Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XLIII.: of what is necessary for a man's reception into the kingdom of heaven. - The English Works, vol. III (Leviathan)
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CHAPTER XLIII.: of what is necessary for a man’s reception into the kingdom of heaven. - Thomas Hobbes, The English Works, vol. III (Leviathan) 
The English Works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury; Now First Collected and Edited by Sir William Molesworth, Bart., (London: Bohn, 1839-45). 11 vols. Vol. 3.
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of what is necessary for a man’s reception into the kingdom of heaven.
The difficulty of obeying God and man both at once;
The most frequent pretext of sedition, and civil war, in Christian commonwealths, hath a long time proceeded from a difficulty, not yet sufficiently resolved, of obeying at once both God and man, then when their commandments are one contrary to the other. It is manifest enough, that when a man receiveth two contrary commands, and knows that one of them is God’s, he ought to obey that, and not the other, though it be the command even of his lawful sovereign (whether a monarch, or a sovereign assembly), or the command of his father. The difficulty therefore consisteth in this, that men, when they are commanded in the name of God, know not in divers cases, whether the command be from God, or whether he that commandeth do but abuse God’s name for some private ends of his own. For as there were in the Church of the Jews, many false prophets, that sought reputation with the people, by feigned dreams and visions; so there have been in all times in the Church of Christ, false teachers, that seek reputation with the people, by fantastical and false doctrines; and by such reputation, (as is the nature of ambition), to govern them for their private benefit.
Is none to them that distinguish between what is, and what is not necessary to salvation.
But this difficulty of obeying both God and the civil sovereign on earth, to those that can distinguish between what is necessary, and what is not necessary for their reception into the kingdom of God, is of no moment. For if the command of the civil sovereign be such, as that it may be obeyed without the forfeiture of life eternal; not to obey it is unjust; and the precept of the apostle takes place: Servants obey your masters in all things; and Children obey your parents in all things; and the precept of our Saviour, The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ chair; all therefore they shall say, that observe and do. But if the command be such as cannot be obeyed, without being damned to eternal death; then it were madness to obey it, and the council of our Saviour takes place, (Matth. x. 28), Fear not those that kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. All men therefore that would avoid, both the punishments that are to be in this world inflicted, for disobedience to their earthly sovereign, and those that shall be inflicted in the world to come, for disobedience to God, have need be taught to distinguish well between what is, and what is not necessary to eternal salvation.
All that is necessary to salvation is contained in faith and obedience.
All that is necessaryto salvation, is contained in two virtues, faith in Christ, and obedience to laws. The latter of these, if it were perfect, were enough to us. But because we are all guilty of disobedience to God’s law, not only originally in Adam, but also actually by our own transgressions, there is required at our hands now, not only obedience for the rest of our time, but also a remission of sins for the time past; which remission is the reward of our faith in Christ. That nothing else is necessarily required to salvation, is manifest from this, that the kingdom of heaven is shut to none but to sinners; that is to say, to the disobedient, or transgressors of the law; nor to them, in case they repent, and believe all the articles of Christian faith necessary to salvation.
What obedience is necessary;
The obedience required at our hands by God, that accepteth in all our actions the will for the deed, is a serious endeavour to obey him; and is called also by all such names as signify that endeavour. And therefore obedience is sometimes called by the names of charity and love, because they imply a will to obey; and our Saviour himself maketh our love to God, and to one another, a fulfilling of the whole law: and sometimes by the name of righteousness; for righteousness is but the will to give to every one his own; that is to say, the will to obey the laws: and sometimes by the name of repentance; because to repent, implieth a turning away from sin, which is the same with the return of the will to obedience. Whosoever therefore unfeignedly desireth to fulfil the commandments of God, or repenteth him truly of his transgressions, or that loveth God with all his heart, and his neighbour as himself, hath all the obedience necessary to his reception into the kingdom of God. For if God should require perfect innocence, there could no flesh be saved.
And to what laws.
