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and declared it concerning a crime that it shall be capital, yet a man must have more than this to make it lawful to put that man to death. He must be a minister of the divine jurisdiction; he must have a power intrusted to him from God, and a commission to execute the divine sentence; and from hence it follows undeniably, that since the delegate power is a delegate jurisdiction, and without this, a man may not put a capital offender to death; that, therefore, the Supreme Power from whence the delegation is commissionated, is also a power of jurisdiction; and, therefore, if the words of their own art are true, this leave given to do that which, without that leave, were a sin against the law of nature, is properly and truly a dispensation..
3. The third way of dispensing is by applying the power of a judge to a certain person or community, and, by way of punishment, to take from him what cannot be taken from him but by superior power, or by the Supreme; thus we are commanded, by the law of nature, to give nourishment, and to make provisions for our children; but if our children prove rebellious and unnatural, God can command us to neglect that duty, and to expose them to the contingencies of fortune. It is, by the law of nature, commanded to us to love and honour our parents, to be loving and kind to our children; but if, parents enticed their children to idolatry, their children might lay their hands upon them, and stone them to death. It is a command and a prime rule of the law of nature, that we should do as we would be done to: but even in this original rule and great sanction, God did dispense with the Israelites, for they might not exact upon one another by usury; but to strangers they might: what they hated to have done to themselves, they were willing and expressly permitted to do to others. In these and the like cases, although an act of dominion or judgment might interyene, yet that is not enough to warrant the irregular action; there must be an act of jurisdiction besides, that is, if God commands it, or, by express declaration, warrants it, then it 'may be done. Thus God, as a judge, and being angry with David, intended to punish him, by suffering his concubines to be humbled by his son in the face of all Israel: but though he did it justly, yet because Absalom had no command or warrant to do what God threatened, he was criminal.
But Jeroboam and Jehu had commissions for what they did, though of itself it was otherwise violent, unjust, rebellious, and unnatural; and, therefore, did need the same authority to legitimate it, by which it became unlawful. God often punishes a prince by the rebellion of his subjects ; God is just in doing it: but he hates the instruments, and will punish them with, a fearful destruction, unless they do repent; in this case, nothing can warrant the subjects to strike, but an express command of God.
Thus, I. conceive, the thing itself is clear and certain ; but for the extension of this, the case is yet in question, and it is much disputed amongst them that admit this rule in any ' sense, how many laws of nature can be dispensed with : for if all, then the consequents will be intolerable; if not all, by what are they separated, since they all seem to be established by the bands of eternal reason. Some say that the precepts of the second table are 'dispensable, but not the first ; but that is uncertain, or rather certainly false ; for if God did please, he might be worshipped by the interposition of an image; or if he essentially should hate that, as indeed in very many periods of the world he hath severely forbidden it; yet the second commandment and the fourth have suffered alteration, and in some parts of them are extinguished. Others say that the negative precepts are indispensable ; but not the affirmative. But this is not true; not only because every negative is complicated with an affirmative, and every affirmative hath a negative in the arms of it, but because all the precepts of the second table, the first only excepted, are negative; and yet God can dispense with all of them, as I have already proved.
But though it be hard to tell how far this dispensation and economy can reach, and to what particulars it can extend, because God's ways are unsearchable, and his power not to be understood by us; yet since our blessed Saviour hath made up a perfect system of the natural law, and hath obtained to himself an everlasting kingdom, so that his law must last as long as the world lasts, and by it God will govern mankind for ever; by the eternal reasonableness and proportions of this law, we can tell what is indispensable and what not: and the measure by which alone we can guess at it, is this--every matter from whence the ratio debiti,' or 'cause of the obligation,' can be taken, is dispensable. Now because God is supreme over all his creatures, and can change all their affairs, and can also choose the imanner of his own worship, therefore in these things he can dispense.
But in that essential duty, which his creatures owe to him, the case is different; for though God can exact more or fewer instances of affirmative duty, these or others, yet there cannot be an alteration of the main relation; and of the intrinsic duty, and the intercourse of the soul with God in the matter of the principal affections, there can be no dispensation. It is eternally and indispensably necessary, that we love God and it were a contradiction that either God should command us to hate him, or that we could obey him if he did. For obedience is love; and, therefore, if we obeyed God commanding us to Kate him, we should love him in hating him, and obey him by our disobedience.
