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CHAPTER III: Of the rule of human actions, and the true principle of the law of nature. - Johann Gottlieb Heineccius, A Methodical System of Universal Law: Or, the Laws of Nature and Nations 
A Methodical System of Universal Law: Or, the Laws of Nature and Nations, with Supplements and a Discourse by George Turnbull. Translated from the Latin by George Turnbull, edited with an Introduction by Thomas Albert and Peter Schröder (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2008).
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Of the rule of human actions, and the true principle of the law of nature.
Of what nature or kind the rule of human action must be.Such, we have already seen, is the nature of our free actions, that they must have a rule to direct them (§4); there we likewise shewed that a rule could not serve the purposes of a rule, if it be not streight or right, certain, evident, and invariable, and have external as well as internal obligation. Let us now enquire a little more accurately what this rule is which hath all these properties essential to a rule for human, free, moral actions.*
The rule of human actions is not to be found in us, but without us.The rule of human actions must either be within us or without us. If it be within us, it can be none other but either our own will, or our understanding and conscience. But neither of these faculties is always right, neither of them is always certain, neither of them is always the same and invariable; wherefore neither any of them, nor both of them together, can be the rule of human actions; whence it follows that the rule of human actions is not to be found in ourselves; but if there be any such, it must be without us.
It is to be found in the will of God.Now without us exist other created beings, and likewise a God, the author of all things which exist. But since we are enquiring after a rule of human actions, carrying with it an external obligation (§9) and made known or promulgated to all mankind by right reason (§11); and since external obligation consists in the will of some being, whose authority we acknowledge (§9), there being no other whose authority we are obliged more strictly to acknowledge than the infinitely perfect and blessed God (§10); and seeing he alone can promulgate any thing to us by right reason, of which he is the author, it follows, by necessary consequence, that the will of God must be the rule of human actions, and the principle or source of all natural obligation, and of all virtue.*
The will of God is a right, certain, and constant rule.That this rule is right cannot be doubted, since an infinitely perfect Being cannot will what is not perfectly good and right: it must be a certain rule, since reason discovers it to all men; and it must be unvariable, because the will of God can no more change, or be changed, than God himself, or right reason, by which it is discoverable. Finally, it must be obligatory, since God hath the justest claim and title to our obedience; and men have no reason or right to decline his authority, and cannot indeed if they would. Hence at the same time it is evident, that every will of God is not the rule of human actions, but his obligatory will only.*
This rule may be called a law with regard to mankind.Since therefore the obligatory will of God, which we have shewn to be the only rule of human actions, is his will with respect to the actions of his rational creatures, as to acting or forbearing to act (§63); it is evident, that this rule, considered with relation to man, may properly be called a divine law, because it is the will of the supreme Being, commanding or forbidding certain actions with rewards and penalties (§9). But because there are other laws of God to mankind which are made known by revelation, and are therefore called positive, those which are known to man by natural reason, are justly denominated natural; and according as they either command, prohibit, or permit, they are with good reason divided into affirmative, negative, or permissive.
The explication of the divine justice may be deduced from the divine will.Now since this divine will, or divine natural law, is the source and principle of all justice (§63), it follows that every action, not only human, but divine, which is conformable to this divine will, is just; and therefore it is objected, without any reason, against this doctrine, that there could not be any such thing as divine justice, were there no other principle or source of the law besides the divine will.*
The difference between the rule of divine and the rule of human justice, in what does it consist?Herein chiefly lies the difference between divine and human justice, that with regard to the former there is no law or co-action; whereas the latter includes in it a respect to a law, and external obligation or co-action (§65 & §64). Wherefore the divine will, as it is a rule of action to men, carries with it a commination of some evil or punishment to transgressors; tho’ that punishment be not, as in human laws, defined and ascertained, but be, for the greater part, indefinite, and reserved to God himself, to be inflicted according to his wisdom and justice.*
That we may apply this rule, there must be some principle or criterion by which it may be known or ascertained.But since it cannot be doubted that there is no other rule of human actions but the will or law of God (§63), it is to be enquired how we may come to the certain knowledge of this law. But since it is universally acknowledged to be promulgated to all men by right reason (§11), and since right reason is our faculty of reasoning, by which we deduce truths from other truths by a chain of consequences (§15), it is obvious that there must be some truth or proposition, from which what is agreeable to the will of God, and therefore just, may be ascertained by necessary consequence. There must then be some universal principle of science with regard to the law of nature.*
This principle must be true, evident, and adequate.Every principle of science must be true, evident, and adequate; wherefore the principle of science, with respect to natural law, must be true; lest being false or fictitious, the conclusions inferred from it be such likewise: it must be evident, and that not only in this sense, that it is intelligible to the literate; but universally, to the unlearned as well as the learned, all being equally under obligation to conform themselves to the law of nature. In fine, it must be adequate, or of such an extent, as to include in it all the duties of men and citizens, not Christians only, but those also who have not the benefit of divine revelation.†
Whence this principle is not to be found in the sanctity of God.Therefore we must not expect to find this principle of the law of nature in the conformity of our actions to the sanctity of God: for tho’ the proposition should be granted to be true, yet it is not evident enough, nor of such a nature, as that all the duties of men and citizens can be inferred and proved from it.*
Nor in the justice and injustice of actions considered in themselves.Nor is this a sufficient principle, “that what is in its own nature just is to be done, and what is in its own nature unjust is not to be done.” For tho’ we have already admitted, that certain actions are in their own nature good, and others evil, and that man is therefore obliged to perform the one, and to avoid the other, by an intrinsic obligation (§8); yet an action antecedently to, or independently of a law, is not just (§7); not to add that this principle is not evident enough, nor that all human offices are not deducible from it.†
Nor in the consent of all nations.None, I think, will rashly go into the opinion of those learned men, who held the consent of all nations, or of all the more civilized nations, to be the principle of natural law. For it is not true, that what all nations agree in, is also conformable to the divine will;* nor is this universal consent evident to all, since it must be collected from various testimonies of authors, antient and modern; nor is it sufficiently adequate to point out all duties. .