But what commandments are those that God hath given us? Are all those laws which were given to the Jews by the hand of Moses, the commandments of God? If they be, why are not Christians taught to obey them? If they be not, what others are so, besides the law of nature? For our Saviour Christ hath not given us new laws, but counsel to observe those we are subject to; that is to say, the laws of nature, and the laws of our several sovereigns: nor did he make any new law to the Jews in his sermon on the Mount, but only expounded the law of Moses, to which they were subject before. The laws of God therefore are none but the laws of nature, whereof the principal is, that we should not violate our faith, that is, a commandment to obey our civil sovereigns, which we constituted over us by mutual pact one with another. And this law of God, that commandeth obedience to the law civil, commandeth by consequence obedience to all the precepts of the Bible; which, as I have proved in the precedent chapter, is there only law, where the civil sovereign hath made it so; and in other places, but counsel; which a man at his own peril may without injustice refuse to obey.
In the faith of a Christian, who is the person believed.
Knowing now what is the obedience necessary to salvation, and to whom it is due; we are to consider next concerning faith, whom, and why we believe; and what are the articles, or points necessary to be believed by them that shall be saved. And first, for the person whom we believe, because it is impossible to believe any person, before we know what he saith, it is necessary he be one that we have heard speak. The person, therefore, whom Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and the prophets, believed, was God himself, that spake unto them supernaturally: and the person, whom the apostles and disciples that conversed with Christ believed, was our Saviour himself. But of them, to whom neither God the father, nor our Saviour, ever spake, it cannot be said that the person whom they believed, was God. They believed the apostles, and after them the pastors and doctors of the Church, that recommended to their faith the history of the Old and New Testament: so that the faith of Christians ever since our Saviour’s time, hath had for foundation, first, the reputation of their pastors, and afterward, the authority of those that made the Old and New Testament to be received for the rule of faith; which none could do but Christian sovereigns; who are therefore the supreme pastors, and the only persons whom Christians now hear speak from God; except such as God speaketh to in these days supernaturally. But because there be many false prophets gone out into the world, other men are to examine such spirits, as St. John adviseth us, (1st Epistle iv. 1) whether they be of God, or not. And therefore, seeing the examination of doctrines belongeth to the supreme pastor, the person, which all they that have no special revelation are to believe, is, in every commonwealth, the supreme pastor, that is to say, the civil sovereign.
The causes of Christian faith.
The causes why men believe any Christian doctrine, are various. For faith is the gift of God; and he worketh it in each several man, by such ways as it seemeth good unto himself. The most ordinary immediate cause of our belief, concerning any point of Christian faith, is, that we believe the Bible to be the word of God. But why we believe the Bible to be the word of God, is much disputed, as all questions must needs be, that are not well stated. For they make not the question to be, why we believe it, but, how we know it; as if believing and knowing were all one. And thence while one side ground their knowledge upon the infallibility of the Church, and the other side, on the testimony of the private spirit, neither side concludeth what it pretends. For how shall a man know the infallibility of the Church, but by knowing first the infallibility of the Scripture? Or how shall a man know his own private spirit to be other than a belief, grounded upon the authority and arguments of his teachers, or upon a presumption of his own gifts? Besides, there is nothing in the Scripture, from which can be inferred the infallibility of the Church; much less, of any particular Church; and least of all, the infallibility of any particular man.
Faith comes by hearing.
It is manifest therefore, that Christian men do not know, but only believe the Scripture to be the word of God; and that the means of making them believe, which God is pleased to afford men ordinarily, is according to the way of nature, that is to say, from their teachers. It is the doctrine of St. Paul concerning Christian faith in general (Rom. x. 17), Faith cometh by hearing, that is, by hearing our lawful pastors. He saith also, (verses 14, 15, of the same chapter), How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent? Whereby it is evident, that the ordinary cause of believing that the Scriptures are the word of God, is the same with the cause of the believing of all other articles of our faith, namely, the hearing of those that are by the law allowed and appointed to teach us, as our parents in their houses, and our pastors in the churches. Which also is made more manifest by experience. For what other cause can there be assigned, why in Christian commonwealths all men either believe, or at least profess the Scripture to be the word of God, and in other commonwealths scarce any; but that in Christian commonwealths they are taught it from their infancy; and in other places they are taught otherwise?
