De Cive

by Thomas Hobbes

Chapter VI.

Of the right of him, whether Counsell, or one Man onely, who hath the supreme power in the City

I. We must consider first of all what a multitude 1 of men (gathering themselves of their owne free wills into society) is, namely, that it is not any one body, but many men, whereof each one hath his owne will, and his peculiar judgment concerning all things that may be propos'd. And though by particular Contracts each single man may have his own Right, and Propriety, so as one may say This is mine, the other, That is his; yet will there not be any thing of which the whole multitude, as a Person distinct from a single man, can rightly say, This is mine, more than anothers. Neither must we ascribe any action to the multitude, as it's one, but (if all, or more of them doe agree) it will not be an Action, but as many actions, as Men. For although in some great Sedition, it's commonly said, That the People of that City have taken up Armes; yet is it true of those onely who are in Armes, or who consent to them. For the City, which is one Person, cannot take up Armes against it selfe. Whatsoever therefore is done by the multitude, must be understood to be done by every one of those by whom it is made up; and that he, who being in the Multitude, and yet consented not, nor gave any helps to the things that were done by it, must be judg'd to have done nothing. Besides, in a multitude not yet reduc'd into one Person, in that manner as hath been said, there remaines that same state of nature in which all things belong to all men and there is no place for Meum & Tuum, which is call'd Dominion, and Propriety, by reason that that security is not yet extant which we have declar'd above to be necessarily requisite for the practise of the Naturall Laws.

II. Next, we must consider that every one of the Multitude (by whose meanes there may be a beginning to make up the City) must agree with the rest, that in those matters which shall be propounded by any one in the Assembly, that be received for the will of all which the major part shall approve of; for otherwise there will be no will at all of a Multitude of Men, whose Wills and Votes differ so variously. Now if any one will not consent, the rest notwithstanding shall among themselves constitute the City without him: Whence it will come to passe, that the City retaines its primitive Right against the Dissentour, that is, the Right of war, as against an Enemy.

III. But because we said in the foregoing Chapter, the sixth Article, That there was requir'd to the security of men, not onely their Consent, but also the Subjection of their wills in such things as were necessary to Peace and Defence; and that in that Union, and Subjection, the nature of a City consisted; We must discerne now in this place, out of those things which may be propounded, discuss'd, and stated in an Assembly of men, (all whose wills are contain'd in the will of the major part) what things are necessary to Peace, and common defence: But first of all, it is necessary to Peace, that a man be so farre forth protected against the violence of others, that he may live securely, that is, that he may have no just cause to fear others, so long as he doth them no injury. Indeed, to make men altogether safe from mutuall harmes, so as they cannot be hurt, or injuriously kill'd, is impossible, and therefore comes not within deliberation. But care may be had there be no just cause of fear; for security is the end wherefore men submit themselves to others, which if it be not had, no man is suppos'd to have submitted himselfe to ought, or to have quitted his Right to all things, before that there was a care had of his security.

IV. It is not enough to obtain this security, that every one of those who are now growing up into a City, doe covenant with the rest, either by words, or writing, Not to steal, not to kill, and to observe the like Lawes; for the pravity of humane disposition is manifest to all, and by experience too well known how little (removing the punishment) men are kept to their duties, through conscience of their promises. We must therefore provide for our security, not by Compacts, but by Punishments; and there is then sufficient provision made, when there are so great punishments appointed for every injury, as apparently it prove a greater evill to have done it, than not to have done it: for all men, by a necessity of nature, chuse that which to them appears to be the lesse evill.

V. Now the right of punishing is then understood to be given to any one, when every man Contracts not to assist him who is to be punished. But I will call this Right, The Sword of Justice. But these kind of contracts men observe well enough, for the most part, till either themselves, or their near friends are to suffer.

VI. Because therefore for the security of particular men, and, by consequence for the common peace, it is necessary that the right of using the Sword for punishment, be transferred to some Man or Counsell, that Man or Counsell is necessarily understood by Right to have the supreme Power in the City. For he that by Right punisheth at his own discretion, by Right compells all men to all things which he himselfe wills; than which a greater command cannot be imagined.

