« VorigeDoorgaan »
had seen a concubine take his crown from off his head to set it upon her own : and others besides him have likewife seen the like feat done, and not in jeft. Yet he proved on, and it was fo yielded by the king himself, and all his fages, that neither wine, nor women, nor the king, but truth of all other things was the ftrongeft. For me, though neither asked, nor in a nation that gives such rewards to wisdom, I shall pronounce my fentence fomewhat different from Zorobabel; and thall defend that either truth and justice are all one, (for truth is but juftice in our knowledge, and justice is but truth in our practice : and he indeed fo explains himself, in saying that with truth is no accepting of persons, which is the property of justice :) or else if there be any odds, that justice, though not stronger than truth, yet by her office is to put forth and exhibit more strength in the affairs of mankind. For truth is properly no more than contemplation; and her utmoft efficiency is but teaching : but justice in her very effence is all strength and activity; and hath a sword put into her hand, to ute againft all violence and oppreffion on the earth. She it is most truly, who accepts no perfon, and exempts none from the severity of her stroke. She never suffers injury to prevail, but when falsehood first prevails over truth ; and that alfo is a kind of justice done on them who are fo deluded. Though wicked kings and tyrants counterfeit her fword, as fome did that buckler, fabled to fall from heaven into the capitol, yet the communicates her power to none but such as like herself are juft, or at least will do juftice. For it were extreme partiality and injustice, the flat denial and overthrow of herself, to put her own authentic fword mto the hand of an unjuft and wicked man, or so far to accept and exalt one mortal person above his equals, that he alone Ihall have the punishing of all other men tranfgressing, and not receive like punithment from men, when he himself thall be found the highest transgressor.
We may conclude therefore, that justice above all other things, is and ought to be the strongest : fe is the strength, the kingdom, the power, and majesty of all ages. Truth, berfelf would subscribe to this, though Darius and all the monarchs of the world thould deny. And if
by fentence thus written, it were my happiness to set free the minds of Englishmen from longing to return poorly under that captivity of kings, from which the strength and fupreme sword of justice hath delivered them, I shall have done a work not much interiour to that of Zorobabel : who by well praising and extolling the force of truth, in that contemplative strength conquered Darius; and freed his country and the people of God, from the captivity of Babylon. Which I shall yet not despair to do, if they in this land, whose minds are yet captive, be but as ingenuous to acknowledge the strength and fupremacy of justice, as that heathen king was to confess the ftrength of truth : or let them but, as he did, grant that, and they will soon perceive, that truth resigns all her outward strength to justice : justice therefore must needs be strongest, both in her own and in the strength of truth. But if a king may do among men whatsoever is his will and pleasure, and notwithstanding be unaccountable to men, then contrary to his magnified wisdom of Zorobabel, neither truth nor justice, but the king is strongest of all other things, which that persian monarch himself, in the midst of all his pride and glory durst not affume.
Let us fee therefore what this king hath to affirm, why the sentence of justice, and the weight of that sword, which she delivers into the hands of men, should be more partial to him offending, than to all others of human race. Firft he pleads, that “no law of God or man gives to subjects any power of judicature without or against him.” Which affertion shall be proved in every part to be moft untrue. The first express law of God given to mankind was that to Noah, as a law, in general, to all the fons of men. And by that most ancient and universal law, “Whosoever sheddeth man's blood, by man fhall his blood be thed;" we find here no exception. If a king therefore do this; to a king, and that by men also, the fame shall be done. This in the law of Mofes, which came next, several times is repeated, and in one place remarkably, Numb. xxxv. "Ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, but he thall furely be put to death : the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is fhed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.” This is so spoken as that which concerned all Ifrael, not one man alone, to fee performed; and if no fatisfaction were to be taken, then certainly no exception. Nay the king, when they should set up any, was to observe the whole law, and not only to see it done, but to “ do it; that his heart might not be lifted up above his brethren,” to dream of vain and reasonless prerogatives or exemptions, whereby the law itself must needs be founded in unrighteousness.
And were that true, which is most false, that all kings are the Lord's anointed, it were yet absurd to think, that the anointment of God should be, as it were, a charm against law, and give them privilege, who punish others, to fin themselves unpunishably. The high priest was the Lord's anointed as well as any king, and with the faine confecrated oil : yet Solomon had put to death Abiathar, had it not been for other respects than that anointment. If God himself say to kings,
“ touch not mine anointed,” meaning his cholen people, as is evident in that psalm, yet no man will argue thence, that he protects them from civil laws if they offend; then certainly, though David as a
David as a private man, and in his own cause, feared to lift his hand against the Lord's anointed, much less can this forbid the law, or difarm juftice from having legal power against any king. No other fupreme magistrate, in what kind of government foever, lays claim to any such enormous privilege ; wherefore then dould any king, who is but one kind of magistrate, and let over the people for no other end than they?
