Leviathan/The Fourth Part
The Fourth Part: Of the Kingdom of Darkness
Chapter XLIV: Of Spiritual Darkness from Misinterpretation of Scripture
Besides these sovereign powers, divine and human, of which I have hitherto discoursed, there is mention in Scripture of another power, namely, that of "the rulers of the darkness of this world,"* "the kingdom of Satan,"
- (2) and "the principality of Beelzebub over demons,"
- (3) that is to say, over phantasms that appear in the air: for which cause Satan is also called "the prince of the power of the air";
- (4) and, because he ruleth in the darkness of this world, "the prince of this world":
- (5) and in consequence hereunto, they who are under his dominion, in opposition to the faithful, who are the "children of the light," are called the "children of darkness." For seeing Beelzebub is prince of phantasms, inhabitants of his dominion of air and darkness, the children of darkness, and these demons, phantasms, or spirits of illusion, signify allegorically the same thing. This considered, the kingdom of darkness, as it is set forth in these and other places of the Scripture, is nothing else but a confederacy of deceivers that, to obtain dominion over men in this present world, endeavour, by dark and erroneous doctrines, to extinguish in them the light, both of nature and of the gospel; and so to disprepare them for the kingdom of God to come.
- Ephesians, 6. 12
- (2) Matthew, 12. 26
- (3) Ibid., 9. 34
- (4) Ephesians, 2. 2
- (5) John, 16. 11
As men that are utterly deprived from their nativity of the light of the bodily eye have no idea at all of any such light; and no man conceives in his imagination any greater light than he hath at some time or other perceived by his outward senses: so also is it of the light of the gospel, and of the light of the understanding, that no man can conceive there is any greater degree of it than that which he hath already attained unto. And from hence it comes to pass that men have no other means to acknowledge their own darkness but only by reasoning from the unforeseen mischances that befall them in their ways. The darkest part of the kingdom of Satan is that which is without the Church of God; that is to say, amongst them that believe not in Jesus Christ. But we cannot say that therefore the Church enjoyeth, as the land of Goshen, all the light which to the performance of the work enjoined us by God is necessary. Whence comes it that in Christendom there has been, almost from the time of the Apostles, such jostling of one another out of their places, both by foreign and civil war; such stumbling at every little asperity of their own fortune, and every little eminence of that of other men; and such diversity of ways in running to the same mark, felicity, if it be not night amongst us, or at least a mist? We are therefore yet in the dark.
The enemy has been here in the night of our natural ignorance, and sown the tares of spiritual errors; and that, first, by abusing and putting out the light of the Scriptures: for we err, not knowing the Scriptures. Secondly, by introducing the demonology of the heathen poets, that is to say, their fabulous doctrine concerning demons, which are but idols, or phantasms of the brain, without any real nature of their own, distinct from human fancy; such as are dead men's ghosts, and fairies, and other matter of old wives' tales. Thirdly, by mixing with the Scripture diverse relics of the religion, and much of the vain and erroneous philosophy of the Greeks, especially of Aristotle. Fourthly, by mingling with both these, false or uncertain traditions, and feigned or uncertain history. And so we come to err, by giving heed to seducing spirits, and the demonology of such as speak lies in hypocrisy, or, as it is in the original, "of those that play the part of liars,"* with a seared conscience, that is, contrary to their own knowledge. Concerning the first of these, which is the seducing of men by abuse of Scripture, I intend to speak briefly in this chapter.
- I Timothy, 4. 1, 2
The greatest and main abuse of Scripture, and to which almost all the rest are either consequent or subservient, is the wresting of it to prove that the kingdom of God, mentioned so often in the Scripture, is the present Church, or multitude of Christian men now living, or that, being dead, are to rise again at the last day: whereas the kingdom of God was first instituted by the ministry of Moses, over the Jews only; who were therefore called his peculiar people; and ceased afterward, in the election of Saul, when they refused to be governed by God any more, and demanded a king after the manner of the nations; which God Himself consented unto, as I have more at large proved before, in the thirty-fifth Chapter. After that time, there was no other kingdom of God in the world, by any pact or otherwise, than He ever was, is, and shall be king of all men and of all creatures, as governing according to His will, by His infinite power. Nevertheless, He promised by His prophets to restore this His government to them again, when the time He hath in His secret counsel appointed for it shall be fully come, and when they shall turn unto Him by repentance and amendment of life. And not only so, but He invited also the Gentiles to come in, and enjoy the happiness of His reign, on the same conditions of conversion and repentance. And He promised also to send His Son into the world, to expiate the sins of them all by his death, and to prepare them by his doctrine to receive him at his second coming: which second coming not yet being, the kingdom of God is not yet come, and we are not now under any other kings by pact but our civil sovereigns; saving only that Christian men are already in the kingdom of grace, inasmuch as they have already the promise of being received at his coming again.
Consequent to this error, that the present Church is Christ's kingdom, there ought to be some one man, or assembly, by whose mouth our Saviour, now in heaven, speaketh, giveth law, and which representeth his person to all Christians; or diverse men, or diverse assemblies that do the same to diverse parts of Christendom. This power regal under Christ being challenged universally by the Pope, and in particular Commonwealths by assemblies of the pastors of the place (when the Scripture gives it to none but to civil sovereigns), comes to be so passionately disputed that it putteth out the light of nature, and causeth so great a darkness in men's understanding that they see not who it is to whom they have engaged their obedience.
Consequent to this claim of the Pope to vicar general of Christ in the present Church (supposed to be that kingdom of his to which we are addressed in the gospel) is the doctrine that it is necessary for a Christian king to receive his crown by a bishop; as if it were from that ceremony that he derives the clause of Dei gratia in his title; and that then only is he made king by the favour of God when he is crowned by the authority of God's universal vicegerent on earth; and that every bishop, whosoever be his sovereign, taketh at his consecration an oath of absolute obedience to the Pope. Consequent to the same is the doctrine of the fourth Council of Lateran, held under Pope Innocent the Third (Chapter 3, De Haereticis), "That if a king, at the pope's admonition, do not purge his kingdom of heresies, and being excommunicate for the same, do not give satisfaction within a year, his subjects are absolved of the bond of their obedience." Whereby heresies are understood all opinions which the Church of Rome hath forbidden to be maintained. And by this means, as often as there is any repugnancy between the political designs of the Pope and other Christian princes, as there is very often, there ariseth such a mist amongst their subjects, that they know not a stranger that thrusteth himself into the throne of their lawful prince, from him whom they had themselves placed there; and, in this darkness of mind, are made to fight one against another, without discerning their enemies from their friends, under the conduct of another man's ambition.
