De Cive

by Thomas Hobbes

Chapter XI.

Places and Examples of Scripture of the Rights of Government agreeable to what hath been said before

I. We have in the 6. Chapter, and the 2. Article, so derived the Originall of institutive, or politicall Government from the consent of the Multitude, that it appears they must either all consent, or be esteem'd as Enemies. Such was the beginning of Gods Government over the Jewes instituted by Moses, If ye will obey my voice indeed, &c. Ye shall be unto me a Kingdome of Priests, &c. And Moses came, and called the Elders of the People, &c. And all the people answered, and said: All that the Lord hath spoken we will do, Exod. 19. ver. 5, 6, 7, 8. Such also was the beginning of Moyses his power under God, or of his Vicegerency. And all the people saw the thunderings and lightenings, and the noyse of the Trumpet, &c. And they said unto Moyses, speak thou unto us, and we will hear. Exod. 20:18,19. The like beginning also had Sauls Kingdome. When yee saw that Nahash King of the children of Ammon came out against you, yee said unto me, nay, but a King shall raign over us, when the Lord your God was your King; Now therefore behold the King whom yee have chosen, and whom yee have desired. 1 Sam. 12:12. But the major part only consenting, and not all (for there were certain Sons of Belial, who said, How shall this man save us? And they dispised him, 1 Sam. 10:27.) Those who did not consent were put to death as Enemies; And the people said unto Samuel, Who is he that said, shall Saul reign over us? Bring the men that we may put them to death. 1 Sam. 11.

II. In the same 6. Chapter, the 6. and 7. Articles, I have shewed, that all judgment and Wars depend upon the will and pleasure of him who beares the Supreme Authority; that is to say, in a Monarchy, on a Monarch, or King; and this is confirmed by the Peoples owne judgement. Wee also will be like all the Nations, and our King shall JUDGE us, and goe out before us, and fight our BATTELS. 1 Sam. 8:20. And what pertaines to judgements, and all other matters, whereof there is any controversie, whether they be Good, or Evill, is confirmed by the testimony of King Solomon. Give therefore thy Servant an understanding heart to JUDGE thy People, that I may discerne between GOOD and EVILL. 1. Kings 3:9. And that of Absolom, There is no man deputed of the King to heare thee. 2. Sam. 15:3.

III. That Kings may not be punished by their subjects, as hath been shewed above in the sixth Chapter, and the twelfth Article, King David also confirmes, who, though Saul sought to slay him, did notwithstanding refrain his hand from killing him, and forbad Abishai, saying, Destroy him, not; for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lords Anointed, and be innocent? 1 Sam: 4:9. And when he had cut off the skirt of his garment, The Lord forbid (saith he) that I should doe this thing unto my Master the Lords Anointed, to stretchforth mine hand against him. 1 Sam. 24:7. And commanded the Amalekite, who for his sake had slain Saul, to be put to death. 2 Sam. 1:15.

IV. That which is said in the 17. Chapter of Judges, at the 6. verse. In those dayes there was no King in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes (as though where there were not a Monarchy, there were an Anarchy or confusion of all things) may be brought as a testimony to prove the excellency of Monarchy above all other forms of government, unlesse that by the word King may perhaps be understood, not one man onely, but also a Court, provided that in it there reside a supreme power; which if it be taken in this sense, yet hence it may follow, that without a supreme and absolute power (which we have endeavoured to prove in the sixth Chapter) there will be a liberty for every man to doe what hee hath a minde, or whatsoever shall seem right to himselfe; which cannot stand with the preservation of mankinde, and therefore in all Government whatsoever, there is ever a supreme power understood to be somewhere existent.

V. We have in the 8. Chapter, the 7. and 8. Article, said, that Servants must yeeld a simple obedience to their Lords, and in the 9. Chapter, Article 7. that Sonnes owe the same obedience to their Parents. Saint Paul sayes the same thing concerning Servants, Servants obey in all things your Masters according to the flesh, not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but in singlenesse of heart, fearing God. Colos. 3:22. Concerning Sonnes, Children obey your Parents in all things, for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Colos. 3:20. Now as wee by simple obedience understand ALL THINGS which are not contrary to the Lawes of God; so in those cited places of Saint Paul, after the word ALL THINGS, we must suppose, excepting those which are contrary to the Lawes of God.