But if teaching be the cause of faith, why do not all believe? It is certain therefore that faith is the gift of God, and he giveth it to whom he will. Nevertheless, because to them to whom he giveth it, he giveth it by the means of teachers, the immediate cause of faith is hearing. In a school, where many are taught, and some profit, others profit not, the cause of learning in them that profit, is the master; yet it cannot be thence inferred, that learning is not the gift of God. All good things proceed from God; yet cannot all that have them, say they are inspired; for that implies a gift supernatural, and the immediate hand of God; which he that pretends to, pretends to be a prophet, and is subject to the examination of the Church.
But whether men know, or believe, or grant the Scriptures to be the word of God; if out of such places of them, as are without obscurity, I shall show what articles of faith are necessary, and only necessary for salvation, those men must needs know, believe, or grant the same.
The only necessary article of Christian faith;
The unum necessarium, only article of faith, which the Scripture maketh simply necessary to salvation, is this, that Jesus is the Christ. By the name of Christ is understood the king, which God had before promised by the prophets of the Old Testament, to send into the world, to reign (over the Jews, and over such of other nations as should believe in him), under himself eternally; and to give them that eternal life, which was lost by the sin of Adam. Which when I have proved out of Scripture, I will further show when, and in what sense, some other articles may be also called necessary.
Proved from the scope of the Evangelists:
For proof that the belief of this article, Jesus is the Christ, is all the faith required to salvation, my first argument shall be from the scope of the Evangelists; which was by the description of the life of our Saviour, to establish that one article, Jesus is the Christ. The sum of St. Matthew’s Gospel is this, that Jesus was of the stock of David, born of a Virgin; which are the marks of the true Christ: that the Magi came to worship him as King of the Jews: that Herod for the same cause sought to kill him: that John the Baptist proclaimed him: that he preached by himself and his apostles that he was that king: that he taught the law, not as a scribe, but as a man of authority: that he cured diseases by his word only, and did many other miracles, which were foretold the Christ should do: that he was saluted king when he entered into Jerusalem: that he forewarned them to beware of all others that should pretend to be Christ: that he was taken, accused, and put to death, for saying he was king: that the cause of his condemnation written on the cross was, JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. All which tend to no other end than this, that men should believe that Jesus is the Christ. Such therefore was the scope of St. Matthew’s Gospel. But the scope of all the evangelists, as may appear by reading them, was the same. Therefore the scope of the whole Gospel was the establishing of that only article. And St. John expressly makes it his conclusion, (John xx. 31), These things are written, that you may know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.
From the sermons of the apostles:
My second argument is taken from the subjects of the sermons of the apostles, both whilst our Saviour lived on earth, and after his ascension. The apostles, in our Saviour’s time, were sent, (Luke ix. 2) to preach the kingdom of God. For neither there, nor, Matth. x. 7, giveth he any commission to them other than this, As ye go, preach, saying, the kingdom of heaven is at hand; that is, that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the King which was to come. That their preaching also after his ascension was the same, is manifest out of Acts xvii. 6, 7, They drew, saith St. Luke, Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, these that have turned the world upside down are come hither also, whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Cæsar, saying, that there is another king, one Jesus. And out of the 2nd and 3rd verses of the same chapter, where it is said, that St. Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them; and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures; opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead, and that this Jesus, whom he preached, is Christ.
From the easiness of the doctrine:
The third argument is from those places of Scripture, by which all the faith required to salvation is declared to be easy. For if an inward assent of the mind to all the doctrines concerning Christian faith now taught, whereof the greatest part are disputed, were necessary to salvation, there would be nothing in the world so hard as to be a Christian. The thief upon the cross, though repenting, could not have been saved for saying, Lord remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom; by which he testified no belief of any other article, but this, that Jesus was the king. Nor could it be said (as it is, Matth. xi. 30), that Christ’s yoke is easy, and his burthen light: nor that little children believe in him, as it is Matth. xviii. 6. Nor could St. Paul have said, (1 Cor. i. 21), It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe. Nor could St. Paul himself have been saved, much less have been so great a doctor of the Church so suddenly, that never perhaps thought of transubstantiation nor purgatory, nor many other articles now obtruded.
From formal and clear texts.