From the same opinion, that the present Church is the kingdom of God, it proceeds that pastors, deacons, and all other ministers of the Church take the name to themselves of the clergy; giving to other Christians the name of laity, that is, simply people. For clergy signifies those whose maintenance is that revenue which God, having reserved to Himself during His reign over the Israelites, assigned to the tribe of Levi (who were to be His public ministers, and had no portion of land set them out to live on, as their brethren) to be their inheritance. The Pope therefore (pretending the present Church to be, as the realms of Israel, the kingdom of God), challenging to himself and his subordinate ministers the like revenue as the inheritance of God, the name of clergy was suitable to that claim. And thence it is that tithes and other tributes paid to the Levites as God's right, amongst the Israelites, have a long time been demanded and taken of Christians by ecclesiastics, jure divino, that is, in God's right. By which means, the people everywhere were obliged to a double tribute; one to the state, another to the clergy; whereof that to the clergy, being the tenth of their revenue, is double to that which a king of Athens (and esteemed a tyrant) exacted of his subjects for the defraying of all public charges: for he demanded no more but the twentieth part, and yet abundantly maintained therewith the Commonwealth. And in the kingdom of the Jews, during the sacerdotal reign of God, the tithes and offerings were the whole public revenue.
From the same mistaking of the present Church for the kingdom of God came in the distinction between the civil and the canon laws: the civil law being the acts of sovereigns in their own dominions, and the canon law being the acts of the Pope in the same dominions. Which canons, though they were but canons, that is, rules propounded, and but voluntarily received by Christian princes, till the translation of the Empire to Charlemagne; yet afterwards, as the power of the Pope increased, became rules commanded, and the emperors themselves, to avoid greater mischiefs, which the people blinded might be led into, were forced to let them pass for laws.
From hence it is that in all dominions where the Pope's ecclesiastical power is entirely received, Jews, Turks, and Gentiles are in the Roman Church tolerated in their religion as far forth as in the exercise and profession thereof they offend not against the civil power: whereas in a Christian, though a stranger, not to be of the Roman religion is capital, because the Pope pretendeth that all Christians are his subjects. For otherwise it were as much against the law of nations to persecute a Christian stranger for professing the religion of his own country, as an infidel; or rather more, inasmuch as they that are not against Christ are with him.
From the same it is that in every Christian state there are certain men that are exempt, by ecclesiastical liberty, from the tributes and from the tribunals of the civil state; for so are the secular clergy, besides monks and friars, which in many places bear so great a proportion to the common people as, if need were, there might be raised out of them alone an army sufficient for any war the Church militant should employ them in against their own or other princes.
A second general abuse of Scripture is the turning of consecration into conjuration, or enchantment. To consecrate is, in Scripture, to offer, give, or dedicate, in pious and decent language and gesture, a man or any other thing to God, by separating of it from common use; that is to say, to sanctify, or make it God's, and to be used only by those whom God hath appointed to be His public ministers (as I have already proved at large in the thirty-fifth Chapter), and thereby to change, not the thing consecrated, but only the use of it, from being profane and common, to be holy, and peculiar to God's service. But when by such words the nature or quality of the thing itself is pretended to be changed, it is not consecration, but either an extraordinary work of God, or a vain and impious conjuration. But seeing, for the frequency of pretending the change of nature in their consecrations, it cannot be esteemed a work extraordinary, it is no other than a conjuration or incantation, whereby they would have men to believe an alteration of nature that is not, contrary to the testimony of man's sight and of all the rest of his senses. As for example, when the priest, instead of consecrating bread and wine to God's peculiar service in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper (which is but a separation of it from the common use to signify, that is, to put men in mind of, their redemption by the Passion of Christ, whose body was broken and blood shed upon the cross for our transgressions), pretends that by saying of the words of our Saviour, "This is my body," and "This is my blood," the nature of bread is no more there, but his very body; notwithstanding there appeareth not to the sight or other sense of the receiver anything that appeared not before the consecration. The Egyptian conjurers, that are said to have turned their rods to serpents, and the water into blood, are thought but to have deluded the senses of the spectators by a false show of things, yet are esteemed enchanters. But what should we have thought of them if there had appeared in their rods nothing like a serpent, and in the water enchanted nothing like blood, nor like anything else but water, but that they had faced down the king, that they were serpents that looked like rods, and that it was blood that seemed water? That had been both enchantment and lying. And yet in this daily act of the priest, they do the very same, by turning the holy words into the manner of a charm, which produceth nothing new to the sense; but they face us down, that it hath turned the bread into a man; nay, more, into a God; and require men to worship it as if it were our Saviour himself present,
God and Man, and thereby to commit most gross idolatry. For if it be enough to excuse it of idolatry to say it is no more bread, but God; why should not the same excuse serve the Egyptians, in case they had the faces to say the leeks and onions they worshipped were not very leeks and onions, but a divinity under their species or likeness? The words, "This is my body," are equivalent to these, "This signifies, or represents, my body"; and it is an ordinary figure of speech: but to take it literally is an abuse; nor, though so taken, can it extend any further than to the bread which Christ himself with his own hands consecrated. For he never said that of what bread soever any priest whatsoever should say, "This is my body," or "This is Christ's body," the same should presently be transubstantiated. Nor did the Church of Rome ever establish this transubstantiation, till the time of Innocent the Third; which was not above five hundred years ago, when the power of Popes was at the highest, and the darkness of the time grown so great, as men discerned not the bread that was given them to eat, especially when it was stamped with the figure of Christ upon the cross, as if they would have men believe it were transubstantiated, not only into the body of Christ, but also into the wood of his cross, and that they did eat both together in the sacrament.
The like incantation, instead of consecration, is used also in the sacrament of baptism: where the abuse of God's name in each several person, and in the whole Trinity, with the sign of the cross at each name, maketh up the charm. As first, when they make the holy water, the priest saith, "I conjure thee, thou creature of water, in the name of God the Father Almighty, and in the name of Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord, and in virtue of the Holy Ghost, that thou become conjured water, to drive away all the powers of the enemy, and to eradicate, and supplant the enemy," etc. And the same in the benediction of the salt to be mingled with it, "That thou become conjured salt, that all phantasms and knavery of the Devil's fraud may fly and depart from the place wherein thou art sprinkled; and every unclean spirit be conjured by him that shall come to judge the quick and the dead." The same in the benediction of the oil, "That all the power of the enemy, all the host of the Devil, all assaults and phantasms of Satan, may be driven away by this creature of oil." And for the infant that is to be baptized, he is subject to many charms: first, at the church door the priest blows thrice in the child's face, and says, "Go out of him, unclean spirit, and give place to the Holy Ghost the Comforter." As if all children, till blown on by the priest, were demoniacs. Again, before his entrance into the church, he saith as before, "I conjure thee, etc., to go out, and depart from this servant of God"; and again the same exorcism is repeated once more before he be baptized. These and some other incantations are those that are used instead of benedictions and consecrations in administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper; wherein everything that serveth to those holy uses, except the unhallowed spittle of the priest, hath some set form of exorcism.