Nor in the seven precepts of Noah.But as those who endeavour to establish the law of nature and nations from the consent of nations, not only lay down a false, unevident, and unadequate principle; but likewise go out of the question into one of another kind, while they derive the law of nature not from nature itself, but from the traditions or opinions of nations: so the opinion of those who have attempted to deduce the law of nature and nations from the precepts given to Noah, labours under the same defects, as hath been sufficiently proved (§16).
Nor in the right of all to all things, or in the study of external peace.What shall we then say of the whole philosophy of Hobbes1 in his books de Cive, or his Leviathan? when he asserts the right of every man in a state of nature to all things, he affirms a proposition which is neither true, nor evident, nor adequate, since the duties of men to God and themselves cannot be deduced from that principle; yea, while he goes about in that manner, pretending to establish the law of nature, he really subverts it, as Hen. Cocei.2 def. de jure omnium in omnia, has shewn. Hence it is plain what we are to think of this other principle, viz. “that external peace is to be sought and studied if it can be obtained, and if not, force and war must be called to our aid.” For here likewise Hobbes lurks behind a curtain.*
Nor in the state of integrity.That principle laid down by Val. Alberti 3 professor of divinity and philosophy at Leipsic, hath a specious shew of truth and piety, viz. a state of integrity. But Puffend. Specim. controv. 4. 12. and Thomas. jurisp. divin. 4. 40 & seq. have proved it to be false. And granting it to be true, that whatever is agreeable to a state of primitive integrity, is truly of the law of nature; yet how unevident this principle must be, not only to Pagans, but even to Christians, is manifest. Further, since the laws of citizenship, of war, of contracts, and many others, for which there was not place in that most happy state, cannot be deduced from the idea of it, who can call this principle adequate?*
Nor in sociability.Grotius, Puffendorf, and several antients, were wonderfully pleased with the principle of sociability; nor can it be denied, as we have afterwards expressly proved, that men are so framed that they must live socially: but that this is not the true, evident, and adequate principle of the law of nature, hath been already demonstrated by the learned and worthy Sam. de Coccius de principio juris nat. diss. 1. qu. 2. §9.4 I shall only add this one thing, that many of our duties to God, and to ourselves, would take place, even tho’ man lived solitary, and without society in the world.*
Nor in the order of nature, and such like hypotheses.Other principles of natural law are highly boasted of by others; such as the order of nature, which the Creator intends in his works; the interest of mankind; a moral Theocracy, and other such like principles.†† But it is agreed to by all, that these principles are not evident or adequate; and some of them indeed cannot be admitted without some cautions and restrictions.
The will of God intends our happiness.But to give the opinion, which, upon a mature examination of this subject, appears to me the most solid, first of all I would observe, that God being infinitely wise and good, cannot will any thing else with relation to mankind but their happiness. For being perfect, he stands in no need of any thing; and therefore men, who of all the beings within our cognizance, alone are capable of felicity, were not created by him for his own advantage, but that he might render them capable of true happiness.*
To this the will of God obliges us.This being the will of God, that man should aim at and pursue true happiness, and his will being the rule of human free actions, and therefore the source of the law of nature and justice (§62); by consequence whereas, human legislators being themselves indigent in several respects, have their own advantage no less in view than that of their subjects in making laws, God, on the contrary, must have made laws to men solely for their own benefit, and have intended nothing by them but their attainment to true happiness, by conforming themselves to them.†
That happiness consists in the fruition of good by love; and therefore love is the principle of the law of nature.If therefore God intend the happiness of mankind, and the law of nature be directed towards it as its end (§78), and true happiness consist in the enjoyment of good, and the absence of evil; the consequence must be, that by the law of nature God must intend that we may attain to the enjoyment of true good, and avoid evil. But since we can only enjoy good by love, hence we infer that God obliges us to love, and that love is the principle of natural law, and, as it were, a compend of it.*
What is love and hatred?Love in us is the desire of good, joined with delight in its perfection and happiness. Hatred is aversion from evil, joined with satisfaction in its unhappiness; wherefore what we love, we receive pleasure from its perfection and happiness, and we are disposed to promote that perfection and happiness to the utmost of our power. What, on the contrary, we hate, we rather desire its misery than its happiness.
Love does not give uneasiness.Since we receive satisfaction from the excellence and happiness of what we love (§80) it is obvious that the lover does not will to give uneasiness to what he loves; nay, he rather suffers pain if any other should attempt any such thing. For because he who gives uneasiness to one, or suffers it to be done without feeling any pain, takes pleasure in another’s unhappiness; but to take delight in the suffering of any one, is the same as to hate (§80); and to love and hate the same object at one and the same time is a contradiction; the consequence is, that it is inconsistent or impossible at the same time to love one, and to hurt him; or to bear his being hurted by another without disturbance and pain.
