De Cive

by Thomas Hobbes

Chapter IV.

That the Law of Nature is a Divine Law

I. The same Law which is Naturall, and Morall, is also wont to be called Divine, nor undeservedly, as well because Reason, which is the law of Nature, is given by God to every man for the rule of his actions; as because the precepts of living which are thence derived, are the same with those which have been delivered from the divine Majesty, for the LAWES of his heavenly Kingdome, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and his holy Prophets and Apostles. What therefore by reasoning we have understood above concerning the law of nature, we will endeavour to confirme the same in this Chapter by holy writ.

II. But first we will shew those places in which it is declared, that the Divine Law is seated in right reason. Psalm xxxvii. 30, 31. The mouth of the righteous will be exercised in wisdome, and his tongue will be talking of Judgement: The law of God is in his heart. Jerem. xxxi. 33. I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts. Psal. xix. 7. The law of the Lord is an undefiled law, converting the soule. ver. 8. The Commandement of the Lord is Pure, and giveth light unto the eyes. Deuteron. xxx. 11. This Commandement which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off, &c. vers. 14. But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thine heart; that thou maist doe it. Psal. cxix. 34. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law. vers. 105. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my paths. Proverbs ix. 10. The knowledge of the holy is understanding. Christ the Law-giver himselfe is called (John i. 1.) the word. The same Christ is called (vers. 9.) the true light that lighteth every man that cometh in the world. All which are descriptions of right reason, whose dictates, we have shewed before, are the lawes of nature.

III. But that which wee set downe for the fundamentall law of nature, namely, that Peace was to be sought for, is also the summe of the divine law, will be manifest by these places. Rom. iii. 17. Righteousnesse, (which is the summe of the law) is called the way of Peace Psal. lxxxv. 10. Righteousnesse and Peace have kissed each other. Matth. v. 9. Blessed are the Peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God. And after Saint Paul in his 6. Chapter to the Hebrewes, and the last verse had called Christ (the Legislator of that law we treat of) an High-Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedeck; he addes in the following Chapter, the first verse, This Melchizedeck was King of Salem, Priest of the most high God, &c. vers. 2. First being by interpretation King of Righteousnesse, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace. Whence it is cleare, that Christ the King in his Kingdome placeth Righteousnesse and Peace together. Psal. xxxiv. Eschue evill and doe good, seek Peace and pursue it. Isaiah ix. 6, 7. Unto us a child is born, unto us a Sonne is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderfull, Counsellour, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace. Isaiah lii. 7. How beautifull upon the mountaines are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth Peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation, that saith unto Sion, thy God reigneth! Luke ii. 14. In the Nativity of Christ, the voice of them that praised God saying, Glory be to God on high, and in earth Peace, good will towards men. And Isaiah liii. 5. The Gospell is called the chastisement of our Peace. Isaiah lix. 8. Righteousnesse is called the way of Peace. The way of Peace they know not, and there is no judgement in their goings. Micah v. 4, 5. speaking of the Messias, he saith thus, He shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the Majesty of the name of the Lord his God, and they shall abide, for now shall he be great unto the end of the earth; And this man shall be your Peace, &c. Prov. iii. 1, 2. My sonne forget not my law, but let thine heart keep my Commandements, for length of dayes, and long life, and Peace, shall they adde to thee.

IV. What appertains to the first law of abolishing the community of all things, or concerning the introduction of meum & tuum, We perceive in the first place how great an adversary this same Community is to Peace, by those words of Abraham to Lot, Gen. xiii. 8, 9. Let there be no strife I Pray thee, between thee and me, and between thy heard-men, and my heard-men, for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? Separate thy selfe I Pray thee from me. And all those places of Scripture by which we are forbidden to trespasse upon our neighbours, as, Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, &c. doe confirm the law of distinction between Mine, and Thine. for they suppose the right of all men to all things to be taken away.

V. The same precepts establish the second law of nature of keeping trust: for what doth, Thou shalt not invade anothers right, import, but this? Thou shalt not take possession of that, which by thy contract ceaseth to be thine; but expressely set down, Psal. xv. vers. 1. To him that asked, Lord who shall dwell in thy Tabernacle? It is answered, vers. 4: He that sweareth unto his neighbour, and disappointeth him not; and Prov. vi. 1, 2. My sonne if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou have stricken thy hand with a stranger, Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth.

VI. The third Law concerning gratitude is proved by these places, Deut. xxv. 4. Thou shalt not muzzle the Oxe when he treadeth out the corn; which Saint Paul I. Cor. ix. 9. interprets to be spoken of men, not Oxen onely. Prov. xvii. 13. Who so rewardeth evill for good, evill shall not depart from his house. And Deut. xx. 10, 11. When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim Peace unto it. And it shall be if it make thee answer of Peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be that all the people that is found therein, shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. Proverbs iii. 29. Devise not evill against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.

