« ElőzőTovább »
king, and his majesty his son, our king and master, who, blessed be God, hath escaped their Romish snares laid for him It was returned from the Sorbonists, that it was lawful for Roman Catholicks to work changes in governments for the mother-church's advancement, and chiefly in an heretical kingdom; and so lawfully make away
Thus much, to my knowledge, have I seen and heard, since my leaving your lordship, which I thought very requisite to inform your grace; for myself would hardly have credited these things, had not mine eyes seen sure evidence of the same. Let these things sleep within your gracious lordship's breast, and not awake but upon sure grounds, for this age can trust no man, there being so great fallacy amongst men. So the Lord preserve your lordship in health, for the nation's good, and the benefit of your friends; which shall be the
Your humble servant,
J. DERENSIS. July 20, 1654.
These two letters were taken out of that treasury of choice let. ters, published by Dr. Parr, his lordship’s chaplain, and printed for Nathaniel Ranew, at the King's-Arms, in St. Paul's Church-yard, 1686.
THE MEASURES OF SUBMISSION
THE SUPREME AUTHORITY;
Subjects to defend their Religion, Lives, and Liberties.
HIS enquiry cannot be regularly made, but by taking, in the first place, a true and full view of the nature of civil society, and more particularly of the nature of supreme power, whether it is lodged in one or more persons.
1. It is certain, that the law of nature has put no difference nor subordination among men, except it be that of children to parents, or of wives to their husbands; so that, with relation to the law of nature, 'all men are born free': and this liberty must still be supand laws; for a man can either bind himself to be a servant, or sell himself to be a slave, by which he becomes in the power of another, only so far as it was provided by the contract: since all that liberty, which was not expresly given away, remains still intire; so that the plea for liberty always proves itself, unless it appears that it is given up, or limited by any special agreement.
2. It is no less certain, that as the light of nature has planted in all men a natural principle of the love of life', and of a "desire to pre. serve it', so the common principles of all religion agree in this, that, God having set us in this world, we are bound to preserve that being, which he has given us, by all just and lawful ways. Now this duty of self-preservation is exerted in instances of two sorts; the one is in the resisting of violent aggressors, the other is the taking of just revenges of those who have invaded us so secretly, that we could not prevent them, and so violently, that we could not resist them. In which cases, the principle of self-preservation warrants us, both to recover what is our own, with just damages, and also to put such unjust persons out of a capacity of doing the like injuries any more, either to ourselves, or any others. Now, in these instances of selfpreservation, this difference is to be observed, that the first cannot be limited, by any slow forms, since a pressing danger requires a vigorous repulse, and cannot admit of delays; whereas the second, of taking revenges or reparations, is not of such haste, but that it may be brought under rules and forms.
3. The true and original notion of civil society and government is, that it is a compromise made by such a' body of men, by which they resign up the right of demanding reparations, either in the way of justice against one another, or in the way of war against their neighbours, to such a single person, or to such a body of men, as they think fit to trust with this. And in the management of this civil society, great distinction is to be made between the power of making laws for the regulating the conduct of it, and the power of executing these laws; the supreme authority must still be supposed to be lodged with those who have the legislative power reserved to them; but not with those who have only the executive, which is plainly a trust, when it is separated from the legislative power; and all trusts, by their nature, import, that those, to whom they are given, are accountable, even though that it should not be expresly specified in the words of the trust itself.
4. It cannot be supposed by the principles of natural religion, that God has authorised any one form of government, any other way, than as the general rules of order and of justice oblige all men not to subvert constitutions, nor disturb the peace of mankind, nor invade those rights, with which the law may have vested some persons ; for it is certain, that as private contracts lodge or transact private rights, so the publick laws can likewise lodge such rights, prero. gatives, and revenues, in those under whose protection they put themselves; and, in such a manner, that they may come to have as good a title to these, as any private person can have to his property ;
so that it becomes an act of high injustice and violence to invade these, which is so far a greater sin, than any such actions would be against a private person, as the publick peace and order is preferable to all private considerations whatsoever. So that, in truth, the principles of natural religion give those that are in authority no power at all, but they do only secure them in the possession of that which is theirs by law. And as no considerations of religion can bind me to pay another more than I indeed owe him, but do only bind me more strictly to pay what I owe; so the considerations of religion do, indeed, bring subjects under stricter obligations to pay all due allegiance and submission to their princes; but they do not at all extend that allegiance further than the law carries it.
And though a man has no divine right to his property, but has acquired it by human means, such as succession, or industry, yet he has a security for the enjoyment of it, from a divine right : so, though princes have no immediate warrants from heaven, either for their original titles, or for the extent of them, yet they are secured in the possession of them, by the principles and rules of natural religion.
5. It is to be considered that, as a private person can bind him. self to another man's service by different degrees, either as an ordinary servant for wages, or as an appropriate for a longer time, as an apprentice; or, by a total giving himself up to another, as in the case of slavery. In all which cases, the general name of master may be equally used; yet the degrees of his power are to be judged by the nature of the contract; so, likewise, bodies of men can give themselves up, in different degrees, to the conduct of others. And, therefore, though all those may carry the same name of king, yet every one's power is to be taken from the measures of the authority which is lodged in him, and not from any general speculations founded on some equivocal terms, such as king, sovereign, or supreme.
