Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter 6: Of the Law of Nature in General, Its Subject and Nature - An Elegant and Learned Discourse of the Light of Nature
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chapter 6: Of the Law of Nature in General, Its Subject and Nature - Nathaniel Culverwell, An Elegant and Learned Discourse of the Light of Nature 
An Elegant and Learned Discourse of the Light of Nature, ed. Robert A. Greene and Hugh MacCallum, foreword by Robert A. Greene (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001).
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Of the Law of Nature in General, Its Subject and Nature
The Law of Nature is that Law which is intrinsecal and essential to a rational creature; and such a Law is as necessary as such a creature, for such a creature as a creature has a superiour to whose Providence and disposing it must be subject, and then as an intellectual creature ’tis capable of a moral government, so that ’tis very suitable and connatural to it to be regulated by a Law; to be guided and commanded by one that is infinitely more wise and intelligent then it self is; and that mindes its welfare more then it self can. Insomuch that the most bright and eminent creatures, even angelical beings, and glorified souls are subject to a Law, though with such an happy priviledge, as that they cannot violate and transgresse it; whereas the very dregs of entity, the most ignoble beings are most incapable of a Law; for you know inanimate beings are carried on only with the vehemency and necessity of natural inclinations; nay, sensitive beings cannot reach or aspire to so great a perfection as to be wrought upon in such an illuminative way as a Law is; they are not drawn with these cords of men, with these moral ingagements, but in a more impulsive manner driven and spurred on with such impetuous propensions as are founded in matter; which yet are directed by the wise and vigilant eye, and by the powerful hand of a Providence to a more beautiful and amiable end, then they themselves were acquainted with. But yet the Lawyers, the Civilians would faine enlarge the Law of Nature, and would willingly perswade us that all sensitive creatures must be brought within the compasse of it; for this they tell us, Jus naturale est quod natura omnia animalia docuit, nam jus illud non solum Humani Generis est proprium, sed omnium animalium quae in terra marique nascuntur, avium quoque commune est1 [the natural law is that which nature has taught all animals, for that law is not confined to the human race, but is common to all animals that are begotten on land or in the sea, and also to birds]. Nay, they are so confident of it, as that they instance in several particulars, Maris & foeminae conjunctio, Liberorum procreatio, educatio, conservatio, Plurima in tutelam propriam facta, Apium respub. Columbarum conjugia2 [the union of male and female, the procreation, rearing and preservation of offspring, the great number of things done for self-protection, the common-wealth of bees, the marriages of doves]. But not only the Criticks, but the  Schoolmen also do sufficiently correct the Lawyers for this their vanity; for certainly these men mean to bring beasts, birds and fishes into their Courts, and to have some fees out of them. Perhaps they expect also that the Doves should take Licences before they marry: it may be they require of the beasts some penitential, or (which will suffice them) some pecuniary satisfaction for all their adulteries; or it may be the Pope will be so favourable, as to give his fellow-Beasts some dispensation for all their irregular and incongruous mixtures.
But yet notwithstanding, they prosecute this their notion, and go on to frame this difference between νομιμὸνἐθικὸν, &νομιμὸνφυσικὸν: Jus Gentium,&Jus Naturale. The Law of Nature (say they) is that which is common with men to irrational Creatures also; but the Law of Nations is only between men:3 but this distinction is built upon a very sandy bottome; what the true difference is we shall see hereafter. Now all that can be pleaded in the behalf of the Lawyers, is this, that they erre more in the word then in the reality. They cannot sufficiently clear this Title of a Law; for that there are some clear and visible stamps and impressions of Nature upon sensitive beings, will be easily granted them by all, and those instances which they bring, are so many ocular demonstrations of it; but that there should a formal obligation lie upon Brutes; that they should be bound to the performance of natural commands in a legal manner; that there should be a Νόμοςγραπτὸς4 [written law] upon them, ὥστεεἰ̑ναιἀναπολογήτους,5 so as that they should be left without excuse, and lie under palpable guilt, and be obnoxious to punishment for the violation of it, this they cannot possibly finde out, unlesse they could set up this Candle of the Lord in sensitive creatures also; whereas there are in them only some μιμήματατη̑ςἀνθρωπίνηςζωη̑ς6 as the Philosopher calls them, which the Oratour renders, virtutum simulacra,7 some apish imitations of reason, some shadows of morality, some counterfeit Ethicks, some wilde Oeconomicks, some faint representations of Politicks amongst some of them. Yet all this while they are as farre distant from the truth of a Law, as they are from the strength of Reason. There you may see some sparks of the divine power and goodnesse, but you cannot see the Candle of the Lord. Now these men might have considered if they had pleased, that as for the prints and foot-steps of Nature, some of them may be seen in every being. For Nature has stampt all entity with the same seal, some softer beings took the impression very kindly and clearly; some harder ones took it more obscurely.