Now if it be inquired, to what purposes of conscience all this inquiry can minister; the answer to the inquiry will reduce it to practice; for the proper corollaries of this determination of the question are these :
1. That our duty to God is supreme; it is only due to him ; it cannot be lessened, and ought not, upon any pretence, to be extinguished; because his will is the only measure of our obedience; and whatsoever is in nature, is so wholly for God and for God's service, that it ought to bend, and decline from its own inclination to all the compliances in the world which can please God. Our reason, our nature, our affections, our interest, our piety, our religion, are, and ought to be, God's subjects perfectly; and that which they desire, and that which we do, hath in it no
ood, no worthiness, but what it derives from the divine law and will.
2. That, in the sanction of the divine laws, the reason obliges more than the letter: for since the change of the reason is the ground of all mutation and dispensation in laws, it is certain that the reason and the authority, that in the thing, this in God, are the soul and the spirit of the law : and though this must not be used so as to neglect the law when we fancy a reason, yet when the letter and the reason are in opposition, this is to be preferred before that. If the reason ceases, it is not enough of warrant to neglect the law; unless à contrary reason arises, and that God cannot be served by obedience in that instance : but when the case is not only otherwise but contrary to what it was before ; let the design of God be so observed, as that the letter be obeyed in that analogy and proportion. It is a natural law, that we should not deceive our neighbour; because his interest and right is equal to any man's else: but if God hath commanded me to kill him, and I cannot, by force, get him into my hand, I may deceive him whom God hath commanded me to kill; if, without such a snare, I cannot obey the command of God. But this is but seldom practicable, because the reasons, in all natural laws, are so fixed and twisted with the accidents of every man's life, that they cannot alter but by miracle, or by an express command of God; and therefore we must, in the use of this rule, wholly attend upon the express voice of God.
3. It hence also will follow, that, if an angel from heaven, or any prophet, or dreamer of dreams, any teacher and pretendedly illuminate person, shall teach or persuade to any act against any natural law, that is, against any thing which is so reasonable and necessary, that it is bound upon our natures by the Spirit of God and the light of our reason,
,he is not to be heard : for until God changes his own establishments, and turns the order of things into new methods and dispositions, the natural obligations are sacred and inviolable.
4. From the former discourses it will follow, that the holy Scriptures of the New Testament are the light of our eyes, and the entire guide of our conscience in all our great lines of duty; because there our blessed Lord hath perfectly registered all the natural and essential obligations of men to God, and to one another; and that in these things no man can or ought to be prejudiced; in these things no man is to have a fear, but to act with confidence and diligence, and that concerning the event of these things no man is to have any jealousies; because since all the precepts of Christ are perfective of our nature, they are instruments of all that felicity, of which we can be capable, and by these we shall receive all the good we can hope for: and that, since God hath, by his holy Son, declared this will of his to be lasting, and never more to be changed by any succeeding lawgiver,
we must rest here, and know that no power less than God can change any thing of this, and that, by this law, we shall stand or fall in the eternal scrutiny.
The Law of Nature cannot be dispensed with by any human
The reason is, 1. Because nature and her laws have both the same author, and are relative to each other, and these as necessary to the support and improvement of human nature, as nourishment to the 'support of human bodies : and as no man can create new appetites, or make hay or stones to be our nourishment: so neither can he make, that our nature should be maintained in its well being without these laws. 2. The laws of nature, being bound upon us by the law of God, cannot be dispensed withal, unless by a power equal or the same, or superior to that which made the sanction: bút that cannot be at all; therefore neither can they be dispensed with at all, unless it be by God himself. 3. Natural laws are all the dictates of natural reason; and he that dispenses with the law, must have power to alter the reason, which because it can never be done but by superinducing something upon nature greater than her own natural need, and none can do this but God; therefore none but he can dispense.
But because wise men a have publicly said it, “ Per jus gentium et civile aliquid detrahitur de jure naturali ;” “ by the law of nations and the civil laws, something may be diminished from the law of nature,” it is to be considered what truth they could signify by those words: for unless by some instances of case they had seen it lawful, it is not to be supposed it could have been, by so wise persons, made sacred. But the following measures are its limit.
1. Whatsoever is forbidden by the natural law, cannot be
a L. Manumissiones. et L. jur. civile, ff. de justitia et jure et in seet. jus autem. Instit, de jure Natur. Gentium et Civili.