De Cive

by Thomas Hobbes

Chapter III.

Of the other Lawes of Nature

I. Another of the Lawes of Nature is, to performe Contracts, or to keep trust; for it hath been shewed in the foregoing Chapter that the Law of Nature commands every man, as a thing necessary, to obtain Peace; to conveigh certain rights from each to other, and that this (as often as it shall happen to be done) is called a Contract: But this is so farre forth onely conducible to peace, as we shall performe Our selves, what we contract with others, shall be done, or omitted; and in vaine would Contracts be made, unlesse we stood to them. Because therefore, to stand to our Covenants, Or to keep faith, is a thing necessary for the obtaining of peace, it will prove by the second Article of the second Chapter to be a precept of the naturall Law.

II. Neither is there in this matter, any exception of the persons, with whom we Contract, as if they keep no faith with others; Or hold, that none ought to be kept, or are guilty of any other kind of vice: for he that Contracts, in that he doth contract, denies that action to be in vaine, and it is against reason for a knowing man to doe a thing in vain; and if he think himself not bound to keep it, in thinking so, he affirms the Contract to be made in vain: He therefore, who Contracts with one with whom he thinks he is not bound to keep faith, he doth at once think a Contract to be a thing done in vaine, and not in vaine, which is absurd. Either therefore we must hold trust with all men, or else not bargain with them; that is, either there must be a declared Warre, Or a sure and faithfull Peace.

III. The breaking of a Bargain, as also the taking back of a gift, (which ever consists in some action, Or omission) is called an INJURY: But that action, or omission, is called unjust, insomuch as an injury, and an unjust action, or omission, signifie the same thing, and both are the same with breach of Contract and trust: And it seemes the word Injury came to be given to any action, or omission, because they were without Right. He that acted, or omitted, having before conveyed his Right to some other. And there is some likenesse between that, which in the common course of life we call Injury; and that, which in the Schools is usually called absurd. For even as he, who by Arguments is driven to deny the Assertion which he first maintain'd, is said to be brought to an absurdity; in like manner, he who through weaknesse of mind does, or omits that which before he had by Contract promis'd not to doe, or omit, commits an Injury, and falls into no lesse contradiction, than he, who in the Schools is reduc'd to an Absurdity. For by contracting for some future action, he wills it done; by not doing it, he wills it not done, which is to will a thing done, and not done at the same time, which is a contradiction. An Injury therefore is a kind of absurdity in conversation, as an absurdity is a kind of injury in disputation.

IV. From these grounds it followes, that an injury can be done to no man 1 but him with whom we enter Covenant, or to whom somewhat is made over by deed of gift, or to whom somwhat is promis'd by way of bargain. And therefore damaging and injuring are often disjoyn'd: for if a Master command his Servant, who hath promis'd to obey him, to pay a summe of money, or carry some present to a third man; the Servant, if he doe it not, hath indeed damag'd this third party, but he injur'd his Master onely. So also in a civill government, if any man offend another, with whom he hath made no Contract, he damages him to whom the evill is done, but he injures none but him to whom the power of government belongs: for if he, who receives the hurt, should expostulate the mischief; and he that did it, should answer thus, What art thou to me? Why should I rather doe according to yours, than mine owne will, since I do not hinder, but you may do your own, and not my mind? In which speech, where there hath no manner of pre-contract past, I see not, I confesse, what is reprehensible.

V. These words just, and unjust, as also justice, and injustice, are equivocall; for they signifie one thing when they are attributed to Persons, another when to actions: When they are attributed to Actions, Just signifies as much as what's done with Right, and unjust, as what's done with injury: he who hath done some just thing is not therefore said to be a just Person, but guiltlesse, and he that hath done some unjust thing, we doe not therefore say he is an unjust, but guilty man. But when the words are applyed to Persons; to be just, signifies as much as to be delighted in just dealing, to study how to doe righteousnesse, or to indeavour in all things to doe that which is just; and to be unjust, is to neglect righteous dealing, or to think it is to be measured not according to my contract, but some present benefit; so as the justice or injustice of the mind, the intention, or the man, is one thing; that of an action, or omission, another; and innumerable actions of a just man may be unjust, and of an unjust man, just: But that man is to be accounted just, who doth just things because the Law commands it, unjust things only by reason of his infirmity; and he is properly said to be unjust who doth righteousness for fear of the punishment annext unto the Law, and unrighteousnesse by reason of the iniquity of his mind.

