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the author’s preface - Samuel von Pufendorf, The Whole Duty of Man According to the Law of Nature 
The Whole Duty of Man According to the Law of Nature, trans. Andrew Tooke, ed. Ian Hunter and David Saunders, with Two Discourses and a Commentary by Jean Barbeyrac, trans. David Saunders (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003).
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the author’s preface
The Author’s Design.Had not the Custom which has so generally obtain’d among Learned Men, almost procured to it self the Force of a Law, it might seem altogether superfluous to premise a Word concerning the Reason of the * present Undertaking; the Thing it self plainly declaring my whole Design to be, the giving as short, and yet, if I mistake not, as plain and perspicuous a Compendium of the most material Articles of the Law of Nature, as was possible; and this, lest, if such as betake themselves to this Study should enter those vast Fields of Knowledge without having fully imbibed the Rudiments thereof, they should at first sight be terrified and confounded by the Copiousness and Difficulty of the Matters occurring therein. And, at the same time, it seems plainly a very expedient Work for the Publick, that the Minds, of Youth especially, should be early imbu’d with that Moral Learning, for which they will have such manifest Occasion, and so frequent Use, through the whole Course of their Lives.
And altho’ I have always looked upon it as a Work deserving no great Honour, † to Epitomize the larger Writings of others, and more especially one’s own; yet having thus done out of Submission to the commanding Authority of my Superiors, I hope no honest Man will blame me for having endeavoured hereby to improve the Understandings of Young Men more particularly; to whom so great Regard is to be had, that whatsoever Work is undertaken for their sakes, tho’ it may not be capable of great Acuteness or splendid Eloquence, yet it is not to be accounted unworthy of any Man’s Pains. Beside, that no Man, in his Wits, will deny, that these Principles thus laid down are more conducive to the understanding of all Laws in general, than any Elements of the Law Civil can be.
And this might have sufficed for the present; but I am minded by some, that it would not be improper to lay down some few Particulars, which will conduce much to a right Understanding of the Constitution of the Law of Nature, and for the better ascertaining its just Bounds and Limits. And this I have been the more ready to do, that I might on this occasion obviate the Pretences of some over-nice Gentlemen, who are apt to pass their squeamish Censures on this Sort of Learning, which in many Instances, is wholly separate from their Province.
Three Sciences by which Men come to a knowledge of their Duty.1Now ’tis very manifest, that Men derive the Knowledge of their Duty, and what is fit to be done, or to be avoided in this Life, as it were, from three Springs, or Fountain-Heads; to wit, From the Light of Nature; From the Laws and Constitutions of Countries; And from the special Revelation of Almighty God.
From the First of these proceed all those most common and ordinary Duties of a Man; more particularly those that constitute him a sociable Creature with the Rest of Mankind: From the Second are derived all the Duties of a Man, as he is a Member of any particular City or Common-wealth: 2 From the Third result all the Duties of a Christian Man.
And from hence proceed three distinct Sciences: The first of which is of the Law of Nature, common to all Nations; the second is of the Civil or Municipal Law peculiar to each Country, which is or may be as manifold and various as there are different States and Governments in the World; the third is Moral Divinity,3 as it is contra-distinct to that Part of Divinity, which is conversant in explaining the Articles of our Faith.
The difference between the Law of Nature, Civil Law and Moral Theology.Each of these Sciences hath a peculiar Way of proving their Maxims, according to their own Principles. The Law of Nature asserts, that this or that Thing ought to be done, because from right Reason it is concluded, that the same is necessary for the Preservation of Society amongst Men.
The fundamental Obligation we lie under to the Civil Law is, that the Legislative Power has enacted this or that Thing.4
The Obligation of Moral Divinity lies wholly in this; because God, in the Sacred Scripture, has so commanded.
