Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

food of the society of men over which it is set: So St. Pauf, tom. xiii. 4. out tit To ayaSo». God aimed at itin the institution of goVernment; and so do all men in the choice of it, where they may be choosers: such a government, and such persons to sway it, as may most conduce to publick weal. Also it is the measure of all the acts of the governor; and he is good or bad according as he uses his power to the good of the state wherewith he is intrusted. That is the end, but not the sole end; the preservation of the power and honour of the governor is an end too; but I think not co-ordinate, but subordinate to the other, because, doubtless, in the constitution of government, that is first thought on, and this in congruity to that. Also the reason why the power and honour of the magistrate must be preserved, is for the publick society's sake, because its welfare depends thereon: And if it fall out that one of them must suffer, every good magistrate will descend something from his greatness, be it for the good of the community. On the other side, though every subject ought, for the honour and good of the magistrate, to give up his private; yet none ought to advance the greatness of his sovereign with the publick detriment. Whence, in my apprehension, the end of magistracy is the good of the whole body, head and member* conjunctly; but, if we speak divisim, then the good of the society is the ultimate end; and next to that, as conducent to that, the governor's greatness and prerogative. And herein also accordeth Dr. Fern with us, sect. 3, where he says, that the people are the end of the governing power. There is another question of mainer concernment here, in our general discourse of authority, fitly to be handled, viz. How far subjection is due to it? But, because it hath a great dependence on the kinds and states of power, and cannot be so well conceived without the precognition thereof, I will refer it to after opportunities.

Sect. III.

Division of Magistracy.

For the division of this power of magistracy: It cannot be well divided into several species; for it is one simple thing, an indivieible beam of divine perfection; yet, for our more distinct conceiving thereof, men have framed several distinctions of it. So, with respect of its measure, it is absolute or limited. In respect of its manner, it is, as St. Peter divides it, supreme or subordinate. In respect of its mean of acquiring, it is elective or successive; for i conceive that of conquest and prescription of usage are reducible to one of these, as will appear afterwards. In respect of its degrees, it is nomothetical or architectonical, and gubernative or executive. And, in respect of the subject of its residence, there is an ancient and usual distinction of it into monarchical, aristocratical, and de, mocratical. These are either simple or mixed, of two, or all three together, of which the predominant gives the denomination. These are not accurate specificative divisions of power, for it admits none such, but partitions of it, according to divers respects. The course of my intention directs me to speak only of monarchical power, which is the chief and most usual form of government in the world, the other two being apt to resolve into this, but this not so apt to dissolve into them.

CHAP. II.

Of the division of Monarchy into Absolute and Limited.

Sect. I.

Whether Absolute Monarchy be a lawful government.

Now we must know that most of these distinctions, which were applied to power in general, are applicable to monarchy; because the respects on which they arise are to be found in it. But I will insist on the three main divisions; for the handling of them will bring us to a clear understanding of what is needful to be known about monarchical power.

First, of the distinction of monarchy into absolute and limited. Absolute monarchy is when the sovereignty is so fully in one, that it hath no limits or bounds under God, but his own will. It is when a people are absolutely resigned up, or resign up themselves to be governed by the will of one man. Such were the ancient eastern monarchies, and that of the Persian and Turk at this day, as far as we know. This is a lawful government, and therefore where men put themselves into this utmost degree of subjection by oath and contract, or are born and brought unto it by God's providence it binds them, and they must abide it, because an oath to a lawful thing is obligatory. This, in Scripture, is very evident, as Ezek. xvii. 16, 18, 19, where judgment is denounced against the King of Judah, for breaking the oath made to the King of Babylon; and it is called God's oath, yet doubtless this was an oath of absolute subjection. And, Rom. xiii. the power, which then was, was absolute; yet the apostle, not excluding it, calls it God's ordinance, and commands subjection to it. So Christ commands tribute to be paid, and pays it himself; yet it was an arbitrary tax, the production of an absolute power. Also the sovereignty of masters over servants was absolute, and the same in ceconomy as absolute monarchy is in policy; yet the apostle enjoins not masters called to Christianity, to renounce that title, as too great and rigid to be kept; but exhorts them to moderation in the exercise of it; and servants to remain contented in the condition of their servitude. More might be said to legitimate this kind of government, but it needs not in so plain a case.