VII. But in vain doe they worship peace at home, who cannot defend themselves against forrainers; neither is it possible for them to protect themselves against forrainers, whose forces are not united; and therefore it is necessary for the preservation of particulars, that there be some one Counsell, or one man, who hath the Right to arm, to gather together, to unite so many Citizens in all dangers, and on all occasions, as shall be needfull for common defence against the certain number, and strength of the enemy; and again, (as often as he shall finde it expedient) to make peace with them. We must understand therefore, that particular Citizens have conveighed their whole Right of Warre, and Peace, unto some one Man or Counsell; And that this right (which we may call the Sword of Warre) belongs to the same Man, or Counsell, to whom the Sword of Justice belongs; for no Man can by Right compell Citizens to take up armes, and be at the expences of Warre, but he who by Right can punish him who doth not obey. Both Swords therefore, as well this of War, as that of Justice, even by the constitution it selfe of a City, and essentially, doe belong to the chiefe command.

VIII. But because the right of the Sword is nothing else but to have power by right to use the sword at his own will, it followes, that the judgement of its right use pertaines to the same party: for if the Power of judging were in one, and the power of executing in another, nothing would be done. For in vain would he give judgement, who could not execute his commands; or if he executed them by the power of another, he himselfe is not said to have the Power of the Sword, but that other, to whom he is onely an Officer. All judgement therefore in a City belongs to him who hath the swords, (i.e.) to him, who hath the supreme authority.

IX. Furthermore, since it no lesse, nay it much more conduceth to Peace to prevent brawles from arising, than to appease them being risen; and that all controversies are bred from hence, that the opinions of men differ concerning Meum & Tuum, just and unjust, profitable and unprofitable, good and evill, honest and dishonest, and the like, which every man esteems according to his own judgement; it belongs to the same chiefe power to make some common Rules for all men, and to declare them publiquely, by which every man may know what may be called his, what anothers, what just, what unjust, what honest, what dishonest, what good, what evill, that is summarily, what is to be done, what to be avoyded in our common course of life. But those Rules and measures are usually called the civill Lawes, or the Lawes of the City, as being the Commands of him who hath the supreme power in the City. And the CIVILL LAWES (that we may define them) are nothing else but the commands of him who hath the chiefe authority in the City, for direction of the future actions of his Citizens.

X. Furthermore, since the affaires of the City, both those of Warre, and Peace, cannot possibly be all administred by one man, or one Counsell, without Officers and subordinate Magistrates, and that it appertains to Peace, and common defence, that they to whom it belongs justly to judge of controversies, to search into neighbouring counsels, prudently to wage war, and on all hands warily to attend the benefit of the City, should also rightly exercise their offices; it is consonant to reason, that they depend on, and be chosen by him who hath the chiefe command both in War, and in Peace.

XI. It is also manifest, that all voluntary actions have their beginning from, and necessarily depend on the will, and that the will of doing, or omitting ought, depends on the opinion of the good and evill of the reward, or punishment, which a man conceives he shall receive by the act, or omission; so as the actions of all men are ruled by the opinions of each; wherefore by evident and necessary inference, we may understand that it very much concerns the interest of Peace, that no opinions or doctrines be delivered to Citizens, by which they may imagine, that either by Right they may not obey the Lawes of the City, that is, the commands of that man, or Counsell, to whom the supreme power is committed, or that it is lawfull for to resist him, or that a lesse punishment remaines for him that denies, than him that yeelds obedience. For if one command somewhat to be done under penalty of naturall death, another forbids it under pain of eternall death, and both by their own Right, it will follow that the Citizens, although innocent, are not onely by Right punishable, but that the City it selfe is altogether dissolved; for no man can serve two Masters: nor is he lesse, but rather more, a Master, whom we believe we are to obey for feare of damnation, than he whom we obey for feare of temporall death. It followes therefore, that this one, whether Man, or Court, to whom the City hath committed the supreme Power, have also this Right, That he both judge what opinions 2 and doctrines are enemies unto peace, and also that he forbid them to be taught.

XII. Last of all, from this consideration, that each Citizen hath submitted his Will to his who hath the Supreme Command in the City, so as he may not employ his strength against him; it followes manifestly, that whatsoever shall be done by him who commands, must not be punisht; for as he who hath not power enough, cannot punish him naturally; so neither can he punish him by Right, who by Right hath not sufficient power.

