Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XLVII.: of the benefit that proceedeth from such darkness, and to whom it accrueth. - The English Works, vol. III (Leviathan)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
CHAPTER XLVII.: of the benefit that proceedeth from such darkness, and to whom it accrueth. - 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.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
of the benefit that proceedeth from such darkness, and to whom it accrueth.
He that receiveth benefit by a fact, is presumed to be the author
Cicero maketh honourable mention of one of the Cassii, a severe judge amongst the Romans, for a custom he had, in criminal causes, when the testimony of the witnesses was not sufficient, to ask the accusers, cui bono; that is to say, what profit, honour, or other contentment, the accused obtained, or expected by the fact. For amongst presumptions, there is none that so evidently declareth the author, as doth the benefit of the action. By the same rule I intend in this place to examine, who they may be that have possessed the people so long in this part of Christendom, with these doctrines, contrary to the peaceable societies of mankind.
That the Church militant is the kingdom of God, was first taught by the Churcn of Rome:
And first, to this error, that the present Church now militant on earth, is the kingdom of God, (that is, the kingdom of glory, or the land of promise; not the kingdom of grace, which is but a promise of the land), are annexed these worldly benefits; first, that the pastors and teachers of the Church, are entitled thereby, as God’s public ministers, to a right of governing the Church; and consequently, because the Church and commonwealth are the same persons, to be rectors, and governors of the commonwealth. By this title it is, that the Pope prevailed with the subjects of all Christian princes, to believe, that to disobey him, was to disobey Christ himself; and in all differences between him and other princes, (charmed with the word power spiritual), to abandon their lawful sovereigns; which is in effect an universal monarchy over all Christendom. For though they were first invested in the right of being supreme teachers of Christian doctrine, by and under Christian emperors, within the limits of the Roman empire, as is acknowledged by themselves, by the title of Pontifex Maximus, who was an officer subject to the civil state; yet after the empire was divided, and dissolved, it was not hard to obtrude upon the people already subjected to them, another title, namely, the right of St. Peter; not only to save entire their pretended power; but also to extend the same over the same Christian provinces, though no more united in the empire of Rome. This benefit of an universal monarchy, (considering the desire of men to bear rule), is a sufficient presumption, that the Popes that pretended to it, and for a long time enjoyed it, were the authors of the doctrine, by which it was obtained; namely, that the Church now on earth, is the kingdom of Christ. For that granted, it must be understood, that Christ hath some lieutenant amongst us, by whom we are to be told what are his commandments.
After that certain Churches had renounced this universal power of the Pope, one would expect in reason, that the civil sovereigns in all those Churches, should have recovered so much of it, as before they had unadvisedly let it go, was their own right, and in their own hands. And in England it was so in effect; saving that they, by whom the kings administered the government of religion, by maintaining their employment to be in God’s right, seemed to usurp, if not a supremacy, yet an independency on the civil power: and they but seemed to usurp it, inasmuch as they acknowledged a right in the king, to deprive them of the exercise of their functions at his pleasure.
And maintained also by the Presbytery.
But in those places where the presbytery took that office, though many other doctrines of the Church of Rome were forbidden to be taught; yet this doctrine, that the kingdom of Christ is already come, and that it began at the resurrection of our Saviour, was still retained. But cui bono? What profit did they expect from it? The same which the Popes expected: to have a sovereign power over the people. For what is it for men to excommunicate their lawful king, but to keep him from all places of God’s public service in his own kingdom; and with force to resist him, when he with force endeavoureth to correct them? Or what is it, without authority from the civil sovereign, to excommunicate any person, but to take from him his lawful liberty, that is, to usurp an unlawful power over their brethren? The authors therefore of this darkness in religion, are the Roman, and the presbyterian clergy.
To this head, I refer also all those doctrines, that serve them to keep the possession of this spiritual sovereignty after it is gotten, As first, that the Pope in his public capacity cannot err. For who is there, that believing this to be true, will not readily obey him in whatsoever he commands?
Subjection of bishops.
Secondly, that all other bishops, in what commonwealth soever, have not their right, neither immediately from God, nor mediately from their civil sovereigns, but from the Pope, is a doctrine, by which there comes to be in every Christian commonwealth many potent men, (for so are bishops), that have their dependance on the Pope, and owe obedience to him, though he be a foreign prince; by which means he is able, as he hath done many times, to raise a civil war against the state that submits not itself to be governed accordingly to his pleasure and interest.
Exemptions of the clergy.
Thirdly, the exemption of these, and of all other priests, and of all monks, and friars, from the power of the civil laws. For by this means, there is a great part of every commonwealth, that enjoy the benefit of the laws, and are protected by the power of the civil state, which nevertheless pay no part of the public expense; nor are liable to the penalties, as other subjects, due to their crimes; and consequently, stand not in fear of any man, but the Pope; and adhere to him only, to uphold his universal monarchy.
