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[SECTION 15][1]

[...] degenerated from that reason which distinguisheth men from beasts. Tho it may be fit to use some ceremonies, before a man be admitted to practice physick, or set up a trade, 'tis his own skill that makes him a doctor or an artificer, and others do but declare it. An ass will not leave his stupidity, tho he be covered with scarlet; and he that is by nature a slave, will be so still, tho a crown be put upon his head: and 'tis hard to imagine a more violent inversion of the laws of God and nature, than to raise him to the throne, whom nature intended for the chain; or to make them slaves to slaves, whom God hath endowed with the virtues required in kings. Nothing can be more preposterous, than to impute to God the frantick domination, which is often exercised by wicked, foolish and vile persons, over the wise, valiant, just and good; or to subject the best to the rage of the worst. If there be any family therefore in the world, that can by the law of God and nature, distinct from the ordinance of man, pretend to an hereditary right of dominion over any people, it must be one that never did, and never can produce any person that is not free from all the infirmities and vices that render him unable to exercise the sovereign power; and is endowed with all the virtues required to that end; or at least a promise from God, verified by experience, that the next in blood shall ever be able and fit for that work. But since we do not know that any such hath yet appeared in the world, we have no reason to believe that there is, or ever was any such; and consequently none upon whom God hath conferred the rights that cannot be exercised without them.

If there was no shadow of a paternal right in the institution of the kingdoms of Saul and David, there could be none in those that succeeded. Rehoboam could have no other, than from Solomon: When he reigned over two tribes, and Jeroboam over ten, 'tis not possible that both of them could be the next heir of their last common father Jacob; and 'tis absurd to say, that ought to be reputed, which is impossible: for our thoughts are ever to be guided by truth, or such an appearance of it, as doth persuade or convince us.

The same title of father is yet more ridiculously or odiously applied to the succeeding kings. Baasha had no other title to the crown, than by killing Nadab the son of Jeroboam, and destroying his family. Zimri purchased the same honour by the slaughter of Elah when he was drunk; and dealing with the house of Baasha, as he had done with that of Jeroboam. Zimri burning himself, transferred the same to Omri, as a reward for bringing him to that extremity. As Jehu was more fierce than these, he seems to have gained a more excellent recompence than any since Jeroboam, even a conditional promise of a perpetual kingdom; but falling from these glorious privileges, purchased by his zeal in killing two wicked kings, and above one hundred of their brethren, Shallum inherited them, by destroying Zechariah and all that remained of his race. This in plain English is no less than to say, that whosoever kills a king, and invades a crown, tho the act and means of accomplishing it be never so detestable, does thereby become father of his country, and heir of all the divine privileges annexed to that glorious inheritance. And tho I cannot tell whether such a doctrine be more sottish, monstrous or impious, I dare affirm, that if it were received, no king in the world could think himself safe in his throne for one day: They are already encompassed with many dangers; but lest pride, avarice, ambition, lust, rage, and all the vices that usually reign in the hearts of worldly men, should not be sufficient to invite them perpetually to disturb mankind, through the desire of gaining the power, riches and splendor that accompanies a crown, our author proposes to them the most sacred privileges, as a reward of the most execrable crimes. He that was stirred up only by the violence of his own nature, thought that a kingdom could never be bought at too dear a rate;

Pro regno velim
Patriam, penates, conjugem flammis dare:
Imperia precio quolibet constant bene
.
Senec. Theb.[2]

But if the sacred character of God's anointed or vicegerent, and father of a country, were added to the other advantages that follow the highest fortunes; the most modest and just men would be filled with fury, that they might attain to them. Nay, it may be, even the best would be the most forward in conspiring against such as reigned: They who could not be tempted with external pleasures, would be most in love with divine privileges; and since they should become the sacred ministers of God, if they succeeded, and traitors or rogues only if they miscarried, their only care would be so to lay their designs, that they might be surely executed. This is a doctrine worthy of Filmer's invention, and Heylyn's approbation; which being well weighed, will shew to all good and just kings how far they are obliged to those, who under pretence of advancing their authority, fill the minds of men with such notions as are so desperately pernicious to them.

[1] [Inferred from the running head on the next page of the first edition.]

[2] []


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