Hence the first degree of love, which we call the love of justice.One may be hurt two ways, either by doing something which makes him more unhappy than he is by nature, or by depriving him of some happiness he is already possessed of. But seeing to do something which conduces to render one more unhappy than he is, is to hurt one; and to dispossess one of something he hath justly acquired, and which contributes to his happiness, is to deny one, or to take from him something that belongs to him; hence it follows, that he violates the law of love in the highest manner who hurts one, and disturbs his possession, or takes it away, and hinders his enjoyment of it; and, on the other hand, the lowest degree of love is to hurt no person, but to render to every one what is due to him, or leave him in the undisturbed possession and enjoyment of what he hath; which degree of love we call the love of justice.*
From which there is another very differing degree, which we call the love of humanity and beneficence.But because a lover receives pleasure from the happiness of him whom he loves (§80), it follows that he renders to him whom he loves chearfully, even that which is not strictly due to him, or his right, if he perceives it to be conducive to his happiness: and this is a more sublime degree of love, which we call love of humanity, or beneficence.* But because we call the capacity of discerning things which are contributive to our own happiness and that of others, prudence or wisdom; it is obvious that this love of humanity or beneficence must have wisdom for its guide and director.
The difference between them in respect of obligation.Moreover, whereas he who does not observe the love of justice, who hath it not, or does not act conformably to it, is a profligate person; he, on the other hand, who hath not the love of humanity and beneficence, can only be said not to perform the nobler and greater virtues (§82). Now none may be forced to do virtuous actions, but all acts of wickedness may be restrained by punishments (§9). Whence it is plain, that men may be compelled to acts of justice, but not to acts of humanity and beneficence. But when obligation is joined with coaction, it is perfect; when it is not, it is imperfect (§9). We are therefore perfectly obliged to the love of justice, and but imperfectly to the love of humanity and beneficence.*
Love, how distinguished in respect of its object.Since love always tends towards good (§80). But whatever we embrace with affection as good, must either be a more perfect being than our selves, equal, or inferior to us, and less excellent. Love of the first kind, we call love of devotion or obedience; love of the second kind, we call love of friendship; and love of the third sort, we call benevolence.
What love of devotion is; what love of friendship; and what benevolence?Love of devotion or obedience, is love towards a more excellent and perfect being, with whose excellence and happiness we are so delighted, that we look upon such a being, as to be honoured and obeyed with the highest complacency and veneration. The love of friendship is the love of our equal, or satisfaction and delight in his happiness, equal to what we perceive in our own. The love of benevolence, is the love of an inferior and more imperfect being, which disposes us seriously to promote its happiness, as much as the nature of the being permits.
The nature of the love of devotion and obedience.From these definitions it follows, that we cannot have love of devotion or obedience towards a being, unless we be persuaded of its superiority and greater perfection; nor can this love take place, unless such a being be of such a character and temper as to desire to be loved by us. And this love ought always to be joined with veneration and obedience suitable to the perfections of such a being.*
The love of friendship its nature.Further it is plain that the love of friendship arises from equality. Now equality is either an equality of nature, or an equality of perfections. Wherefore, where the former takes place, equal offices of love are reciprocally due; and for that reason, amongst all who are by nature equal, these incomparable rules ought to obtain. “Whatever you would not have done to yourself, do it not to other.” And, “Whatever you would have another do to you do unto them.” Matt. vii. 12. Luke vi. 31. Tob. iv. 16. The first of which is the foundation of the love of justice; the other, of the love of beneficence and humanity. But because, however equal the being beloved, and the being loving may be by nature, yet the one may be either more perfect, or more imperfect than the other; it may happen that we may be obliged to have at the same time a love of friendship towards a man, as equal to us by nature, and a love of devotion and obedience, or of benevolence towards him as being more perfect or more imperfect.*
The love of benevolence.Finally, since benevolence seeks the enlargement and promotion of the happiness of a more imperfect being, as much as its nature is capable of happiness (§86). Hence it follows, that we ought not to hurt such a being, or refuse to it what is its right and due; but that we ought to do good to it, to the utmost of our power, with prudence however; and therefore whatever kindness is not agreeable to reason, or conducted by prudence, is not benevolence and liberality, but profusion, or any thing else you please to call it.
What are the objects of this love?Now if we consider accurately the beings with which we are surrounded, we shall find there are three only, to which we are under obligation to render the offices of love: God, the creator of all things; ourselves, who are certainly the nearest to ourselves; and other men, whom we plainly perceive to be by nature equal to us. For as to spirits, such as angels, we know not their nature, nor have we such commerce with them, as to be under the obligation of certain duties towards them. And between men and brutes there is no communion of right, and therefore no duty is properly owing to them; but we owe this to God not perversely to abuse any of his creatures.† Puffend. de jure nat. & gent. 4. 3. 6.
The first axiom of love to God.Since we cannot conceive otherwise of God than as a most excellent, most perfect, and infinitely good Being, upon whom depends absolutely our existence and felicity, of whose superiority we are absolutely persuaded, as well as of his will and desire to be loved by us (§87), it follows, that we owe to him a love of devotion and obedience, which that it may be worthy or suitable to a most perfect Being, this rule or maxim immediately occurs, “That God, upon whom we absolutely depend, ought to be adored by us with all the vigour of our mind; and that to him ought to be rendered the most perfect and sincere obedience.”*
A second axiom concerning love to ourselves.Our love to ourselves must consist in satisfaction and delight in our own perfection and happiness (§80). Hence therefore we are obliged to pursue the preservation and augmentation of our perfection and happiness with all our might. But since the more perfect a being is, the more honour and obedience we owe to it (§87); we must take care that we do not love ourselves more than God, least our self-love should thus degenerate into immoderate and unproportioned selfishness. Whence flows this other maxim, “That man is obliged to omit nothing, that may conduce to preserve, promote, or augment his perfection and happiness, which is consistent with his love of God.”*
A third axiom concerning love to others.Since moreover all men are by nature equal, and that natural equality requires a reciprocal obligation to equal love (§88); the consequence of this is, that we are obliged to delight in the happiness of others, not less, but not more than in our own; and therefore to love others as ourselves; but ourselves not less than our neighbour. Whence flows a third maxim, “That man is obliged to love his fellow-creature no less than himself, and consequently not to do to any other, what he would not have him do to him; but, on the other hand, to do to others all those offices of kindness which he can reasonably desire them to render to him.”