Nor are the other rites, as of marriage, of extreme unction, of visitation of the sick, of consecrating churches, and churchyards, and the like, exempt from charms; inasmuch as there is in them the use of enchanted oil and water, with the abuse of the cross, and of the holy word of David, asperges me Domine hyssopo, as things of efficacy to drive away phantasms and imaginary spirits.
Another general error is from the misinterpretation of the words eternal life, everlasting death, and the second death. For though we read plainly in Holy Scripture that God created Adam in an estate of living for ever, which was conditional, that is to say, if he disobeyed not His commandment; which was not essential to human nature, but consequent to the virtue of the tree of life, whereof he had liberty to eat, as long as he had not sinned; and that he was thrust out of Paradise after he had sinned, lest he should eat thereof, and live for ever; and that Christ's Passion is a discharge of sin to all that believe on Him, and by consequence, a restitution of eternal life to all the faithful, and to them only: yet the doctrine is now and hath been a long time far otherwise; namely, that every man hath eternity of life by nature, inasmuch as his soul is immortal. So that the flaming sword at the entrance of Paradise, though it hinder a man from coming to the tree of life, hinders him not from the immortality which God took from him for his sin, nor makes him to need the sacrificing of Christ for the recovering of the same; and consequently, not only the faithful and righteous, but also the wicked and the heathen, shall enjoy eternal life, without any death at all, much less a second and everlasting death. To salve this, it is said that by second and everlasting death is meant a second and everlasting life, but in torments; a figure never used but in this very case.
All which doctrine is founded only on some of the obscurer places of the New Testament; which nevertheless, the whole scope of the Scripture considered, are clear enough in a different sense, and unnecessary to the Christian faith. For supposing that when a man dies, there remaineth nothing of him but his carcass; cannot God, that raised inanimated dust and clay into a living creature by His word, as easily raise a dead carcass to life again, and continue him alive for ever, or make him die again by another word? The soul, in Scripture, signifieth always either the life or the living creature; and the body and soul jointly, the body alive. In the fifth day of the Creation, God said, Let the waters produce reptile animae viventis, the creeping thing that hath in it a living soul; the English translate it, "that hath life." And again, God created whales, et omnem animam viventem; which in the English is, "every living creature." And likewise of man, God made him of the dust of the earth, and breathed in his face the breath of life, et factus est homo in animam viventem, that is, "and man was made a living creature." And after Noah came out of the ark, God saith, He will no more smite omnem animam viventem, that is, "every living creature." And, "Eat not the blood, for the blood is the soul"; that is, the life. From which places, if by soul were meant a substance incorporeal, with an existence separated from the body, it might as well be inferred of any other living creature, as of man. But that the souls of the faithful are not of their own nature, but by God's special grace, to remain in their bodies from the resurrection to all eternity, I have already, I think, sufficiently proved out of the Scriptures, in the thirty-eighth Chapter. And for the places of the New Testament where it is said that any man shall be cast body and soul into hell fire, it is no more than body and life; that is to say, they shall be cast alive into the perpetual fire of Gehenna.
This window it is that gives entrance to the dark doctrine, first, of eternal torments, and afterwards of purgatory, and consequently of the walking abroad, especially in places consecrated, solitary, or dark, of the ghosts of men deceased; and thereby to the pretences of exorcism and conjuration of phantasms, as also of invocation of men dead; and to the doctrine of indulgences; that is to say, of exemption for a time, or for ever, from the fire of purgatory, wherein these incorporeal substances are pretended by burning to be cleansed and made fit for heaven. For men being generally possessed, before the time of our Saviour, by contagion of the demonology of the Greeks, of an opinion that the souls of men were substances distinct from their bodies; and therefore that when the body was dead, the soul of every man, whether godly or wicked, must subsist somewhere by virtue of its own nature, without acknowledging therein any supernatural gift of God's; the doctors of the Church doubted a long time what was the place which they were to abide in, till they should be reunited to their bodies in the resurrection, supposing for a while, they lay under the altars: but afterward the Church of Rome found it more profitable to build for them this place of purgatory, which by some other Churches, in this later age, has been demolished.
Let us now consider what texts of Scripture seem most to confirm these three general errors I have here touched. As for those which Cardinal Bellarmine hath alleged for the present kingdom of God administered by the Pope (than which there are none that make a better show of proof), I have already answered them; and made it evident that the kingdom of God, instituted by Moses, ended in the election of Saul: after which time the priest of his own authority never deposed any king. That which the high priest did to Athaliah was not done in his own right, but in the right of the young King Joash, her son: But Solomon in his own right deposed the high priest Abiathar, and set up another in his place. The most difficult place to answer, of all those that can be brought to prove the kingdom of God by Christ is already in this world, is alleged, not by Bellarmine, nor any other of the Church of Rome, but by Beza, that will have it to begin from the resurrection of Christ. But whether he intend thereby to entitle the presbytery to the supreme power ecclesiastical in the Commonwealth of Geneva, and consequently to every presbytery in every other Commonwealth, or to princes and other civil sovereigns, I do not know. For the presbytery hath challenged the power to excommunicate their own kings, and to be the supreme moderators in religion, in the places where they have that form of Church government, no less than the Pope challengeth it universally.
The words are, "Verily I say unto you, that there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power."* Which words, if taken grammatically, make it certain that either some of those men that stood by Christ at that time are yet alive, or else that the kingdom of God must be now in this present world. And then there is another place more difficult: for when the Apostles after our Saviour's resurrection, and immediately before his ascension, asked our Saviour, saying, "Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" he answered them, "It is not for you to know the times and the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power; but ye shall receive power by the coming of the Holy Ghost upon you, and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth":
- (2) which is as much as to say, My kingdom is not yet come, nor shall you foreknow when it shall come; for it shall come as a thief in the night; but I will send you the Holy Ghost, and by him you shall have power to bear witness to all the world, by your preaching of my resurrection, and the works I have done, and the doctrine I have taught, that they may believe in me, and expect eternal life, at my coming again. How does this agree with the coming of Christ's kingdom at the resurrection? And that which St. Paul says, "That they turned from idols, to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven";
- (3) where "to wait for His Son from heaven" is to wait for his coming to be king in power; which were not necessary if his kingdom had been then present. Again, if the kingdom of God began, as Beza on that place
- (4) would have it, at the resurrection; what reason is there for Christians ever since the resurrection to say in their prayers, "Let thy kingdom come"? It is therefore manifest that the words of St. Mark are not so to be interpreted. There be some of them that stand here, saith our Saviour, that shall not taste of death till they have seen the kingdom of God come in power. If then this kingdom were to come at the resurrection of Christ, why is it said, some of them, rather than all? For they all lived till after Christ was risen.
