
It is, therefore, most evident, that the true law of nature is another thing; and is it not, then, a matter of admiration, that so many sagacious, accurate schoolmen, philosophers, lawyers, and divines, should, for so long time, go on in such false defini
tions of it? The whole world belongeth to the law of nature, so far as it signifieth to us the will of God, about our duty, and reward, and punishment: the world is as God's statute book:1 the aforesaid, natural aptitude maketh us fit to read and practise it. The law of nature is as the external light of the sun, and the said natural disposition is as the visive faculty to make use of it, yet much of the law of nature is within us too; but it is there only in genere objectivo, et signi. Man's own nature, his reason, free-will, and executive power, are the most notable signs of his duty to God; to which all mercies, judgments, and other signifying means, belong.
Sect. 5. The way that God doth, by nature, oblige us, is by laying such fundamenta from which our duty shall naturally result, as from the signification of his will.
Sect. 6. These fundamenta are some of them unalterable, while we have a being, and some of them alterable; and, therefore, some laws of nature are alterable, and some unalterable accordingly.m
As, for instance, man is made a rational, free agent, and God is unchangeably his rightful Governor, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, therefore the nature of God and man, in via, thus compared, are the fundamentum from whence constantly resulteth our indispensable duty to love him, trust him, fear him, and obey him; but if our being, or reason, or free-will, which are our essential capacities, cease, our obligations cease cessante fundamento. God hath made man a sociable creature; and, while he is in society, the law of nature obligeth him to many things which he hath no obligation to when the society is dissolved; as when a parent, child, wife, or neighbour dieth, all our duties to them cease. Nature, by the position of many cir
1 Omnis lex inventum sane et donum est Deorum: Decretum vero hominum prudentum. Demost. cont. Aris. or. 1.
m Communis lex nunquam immutatur, cum secundum naturam sit: jus verò scriptum sæpius.—Aristot. Rhet., ad Theod. c. 4. Diogenes (in Laert.), congregatis ad se plurimis exprobravit, quod ad inepta studiosè concurrerent; ad ea verò quæ gravia ac utilia, negligenter convenirent. Dicebatque de fodiendo et calcitrando certare homines, ut autem boniet probi fierent curare neminem. Musicos in jus vocabat, quod cum lyræ chordas congruè aptarent, animi mores inconcinnos haberent. Mathematicos carpebat, quod Solem, et Lunam, et Syder intuentes, quæ ante pedes erant, negligerent. Oratores item, quod studerent justa dicere, non autem et facere. Avaros quoque, quod pecuniam vituperarent, ac summè diligerent: et eos qui justos, quod pecunias contemnerent, laudabant; pecuniosos verò imitari satagebant. Stomachabatur eis, qui pro bona valetudine sacra facerent, inter sacrificia contra sanitatem cænarent. Servos mirabatur, qui cum edaces dominos cernerent, nihil diriperent ciborum. Dicebat manus ad amicos, non complicatis digitis exteudi oportere.