Sect. II.

Three Degrees of Absoluteness.

This absolute monarchy hath three degrees, yet all within the state of absoluteness. The first, when the monarch, whose will is the people's law, doth set himself no stated rule or law to rule by, bat by immediate edicts and commands of his own will governs them, as in his own and council's judgment he thinks fit. Secondly, when he sets down a rule and law by which he will ordinarily govern, reserving to himself liberty to vary from it, wherein and as often as in his discretion he judges fit: And in this the sovereign is as free as the former, only the people are at a more certainty what he expects from them in ordinary. Thirdly, When he not only sets down an express rule and law to govern by, but also promiseth and engages himself, in many cases, not to alter that rule. But this engagement is an after condescent and act of grace, not dissolving the absolute oath of subjection, which went before it, nor is intended to be the rule of his power, but of the exercise of it. This ruler is not so absolute as the former in the use of his power, for he hath put a bond on that, which he cannot break without breach of promise; that is, without sin: But he is as absolute in his power, if he will sinfully put it forth into act: It hath no political bounds, for the people still owe him absolute subjection, that not being dissolved or lessened by an act of grace coming afterwards.

Sect. III.

Whether Resistance be lawful in absolute Monarchy.

Now, in governments of this nature, how far obedience is due, and whether any resistance be lawful, is a question which here must be decided; for the due effecting whereof, we must premise some needful distinctions to avoid confusion. Obedience is two-fold; First, positive and active, when in conscience of an authority we do the thing commanded: Secondly, Negative and passive, when, though we answer not authority by doing, yet we do it by contented undergoing the penalty imposed. Proportionably resistance is two-fold: First, positive, by an opposing of force: Secondly, negative, when only so much is done as may defend ourselves from force, without return of force against the assailant. Now, this negative resistance is also two-fold: First, In inferior and sufferable cases: Secondly, Or in the supreme case, and last necessity of life and death; and then too, it is first either of a particular person or persons; Secondly, or of the whole community. And if of particular persons, then either under plea and pretence of equity assaulted: or else without any plea at all, merely for will and pleasure's sake; for to that degree of rage and cruelty sometimes the heart of man is given over. AH the.se are very distinguishable cases, and will be of use either in this or the ensuing disputes.

To the question, I say, First, Positive obedience is absolutely due to the will and pleasure of an absolute monarch, in all lawful and indifferent things; because in such a state the will of the prince is the supreme law; so that it binds to obedience in every thing not prohibited by a superior, that is, divine law: For it is in such case the higher power, and is God's ordinance.

Secondly, When the will of an absolute monarch commands a thing forbidden to be done by God's law, then it binds not to active obedience; then it is the apostle's rule undoubtedly true, 'It is better 'to obey God than men:' For the law of the inferior gives place to the superior. In things defined by God, it should be all one with us, for the magistrate to command us to transgress that, as to command us an impossibility; and impossibilities fall under no law. But on this ground no man must quarrel with authority, or reject its commands as unlawful, unless there be an open unlawfulness in the face of the act commanded. For, if the unlawfulness be hidden in the ground or reason of the action, inferiors must not be curious to inquire into the grounds or reasons of the commands of superiors; for such license of inquiry would often frustrate great undertakings, which much depend on speed and secrecy of execution. I speak all this of absolute government, where the will and reason of the monarch is made the higher power, and its expression the supreme law of a state.