VI. But that I may not thus by peecemeale prove the right of Princes, I will now instance those testimonies which altogether establish the whole power, (namely that there is an absolute and simple obedience due to them from their subjects). And first out of the new Testament. The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moyses seat; all therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe, and doe. Mat. 23:2. Whatsoever they bid you , (sayes he) observe , that is to say, obey simply : Why? Because they sit in Moyses seat ; namely, the civill Magistrates , not Aaron, the Priests. Let every soule be subject to the higher powers, for there is no Power but of God, the powers that be are ordained of God; whosoever therefore resisteth the Power, resisteth the ordinance of God, and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. Rom. 13:1. Now because the powers that were in Saint Pauls time were ordained of God, and all Kings did at that time require an absolute entire obedience from their subjects, it followes that such a power was ordained of God. Submit your selves unto every ordinance of man for the Lords sake, whether it bee to the King as supreme, or unto Governours, as unto them that are sent by him, for the punishment of wicked doers, and for the praise of them that doe well, for so is the will of God. 1 Pet. 2:13. Again Saint Paul to Titus, Put them in mind to bee subject to Principalities and Powers, to obey Magistrates, &c. Chap. 3. vers. 1. What Principalities? Was it not to the Principalities of those times, which required an absolute obedience? Furthermore, that we may come to the example of Christ himselfe, to whom the Kingdome of the Jewes belonged by hereditary Right, derived from David himselfe; He when he lived in the manner of a subject, both paid tribute unto Caesar, and pronounced it to be due to him. Give unto Caesar (saith he) the things which are Caesars, and unto God, the things which are Gods. Mat. 22:21. When it pleased him to shew himselfe a King, he required entire obedience. Goe (said he) into the village over against you, and straightway yee shall finde an Asse tyed, and a Colt with her, loose them, and bring them unto me; and if any man say ought unto you, yee shall say the Lord hath need of them. Mat. 21:2,3. This he did therefore by the right of being Lord, or a King of the Jewes. But to take away a subjects goods on this pretence onely, because the Lord hath need of them , is an absolute power. The most evident places in the old Testament are these, Goe thou near, and heare ALL that the Lord our God shall say, and speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee, and we will hear it, and doe it. Deut. 5:27. But under the word all , is contained absolute obedience. Again to Joshua. And they answered Joshua saying, ALL that thou commandest us, we will doe, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will goe; according as we hearkened unto Moyses in ALL things, so will we hearken unto thee, onely the Lord thy God be with thee, as he was with Moyses; whosoever hee be that doth rebell against thy Commandement, and will not hearken unto thy words in ALL that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death. Joshua 1:16-18. And the Parable of the Bramble. Then said all the trees unto the Bramble, Come thou, and reign over us; And the Bramble said unto the trees, If in truth yee anoint me King over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow; and if not, let fire come out of the Bramble, and devoure the Cedars of Lebanon. Judges 9. vers. 14, 15. The sense of which words is, that we must acquiese to their sayings, whom we have truly constituted to be Kings over us, unlesse we would chuse rather to be consumed by the fire of a civill warre. But the Regall authority is more particularly described by God himselfe, in the 1. Sam. 8. vers. 9. &c. Shew them the Right of the King that shall reign over them, &c. This shall be the Right of the King that shall reign over you; he will take your Sons, and appoint them for himself, for his Chariots, and to be his horsemen, and some shall runne before his Chariots, &c. And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, &c. And he will take your vineyards, and give them to his Servants, &c. Is not this power absolute? And yet it is by God himself styled the KINGS RIGHT ; neither was any man among the Jewes, no not the High Priest himselfe, exempted from this obedience. For when the King (namely Solomon) said to Abiathar the Priest, Get thee to Anathoth unto thine own fields, for thou art worthy of death, but I will not at this time put thee to death, because thou barest the Ark of the Lord God before David my father, and because thou hast been afflicted in all wherein my Father was afflicted. So Solomon thrust out Abiathar from being Priest unto the Lord. 1 Kings. 2:26. It cannot by any argument be proved, that this act of his displeased the Lord; neither read we, that either Solomon was reproved, or that his Person at that time was any whit lesse acceptable to God.


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