- Mark, 9. 1
- (2) Acts, 1. 6
- (3) I Thessalonians, 1. 9, 10
But they that require an exact interpretation of this text, let them interpret first the like words of our Saviour to St. Peter concerning St. John, "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?"* upon which was grounded a report that he should not die. Nevertheless the truth of that report was neither confirmed, as well grounded; nor refuted, as ill grounded on those words; but left as a saying not understood. The same difficulty is also in the place of St. Mark. And if it be lawful to conjecture at their meaning, by that which immediately follows, both here and in St. Luke, where the same is again repeated, it is not improbable to say they have relation to the Transfiguration, which is described in the verses immediately following, where it is said that "After six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John" (not all, but some of his Disciples), "and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves, and was transfigured before them. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus," etc. So that they saw Christ in glory and majesty, as he is to come; insomuch as "they were sore afraid." And thus the promise of our Saviour was accomplished by way of vision. For it was a vision, as may probably be inferred out of St. Luke, that reciteth the same story, and saith that Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep:
- (2) but most certainly out of Matthew 17. 9 where the same is again related; for our Saviour charged them, saying, "Tell no man the vision until the Son of Man be risen from the dead." Howsoever it be, yet there can from thence be taken no argument to prove that the kingdom of God taketh beginning till the day of judgement.
- John, 21. 22
- (2) Luke, 9. 28
As for some other texts to prove the Pope's power over civil sovereigns (besides those of Bellarmine), as that the two swords that Christ and his Apostles had amongst them were the spiritual and the temporal sword, which they say St. Peter had given him by Christ; and that of the two luminaries, the greater signifies the Pope, and the lesser the king; one might as well infer out of the first verse of the Bible that by heaven is meant the Pope, and by earth the king: which is not arguing from Scripture, but a wanton insulting over princes that came in fashion after the time the popes were grown so secure of their greatness as to contemn all Christian kings; and treading on the necks of emperors, to mock both them and the Scripture, in the words of the ninety-first Psalm, "Thou shalt tread upon the lion and the adder; the young lion and the dragon thou shalt trample under thy feet."
As for the rites of consecration, though they depend for the most part upon the discretion and judgement of the governors of the Church, and not upon the Scriptures; yet those governors are obliged to such direction as the nature of the action itself requireth; as that the ceremonies, words, gestures be both decent and significant, or at least conformable to the action. When Moses consecrated the tabernacle, the altar, and the vessels belonging to them, he anointed them with the oil which God had commanded to be made for that purpose:* and they were holy. There was nothing exorcized, to drive away phantasms. The same Moses (the civil sovereign of Israel), when he consecrated Aaron (the high priest) and his sons, did wash them with water (not exorcized water), put their garments upon them, and anointed them with oil; and they were sanctified, to minister unto the Lord in the priest's office, which was a simple and decent cleansing and adorning them before he presented them to God, to be His servants. When King Solomon (the civil sovereign of Israel) consecrated the temple he had built, he stood before all the congregation of Israel; and having blessed them, he gave thanks to God for putting into the heart of his father to build it, and for giving to himself the grace to accomplish the same; and then prayed unto Him, first, to accept that house, though it were not suitable to His infinite greatness, and to hear the prayers of His servants that should pray therein, or (if they were absent) towards it; and lastly, he offered a sacrifice of peace offering, and the house was dedicated.
- (2) Here was no procession; the King stood still in his first place; no exorcized water; no Asperges me, nor other impertinent application of words spoken upon another occasion; but a decent and rational speech, and such as in making to God a present of his new-built house was most conformable to the occasion.
- Exodus, 40
- (2) II Kings, 8
We read not that St. John did exorcize the water of Jordan; nor Philip the water of the river wherein he baptized the eunuch; nor that any pastor in the time of the Apostles did take his spittle and put it to the nose of the person to be baptized, and say, in odorem suavitatis, that is, "for a sweet savour unto the Lord"; wherein neither the ceremony of spittle, for the uncleanness; nor the application of that Scripture, for the levity, can by any authority of man be justified.
To prove that the soul, separated from the body, liveth eternally, not only the souls of the elect, by especial grace, and restoration of the eternal life which Adam lost by sin, and our Saviour restored by the sacrifice of himself to the faithful; but also the souls of reprobates, as a property naturally consequent to the essence of mankind, without other grace of God but that which is universally given to all mankind; there are diverse places which at the first sight seem sufficiently to serve the turn: but such as when I compare them with that which I have before (Chapter thirty-eight) alleged out of the fourteenth of Job seem to me much more subject to a diverse interpretation than the words of Job.
And first there are the words of Solomon, "Then shall the dust return to dust, as it was, and the spirit shall return to God that gave it."* Which may bear well enough (if there be no other text directly against it) this interpretation, that God only knows, but man not, what becomes of a man's spirit when he expireth; and the same Solomon, in the same book, delivereth the same sentence in the sense I have given it. His words are, "All go to the same place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again; who knoweth that the spirit of man goeth upward, and that the spirit of the beast goeth downward to the earth?"
- (2) That is, none knows but God; nor is it an unusual phrase to say of things we understand not, "God knows what," and "God knows where." That of Genesis, 5. 24, "Enoch walked with God, and he was not; for God took him"; which is expounded, Hebrews, 11. 5, "He was translated, that he should not die; and was not found, because God had translated him. For before his translation, he had this testimony, that he pleased God," making as much for the immortality of the body as of the soul, proveth that this his translation was peculiar to them that please God; not common to them with the wicked; and depending on grace, not on nature. But on the contrary, what interpretation shall we give, besides the literal sense of the words of Solomon, "That which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts, even one thing befalleth them; as the one dieth, so doth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast, for all is vanity."
- (3) By the literal sense, here is no natural immortality of the soul; nor yet any repugnancy with the life eternal, which the elect shall enjoy by grace. And, "Better is he that hath not yet been than both they";
- (4) that is, than they that live or have lived; which, if the soul of all them that have lived were immortal, were a hard saying; for then to have an immortal soul were worse than to have no soul at all. And again, "The living know they shall die, but the dead know not anything";
- (5) that is, naturally, and before the resurrection of the body.
- Ecclesiastes, 12. 7
- (2) Ibid., 3. 20, 21
- (3) Ibid., 3. 19
- (4) Ibid., 4. 3
- (5) Ibid., 9. 5
Another place which seems to make for a natural immortality of the soul is that where our Saviour saith that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are living: but this is spoken of the promise of God, and of their certitude to rise again, not of a life then actual; and in the same sense that God said to Adam that on the day he should eat of the forbidden fruit, he should certainly die; from that time forward he was a dead man by sentence; but not by execution, till almost a thousand years after. So Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were alive by promise, then, when Christ spoke; but are not actually till the resurrection. And the history of Dives and Lazarus make nothing against this, if we take it, as it is, for a parable.
