De Officio Hominis Et Civis
Juxta Legem Naturalem
A German Calvinist, Pufendorf was the political
theorist of choice among American Puritans in the early 18th century.
It is evident that there are three sources of
man's knowledge of his duty, of what he is to do in this life because it
is right and of what his is to omit because it is wrong: 1) the light of
reason, 2) the civil laws, and 3) the particular revelation of the Divinity.
From the first flow the most common duties of a man, particularly those
which render him capable of society with other men; from the second flow
the duties of a man as a citizen living in a particular and definite state;
from the third, the duties of a Christian.
...From this it follows that as human jurisdiction
is concerned only with man's external actions and does not penetrate to
what is hidden in the heart1
and gives no external effect or sign, and consequently takes no account
of it, natural law too is largely concerned with forming men's external
actions. For moral theology, however, it is not enough to mold men's external
conduct to propriety. It's chief task is to conform the mind and its internal
motions to the will of God; and it condemns actions which seem externally
to be correct but which proceed from an impure heart. This also seems to
be the reason why there is less discussion in the Holy Scripture about
actions which are judged and penalized in the human court than about those
which in Seneca's words are "beyond the scope of the statutes." This is
very clear to those who have closely studied the precepts and virtues taught
by Scripture... It is on this basis that the true lines of distinction
between natural law as we teach it and moral theology become, in my opinion,
perfectly clear. And it also becomes clear that natural law is not at all
in conflict with the dogmas of true theology...
On Man's Duty to God, or on Natural
Of all the notions which everyone must hold about
God, the first is a settled conviction that God exists, that is, that there
really is a supreme and first being on whom this universe depends. This
has been most plainly demonstrated by philosophers from the subordination
of causes which must find an end in some first thing, from motion, from
reflection on the fabric of the universe, and by similar arguments. Claiming
not to understand these arguments is no excuse for atheism. For since this
conviction has been a constant possession of the whole human race, anyone
who wished to overthrow it would not only have to produce a solid refutation
of all the arguments which prove God's existence, but also come forth with
convincing reasons for his own position. At the same time, since the salvation
of the human race has been believed hitherto to depend on this conviction,
he would also have to show that atheism would be better for the human race
than to maintain a sound worship of God. Since this cannot be done, we
must heartily detest and severely punish the impiety of all who make any
attempt whatever to shatter that conviction.
The second notion is that God is the Creator of
this universe. For since it is self-evident that all this world did not
come into existence of itself, it must have a cause and that cause is what
we call God.
On the Impulsive Cause of Constituting
We must now investigate why men have not been
content with those first small associations, but have constituted large
associations which go by the name of states. For this is the basis from
which we must derive the justification of the duties which go with men's
Man is obviously an animal that loves himself
and his own advantage in the highest degree. It is undoubtedly therefore
necessary that in freely aspiring to civil society he has his eye on some
advantage coming to himself from it...
Therefore the true and principal cause why heads
of households abandoned their natural liberty and had recourse to the consitution
of states was to build protection around themselves against the evils that
threated man from man. For just as, after God, man may do more good for
his fellow-man than anything else, so he may do most harm. And they judge
rightly of evil men, and the remedy of that evil, who formulated the saying:
"Without courts of law, men would devour each other."
But after men had been brought into order by means
of states, and so could be safe from injuries from each other, the natural
consequence followed of a richer enjoyment of the benefits which tend to
come to man from his fellows; for example, the advantage that they are
steeped from their earliest years in more suitable habits of behaviour
and discover and develop the various skills by which human life has benn
improved and enriched.
This account of the origin of states does not
imply that civil authority is not rightly said to be of God. For God will
that all men practice natural law, but with the multiplication of mankind
such a horrid life was likely to ensue for men that there would scarcely
have been a place left for natural law. And therefore (since he who commands
the end is held also to command the necessary means to that end), God too,
is understood to have given prior command to the human race, mediated through
the dictates of reason, that when it had multiplied, states should be constituted,
which are so to speak brought to life by sovereign power. In the Holy Scriptures
too He expressly gives His approval to their order and assures the sanctity
of that order by special laws and so demonstrates His particular concern
On the Duty of Sovereigns
This is the general rule for sovereigns: the safety
of the people is the supreme law. For authority has been given to them
to achieve the end for which states were instituted. Princes must believe
that nothing is good for them privately which is not good for the state.
De Jure Naturae
Samuel Puffendorf (1672)
On the Sanctity of the Supreme
No sensible person doubts that it is wrong to
resist sovereigns so long as they stay within the limits of their authority.
For it is apparent from the end and character of sovereignty that there
should necessarily be conjoined with it an obligation not to resist, that
is, to obey without reluctance by doing or omitting that which it enjoins.
On the other hand, it is a subject of the greatest debate whether a supreme
sovereign, if he should order a subject to do something beyond what is
right, or threaten some kind of injury, would then also be sacrosanct that
the subject could in no way repel that injury by means of force.
Now a prince owes individual citizens permission
to enjoy the same right as others of their rank, as well as defense and
the administration of justice on their behalf, insofar as this can be done
while the state remains safe. If a prince does not provide these things
to individuals when the circumstances of the commonwealth lead them to
expect them, he surely does them an injury...
A prince can violate the duty of a man toward
single individuals in different ways. Consider, for instance, if he...
pollutes the bedchambers of others through his adulteries; if he harms
another's body, seizes his goods, or ruins him; if, at last, he takes the
life of an innocent person through sheer violence, by suborning false accusers,
or by getting judges (by means of promises) to hand down an unjust sentence,
and other similar things...
Here we suppose that since all authority conferred
upon someone is understood with the condition that the right of a superior
is preserved, the citizens... are therefore not bound by commands of the
civil sovereignty known to clash openly with the mandate of God...
A people can defend itself against the extreme
as well as unjust force of a prince, which defense, when it has succeeded,
is accompanied by freedom. This is because a master, in becoming an enemy,
seems himself to absolve a subject from any obligation toward himself,
so that the latter is thereafter not bound to return under the yoke even
if the former wishes to change his mind.
1. Explicated in Luther's On