The fourth argument is taken from places express, and such as receive no controversy of interpretation; as first, John v. 39; Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they that testify of me. Our Saviour here speaketh of the Scriptures only of the Old Testament; for the Jews at that time could not search the Scriptures of the New Testament, which were not written. But the Old Testament hath nothing of Christ, but the marks by which men might know him when he came; as that he should descend from David; be born at Bethlehem, and of a Virgin; do great miracles, and the like. Therefore to believe that this Jesus was He, was sufficient to eternal life: but more than sufficient is not necessary; and consequently no other article is required. Again, (John xi. 26) Whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall not die eternally. Therefore to believe in Christ, is faith sufficient to eternal life; and consequently no more faith than that is necessary. But to believe in Jesus, and to believe that Jesus is the Christ, is all one, as appeareth in the verses immediately following. For when our Saviour (verse 26) had said to Martha, Believest thou this? she answereth (verse 27), Yea, Lord, I believe that thou art the Christ, theSon of God, which should come into the world. Therefore this article alone is faith sufficient to life eternal; and more than sufficient is not necessary. Thirdly, John xx. 31: These things are written that ye might believe, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name. There, to believe that Jesus is the Christ, is faith sufficient to the obtaining of life; and therefore no other article is necessary. Fourthly, 1 John iv. 2: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God. And 1 John v. 1: Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God. And verse 5, Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? Fifthly, Acts viii. 36, 37: See, saith the Eunuch, here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, if thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayst. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Therefore this article believed, Jesus is the Christ, is sufficient to baptism, that is to say, to our reception into the kingdom of God, and by consequence, only necessary. And generally in all places where our Saviour saith to any man, Thy faith hath saved thee, the cause he saith it, is some confession, which directly, or by consequence, implieth a belief, that Jesus is the Christ.
The last argument is from the places, where this article is made the foundation of faith: for he that holdeth the foundation, shall be saved. Which places are first, Matth. xxiv. 23, 24: If any man shall say unto you, Lo here is Christ, or there, believe it not; for there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs andwonders, &c. Here we see this article, Jesus is the Christ, must be held, though he that shall teach the contrary should do great miracles. The second place is, Gal. i. 8: Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you, than that we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. But the gospel which Paul, and the other apostles, preached, was only this article, that Jesus is the Christ: therefore for the belief of this article, we are to reject the authority of an angel from heaven; much more of any mortal man, if he teach the contrary. This is therefore the fundamental article of Christian faith. A third place is, 1 John, iv. 1, 2: Beloved, believe not every spirit: hereby ye shall know the Spirit of God; every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God. By which it is evident, that this article, is the measure and rule, by which to estimate and examine all other articles; and is therefore only fundamental. A fourth is Matth. xvi. 16, 18, where after St. Peter had professed this article, saying to our Saviour, Thou art Christ the Son of the living God, our Saviour answered, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; from whence I infer, that this article is that, on which all other doctrines of the Church are built, as on their foundation. A fifth is 1 Cor. iii. 11, 12, &c. Other foundation can no man lay, than that which is laid, Jesus is the Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire, and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall
From that it is the foundation of all other articles.
receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burnt, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire. Which words, being partly plain and easy to understand, and partly allegorical and difficult; out of that which is plain, may be inferred, that pastors that teach this foundation, that Jesus is the Christ, though they draw from it false consequences, which all men are sometimes subject to, they may nevertheless be saved; much more that they may be saved, who being no pastors, but hearers, believe that which is by their lawful pastors taught them. Therefore the belief of this article is sufficient; and by consequence, there is no other article of faith necessarily required to salvation.