But there be other places of the New Testament where an immortality seemeth to be directly attributed to the to the wicked. For it is evident that they shall all rise to judgement. And it is said besides, in many places, that they shall go into "everlasting fire, everlasting torments, everlasting punishments; and that the worm of conscience never dieth"; and all this is comprehended in the word everlasting death, which is ordinarily interpreted "everlasting life in torments": and yet I can find nowhere that any man shall live in torments everlastingly. Also, it seemeth hard to say that God, who is the Father of mercies, that doth in heaven and earth all that He will; that hath the hearts of all men in His disposing; that worketh in men both to do and to will; and without whose free gift a man hath neither inclination to good nor repentance of evil, should punish men's transgressions without any end of time, and with all the extremity of torture that men can imagine, and more. We are therefore to consider what the meaning is of everlasting fire, and other the like phrases of Scripture.
I have shown already that the kingdom of God by Christ beginneth at the day of judgement: that in that day, the faithful shall rise again, with glorious and spiritual bodies and be his subjects in that his kingdom, which shall be eternal: that they shall neither marry, nor be given in marriage, nor eat and drink, as they did in their natural bodies; but live for ever in their individual persons, without the specifical eternity of generation: and that the reprobates also shall rise again, to receive punishments for their sins: as also that those of the elect, which shall be alive in their earthly bodies at that day, shall have their bodies suddenly changed, and made spiritual and immortal. But that the bodies of the reprobate, who make the kingdom of Satan, shall also be glorious or spiritual bodies, or that they shall be as the angels of God, neither eating, nor drinking, nor engendering; or that their life shall be eternal in their individual persons, as the life of every faithful man is, or as the life of Adam had been if he had not sinned, there is no place of Scripture to prove it; save only these places concerning eternal torments, which may otherwise be interpreted.
From whence may be inferred that, as the elect after the resurrection shall be restored to the estate wherein Adam was before he had sinned; so the reprobate shall be in the estate that Adam and his posterity were in after the sin committed; saving that God promised a redeemer to Adam, and such of his seed as should trust in him and repent, but not to them that should die in their sins, as do the reprobate.
These things considered, the texts that mention "eternal fire," "eternal torments," or "the worm that never dieth," contradict not the doctrine of a second and everlasting death, in the proper and natural sense of the word death. The fire or torments prepared for the wicked in Gehenna, Tophet, or in what place soever, may continue forever; and there may never want wicked men to be tormented in them, though not every nor any one eternally. For the wicked, being left in the estate they were in after Adam's sin, may at the resurrection live as they did, marry, and give in marriage, and have gross and corruptible bodies, as all mankind now have; and consequently may engender perpetually, after the resurrection, as they did before: for there is no place of Scripture to the contrary. For St. Paul, speaking of the resurrection, understandeth it only of the resurrection to life eternal, and not the resurrection to punishment.* And of the first, he saith that the body is "sown in corruption, raised in incorruption; sown in dishonour, raised in honour; sown in weakness, raised in power; sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body." There is no such thing can be said of the bodies of them that rise to punishment. So also our Saviour, when he speaketh of the nature of man after the resurrection, meaneth the resurrection to life eternal, not to punishment. The text is Luke, 20, verses 34, 35, 36, a fertile text: "The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage; but they that shall be counted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: neither can they die any more; for they are equal to the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection." The children of this world, that are in the estate which Adam left them in, shall marry and be given in marriage; that is, corrupt and generate successively; which is an immortality of the kind, but not of the persons of men: they are not worthy to be counted amongst them that shall obtain the next world, an absolute resurrection from the dead; but only a short time, as inmates of that world; and to the end only to receive condign punishment for their contumacy. The elect are the only children of the resurrection; that is to say, the sole heirs of eternal life: they only can die no more. It is they that are equal to the angels, and that are the children of God, and not the reprobate. To the reprobate there remaineth after the resurrection a second and eternal death, between which resurrection and their second and eternal death is but a time of punishment and torment, and to last by succession of sinners thereunto as long as the kind of man by propagation shall endure, which is eternally.
- I Corinthians, 15
Upon this doctrine of the natural eternity of separated souls is founded, as I said, the doctrine of purgatory. For supposing eternal life by grace only, there is no life but the life of the body; and no immortality till the resurrection. The texts for purgatory alleged by Bellarmine out of the canonical Scripture of the Old Testament are, first, the fasting of David for Saul and Jonathan, mentioned II Samuel, 1. 12, and again, II Samuel, 3. 35, for the death of Abner. This fasting of David, he saith, was for the obtaining of something for them at God's hands, after their death: because after he had fasted to procure the recovery of his own child, as soon as he knew it was dead, he called for meat. Seeing then the soul hath an existence separate from the body, and nothing can be obtained by men's fasting for the souls that are already either in heaven or hell, it followeth that there be some souls of dead men that are neither in heaven nor in hell; and therefore they must be in some third place, which must be purgatory. And thus with hard straining, he has wrested those places to the proof of a purgatory: whereas it is manifest that the ceremonies of mourning and fasting, when they are used for the death of men whose life was not profitable to the mourners, they are used for honour's sake to their persons; and when it is done for the death of them by whose life the mourners had benefit, it proceeds from their particular damage: and so David honoured Saul and Abner with his fasting; and, in the death of his own child, recomforted himself by receiving his ordinary food.
In the other places which he allegeth out of the Old Testament, there is not so much as any show or colour of proof. He brings in every text wherein there is the word anger, or fire, or burning, or purging, or cleansing, in case any of the fathers have but in a sermon rhetorically applied it to the doctrine of purgatory, already believed. The first verse of Psalm 37, "O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath, nor chasten me in thy hot displeasure": what were this to purgatory, if Augustine had not applied the wrath to the fire of hell, and the displeasure to that of purgatory? And what is it to purgatory, that of Psalm, 66. 12 "We went through fire and water, and thou broughtest us to a moist place"; and other the like texts, with which the doctors of those times intended to adorn or extend their sermons or commentaries, haled to their purposes by force of wit?
