by Thomas Hobbes
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
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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