Thirdly, Suppose an absolute monarch should so degenerate into monstrous unnatural tyranny, as apparently to seek the destruction of the whole community, subject to him in the lowest degree of vassalage, then such a community may negatively resist such subversion: Yea, and if constrained to it by the last necessity, positively resist, and defend themselves by force against any instruments whatsoever employed for the effecting thereof. 1. David did so in his particular case, when pursued by Saul: He made negative resistance by flight, and doubtless he intended positive resistance against any instrument, if the negative would not have served the turn: Else why did he so strengthen himself by forces? Sure not to make positive resistance, and lay violent hands upon the person of the Lord's anointed, as it appeared; yet for some reason he did it, doubtless, which could be none other, but by that force of arms to defend himself against the violence of any misemployed inferior hands. If then he might do it for his particular safety, much rather may it be done for the publick. 2. Such an act is without the compass of any the most absolute potentate; and therefore to resist, in it, can be to resist no power, nor the violation of any due of subjection For, first, the most submiss subjection ever intended by any community, when they put themselves under another's power, was the command of a reasonable will and power; but to will and command the destruction of the whole body, over which a power is placed, were an act of will most unreasonable and self-destructive, and so not the act of such a will, to which subjection was intended by any reasonable creatures. Secondly, the publick good and being is aimed at in the utmost bond of subjection; for, in the constitution of such unlimited sovereignty, though every particular man's good and being is subjected to the will of one supreme, yet certainly the conservation of the whole publick was intended by it; which being invaded, the intent of the constitution is overthrown, and an act is done which can be supposed to be within the compass of no political power: So that did Nero, as it was repeated of him in his immanity, thirst for the destruction of whole Rome; and if he were truly what the senate pronounced him to be, Ifumani gencfis hostis, Jhen it might justify a negative resistance of his person; and a positive of any agent should be set en so inhuman a service. And the United Provinces are allowed in resisting Philip II, though he had been their absolute monarch, if he resolved the extirpation of the whole people, and the planting the country with Spaniards, as it is reported he did. And that assertion of some, 'That all resistance is against the apostle's prohibition:' Re. sistance by power of arms is utterly unlawful; cannot be justified in such a latitude. But of this more will be spoken in the current of this discourse.

Fourthly, Suppose by such a power any particular person or persons life be invaded, without any plea of reason or cause for it, I suppose it hard to deny him liberty of negative resistance of power; yea, and positive, of any agents, in such assault of murther: For, though the case be not so clear as the former, yet it seems to me justified by the fact of David, and the rescuing of Jonathan from the causeless cruel intent of his father's putting him to death. As also such an act of will, carrying no colour of reason with it, cannot be esteemed the act of a rational will, and so no will intended to be the law of sovereignty. Not that I think a monarch of such absolute. ness is bound to yield a reason why he commands any man to be put to death, before his command be obeyed; but I conceive the person »o commanded to death may be justified before God and men for pro. tecting himself by escape, or otherwise, unless some reason or cause be made known to him of such command.

Fifthly, Persons subject to an unlimited dominion must, without resistance, subject their estates, liberties, persons, to the will and pleasure of their Lord, so it carry any plea or shew of reason and equity. First, It seems to me evident, 1 Pet. ii. 18, 19, 20, if welldoing be mistaken by the reason and judgment of the power for ill. doing, and we be punished for it, yet, the magistrate going according to his misguided reason, it is the command of a reasonable will, and so to be submitted to, because such a one suffers by law, in a state where the Lord's will is the law. Secondly, In commands of the power, where is the plea of reason and equity on the part of the commander, whether it be such indeed, some power must judge, but the constitution of absolute monarchy resolves all judgment into the will of the monarch, as the supreme law: So that, if his will judicially censure it just, it must be yielded to, as if it were just without re. peal or redressment by any created power. And let none complain of this as a hard condition, when they or their ancestors hare sub. jected themselves to such a power by oath or political contract: If it be God's ordinance to such, it must be subjected to, and its exorbitances borne, as he says in Tacitus, as men bear famine, pestilence, and other effects of God's displeasure.

Sixthly, In absolute monarchy, the person of the monarch is above the reach of just force and positive resistance; for such a full resignation of men's selves to his will and power, by the irrevocable oath and bond of political contract, doth make the person as sacred as the unction of Saul or David. In such a state, all lawful j,ower is below him, so that he is uncapable of any penal hand, which mutt

« AnteriorContinuar »