But he allegeth other places of the New Testament that are not so easy to be answered. And first that of Matthew, 12. 32, "Whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him neither in this world, nor in the world to come"; where he will have purgatory to be the world to come, wherein some sins may be forgiven which in this world were not forgiven: notwithstanding that it is manifest there are but three worlds; one from the creation to the flood, which was destroyed by water, and is called in Scripture "the old world"; another from the flood to the day of judgement, which is "the present world, and shall be destroyed by fire; and the third, which shall be from the day of judgement forward, everlasting, which is called "the world to come"; and in which it agreed by all there shall be no purgatory: and therefore the world to come, and purgatory, are inconsistent. But what then can be the meaning of those our Saviour's words? I confess they are very hardly to be reconciled with all the doctrines now unanimously received: nor is it any shame to confess the profoundness of the Scripture to be too great to be sounded by the shortness of human understanding. Nevertheless, I may propound such things to the consideration of more learned divines, as the text itself suggesteth. And first, seeing to speak against the Holy Ghost, as being the third person of the Trinity, is to speak against the Church, in which the Holy Ghost resideth; it seemeth the comparison is made between the easiness of our Saviour in bearing with offences done to him while he himself taught the world, that is, when he was on earth, and the severity of the pastors after him, against those which should deny their authority, which was from the Holy Ghost. As if he should say, you that deny my power; nay, you that shall crucify me, shall be pardoned by me, as often as you turn unto me by repentance: but if you deny the power of them that teach you hereafter, by virtue of the Holy Ghost, they shall be inexorable, and shall not forgive you, but persecute you in this world, and leave you without absolution (though you turn to me, unless you turn also to them), to the punishments, as much as lies in them, of the world to come. And so the words may be taken as a prophecy or prediction concerning the times, as they have long been in the Christian Church: or if this be not the meaning (for I am not peremptory in such difficult places), perhaps there may be place left after the resurrection for the repentance of some sinners. And there is also another place that seemeth to agree therewith. For considering the words of St. Paul, "What shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why also are they baptized for the dead?"* a man may probably infer, as some have done, that in St. Paul's time there was a custom, by receiving baptism for the dead, (as men that now believe are sureties and undertakers for the faith of infants that are not capable of believing) to undertake for the persons of their deceased friends, that they should be ready to obey and receive our Saviour for their king at his coming again; and then the forgiveness of sins in the world to come has no need of a purgatory. But in both these interpretations, there is so much of paradox that I trust not to them, but propound them to those that are thoroughly versed in the Scripture, to inquire if there be no clearer place that contradicts them. Only of thus much, I see evident Scripture to persuade me that there is neither the word nor the thing of purgatory, neither in this nor any other text; nor anything that can prove a necessity of a place for the soul without the body; neither for the soul of Lazarus during the four days he was dead; nor for the souls of them which the Roman Church pretend to be tormented now in purgatory. For God, that could give a life to a piece of clay, hath the same power to give life again to a dead man, and renew his inanimate and rotten carcass into a glorious, spiritual, and immortal body.
- I Corinthians, 15. 29
Another place is that of I Corinthians, 3, where it is said that they which build stubble, hay, etc., on the true foundation, their work shall perish; but "they themselves shall be saved; but as through fire": this fire he will have to be the fire of purgatory. The words, as I have said before, are an allusion to those of Zechariah, 13. 9, where he saith, "I will bring the third part through the fire, and refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried": which is spoken of the coming of the Messiah in power and glory; that is, at the day of judgement, and conflagration of the present world; wherein the elect shall not be consumed, but be refined; that is, depose their erroneous doctrines and traditions, and have them, as it were, singed off; and shall afterwards call upon the name of the true God. In like manner, the Apostle saith of them that, holding this foundation, Jesus is the Christ, shall build thereon some other doctrines that be erroneous, that they shall not be consumed in that fire which reneweth the world, but shall pass through it to salvation; but so as to see and relinquish their former errors. The builders are the pastors; the foundation, that Jesus is the Christ; the stubble and hay, false consequences drawn from it through ignorance or frailty; the gold, silver, and precious stones are their true doctrines; and their refining or purging, the relinquishing of their errors. In all which there is no colour at all for the burning of incorporeal, that is to say, impatible souls.
A third place is that of I Corinthians, 15. 29, before mentioned, concerning baptism for the dead: out of which he concludeth, first, that prayers for the dead are not unprofitable; and out of that, that there is a fire of purgatory: but neither of them rightly. For of many interpretations of the word baptism, he approveth this in the first place, that by baptism is meant, metaphorically, a baptism of penance; and that men are in this sense baptized when they fast, and pray, and give alms; and so baptism for the dead, and prayer for the dead, is the same thing. But this is a metaphor, of which there is no example, neither in the Scripture nor in any other use of language; and which is also discordant to the harmony and scope of the Scripture. The word baptism is used for being dipped in one's own blood, as Christ was upon the cross, and as most of the Apostles were, for giving testimony of him.* But it is hard to say that prayer, fasting, and alms have any similitude with dipping. The same is used also, Matthew, 3. 11 (which seemeth to make somewhat for purgatory), for a purging with fire. But it is evident the fire and purging here mentioned is the same whereof the Prophet Zechariah speaketh, "I will bring the third part through the fire, will refine them," etc.
- (2) And St. Peter after him, "That the trial of your faith, which is much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and honour, and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ";
- (3) and St. Paul, "The fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is."
- (4) But St. Peter and St. Paul speak of the fire that shall be at the second appearing of Christ; and the Prophet Zechariah, of the day of judgement. And therefore this place of St. Matthew may be interpreted of the same, and then there will be no necessity of the fire of purgatory.
- Mark, 10. 38, and Luke, 12. 50
- (2) Zechariah, 13. 9
- (3) I Epistle, 1. 7
- (4) I Corinthians, 3. 13
Another interpretation of baptism for the dead is that which I have before mentioned, which he preferreth to the second place of probability: and thence also he inferreth the utility of prayer for the dead. For if after the resurrection such as have not heard of Christ, or not believed in him, may be received into Christ's kingdom, it is not in vain, after their death, that their friends should pray for them till they should be risen. But granting that God, at the prayers of the faithful, may convert unto him some of those that have not heard Christ preached, and consequently cannot have rejected Christ, and that the charity of men in that point cannot be blamed; yet this concludeth nothing for purgatory, because to rise from death to life is one thing; to rise from purgatory to life is another; as being a rising from life to life, from a life in torments to a life in joy.
A fourth place is that of Matthew, 5. 25: "Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him, lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing." In which allegory, the offender is the sinner; both the adversary and the judge is God; the way is this life; the prison is the grave; the officer, death; from which the sinner shall not rise again to life eternal, but to a second death, till he have paid the utmost farthing, or Christ pay it for him by his Passion, which is a full ransom for all manner of sin, as well lesser sins as greater crimes, both being made by the Passion of Christ equally venial.