VI. The justice of actions is commonly distinguisht into two kinds; Commutative, and Distributive, the former whereof they say consists in Arithmeticall, the latter in Geometricall proportion: and that is conversant in exchanging, in buying, selling, borrowing, lending, location, and conduction, and other acts whatsoever belonging to Contracters, where, if there be an equall return made, hence they say springs a commutative justice: But this is busied about the dignity, and merits of men; so as if there be rendred to every man kata pen axian more to him who is more worthy, and lesse to him that deserves lesse, and that proportionably, hence they say ariseth distributive justice: I acknowledge here some certaine distinction of equality; to wit, that one is an equality simply so called, as when two things of equall value are compar'd together, as a pound of silver with twelve ounces of the same silver; the other is an equality, secundum quod; as when a 1000 pound is to be divided to an hundred men, 600 pounds are given to 60 men, and 400 to 40 where there is no equality between 600 and 400. But when it happens, that there is the same inequality in the number of them to whom it is distributed, every one of them shall take an equall part, whence it is called an equall distribution: But such like equality is the same thing with Geometricall proportion. But what is all this to Justice? for neither, if I sell my goods for as much as I can get for them, doe I injure the buyer, who sought, and desir'd them of me? neither if I divide more of what is mine to him who deserves lesse, so long as I give the other what I have agreed for, do I wrong to either? which truth our Saviour himself, being God, testifies in the Gospell. This therefore is no distinction of Justice, but of equality; yet perhaps it cannot be deny'd, but that Justice is a certain equality, as consisting in this onely; that since we are all equall by nature, one should not arrogate more Right to himselfe, than he grants to another, unlesse he have fairly gotten it by Compact. And let this suffice to be spoken against this distinction of Justice, although now almost generally receiv'd by all, lest any man should conceive an injury to be somewhat else, than the breach of Faith, or Contract, as hath been defin'd above.

VII. It is an old saying, Volenti non fit iniuria (the willing man receives no injury) yet the truth of it may be deriv'd from our Principles. For grant, that a man be willing that that should be done, which he conceives to be an injury. to him; why then that is done by his will, which by Contract was not lawfull to be done; but he being willing that should be done, which was not lawfull by Contract, the Contract it self (by the 15. Article of the foregoing Chapter) becomes void: The Right therefore of doing it returnes, therefore it is done by Right; wherefore it is no injury.

VIII. The third precept of the Naturall Law, is, That you suffer not him to be the worse for you, who out of the confidence he had in you, first did you a good turn; or that you accept not a gift, but with a mind to endeavour, that the giver shall have no just occasion to repent him of his gift. For without this he should act without reason that would conferre a benefit where he sees it would be lost; and by this meanes all beneficence, and trust, together with all kind of benevolence would be taken from among men, neither would there be ought of mutuall assistance among them, nor any commencement of gaining grace and favour; by reason whereof the state of Warre would necessarily remain, contrary to the fundamentall Law of Nature: But because the breach of this Law is not a breach of trust, or contract, (for we suppose no Contracts to have pass'd among them) therefore is it not usually termed an injury, but because good turns and thankes have a mutuall eye to each other, it is called INGRATITUDE.