Nature plaid so harmoniously and melodiously upon her Harp, as that her musick prov’d not only like that of Orpheus, which set only the sensitive creatures on dancing; but like that of Amphion, inanimate beings were elevated by it, even the very stones did knit and unite themselves to the building of the Universe.
 Shew me any being, if you can, that does not love its own welfare, that does not seek its own rest, its centre, its happinesse, that does not desire its own good οὑ̑πάνταἐφίεται8 [which all things desire], as he speaks; pick out an entity, if you can tell where, that does not long for the continuation and amplification, for the diffusion and spreading of its own being. Yet surely the Lawyers themselves cannot imagine that there is a Law given to all inanimate beings, or that they are accountable for the violation.
Let them also demurre awhile upon that argument which Suarez urges against them,9 that these sensitive creatures are totally defective in the most principal branches of the Law of Nature; as in the acknowledging of a Deity, in the adoring of a Deity, where is there the least adumbration of divine worship, in sensitive beings? What do they more then the heavens, which declare the glory of God; or the firmament, which shewes his handy work?10 Unlesse perhaps the Lawyers can finde not only a Common-wealth, but a Church also among the Bees; some Canonical obedience, some laudable ceremonies,11 some decency and conformity amongst them. We’ll only set some of the Poets to laugh the Lawyers out of this opinion; Old Hesiod tells them his minde very freely.
[For the son of Chronos has decreed this law for men, that fish and beasts and winged birds should devour each other, for justice is not in them; but he gave justice to men, which is by far the best.]
What are those Lawes that are observed by a rending and tearing Lion, by a devouring Leviathan? does the Wolf oppresse the Lamb by a Law? Can birds of prey shew any Commission for their plundering and violence? thus also that amorous Poet shews that these sensitive creatures, in respect of lust, are absolute Antinomians. For thus he brings in a wanton pleading.
[Other animals mate innocently, nor is it held base for a heifer to bear her sire; nor for his filly to be a horse’s mate; the goat enters in among the herd which he has sired, and the birds themselves conceive from those from whom they were conceived.]
And what though you meet with some ἅπαξλεγόμενα[exceptions], some rare patterns of sensitive temperance? a few scattered and uncertain stories will never evince that the whole heap and generality of brutes act according to a Law. You have heard it may be of a chaste Turtle, and did you never hear of a wanton Sparrow? It may be you have read some story of a modest Elephant, but what say you in the meane time to whole flocks of lascivious Goats? Yet grant that the several multitudes, all the species of these irrational creatures were all without spot and blemish in respect of their sensitive conversation, can any therefore fancy that they dresse themselves by the glasse of a Law? Is it not rather a faithfulnesse to their own natural inclinations? which yet may very justly condemne some of the sons of men, who though they have the Candle of the Lord, and the Lamp of his Law, yet they degenerate more then these inferiour beings, which have only some general dictates of Nature.
This is that motive with which the Satyrist quicken’d and awaken’d some of his time;
[We have drawn down from its heavenly seat that intelligence which grovelling and earth-gazing creatures lack; the Creator of both, at the beginning of time, gave to them life alone, to us a soul as well.]
A Law ’tis founded in intellectuals, in נשמח[reason] not in נפש15 [sense], it supposes a Noble and free-borne creature, for where there is no Liberty, there’s no Law, a Law being nothing else but a Rational restraint and limitation of absolute Liberty. Now all Liberty is Radicaliter in Intellectu[rooted in the intellect]; and such Creatures as have no light, have no choice, no Moral variety.
The first and supreme being has so full and infinite a liberty as cannot be bounded by a Law; and these low and slavish beings have not so much liberty as to make them capable of being bound. Inter Bruta silent leges16 [among brutes laws are silent]. There is no Turpe[base] nor Honestum[honourable] amongst them: no duty nor obedience to be expected from them, no praise or dispraise due to them, no punishment nor reward to be distributed amongst them.
