Page images
PDF
EPUB

justly therefore by them we are trod underfoot, and shall at length with them be punished. Yet ways are not wanting by which tyrants may be removed, but there wants public justice.”* “ Beware, ye tyrants ! for now the gospel of Jesus Christ, spreading far and wide, will renew the lives of many to love innocence and justice; which if ye also shall do, ye shall be honoured. But if ye shall go on to rage and do violence, ye shall be trampled on by all men.”+ “When the Roman empire, or any other, shall begin o oppress religion, and we negligently suffer it, we are as much guilty of religion so violated, as the oppressors themselves." I

“ Now-a-days monarchs pretend always in their titles to be kings by the grace of God; but how many of them to this end only pretend it, that they may reign without control! For to what purpose is the grace of God mentioned in the title of kings, but that they may acknowledge no superior ? In the meanwhile God, whose name they use to support themselýes, they willingly would tread under their feet. It is therefore a mere cheat, when they boast to reign by the grace of God.” “Earthly princes depose themselves, while they rise against God; yea, they are unworthy to be numbered among men: rather it behoves us to spit upon their heads, than to obey them.”

“If a sovereign prince endeavour by arms to defend transgressors, to subvert those things which are taught in the word of God, they, who are in authority under him, ought first to dissuade him ; if they prevail not, and that he now bears himself not as a prince but as an enemy, and seeks to violate privileges and rights granted to inferior magistrates or commonalties, it is the part of pious magistrates, imploring first the assistance of God, rather to try all ways and means, than to betray the flock of Christ to such an enemy of God : for they also are to this end ordained, that they may defend the people of God, and maintain those things which are good and

* “ Nunc cum tam tepidi sumus," &c.—Zwinglius, tom. i. articul. 42. + “ Cavete vobis ô tyranni.”-Ibid.

I“ Romanum imperium imô quodque,” &c.—Idem. Epist. ad Conrad. Somium.

§ “ Hodie monarchæ semper in suis titulis,” &c.—Calvin on Daniel, for iv, v. 25.

“ Abdicant se terreni principes," &c.—On Dan. c. vi. v. 22.

just. For to have supreme power lessens not the evil committed by that power, but makes it the less tolerable, by how much the more generally hurtful. Then certainly the less tolerable, the more unpardonably to be punished.” *Of Peter Martyr we have spoke before. “ They whose part is to set up magistrates, may restrain them also from outrageous deeds, or pull them down; but all magistrates are set up either by parliament or by electors, or by other magistrates ; they, therefore, who exalted them may lawfully degrade and punish them.”+ · Of the Scots divines I need not mention others than the famousest among them, Knox, and his fellow-labourers in the reformation of Scotland; whose large treatise on this subject defends the same opinion. To cite them sufficiently, were to insert their whole books, written purposely on this argument, “Knox's Appeal ;” and “ to the reader;" where he promises in a postscript, that the book which he intended to set forth, called, “ The Second Blast of the Trumpet,” should maintain more at large, that the same men most justly may depose and punish him whom unadvisedly they have elected, notwithstanding birth, succession, or any oath of allegiance. Among our own divines, i Cartwright and Fenner, two of the learn.

* « Si princeps superior,” &c.—Bucer on Matth. c. v. † « Quorum est constituere magistratus," &c.-Paræus in Rom. xiii.

# Hobbes, who hated religion still more, if possible, than he did liberty, observes that this " seditious doctrine ” found several advocates among the doctors of the church. Treating of the internal causes which produce the dissolution of governments, he first classes among "seditious opinions,” the notion that private individuals are able to form a just idea of right and wrong; the second political heresy is the belief that subjects may sin in obeying the unjust commands of those in authority; and the third " doctrina seditiosa,deriving its origin from the same root, is, that tyrannicide is law. ful. “This opinion, however,” he says, “ was defended, in his day, by certain theologians, and in old times by all the sophists, by Plato, for example, Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, Plutarch, and the other Greek and Roman advocates of anarchy, who not only thought it lawful, but worthy of the highest praise. And by the word tyrants they understood not only monarchs, but whoever held the supreme power in a state,” (De Cive, cap. xii. p. 186.) It is not a little amusing to hear the modern Protagoras complimenting the greatest philosophers of antiquity with the appellation which he knew would surely be applied by posterity to himself. Perhaps he regarded it as a garment which, by being first thrown over the shoulders of virtue and wisdom, might be impregnated with a perfume that would, when he came to wear it, keep his own name from stinking. However, he has here played the sophist well, adroitly mixing up truth and falsehood, so

edest, may in reason satisfy us what was held by the rest. Fenner, in his book of Theology, maintaining, that they who have power, that is to say, a parliament, may either by fair means or by force depose a tyrant, whom he defines to be him that wilfully breaks all or the principal conditions made between him and the commonwealth. * And Cartwright, in a prefixed epistle, testifies his approbation of the whole book.