The fifth place is that of Matthew, 5. 22: "Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be guilty in judgement. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be guilty in the council. But whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be guilty to hell fire." From which words he inferreth three sorts of sins, and three sorts of punishments; and that none of those sins, but the last, shall be punished with hell fire; and consequently, that after this life there is punishment of lesser sins in purgatory. Of which inference there is no colour in any interpretation that hath yet been given of them. Shall there be a distinction after this life of courts of justice, as there was amongst the Jews in our Saviour's time, to hear and determine diverse sorts of crimes, as the judges and the council? Shall not all judicature appertain to Christ and his Apostles? To understand therefore this text, we are not to consider it solitarily, but jointly with the words precedent and subsequent. Our Saviour in this chapter interpreteth the Law of Moses, which the Jews thought was then fulfilled when they had not transgressed the grammatical sense thereof, howsoever they had transgressed against the sentence or meaning of the legislator. Therefore, whereas they thought the sixth Commandment was not broken but by killing a man; nor the seventh, but when a man lay with a woman not his wife; our Saviour tells them, the inward anger of a man against his brother, if it be without just cause, is homicide. You have heard, saith he, the Law of Moses, "Thou shalt not kill," and that "Whosoever shall kill shall be condemned before the judges," or before the session of the Seventy: but I say unto you, to be angry with one's brother without cause, or to say unto him Raca, or Fool, is homicide, and shall be punished at the day of judgement, and session of Christ and his Apostles, with hell fire. So that those words were not used to distinguish between diverse crimes, and diverse courts of justice, and diverse punishments; but to tax the distinction between sin and sin, which the Jews drew not from the difference of the will in obeying God, but from the difference of their temporal courts of justice; and to show them that he that had the will to hurt his brother, though the effect appear but in reviling, or not at all, shall be cast into hell fire by the judges and by the session, which shall be the same, not different, courts at the day of judgement. This considered, what can be drawn from this text to maintain purgatory, I cannot imagine.
The sixth place is Luke, 16. 9: "Make ye friends of the unrighteous mammon, that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting tabernacles." This he alleges to prove invocation of saints departed. But the sense is plain, that we should make friends, with our riches, of the poor; and thereby obtain their prayers whilst they live. "He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord."
The seventh is Luke, 23. 42: "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." Therefore, saith he, there is remission of sins after this life. But the consequence is not good. Our Saviour then forgave him, and, at his coming again in glory, will remember to raise him again to life eternal.
The eighth is Acts, 2. 24, where St. Peter saith of Christ, "that God had raised him up, and loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible he should be holden of it": which he interprets to be a descent of Christ into purgatory, to loose some souls there from their torments: whereas it is manifest that it was Christ that was loosed. It was he that could not be holden of death or the grave, and not the souls in purgatory. But if that which Beza says in his notes on this place be well observed, there is none that will not see that instead of pains, it should be bands; and then there is no further cause to seek for purgatory in this text.
Chapter XLV: Of Demonology and Other Relics of the Religion of the Gentiles
The impression made on the organs of sight by lucid bodies, either in one direct line or in many lines, reflected from opaque, or refracted in the passage through diaphanous bodies, produceth in living creatures, in whom God hath placed such organs, an imagination of the object from whence the impression proceedeth; which imagination is called sight, and seemeth not to be a mere imagination, but the body itself without us; in the same manner as when a man violently presseth his eye, there appears to him a light without, and before him, which no man perceiveth but himself, because there is indeed no such thing without him, but only a motion in the interior organs, pressing by resistance outward, that makes him think so. And the motion made by this pressure, continuing after the object which caused it is removed, is that we call imagination, and memory, and, in sleep, and sometimes in great distemper of the organs by sickness or violence, a dream, of which things I have already spoken briefly in the second and third Chapters.
This nature of sight having never been discovered by the ancient pretenders to natural knowledge, much less by those that consider not things so remote (as that knowledge is) from their present use, it was hard for men to conceive of those images in the fancy and in the sense otherwise than of things really without us: which some, because they vanish away, they know not whither nor how, will have to be absolutely incorporeal, that is to say, immaterial, or forms without matter (colour and figure, without any coloured or figured body), and that they can put on airy bodies, as a garment, to make them visible when they will to our bodily eyes; and others say, are bodies and living and living creatures, but made of air, or other more subtle and ethereal matter, which is, then, when they will be seen, condensed. But both of them agree on one general appellation of them, demons. As if the dead of whom they dreamed were not inhabitants of their own brain, but of the air, or of heaven, or hell; not phantasms, but ghosts; with just as much reason as if one should say he saw his own ghost in a looking-glass, or the ghosts of the stars in a river; or call the ordinary apparition of the sun, of the quantity of about a foot, the demon or ghost of that great sun that enlighteneth the whole visible world: and by that means have feared them, as things of an unknown, that is, of an unlimited power to do them good or harm; and consequently, given occasion to the governors of the heathen Commonwealths to regulate this their fear by establishing that demonology (in which the poets, as principal priests of the heathen religion, were specially employed or reverenced) to the public peace, and to the obedience of subjects necessary thereunto; and to make some of them good demons, and others evil; the one as a spur to the observance, the other as reins to withhold them from violation of the laws.
What kind of things they were to whom they attributed the name of demons appeareth partly in the genealogy of their gods, written by Hesiod, one of the most ancient poets of the Grecians, and partly in other histories, of which I have observed some few before, in the twelfth Chapter of this discourse.
The Grecians, by their colonies and conquests communicated their language and writings into Asia, Egypt, and Italy; and therein, by necessary consequence, their demonology, or, as St. Paul calls it, their doctrines of devils: and by that means the contagion was derived also to the Jews, both of Judaea and Alexandria, and other parts, whereinto they were dispersed. But the name of demon they did not, as the Grecians, attribute to spirits both good and evil; but to the evil only: and to the good demons they gave the name of the Spirit of God, and esteemed those into whose bodies they entered to be prophets. In sum, all singularity, if good, they attributed to the Spirit of God; and if evil, to some demon, but a kakodaimen, an evil demon, that is, a devil. And therefore, they called demoniacs, that is, possessed by the devil, such as we call madmen or lunatics, or such as had the falling-sickness; or that spoke anything which they, for want of understanding, thought absurd. As also of an unclean person in a notorious degree, they used to say he had an unclean spirit; of a dumb man, that he had a dumb devil; and of John the Baptist, for the singularity of his fasting, that he had a devil;* and of our Saviour, because he said, he that keepeth his sayings should not see death in aeternum, "Now we know thou hast a devil; Abraham is dead, and the prophets are dead."
- (2) And again, because he said they went about to kill him, the people answered, "Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee?"
- (3) Whereby it is manifest that the Jews had the same opinions concerning phantasms; namely, that they were not phantasms, that is, idols of the brain, but things real, and independent on the fancy.