 But as the learned Grotius does very well observe; Quoniam in bestias proprie delictum non cadit, ubi bestia occiditur ut in lege Mosis ob concubitum cum homine, non ea vere poena est, sed usus dominii humani in bestiam17 #x005B;since, to be precise, evil is not to be attributed to beasts, when a beast is killed according to the law of Moses as a consequence of cohabitation with a man, this is not a true punishment, but the exercise of human dominion over the beast]. For punishment in its formal notion is ἁμαρτήματοςἐκδίκησις18 [the avenging of a crime] (as the Greek Lawyers speak) or as the fore-mentioned Author describes it; ’Tis malum Passionis quod infligitur ob malum actionis19 [an evil of suffering which is inflicted because of the evil of action]. In all punishment there is to be some ἀντάλλαγμα&ἀμοιβὴ20 [exchange and requital], so that every Damnum or Incommodum[injury or inconvenience] is not to be esteem’d a punishment, unlesse it be in vindictam culpae21 [a satisfaction for guilt]. So as for those Lawes given to the Jewes, where sometimes the Beast also was to be put to death: the most renowned Selden gives a very full and satisfactory accompt of it out of the Jewish writings, and does clearly evidence that the meaning was not this, that the Beast was guilty of a crime, and had violated a Law, and therefore was to be condemned and put to death; but it was in order to the happinesse and welfare of men; for Bestia cum homine concumbens22 [the beast cohabiting with man] was to be ston’d: partly because it was the occasion of so foule a fact, and so fatal punishment unto man; and partly that the sight and presence of the object might not repeate so prodigious a crime in the thoughts of men, nor renew the memory of it, nor continue the disgrace of him that died for it. But there was another different reason in Bove cornupeta[in the case of the butting ox], for there, as Maimonides tells us, in his Moreh Nebachim,’twas ad poenam exigendam a Domino: the putting of that to death was a punishment to the owner, for not looking to it better;23 for I cannot at all consent to the fancy of the Jewes, which Josephus mentions; μηδ̕εἰςτροφὴνεὔχρηστοςεἰ̑ναικατηξιωμενός24 [that it was not considered useful for food]. Although the fore-named Critick give a better sense of it, then ’tis likely the Author ever intended: non in alimentum sumi debuit unde scilicet in Domini commodum cederet[the ox should not be taken for food since then it would yield a profit for the owner]: but how such an interpretation can be extracted out of εὔχρηστοςεἰςτροφὴν[useful for food] is not easily to be imagined; for those words of Josephus plainly imply, that the Jewes thought such an Oxe could not yield wholesome nourishment; or at the best, they look’t upon it as an unclean Beast, which was not to be eaten, which indeed was a fond and weak conceit of them, but they had many such, which yet the learned Author loves to excuse, out of his great favour and indulgence to them. Yet, which is very remarkable, if the Oxe had kill’d a Gentile, they did not put it to death. It seems it would yield wholesom nourishment for all that. But this we  are sure of, that as God does not take care for Oxen25 (which the acute Suarez does very well understand of Cura Legislativa26 [legislative care], for otherwise God hath a Providential care even of them) so neither does he take care for the punishment of Oxen, but ’tis written for his Israels sake, to whom he has subjected these creatures, and put them under their feet.
Neither yet can the proper end of a punishment agree to sensitive creatures; for all punishment is ἕνεκατου̑ἀγαθου̑[for the sake of the good], as Plato speakes; οὐκἕνεκατου̑κακουργήσαι, οὐγὰρτὸγεγονὸςἀγένητονἜσταιποτέ27 [it exists not for the sake of the evil deed, for what has once been done cannot be undone]. ’Tis not in the power of punishment to recal what is past, but to prevent what’s possible. And that wise Moralist Seneca does almost translate Plato verbatim; Nemo prudens punit quia peccatum est, sed ne peccetur: Revocari enim praeterita non possunt, futura prohibentur28 [No wise man punishes because a sin has been committed, but so that it may not be committed; for past evil cannot be recalled, but future evil may be prevented].
So that the end of all punishment is either in compensationem29 [compensation], which is κακου̑ἀνταπόδοσιςεἰςτὸτου̑τιμωρου̑ντοςσυμφέρονἀναφερομένη30 [a retribution for evil which benefits the avenger], ’Tis in utilitatem ejus contra quem peccatum est[for the advantage of the injured party]; or else ’tis in emendationem[for correction], and so in utilitatem peccantis[for the advantage of the transgressor]; in respect of which that elegant Moralist Plutarch stiles punishment ἰατρείανΨυχη̑ς31 [medical treatment of the soul], and Hierocles calls it ἰατρικὴνπονηρίας32 [medicine for wickedness]: or else it is in exemplum, in utilitatem aliorum;ἵναἄλλοιπρόνοιανποιω̑νταικαὶφοβω̑νται33 [for the sake of example, for the advantage of others; so that others may exercise foresight and be afraid], as the Greek Oratour speaks; the same which God speaks by Moses, that Israel may hear and fear:34 and thus punishment does παραδειγματίζειν35 [serve as an example].