This principle is true, evident and adequate.In fine, upon a due consideration of the pre-requisites to a principle of moral science which have been explained, we will find that this is the most genuine principle of moral science. Nothing can be more certain, it necessarily flows from the divine will and the nature of man; and, which is very satisfactory to me, it is authorised by the sacred writings. Nothing can be more evident, since it is such as may be easily conceived by the unassisted reason of every man, even among Pagans. Nothing can be more adequate, for in fact we shall soon see, that there is no duty of a man as such, or of a citizen, which may not be easily and clearly deduced from this first principle.
Remarks on This Chapter
I can’t help thinking that our excellent author is not so distinct in this chapter as he ought to have been, and withal too tedious. It was indeed necessary to distinguish between the principle which constitutes external or legal obligation, and the principle which is the medium of knowledge with regard to it; or the mean by which it may be known and demonstrated. Now it is the will of God which constitutes external or legal obligation. But what is the medium by which the divine will may be known? Our author had already often said, that right reason is the faculty by which it may be known. But hence it follows, that conformity to reason, is the mean by which agreeableness to the divine will may be known and demonstrated. Why then does he dispute against those who say conformity to Reason, or which comes to the same thing, to our rational nature, is the principle or mean of moral knowledge? Or why does he not immediately proceed to enquire what is, and what is not agreeable to reason or our rational nature? Why does he dispute against those who in their reasonings about the laws of nature, infer them from the divine sanctity or moral rectitude, which must mean reason, or our rational nature compared with the rational nature of the supreme Being? For if the law of nature be discoverable by reason, conformity to reason, to the reason of God, and the reason of man, must be the principle of knowledge with regard to the law of nature. Nor can the divine sanctity or divine moral rectitude be an obscure idea, unless conformity to reason, or to a reasonable nature, be an obscure idea. Our author seems to have forgot what he said (§1), when he says (§86), that the happiness and perfection of mankind is not a principle from which the law of nature can be inferred; and what he here refutes, he afterwards (§77) returns to, as a necessary first principle in demonstrating the law of nature, viz. “That God intends the happiness and perfection of mankind.” For if his reasoning, (§77) be just, the business of the moral science is to enquire what tends to the perfection and happiness of man, and what is necessary to it; and these will be good moral reasonings, which shew an action to be conducive to human happiness and perfection, or contrariwise: For thus they shew what the divine will commands, and what it forbids: nay, according to his reasoning in that section, we can not advance one step in morals, without first determining what our happiness and perfection requires, and what is repugnant to it. He seems likewise (§70) where he says, “That the intrinsic pravity or goodness of actions, is not a sufficient principle for deducing and establishing the moral laws of nature,” to have forgot what he had said in the former chapter, and frequently repeats in succeeding ones, of the priority in nature or idea of internal to external obligation. And indeed, to say that the laws of nature concerning human conduct, cannot be deduced from the consideration of the internal nature of actions, is in other words to say, that they cannot be deduced by reason; for it is to say, that they cannot be deduced from the conformity or disconformity of actions to reason. All I would infer from this is, 1. That it is impossible to make one step in moral reasonings, without owning a difference between conformity and disagreeableness to reason, and using that general expression, or some one equivalent to it; for the will of God cannot be inferred but from conformity to reason, or something equivalent to it, i.e. from some principle, which however it may be expressed, ultimately signifies conformity to the nature of things, or to reason. 2. That conformity to reason, to a reasonable nature, to moral rectitude, to the divine nature, and conduciveness to the perfection and happiness of a rational being, or conduciveness to the perfection and happiness of man, as such, and several other such phrases used by moralists, have and must all have the same meaning, or terminate in the same thing. 3. That to ask why a reasonable being ought to act agreeably to reason, is to ask why it is reasonable to act reasonably; or why reasonable is reasonable. This must be the meaning of that question, as it is distinguished from this other, “Is there good ground to think, that the supreme Being, the maker and governor of the universe, wills that his reasonable creatures should act reasonably, and will proportion their happiness according to their behaviour?” which question does likewise amount in other terms, to asking whether it is agreeable to supream reason, to approve acting according to reason? There is therefore no necessity of dwelling long upon either of these questions in moral philosophy; but it is its business to enquire what rules of conduct, what methods of action are agreeable, and what are disagreeable to reason, to the nature of things, to the qualities of reasonable beings, to the perfection and happiness of mankind as such; all which phrases, as hath been said, must have the same meaning, and may therefore be promiscuously used: And indeed about them there can be no dispute, unless one has a mind to make a particular favourite of some one of them in opposition to all the rest; in which case, the dispute, ’tis evident, will be merely about a phrase; as in fact, most disputes in the moral science realy are, for that very reason, viz. through a particular liking to some favourite words.