XIII. It is most manifest by what hath been said, That in every perfect City (that is, where no Citizen hath Right to use his faculties, at his owne discretion, for the preservation of himselfe, or where the Right of the private Sword is excluded) there is a Supreme Power in some one, greater than which cannot by Right be conferr'd by men, or greater than which no mortall man can have over himself. But that power, greater than which cannot by men, be conveigh'd on a man, we call ABSOLUTE: 3 for whosoever hath so submitted his will to the will of the City, That he can, unpunisht, doe any thing, make Lawes, judge Controversies, set Penalties, make use, at his own pleasure, of the strength, and wealth of men, and all this by Right, truly he hath given him the greatest dominion that can be granted. This same may be confirm'd by experience in all the Cities which are, or ever have beene; for though it be sometimes in doubt, what Man, or Counsell, hath the Chief Command, yet ever there is such a Command, and alwayes exercis'd, except in the time of Sedition, and Civill War, and then there are two Chiefe Commands made out of one: Now those seditious persons who dispute against absolute Authority, doe not so much care to destroy it, as to conveigh it on others; for removing this power, they together take away Civill Society, and a confusion of all things returnes. There is so much obedience joyn'd to this absolute Right of the Chief Ruler, as is necessarily requir'd for the Government of the City, that is to say, so much as that Right of his may not be granted in vaine. Now this kind of obedience, although for some reasons it may sometimes, by Right, be deny'd, yet because a greater cannot be perform'd, we will call it SIMPLE. But the obligation to performe this growes not immediately from that Contract by which we have conveigh'd all our Right on the City, but mediately from hence, That, without obedience, the Cities Right would be frustrate, and by consequence there would be no City constituted. For it is one thing if I say, I give you Right to Command what you will; another, if I say, I will doe whatsoever you Command; and the Command may be such, as I would rather die than doe it; forasmuch therefore as no man can be bound to will being kill'd, much lesse is he tyed to that, which to him is worse than death: if therefore I be commanded to kill my self, I am not bound to doe it; for though I deny to doe it, yet the Right of dominion is not frustrated, since others may be found, who being commanded, will not refuse to doe it; neither doe I refuse to doe that which I have contracted to doe. In like manner, if the Chief Ruler command any man to kill him, he is not tyed to doe it, because it cannot be conceiv'd that he made any such Covenant; nor if he command to execute a Parent, whether he be innocent, or guilty, and condemned by the Law, since there are others, who, being commanded, will doe that, and a Son will rather die, than live infamous, and hated of all the world. There are many other cases, in which, since the Commands are shamefull to be done by some, and not by others, Obedience may, by Right, be perform'd by these, and refus'd by those; and this, without breach of that absolute Right which was given to the Chief Ruler. For in no case is the Right taken away from him, of slaying those who shall refuse to obey him. But they who thus kill men, although by Right given them from him that hath it, yet if they use that Right otherwise than right Reason requires, they sin against the Lawes of Nature, (that is) against God.

XIV. Neither can any man give somewhat to himselfe; for he is already suppos'd to have what he can give himself; nor can he be oblig'd to himselfe, for the same party being both the obliged, and the Obliger, and the Obliger having power to release the obliged, it were meerly in vain for a man to be obliged to himselfe, because he can release himself at his own pleasure; and he that can doe this, is already actually free. Whence its plaine, that the City is not tyed to the Civill Lawes; for the Civill Lawes are the Lawes of the City, by which, if she were engag'd, she should be engag'd to her selfe. Neither can the City be oblig'd to her Citizen, because, if he will, he can free her from her obligation; and he will, as oft as she wills, (for the will of every Citizen is in all things comprehended in the will of the City); the City therefore is free when she pleaseth, that is, she is now actually free; but the will of a Councell, or one who hath the Supreme Authority given him, is the will of the City; he therefore containes the wills of all particular Citizens: Therefore neither is he bound to the Civill Lawes (for this is to be bound to himself) nor to any of his Citizens.