The names of sacerdotes, and sacrificers.
Fourthly, the giving to their priests, which is no more in the New Testament but presbyters, that is, elders, the name of sacerdotes, that is, sacrificers, which was the title of the civil sovereign, and his public ministers, amongst the Jews, whilst God was their king. Also, the making the Lord’s Supper a sacrifice, serveth to make the people believe the Pope hath the same power over all Christians, that Moses and Aaron had over the Jews; that is to say, all power, both civil and ecclesiastical, as the high-priest then had.
The sacramentation of marriage.
Fifthly, the teaching that matrimony is a sacrament, giveth to the clergy the judging of the lawfulness of marriages; and thereby, of what children are legitimate; and consequently, of the right of succession to hereditary kingdoms.
The single life of priests.
Sixthly, the denial of marriage to priests, serveth to assure this power of the Pope over kings. For if a king be a priest, he cannot marry, and transmit his kingdom to his posterity; if he be not a priest, then the Pope pretendeth this authority ecclesiastical over him, and over his people.
Seventhly, from auricular confession, they obtain, for the assurance of their power, better intelligence of the designs of princes, and great persons in the civil state, than these can have of the designs of the state ecclesiastical.
Canonization of saints, and declaring of martyrs.
Eighthly, by the canonization of saints, and declaring who are martyrs, they assure their power, in that they induce simple men into an obstinacy against the laws and commands of their civil sovereigns even to death, if by the Pope’s excommunication, they be declared heretics or enemies to the Church; that is, as they interpret it, to the Pope.
Transubstantiation, penance, absolution.
Ninthly, they assure the same, by the power they ascribe to every priest, of making Christ; and by the power of ordaining penance; and of remitting, and retaining of sins.
Purgatory, indulgences, external works.
Tenthly, by the doctrine of purgatory, of justification by external works, and of indulgences, the clergy is enriched.
Demonology and exorcism.
Eleventhly, by their demonology, and the use of exorcism, and other things appertaining thereto, they keep, or think they keep, the people more in awe of their power.
Lastly, the metaphysics, ethics, and politics of Aristotle, the frivolous distinctions, barbarous terms, and obscure language of the Schoolmen, taught in the universities, which have been all erected and regulated by the Pope’s authority, serve them to keep these errors from being detected, and to make men mistake the ignis fatuus of vain philosophy, for the light of the Gospel.
The authors of spiritual darkness, who they be.
To these, if they sufficed not, might be added other of their dark doctrines, the profit whereof redoundeth manifestly, to the setting up of an unlawful power over the lawful sovereigns of Christian people; or for the sustaining of the same, when it is set up; or to the worldly riches, honour, and authority of those that sustain it. And therefore by the aforesaid rule, of cui bono, we may justly pronounce for the authors of all this spiritual darkness, the Pope, and Roman clergy, and all those besides that endeavour to settle in the minds of men this erroneous doctrine, that the Church now on earth, is that kingdom of God mentioned in the Old and New Testament.
But the emperors, and other Christian sovereigns, under whose government these errors, and the like encroachments of ecclesiastics upon their office, at first crept in, to the disturbance of their possessions, and of the tranquillity of their subjects, though they suffered the same for want of foresight of the sequel, and of insight into the designs of their teachers, may nevertheless be esteemed accessories to their own, and the public damage. For without their authority there could at first no seditious doctrine have been publicly preached. I say they might have hindered the same in the beginning: but when the people were once possessed by those spiritual men, there was no human remedy to be applied, that any man could invent. And for the remedies that God should provide, who never faileth in his good time to destroy all the machinations of men against the truth, we are to attend his good pleasure, that suffereth many times the prosperity of his enemies, together with their ambition, to grow to such a height, as the violence thereof openeth the eyes, which the wariness of their predecessors had before sealed up, and makes men by too much grasping let go all, as Peter’s net was broken, by the struggling of too great a multitude of fishes; whereas the impatience of those, that strive to resist such encroachment, before their subjects’ eyes were opened, did but increase the power they resisted. I do not therefore blame the emperor Frederick for holding the stirrup to our countryman Pope Adrian; for such was the disposition of his subjects then, as if he had not done it, he was not likely to have succeeded in the empire. But I blame those, that in the beginning, when their power was entire, by suffering such doctrines to be forged in the universities of their own dominions, have holden the stirrup to all the succeeding Popes, whilst they mounted into the thrones of all Christian sovereigns, to ride, and tire, both them, and their people at their pleasure.