Now for the part which is allegorical, as that the fire shall try every man’s work, and that they shall be saved, but so as by fire, or through fire, (for the original is διà πυρὸϛ,) it maketh nothing against this conclusion which I have drawn from the other words, that are plain. Nevertheless, because upon this place there hath been an argument taken, to prove the fire of purgatory, I will also here offer you my conjecture concerning the meaning of this trial of doctrines, and saving of men as by fire. The apostle here seemeth to allude to the words of the prophet Zechariah, (xiii. 8, 9), who speaking of the restoration of the kingdom of God, saith thus; Two parts therein shall be cut off, and die, but the third shall be left therein; and I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried; they shall call on the name of the Lord, and I will hear them. The day of judgment is the day of the restoration of the kingdom of God; and at that day it is, that St. Peter tells us (2 Pet. iii. 7, 10, 12) shall be the conflagration of the world, wherein the wicked shall perish; but the remnant which God will save, shall pass through that fire unhurt, and be therein, (as silver and gold are refined by the fire from their dross,) tried, and refined from their idolatry, and be made to call upon the name of the true God. Alluding whereto, St. Paul here saith, that the day, that is, the day of judgment, the great day of our Saviour’s coming to restore the kingdom of God in Israel, shall try every man’s doctrine, by judging which are gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; and then they that have built false consequences on the true foundation, shall see their doctrines condemned; nevertheless they themselves shall be saved, and pass unhurt through this universal fire, and live eternally, to call upon the name of the true and only God. In which sense there is nothing that accordeth not with the rest of Holy Scripture, or any glimpse of the fire of purgatory.
In what sense other articles may be called necessary.
But a man may here ask, whether it be not as necessary to salvation, to believe, that God is omnipotent; Creator of the world; that Jesus Christ is risen; and that all men else shall rise again from the dead at the last day; as to believe that Jesus is the Christ. To which I answer, they are; and so are many more articles: but they are such, as are contained in this one, and may be deduced from it, with more or less difficulty. For who is there that does not see, that they who believe Jesus to be the Son of the God of Israel, and that the Israelites had for God the Omnipotent Creator of all things, do therein also believe, that God is the Omnipotent Creator of all things? Or how can a man believe, that Jesus is the king that shall reign eternally, unless he believe him also risen again from the dead? For a dead man cannot exercise the office of a king. In sum, he that holdeth this foundation, Jesus is the Christ, holdeth expressly all that he seeth rightly deduced from it, and implicitly all that is consequent thereunto, though he have not skill enough to discern the consequence. And therefore it holdeth still good, that the belief of this one article is sufficient faith to obtain remission of sins to the penitent, and consequently to bring them into the kingdom of heaven.
That faith and obedience are both of them necessary to salvation.
Now that I have shown, that all the obedience required to salvation, consisteth in the will to obey the law of God, that is to say, in repentance; and all the faith required to the same, is comprehended in the belief of this article, Jesus is the Christ; I will further allege those places of the Gospel, that prove, that all that is necessary to salvation is contained in both these joined together. The men to whom St. Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, next after the ascension of our Saviour, asked him, and the rest of the apostles, saying, (Acts ii. 37), Men and brethren, what shall we do? To whom St. Peter answered (in the next verse) Repent, and be baptized every one of you, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Therefore repentance, and baptism, that is, believing that Jesus is the Christ, is all that is necessary to salvation. Again, our Saviour being asked by a certain ruler (Luke xviii. 18), What shall I do to inherit eternal life? answered, (verse 20) Thou knowest the commandments, do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honour thy father and thy mother. Which when he said he had observed, our Saviour added, (verse 22) Sell all thou hast, give it to the poor, and come and follow me: which was as much as to say, rely on me that am the king. Therefore to fulfil the law, and to believe that Jesus is the king, is all that is required to bring a man to eternal life. Thirdly, St. Paul saith (Rom. i. 17), The just shall live by faith; not every one, but the just; therefore faith and justice (that is, the will to be just, or repentance) are all that is necessary to life eternal. And (Mark i. 15) our Saviour preached, saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the evangile, that is, the good news that the Christ was come. There fore, to repent, and to believe that Jesus is the Christ, is all that is required to salvation.
What each of them contributes thereunto
Seeing then it is necessary that faith and obedience, implied in the word repentance, do both concur to our salvation; the question by which of the two we are justified, is impertinently disputed. Nevertheless, it will not be impertinent, to make manifest in what manner each of them contributes thereunto; and in what sense it is said, that we are to be justified by the one, and by the other. And first, if by righteousness be understood the justice of the works themselves, there is no man that can be saved; for there is none that hath not transgressed the law of God. And therefore when we are said to be justified by works, it is to be understood of the will, which God doth always accept for the work itself, as well in good, as in evil men. And in this sense only it is, that a man is called just, or unjust; and that his justice justifies him, that is, gives him the title, in God’s acceptation, of just; and renders him capable of living by his faith, which before he was not. So that justice justifies in that sense, in which to justify, is the same as that to denominate a man just; and not in the signification of discharging the law; whereby the punishment of his sins should be unjust.
