What force the supreme law hath over the king, even that
law of the people's safety, called "salus populi."
The law of the twelve tables is, salus populi, suprema lex. The
safety of the people is the supreme and cardinal law to which all laws are to
stoop. And that from these reasons: —
1. Originally: Because if the people be the first author,
fountain and efficient under God, of law and king, then their own safety must
be principally sought, and their safety must be far above the king, as the
safety of a cause, especially of an universal cause, such as is the people,
must be more than the safety of one, as Aristotle saith, (1. 3. polit., alias
l. 5,) ou0 mh/ti pefnki to\ me/roj u9pere/xwn tou~
panto\j  — "The part cannot be more
excellent than the whole;" nor the effect above the cause.
2. Finaliter. This supreme law must stand; for if all law,
policy, magistrates and power be referred to the people's good as the end,
(Rom. xiii. 4,) and to their quiet and peaceable life in godliness and honesty,
then must this law stand, as of more worth than the king, as the end is of more
worth than the means leading to the end, for the end is the measure and rule of
the goodness of the mean; and, finis ultimus in influxu est potentissimus,
the king is good, because he conduceth much for the safety of the people;
therefore, the safety of the people must be better.
3. By way of limitation: because no law in its letter hath force where
the safety of the subject is in hazard; and if law or king be destructive to
the people they are to be abolished. This is clear in a tyrant or a wicked
4. In the desires of the most holy: Moses, a prince, desired for the
safety of God's people, and rather than God should destroy his people, that his
name should be rased out of the book of life; and David saith, (1 Chron. xxi.
17,) "Let thine hand, I pray thee, O Lord my God, be on me, and on my father's
house; but not on thy people, that they should be plagued." This being a holy
desire of these two public spirits, the object must be in itself true, and the
safety of God's people and their happiness must be of more worth than the
salvation of Moses and the life of David and his father's house.
The Prelate (c. 16, p. 159) borroweth an answer to this — for he
hath none of his own — from Dr Ferne (sect. 7, p. 28): The safety of the
subjects is the prime end of the constitution of government; but it is not the
sole and adequate end of government in monarchy; for that is the safety of both
king and people. And it beseemeth the king to proportion his laws for their
good; and it becometh the people to proportion all their obedience, actions,
and endeavours for the safety, honour, and happiness of the king. It is
impossible the people can have safety when sovereignty is weakened.
Ans. — The Prelate would have the other half of the end, why
a king is set over a people, to be the safety and happiness of the king, as
well as the safety of the people. This is new logic indeed, that one and the
same thing should be the mean and the end. The question is, For what end is a
king made so happy as to be exalted king? The Prelate answereth, He is made
happy that he may be happy, and made a king that he may be made a king. Now, is
the king, as king, to intend this half end? that is, whether or no accepteth he
the burden of setting his head and shoulders under the crown, for this end,
that he may not only make the people happy, but also that he may make himself
rich and honourable above his brethren, and enrich himself? I believe not; but
that he feed the people of God; for if he intend himself, and his own honour,
it is the intention of the man who is king, and intentio operantis, but
it is not the intention of the king, as the king, or intentio operis.
The king, as a king, is formally and essentially the "minister of God for our
good," (Rom. xiii. 4; 1 Tim. ii. 2,) and cannot come under any notion as a
king, but as a mean, not as an end, nor as that which he is, to seek himself. I
conceive God did forbid this in the moulding of the first king. (Deut. xvii.
18, 19, 26.) He is a minister by office, and one who receiveth honour and wages
for this work, that, ex officio, he may feed his people. But the Prelate
saith, the people are to intend his riches and honour. I cannot say but the
people may intend to honour the king; but the question is not, whether the
people be to refer the king and his government as a mean to honour the
I conceive not. But that end which the people, in obeying the king, in
being ruled by him, may intend, is, (1 Tim. ii. 2,) "That under him they may
lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty." And God's end
in giving a king is the good and safety of his people.