But as the inventions of men are woven, so also are they ravelled out; the way is the same, but the order is inverted. The web begins at the first elements of power, which are wisdom, humility, sincerity, and other virtues of the Apostles, whom the people, converted, obeyed out of reverence, not by obligation. Their consciences were free, and their words and actions subject to none but the civil power. Afterwards the presbyters, as the flocks of Christ increased, assembling to consider what they should teach, and thereby obliging themselves to teach nothing against the decrees of their assemblies, made it to be thought the people were thereby obliged to follow their doctrine, and when they refused, refused to keep them company, (that was then called excommunication), not as being infidels, but as being disobedient: and this was the first knot upon their liberty. And the number of presbyters increasing, the presbyters of the chief city or province, got themselves an authority over the parochial presbyters, and appropriated to themselves the names of bishops: and this was a second knot on Christian liberty. Lastly, the bishop of Rome, in regard of the imperial city, took upon him an authority, (partly by the wills of the emperors themselves, and by the title of Pontifex Maximus, and at last when the emperors were grown weak, by the privileges of St. Peter), over all other bishops of the empire: which was the third and last knot, and the whole synthesis and construction, of the pontificial power.
And therefore the analysis, or resolution, is by the same way; but beginneth with the knot that was last tied; as we may see in the dissolution of the præterpolitical Church government in England. First, the power of the Popes was dissolved totally by Queen Elizabeth; and the bishops, who before exercised their functions in right of the Pope, did afterwards exercise the same in right of the Queen and her successors; though by retaining the phrase of jure divino, they were thought to demand it by immediate right from God: and so was untied the third knot. After this, the presbyterians lately in England obtained the putting down of episcopacy: and so was the second knot dissolved. And almost at the same time, the power was taken also from the presbyterians: and so we are reduced to the independancy of the primitive Christians, to follow Paul, or Cephas, or Apollos, every man as he liketh best: which, if it be without contention, and without measuring the doctrine of Christ, by our affection to the person of his minister, (the fault which the apostle reprehended in the Corinthians), is perhaps the best. First, because there ought to be no power over the consciences of men, but of the Word itself, working faith in every one, not always according to the purpose of them that plant and water, but of God himself, that giveth the increase. And secondly, because it is unreasonable in them, who teach there is such danger in every little error, to require of a man endued with reason of his own, to follow the reason of any other man, or of the most voices of any other men, which is little better than to venture his salvation at cross and pile. Nor ought those teachers to be displeased with this loss of their ancient authority. For there is none should know better than they, that power is preserved by the same virtues by which it is acquired; that is to say, by wisdom, humility, clearness of doctrine, and sincerity of conversation; and not by suppression of the natural sciences, and of the morality of natural reason; nor by obscure language; nor by arrogating to themselves more knowledge than they make appear; nor by pious frauds; nor by such other faults, as in the pastors of God’s Church are not only faults, but also scandals, apt to make men stumble one time or other upon the suppression of their authority.
Comparison of the papacy with the kingdom of fairies.
But after this doctrine, that the Church now militant, is the kingdom of God spoken of in the Old and New Testament, was received in the world; the ambition, and canvassing for the offices that belong thereunto, and especially for that great office of being Christ’s lieutenant, and the pomp of them that obtained therein the principal public charges, became by degrees so evident, that they lost the inward reverence due to the pastoral function: insomuch as the wisest men, of them that had any power in the civil state, needed nothing but the authority of their princes, to deny them any further obedience. For, from the time that the Bishop of Rome had gotten to be acknowledged for bishop universal, by pretence of succession to St. Peter, their whole hierarchy, or kingdom of darkness, may be compared not unfitly to the kingdom of fairies; that is, to the old wives’ fables in England, concerning ghosts and spirits, and the feats they play in the night. And if a man consider the original of this great ecclesiastical dominion, he will easily perceive, that the Papacy is no other than the ghost of the deceased Roman empire, sitting crowned upon the grave thereof. For so did the Papacy start up on a sudden out of the ruins of that heathen power.
The language also, which they use, both in the churches, and in their public acts, being Latin, which is not commonly used by any nation now in the world, what is it but the ghost of the old Roman language?
The fairies in what nation soever they converse, have but one universal king, which some poets of ours call King Oberon; but the Scripture calls Beelzebub, prince of demons. The ecclesiastics likewise, in whose dominions soever they be found, acknowledge but one universal king, the Pope.
The ecclesiastics are spiritual men, and ghostly fathers. The fairies are spirits, and ghosts. Fairies and ghosts inhabit darkness, solitudes, and graves. The ecclesiastics walk in obscurity of doctrine, in monasteries, churches, and church-yards.
The ecclesiastics have their cathedral churches, which, in what town soever they be erected, by virtue of holy water, and certain charms called exorcisms, have the power to make those towns, cities, that is to say, seats of empire. The fairies also have their enchanted castles, and certain gigantic ghosts, that domineer over the regions round about them.
The fairies are not to be seized on; and brought to answer for the hurt they do. So also the ecclesiastics vanish away from the tribunals of civil justice.
The ecclesiastics take from young men the use of reason, by certain charms compounded of metaphysics, and miracles, and traditions, and abused Scripture, whereby they are good for nothing else, but to execute what they command them. The fairies likewise are said to take young children out of their cradles, and to change them into natural fools, which common people do therefore call elves, and are apt to mischief.