VII. To the fourth Law of accommodating our selves, these precepts are conformable, Exod. xxiii. 4, 5. If thou meet thine enemies Oxe, or his Asse going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again; if thou see the Asse of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him. Also, vers. 9. Thou shalt not oppresse a stranger. Prov. iii. 30. Strive not with a man without a cause, if he have done thee no harme. Prov. xv. 18. A wrathfull man stirreth up strife, but he that is slow to anger, appeaseth strife. Prov. xviii. 24. There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. The same is confirmed, Luke x, by the Parable of the Samaritan, who had compassion on the Jew that was wounded by theeves, and by Christs precept, Matth. v. 39. But I say unto you, that ye resist not evill, but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also, &c.

VIII. Among infinite other places which prove the fifth law, these are some. Matth. vi. 14, 15. If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matth. xviii. 21, 22. Lord how oft shall my Brother sinne against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not till seven times, but till seventy times seven times: that is, toties quoties.

IX. For the confirmation of the sixth law, all those places are pertinent which command us to shew mercy; such as Mat. v. 7. Blessed are the mercifull, for they shall obtain mercy. Levit. xix. 18. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people. But there are, who not onely think this law is not proved by Scripture, but plainly disproved from hence, that there is an eternall punishment reserved for the wicked after death, where there is no place either for amendment, or example. Some resolve this objection by answering, That God, whom no law restrains, refers all to his glory, but that man must not doe so; as if God sought his glory, (that is to say) pleased himselfe in the death of a sinner. It is more rightly answered, that the institution of eternall punishment was before sin, and had regard to this onely, that men might dread to commit sinne for the time to come.

X. The words of Christ prove this seventh, Matth. v. 22. But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgement, and whosoever shall say unto his Brother Racha, shall be in danger of the Counsell, but whosoever shall say, thou foole, shall be in danger of hell fire. Prov. x. 18. Hee that uttereth a slander is a foole. Prov. xiv. 21. Hee that despiseth his neighbour, sinneth. Prov. xv. 1. Grievous words stir up anger. Prov. xxii. 10. Cast out the scorner, and contention shall goe out, and reproach shall cease.

XI. The eighth law of acknowledging equality of nature, that is, of humility, is established by these places. Mat. v. 3. Blessed are the Poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Prov. vi. 16-19. These six things doth the Lord hate, yea seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, &c. Prov. xvi. 5. Every one that is proud is an abomination unto the Lord, though hand joyne in hand, he shall not be unpunished. Prov. xi. 2. When pride cometh, then cometh shame, but with the lowly, is wisdome. Thus Isaiah xl. 3. (where the comming of the Messias is shewed forth, for preparation towards his Kingdome) The voyce of him that cryed in the wildernesse, was this: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make strait in the desart a high way for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain, and hill, shall be made low; which doubtlesse is spoken to men, and not to mountains.

XII. But that same Equity which we proved in the ninth place to be a Law of Nature, which commands every man to allow the same Rights to others they would be allowed themselves, and which containes in it all the other Lawes besides, is the same which Moses sets down, Levit. xix. 18. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy self; and our Saviour calls it the summe of the morall Law, Mat. xxii. 36-40. Master, which is the great Commandement in the Law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind; this is the first and great Commandement, and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy self. On these two Commandements hang all the Law and the Prophets. But to love our neighbor as our selves, is nothing else, but to grant him all we desire to have granted to our selves.

XIII. By the tenth Law respect of Persons is forbid; as also by these places following, Mat. v. 45. That ye may be children of your Father which is in Heaven; for he maketh the sun to rise on the Evill, and on the Good, &c. Collos. iii. 11. There is neither Greek, nor Jew, circumcision, nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, or Scythian, bond, or free, but Christ is all, & in all. Acts x. 34. Of a truth, I perceive, that God is no respecter of Persons. 2 Chron. xix. 7. There is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of Persons, nor taking of gifts. Eccles. xxxv. 12. The Lord is Judge, and with him is no respect of Persons. Rom. ii. 11. For there is no respect of Persons with God.

XIV. The eleventh Law, which commands those things to be held in common which cannot be divided, I know not whether there be any expresse place in Scripture for it, or not; but the practise appears every where in the common use of Wels, Wayes, Rivers, sacred things, &c. for else men could not live.

XV. We said in the twelfth place, that it was a Law of Nature, That where things could neither be divided, nor possess'd in common, they should be dispos'd by lot, which is confirmed as by the example of Moses, who by Gods command, Numb. xxvi. 55. divided the severall parts of the land of promise unto the Tribes by Lot: So Acts i. 24. by the example of the Apostles, who receiv'd Matthias, before Justus, into their number, by casting Lots, and saying, Thou Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, &c. Prov. xvi. 33. The lot is cast into the lappe, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord. And which is the thirteenth Law, the Succession was due unto Esau, as being the First-born of Isaac, if himself had not sold it, (Gen. xxv. 30.) or that the Father had not otherwise appointed.