The Maxims of these three Sciences in no wise opposite or contradictory to each other.Now, as the Civil Law presupposes the Law of Nature, as the more general Science; so if there be any thing contained in the Civil Law, wherein the Law of Nature is altogether silent, we must not therefore conclude, that the one is any ways repugnant to the other. In like manner, if in Moral Divinity some Things are delivered, as from Divine Revelation, which by our Reason we are not able to comprehend, and which on that Score are above the Reach of the Law of Nature; it would be very absurd from hence to set the one against the other, or to imagine that there is any real Inconsistency between these Sciences. On the other hand, in the Doctrine of the Law of Nature, if any things are to be presupposed, because so much may be inferred from Reason, they are not to be put in Opposition to those Things which the Holy Scripture on that Subject delivers with greater Clearness; but they are only to be taken in an abstracted Sense. Thus, for Example, from the Law of Nature, abstracted from the Account we receive thereof in Holy Writ, there may be formed an Idea of the Condition and State of the first Man, as he came into the World, only so far as is within the Comprehension of Human Reason. Now, * to set those Things in opposition to what is delivered in Sacred Writ concerning the same State, would be the greatest Folly and Madness in the World.
But as it is an easie Matter to reconcile the Civil Law with the Law of Nature; so it seems a little more difficult to set certain Bounds between the same Law of Nature and Moral Divinity, and to define in what Particulars chiefly they differ one from the other.
Upon this Subject I shall deliver my Opinion briefly, not with any Papal Authority, as if I was exempt from all Error by any peculiar Right or Priviledge, neither as one who pretends to any Enthusiastick Revelation; but only as being desirous to discharge that Province which I have undertaken, according to the best of my Ability. And, as I am willing to hear all Candid and Ingenuous Persons, who can inform me better; and am very ready to retract what I have said amiss; so I do not value those Pragmatical and Positive Censurers and Busie-bodies, who boldly concern themselves with Things which no ways belong to them: Of these Persons we have a very Ingenious Character given by Phaedrus:*They run about, says he, as mightily concerned; they are very busie even when they have nothing to do; they puff and blow without any occasion; they are uneasie to themselves, and troublesome to every body else.
The difference between the Law of Nature and Moral Theology.Now the Chief Distinction, whereby these Sciences are separated from one another, proceeds from the different Source or Spring whence each derives its Principles; and of which I have already discoursed. From whence it follows, if there be some things, which we are enjoined in Holy Writ either to do or forbear,1st. They differ in the Source from whence each derives its Principles. the Necessity whereof cannot be discover’d by Reason alone, they are to be looked upon as out of the Cognizance of the Law of Nature, and properly to appertain to Moral Divinity.
2d. Difference in the Manner whereby the Laws of them both are proposed.Moreover, in Divinity the Law is considered as it has the Divine Promise annexed to it, and with Relation to the Covenant between God and Man; from which Consideration the Law of Nature abstracts, because the other derives it self from a particular Revelation of God Almighty, and which Reason alone could not have found out.
3d. Difference in the End and Design of them both.But the greatest Difference between them is this; that the main End and Design of the Law of Nature is included within the Compass of † this Life only, and so thereby a Man is informed how he is to live in Society with the Rest of Mankind: But Moral Divinity instructs a Man how to live as a Christian; who is not only obliged to live honestly and virtuously in this World, but is besides in earnest Expectation of the Reward of his Piety after this Life; and therefore he has his Conversation in Heaven, but is here only as a Stranger and a Pilgrim. For although the Mind of Man does with very great Ardency pursue after Immortality, and is extremely averse to its own Destruction; and thence it was, that most of the Heathens had a strong Persuasion of the separate State of the Soul from the Body, and that then Good Men should be rewarded, and Evil Men punished; yet notwithstanding such a strong Assurance of the Certainty hereof, upon which the Mind of Man can firmly and entirely depend, is to be derived only from the Word of God. Hence it is that the Dictates of the Law of Nature are adapted only to Human Judicature, which does not extend it self beyond this Life; and it would be absurd in many respects to apply them to the Divine Forum, which concerns it self only about Theology.