In what shop, or operatory the fairies make their enchantment, the old wives have not determined. But the operatories of the clergy are well enough known to be the universities, that received their discipline from authority pontificial.
When the fairies are displeased with any body, they are said to send their elves, to pinch them. The ecclesiastics, when they are displeased with any civil state, make also their elves, that is, superstitious, enchanted subjects, to pinch their princes, by preaching sedition; or one prince enchanted with promises, to pinch another.
The fairies marry not; but there be amongst them incubi, that have copulation with flesh and blood. The priests also marry not.
The ecclesiastics take the cream of the land, by donations of ignorant men, that stand in awe of them, and by tithes. So also it is in the fable of fairies, that they enter into the dairies, and feast upon the cream, which they skim from the milk.
What kind of money is current in the kingdom of fairies, is not recorded in the story. But the ecclesiastics in their receipts accept of the same money that we do; though when they are to make any payment, it is in canonizations, indulgencies, and masses.
To this, and such like resemblances between the papacy, and the kingdom of fairies, may be added this, that as the fairies have no existence, but in the fancies of ignorant people, rising from the traditions of old wives, or old poets: so the spiritual power of the Pope, without the bounds of his own civil dominion, consisteth only in the fear that seduced people stand in, of their excommunications; upon hearing of false miracles, false traditions, and false interpretations of the Scripture.
It was not therefore a very difficult matter, for Henry VIII by his exorcism; nor for queen Elizabeth by hers, to cast them out. But who knows that this spirit of Rome, now gone out, and walking by missions through the dry places of China, Japan, and the Indies, that yield him little fruit, may not return, or rather an assembly of spirits worse than he, enter, and inhabit this clean swept house, and make the end thereof worse than the beginning? For it is not the Roman clergy only, that pretends the kingdom of God to be of this world, and thereby to have a power therein, distinct from that of the civil state. And this is all I had a design to say, concerning the doctrine of the politics. Which when I have reviewed, I shall willingly expose it to the censure of my country.
A REVIEW, AND CONCLUSION.
Review, and conclusion.
From the contrariety of some of the natural faculties of the mind, one to another, as also of one passion to another, and from their reference to conversation, there has been an argument taken, to infer an impossibility that any one man should be sufficiently disposed to all sorts of civil duty. The severity of judgment, they say, makes men censorious, and unapt to pardon the errors and infirmities of other men: and on the other side, celerity of fancy, makes the thoughts less steady than is necessary, to discern exactly between right and wrong. Again, in all deliberations, and in all pleadings, the faculty of solid reasoning is necessary: for without it, the resolutions of men are rash, and their sentences unjust: and yet if there be not powerful eloquence, which procureth attention and consent, the effect of reason will be little. But these are contrary faculties; the former being grounded upon principles of truth; the other upon opinions already received, true or false; and upon the passions and interests of men, which are different, and mutable.
And amongst the passions, courage, (by which I mean the contempt of wounds, and violent death) inclineth men to private revenges, and sometimes to endeavour the unsettling of the public peace: and timorousness, many times disposeth to the desertion of the public defence. Both these, they say, cannot stand together in the same person.
And to consider the contrariety of men’s opinions, and manners, in general, it is, they say, impossible to entertain a constant civil amity with all those, with whom the business of the world constrains us to converse: which business consisteth almost in nothing else but a perpetual contention for honour, riches, and authority.
To which I answer, that these are indeed great difficulties, but not impossibilities: for by education, and discipline, they may be, and are sometimes reconciled. Judgment and fancy may have place in the same man; but by turns; as the end which he aimeth at requireth. As the Israelites in Egypt, were sometimes fastened to their labour of making bricks, and other times were ranging abroad to gather straw: so also may the judgment sometimes be fixed upon one certain consideration, and the fancy at another time wandering about the world. So also reason, and eloquence, though not perhaps in the natural sciences, yet, in the moral, may stand very well together. For wheresoever there is place for adorning and preferring of error, there is much more place for adorning and preferring of truth, if they have it to adorn. Nor is there any repugnancy between fearing the laws, and not fearing a public enemy; nor between abstaining from injury, and pardoning it in others. There is therefore no such inconsistence of human nature, with civil duties, as some think. I have known clearness of judgment, and largeness of fancy; strength of reason, and graceful elocution; a courage for the war, and a fear for the laws, and all eminently in one man; and that was my most noble and honoured friend, Mr. Sidney Godolphin; who hating no man, nor hated of any, was unfortunately slain in the beginning of the late civil war, in the public quarrel, by an undiscerned and an undiscerning hand.