P. Prelate (c. 16, p. 160). — To reason from the one part
and end of monarchical government — the safety of the subjects, to the
destruction and weakening of the other part of the end — the power of
sovereignty and the royal prerogative, is a caption a divisis. If the
king be not happy, and invested with the full power of a head, the body cannot
be well. By anti-monarchists, the people at the beginning were necessitated to
commit themselves, lives and fortunes, to the government of a king, because of
themselves they had not wisdom and power enough to do it; and therefore, they
enabled him with honour and power, without which, he could not do this, being
assured that he could not choose, but most earnestly and carefully endeavour
this end, to wit, his own and the people's happiness; therefore, the safety of
the people issueth from the safety of the king, as the life of the natural body
from the soul. "Weak government is near to anarchy. Puritans will not say,
Quovis modo esse, etiam pœnale, is better than non esse: the
Scripture saith the contrary; it were better for some never to have been born
than to be. Tyranny is better than no government.
Ans. 1. — He knows not sophisms of logic who calleth this
argument a divisis; for the king's honour is not the end of the king's
government. He should seek the safety of state and church, not himself; himself
is a private end, and a step to tyranny.
2. The Prelate lieth when he maketh us to reason from the safety of the
subject to the destruction, of the king. Ferne, Barclay, Grotius, taught the
hungry scholar to reason so. Where read he this? The people must be saved, that
is the supreme law, therefore, destroy the king. The devil and the Prelate both
shall not fasten this on us. But thus we reason: when the man who is the king
endeavoureth not the end of his royal place, but, through bad counsel, the
subversion of laws, religion, and bondage of the kingdom, the free estates are
to join with him for that end of safety, according as God hath made them heads
of tribes and princes of the people; and if the king refuse to join with them,
and will not do his duty, I see not how they are in conscience liberated before
God from doing their part.
3. If the P. Prelate call resisting the king by lawful defensive wars,
the destruction of the head, he speaketh with the mouth of one excommunicated
and delivered up to Satan.
4. We endeavour nothing more than the safety and happiness of the king,
as king; but his happiness is not to suffer him to destroy his subjects,
subvert religion, arm papists who have slaughtered above two hundred thousand
innocent protestants, only for the profession of that true religion which tho
king hath sworn to maintain. Not to rise in arms to help the king against these
were to gratify him as a man, but to be accessory to his soul's destruction as
5. That the royal prerogative is the end of a monarchy ordained by God,
neither Scripture, law, nor reason can admit.
6. The people are to intend the safety of other judges as well as the
king's. If parliaments be destroyed, whose it is to make laws and kings, the
people can neither be sale, free to serve Christ, nor happy.
7. It is a lie that people were necessitated at the beginning to commit
themselves to a king; for we read of no king while Nimrod arose: fathers of
families (who were not kings), and others, did govern till then.
8. It was not want of wisdom, (for in many, and in the people, there
must be more wisdom than in one man,) but rather corruption of nature and
reciprocation of injuries that created kings and other judges.
9. The king shall better compass his end, to wit, the safety of the
people, with limited power, (placent mediocria,) and with other judges
added to help him, (Num. ii. 14, 16; Deut. i. 12-15,) than to put in one man's
hand absolute power; for a sinful man's head cannot bear so much new wine, such
as exorbitant power is.
10: He is a base flatterer who saith, The king cannot choose, but
earnestly and carefully endeavour his own and the people's happiness; that is,
the king is an angel, and cannot sin and decline from the duties of a king. Of
the many kings of Judah and Israel, how many chose this? All the good kings
that have been may be written in a gold ring.
11. The people's safety dependeth indeed on the king, as a king and a
happy governor; but the people shall never be fattened to eat the wind of an
imaginary prerogative royal.
