Whether monarchy be the best of governments.
Nothing more unwillingly do I write than one word of this question. It
is a dark way; circumstances in fallen nature may make things best to be,
hic et nunc, evil, though to me it is probable, that monarchy in itself,
monarchy de jure, that is, lawful and limited monarchy is best, even
now, in a kingdom, under the fall of sin, if other circumstances be
But observe, I pray you, that Mr Syramons and this poor Prelate, do so
extol monarchy, that there is not a government save monarchy only, all other
governments are deviations; and therefore Mr Symmons saith, (p. 8,) "If I
should affect another government than monarchy, I should neither tear God nor
the king, but associate myself with the seditious;" and so the question of
monarchy is, — 1. Which is the choicest government in itself, or which is
the choicest government in policy, and in the condition of man fallen in the
state of sin? 2. Which is the best government, that is, the most profitable, or
the most pleasant, or the most honest? For we know that there be these three
kinds of good things, — things useful and profitable, bona utilia;
things pleasant, jucunda; things honest, honesta; and the
question may be of every one of the three. 3. The question may be, Which of
these governments be most agreeable to nature? That is, either to nature in
itself, as it agreeth communiter to all natures of elements, birds,
beasts, angels, men, to lead them, as a governor, doth to their last end; or,
Which government is most agreeable to men, to sinful men, to sinful men of this
or that nation? For some nations are more ambitious, some more factious; some
are better ruled by one, some better ruled by many, some by most and by the
people. 4. The question may be in regard of the facility or difficulty of
loving, fearing, obeying, and serving; and so it may be thought easier to love,
tear, and obey one monarch than many rulers, in respect that our Lord saith, it
is difficult to serve two masters, and possibly more difficult to serve twenty
or an hundred. 5. The question may be in regard of the power of commanding, or
of the justice and equity of commanding; hence from this last I shall set down
the first thesis.
Assert. 1. — An absolute and unlimited monarchy is not only
not the best form of government, but it is the worst, and this is against our
petty Prelate and all royalists. My reasons are these: — 1. Because it is
an unlawful ordinance, and God never ordained it; and I cannot ascribe the
superlative degree to anything of which I deny the positive. Absolute
government in a sinful and peaceable man is a wicked government, and not a
power from God, for God never gave a power to sin. Plenitude potestatis ad
malum et injuriam non extenditur. Sozenus Junior (cons. 65) in
causa occurrenti (l. 2). Ferdinand. Loazes in suo sons, pro
March. de Velez. (p. 54, n. 65), and so that learned senator,
Ferd. Vasquez (p. 1, l. 1, c. 5, n. 17). 2. It was better for the state that
Epiminondas could not sleep than that he could sleep, when the people were
dancing, because, said he, "I wake that you may have leave to sleep and be
secure;" for he was upon deep cogitations how to do good to the commonwealth
when the people were upon their pleasures; because all kings, since the fall of
the father, king Adam, are inclined to sin and injustice, and so had need to be
guided by a law, even because they are kings, so they remain men. Omnipotency
in one that can sin is a cursed power. With reason all our divines say, the
state of saving grace in the second Adam, where there is non posse deficere,
they cannot fall away from God, is better than the state of the first Adam,
where there was posse non deficere, a power not to fall away; and that
our free will is better in our country in heaven, where we cannot sin, than in
the way to our country, on earth, where we have a power to sin; and so God's
people is in a better case, (Hosea, ii. 6, 7,) "Where her power to overtake her
lovers is closed up with an hedge of thorns that she cannot find her paths;"
then the condition of Ephraim, of whom God saith, (Hosea, iv. 17,) "Ephraim is
joined to idols, let him alone." So cannot chat be a good government when the
supreme power is in a sinful man, as inclinable to injustice by nature as any
man, and more inclinable to injustice by the condition of his place than any;
and yet by office he is one that can do no injustice against his subjects; he
is a king, and so may destroy Uriah, kill his subjects, but cannot sin; and
this is, to flattering royalists, the best government in the world. As if an
unchained lion were the best governor, because unchained, to all the beasts,
sheep, and lambs, and all others, which with his teeth and paws he may reach,
and that by virtue of an ordinance of God. 3. What is one man under no
restraint, but made a god on earth, and so drunk with the grandeur of a
sinning-god, here under the moon and clouds? who may hear good counsel from men
of his own choosing, vet is under no restraint of law to follow it, being the
supreme power absolute, high, mighty, and an impeccable god on earth. Certainly
this man may more easily err, and break out in violent acts of injustice, than
a number of rulers, grave, wise, under a law. One being a sinful man, shall
sooner sin and turn a Nero (when he may go to hell, and lead thousands to hell
with him gratis) than a multitude of sinful men, who have less power to do
against law, and a tyrannous killing of innocents, and a subversion of laws,
liberties, and religion, by one who may, by office, and without resistance of
mortal men, do all ill, is more dangerous and hurtful than division and faction
incident to aristocracy. 4. Cæsar is great, but law and reason are
greater; by an absolute monarchy all things are ruled by will and pleasure
above law; then this government cannot be so good as law and reason in a
government by the best, or by many. 5. Under absolute monarchy, a free people
is, actu primo, and in themselves enslaved, because though the monarch,
so absolute, should kill all, he cannot be controlled; there is no more but
flight, prayers, and tears remaining; and what greater power hath a tyrant?
None at all, so may we say. An absolute monarch is, actu primo, a
sleeping lion, and a tyrant is a waking and a devouring lion, and they differ
in accidents only. 6. This is the papists' way. Bellarmine (de pontif.,
l. 1, c. 1), and Sanderus (de visibili Monarchia, l. 3, c.