IX. The fourth precept of Nature, is, That every man render himself usefull unto others: which, that we may rightly understand, we must remember that there is in men, a diversity of dispositions to enter into society, arising from the diversity of their affections, not unlike that which is found in stones, brought together in the Building, by reason of the diversity of their matter, and figure. For as a stone, which in regard of its sharp and angular form takes up more room from other stones than it fils up it selfe, neither because of the hardnesse of its matter cannot well be prest together, or easily cut, and would hinder the building from being fitly compacted, is cast away, as not fit for use: so a man, who for the harshness of his disposition in retaining superfluities for himself, and detaining of necessaries from others, and being incorrigible, by reason of the stubbornnesse of his affections, is commonly said to be uselesse, and troublesome unto others. Now, because each one not by Right onely, but even by naturall necessity is suppos'd, with all his main might, to intend the procurement of those things which are necessary to his own preservation; if any man will contend on the other side for superfluities, by his default there will arise a Warre, because that on him alone there lay no necessity of contending, he therefore acts against the fundamentall Law of Nature: Whence it followes (which wee were to shew) that it is a precept of nature; That every man accommodate himselfe to others. But he who breaks this Law may be called uselesse, and troublesome. Yet Cicero opposeth inhumanity to this usefulnesse, as having regard to this very Law.

X. The fifth precept of the Law of nature is: That we must forgive him who repents, and asketh pardon for what is past; having first taken caution for the time to come. The pardon of what is past, or the remission of an offence, is nothing else but the granting of Peace to him that asketh it, after he hath warr'd against us, & now is become penitent. But Peace granted to him that repents not, that is, to him that retains an hostile mind, or that gives not caution for the future; that is, seeks not Peace, but oportunity, is not properly Peace but feare, and therefore is not commanded by nature. Now to him that will not pardon the penitent, and that gives future caution, peace it selfe it seems is not pleasing; which is contrary to the naturall Law.

XI. The sixth precept of the naturall Law is, That in revenge and punishments we must have our eye not at the evill past, but the future good. That is: It is not lawfull to inflict punishment for any other end, but that the offender may be corrected, or that others warned by his punishment may become better. But this is confirmed chiefly from hence, that each man is bound by the law of nature to forgive one another, provided he give caution for the future, as hath been shewed in the foregoing Article. Furthermore, because revenge, if the time past be onely considered, is nothing else but a certain triumph, and glory of minde, which points at no end, (for it contemplates onely what is past; but the end is a thing to come) but that which is directed to no end is vain; That revenge therefore which regards not the future, proceeds from vaine glory, and therefore without reason. But to hurt another without reason introduces a warre, and is contrary to the fundamentall Law of Nature; It is therefore a precept of the Law of nature, that in revenge wee look not backwards but forward. Now the breach of this Law, is commonly called CRUELTY.

XII. But because all signes of hatred, and contempt provoke most of all to brawling and fighting, insomuch as most men would rather lose their lives, (that I say not their Peace) than suffer reproach; it followes in the seventh place, That it is prescribed by the Law of nature, that no man either by deeds, or words, countenance, or laughter, doe declare himselfe to hate, or scorne another. The breach of which Law is called Reproach. But although nothing be more frequent than the scoffes and jeers of the powerfull against the weak, and namely of Judges against guilty persons, which neither relate to the offence of the guilty, nor the duty of the Judges, yet these kind of men do act against the Law of nature, and are to be esteemed for contumelious.

XIII. The question whether of two men be the more worthy, belongs not to the naturall, but civill state; for it hath been shewed before, Chap. I. Art. 3. that all men by nature are equall, and therefore the inequality which now is, suppose from riches, power, nobility of kindred, is come from the civill Law. I know that Aristotle in his first book of Politiques affirmes as a foundation of the whole politicall science, that some men by nature are made worthy to command, others onely to serve; as if Lord and Master were distinguished not by consent of men, but by an aptnesse, that is, a certain kind of naturall knowledge, or ignorance; which foundation is not onely against reason (as but now hath been shewed) but also against experience: for neither almost is any man so dull of understanding as not to judge it better to be ruled by himselfe, than to yeeld himselfe to the government of another; neither if the wiser and stronger doe contest, have these ever, or often the upper hand of those. Whether therefore men be equall by nature, the equality is to be acknowledged, or whether unequall, because they are like to contest for dominion, its necessary for the obtaining of Peace, that they be esteemed as equall; and therefore it is in the eight place a precept of the Law of nature, That every man be accounted by nature equall to another, the contrary to which Law is PRIDE.