To the Laws of Nature, declared in Chapter XV. I would have this added, that every man is bound by nature, as much as in him lieth, to protect in war the authority, by which he is himself protected in time of peace. For he that pretendeth a right of nature to preserve his own body, cannot pretend a right of nature to destroy him, by whose strength he is preserved: it is a manifest contradiction of himself. And though this law may be drawn by consequence, from some of those that are there already mentioned; yet the times require to have it inculcated, and remembered.
And because I find by divers English books lately printed, that the civil wars have not yet sufficiently taught men in what point of time it is, that a subject becomes obliged to the conqueror; nor what is conquest; nor how it comes about, that it obliges men to obey his laws: therefore for further satisfaction of men therein, I say, the point of time, wherein a man becomes subject to a conqueror, is that point, wherein having liberty to submit to him, he consenteth, either by express words, or by other sufficient sign, to be his subject. When it is that a man hath the liberty to submit, I have showed before in the end of Chapter XXI.; namely, that for him that hath no obligation to his former sovereign but that of an ordinary subject, it is then, when the means of his life are within the guards and garrisons of the enemy; for it is then, that he hath no longer protection from him, but is protected by the adverse party for his contribution. Seeing therefore such contribution is every where, as a thing inevitable, notwithstanding it be an assistance to the enemy, esteemed lawful; a total submission, which is but an assistance to the enemy, cannot be esteemed unlawful. Besides, if a man consider that they who submit, assist the enemy but with part of their estates, whereas they that refuse, assist him with the whole, there is no reason to call their submission, or composition, an assistance; but rather a detriment to the enemy. But if a man, besides the obligation of a subject, hath taken upon him a new obligation of a soldier, then he hath not the liberty to submit to a new power, as long as the old one keeps the field, and giveth him means of subsistence, either in his armies, or garrisons: for in this case, he cannot complain of want of protection, and means to live as a soldier. But when that also fails, a soldier also may seek his protection wheresoever he has most hope to have it; and may lawfully submit himself to his new master. And so much for the time when he may do it lawfully, if he will. If therefore he do it, he is undoubtedly bound to be a true subject: for a contract lawfully made, cannot lawfully be broken.
By this also a man may understand, when it is, that men may be said to be conquered; and in what the nature of conquest, and the right of a conqueror consisteth: for this submission in itself implieth them all. Conquest, is not the victory itself; but the acquisition, by victory, of a right over the persons of men. He therefore that s slain, is overcome, but not conquered: he that is taken, and put into prison, or chains, is not conquered, though overcome; for he is still an enemy, and may save himself if he can: but he that upon promise of obedience, hath his life and liberty allowed him, is then conquered, and a subject; and not before. The Romans used to say, that their general had pacified such a province, that is to say, in English, conquered it; and that the country was pacified by victory, when the people of it had promised imperata facere, that is, to do what the Roman people commanded them: this was to be conquered. But this promise may be either express, or tacit: express, by promise: tacit, by other signs. As for example, a man that hath not been called to make such an express promise, because he is one whose power perhaps is not considerable; yet if he live under their protection openly, he is understood to submit himself to the government: but if he live there secretly, he is liable to anything that may be done to a spy, and enemy of the state. I say not, he does any injustice; for acts of open hostility bear not that name; but that he may be justly put to death. Likewise, if a man, when his country is conquered, be out of it, he is not conquered, nor subject: but if at his return, he submit to the government, he is bound to obey it. So that conquest, to define it, is the acquiring of the right of sovereignty by victory. Which right, is acquired in the people’s submission, by which they contract with the victor, promising obedience, for life and liberty.
In Chapter XXIX, I have set down for one of the causes of the dissolutions of commonwealths, their imperfect generation, consisting in the want of an absolute and arbitrary legislative power; for want whereof, the civil sovereign is fain to handle the sword of justice unconstantly, and as if it were too hot for him to hold. One reason whereof, which I have not there mentioned, is this, that they will all of them justify the war, by which their power was at first gotten, and whereon, as they think, their right dependeth, and not on the possession. As if, for example, the right of the kings of England did depend on the goodness of the cause of William the Conqueror, and upon their lineal, and directest descent from him; by which means, there would perhaps be no tie of the subjects’ obedience to their sovereign at this day in all the world: wherein whilst they needlessly think to justify themselves, they justify all the successful rebellions that ambition shall at any time raise against them, and their successors. Therefore I put down for one of the most effectual seeds of the death of any state, that the conquerors require not only a submission of men’s actions to them for the future, but also an approbation of all their actions past; when there is scarce a commonwealth in the world, whose beginnings can in conscience be justified.
And because the name of tyranny, signifieth nothing more, nor less, than the name of sovereignty, be it in one, or many men, saving that they that use the former word, are understood to be angry with them they call tyrants; I think the toleration of a professed hatred of tyranny, is a toleration of hatred to commonwealth in general, and another evil seed, not differing much from the former. For to the justification of the cause of a conqueror, the reproach of the cause of the conquered, is for the most part necessary: but neither of them necessary for the obligation of the conquered. And thus much I have thought fit to say upon the review of the first and second part of this discourse.