XV. Now because (as hath been shewn above) before the constitution of a City all things belong'd to all men, nor is there that thing which any man can so call his, as any other may not, by the same Right, claime as his own, (for where all things are common, there can be nothing proper to any man) it followes, that propriety receiv'd its beginning 4 when Cities receiv'd theirs, and that that onely is proper to each man which he can keep by the Lawes, and the power of the whole City, (that is) of him on whom its chief command is conferr'd. Whence we understand, that each particular Citizen hath a propriety, to which none of his fellow-Citizens hath Right, because they are tyed to the same Lawes; but he hath no propriety in which the Chief Ruler (whose Commands are the Lawes, whose will contains the will of each man, and who, by every single person, is constituted the Supreme Judge) hath not a Right. But although there be many things which the City permits to its Citizens, and therefore they may sometimes goe to Law against their Chief; yet is not that action belonging to Civill Right, but to Naturall Equity; neither is it concerning what by Right he may doe 5 who hath the Supreme power, but what he hath been willing should be done, and therefore he shall be judge himself, as though (the equity of the cause being well understood) he could not give wrong judgment.

XVI. Theft, Murther, Adultery, and all injuries are forbid by the Lawes of nature; but what is to be called Theft, what Murther, what Adultery, what injury in a Citizen, this is not to be determined by the naturall, but by the civill Law: for not every taking away of the thing which another possesseth, but onely another mans goods is theft; but what is ours, and what anothers, is a question belonging to the civill Law. In like manner, not every killing of a man is murther, but onely that which the civill Law forbids; neither is all encounter with women Adultery, but onely that which the civill Law prohibits. Lastly, all breach of promise is an injury, where the promise it selfe is lawfull, but where there is no Right to make any compact, there can be no conveighance of it, and therefore there can no injury follow, as hath been said in the second Chapter, Artic. 17. Now what we may contract for, and what not, depends wholly upon the civill Lawes. The City of Lacedoemon therefore rightly ordered that those young men who could so take away certain goods from others as not to be caught, should goe unpunisht; for it was nothing else, but to make a Law that what was so acquired should be their own, and not anothers. Rightly also is that man every where slain, whom we kill in warre, or by the necessity of selfe-defence. So also that copulation which in one City is Matrimony, in another will be judged Adultery. Also those contracts which make up Marriage in one Citizen, doe not so in another, although of the same City; because that he who is forbidden by the City (that is by that one man, or Councell, whose the supreme power is) to contract ought, hath no Right to make any contract, and therefore having made any, it is not valid, and by consequence, no Marriage. But his contract which received no prohibition, was therefore of force, and so was Matrimony: neither addes it any force to any unlawfull contracts, that they were made by an Oath, or Sacrament, 6 for those adde nothing to the strengthning of the contract, as hath been said above Chap. 2. Artic. 22. What therefore Theft, what Murther, what Adultery, and in generall what injury is, must be known by the civill Lawes, that is, the commands of him who hath the supreme authority.

XVII. This same supreme command, and absolute power, seems so harsh to the greatest part of men, as they hate the very naming of them; which happens chiefly through want of knowledge, what humane nature, and the civill Lawes are, and partly also through their default, who when they are invested with so great authority, abuse their power to their own lust. That they may therefore avoyd this kind of supreme authority, some of them will have a City well enough constituted, if they who shall be the Citizens convening, doe agree concerning certaine Articles propounded, and in that convent agitated and approved; and doe command them to be observed, and punishments prescribed to be inflicted on them who shall break them: to which purpose, and also to the repelling of a forraign enemy, they appoint a certain and limited return, with this condition, that if that suffice not, they may call a new convention of estates. Who sees not in a City thus constituted, that the Assembly who prescribed those things had an absolute power? If therefore the assembly continue, or from time to time have a certain day, and place of meeting, that power will be perpetuall. But if they wholly dissolve, either the City dissolves with them, and so all is returned to the state of War, or else there is somewhere a power left to punish those who shall transgresse the Lawes, whosoever, or how many soever they be that have it, which cannot possibly be without an absolute power: for he that by right hath this might given, by punishments to restrain what Citizens he pleaseth, hath such a power, as a greater cannot possibly be given by any Citizens.