6. It is certain, that God, as the creator and governor of the world, may set up whom he will, to rule over other men; but this declaration of his will must be made evident by prophets, or other extraordinary men sent by him, who have some manifest proofs of the divine authority, that is committed to them, on such occasions ; and upon such persons declaring the will of God, in favour of any others, that declaration is to be submitted to and obeyed. But this pretence of a divine delegation can be carried no farther than to those who are thus expresly marked out, and is unjustly claimed by those who can prove no such declaration to have been ever made in favour of them, or their families. Nor does it appear reasonable to conclude, from their being in possession, that it is the will of God that it should be so; this justifies all usurpers, when they are suc. cessful.
7. The measures of power, and, by consequence, of obedience, must be taken from the express laws of any state, or body of men, froin the oaths that they swear; or from immemorial prescription, and a long possession, which both give a title, and, in a long tract
of time, make a bad one become good; since prescription, when it passes the memory of man, and is not disputed by any other pre. tender, gives, by the common sense of all men, a just and good title. So, upon the whole matter, the degrees of all civil authority, are to be taken either from express laws, immemorial customs, or from particular oaths, which the subjects swear to their princes; this being still to be laid down for a principle, that, in all the disa putes between power and liberty, power must always be proved, but liberty proves itself; the one being founded only upon positive law, and the other upon the law of nature.
8. If, from the general principles of human society, and natural religion, we carry this matter to be examined by the Scriptures, it is clear, that all the passages, that are in the Old Testament, are not to be made use of in this matter, on neither side. For as the land of Canaan was given to the Jews, by an immediate grant from heaven, so God reserved still this to himself, and to the declarations that he should make from time to time, either by his prophets, or by the answers that came from the cloud of glory that was between the cherubims; to set up judges or kings over them, and to pull them down again as he thought fit, here was an express delegation made by God; and therefore all that was done in that dispensation, either for or against princes, is not to be made use of in any other state, that is founded on another bottom and constitution; and all the expressions in the Old Testament relating to kings, since they belong to persons that were immediately designed by God, are with. out any sort of reason applied to those who can pretend to no such designation, neither for themselves nor for their ancestors.
9. As for the New Testament, it is plain, that there are no rules given in it, neither for the forms of government in general, nor for the degrees of any one form in particular, but the general rules of justice, order, and peace, being established in it upon higher mo. tives, and more binding considerations, than ever they were in any other religion whatsoever, we are most strictly bound by it, to observe the constitution in which we are; and it is plain, that the rules, set us in the gospel, can be carried no further. It is, indeed, clear from the New Testament, that the christian religion, as such, gives us no grounds to defend or propagate it by force. It is a doctrine of the cross, and of faith and patience under it; and if, by the order of divine providence, and of any constitution of government, under which we are born, we are brought under sufferings, for our professing of it, we may indeed retire and fly out of any such country, if we can; but, if that is denied us, we must then, according to this religion, submit to those sufferings under which we may be brought, considering that God will be glorified by us in so doing, and that he will both support us under our sufferings, and gloriously reward us for them.
This was the state of the christian religion, during the three first centuries, under heathen emperors, and a constitution in which paganism was established by law; but if, by the laws of any govern. ment, the christian religion, or any form of it, is become a part of
the subject's property, it then falls under another consideration, not as it is a religion, but as it is become one of the principal rights of the subjects, to believe and profess it; and then we must judge of the invasions made on that, as we do of any other invasion that is made on our rights.
10. All the passages in the New Testament, that relate to civil government, are to be expounded as they were truly meant, in opposition to that false notion of the Jews, who believed themselves to be so immediately under the divine authority, that they would not become the subjects of any other power; particularly of one that was not of their nation, or of their religion; therefore they thought, they could not be under the Roman yoke, nor bound to pay tribute to Cæsar, but judged that they were only subject out of fear, by reason of the force that lay on them, but not for conscience-sake; and so in all their dispersion, both at Rome and elsewhere, they thought they were God's freemen, and made use of this pretended liberty as a cloke of maliciousness'. In opposition to all which, since in a course of many years they had asked the protection of the Roman yoke, and were come under their authority, our Saviour ordered them to continue in that by his saying, “Render to Cæsar that which is Cæsar's'; and both St. Paul in his epistle to the Romans, and St. Peter in his general epistle, have very positively condemned that pernicious maxim, but without any formal declarations made of the rules or measures of government. And, since both the people and senate of Rome had acknowledged the power that Augustus had, indeed, violently usurped, it became legal when it was thus submitted to, and confirmed both by the senate and people; and it was esta. blished in his family by a long prescription, when these epistles were writ; so that, upon the whole matter, all that is in the New Testa. ment, upon this subject, imports no more but that all christians are bound to acquiesce in the government, and submit to it, according to the constitution that is settled by law.
11. We are then at last brought to the constitution of our English government; so that no general considerations from the speculations about sovereign power, nor from any passages either of the Old or New Testament, ought to determine us in this matter; which must be fixed from the laws and regulations that have been made among us. It is then certain, that with relation to the executive part of the government, the law has lodged that singly in the king, so that the whole administration of it is in him ; but the legislative power is lodged between the king and the two houses of parliament, so that the power of making and repealing laws is not singly in the king, but only so far as the two houses concur with him. It is also clear, that the king has such a determined extent of prerogative, beyond which he has no authority : as for instance, if he levies money of his people, without a law impowering him to it, he goes beyond the limits of his power, and asks that, to which he has no right, so that there lies no obligation on the subject to grant it; and if any in his name use violence for the obtaining it, they are to be looked on,