XVI. Saint Paul writing to the Corinthians, 1 Epist. vi., reprehends the Corinthians of that City for going to Law one with another before infidell Judges who were their enemies, calling it a fault, that they would not rather take wrong, and suffer themselves to be defrauded; for that is against that Law, whereby we are commanded to be helpful to each other. But if it happen the Controversie be concerning things necessary, what is to be done? Therefore the Apostle, Ver. 5. speaks thus, I speak to your shame. Is it so that there is not one wise man among you, no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? He therefore, by those words confirmes that Law of Nature which we call'd the fifteenth, to wit, Where Controversies cannot be avoided, there by the consent of Parties to appoint some Arbiter, and him some third man; so as (which is the 16 Law) neither of the Parties may be judge in his own Cause.

XVII. But that the Judge, or Arbiter, must receive no reward for his Sentence, (which is the 17. Law) appears, Exod. xxiii. 8. Thou shalt take no gift; for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous. Eccles. xx. 29. Presents and gifts blind the eyes of the wise. Whence it followes, that he must not be more oblig'd to one part than the other, which is the 19. Law, and is also confirm'd, Deut. i. 17. Ye shall not respect Persons in Judgment, ye shall hear the small as well as the great; and in all those places which are brought against respect of Persons.

XVIII. That in the judgement of Fact, witnesses must be had, (which is the 18. Law) the Scripture not only confirmes, but requires more than one, Deut. xvii. 6. At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death. The same is repeated, Deut. xix. 15.

XIX. Drunkennesse, which we have therefore in the last place numbred among the breaches of the Naturall Law, because it hinders the use of right Reason, is also forbid in sacred Scripture for the same reason. Prov. xx. 1. Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. And Prov. xxxi. 4, 5. It is not for Kings to drink wine, lest they drink, and forget the Law, and pervert the judgement of any of the afflicted: but that we might know that the malice of this vice consisted not formally in the quantity of the drink, but in that it destroyes Judgement and Reason, it followes in the next Verse, Give strong drink to him that is ready to perish, and wine to those that be heavy of heart. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more. Christ useth the same reason in prohibiting drunkenesse, Luk. xxi. 34. Take heed to your selves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharg'd with surfetting and drunkennesse.

XX. That we said in the foregoing Chapter, The Law of Nature is eternall, is also prov'd out of Matth. v. 18. Verily I say unto you, till Heaven and Earth Passe, one jot, or one tittle, shall in no wise Passe from the Law, and Psal. cxix. 160. Every one of thy righteous judgements endureth for ever.

XXI. We also said, That the Lawes of Nature had regard chiefly unto Conscience; that is, that he is just, who by all possible endeavour strives to fulfill them. And although a man should order all his actions (so much as belongs to externall obedience) just as the Law commands, but not for the Lawes sake, but by reason of some punishment annext unto it, or out of Vain glory, yet he is unjust. Both these are proved by the Holy Scriptures. The first, Isaiah lv. 7. Let the wicked forsake his way, and unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he wil have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Ezek. xviii. 31. Cast away from you all your transgressions whereby you have transgressed, & make you a new heart, and a new spirit; for why will you die O house of Israel? By which, and the like places, we may sufficiently understand that God will not punish their deeds whose heart is right. The second out of Isaiah xxix. 13, 14. The Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips doe honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, therefore I will proceed, &c. Mat. v. 20. Except your righteousnesse shall exceed the righteousnesse of the Scribes and Pharisees ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; and in the following verses our Saviour explains to them how that the commands of God are broken, not by Deeds only, but also by the Will; for the Scribes and Pharises did in outward act observe the Law most exactly, but for Glories sake onely; else they would as readily have broken it. There are innumerable places of Scripture in which is most manifestly declar'd that God accepts the Will for the Deed, and that as well in good, as in evill actions.

XXII. That the Law of Nature is easily kept, Christ himself declares in Matthew xi. 28, 29, 30. Come unto me, &c. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, &c. for my yoke is easie, and my burthen light.

XXIII. Lastly, the Rule by which I said any man might know whether what he was doing, were contrary to the Law, or not, to wit, what thou wouldst not be done to, doe not that to another, is almost in the self same words delivered by our Saviour, Mat. vii. 12. Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do you even so to them.

XXIV. As the law of nature is all of it Divine, so the Law of Christ by conversion, (which is wholly explain'd in the v. vi. and vii. Chapter of S. Matthewes Gospell) is all of it also (except that one Commandement of not marrying her who is put away for adultery, which Christ brought for explication of the divine positive Law, against the Jewes, who did not rightly interpret the Mosaicall Law) the doctrine of Nature: I say the whole Law of Christ is explain'd in the fore-named Chapters, not the whole Doctrine of Christ; for Faith is a part of Christian Doctrine, which is not comprehended under the title of a Law; for Lawes are made, and given, in reference to such actions as follow our will, not in order to our Opinions, and, Belief which being out of our power, follow not the Will.


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