Our author’s method of reasoning is, when he brings it out, plain and just enough. It amounts to this, “If we own the being of a God, and have a clear and just idea of his perfection, we must own that he wills the perfection and happiness of all his creatures, his moral creatures in particular: man therefore being a moral creature, God must will the happiness and perfection of man. He must then for that reason, will that man pursue his own perfection and happiness. But such is the nature of man, and so are things relating to him constituted and connected, that the pursuit of his perfection and happiness consists in what may properly be expressed in one word, Love, the love of his Creator, the love of his fellow creatures, those of his own kind in particular, and the love of himself.” Now according to this way of reasoning what our author hath to prove, is the latter proposition; and accordingly he goes on in the succeeding chapters to prove it.
In other words, our author’s manner of deducing human duties amounts to this, “Every obligation which man can be under as a rational agent, external or internal, may be expressed by one word, Love. For we can owe nothing to any being but love: all our obligations must therefore be reducible to these three; the love of our Creator, the love of our fellow-creatures, of those of our own kind, or with whom we are more nearly and immediately connected in particular; and the love of ourselves.” And accordingly our author proceeds to explain the duties belonging to these three classes. The principle upon which he founds may justly be called clear, certain, and adequate. For if there be any such thing as obligation upon a rational agent, external or internal, it can be nothing else, but obligation to love: internal obligation can belong to nothing else but the dictates and offices of reasonable love; and therefore external obligation can belong to nothing else. Wherefore love is justly said in the sacred writings, to be the fulfillment of the law; of the law of nature, of the law of reason, of the law of God. But let me observe, that this method of our author’s, is the same in other words with some of them he refutes. For is it not evidently the same thing as to say “that duty, obligation, or what is reasonable with regard to human conduct, must be inferred from the human nature, and the constitution of things relative to man. But according to the frame of man and the constitution of things, the chief happiness and perfection of every man arises from the love and the pursuit of order within and without him; or from the observation of the prevalency of wisdom and good order, and consequently of greater happiness in the administration of the universe; and from such an orderly discipline of his affections as tend to produce universal happiness, order, and perfection, as far as his affections, and the actions they lead to, have any influence?’’ According to which state of the question, the remaining enquiry will be what the love of good order and general happiness requires.
[* ] Let us not confound the rule of human actions with the principle of natural law. The former is what philosophers call the (principium essendi) because it constitutes the principle or source of obligation to us. By the latter we understand principium cognoscendi, i.e. the principle, the truth or proposition from which our obligation to any action appears or may be deduced. These are different, even with regard to civil states. For the source or principle of the obligation under which all the members of any state whatsoever lie, is the will of the supreme authority in that state, and that is also the rule to which every member of a state is obliged to conform himself. But if it is asked whence or how that supreme will may be known, in every state you will be referred to its laws; and therefore, these are likewise in every state the sole and adequate principle or source of knowledge with respect to civil duties and obligations.
[* ] We therefore fall in with the opinion of the celebrated Sam. a Cocceis, who in his dissertations already cited (§10) has demonstrated this truth by solid arguments, and likewise defended it against objections and censures with great judgment and erudition, Dissert. 1. qu. 2. §6. & seq. where he has gathered together very many passages from ancient authors to prove this to have been the more general opinion of ancient moralists, the chief of whom are Xenophon, Sophocles and Cicero.
[* ] The will of God is of a large extent, and its various divisions are fully explained in treatises of natural theology; by none more accurately than by Ruardus Andala, Theolog. nat. part. 2. c. 8. §6. & seq. [[Ruardus Andala (1665–1727), Dutch Cartesian philosopher and theologician; Syntagma theologico-physico-metaphysicum, complectens Compendium theologiae naturalis and Wolfius Theolog. nat. part. 1. c. 3. Wolff, Theologia naturalis. It is sufficient for us to observe, that God himself being the primary object of his will, as he loves, approves, and delights in his own perfections, and the whole universe, to which he gives being by his will, is upheld, governed and moved according to certain laws chosen and approved of by him, and is therefore the object of his will; wherefore here we understand by the divine will, the will of God relative to the actions of his intelligent creatures, either with respect to doing, or not doing: and this will we call moral or obligatory.]]
[* ] The author of the Observat. Hanover. ob. 8. objects against this doctrine of Sam. de Cocceis in this manner: “Other dangerous consequences would likewise follow from this position, such as have indeed been thrown out by some most rashly and unwarily; as for instance, that there is no such thing as divine justice. For if justice only means the command of the Creator, or of one who hath power to enforce his will; it is manifest that justice cannot belong or be ascribed to God, since he cannot be forced or compelled; and therefore he may without any injustice damn an innocent person, and make the greatest scelerate immortally happy. Upon which hypothesis, the fear of God will indeed remain, but the love of him cannot take place.” [[The author is probably Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, though it is not clear which work Heineccius is referring to here. But since God wills nothing but what is right and just, why may not the divine justice be explained from the consideration of his will? There is indeed, with respect to God, no command, no co-action, and therefore no external obligation: but the same holds true with regard to supreme authority in states, in relation to the laws constituted by it. For tho’ a prince who has supreme absolute power be not strictly speaking bound by his own laws; yet we call him just, when he renders to every one conformably to his own laws. Why then may we not call God just, because he renders to every man what is due to him, according to his own will and law? Man therefore is denominated just, when he gives obedience to the will of God promulgated as a law. But God is just, because he renders to every one his due without law, without co-action or external obligation. God cannot damn an innocent person, or make an abandoned scelerate happy. Because by so doing, he would act not according to his own will, by which he wills nothing but what is just, equitable, and suitable to his own perfection.]]