But now none of these ends are applyable to sensitive creatures, for there is no more satisfaction to justice in inflicting an evill upon them, then there is in the ruining of inanimate beings, in demolishing of Cities or Temples for Idolatry; which is only for the good of them that can take notice of it; for otherwise as that grave Moralist Seneca has it, Quam stultum est his irasci, quae iram nostram nec meruerunt, nec sentiunt36 [how stupid it is to be angry with those inanimate objects which neither have deserved, nor feel, our anger]: No satisfaction to be had from such things as are not apprehensive of punishment. And therefore Annihilation, though a great evil, yet wants this sting and aggravation of a punishment, for a creature is not sensible of it.
Much lesse can you think that a punishment has any power to mend or meliorate sensitive beings, or to give example to others amongst them.
 By all this you see that amongst all irrational beings there is no ἀνομία[lawlessness], and therefore no ἁμαρτία[guilt], and therefore no πιμωρία[punishment]: from whence it also flows that the Law of Nature is built upon Reason.
There is some good so proportionable and nutrimental to the being of man, and some evil so venemous and destructive to his nature, as that the God of Nature does sufficiently antidote and fortifie him against the one, and does maintain and sweeten his essence with the other. There is so much harmony in some actions, as that the soul must needs dance at them, and there is such an harsh discord and jarring in others, as that the soul cannot endure them.
Therefore the learned Grotius does thus describe the Law of Nature; Jus naturale est dictatum Rectae Rationis, indicans, actui alicui, ex ejus convenientia vel disconvenientia cum ipsa natura Rationali, inesse Moralem turpitudinem, aut necessitatem Moralem; & consequenter ab Authore Naturae ipso Deo, talem actum aut vetari aut praecipi.37 Which I shall thus render; The Law of Nature is a streaming out of Light from the Candle of the Lord, powerfully discovering such a deformity in some evil, as that an intellectual eye must needs abhor it; and such a commanding beauty in some good, as that a rational being must needs be enamoured with it; and so plainly shewing that God stampt and seal’d the one with his command, and branded the other with his disliking.
Chrysostome makes mention of this Νόμοςφυσικὸς[natural law], and does very rhetorically enlarge himself upon it in his twelfth and thirteenth Orations περὶἈνδριάντων[Of Statues]; where he tells us, that it is αὐτοδίδακτοςἡγνω̑σιςτω̑νκαλω̑ν, καὶτω̑νοὐτοιούτων38 [an instinctive knowledge of good and of its opposite], a Radical and fundamental knowledge, planted in the being of man, budding and blossoming in first principles, flourishing and bringing forth fruit, spreading it self into all the faire and goodly branches of Morality, under the shadow of which the soul may sit with much complacency and delight. And as he poures out himself very fluently; οὐχρείατω̑νλόγων, οὐτω̑νδιδασκάλων, οὐτω̑νπόνων, οὐκαμάτων:39 There’s no need of Oratory to allure men to it, you need not heap up arguments to convince them of it: No need of an Interpreter to acquaint them with it: No need of the minds spinning, or toyling, or sweating for the attaining of it; it grows spontaneously, it bubbles up freely, it shines out cheerfully and pleasantly; it was so visible as that the most infant-age of the world could spell it out, and read it without a Teacher: οὐΜωυση̑ς, οὐπροφη̑ται, οὐδικασταὶ40 [without Moses, or the prophets, or the judges], as he goes on, ’twas long extant before Moses was born, long before Aaron rung his golden Bells, before there was a Prophet or a Judge in Israel. Men knew it οἴκοθενπαρὰτου̑συνειδότοςδιδαχθέντες41 [being taught inwardly by conscience]. They had a Bible of Gods own printing, they had this  Scripture of God within them. By this Candle of the Lord, Adam and Eve discovered their own folly and nakednesse; this Candle flamed in Cains conscience, and this Law was proclaimed in his heart with as much terror as ’twas publisht from Mount Sinai, which fill’d him with those furious reflections for his unnatural murder. Enoch when he walkt with God,42 walkt by this light, by this rule. Noah the Preacher of righteousnesse43 took this Law for his text. Nay, you may see some print of this Law upon the hard heart of a Pharoah, when he cries out, the Lord is righteous, but I and my people have sinned.44 Hence it was that God when he gave his Law afresh, gave it in such a compendious Brachygraphy; he wrote it as ’twere in Characters, οὐφονεύσεις, οὐμοιχεύσεις, οὐκλέψεις45 [thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal] without any explication, or amplification at all. He only enjoyned it with an Imperatorious brevity, he knows there was enough in the breasts of men to convince them of it, and to comment upon it, only in the second Command there is added an enforcement, because his people were excessively prone to the violation of it; and in that of the Sabbath there is given an exposition of it, because in all its circumstances it was not founded in Natural Light. So that in Plutarchs language the Decalogue would be call’d νόμοςσφυρήλατος46 [roughly hammered law], Gold in the lump, whereas other Law-givers use to beat it thinner. Of this Law as ’tis printed by Nature, Philo speaks very excellently; Νόμοςδ̕ἀψευδὴςὁὀρθὸςλόγος, οὐκὑπὸτου̑δει̑νοςἢτου̑δει̑νοςθνητου̑φθαρτὸςἐνχαρτιδίοιςἢστήλαιςἀψύχοις, ἀλλ̕ὑπ̕ἀθανάτουφύσεωςἄφθαρτοςἐνἀθανάτῳδιανοίατυπωθείς.47 Right Reason (saies he) is that fixt and unshaken Law, not writ in perishing paper by the hand or pen of a creature, nor graven like a dead letter upon livelesse and decaying Pillars, but written with the point of a Diamond, nay with the finger of God himself in the heart of man; a Deity gave it an Imprimatur; and an eternal Spirit grav’d it in an immortal minde. So as that I may borrow the expression of the Apostle, the minde of man is στύλοςκαὶἑδραίωματη̑ςἀληθείαςταύτης48 [the pillar and ground of this truth]. And I take it in the very same sense as ’tis to be took of the Church: ’Tis a Pillar of this Truth not to support it, but to hold it forth. Neither must I let slip a passage in Plutarch which is very neer of kin to this of Philo,ὁΝόμοςοὐκἐνβιβλίοιςἜξωγεγραμμένος, οὐδέτισιξύλοις, ἀλλ̕Ἔμψυχοςὢνἑαυτῳ̑λόγοςἀεὶσυνοικω̑νκαὶπαραφυλάττωνκαὶμηδέποτετὴνψυχὴνἐω̑νἜρημονἡγεμονίας.49 You may take it thus: This Royal Law of Nature was never shut up in a paper-prison, was never confin’d or limited to any outward surface; but it was bravely situated in the Centre of a Rational Being, alwayes keeping the Soul company, guarding it, and guiding it; Ruling all its Subjects, (every obedient Action) with a Scepter of Gold, and crushing in pieces all its enemies (breaking every rebellious Action) with a Rod of Iron. You may  hear the Lyrick singing out the praises of this Law in a very lofty straine; Νόμοςὁπάντωνβασιλεὺςθνατω̑ντεκαὶἀθανάτων, ὅυτοςἄγειβιαίωςτὸδικαιώτατονὑπερτάτᾳχειρὶ;50 This Law which is the Queen of Angelical and humane Beings does so rule and dispose of them, as to bring about Justice, with a most high and powerful, and yet with a most soft and delicate hand.
You may hear Plato excellently discoursing of it, whilest he brings in a Sophister disputing against Socrates, and such a one as would needs undertake to maintain this Principle, Ταυ̑ταἐναντίαἀλλήλοιςἐστὶνἥτεφύσιςκαὶὁνόμος:51 That there was an untunable antipathy between Nature and Law; that Lawes were nothing but hominum infirmiorum commenta[the fabrications of weaker men]; that this was Τὸλαμπρότατοντη̑ςφύσεωςδίκαιον, the most bright and eminent Justice of Nature, for men to rule according to Power, and according to no other Law: that ὁἰσχυρότερος[the stronger] was ὁκρείττων[the superior], and ὁβελτίων[the better]; that all other Lawes were παρὰφύσινἅπαντες[all contrary to nature]: Nay, he calls them cheatings and bewitchings, οὐκωδαὶἀλλ̕ἐπῳδαὶ, they come (saies he) like pleasant songs, when as they are meer charmes and incantations. But Socrates after he had stung this same Callicles with a few quick Interrogations, pours out presently a great deale of honey and sweetnesse, and plentifully shewes that most pleasant and conspiring harmony that is between Nature and Law. That there’s nothing more κατὰφύσιν[natural] then a Law, that Law is founded in Nature, that it is for the maintaining and ennobling and perfecting of Nature. Nay, as Plato tells us elsewhere, There’s no way for men to happinesse, unlesse they follow Τὰἴχνητω̑νλόγων;52 these steps of Reason, these foot-steps of Nature. This same Law Aristotle does more then once acknowledge, when he tells us of ΝόμοςἼδιος[private law] and Νόμοςκοινὸς[public law]; a Positive Law with him is a more private Law, καθ̕ὃνγεγραμμένονπολιτεύονται[according to the written form of which men govern themselves in society]; but Natures Law is a more publike and Catholike Law, ὅσαἄγραφαπαρὰπα̑σινὁμολογει̑σθαιδοκει̑53 [the unwritten laws which seem to be recognized by all], which he proves to be a very Sovereign and commanding Law, for thus he saies, ὁνόμοςἀναγκαστικὴνἜχειδύναμιν, λόγοςὢνὑπὸτινοςφρονήσεωςκαὶνου̑.54 The Law that is most filled with Reason must needs be most victorious and triumphant.