In Chapter XXXV, I have sufficiently declared out of the Scripture, that in the commonwealth of the Jews, God himself was made the sovereign, by pact with the people; who were therefore called his peculiar people, to distinguish them from the rest of the world, over whom God reigned not by their consent, but by his own power: and that in this kingdom Moses was God’s lieutenant on earth; and that it was he that told them what laws God appointed them to be ruled by. But I have omitted to set down who were the officers appointed to do execution; especially in capital punishments; not then thinking it a matter of so necessary consideration, as I find it since. We know that generally in all commonwealths, the execution of corporal punishments, was either put upon the guards, or other soldiers of the sovereign power; or given to those, in whom want of means, contempt of honour, and hardness of heart, concurred, to make them sue for such an office. But amongst the Israelites it was a positive law of God their sovereign, that he that was convicted of a capital crime, should be stoned to death by the people; and that the witnesses should cast the first stone, and after the witnesses, then the rest of the people. This was a law that designed who were to be the executioners; but not that any one should throw a stone at him before conviction and sentence, where the congregation was judge. The witnesses were nevertheless to be heard before they proceeded to execution, unless the fact were committed in the presence of the congregation itself, or in sight of the lawful judges; for then there needed no other witnesses but the judges themselves. Nevertheless, this manner of proceeding being not thoroughly understood, hath given occasion to a dangerous opinion, that any man may kill another, in some cases, by a right of zeal; as if the executions done upon offenders in the kingdom of God in old time, proceeded not from the sovereign command, but from the authority of private zeal: which, if we consider the texts that seem to favour it, is quite contrary.
First, where the Levites fell upon the people, that had made and worshipped the Golden Calf, and slew three thousand of them; it was by the commandment of Moses, from the mouth of God; as is manifest, Exod. xxxii. 27. And when the son of a woman of Israel had blasphemed God, they that heard it, did not kill him, but brought him before Moses, who put him under custody, till God should give sentence against him; as appears, Levit. xxiv. 11, 12. Again, (Numb. xxv. 6, 7), when Phinehas killed Zimri and Cosbi, it was not by right of private zeal: their crime was committed in the sight of the assembly; there needed no witness; the law was known, and he the heir-apparent to the sovereignty; and, which is the principal point, the lawfulness of his act depended wholly upon a subsequent ratification by Moses, whereof he had no cause to doubt. And this presumption of a future ratification, is sometimes necessary to the safety of a commonwealth; as in a sudden rebellion, any man that can suppress it by his own power in the country where it begins, without express law or commission, may lawfully do it, and provide to have it ratified, or pardoned, whilst it is in doing, or after it is done. Also Numb. xxxv. 30, it is expressly said, Whosoever shall kill the murderer, shall kill him upon the word of witnesses: but witnesses suppose a formal judicature, and consequently condemn that pretence of jus zelotarum. The law of Moses concerning him that enticeth to idolatry, that is to say, in the kingdom of God to a renouncing of his allegiance, (Deut. xiii. 8, 9), forbids to conceal him, and commands the accuser to cause him to be put to death, and to cast the first stone at him; but not to kill him before he be condemned. And (Deut. xvii. 4, 5, 6, 7), the process against idolatry is exactly set down: for God there speaketh to the people, as judge, and commandeth them, when a man is accused of idolatry, to enquire diligently of the fact, and finding it true, then to stone him; but still the hand of the witness throweth the first stone. This is not private zeal, but public condemnation. In like manner when a father hath a rebellious son, the law is, (Deut. xxi. 18-21), that he shall bring him before the judges of the town, and all the people of the town shall stone him. Lastly, by pretence of these laws it was, that St. Stephen was stoned, and not by pretence of private zeal: for before he was carried away to execution, he had pleaded his cause before the high-priest. There is nothing in all this, nor in any other part of the Bible, to countenance executions by private zeal; which being oftentimes but a conjunction of ignorance and passion, is against both the justice and peace of a commonwealth.
In chapter XXXVI, I have said, that it is not declared in what manner God spake supernaturally to Moses: nor that he spake not to him sometimes by dreams and visions, and by a supernatural voice, as to other prophets: for the manner how he spake unto him from the mercy-seat, is expressly set down, Numbers vii. 89, in these words, From that time forward, when Moses entered into the Tabernacle of the congregation to speak with God, he heard a voice which spake unto him from over the mercy-seat, which is over the Ark of the testimony; from between the cherubims he spake unto him. But it is not declared in what consisteth the preeminence of the manner of God’s speaking to Moses, above that of his speaking to other prophets, as to Samuel, and to Abraham, to whom he also spake by a voice, (that is, by vision), unless the difference consist in the clearness of the vision. For face to face, and mouth to mouth, cannot be literally understood of the infiniteness, and incomprehensibility of the Divine nature.