[* ] Those who call every suffering or evil which attends a bad action, or is connected with it, punishment, rightly divide punishment into natural and positive. So the learned Koehler. exercitat. jur. nat. §362, & seq. But if by punishment be understood the suffering or evil which the law itself threatens against offenders, it is positive punishment only which properly falls under the name of legal or authorative punishment. Natural punishment is acknowledged even by atheists. Positive punishment those only can acknowledge who believe the divine Being, and providence: Now, tho’ particular positive punishments be not defined; yet right reason sufficiently proves that God cannot but render to mankind according to their actions, whether they be good or bad, suitable rewards and punishments. For that plainly and directly follows from the idea of the divine justice, and is admitted by all who do not call divine providence into doubt. Xenophon Memorab. Socrat. l. 4, 16. “Do you think the Gods would have impressed human minds with an opinion that they can inflict punishments and bestow rewards upon them, if they really could not do it; and if men being for ever deceived never felt any such thing?” [[Xenophon, Memorabilia (Xenophon, Memorabilia and Oeconomicus, 1.4.16).]]
[* ] How that differs from the rule itself, hath been already explained (§60). Tho’ the celebrated Sam. de Cocceiis hath taken the term principle in a larger acceptation, yet what is objected to him by Jac. Frid. Ludovici is a mere logomachy. [[Presumably this is Ludovici’s Delineatio historiae juris divini naturalis et positivi unversalis. For how the will of God may be discovered by us, he shews Disser. 1. qu. 3. and he has there clearly distinguished between the will of God, as a rule and principle essendi, i.e. of moral obligation, and the means of science, or the proofs by which the will of God may be ascertained to us, which are the principles of science with respect to the law of nature.]]
[† ] In like manner therefore, as the more subtile demonstrations of the divine existence are suspected, because that truth must be capable of an evidence that may be understood by the most ordinary understanding (and therefore the apostle says, “God may be found out by searching, and is not far from any of us,” Acts xvii. 27). So a too subtle principle of natural law is suspicious, since all are, ἀναπολὸγητοι, without excuse, even the illiterate, and those who are strangers to subtle refined philosophy, if they offend against the law of nature.
[* ] How obscure the idea of the divine sanctity is, whether in a theological or juridical sense, hath been already proved by Sam. Puffendorf. Specim. controvers. 4. 4. and Thomas. fundam. juris. nat. & gent. [[Pufendorf, Specimen controversiarum circa jus naturali ipsi nuper motarum. Christian Thomasius (1655–1728), German philosopher and foundational figure in the German Enlightenment, professor at Halle. The work referred to is his Fundamenta juris naturae et gentium. And because there are many human duties, of which there is no archetype in God, as for instance, gratitude towards our benefactors, reverence toward our superiors, paying debt, and such like: For these reasons it is not the principle of moral knowledge.]]
[† ] To just actions we are impelled by an external obligation (§7). External obligation consists in the will of an acknowledged superior, commanding under penalty (§9): such a will is a law (§9). Wherefore, no action can be just or unjust but in reference to a law: and hence every sin is called ἀνομἱα, i.e. a transgression of a law. 1 Ep. John iii. 4.
[* ] Thus Cicero thought the voluntary law of nations, as it is called, must be established, Tusc. quest. disp. 1. 13. “The agreement of all nations in a thing is to be held a law of nature.” Grotius lays great stress on this principle de jure belli & pacis, proleg. §11. where speaking of the way of establishing the laws of nature and nations, he says, “I have made use of the testimonies of Philosophers, Historians, Poets, and in the last place Orators; not that we are rashly and implicitly to give credit to whatever they say (for it is usual with them to accommodate themselves to the prejudices of their sect, the nature of their subject, and the interest of their cause): But that when many men of different times and places unanimously affirm the same thing for truth, this ought to be ascribed to an universal cause; which, in the questions treated of by us, can be no other than either a just conclusion drawn from the principles of nature, or an universal consent. The former points out the law of nature, the other the law of nations.” But we find a wonderful consent almost of all nations in many things which none will assert to be of the law of nature or nations; as in polytheism, idolatry, sacrifices, robbery committed in a foreign territory. Besides this agreement of nations is not easily shewn, as Grotius himself confesses, l. 1. 1. 15. “But the more extensive is the law of nations, which derives its authority from the will of all, or at least, of many nations. I say, of many, because there is scarce any right found, except that of nature, which is also called the right of nations, common to all nations. Nay, that which is reputed the right or law of nations in one part of the world, is not so in another, as we shall shew hereafter, where we come to treat of prisoners of war and postliminy, or the right of returning.” How many duties therefore cannot be deduced from the consent of nations?
[1 ] Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679). See On the Citizen (De cive), 1.10, and Leviathan, chap. 13.
[2 ] Heinrich Freiherr von Cocceji (1644–1719), father of Samuel Freiherr von Cocceji (see note p. 17). Heinrich von Cocceji promoted a natural law theory based on an extreme theocratic voluntarism.
[* ] First of all, this principle is far from being evident. For what means this limitation, if it can be had? How liable is it, however it may be explained, to be abused by litigious persons, who will complain that they cannot enjoy peace, if others will not suffer them? like the wolf in the fable, who pled that the lamb had troubled his water. Phaed. Fab. 1. 1. Some poet has justly said,Sic nocet innocuo nocuus, caussamque nocendiInvenit. Heu regnant qualibet arte lupi.
[[“Some poet”: this is Aesop’s story, “The Wolf and the Lamb.” Phaedrus’s version (Fabulae 1.1) is somewhat different. This version has been attributed to Walter of England (though with hi rather than heu in the last line): “Thus the harmful harms the harmless and finds a reason for harming him. Alas wolves rule by whatever means they like.”
This defect in this principle hath been already observed by Thomas. in Fundam. Jur. nat. & gent. 1. 6. 18.]]