XIV. As it was necessary to the conservation of each man, that he should part with some of his Rights, so it is no lesse necessary to the same conservation, that he retain some others, to wit the Right of bodily protection, of free enjoyment of ayre, water, and all necessaries for life. Since therefore many common Rights are retained by those who enter into a peaceable state, and that many peculiar ones are also acquired, hence ariseth this ninth dictate of the naturall Law, to wit, That what Rights soever any man challenges to himselfe, he also grant the same as due to all the rest: otherwise he frustrates the equality acknowledged in the former Article. For what is it else to acknowledge an equality of persons in the making up of society, but to attribute equall Right and Power to those whom no reason would else engage to enter into society? But to ascribe equall things to equalls, is the same with giving things proportionall to proportionals. The observation of this Law is called MEEKNES, the violation pleonexia, the breakers by the Latines are styled Immodici et immodesti.

XV. In the tenth place it is commanded by the Law of nature, That every man in dividing Right to others, shew himselfe equall to either party. By the foregoing Law we are forbidden to assume more Right by nature to our selves, than we grant to others. We may take lesse if we will, for that sometimes is an argument of modesty. But if at any time matter of Right be to be divided by us unto others, we are forbidden by this Law to favour one more or lesse than another. For he that by favouring one before another, observes not this naturall equality, reproaches him whom he thus undervalues: but it is declared above, that a reproach is against the Lawes of Nature. The observance of this Precept is called EQUITY; the breach, Respect of Persons. The Greeks in one word term it prosopolepsia.

XVI. From the foregoing Law is collected this eleventh, Those things which cannot be divided, must be used in common, (if they can) and (that the quantity of the matter permit) every man as much as he lists, but if the quantity permit not, then with limitation, and proportionally to the number of the users: for otherwise that equality can by no means be observed, which we have shewed in the forgoing Article to be commanded by the Law of Nature.

XVII. Also what cannot be divided, nor had in common, it is provided by the Law of nature (which may be the twelfth Precept) that the use of that thing be either by turns, or adjudged to one onely by lot, and that in the using it by turns, it be also decided by lot who shall have the first use of it; For here also regard is to be had unto equality: but no other can be found, but that of lot.

XVIII. But all lot is twofold; arbitrary, or naturall; Arbitrary is that which is cast by the consent of the Contenders, and it consists in meer chance (as they say) or fortune. Naturall is primogeniture (in Greek klironomia, as it were given by lot) or first possession. Therefore the things which can neither be divided, nor had in common, must be granted to the first possessour, as also those things which belonged to the Father are due to the Sonne, unlesse the Father himselfe have formerly conveighed away that Right to some other. Let this therefore stand for the thirteenth Law of Nature.

XIX. The 14. Precept of the Law of nature is; That safety must be assured to the mediators for Peace. For the reason which commands the end, commands also the means necessary to the end. But the first dictate of Reason is Peace. All the rest are means to obtain it, and without which Peace cannot be had. But neither can Peace be had without mediation, nor mediation without safety; it is therefore a dictate of Reason, that is, a Law of nature, That we must give all security to the Mediators for Peace.

XX. Furthermore, because, although men should agree to make all these, and whatsoever other Lawes of Nature, and should endeavour to keep them, yet doubts, and controversies would daily arise concerning the application of them unto their actions, to wit, whether what was done, were against the Law, or not, (which we call, the question of Right) whence will follow a fight between Parties, either sides supposing themselves wronged; it is therefore necessary to the preservation of Peace (because in this case no other fit remedy can possibly be thought on) that both the disagreeing Parties refer the matter unto some third, and oblige themselves by mutuall compacts to stand to his judgement in deciding the controversie. And he to whom they thus refer themselves is called an Arbiter. It is therefore the 15. Precept of the naturall Law, That both parties disputing concerning the matter of right submit themselves unto the opinion and judgement of some third.