The same Philosopher in his tenth Book De Rep. has another distinction of Lawes; one branch whereof does plainly reach to the Law of Nature.
There are, saies he, Νόμοικατὰγράμματα[written laws], which are the same with those which he call’d ΝόμοιἼδιοι[private laws] before, and then there are ΝόμοικατὰτὰἜθη[moral laws], which are all one with that he stil’d before Νόμοςκοινός55 [public law]. Now, as he speaks, these Νόμοι κατὰτὰἜθη[moral laws] are κυρίωτεροι56 [more authoritative]; Lawes of the first  magnitude, of a Nobler Sphere, of a vaster and purer influence. Where you see also that he calls the Law of Nature, the Moral Law; and the same which the Apostle calls Νόμοςγραπτὸς[the written law], he with the rest of the Heathen calls it Ἄγραφανόμιμα57 [unwritten laws], couching the same sense in a seeming contradiction.
The Oratour has it expressely; Non scripta, sed nata lex58 [a law not written, but innate].
And amongst all the Heathen, I can meet with none that draws such a lively pourtraiture of the law of Nature as that Noble Oratour does.
You may hear him thus pleading for it: Nec si regnanta Tarquinio nulla erat scripta lex de stupris, &c.59 Grant, (saies he) that Rome were not for the present furnisht with a Positive Law able to check the lust and violence of a Tarquin; yet there was a Virgin-law of Nature, which he had also ravisht and deflour’d: there was the beaming out of an eternal Law, enough to revive a modest Lucretia, and to strike terror into the heart of so licentious a Prince: for as he goes on, Est quidem vera lex Recta Ratio, Naturae congruens, diffusa in omnes, constans, sempiterna; quae vocet ad officium jubendo, vetando a fraude deterreat; quae tamen Probos, neque frustra, jubet aut vetat, nec improbos jubendo aut vetando movet. Hinc Legi nec Propagari fas est, neque derogari ex hac aliquid licet. Neque tota abrogari potest. Nec vero aut per Senatum, aut per Populum solvi hac Lege possumus. Neque est quaerendus explanator, aut interpres ejus alius. Non erat alia Romae, alia Athenis: Alia nunc, alia posthac: sed & omnes gentes, omnitempore, Una Lex, & sempiterna & immutabilis continebit, unusque erit quasi communis magister & Legislator omnium Deus: Ille Legis hujus Inventor, Disceptator, Lator; Cui qui non parebit ipse se fugiet, & Naturam hominis aspernabitur; Hoc ipso licet maximas poenas, etiamsi caetera, quae putantur, effugerit.60
His meaning is not much different from this:
Right Reason is a beautiful Law; a Law of a pure complexion, of a natural colour, of a vast extent and diffusion; its colour never fades, never dies. It encourages men in obedience with a smile, it chides them and frowns them out of wickednesse. Good men heare the least whispering of its pleasant voice, they observe the least glance of its lovely eye; but wicked men sometimes will not heare it though it come to them in thunder; nor take the least notice of it, though it should flash out in lightning. None must inlarge the Phylacteries of this law, nor must any dare to prune off the least branch of it. Nay the malice of man cannot totally deface so indelible a beauty. No Pope, nor Prince, nor Parliament, nor People, nor Angel, nor Creature can absolve you from it. This Law never paints its face, it never changes its colour, it does not put on one Aspect at Athens and another face at Rome, but looks upon all Nations & persons with an impartial eye, it shines upon all ages and times, and conditions, with a perpetual  light, it is yesterday and today, the same for ever.61 There is but one Law-giver, one Lord and supreme Judge of this Law, God blessed for evermore.62 He was the contriver of it, the commander of it, the publisher of it, and none can be exempted from it, unlesse he will be banisht from his own essence, and be excommunicated from humane Nature.
This punishment would have sting enough, if he should avoid a thousand more that are due to so foul a transgression.
Thus you see that the Heathen, not only had this Νόμοςγραπτὸς63 [written law] upon them; but also they themselves took special notice of it, and the more refined sort amongst them could discourse very admirably about it, which must needs leave them the more inexcusable for the violation of it. We come now to see where the strength of the Law of Nature lies, where its nerves are, whence it has such an efficacious influence, such a binding vertue.
And I finde Vasquez somewhat singular, and withal erroneous in his opinion, whilest he goes about to shew that the formality of this Law consists only in that harmony and proportion, or else that discord and disconvenience, which such and such an object, and such and such an action has with a Rational Nature; for, saies he, every Essence is Mensura Boni & Mali64 [a measure of good and evil] in respect of it self.