4th Difference in respect to the Object of each of them.From whence that also follows, that, because Human Judicature regards only * the external Actions of Man, but can no ways reach the Inward Thoughts of the Mind, which do not discover themselves by any outward Signs or Effects; therefore the Law of Nature is for the most part exercised in forming the outward Actions of Men. But Moral Divinity does not content it self in regulating only the Exterior Actions; but is more peculiarly intent in forming the Mind, and its internal Motions, agreeable to the good Pleasure of the Divine Being; disallowing those very Actions, which outwardly look well enough, but proceed from an impure and corrupted Mind. And this seems to be the Reason why the Sacred Scripture doth not so frequently treat of those Actions, that are under certain Penalties by Human Laws, as it doth of those, which, as Seneca expresses it, * are out of the Reach of any such Constitutions. And this will manifestly appear to those, who shall carefully consider the Precepts and Virtues that are therein inculcated; altho’, as even those Christian Virtues do very much dispose the Minds of Men towards the maintaining of mutual Society; so likewise Moral Divinity does mightily promote the Practice of all the main Duties that are enjoyn’d us in our Civil Deportment: So that, † if you should observe any one behave himself like a restless and troublesome Member in the Common-wealth, you may fairly conclude, that the Christian Religion has made but a very slight Impression on that Person, and that it has taken no Root in his Heart.
And from these Particulars, I suppose, may be easily discovered; not only the certain Bounds and Limits which distinguish the Law of Nature, as we have defined it, from Moral Divinity; but it may likewise be concluded, that the Law of Nature is no way repugnant to the Maxims of sound Divinity; but is only to be abstracted from some particular Doctrines thereof,In regard to the Law of Nature we are to consider Man, in the depraved State he has been, since the first Transgression. which cannot be fathom’d by the Help of Reason alone. From whence also it necessarily follows, that in the Science of the Law of Nature, a Man should be now consider’d, as being deprav’d in his very Nature, and upon that Account, as a Creature, subject to many vile Inclinations: ‡ For although none can be so stupid as not to discover in himself many Evil and inordinate Affections, nevertheless, unless we were inform’d so much by Sacred Writ, it would not appear, that this Rebellion of the Will was occasioned by the first Man’s Transgression; and consequently, since the Law of Nature does not reach those Things which are above Reason, it would be very preposterous to derive it from the State of Man, as it was uncorrupt before the Fall; * especially since even the greatest Part of the Precepts of the Decalogue, as they are deliver’d in Negative Terms, do manifestly presuppose the deprav’d State of Man. Thus, for Example, in the First and Second Commandment, it seems to be supposed, that Mankind was naturally prone to the Belief of Polytheism and to Idolatry. For if you should consider Man in his Primitive State, wherein he had a clear and distinct Knowledge of the Deity, as it were by a peculiar Revelation; I do not see how it could ever enter into the Thoughts of such a one, to frame any Thing to himself to which he could pay Reverence, instead of, or together with, the true God; or to believe any Divinity to reside in that which his own Hands had form’d; therefore there was no Necessity of laying an Injunction upon him in Negative Terms, that he should not worship other Gods; but this Plain Affirmative Precept would have been sufficient; Thou shalt love, honour, and adore GOD, whom you know to have created both your self, and the whole Universe. And the same may be said of the Third Commandment: For why should it be forbidden, in a Negative Precept, to blaspheme God, to such a one who had at the same time a clear and perfect Understanding of his Bounty and Majesty; and who was actuated by no inordinate Affections, and whose Mind did chearfully acquiesce in that Condition, wherein he was placed by Almighty God? How could such a one be Guilty of so great Madness? But he needed only to have been admonish’d by this Affirmative Precept; That he should glorifie the Name of GOD. But it seems otherwise of the Fourth and Fifth Commandments; which, as they are Affirmative Precepts, neither do they necessarily presuppose the deprav’d State of Man, they may be admitted, Mankind being consider’d as under either Condition. But the thing is very manifest in relation to the other Commandments, which concern our Neighbour; for it would suffice plainly to have enjoyn’d Man, consider’d as he was first created by God, that he should love his Neighbour, whereto he was beforehand inclin’d by his own Nature. But how could the same Person be commanded, that he should not kill, when Death had not as yet fall’n on Mankind, which enter’d into the World upon the account of Sin? But now there is very great Need of such a Negative Command, when, instead of loving one another, there are stir’d up so great Feuds and Animosities among Men, that even a great Part of them is owing purely to Envy, or an inordinate Desire of invading what belongs to another; so that they make no scruple, not only of destroying those that are innocent, but even their Friends, and such as have done them signal Favours; and all this, forsooth, they are not asham’d to disguise under the specious Pretence of Religion and Conscience. In like manner, what Need was there expressly to forbid Adultery, among those married Persons, whose mutual Love was so ardent and sincere? Or, what Occasion was there to forbid Theft, when as yet Covetousness and Poverty were not known, nor did any Man think that properly his own, which might be useful or profitable to another? Or, to what purpose was it to forbid the bearing False Witness, when as yet there were not any to be found, who sought after Honour and Reputation to themselves, by Slandering and Aspersing others with false and groundless Calumnies? So that not unfitly, you may here apply the Saying of Tacitus,*Whilst no corrupt Desires deprav’d Mankind, the first Men liv’d without Sin and Wickedness, and therefore free from Restraint and Punishment; and whereas they coveted nothing but what was their due, they were barr’d from nothing by Fear.