And as to the whole doctrine, I see not yet, but the principles of it are true and proper; and the ratiocination solid. For I ground the civil right of sovereigns, and both the duty and liberty of subjects, upon the known natural inclinations of mankind, and upon the articles of the law of nature; of which no man, that pretends but reason enough to govern his private family, ought to be ignorant. And for the power ecclesiastical of the same sovereigns, I ground it on such texts, as are both evident in themselves, and consonant to the scope of the whole Scripture. And therefore am persuaded, that he that shall read it with a purpose only to be informed, shall be informed by it. But for those that by writing, or public discourse, or by their eminent actions, have already engaged themselves to the maintaining of contrary opinions, they will not be so easily satisfied. For in such cases, it is natural for men, at one and the same time, both to proceed in reading, and to lose their attention, in the search of objections to that they had read before. Of which in a time wherein the interests of men are changed, (seeing much of that doctrine, which serveth to the establishing of a new government, must needs be contrary to that which conduced to the dissolution of the old), there cannot choose but be very many.
In that part which treateth of a Christian commonwealth, there are some new doctrines, which, it may be, in a state where the contrary were already fully determined, were a fault for a subject without leave to divulge, as being an usurpation of the place of a teacher. But in this time, that men call not only for peace, but also for truth, to offer such doctrines as I think true, and that manifestly tend to peace and loyalty, to the consideration of those that are yet in deliberation, is no more, but to offer new wine, to be put into new casks, that both may be preserved together. And I suppose, that then, when novelty can breed no trouble nor disorder in a state, men are not generally so much inclined to the reverence of antiquity, as to prefer ancient errors, before new and well-proved truth.
There is nothing I distrust more than my elocution, which nevertheless I am confident, excepting the mischances of the press, is not obscure. That I have neglected the ornament of quoting ancient poets, orators, and philosophers, contrary to the custom of late time, whether I have done well or ill in it, proceedeth from my judgment, grounded on many reasons. For first, all truth of doctrine dependeth either upon reason, or upon Scripture; both which give credit to many, but never receive it from any writer. Secondly, the matters in question are not of fact, but of right, wherein there is no place for witnesses. There is scarce any of those old writers, that contradicteth not sometimes both himself and others; which makes their testimonies insufficient. Fourthly, such opinions as are taken only upon credit of antiquity, are not intrinsically the judgment of those that cite them, but words that pass, like gaping, from mouth to mouth. Fifthly, it is many times with a fraudulent design that men stick their corrupt doctrine with the cloves of other men’s wit. Sixthly, I find not that the ancients they cite, took it for an ornament, to do the like with those that wrote before them. Seventhly, it is an argument of indigestion, when Greek and Latin sentences unchewed come up again, as they use to do, unchanged. Lastly, though I reverence those men of ancient time, that either have written truth perspicuously, or set us in a better way to find it out ourselves; yet to the antiquity itself I think nothing due. For if we will reverence the age, the present is the oldest. If the antiquity of the writer, I am not sure, that generally they to whom such honour is given, were more ancient when they wrote, than I am that am writing. But if it be well considered, the praise of ancient authors, proceeds not from the reverence of the dead, but from the competition, and mutual envy of the living.
To conclude, there is nothing in this whole discourse, nor in that I writ before of the same subject in Latin, as far as I can perceive, contrary either to the Word of God, or to good manners; or to the disturbance of the public tranquility. Therefore I think it may be profitably printed, and more profitably taught in the Universities, in case they also think so, to whom the judgment of the same belongeth. For seeing the Universities are the fountains of civil and moral doctrine, from whence the preachers, and the gentry, drawing such water as they find, use to sprinkle the same (both from the pulpit and in their conversation), upon the people, there ought certainly to be great care taken, to have it pure, both from the venom of heathen politicians, and from the incantation of deceiving spirits. And by that means the most men, knowing their duties, will be the less subject to serve the ambition of a few discontented persons, in their purposes against the state; and be the less grieved with the contributions necessary for their peace, and defence; and the governors themselves have the less cause, to maintain at the common charge any greater army, than is necessary to make good the public liberty, against the invasions and encroachments of foreign enemies.
And thus I have brought to an end my Discourse of Civil and Ecclesiastical Government, occasioned by the disorders of the present time, without partiality, without application, and without other design than to set before men’s eyes the mutual relation between protection and obedience; of which the condition of human nature, and the laws divine, both natural and positive, require an inviolable observation. And though in the revolution of states, there can be no very good constellation for truths of this nature to be born under, (as having an angry aspect from the dissolvers of an old government, and seeing but the backs of them that erect a new), yet I cannot think it will be condemned at this time, either by the public judge of doctrine, or by any that desires the continuance of public peace. And in this hope I return to my interrupted speculation of bodies natural; wherein, if God give me health to finish it, I hope the novelty will as much please, as in the doctrine of this artificial body it useth to offend. For such truth, as opposeth no man’s profit, nor pleasure, is to all men welcome.
g. richards, printer, st. martin’s lane.