XVIII. It is therefore manifest, that in every City there is some one man, or Councell, or Court, who by Right hath as great a power over each single Citizen, as each man hath over himselfe considered out of that civill state, that is, supreme and absolute, to be limited onely by the strength and forces of the City it selfe, and by nothing else in the world: for if his power were limited, that limitation must necessarily proceed from some greater power; For he that prescribes limits, must have a greater power than he who is confin'd by them; now that confining power is either without limit, or is again restrained by some other greater than it selfe, and so we shall at length arrive to a power which hath no other limit, but that which is the terminus ultimus of the forces of all the Citizens together. That same is called the supreme command, and if it bee committed to a councell, a supreme councell, but if to one man, the supreme Lord of the City. Now the notes of supreme command are these, To make and abrogate Lawes. To determine War and peace, to know, and judge of all controversies, either by himselfe, or by Judges appointed by him; to elect all Magistrates; Ministers, and Counsellors. Lastly, if there be any man who by Right can doe some one action which is not lawfull for any Citizen or Citizens to doe beside himselfe, that man hath obtained the supreme power: For those things which by Right may not be done by any one or many Citizens, the City it selfe can onely doe: He therefore that doth those things useth the Cities Right, which is the supreme power.

XIX. They who compare a City and its Citizens, with a man and his members, almost all say, that he who hath the supreme power in the City, is in relation to the whole City, such as the head is to the whole man; But it appeares by what hath been already said, that he who is endued with such a power, (whether it be a man, or a Court) hath a relation to the City, not as that of the head, but of the soule to the body. For it is the soule by which a man hath a will, that is, can either will, or nill; so by him who hath the supreme power, and no otherwise, the City hath a will, and can either will or nill. A Court of Counsellors is rather to be compared with the head, or one Counsellor, whose only Counsell (if of any one alone) the chief Ruler makes use of in matters of greatest moment: for the office of the head is to counsell, as the soules is to command.

XX. Forasmuch as the supreme command is constituted by vertue of the compacts which each single Citizen, or subject, mutually makes with the other; but all contracts, as they receive their force from the contractors, so by their consent they lose it again, and are broken; perhaps some may inferre hence, that by the consent of all the subjects together, the supreme authority may be wholly taken away. Which inference if it were true, I cannot discerne what danger would thence by Right arise to the supreme Commanders. For since it is supposed, that each one hath obliged himselfe to each other, if any one of them shall refuse, whatsoever the rest shall agree to doe, he is bound notwithstanding; neither can any man without injury to me, doe that which by contract made with me, he hath obliged himselfe not to doe. But it is not to be imagined that ever it will happen, that all the subjects together, not so much as one excepted, will combine against the supreme power; wherefore there is no feare for Rulers in chiefe, that by any Right they can be despoyled of their authority. If notwithstanding it were granted, that their Right depended onely on that contract which each man makes with his fellow-citizen, it might very easily happen, that they might be robbed of that Dominion under pretence of Right; for subjects being called either by the command of the City, or seditiously flocking together, most men think that the consents of all are contained in the votes of the greater part. Which in truth is false; for it is not from nature that the consent of the major part should be received for the consent of all, neither is it true in tumults, but it proceeds from civill institution, and is then onely true, when that Man or Court which hath the supreme power, assembling his subjects, by reason of the greatnesse of their number, allowes those that are elected a power of speaking for those who elected them, and will have the major part of voyces, in such matters as are by him propounded to be discust, to be as effectuall as the whole. But we cannot imagine that he who is chiefe, ever convened his subjects with intention that they should dispute his Right, unlesse, weary of the burthen of his charge, he declared in plain termes, that he renounces and abandons his government. Now because most men through ignorance esteem not the consent of the major part of Citizens only, but even of a very few, provided they be of their opinion, for the consent of the whole City, it may very well seem to them, that the supreme authority may by right be abrogated, so it be done in some great Assembly of Citizens by the votes of the greater number; But though a government be constituted by the contracts of particular men with particulars, yet its Right depends not on that obligation onely; there is another tye also toward him who commands; for each Citizen compacting with his fellow, sayes thus, I conveigh my Right on this party, upon condition, that you passe yours to the same; by which means, that Right which every man had before to use his faculties to his own advantage, is now wholly translated on some certain man, or Councell, for the common benefit; wherefore what by the mutuall contracts each one hath made with the other, what by the donation of Right which every man is bound to ratifie to him that commands, the government is upheld by a double obligation from the Citizens, first that which is due to their fellow citizens, next that which they owe to their prince. Wherefore no subjects how many soever they be, can with any Right despoyle him who bears the chiefe Rule, of his authority, even without his own consent.