Next in order of time to the laws of Mofes are those of Christ, who declares professedly his judicature to be spiritual, abfiract from civil managements, and therefore leaves all nations to their own particular laws, and way of government. · Yet because the church hath a kind of juritdiction within her own bounds, and that also, though in process of time much corrupted and plainly turned into a corporal judicature, yet much approved by this king; it will be firm enough and valid against him, if subjects, by the laws of church also, be“ invested with a power of judicature" both without and against their king, through
pretending pretending, and by them acknowledged “next and immediately under Christ fupreme head and governor.” Theodofius, one of the best christian emperors, having made a flaughter of the Thessalonians for fedition, but too cruelly, was excommunicated to his face by St. Ambrose, who was his fubjeét; and excommunion is the utmost of ecclefiaftical judicature, a spiritual putting to death.
But this, ye will say, was only an example. Read then the ftory; and it will appear, both that Ambrose avouched it for the law of God, and Theodofius confessed it of his own accord to be fo; " and that the law of God was not to be made void in him, for any reverence to his imperial power.” From hence, not to be tedious, I shall pass into our own land of Britain; and show that fubjects here have exercised the utmost of spiritual judicature, and more than fpiritual against their kings, his predecessors. Vortiger, for committing incest with his daughter, was by St. German, at that time his subject, cursed and condemned in a british counsel about the year 448; and thereupon foon after was depofed. Mauricus, a king in Wales, for breach of oath and the murder of Cynetus, was excommunicated and curfed, with all his offspring, by Oudoceus bishop of Llandaff in full fynod, about the year 560; and not restored, till he had repented. Morcant, another king in Wales, having llain Frioc his uncle, was fain to come in person, and receive judgment from the same bishop and his clergy; who upon his penitence acquitted him, for no other cause than left the kingdom should be destitute of a fucceffor in the royal line. These examples are of the primitive, british, and episcopal church; long ere they had any commerce or communion with the church of Rome. What power afterwards of deposing kings, and to consequently of putting them to death, was assumed and practised by the canon law, I omit, as a thing generally known. Certainly, if whole councils of the romifh church have in the midst of their dimness discerned so much of truth, as to decree at Conftance, and at Bafil, and many of them to avouch at Trent also, that a council is above the pope, and may judge him, though by them not denied to be the vicar
of Chrift; we in our clearer light may be ashamed not to difcern further, that a parliament is by all equity and right above a king, and may judge him, whose reatons and pretensions to hold of God only, as his immediate vicegerent, we know how far fetched they are, and infufficient.
As for the laws of man, it would afk a volume to repeat all that might be cited in this point against him from all antiquity. In Greece, Orestes, the son of Agamemnon, and by fucceffion king of Argos, was in that country judged and condemned to death for killing his mother : whence efcaping, he was judged again, though a ftranger, before the great council of Areopagus in Athens. And this memorable act of judicature was the first, that brought the justice of that grave fenate into fame and high eftimation over all Greece for many ages after. And in the same city, tyrants were to undergo legal sentence by the laws of Solon: The kings of Sparta, though descended lineally from Hercules,. esteemed a god among them, were often judged, and sometimes put to death by the most just and renowned laws of Lycurgus; who, though a king, thought it moft unequal to bind his subjects by any law, to which he bound not himself. In Rome, the laws made by Valerius Publicola, foon after the expelling of Tarquin and his race, expelled without a written law, the law being afterward written; and what the fenate decreed against Nero, that he should be judged, and punished according to the laws of their ancestors, and what in like manner was decreed against other emperors, is vulgarly known; as it was known to those heathen, and found just by nature ere any law mentioned it. And that the chriftian civil law warrants like power of judicature to fubjects against tyrants, is written clearly by the best and famouseft civilians. For if it was decreed by Theodofius, and stands yet firm in the code of Justinian, that the law is above the emperor, then certainly the emperor being under law, the law may judge him, and if judge him, may punish him, proving tyrannous : how else is the law above him, or to what purpole? These are necessary deductions; and thereafter hath been done in all ages and kingdoms, oftener than to be here recited.