3), Turrere (in sum de Eccles. l. 2, c. 2), prove that the
government of the church is by an absolute monarch and pope, because that is
the best government which yet is in question. So royalists prove commonwealths
must be best governed by absolute monarchs, because that is the best
government; but the law saith, it is contrary to nature, even though people
should paction to make a king absolute: Conventio procuratoria ad
dilapidandum et dissipandum juri naturali contraria nulla est, l. filius
15, de cond. Just. l. Nepos. procul 125, de verb. signif. l. 188,
ubi. de jure Regni l. 85, d. tit.
Assert. 2. — Monarchy in its latitude — as heaven, and
earth, and all the host therein, are citizens — is the best government
absolutely, because God's immediate government must be best; but that other
governments are good or best so far as they come near to this, must prove that
there is a monarchy in angels if there be a government and a monarchy amongst
fishes, beasts, birds, &c.; and that, if Adam had never sinned, there
should be one monarchy amongst all mankind. I profess I have no eye to see what
government could be in that state, but paternal, or marital; and, by this
reason, there should be one catholic emperor over all the kings of the earth; a
position held by some papists and interpreters of the cannon law, which maketh
all the princes of the earth to be usurpers, except those who acknowledge a
catholic dominion of the whole earth in the emperor, to whom they submit
themselves as vassals. If kings were gods and could not sin, and just, as
Solomon in the the beginning of his reign, and as David, I could say, monarchy
so limited must be better than aristocracy or democracy, 1. Because it is
farthest from injustice, nearest to peace and godliness. (M. l. 3,
sect. aparet. ff. de administrat. tutor. l. 2, sect. novissime, ff.
de orig. jur. Aristot. pol. l. 8, c. 10, Bodin. de Rep. l. 6,
c. 4.) 2. Because God ordained this government in his people. 3. By
experience it is known to be less obnoxious to change, except that some think
the Venetian commonwealth best; but, with reverence, I see small difference
between a king and the Duke of Venice.
Assert. 3. — Every government hath something wherein it is
best; monarchy is honourable and glorious-like before men; aristocracy, for
counsel, is surest; democracy for liberty, and possibly for riches and gain, is
best. Monarchy obtaineth its end with more conveniency, because the ship is
easier brought to land when one sitteth at the helm, than when ten move the
helm. We more easily fear, love, obey, and serve one than many. He can more
easily execute the laws.
Assert. 4. — A limited and mixed monarchy, such as is in
Scotland and England, seems to me the best government, when parliaments, with
the king, have the good of all the three. This government hath glory, order,
unity, from a monarch; from the government of the most and wisest, it hath
safety of counsel, stability, strength; from the influence of the commons, it
hath liberty, privileges, promptitude of obedience.
Obj. 1. — There is more power, terror, and love, in one than
Ans. — Not more power; terror cometh from sin, and so to
nature fallen in sin, in circumstances a monarchy is best.
Obj. 2. — It is more convenient to nature that one should be
lord than many.
Ans. — To sinless nature, true, as in a father to many
Obj. 3. — Monarchy, for invention of counsels, execution,
concealing of secrets, is above any other government.
Ans. — That is in some particulars, because sin hath brought
darkness on us; so are we all dull of invention, slow in execution, and by
reason of the falseness of men, silence is needful; but this is the accidentary
state of nature, and otherwise there is safety in a multitude of counsellors;
one commanding all, without following counsel, trusteth in his own heart, and
is a fool.
Obj. 4. — A monarch is above envy, because he hath no
Ans. — Granted; in many things a monarchy is more excellent,
but that is nothing to an absolute monarchy, for which royalists contend.
Obj. 5. — In a multitude there be more fools than wise men,
and a multitude of vices, and little virtue, is in many.
Ans. — Mere multitude cannot govern in either democracy or
aristocracy, for then all should be rulers, and none ruled, but many eyes see
more than one, — by accident one may see more than hundreds, but accidents
are not rules.
Obj. 6. — Monarchy is most perfect, because most opposite to
anarchy and most agreeable to nature, as is evident in plants, birds, bees.
Ans. — Government of sinless nature void of reason, as in
birds and bees, is weak to conclude politic civil government amongst men in
sin, and especially absolute government. A king-bee is not absolute, nor a
king-eagle, if either destroy its fellows, by nature all rise and destroy their
king. A king-bee doth not act by counsel borrowed from fellow-bees, as a king
must do, and communication of counsels lesseneth absoluteness of a man. I see
not how a monarchy is more opposite to anarchy and confusion than other
governments. A monarch, as one, is more opposite to a multitude, as many, but
there is no less order in aristocracy than in monarchy; for a government
essentially includeth order of commanding and subjection. Now, one is not, for
absoluteness, more contrary to anarchy than many; for that one now who can
easily slip from a king to a tyrant, cannot have a negative voice in acts of
justice, for then should he have a legal power to oppose justice, and so, for
his absoluteness, he should be most contrary to order of justice; and a
monarch, because absolute, should be a door-neighbour to disorder and
Obj. — But the parliament hath no power to deny their voices
to things just, or to cross the law of God, more than the king.
Ans. — It is true neither of them hath a negative voice
against law and reason, but if the monarch, by his exorbitant power, may deny
justice, he may, by that same legal power, do all injustice; and so there is no
absoluteness in either.
Obj. — Who should then punish and coerce the parliament in
the case of exorbitance?
Ans. — Posterior parliaments. Obj. — Posterior
parliaments and people may both err.
Ans. — All is true; God must remedy that only.
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