[3 ] Valentin Alberti (1635–97), an orthodox Lutheran theologian at the University of Leipzig, who strongly opposed the natural law theories of Hugo Grotius, Samuel Pufendorf, and Christian Thomasius. Heineccius sides clearly with the last.
[* ] How few things are told us in the sacred records that can give us an image of that state of integrity? About what is revealed to us in scripture concerning that state, Christians are divided into various sects and very differing opinions. What then shall we say of the Heathens, ancient and modern? They have a fable among them about a golden age, which some imagine to have taken its rise from a tradition concerning the paradise-state. They have other fictions with which they are highly delighted, which have some resemblance to the Christian doctrine concerning God, of which Pet. Dan. Huet. Quaest. Alnet. p. 172. hath treated in the learned manner so peculiar to him. [[Pierre-Daniel Huet (1630–1721), Alnetanae quaestiones. But so dissonant and widely differing are all these things, that no Christian will ever be able to persuade a Pagan, nor no Pagan a Christian, that this or the other thing is of the law of nature, which the one derives from his traditions and the other from his revelation, with relation to a state of integrity. We must therefore find out some principle common to Jews, Christians and Pagans, which can be no other but that right reason which is common to all mankind.]]
[4 ] Heinrich von Cocceji and Samuel von Cocceji, Dissertatio de principio iuris naturae.
[* ] Cicero de legibus 1. 5. de off. 1. 16. & seq. Seneca de Benef. 4. 18. Iamblichus in Protrept. cap. 20 [[Protrepticus, and several others, have considered the preservation of society as the true fountain of justice, and the foundation of natural law: many authors of this sentiment are accumulated by Puffendorf de jure nat. & gent. 2. 3. 15. and Jo. Hen. Boecler. in Grotii proleg. p. 48. Johann Heinrich Boecler (1611–72), professor of law at Strasbourg and author of a commentary on Grotius’s Law of War and Peace (In Hugonis Grotii Ius Belli et Pacis . . . Commentario). But however many, formerly or at present, may have concurred in this opinion, we cannot however choose but observe there is a great difference amongst them in their account of the reason by which men are obliged to sociability: Some assert we are instigated to it by nature; some that we are bound to it by the will of God: others again maintain, that necessity alone compels men to a social life.]]
[† ] After Sfort. Palavicinus [[Sforza Pallavicini, cardinal (1606–67), Hen. Bodinus in Disser. de jure mundi, maintained the order of nature to be the first principle of natural law. But the latter hath been refuted by Thomasius de fundam. definiendi causs. matr. hact. recept. insufficient. §18. The utility of mankind hath been asserted to be the first principle by the famous Leibnitz and others, who with Thomasius have set up this proposition as fundamental, “That all things are to be done which tend to make human life more happy and more lasting, and that all things are to be avoided which tend to render it unhappy, or to accelerate death,” Thom. fund. jur. nat. & gent. 1. 6. 21. A moral theocracy was asserted to be the first principle in a dissertation to that effect, by Jo. Shute an Englishman; from which ingenious dissertation, several observations are excerpted by the often cited Sam. de Cocceis de princip. juris nat. & gent. diss. 1. qu. 3. §8. Bodinus (praeses), Becker (respondens), Jus mundi seu vindiciae juris naturae; Thomasius (praeses), Buhle (respondens), Dissertatio juridica de fundamentorum definiendi causas matrimoniales hactenus receptorum insufficientia; John Shute, first Viscount Barrington (1678–1734), was an English politician and Christian apologist.]]
[* ] We do not exclude the primary end, which is the glory of the Creator, and the manifestation of his perfections, which so clearly appear in his works. But this end is universal, and extends to the whole universe. Wolf. von den Absichten der Dinge. cap. 1. §2. cap. 2. §1. [[Wolff, Von den Absichten der natürlichen Dinge (1726). The particular end for which God created man, must be inferred from the essential parts and properties of which man consists or is composed. Since therefore, he is endued with understanding, by which he may come to the knowledge of God and of true good; with will, by which he is capable of enjoying God and true good; and he hath a body, by means of which he can produce various actions, which tend to acquire and preserve his true happiness; hence it is manifest that God made man that he might be a partaker of true felicity.]]
[† ] Therefore utility cannot be said, with Carneades and others, to be the sole source of justice and equity (§76). [[Carneades (ca. 214–ca. 129 bc), Greek philosopher who presided over the New Academy at Athens. For the law of nature would thus not be obligatory, but might be renounced by any one at his pleasure, or by all mankind, as Sam. de Cocceiis has proved, Diss. 1. qu. 2. §9. But whatever we do for the sake of our true happiness, according to the law of nature, we do it agreeably to the divine will and command, and therefore, according to obligation not merely internal, but likewise extrinsical: and for that reason, so far is any one from having a right to renounce his happiness, that on the contrary, any one would no less deserve punishment by violating a natural law constituted for his good, than any one who in a common-wealth should offend against a law established for the public good.]]
[* ] Here we see a wonderful harmony and consent, between the natural and revealed law or will of God. Our Saviour gives us a summary of revealed law in these few words: “Thou shalt love God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy self.” Matt. xxxii. 37. Luke x. 27. and he adds, “upon these hang the law and the prophets.” Agreeably to this doctrine of our Saviour, the apostles call love sometimes ἀνακεφαλαίωσιν του νόμου, the sum of the law; sometimes πλήρωμα νόμου, the fulfilment of the law; at other times, συνδεσμον τῆς τελειότητος, the bond of perfectness; and sometimes, τό τἐλος τῆς παραγγελίος, the end of the commandment, Rom. xiii. 9. Coloss. iii. 14. 1 Tim. i. 5. But right reason teaches the same truth, and inculcates no other principle of natural law but love, as the sole mean by which we can come to the enjoyment of that happiness or true good, which is the intention of God and of his law; whence Leibnitz also, Praef. t. 1. cod. juris gentium diplom. defines justice to be, the love of a wise man. [[Leibniz, Codex iuris gentium diplomaticus, Praefatio ad lectorem, vol. 1, 6.]]