XXI. But from this ground, that an Arbiter or Judge is chosen by the differing Parties to determine the controversie, we gather, that the Arbiter must not be one of the Parties: for every man is presumed to seek what is good for himselfe naturally, and what is just, onely for Peaces sake, and accidentally; and therefore cannot observe that same equality commanded by the Law of nature so exactly as a third man would do: It is therefore in the sixteenth place contained in the Law of nature, That no man must be Judge or Arbiter in his own cause.

XXII. From the same ground followes in the seventeenth place, That no man must be Judge who propounds unto himself any hope of profit, or glory, from the victory of either part: for the like reason swayes here, as in the foregoing Law.

XXIII. But when there is some controversie of the fact it selfe, to wit, whether that bee done or not, which is said to bee done, the naturall Law wills, that the Arbiter trust both Parties alike, that is, (because they affirm contradictories) that hee believe neither: He must therefore give credit to a third, or a third and fourth, or more, that he may be able to give judgement of the fact, as often as by other signes he cannot come to the knowledge of it. The 18. Law of nature therefore injoynes Arbiters, and Judges of fact, That where firm and certain signes of the fact appear not, there they rule their sentence by such witnesses, as seem to be indifferent to both Parts.

XXIV. From the above declared definition of an Arbiter may be furthermore understood, That no contract or promise must Passe between him and the parties whose Judge he is appointed, by vertue whereof he may be engaged to speak in favour of either part, nay, or be oblig'd to judge according to equity, or to pronounce such sentence as he shall truly judge to be equall. The Judge is indeed bound to give such sentence as he shall judge to be equall by the Law of Nature recounted in the 15. Article. To the obligation of which Law nothing can be added by way of Compact. Such compact therefore would be in vain. Besides, if giving wrong judgement, he should contend for the equity of it, except such Compact be of no force, the Controversie would remain after Judgement given, which is contrary to the constitution of an Arbiter, who is so chosen, as both parties have oblig'd themselves to stand to the judgement which he should pronounce. The Law of Nature therefore commands the Judge to be disengaged, which is its 19. precept.

XXV. Farthermore, forasmuch as the Lawes of Nature are nought else but the dictates of Reason, so as, unlesse a man endeavour to preserve the faculty of right reasoning, he cannot observe the Lawes of Nature, it is manifest, that he, who knowingly, or willingly, doth ought, whereby the rationall faculty may be destroyed, or weakned, he knowingly, and willingly, breaks the Law of nature: For there is no difference between a man who performes not his Duty, and him who does such things willingly, as make it impossible for him to doe it. But they destroy and weaken the reasoning faculty, who doe that which disturbs the mind from its naturall state; that which most manifestly happens to Drunkards and Gluttons; we therefore sin in the 20. place against the Law of Nature by Drunkennesse.

XXVI. Perhaps some man, who sees all these precepts of Nature deriv'd by a certain artifice from the single dictate of Reason advising us to look to the preservation, and safegard of our selves, will say, That the deduction of these Lawes is so hard, that it is not to be expected they will be vulgarly known, and therefore neither will they prove obliging: for Lawes, if they be not known, oblige not, nay, indeed are not Lawes. To this I answer, it's true, That hope, fear, anger, ambition, covetousnesse, vain glory, and other perturbations of mind, doe hinder a man so, as he cannot attaine to the knowledge of these Lawes, whilst those passions prevail in him: But there is no man who is not sometimes in a quiet mind; At that time therefore there is nothing easier for him to know, though he be never so rude and unlearn'd, than this only Rule, That when he doubts, whether what he is now doing to another, may be done by the Law of Nature, or not, he conceive himselfe to be in that others stead. Here instantly those perturbations which perswaded him to the fact, being now cast into the other scale, disswade him as much: And this Rule is not onely easie, but is Anciently celebrated in these words, Quod tibi fieri non vis, alteri ne feceris: Do not that to others, you would not have done to your self.