Which, as he thinks, is plainly manifested and discovered also in corporal beings, which use to flie only from such things as are destructive to their own formes, and to embrace all such neighbourly and friendly beings as will close and comply with them. But he might easily have known that as these material beings were never yet so honoured, as to be judg’d capable of a Law; so neither can any naked Essence, though never so pure and noble, lay a Moral engagement upon it self, or binde its own being: for this would make the very same being superior to it self, as it gives a Law, and inferiour to it self, as it must obey it.
So that the most high and Sovereigne being even God himself, does not subject himself to any Law; though there be some Actions also most agreeable to his Nature, and others plainly inconsistent with it, yet they cannot amount to such a power, as to lay any obligation upon him, which should in the least Notion differ from the liberty of his own essence.
Thus also in the Common-wealth of humane Nature, that proportion which Actions bear to Reason, is indeed a sufficient foundation for a Law to build upon; but it is not the Law it self, nor a formal obligation.
Yet some of the School-men are extreme bold and vaine in their suppositions; so bold, as that I am ready to question whether it be best to repeate them; yet thus they say,
Si Deus non esset, vel si non uteretur Ratione, vel si non recte judicaret de Rebus, si tamen in homine idem esset dictamen Rectae rationis, quod nunc est, haberet etiameandem Rationem Legis quam nunc habet65 [if there were no God, or if He did not make use of reason, or if He did not judge rightly concerning things, if, nevertheless, there were in man the same direction of right reason which now exists, he would still have the same system of law which he now has].
But what are the goodly spoyles that these men expect, if they could break through such a croud of Repugnancies and impossibilities? the whole result and product of it will prove but a meer Cipher, for Reason as ’tis now does not binde in its own name, but in the name of its supreme Lord and Sovereigne, by whom Reason lives, and moves, and has its being.66
For if only a creature should binde it self to the observation of this Law, it must also inflict upon it self such a punishment as is answerable to the violation of it: but no such being would be willing or able to punish it self in so high a measure as such a transgression would meritoriously require; so that it must be accountable to some other Legislative power, which will vindicate its own commands, and will by this means ingage a Creature to be more mindeful of its own happinesse, then otherwise it would be.
For though some of the Gallanter Heathen can brave it out sometimes in an expression; that the very turpitude of such an action is punishment enough, and the very beauty of goodnesse is an abundant reward and compensation; yet we see that all this, and more then this, did not efficaciously prevaile with them for their due conformity and full obedience to Natures Law; such a single cord as this, will be easily broken.
Yet there is some truth in what they say, for thus much is visible and apparent, that there is such a Magnetical power in some good, as must needs allure and attract a Rational Being; there is such a native fairnesse, such an intrinsecal lovelinesse in some objects as does not depend upon an external command, but by its own worth must needs win upon the Soul: and there is such an inseparable deformity and malignity in some evill, as that Reason must needs loath it and abominate it.
Insomuch as that if there were no Law or Command, yet a Rational being of its own accord, out of meere love would espouse it self to such an amiable good, ’twould claspe and twine about such a precious object, and if there were not the least check or prohibition, yet in order to its own welfare, ’twould abhor and flie from some black evils, that spit out so much venome against its Nature.
This is that which the School-men meane, when they tell us, Quaedam sunt mala, quia prohibentur; sed alia prohibentur, quia sunt mala:67 that is, in Positive Lawes, whether Divine, or Humane; Acts are to be esteem’d evill upon this account, because they are forbidden; but in the Law of Nature such an evill was intimately and inevitably an evil, though it should not be forbidden.
Now that there are such Bona per se, and Mala per se, (as the Schools speak)  I shall thus demonstrate: Quod non est Malum per se potuit non prohiberi,68 for there is no reason imaginable why there should not be a possibility of not prohibiting that which is not absolutely evil, which is in its own nature indifferent.
But now there are some evils so excessively evil, so intolerably bad, as that they cannot but be forbidden; I shall only name this one; Odium Dei,69 for a Being to hate the Creatour and cause of its being, if it were possible for this not to be forbidden, it were possible for it to be lawful; for Ubi nulla Lex, ibi nulla praevaricatio:70 Where there’s no Law, there’s no Ἀνομία; where there’s no Rule, there’s no Anomaly; if there were no prohibition of this, ’twould not be sin to do it. But that to hate God should not be sin, does involve a whole heap of contradictions; so that this evill is so full of evill, as that it cannot but be forbidden; and therefore is an evil in order of Nature before the Prohibition of it. Besides, as the Philosophers love to speak, Essentiae rerum sunt immutabiles,71 Essences neither ebbe nor flow, but have in themselves a perpetual Unity and Identity: and all such properties as flow and bubble up from Beings, are constant and unvariable, but if they could be stopt in their motion, yet that state would be violent, and not at all connatural to such a subject.