“ Kings have their authority of the people, who may upon occasion reassume it to themselves.” + “The people may kill wicked princes, as monsters and cruel beasts.” I “When kings or rulers become blasphemers of God, oppressors and murderers of their subjects, they ought no more to be accounted kings, or lawful inagistrates, but as private men to be examined, accused, and condemned and punished by the law of God; and heing convicted and punished by that law, it is not man's but God's doing.” § “ By the civil laws, a fool or idiot born, and so proved, shall lose the lands and inheritance whereto he is born, because he is not able to use them aright: and especially ought in no case be suffered to have the government of a whole nation; but there is no such evil can come to the commonwealth by fools and idiots, as doth by the rage and fury of ungodly rulers ; such, therefore, being without God, ought to have no authority over God's people, who by his word requireth the contrary.” || “No person is exempt by any law of God from this punishment; be he king, queen, or emperor, he must die the death; for God hath not placed them above others, to transgress his laws as they list, but to be subject to them as well as others; and if they be subject to his laws, then to the punishment also, so much the more as their example is more dangerous.” that the reader might be compelled to swallow both together. Tyrannicide was indeed considered lawful by the writers above enumerated; but those only were denominated tyrants who usurped the supreme power in a state previously free ; or exercised an inherited authority in an unjust and flagiLious manner. "Omnes autem et habentur et dicuntur tyranni qui potestate sunt perpetua in ea civitate, quæ libertate usa est."-(Corn. Nepos, in Vita Miltiad. c. 8.)-ED. * Fen. Sac. Theolog. c. 13. + Gilby de Obedientiâ, p. 25 and 105.

England's Complaint against the Canons. Š Christopher Goodman of Obedience, c. X. p. 139. 1 c. xi. p. 143, 144. .

. C. xiii. p. 184.

“ When magistrates cease to do their duty, the people are, as it were, without magistrates, yea, worse, and then God giveth the sword into the people's hand, and he himself is become immediately their head." * “ If princes do right, and keep promise with you, then do you owe to them all humble obedience ; if not, ye are discharged, and your study ought to be in this case how ye may depose and punish according to the law such rebels against God, and oppressors of their country.” +

This Goodman was a minister of the English church at Geneva, as Dudley Fenner was at Middleburgh, or some other place in that country. These were the pastors of those saints and confessors, who, flying from the bloody persecution of Queen Mary, gathered up at length their scattered members into many congregations; whereof some in Upper, some in Lower Germany, part of them settled at Geneva; where this author having preached on this subject, to the great liking of certain learned and godly men who heard him, was by them sundry times and with much instance required to write more fully on that point. Who thereupon took it in hand, and conferring with the best learned in those parts, (among whom Calvin was then living in the same city,) with their special approbation he published this treatise, aiming principally, as is testified by Whittingham in the Preface, that his brethren of England, the protestants, might be persuaded in the truth of that doctrine concerning obedience to magistrates. I

These were the true protestant divines of England, our fathers in the faith we hold ; this was their sense, who for so many years labouring under prelacy, through all storms and persecutions, kept religion from extinguishing; and delivered it pure to us, tiil there arose a covetous and ambitious generation of divines, (for divines they call themselves !) who, feigning on a sudden to be new converts and proselytes from episcopacy, under which they had long temporised, opened their mouths at length, in show against pluralities and prelacy, but with intent to swallow them down both; gorging themselves like harpies on those simonious places and preferments of their outed predecessors, as the quarry for which they hunted, not to plurality only but to multiplicity'; for pos* P. 185.

+ P. 190. | Whittingham in Prefat.

[graphic]

sessing which they had accused them, their brethren, and aspiring under another title to the same authority and usurpation over the consciences of all men.

Of this faction, divers reverend and learned divines (as they are styled in the philactery of their own title-page) pleading the lawfulness of defensive arms against the king, in a treatise called “Scripture and Reason," seem in words to disclaim utterly the deposing of a king ; but both the scripture, and the reasons which they use, draw consequences after them, which, without their bidding, conclude it lawful. For if by scripture, and by that especially to the Romans, which they most insist upon, kings, doing that which is contrary to St. Paul's definition of a magistrate, may be resisted, they may altogether with as much force of consequence be deposed or punished. And if by reason the unjust authority of kings “ may be forfeited in part, and his power be reassumed in part, either by the parliament or people, for the case in hazard and the present necessity," as they affirm, p. 34, there can no scripture be alleged, no imaginable reason given, that necessity continuing, as it may always, and they in all prudence and their duty may take upon them to foresee it, why in such a case they may not finally amerce him with the loss of his kingdom, of whose amendment they have no hope. And if one wicked action persisted in against religion, laws, and liberties, may warrant us to thus much in part, why may not forty times as many tyrannies, by him committed, warrant us to proceed on restraining him, till the restraint become total ? For the ways of justice are exactest proportion; if for one trespass of a king it require so much remedy or satisfaction, then for twenty more as heinous crimes, it requires of him twenty-fold ; and so proportionably, till it come to what is utmost among men. If in these proceedings against their king they may not finish, by the usual course of justice, what they have begun, they could not lawfully begin at all. For this golden rule of justice and morality, as well as of arithmetic, out of three terms which they admit, will as certainly and unavoidably bring out the fourth as any problem that ever Euclid or Appollonius made good by demonstration.

10 And if the parliament, being undeposable but by themselves, as is affirmed, p. 37, 38, might for his whole life, if they saw cause, take all power, authority, and the sword out

« PreviousContinue »