But a man is then also said to be justified, when his plea, though in itself insufficient, is accepted; as when we plead our will, our endeavour to fulfil the law, and repent us of our failings, and God accepteth it for the performance itself. And because God accepteth not the will for the deed, but only in the faithful; it is therefore faith that makes good our plea; and in this sense it is, that faith only justifies. So that faith and obedience are both necessary to salvation; yet in several senses each of them is said to justify.
Obedience to God and to the civil sovereign not inconsistent, whether Christian, or infidel.Obedience to God and to the civil sovereign not inconsistent, whether Christian,
Having thus shown what is necessary to salvation; it is not hard to reconcile our obedience to God, with our obedience to the civil sovereign; who is either Christian, or infidel. If he be a Christian, he alloweth the belief of this article, that Jesus is the Christ; and of all the articles that are contained in, or are by evident consequence deduced from it: which is all the faith necessary to salvation. And because he is a sovereign, he requireth obedience to all his own, that is, to all the civil laws; in which also are contained all the laws of nature, that is all the laws of God: for besides the laws of nature, and the laws of the Church, which are part of the civil law, (for the Church that can make laws is the commonwealth), there be no other laws divine. Whosoever therefore obeyeth his Christian sovereign, is not thereby hindered, neither from believing, nor from obeying God. But suppose that a Christian king should from this foundation Jesus is the Christ, draw some false consequences, that is to say, make some superstructions of hay or stubble, and command the teaching of the same; yet seeing St. Paul says he shall be saved; much more shall he be saved, that teacheth them by his command; and much more yet, he that teaches not, but only believes his lawful teacher. And in case a subject be forbidden by the civil sovereign to profess some of those his opinions, upon what just ground can he disobey? Christian kings may err in deducing a consequence, but who shall judge? Shall a private man judge, when the question is of his own obedience? Or shall any man judge but he that is appointed thereto by the Church, that is, by the civil sovereign that representeth it? Or if the pope, or an apostle judge, may he not err in deducing of a consequence? Did not one of the two, St. Peter or St. Paul, err in a superstructure, when St. Paul withstood St. Peter to his face? There can therefore be no contradiction between the laws of God, and the laws of a Christian commonwealth.
And when the civil sovereign is an infidel, every one of his own subjects that resisteth him, sinneth against the laws of God, (for such are the laws of nature), and rejecteth the counsel of the apostles, that admonisheth all Christians to obey their princes, and all children and servants to obey their parents and masters in all things. And for their faith, it is internal, and invisible; they have the license that Naaman had, and need not put themselves into danger for it. But if they do, they ought to expect their reward in heaven, and not complain of their lawful sovereign; much less make war upon him. For he that is not glad of any just occasion of martyrdom, has not the faith he professeth, but pretends it only, to set some colour upon his own contumacy. But what infidel king is so unreasonable, as knowing he has a subject, that waiteth for the second coming of Christ, after the present world shall be burnt, and intendeth then to obey him, (which is the intent of believing that Jesus is the Christ,) and in the mean time thinketh himself bound to obey the laws of that infidel king, (which all Christians are obliged in conscience to do), to put to death or to persecute such a subject?
And thus much shall suffice, concerning the kingdom of God, and policy ecclesiastical. Wherein I pretend not to advance any position of my own, but only to show what are the consequences that seem to me deducible from the principles of Christian politics, (which are the holy Scriptures,) in confirmation of the power of civil sovereigns, and the duty of their subjects. And in the allegation of Scripture, I have endeavoured to avoid such texts as are of obscure or controverted interpretation; and to allege none, but in such sense as is most plain, and agreeable to the harmony and scope of the whole Bible; which was written for the re-establishment of the kingdom of God in Christ. For it is not the bare words, but the scope of the writer, that giveth the true light, by which any writing is to be interpreted; and they that insist upon single texts, without considering the main design, can derive nothing from them clearly; but rather by casting atoms of Scripture, as dust before men’s eyes, make every thing more obscure than it is; an ordinary artifice of those that seek not the truth, but their own advantage.
of THE KINGDOM OF DARKNESS.