[* ] This is observed by Seneca in his Ep. 95. where he says, how small a thing is it not to hurt him whom we ought to profit! [[Seneca, Epistulae morales, ep. 95, 51: “[Q]uantulum est ei non nocere cui debeas prodesse.” (Seneca, Ad Lucilium epistulae morales, vol. 3). He who does not hurt any one is only not a scelerate: he has not yet attained to that kind of justice which the law of love requires, even to do good to others to the utmost of our abilities, and therefore he hath no virtue to glory in. Whence Leibnitz, in Praef. cod. dip. distinguishes three gradations in the law of nature. Strict justice, which is to do no hurt; equity or love, which is to render to every one what is due to him; and piety, which disposes to observe all the rules of virtue; but we must differ from him with regard to his second gradation, because he likewise gives to another his due or his own, who renders what is due to him in strict justice, and therefore rendering to every one his own, is not to be referred solely to distributive justice.]]
[* ] Humanity and beneficence differ in this, that by the former we render to others whatever we can do, without any detriment to ourselves, for their advantage: the latter makes us not spare our own goods in order to benefit others, but disposes us to do kind offices to them to our own prejudice. Of the former Cicero speaks de off. 1. 16. “All these things seem to be common to all men, which are of the kind described by Ennius in one instance. He that directs the wandering traveller, doth, as it were, light another’s torch by his own, which gives never the less light, for that it gave another.” By this single example he clearly points out to us, that we ought to render even to strangers, whatever good offices may be done to them without prejudicing ourselves. Whence these following, and others of the same nature, are called common benefits, “To suffer any one to take from our fire to kindle his: To give good and faithful advice to one who is deliberating: And all things, in one word, which are beneficial to the receiver, and nowise hurtful to the giver.” [[Cicero, De officiis, 1.16. Of the latter Seneca has wrote a book which is entitled De beneficiis, concerning benefits.]]
[* ] Those who fulfil their imperfect obligations are said by Seneca to be good men according to the letter of the law; but elsewhere he shews it to be a very small attainment to be good in that sense only; and that in order to merit the character of a wise and virtuous man much more is required, even the love of beneficence, to which one knows he is not strictly obliged. “Many good offices,’’ says he, “are not commanded by law, and do not found an action, which however the circumstances and condition of human life, more powerful than all law, render fit or lay a foundation for. No human law forbids us to discover our friend’s secrets; no human law commands us to keep faith with our enemy. What law obliges us to fulfil our promise to any one? Yet I will complain of him, and quarrel with him, who hath not kept the secret entrusted to him, and will look upon him with indignation who does not keep his pledged faith.” Seneca de beneficiis, v. 21.
[* ] For veneration or honour is a just esteem of the perfections belonging to a being; obedience is a disposition to perform with readiness, whatever another as superior hath a title to exact from us, and to with-hold from doing what he forbids. But since there may be various degrees of perfection and superiority, there will also be as many various degrees of veneration and obedience; and the more sublime the perfection of a being is, the greater veneration and obedience are due to that being.
[* ] Thus, tho’ a prince as superior hath a right to our veneration and obedience, that does not hinder but that he is obliged to render to us the good offices founded upon equality of nature: as for instance, not to do us any injury; not to fix ignominy upon what does not deserve it; and in one word, to do what Pliny commends in Trajan, i.e. “to remember no less that he is a man, than that he is set over other men to rule them.” [[Pliny, “Panegyricus,” 2.4 in Pliny, Letters and Panegyricus.]]
[† ] For such a communion of right must, as we shall shew afterwards, arise from compact. But brutes are not susceptible whether of active or passive obligation arising from compact. We cannot therefore assent to the Pythagoreans, Porphyry, in his books, περὶ ἀποχῆς, who not only ascribe sense and memory, but a rational mind to brutes. However so far as men perceive any affection in brutes, so far do they render a love of benevolence toward them; so as not to abuse their power of killing them, but to take pleasure in rendering their life more commodious to them, as we see in the instance of domestic dogs. Plutarch elegantly observes in Caton. major. “But we see benignity hath a much larger field than justice; we sometimes extend beneficence to brute animals thro’ the largeness of bounty; for a merciful man looks upon himself as obliged to take care of horses which work for him, and not only of young animals but of old ones.” [[Plutarch, “Cato Major” (Cato the Elder), in Plutarch, Plutarch’s Lives, vol. 2, 301–85.]]
[* ] For since the veneration we pay to a superior Being ought to be suitable to it (§87); we cannot but hence infer that the highest veneration is due to the most perfect Being. And because God knows most perfectly, not only our external actions, but likewise all the inward motions of our mind; we owe to him, not merely external signs of veneration, but inward reverence and piety. And this is that worship and love which the sacred writings require of us.
[* ] For God obliges man to seek after the enjoyment of good (§79), and therefore to promote and preserve his own happiness; because therefore sometimes goods are presented to him, of which one is greater than the other; and that lesser good which deprives us of a greater one, ought to be esteemed an evil, it is obvious that God obliges us to choose that which of many goods is the greatest.