XXVII. But because most men, by reason of their perverse desire of present profit, are very unapt to observe these Lawes, although acknowledg'd by them, if perhaps some others more humble than the rest should exercise that equity and usefulnesse which Reason dictates, those not practising the same, surely they would not follow Reason in so doing; nor would they hereby procure themselves peace, but a more certain quick destruction, and the keepers of the Law become a meer prey to the breakers of it. It is not therefore to be imagin'd, that by Nature, (that is, by Reason) men are oblig'd to the exercise of all these Lawes 2 in that state of men wherein they are not practis'd by others. We are oblig'd yet in the interim to a readinesse of mind to observe them whensoever their observation shall seeme to conduce to the end for which they were ordain'd. We must therefore conclude, that the Law of Nature doth alwayes, and every where oblige in the internall Court, or that of Conscience, but not alwayes in the externall Court, but then onely when it may be done with safety.

XXVIII. But the Lawes which oblige Conscience, may be broken by an act, not onely contrary to them, but also agreeable with them, if so be that he who does it be of another opinion: for though the act it self be answerable to the Lawes, yet his Conscience is against them.

XXIX. The Lawes of Nature are immutable, and eternall; What they forbid, can never be lawfull; what they command, can never be unlawfull: For pride, ingratitude, breach of Contracts (or injury), inhumanity, contumely, will never be lawfull; nor the contrary vertues to these ever unlawfull, as we take them for dispositions of the mind, that is, as they are considered in the Court of Conscience, where onely they oblige, and are Lawes. Yet actions may be so diversified by circumstances, and the Civill Law, that what's done with equity at one time, is guilty of iniquity at another; and what suits with reason at one time, is contrary to it another. Yet Reason is still the same, and changeth not her end, which is Peace, and Defence; nor of the minde which the meanes to attaine them, to wit, those vertues we have declar'd above, and which cannot be abrogated by any Custome, or Law whatsoever.

XXX. It's evident by what hath hitherto been said, how easily the Lawes of Nature are to be observ'd, because they require the endeavour onely, (but that must be true and constant) which who so shall performe, we may rightly call him JUST. For he who tends to this with his whole might, namely, that his actions be squar'd according to the precepts of Nature, he shewes clearly that he hath a minde to fulfill all those Lawes, which is all we are oblig'd to by rationall nature. Now he that hath done all he is oblig'd to, is a Just Man.

XXXI. All Writers doe agree that the Naturall Law is the same with the Morall. Let us see wherefore this is true. We must know therefore, that Good and Evill are names given to things to signifie the inclination, or aversion of them by whom they were given. But the inclinations of men are diverse, according to their diverse Constitutions, Customes, Opinions; as we may see in those things we apprehend by sense, as by tasting, touching, smelling; but much more in those which pertain to the common actions of life, where what this man commends, (that is to say, calls Good) the other undervalues, as being Evil; Nay, very often the same man at diverse times, praises, and dispraises the same thing. Whilst thus they doe, necessary it is there should be discord, and strife: They are therefore so long in the state of War, as by reason of the diversity of the present appetites, they mete Good and Evill by diverse measures. All men easily acknowledge this state, as long as they are in it, to be evill, and by consequence that Peace is good. They therefore who could not agree concerning a present, doe agree concerning a future Good, which indeed is a work of Reason; for things present are obvious to the sense, things to come to our Reason only. Reason declaring Peace to be good, it followes by the same reason, that all the necessary means to Peace be good also, and therefore, that Modesty, Equity, Trust, Humanity, Mercy (which we have demonstrated to be necessary to Peace) are good Manners, or habits, (that is) Vertues. The Law therefore, in the means to Peace, commands also Good Manners, or the practise of Vertue: And therefore it is call'd Morall.