Whether the Law of Nature would have been the same it is now, had Man continu’d in his State of Innocence.And these Things being rightly understood, may clear the way for removing this Doubt; * whether the Law was different, or the same, in the Primitive State of Nature, before the Fall? Where it may be briefly answer’d. That the most material Heads of the Law were the same in each State; but that many particular Precepts did vary, according to the Diversity of the Condition of Mankind; or rather, that the same Summary of the Law was explain’d by diverse, but not contrary Precepts; according to the different State of Man, by whom that Law was to be observ’d. Our Saviour reduced the Substance of the Law to two Heads: Love God, and Love thy Neighbour: To these the whole Law of Nature may be referr’d, as well in the Primitive, as in the Deprav’d State of Man; (unless that in the Primitive State there seems not any, or a very small Difference between the Law of Nature, and Moral Divinity.) For that Mutual Society, which we laid down as a Foundation to the Law of Nature, may very well be resolv’d into the Love of our Neighbour. But when † we descend to particular Precepts, there is indeed a very great Difference, both in relation to the Commands and Prohibitions.
And as to what concerns the Commands, there are many which have place in this State of Mankind, which seem not to have been necessary in the Primitive State: And that partly, because they presuppose such a Condition, as, ’tis not certain, could happen to that most happy State of Mankind; partly, because there can be no Notion of them, without admitting Misery and Death, which were unknown there: As for Instance, we are now enjoyn’d by the Precepts of the Law of Nature, not to deceive one another in Buying or Selling, not to make use of false Weights or Measures, to repay Money that is lent, at the appointed Time. But it is not yet evident, whether, if Mankind had continu’d without Sin, there would have been driven, any Trade and Commerce, as there is now in the World; or whether there would then have been any Occasion for the Use of Money. In like manner, if such Kind of Communities as are now adays, were not to be found in the State of Innocence, there would be then likewise no Occasion for those Laws which are presuppos’d as requisite for the well-ordering and Government of such Societies. We are also now commanded by the Law of Nature, To succour those that are in Want. To relieve those that are oppressed. To take care of Widows and Orphans. But it would be to no purpose to have inculcated these Precepts to those who were no ways subject to Misery, Poverty, and Death. The Law of Nature now enjoyns us, To forgive Injuries; and, To use our utmost Endeavours towards the promoting of Peace amongst all Mankind. Which would be unnecessary among those who never offended against the Laws of Mutual Society. And this too is very evident in the Prohibitory Precepts which relate to the Natural, not Positive, Law. For although every Command does virtually contain in it self a Prohibition of the opposite Vice; (as, for Instance, he that is commanded to love his Neighbour, is at the same time forbidden to do such Actions, as may any ways thwart or contradict his Duty of Love:) Yet it seems superfluous that these things should be ordain’d by express Commands, where there are no disorderly Inclinations to excite Men to the committing such Wrongs. For the Illustration of which, this may be taken notice of, that *Solon would by no Publick Law enact any Punishment for Parricides, because he thought that no Child could be guilty of so horrid an Impiety. In like manner we find an Account, in the † History of the West‐Indies, concerning the People of Nicaragua; that in their Laws no Punishment was appointed for those who should kill the Cacique, by which Name they call their Princes; because, say they, there can be no Subject, who would contrive or perpetrate so base an Action. I am afraid it may savour too much of Affectation to enlarge any farther in the Proof of what is in it self so clear and evident. Yet I shall add this one Example, fitted to the meanest Capacity. Suppose there are two Children, but of different Dispositions, committed to the Care of a certain Person: One of which is Modest and Bashful, taking great delight in his Studies; the other proves Unruly, and Surly; giving himself over more to loose Pleasures, than to Learning. Now the Duty of both these is the same, To follow their Studies; but the particular Precepts, proper to each, are different; for it is sufficient to advise the Former to what Kind of Studies he must apply himself, at what Time, and after what Manner they are to be follow’d: But as for the Other, he must be enjoyn’d under severe Penalties, not to Wander abroad, not to Game, not to sell his Books, not to get others to make his Exercises, not to play the good Fellow, not to run after Harlots. Now if any one should undertake, in a set Discourse, to declaim against these things to him of the contrary Temper, the Child might very well enjoyn him Silence, and bid him inculcate them to any Body else, rather than to him, who takes no Delight or Pleasure in such Practices. From whence I look upon it as manifest, that the Law of Nature would have a quite different Face, if we were to consider Man, as he was in his Primitive State of Innocence.
