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temporal dominions as well as any other prince: but this is not dispensation, but the annulling of contracts or promises; it makes them not to be at all, not to cease after they have a being, which is the nature of dispensation, of which we now inquire. But the matter of this question, and the particular instance, as it relates to the bishop of Rome, is of another consideration.
6. The civil law can add to the law of nature :-not only new obligations by affixing temporal penalties; but by requiring new circumstances to corroborate and consummate an action : not that the civil law of a prince or republic can annul any thing which nature hath confirmed, but it can hinder it from passing into a civil and public warranty. Thus a clandestine contract is valid by the law of nature; and in the court of conscience there are witnesses, and judges, and executioners, and laws, and penalties, to exact the performance of it: but when the civil or ecclesiastic law hath commanded, that, in all contracts of marriage, therc should be witnesses, it must mean, that the contract shall not be acknowledged for legitimate, unless there be; and, therefore, that the contract must be solemnly published, before it be civilly firm. No civil power can so injoin witnesses, as that, if the contract be made without witnesses, it shall not be obligatory in conscience. For this obligation is before the civil law, and is bound by that power, by which the civil power hath a being. But the civil power, which cannot annul the act of nature and conscience, can superinduce something upon it. It cannot make the contractors to go back from what they have done, but to proceed to something more, that what was firm in the inward, may be confirmed in the outward court. By our laws, the clandestine contract is civilly null before publication; but in our religion, we believe it obligatory in conscience, and that it must come into publication. But, by the laws of Rome, the whole contract is nullified, and the persons disobliged, and the marriage after consummation is dissolved. This is against the law of nature, but the other is a provision for it by additional security, that is, a taking care that the contracts of nature may not be denied.—For the confirmation of a natural contract nothing is necessary but a natural capacity not hindered by the Lord of nature.— Whatsoever, therefore, is superinduced upon nature, cannot disannul that, to which all things competently necessary are ingredient; a condition brought in by a less power cannot invalidate that, which, before that condition, was valid: but as civil powers derive their authority from natural laws and reason, so to these they must minister, and they may do it by addition and superfetation; but they may not violate them by irritation.
That the Obligation to a natural Law does cease in any par
ticular, is not to be presumed by every one, but is to be declared by the public Voice.
This depends upon the foregoing discourses, and is consequent to them. For the several dispensations in the law of nature being wrought by the change of their subject matter, the rule can never be changed; because that is eternal, and is abstract from matter; but the law
be dispensed with, because that is twisted with matter, which is not eternal. But then, because the several matters of law can be changed by several powers respectively, that power which alters the matter, and consequently dispenses with the law, must, by some evidence or other, make the change apparent. If God by his power alters the case, and dispenses in the law, he also is to declare it : because he must do more; for he must give expressly a leave to do tionable actions : he having bound us to the law of nature, leaves us so till he tells us otherwise : and the same also is the case, if the matter be changed by man: for by the law of nature we being bound to obey laws and perform contracts, must remain so bound, till he that holds the other end of the string, lets it go or tells us it is untied: because he hath an interest in it, which must not depend upon the reason of another; but upon that which is common to both. For although we all agree,
rule of nature is unalterable, and every law is to be observed, yet in every thing where a change can be pretended, every man's reason is
equal; and therefore is not to be made use of in relation to others.
agree that theft is evil; but whether this action or this detention be theft, men's reasons oftentimes cannot agree: and since every man's reason hath the same power and the same privilege, no man's single reason can determine, because there is no reason why yours more than mine. But therefore it is, that there must be some common reason to declare the case, and the man to be at liberty, and the law to be loose.
This hath no other variety in it, but this, that although the public voice must declare concerning those instances, that concern that matter of laws natural which is in her keeping, as God is to do in those, in which only he hath immediate power, yet every private man can declare the obligation of a natural law to be loose, when he holds one end of the string. If, by a natural law, Caius be tied to do me an act of kindness and justice, it is my right; and as long as I will demand it, I hold the band of the natural law in my hand: but if I let it go, and will quit my right, the obligation is off, because the matter is subtracted. The reason of all is the same. No man is a good judge in his own case, where there is the interest of another twisted with it: and it is unequal, that my reason should govern my neighbour's interest; or that his should govern mine: this would be an equal mischief, and therefore something indifferent to both must turn the balance, that there
be equal justice and equal provision. But if a man will quit his right, there is no wrong done. He can sufficiently declare his own will and the acts of kindness ; and then the law thật combines with the matter, takes the same lot.