12. Weak government, that is, a king with a limited power, who hath more
power about his head than within his head, is a strong king, and far from
13. I know not what he meaneth, but his master Arminius's way and words
are here, for Arminians say, "That being in the
damned, eternally tormented, is no benefit; it were better they never had being
than to be eternally tormented;" and this they say to the defiance of the
doctrine of eternal reprobation, in which we teach, that though by accident,
and because of the damned's abuse of being and life, it were to them better not
to be, as is said of Judas, yet simpliciter comparing being with
non-being, and considering the eternity of miserable being in relation to the
absolute liberty of the Former of all things, who maketh use of the sinful
being of clay-vessels for the illustration of the glory of his justice and
power, (Rom. ix. 17, 22; 1 Pet. ii. 8; Jude v. 4,) it is a censuring of God and
his unsearchable wisdom, and a condemning of the Almighty of cruelty, (God
avert blasphemy of the unspotted and holy Majesty,) who, by Arminian grounds,
keepeth the damned in life and being, to be fuel eternally for Tophet, to
declare the glory of his justice. But the Prelate behoved to go out of his way
to salute and gratify a proclaimed enemy or free grace, Arminius, and hence he
would infer that the king, wanting his prerogative royal and fulness of
absolute power to do wickedly, is in a penal and miserable condition, and that
it were better for the king to be a tyrant, with absolute liberty to destroy
and save alive at his pleasure, as is said of a tyrant, (Dan. v. 19,) than to
be no king at all. And here consider a principle of royalists' court faith:
— 1. The king is no king, but a lame and miserable judge, if he have not
irresistible power to waste and destroy. 2. The king cannot be happy, nor the
people safe, nor can the king do good in saving the needy, except he have the
uncontrollable and unlimited power of a tyrant to crush the poor and needy, and
lay waste the mountain of the Lord's inheritance. Such court-ravens who feed
upon the souls of living kings, are more cruel than ravens and vultures, who
are but dead carcases.
Williams, bishop of Ossory, answereth to the maxim, Salus populi,
&c. "No wise king but will carefully provide for the people's safety,
because his safety and honour is included in theirs, his destruction in
theirs." And it is, saith Lipsius, egri animi proprium nihil diu pati.
Absalom was persuaded there was no justice in the land when he intendeth
rebellion; and the poor Prelate, following him, spendeth pages to prove that
goods, life, chastity, and fame, dependeth on the safety of the king, as the
breath of our nostrils, our nurse-father, our head, corner-stone, and judge (c.
17, 8, 18, 1). The reason why all disorder was in church and state was not
because there was no judge, no government; none can be so stupid as to imagine
that. But because, 1. They wanted the most excellent of governments, 2. Because
aristocracy was weakened so as there was no right. No doubt priests there were,
but (Hos. iv.) either they would not serve, or were over-awed. No doubt in
those days they had judges, but priests and judges were stoned by a rascally
multitude, and they were not able to rule; therefore it is most consonant to
Scripture to say, Salus regis suprema populi salus, the safety of the
king and his prerogative royal is the safest sanctuary for the people." So Hos.
iii. 4; Lament, ii. 9.
Ans. 1. — The question is not of the wisdom, but of the
power of the king, if it should be bounded by no law.
2. The flatterer may know, there be more foolish kings in the world than
wise, and that kings misled with idolatrous queens, and by name Ahab ruined
himself, and his posterity and kingdom.
3. The salvation and happiness of men standing in the exalting of
Christ's throne and the gospel, therefore every king and every man will exalt
the throne; and so let them have an uncontrollable power, without constraint of
law, to do what they list, and let no bounds be set to kings over subjects. By
this argument their own wisdom is a law to lead them to heaven.
4. It is not Absalom's mad malcontents in Britain, but there were really
no justice to protestants, — all indulgence to papists, popery,
Arminianism, — idolatry printed, preached, professed, rewarded by
authority, parliaments and church assemblies; the bulwarks of justice and
religion were denied, dissolved, crushed, &c.
5. That by a king he understandeth a monarch, (Judg. xvii.) and that
such a one as Saul, of absolute power, and not a judge, cannot be proved, for
there were no kings in Israel in the judges' days, — the government not
being changed till near the end of Samuel's government.
6. And that they had no judges, he saith, it is not imaginable. But I
rather believe God than the Prelate. Every one did what was right in his own
eyes, because there was none to put ill-doers to shame. Possibly the estates of
Israel governed some way for mere necessity, but wanting a supreme judge, which
they should have, they were loose; but this was not because where there is no
king, as P. P. would insinuate, there was no government, as is dear.
7. Of tempered and limited monarchy I think as honourably as the
Prelate, but that absolute and unlimited monarchy is more excellent than
aristocracy, I shall then believe when royalists shall prove such a government,
in so far as it is absolute, to be of God.
8. That aristocracy was now weakened I believe not, seeing God so highly
commendeth it, and calleth it his own reigning over his people. (1 Sam. viii.