And now since the Bounds and Limits of this Science, whereby it is distinguish’d from Moral Divinity, are so clearly set down, it ought at least to have the same Priviledges with other Sciences, as the Civil Law, Physick, Natural Philosophy, and the Mathematicks; wherein if any Unskilful Person presume to meddle, assuming to himself the Quality of a Censor, without any Authority, he may fairly have that objected to him, which was formerly done by *Apelles to Megabyzus, who undertook to talk at random about the Art of Painting; Pray, said he, be silent, lest the Boys laugh at you, who pretend to talk of Matters you do not understand.
Now, upon the whole, I am content to submit to the Judgment of Discreet and Intelligent Persons; but as for Ignorant and Spiteful Detractors, ’tis better to leave ’em to themselves, to be punish’d by their own Folly and Malice; since according to the Ancient Proverb, The Ethiopian cannot change his Skin.
[*] Ann. 1673, published in Suedish a Year after his large Work.[Barbeyrac’s marginal note (a), p. xix.]
[†] See Julius Rondinus praef. ad Eris. Scand. in Postscripto & Comment. ad Pullum. Ven. Lips. p. 46, 47. [Barbeyrac’s note III.1, p. xxiii (relocated).]
[2.]Tooke’s struggle with Pufendorf’s political vocabulary begins here, with his choice of “City or Common-wealth” to translate civitas, which Pufendorf uses to signify the state. The republican terms “city,” “commonwealth,” and “civil society” were commonly used to translate civitas during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, even by Hobbes. Yet in the Introduction to his Leviathan (1651), Hobbes explicitly introduces “state” as the modern equivalent for civitas, and this usage was widespread in the second half of the century. Given its evident suitability for rendering Pufendorf’s nonrepublican conception of political authority, we may conjecture that Tooke remained unhappy with the Hobbesian or absolutist connotations of the term. In the event, he translates civitas using “state” on thirty-two occasions, otherwise having recourse to a battery of circumlocutions including “community” (59), “civil society” (23), “kingdom” (21), “nation” (14), and “society” (11), in addition to “city” (3) and “commonwealth” (20).
[3.]Tooke’s translation of Pufendorf’s theologia moralis or “moral theology.”
[4.]This the first sign that the editors of the 1716/35 edition were drawing on Barbeyrac’s translation to make subtle ideological revisions to Tooke’s. In Tooke’s first edition this sentence reads: “Of Civil Laws and Constitutions, the supreme Reason is the Will of the Law-giver,” which is much closer to Pufendorf’s original formulation in terms of what the legislator lays down (quia legislator ita constituit). In borrowing the phrase “legislative power” from Barbeyrac’s puissance législative, the editors make room for a parliamentary legislator.
[*] See L. N. N. l. II. c. 1. §8. c. 11. §2. Dissert. Acad. X. de statu Nat. §3. Eris. Scand. praef. Rondini Apol. advers. Indicem Novitat. §11, 12, 16. p. 20. seq. Specim. Controv. c. 3. §1, 3. & p. 20. c. 4. §16. p. 217, 258. sequ. Spicileg. Controv. c. 2. §1. 13, 15. c. 3. §1. p. 357, 380. sequ. Rondin. Dissert. Epist. §1. p. 396. & Postscript. ad Seckendorff. Puffendorf. Epist. ad Amic. Erid. p. 133. Comment. super Pullo Lips. Ven. p. 11, 16, 36, 44, 46, 52, 54.