So that grant only the being of man, and you cannot but grant this also, that there is such a constant conveniency and Analogy, which some objects have with its Essence, as that it cannot but encline to them, and that there is such an irreconcileable Disconvenience, such an Eternal Antipathy between it and other objects, as that it must cease to be what it is before it can come neer them.
This Suarez termes a Natural Obligation, and a just foundation for a Law;72 but now before all this can rise up to the height and perfection of a Law: there must come a Command from some Superiour Powers, from whence will spring a Moral obligation also, and make up the formality of a Law.
Therefore God himself, for the brightning of his own Glory, for the better regulating and tuning of the world; for the maintaining of such a choyce peece of his workmanship as man is, has publisht this his Royal command, and proclaim’d it by that Principle of Reason, which he has planted in the being of man: which does fully convince him of the righteousnesse, and goodnesse, and necessity of this Law, for the materials of it; and of the validity and authority of this Law, as it comes from the minde and will of his Creatour. Neither is it any eclipse or diminution of the Liberty of that first being to say that there is some evill so foul and ill-favour’d, as that it cannot but be forbidden by him; and that there is some good so fair and eminent, as that he cannot but command it.
For, as the Schoolmen observe, Divina voluntas, licet simpliciter libera sit ad extra, ex suppositione tamen unius Actus liberi, potest necessitari ad alium.73
Though the will of God be compleatly free in respect of all his looks and glances towards the Creature, yet notwithstanding upon the voluntary and free  precedency of one Act, we may justly conceive him necessitated to another, by vertue of that indissoluble connexion and concatenation between these two Acts, which does in a manner knit and unite them into one.
Thus God has an absolute liberty and choyce, whether he will make a promise or no, but if he has made it, he cannot but fulfil it. Thus he is perfectly free, whether he will reveal his minde or no, but if he will reveal it, he cannot but speak truth, and manifest it as it is.
God had the very same liberty whether he would create a world or no, but if he will create it, and keep it in its comelinesse and proportion, he must then have a vigilant and providential eye over it; and if he will provide for it, he cannot but have a perfect and indefective Providence agreeable to his own wisdome, and goodnesse, and being, so that if he will create such a being as Man; such a Rational Creature furnisht with sufficient knowledge to discern between some good and evill; and if he will supply it with a proportionable concourse in its operations, he cannot then but prohibit such acts as are intrinsecally prejudicial and detrimental to the being of it; neither can he but command such acts as are necessary to its preservation and welfare.
God therefore when from all eternity in his own glorious Thoughts he contriv’d the being of man, he did also with his piercing eye see into all conveniences and disconveniences, which would be in reference to such a being; and by his eternal Law did restrain and determine it to such acts as should be advantageous to it, which in his wise Oeconomy and dispensation, he publisht to man by the voyce of Reason, by the Mediation of this Natural Law.
Whence it is that every violation of this Law, is not only an injury to mans being, but ultra nativam rei malitiam74 [beyond the intrinsic evil of the thing], (as the Schools speak) ’tis also a vertual and interpretative contempt of that supreme Law-giver, who out of so much wisdome, love, and goodnesse did thus binde man to his own happinesse.
So much then as man does start aside and Apostatize from this Law, to so much misery and punishment does he expose himself.
Though it be not necessary that the Candle of nature should discover the full extent and measure of that punishment which is due to the breakers of this Law, for to the Nature of punishment, non requiritur ut praecognita sit poena, sed ut fiat actus Dignus tali poena75 [it is not necessary that the punishment should be foreknown, but that an act should be committed worthy of such punishment]. The Lawyers and the Schoolmen both will acknowledge this Principle.
For as Suarez has it, Sequitur reatus ex intrinseca conditione culpae, Ita ut licet poena per Legem non sit determinata, Arbitrio tamen competentis judicis puniri possit76 [responsibility follows from the intrinsic condition of guilt, so that even if the punishment were not determined by law, yet a crime could be punished in  accordance with the decision of a competent judge]. Yet the Light of Nature will reveal and disclose thus much: That a being totally dependent upon another, essentially subordinate and subject to it, must also be accountable to it for every provocation and rebellion: And for the violation of so good a Law, which he has set it, and for the sinning against such admirable Providence and justice as shines out upon it, must be liable to such a punishment, as that glorious Law-giver shall judge fit for such an offence; who is so full of justice, as that he cannot, and so great in goodnesse, as that he will not punish a Creature above its desert.