1. Multitude, &c. The Doctrine of the Power of a City over it's Citizens, almost wholly depends on the understanding of the difference which is between a multitude of men ruling, and a multitude ruled: For such is the nature of a City, That a multitude, or company of Citizens, not onely may have command, but may also be subject to command, but in diverse senses; which difference I did beleeve was clearly enough explained in this first Article; but by the objections of many against those things which follow, I discern otherwise; wherefore it seemed good to me, to the end I might make a fuller explication, to adde these few things.

By Multitude, because it is a collective word, we understand more than one, so as a multitude of men is the same with many men; The same word, because it is of the singular number, signifies one thing, namely, one multitude; but in neither sense can a multitude be understood to have one will given to it by nature, but to either a severall; and therefore neither is any one action whatsoever to be attributed to it: therefore a Multitude cannot promise, contract, acquire Right, conveigh Right, act, have, Possesse, and the like, unlesse it be every one apart, and Man by Man; so as there must be as many promises, compacts, rights, and actions, as Men. Wherefore a Multitude is no naturall Person; but if the same Multitude doe Contract one with another, that the will of one man, or the agreeing wills of the major part of them, shall be received for the will of all, then it becomes one Person; for it is endu'd with a will, and therefore can doe voluntary actions, such as are Commanding, making Lawes, acquiring and transferring of Right, and so forth; and it is oftner call'd the People, than the Multitude. We must therefore distinguish thus. When we say the People, or Multitude, wills, commands, or doth any thing, it is understood that the City which Commands, wills and Acts by the will of one, or the concurring wills of more, which cannot be done, but in an Assembly; But as oft as any thing is said to be done by a Multitude of Men, whether great, or small, without the will of that man, or assembly of men, that's understood to be done by a subjected People, that is, by many single Citizens together, and not proceeding from one will, but from diverse wills of diverse men, who are Citizens, and Subjects, but not a City.

2. Judge what opinions, &c. There is scarce any Principle, neither in the worship of God, nor humane sciences, from whence there may not spring dissentions, discords, reproaches, and by degrees war it selfe; neither doth this happen by reason of the falshood of the Principle, but of the disposition of men, who seeming wise to themselves, will needs appear such to all others: But though such dissentions cannot be hindered from arising, yet may they be restrained by the exercise of the supreme Power, that they Prove no hinderance to the publique peace. Of these kind of opinions therefore I have not spoken of in this place. There are certain doctrines wherewith Subjects being tainted, they verily believe that obedience may be refused to the City, and that by Right they may, nay ought, to oppose, and fight against chiefe Princes, and dignities. Such are those, which whether directly, and openly, or more obscurely, and by consequence require obedience to be given to others beside them to whom the supreme authority is committed. I deny not, but this reflects on that Power which many living under other government, ascribe to the chiefe head of the Church of Rome, and also on that, which elsewhere out of that Church, Bishops require in theirs, to be given to them; and last of all, on that liberty which the lower sort of Citizens under pretence of Religion doe challenge to themselves; for what civill war was there ever in the Christian world, which did not either grow from, or was nourisht by this Root? The judgement therefore of doctrines, whether they be repugnant to civill obedience or not, and if they be repugnant, the Power of prohibiting them to be taught, I doe here attribute to the civill authority; for since there is no man who grants not to the City the judgement of those things which belong to its Peace, and defence, and it is manifest, that the opinions which I have already recited do relate to its Peace, it followes necessarily, that the examination of those opinions, whether they be such, or not, must be referred to the City, that is, to him who hath the supreme authority.