XXXII. But because men cannot put off this same irrationall appetite, whereby they greedily prefer the present good (to which, by strict consequence, many unforeseen evills doe adhere) before the future, it happens, that though all men doe agree in the commendation of the foresaid vertues, yet they disagree still concerning their Nature, to wit, in what each of them doth consist; for as oft as anothers good action displeaseth any man, that action hath the name given of some neighbouring vice; likewise the bad actions, which please them, are ever entituled to some Vertue; whence it comes to passe that the same Action is prais'd by these, and call'd Vertue, and dispraised by those, and termed vice. Neither is there as yet any remedy found by Philosophers for this matter; for since they could not observe the goodnesse of actions to consist in this, that it was in order to Peace, and the evill in this, that it related to discord, they built a morall Philosophy wholly estranged from the morall Law, and unconstant to it self; for they would have the nature of vertues seated in a certain kind of mediocrity betweene two extremes, and the vices in the extremes themselves; which is apparently false: For to dare is commended, and under the name of fortitude is taken for a vertue, although it be an extreme, if the cause be approved. Also the quantity of a thing given, whether it be great, or little, or between both, makes not liberality, but the cause of giving it. Neither is it injustice, if I give any man more, of what is mine own, than I owe him. The Lawes of Nature therefore are the summe of Morall Philosophy, whereof I have onely delivered such precepts in this place, as appertain to the preservation of our selves against those dangers which arise from discord. But there are other precepts of rationall nature, from whence spring other vertues: for temperance also is a precept of Reason, because intemperance tends to sicknesse, and death. And so fortitude too, (that is) that same faculty of resisting stoutly in present dangers, (and which are more hardly declined than overcome) because it is a means tending to the preservation of him that resists.

XXXIII. But those which we call the Lawes of nature (since they are nothing else but certain conclusions understood by Reason, of things to be done, and omitted; but a Law to speak properly and accurately, is the speech of him who by Right commands somewhat to others to be done, or omitted) are not (in propriety of speech) Lawes, as they proceed from nature; yet as they are delivered by God in holy Scriptures, (as we shall see in the Chapter following) they are most properly called by the name of Lawes: for the sacred Scripture is the speech of God commanding over all things by greatest Right.


1. Injury can be done to no man. The word injustice relates to some Law: Injury to some Person, as well as some Law. For what's unjust, is unjust to all; but there may an injury be done, and yet not against me, nor thee, but some other; and sometimes against no private Person, but the Magistrate only; sometimes also neither against the Magistrate, nor any private man, but onely against God; for through Contract, and conveighance of Right, we say, that an injury is done against this, or that man. Hence it is (which we see in all kind of Government) that what private men contract between themselves by word, or writing, is releast againe at the will of the Obliger. But those mischiefes which are done against the Lawes of the Land, as theft, homicide, and the like, are punisht not as he wills, to whom the hurt is done, but according to the will of the Magistrate; that is, the constituted Lawes.

2. The exercise of all these Lawes. Nay among these Lawes some things there are, the omission whereof (provided it be done for Peace, or Self-preservation) seemes rather to be the fulfilling, than breach of the Naturall Law; for he that doth all things against those that doe all things, and plunders plunderers, doth equity; but on the other side, to doe that which in Peace is an handsome action, and becomming an honest man, is dejectednesse, and Poornesse of spirit, and a betraying of ones self in the time of War, But there are certain naturall Lawes, whose exercise ceaseth not even in the time of War it self; for I cannot understand what drunkennesse, or cruelty (that is, Revenge which respects not the future good) can advance toward Peace, or the preservation of any man. Briefly, in the state of nature, what's just, and unjust, is not to be esteem'd by the Actions, but by the Counsell, and Conscience of the Actor. That which is done out of necessity, out of endeavour for Peace, for the preservation of our selves, is done with Right; otherwise every damage done to a man would be a breach of the naturall Law, and an injury against God.


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