7.) The weakening of it through abuse is not to a purpose, more than the abuse
9. No doubt, saith he, (Hos. iv.) they were priests and judges, but they
were over-awed, as they are now. I think he would say, (Hos. iii. 4,) otherwise
he citeth Scripture sleeping, that the priests of Antichrist be not only
over-awed, but out of the earth. I yield that the king be limited, not
over-awed, I think God's law and man's law alloweth.
10. The safety of the king, as king, is not only safety, but a blessing
to church and state, and therefore this P. Prelate and his fellows deserve to
be hanged before the sun, who have led him on a war to destroy him and his
protestant subjects. But the safety and flourishing of a king, in the exerases
of an arbitrary unlimited power against law and religion, and to the
destruction of his subjects, is not the safety of the people, nor the safety of
the king's soul, which these men, if they be the priests of the Lord, should
The Prelate cometh to refute the learned and worthy Observator. The
safety of the people is the supreme law, therefore the king is bound in duty to
promote all and every one of his subjects to all happiness. The Observator hath
no such inference, the king is bound to promote some of his subjects, even as
king, to a gallows, especially Irish rebels, and many bloody malignants. But
the Prelate will needs have God. rigorous (hallowed be his name) if it be so;
for it is impossible to the tenderest-hearted father to do so. Actual promotion
of all is impossible. That the king intend it of all his subjects, as good
subjects, by a throne established on righteousness and judgment is that which
the worthy Observator meaneth. Other things here are answered.
The sum of his second answer is a repetition of what he hath said. I
give my word, in a pamphlet of one hundred and ninety-four pages, I never saw
more idle repetitions of one thing twenty times before said; but (p. 168) he
saith, "The safety of the king and his subjects, in the moral notion, may be
esteemed morally the same, no less than the soul and the body make one personal
Ans. — This is strange logic. The king and his subjects are
ens per aggregationem, and the king, as king, hath one moral
subsistence, and the people another. Hath the father and the son, the master
and the servant, one moral subsistence? But the man speaketh of their
well-being, and then he must mean that our king's government — that was
not long ago, and is yet, to wit, the popery, Arminianism, idolatry, cutting
off men's ears and noses, banishing, imprisonment for speaking against popery,
arming of papists to slay protestants, pardoning the blood of Ireland, that I
fear, shall not be soon taken away, &c., — is identically the same
with the life, safety, and happiness of protestants. Then life and death,
justice and injustice, idolatry and sincere worship, are identically one, as
the soul of the Prelate and his body are one.
The third is but a repetition. The acts of royalty (saith the
Observator) are acts of duty and obligation, therefore, not acts of grace
properly so called; therefore we may not thank the king for a courtesy. This is
no consequence. What fathers do to children are acts of natural duty and of
natural grace, and yet children owe gratitude to parents, and subjects to good
kings, in a legal sense. No, but in way of courtesy only. The observator said,
the king is not a father to the whole collective body, and it is well said he
is son to them, and they his maker. Who made the king? Policy answereth, The
state made him, and divinity, God made him.
The Observator said well, the people's weakness is not the king's
strength. The Prelate saith, Amen. He said. That that perisheth not to the
king, which is granted to the people. The Prelate (p. 170) denieth, because,
what the king hath in trust from God, the king cannot make away to another, nor
can any take it from him without sacrilege.
Ans. — True indeed, if the king had royalty by immediate
trust and infusion by God, as Elias had the spirit of prophecy, that he cannot
make away. Royalists dream that God, immediately from heaven, now infuseth
faculty and right to crowns without any word of God. It is enough to make an
enthusiast leap up to the throne and kill kings. Judge if these fanatics be
favourers of kings. But if the king have royalty mediately, by the people's
free consent, from God, there is no reason but people give as much power, even
by ounce weights, (for power is strong wine and a great mocker,) as they know a
weak man's head will bear, and no more. Power is not an immediate inheritance
from heaven, but a birthright of the people borrowed from them; they may let it
out for their good, and resume it when a man is drunk with it. The man will
have it conscience on the king to fight and destroy his three kingdoms for a
dream, his prerogative above law. But the truth is, prelates do engage the
king, his house, honour, subjects, church, for their cursed mitres.
The Prelate (p. 172) vexeth the reader with repetitions, and saith, The
king must proportion his government to the safety of the people on the one
hand, and to his own safety and power on the other hand.