Phaed. Lib. II. Fab. 5. [Barbeyrac’s note III.2, p. xxv.]
[†] It is true that Revelation has, beyond all doubt, asserted and given full Evidence of the Immortality of the Soul, and of the Certainty of Rewards and Punishments in the World to come: It is also certain, that the fundamental and distinguishing Principle of Moral Theology, is the Hope of a blessed Eternity, promised to those who direct their Lives by Gospel Precepts. However, we must not therefore take from the Law of Nature all Regard to a future Life: For we may, by the meer Light of Reason, proceed so far at least, as to discover, that it’s not improbable, that God will punish in another World, those who have wilfully violated the Law of Nature, and have thereupon suffered neither Human nor Divine Punishment in this Life; nay farther, that this Opinion is much more probable than the contrary one to it. If this be so, it is agreeable to the Laws of Prudence and good Sense, that no Man, for the sake of a short and transient Satisfaction, should expose himself even to a Possibility of being eternally miserable: And thus far the Fear of being punished in the Life to come; may very justly be said to appertain to the Sanction of the Law of Nature. See L. N. N. lib. 2. c. 3. §21. [This footnote (Barbeyrac’s, VI.1, p. xxvii) is the first advocating an important departure from Pufendorf’s conception of natural law. By insisting that the likelihood of divine punishment is open to reason and hence forms a part of natural law, Barbeyrac seeks to evade the restriction of natural law to “this life,” thereby undermining Pufendorf’s attempt to reconstruct natural law as a secular civil ethics. Their inclusion of this note suggests that the English editors were also seeking to maintain some sort of continuity between natural law and moral theology, civil and religious duties.]
[*] Eris. Scandic. Specim. Controvers. c. 4. §19. p. 262. Spicileg. c. 1. §20. p. 355, &c. c. 11. §10. p. 371. Epist. ad Amicos. p. 133.
[*] Quam angusta innocentia est ad legem bonum esse? Quanto latiùs Officiorum patet quam Juris Regula? Quàm multa Pietas, Humanitas, Liberalitas, Justitia, Fides exigunt, quae omnia extra Publicas Tabulas sunt? Seneca de Ira, lib. 2. cap. 27. [Barbeyrac’s note 1, p. xxix.]
[†] Dissert. Acad. IV. de Systemat Civit. §7. & IX. de Concord, verae polit, cum Relig. Christ.
[‡] Specim. Controv. c. 1. §2.
[*] Praefat. p. 3. ad Jur. Nat. & Gent. Postscript. Rondini ad Seckendorf. Apol. §28. Specim. Controv. c. 4. §12, 17. Spicileg. c. 11. §1, 5, 6, 8, 14. Comment. ad Ven. Lips. p. 37.
[*]Vetustissimi Mortalium, nullâ adhuc pravâ libidine, sine probro, et scelere, eoque sine poena aut coercitionibus agebant; & ubi nihil contra morem cuperent, nihil per metum vetabantur. Tacit. Annal. Lib. III. Cap. XXVI. [Barbeyrac’s note VIII.1, p. xxxiv.]
[*] Eris. Scandic. Specim. Contr. l. 4. §20. p. 263.
[†] Spicileg. c. 1. §17.
[*] Diog. Laert. lib. 1. §59. Edit. Amstelod. [Barbeyrac’s marginal note (a), p. xxxviii.]
[†] Franc, Lopez de Gomara, Hist. General. Ind. Occid. Cap. 207. [Barbeyrac’s marginal note (b), p. xxxviii.]
[*] Rather Zeuxis, Ael. V. H. II. 2. Plut. de. Adulat. [Barbeyrac’s marginal note (a), p. xl (abbreviated).]
These marginal subheadings in the Author’s Preface appear neither in Pufendorf’s text nor in Tooke’s original translation, having been borrowed from Barbeyrac by the editors of this edition.