BOOKS PUBLISHED BY JOHN BOHN.
THE ENGLISH WORKS THOMAS HOBBES, OF MALMESBURY, NOW FIRST COLLECTED AND EDITED BY SIR WILLIAM MOLESWORTH, BART. M. P.
containing LOGIC: THE FIRST GROUNDS OF PHILOSOPHY: THE PROPORTIONS OF MOTIONS AND MAGNITUDES: AND PHYSICS, OR THE PHENOMENA OF NATURE:
also, THOMÆ HOBBES, MALMESBURIENSIS OPERA PHILOSOPHICA, QUÆ LATINE SCRIPSIT, OMNIA.
quo continentur AUCTORIS VITA: ET ELEMENTORUM PHILOSOPHIÆ.
SECTIO PRIMA, DE CORPORE.
“The philosophical Public are much indebted to Sir William Molesworth for this new edition.”
IN THE PRESS.
FIELD’S BOOK OF THE CHURCH; A NEW EDITION, WITH NOTES, by THE REV. JOHN S. BREWER.
THE DEATH OF DEMOSTHENES; A DRAMATIC POEM; BY GEORGE CROKER FOX, ESQ.
AN APOLOGY FOR CATHEDRAL SERVICE.
ARRIAN ON COURSING.
Translated from the Greek, with Classical and Practical Annotations, and a brief Sketch of the Life of the Author. To which is added an Appendix, containing some Account of the Canes Venatici of Classical Antiquity, royal 8vo. with 24 embellishments from the Antique, on India paper, extra boards, 1l. 11s. 6d.
BRYDGES’ (the Right Hon. Sir HARFORD JONES) WORKS ON PERSIA.
The Dynasty of the Kajars, translated from the original Persian Manuscript presented by His Majesty Faty Aly Shah to Sir Harford Jones Brydges, Bart. K.C. LLD. late Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary from his Britannic Majesty to the Court of Teheran. To which is prefixed, a succinct Account of the History of Persia previous to that Period, 8vo. with frontispiece and 3 maps, boards, 1l. 4s.
An Account of the Transactions of His Majesty’s Mission to the Court of Persia in the Years 1807-11, by Sir Harford Jones Brydges, Bart. To which is added a brief History of the Wahauby, 2 vols. 8vo. plates, bds. 1l. 1s.
DANSEY’S (Rev. Wm.) WORK ON RURAL DEANS.
Horæ Decanicæ Rurales, being an Attempt to illustrate, by a Series of Notes and Extracts, the Name and Title, the Origin, Appointment, and Functions of Rural Deans, &c. 2 vols. 4to. half-bound morocco, uncut, top edges gilt, 1l. 11s. 6d.Archdeacon Goddard, in his recent charge, strongly recommends this work to the attentive perusal of every clergyman.
HIGGINS’ (GODFREY) CELTIC DRUIDS;
Or an Attempt to show that the Druids were the Priests of Oriental Colonies, who emigrated from India, and were the Introducers of the first or Cadmean System of Letters, and the Builders of Stonehenge, of Carnac, and of other Cyclopean Works in Asia and Europe, 4to. map and numerous plates, bds. 3l.
Also, by the same Author, Anacalypsis, an Attempt to draw aside the Veil of the Saitic Isis; or an Inquiry into the Origin of Languages, Nations and Religions, 2 vols. 4to. plates, bds. 5l.
SEWELL’S (Rev. Professor) WORKS:
Essay on the Cultivation of the Intellect, by the Study of Dead Languages, crown 8vo. canvas boards, 9s.
Hora Philologica, or Conjectures of the Structure of the Greek Language, royal 8vo. boards, 7s.
Sermons on the Application of Christianity to the Human Heart, royal 8vo. canvas boards, 12s.
Parochial Sermons, 12mo. boards, 5s.
TAYLOR’S (Bp. JEREMY) WORKS, With Life by Bp. Heber, 15 vols. 8vo. bds. 7l. 17s. 6d.
THEATRE OF THE GREEKS.
A Series of Papers relating to the History and Criticism of the Greek Drama, 4th edition, with a new Introduction and other Alterations by J. W. Donaldson, 8vo. boards, 15s.
WOODVILLE’S (Dr. WILLIAM) MEDICAL BOTANY;
Third Edition, materially enlarged and improved by Professor Sir William Jackson Hooker, LLD. F.R.S. L.S. &c. and G. Spratt, Esq. 5 vols. 4to. 310 plates, engraved by Sowerby and Spratt, boards, 5l. 15s. 6d. or with the plates finely coloured, 8l.
The impression is limited to 250 copies. A few of the additional volume have been taken off separately, to accommodate Subscribers to former editions, price 2l. 2s. plains, or 2l. 12s. 6d. coloured.