Ans. — What the king doth as king, he doeth it for the
happiness of his people. The king is a relative; yea, even his own happiness
that he seeketh, he is to refer to the good of God's people. He saith farther,
The safety of the people includeth the safety of the king, because the word
populus is so taken; which he proveth by a raw, sickly rabble of words,
stolen out of Passerat's dictionary. His father, the schoolmaster, may whip him
for frivolous etymologies.
This supreme law, saith the Prelate, (p. 175,) is not above the law of
prerogative royal, the highest law, nor is rex above lex. The
democracy of Rome had a supremacy above laws, to make and unmake laws; and will
they force this power on a monarch, to the destruction of sovereignty?
Ans. — This, which is stolen from Spalato, Barclay, Grotius,
and others, is easily answered. The supremacy of people is a law of nature's
self-preservation, above all positive laws, and above the king, and is to
regulate sovereignty, not to destroy it. If this supremacy of majesty was in
people before they have a king, then, 1. They lose it not by a voluntary choice
of a king; for a king is chosen for good, and not for the people's loss,
therefore, they must retain this power, in habit and potency, even when they
have a king. 2. Then supremacy of majesty is not a beam of divinity proper to a
king only. 3. Then the people, having royal sovereignty virtually in them,
make, and so unmake a king, — all which the Prelate denieth.
This supreme law (saith the Prelate, p. 176, begging it from Spalato,
Arnisæus, Grotius) advances the king, not the people; and the sense is,
the kingdom is really some time in such, a case that the sovereign most
exercise an arbitrary power, and not stand upon private men's interests, or
transgressing of laws made for the private good of individuals, but for the
preservation of itself, and the public, may break through all laws. This he
may, in the case when sudden foreign invasion threateneth ruin inevitably to
king and kingdom: a physician may rather cut a gangrened member than suffer the
whole body to perish. The dictator, in case of extreme dangers, (as Livy and
Dion. Halicarnast show us,) had power according to his own arbitrament, had a
sovereign commission in peace and war, of life, death, persons, &c., not
co-ordinate, not subordinate to any.
Ans. 1. — It is not an arbitrary power, but naturally tied
and fettered to this same supreme law, salus populi, the safety of the
people, that a king break through not the Law, but the letter of the law, for
the safety of the people; as the chirurgeon, not by any prerogative that he
hath above the art of chirurgery, but by necessity, cutteth off a gangrened
member. Thus it is not arbitrary to the king to save his people from ruin, but
by the strong and imperious law of the people's safety he doth it; for if he
did it not, he were a murderer of his people. 2. He is to stand upon
transgression of laws according to their genuine sense of the people's safety;
for good laws are not contrary one to another, though, when he breaketh through
the letter of the law, yet he breaketh not the law; for if twenty thousand
rebels invade Scotland, he is to command all to rise, though the formality of a
parliament cannot be had to indict the war, as our law provideth; but the king
doth not command all to rise and defend themselves by prerogative royal, proper
to him as king, and incommunicable to any but to himself.
1. There is no such din and noise to be made for a king and his
incommunicable prerogative; for .though the king were not at all, yea, though
he command the contrary, (as he did when he came against Scotland with an
English army,) the law of nature teacheth all to rise, without the king.
2. That the king command this as king, is not a particular positive law;
but he doth it as a man and a member of the kingdom. The law of nature (which
knoweth no dream of such a prerogative) forceth him to it, as every member is,
by nature's indictment, to care for the whole.
3. It is poor hungry skill in this new statist, (for so he nameth all
Scotland,) to say that any laws are made for private interests, and the good of
some individuals. Laws are not laws if they be not made for the safety of the
4. It is false that the king, in a public danger, is to care for himself
as a man, with the ruin and loss of any; yea, in a public calamity, a good
king, as David, is to desire he may die that the public may be saved, 2 Sam.
xxiv. 17; Exod. xxxii. 32. It is commended of all, that the emperor Otho, yea,
and Richard II. of England, as M. Speed saith (Hist. of England, p. 757,)
resigned their kingdoms to eschew the effusion of blood. The Prelate adviseth
the king to pass over all laws of nature, and slay thousands of innocents, and
destroy church and state of three kingdoms, for a straw, and supposed
1. Now, certainly, prerogative and absoluteness to do good and ill, must
be inferior to a law, the end whereof is the safety of the people. For David
willeth the pestilence may take him away, and so his prerogative, that the
people may be saved (2. Sam. xxiv. 17); for prerogative is cumulative to do
good, not privative to do ill; and so is but a mean to defend both the law and
2. Prerogative is either a power to do good or ill, or both. If the
first be said, it must be limited by the end and law for which it is ordained.