The Exactness of natural Laws is capable of Interpretation,
and may be allayed by Equity, Piety, and Necessity. WHATSOEVER can be dispensed withal, is either dispensed with by an absolute power of jurisdiction, or for some cause in the nature of the thing: and if the laws of nature can
cease to oblige without reason, but by the will and the command of the Supreme, of God himself, much more may the same will and power do it, when there is also a reason : and if there be a reason to take off the obligation wholly in some particulars, then much rather may there be a cause to take off some part of the exactness upon a proportionable cause; if it may be dispensed with, it may also be interpreted by equity; for this is less than that in the same kind. Every man is bound to restore his neighbour's goods, when they are demanded; but if he calls for his sword to kill a man withal,—there is equity in this case, and I am not guilty of the breach of the natural law, if I refuse to deliver him the sword, when he is so violent and passionate. To pay debts is a natural law; but if a rich man calls for a sum of money which is his due, and I by paying him to-day, shall be undone, and he, by staying till next week, shall not be undone,I do not break the law of nature, if I detain the money a little longer, and offer him satisfaction for the wrong, if he have received any. I promised my brother to see him upon the ides of March; in my journey to him I broke my leg : now though I, by the natural law, am bound to perform promises, and it is possible, that for all my broken leg, I might get to him by the time, yet there is equity in it and piety that I forbear to go with so great an inconvenience. “ Surgam ad sponsalia, quia promisi, quamvis non concoxerim : sed non, si febricitavero: subest enim tacita exceptio, si potero, si debebo :” said Seneca a. There is an equity and a reasonableness in all these things. “ Effice, ut idem status sit, quum igitur, qui fuit, quum promitterem.” If the case be, when I am to perform, as it was when I promised, then I am bound pro rata portione,' that is,
1. If it become impossible, I am wholly disobliged.
2. If it become accidentally unlawful, I am dispensed with.
3. If it become intolerably inconvenient, I am in equity to be relieved. For in these cases it is no breach of promise, but I am just if I desire to do it, and in the degree in which I am disabled, in the same I am to be pitied. “ Destituere
a De Benef. iv. c. 39. 6 2 & 3. Ruhkopf, vol. iv. pag. 197,
levitas non erit, si aliquid intervenit novi. Eadem mihi omnia præsta; et idem sum.” “ It is not levity when I am the same; but my powers and possibilities are changed or lessened.”_
But this is to be understood and practised with these limitations :
1. Not every change of case can excuse or lessen, or alter the obligation, but such a change as makes the person pitiable, or the thing more vexatious to the doer, than it could be of advantage to the other.
2. If the cause does not continue, the first equity does not disannul the obligation, but defers it only, and it returns when the cause ceases.
3. The obliged person as he is not wholly disobliged for the time, so neither for the thing itself; for if it be matter of interest, though without violation of nature's law it may be deferred, and does not bind the man to a guilt, yet it does to a new duty, the duty of giving satisfaction to him who suffered injury: for since, in the law of nature, all men's rights are equal, it is unnatural and unjust that to one there should be remission and ease, and to the other a burden. For no man is to be better by the hurt and injury of another.
4. If the cause be less, or if it be more, it ought not to be done, unless an interpretative leave be justly or reasonably presumed. In a great matter every man is presumed so charitable as to be willing to comply with his brother's need or sad accident. But if it be less, then the interpretative leave must be presumed upon the stock of friendship or experience, or something upon which wise men usually rely. Only in this case, the presumption ought to be less confident, and more wary.
This rule is to be understood principally in matters of justice, and relative intercourses: for in matters of religion and sobriety the case is different: because, in natural religion and natural measures of sobriety, which are founded · in prima natura,' in the very constitution of man's soul and body, in the first laws of God, and the original economy of the body ;-the matter is almost as unalterable as the rule.