3. Absolute. A popular state openly challengeth absolute dominion, and the Citizens oppose it not, for in the gathering together of many men, they acknowledge the face of a City; and even the unskilfull understand, that matters there are rul'd by Counsell. Yet monarchy is no lesse a City, than Democraty, and absolute Kings have their Counsellours, from whom they will take advice, and suffer their Power, in matters of greater consequence, to be guided, but not recall'd. But it appears not to most men how a City is contain'd in the person of a King; and therefore they object against Absolute Command: First, that if any man had such a Right, the condition of the Citizens would be miserable: For thus they think, he will take all, spoil all, kill all; and every man counts it his onely happinesse that he is not already spoil'd and kill'd. But why should he doe thus? Not because he can; for unlesse he have a mind to it, he will not doe it. Will he, to please one, or some few, spoil all the rest? First, though by Right, that is, without injury to them, he may doe it, yet can he not doe it justly, that is, without breach of the Naturall Lawes, and injury against God. And therefore there is some security for Subjects in the Oaths which princes take. Next, if he could justly doe it, or that he made no account of his Oath, yet appeares there no reason why he should desire it, since he findes no good in it. But it cannot be deny'd but a prince may sometimes have an inclination to doe wickedly; but grant then that thou hadst given him a power which were not absolute, but so much onely as suffic'd to defend thee from the injuries of others, which, if thou wilt be safe, is necessary for thee to give; are not all the same things to be feared? For he that hath strength enough to protect all, wants not sufficiency to oppresse all. Here is no other difficulty then, but that humane affaires cannot be without some inconvenience. And this inconvenience it self is in the Citizens, not in the Government; for if men could rule themselves, every man by his own command, that's to say, could they live according to the Lawes of Nature, there would be no need at all of a City, nor of a common coercive power. Secondly, they object, That there is no Dominion in the Christian world Absolute; which indeed is not true, for all Monarchies, and all other States, are so; for although they, who have the chief Command, doe not all those things they would, and what they know profitable to the City, the reason of that is not the defect of Right in them, but the consideration of their Citizens, who busied about their private interest, and carelesse of what tends to the publique, cannot sometimes be drawn to performe their duties without the hazard of the City. Wherefore princes sometimes forbear the exercise of their Right, and prudently remit somewhat of the act, but nothing of their Right.

4. Propriety receiv'd its beginning, &c. What's objected by some, That the propriety of goods, even before the constitution of Cities, was found in Fathers of Families, that objection is vaine, because I have already declar'd, That a Family is a little City. For the Sonnes of a Family have a propriety of their goods granted them by their Father, distinguisht indeed from the rest of the Sons of the same Family, but not from the propriety of the Father himself; but the Fathers of diverse Families, who are subject neither to any common Father, nor Lord, have a common Right in all things.

5. What by Right he may doe, &c. As often as a Citizen is granted to have an action of Law against the Supreme, i.e. against the City, the question is not in that action, whether the City may, by Right, keep possession of the thing in controversie, but whether by the Lawes formerly made she would keep it; for the Law is the declared will of the Supreme: since then the City may raise money from the Citizens under two Titles, either as Tribute, or as Debt, in the former case there is no action of Law allowed; for there can be no question whether the City have Right to require Tribute: in the latter it is allowed, because the City will take nothing from its Citizens by fraud, or cunning, and yet if need require, all they have, openly; and therefore he that condemnes this place, saying, That by this doctrine it is easie for princes to free themselves from their Debts, he does it impertinently.

6. That they were made by an Oath or Sacrament, &c. Whether Matrimony bee a Sacrament (in which sense that word is used by some Divines) or not, it is not my purpose to dispute: Onely I say, that the legitimate contract of a man and woman to live together, i.e. granted by the civill Law, whether it be a Sacrament, or not, is surely a legitimate Marriage; but that copulation which the City hath prohibited is no marriage, since it is of the essence of Marriage to be a legitimate contract. There were legitimate marriages in many places, as among the Jewes, the Grecians, the Romans, which yet might be dissolved. But with those who permit no such contracts, but by a Law that they shall never be broke, Wedlock cannot be dissolved; and the reason is, because the City hath commanded it to be indissoluble, not because Matrimony is a Sacrament. Wherefore the ceremonies which at weddings are to be performed in the Temple, to blesse, or (if I may say so) to consecrate the husband and wife, will perhaps belong only to the office of Clergy-men; all the rest, namely who, when, and by what contracts Marriages may be made, pertains to the Lawes of the City.

Contents | Next | Previous | Text Version