A mean is no farther a mean, but in so far as it conduceth to the end, the
safety of all. If the second be admitted, it is licence and tyranny, not power
from God. If the third be said, both reasons plead against this, that
prerogative should be the king's end in the present wars.
3. Prerogative being a power given by the mediation of the people; yea,
suppose (which is raise) that it were given immediately of God, yet it is not a
thing for which the king should raise, war against his subjects; for God will
ask no more of the king than he giveth to him. The Lord reapeth not where he
soweth not. If the militia, and other things, be ordered hitherto for the
holding off Irish and Spanish invasion by sea, and so for the good of the land,
seeing the king in his own person cannot make use of the militia, he is to
rejoice that his subjects are defended. The king cannot answer to God for the
justice of war on his part. It is not a case of conscience that the king should
shed blood for, to wit, because the under-officers are such men, and not others
of his choosing, seeing the kingdom is defended sufficiently except where
cavaliers destroy it. And to me this is an unanswerable argument, that the
cavaliers destroy not the kingdoms for this prerogative royal, as the principal
ground, but for a deeper design, even for that which was working by prelates
and malignants before the late troubles in both kingdoms.
4. The king is to intend the safety of his people, and the safety of the
king as a governor; but not as this king, and this man Charles, — that is
a selfish end. A king David is not to look to that; for when the people was
seeking his life and crown, he saith, (Psal. iii. 8,) "Thy blessing upon thy
people." He may care for, and intend that the king and government be safe; for
if the kingdom be destroyed, there cannot be a new kingdom and church on earth
again to serve God in that generation, (Psal. lxxxix. 47.) but they may easily
have a new king again; and so the satety of the one cannot in reason be
intended as a collateral end with the safety of the other; for there is no
imaginable comparison betwixt one man, with all his accidents of prerogative
and absoluteness, and three national churches and kingdoms. Better the king
weep for a childish trifle of a prerogative than that popery be erected, and
three kingdoms be destroyed by cavaliers for their own ends.
5. The dictator's power is, 1. A tact, and proveth not a point of
conscience. 2. His power was in an exigence of extreme danger of the
commonwealth. The P. Prelate pleadeih for a constant absoluteness above laws to
the kin or at all times, and that jure divino, 3. The dictator was the
people's creature; therefore the creator, the people, had that sovereignty over
him. 4. The dictator was not above a king; but the Romans ejected kings. 5. The
dictator's power was not to destroy a state: he might be, and was resisted; he
might be deposed.
P. Prelate (p. 177). — The safety of the people is pretended
as a law, that the Jews must put Christ to death, and that Saul spared
Ans. 1. — No shadow for either in the word of God. Caiaphas
prophecied, and knew not what he said; but that the Jews intended the salvation
of the elect, in killing Chnst, or that Saul intended a public good in sparing
Agag, snall be the Prelate's divinity, not mine. 2. What, howbeit many should
abuse this law of the people's safety, to wrong good kings, it ceaseth not
therefore to be a law, and licenceth not ill kings to place a tyrannical
prerogative above a just dictate of nature.
In the last chapter (c. 16) the Prelate hath no reasons, only he would
have kings holy, and this he proveth from Apocrypha books, because he is ebb in
Holy Scripture; but it is Romish holiness, as is clear, — 1. He must
preach something to himself, that the king adore a tree-altar. Thus kings must
be most reverend in their gestures (p. 182). 2. The king must hazard his sacred
life and three kingdoms, his crown, royal posterity, to preserve sacred things,
that is, anti-christian Romish idols, images, altars, ceremonies, idolatry,
popery. 4. He must, upon the same-pain, maintain sacred persons, that is,
greasy apostate prelates. The rest, I am weary to trouble the reader withall,
but know ex ungue leonem.
 Jac. Armini. Declar. Remonstrant. in
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