- Matthew, 11. 18
- (2) John, 8. 52
- (3) John, 7. 20
Which doctrine, if it be not true, why, may some say, did not our Saviour contradict it, and teach the contrary? Nay, why does He use on diverse occasions such forms of speech as seem to confirm it? To this I answer that, first, where Christ saith, "A spirit hath not flesh and bone,"* though he show that there be spirits, yet he denies not that they are bodies. And where St. Paul says, "We shall rise spiritual bodies,"
- (2) he acknowledgeth the nature of spirits, but that they are bodily spirits; which is not difficult to understand. For air and many other things are bodies, though not flesh and bone, or any other gross body to be discerned by the eye. But when our Saviour speaketh to the devil, and commandeth him to go out of a man, if by the devil be meant a disease, as frenzy, or lunacy, or a corporeal spirit, is not the speech improper? Can diseases hear? Or can there be a corporeal spirit in a body of flesh and bone, full already of vital and animal spirits? Are there not therefore spirits, that neither have bodies, nor are mere imaginations? To the first I answer that the addressing of our Saviour's command to the madness or lunacy he cureth is no more improper than was his rebuking of the fever, or of the wind and sea; for neither do these hear: or than was the command of God to the light, to the firmament, to the sun, and stars, when He commanded them to be; for they could not hear before they had a being. But those speeches are not improper, because they signify the power of God's word: no more therefore is it improper to command madness or lunacy, under the appellation of devils by which they were then commonly understood, to depart out of a man's body. To the second, concerning their being incorporeal, I have not yet observed any place of Scripture from whence it can be gathered that any man was ever possessed with any other corporeal spirit but that of his own by which his body is naturally moved.
- Luke, 24. 39
- (2) I Corinthians, 15. 44
Our Saviour, immediately after the Holy Ghost descended upon Him in the form of a dove, is said by St. Matthew to have been "led up by the Spirit into the wilderness";* and the same is recited, Luke, 4. 1, in these words, "Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost, was led in the Spirit into the wilderness": whereby it is evident that by Spirit there is meant the Holy Ghost. This cannot be interpreted for a possession; for Christ and the Holy Ghost are but one and the same substance, which is no possession of one substance, or body, by another. And whereas in the verses following he is said "to have been taken up by the devil into the holy city, and set upon a pinnacle of the temple," shall we conclude thence that he was possessed of the devil, or carried thither by violence? And again, "carried thence by the devil into an exceeding high mountain, who showed him thence all the kingdoms of the world": wherein we are not to believe he was either possessed or forced by the devil; nor that any mountain is high enough, according to the literal sense to show him one whole hemisphere. What then can be the meaning of this place, other than that he went of himself into the wilderness; and that this carrying of him up and down, from the wilderness to the city, and from thence into a mountain, was a vision? Conformable whereunto is also the phrase of St. Luke, that he was led into the wilderness, not by, but in the Spirit: whereas, concerning his being taken up into the mountain, and unto the pinnacle of the temple, he speaketh as St. Matthew doth, which suiteth with the nature of a vision.
- Matthew, 4. 1
Again, where St. Luke says of Judas Iscariot that "Satan entered into him, and thereupon that he went and communed with the chief priests, and captains, how he might betray Christ unto them";* it may be answered that by the entering of Satan (that is, the enemy) into him is meant the hostile and traitorous intention of selling his Lord and Master. For as by the Holy Ghost is frequently in Scripture understood the graces and good inclinations given by the Holy Ghost; so by the entering of Satan may be understood the wicked cogitations and designs of the adversaries of Christ and his Disciples. For as it is hard to say that the devil was entered into Judas, before he had any such hostile design; so it is impertinent to say he was first Christ's enemy in his heart, and that the devil entered into him afterwards. Therefore the entering of Satan, and his wicked purpose, was one and the same thing.
- Luke, 22. 3, 4
But if there be no immaterial spirit, nor any possession of men's bodies by any spirit corporeal, it may again be asked why our Saviour his Apostles did not teach the people so, and in such clear words as they might no more doubt thereof. But such questions as these are more curious than necessary for a Christian man's salvation. Men may as well ask why Christ, that could have given to all men faith, piety, and all manner of moral virtues, gave it to some only, and not to all: and why he left the search of natural causes and sciences to the natural reason and industry of men, and did not reveal it to all, or any man supernaturally; and many other such questions, of which nevertheless there may be alleged probable and pious reasons. For as God, when He brought the Israelites into the Land of Promise, did not secure them therein by subduing all the nations round about them, but left many of them, as thorns in their sides, to awaken from time to time their piety and industry: so our Saviour, in conducting us toward his heavenly kingdom, did not destroy all the difficulties of natural questions, but left them to exercise our industry and reason; the scope of his preaching being only to show us this plain and direct way to salvation, namely, the belief of this article, that he was the Christ, the Son of the living God, sent into the world to sacrifice himself for our sins, and, at his coming again, gloriously to reign over his elect, and to save them from their enemies eternally: to which the opinion of possession by spirits or phantasms is no impediment in the way, though it be to some an occasion of going out of the way, and to follow their own inventions. If we require of the Scripture an account of all questions which may be raised to trouble us in the performance of God's commands, we may as well complain of Moses for not having set down the time of the creation of such spirits, as well as of the creation of the earth and sea, and of men and beasts. To conclude, I find in Scripture that there be angels and spirits, good and evil; but not that they are incorporeal, as are the apparitions men see in the dark, or in a dream or vision, which the Latins call spectra, and took for demons. And I find that there are spirits corporeal, though subtle and invisible; but not that any man's body was possessed or inhabited by them, and that the bodies of the saints shall be such, namely, spiritual bodies, as St. Paul calls them.
Nevertheless, the contrary doctrine, namely, that there be incorporeal spirits, hath hitherto so prevailed in the Church that the use of exorcism (that is to say, of ejection of devils by conjuration) is thereupon built; and, though rarely and faintly practised, is not yet totally given over. That there were many demoniacs in the primitive Church, and few madmen, and other such singular diseases; whereas in these times we hear of, and see many madmen, and few demoniacs, proceeds not from the change of nature, but of names. But how it comes to pass that whereas heretofore the Apostles, and after them for a time the pastors of the Church, did cure those singular diseases, which now they are not seen to do; as likewise, why it is not in the power of every true believer now to do all that the faithful did then, that is to say, as we read "in Christ's name to cast out devils, to speak with new tongues, to take up serpents, to drink deadly poison without harm taking, and to cure the sick by the laying on of their hands,"* and all this without other words but "in the name of Jesus," is another question. And it is probable that those extraordinary gifts were given to the Church for no longer a time than men trusted wholly to Christ, and looked for their felicity only in his kingdom to come; and consequently, that when they sought authority and riches, and trusted to their own subtlety for a kingdom of this world, these supernatural gifts of God were again taken from them.
- Mark, 16. 17
Another relic of Gentilism is the worship of images, neither instituted by Moses in the Old, nor by Christ in the New Testament; nor yet brought in from the Gentiles; but left amongst them, after they had given their names to Christ. Before our Saviour preached, it was the general religion of the Gentiles to worship for gods those appearances that remain in the brain from the impression of external bodies upon the organs of their senses, which are commonly called ideas, idols, phantasms, conceits, as being representations of those external bodies which cause them, and have nothing in them of reality, no more than there is in the things that seem to stand before us in a dream. And this is the reason why St. Paul says, "We know that an idol is nothing": not that he thought that an image of metal, stone, or wood was nothing; but that the thing which they honored or feared in the image, and held for a god, was a mere figment, without place, habitation, motion, or existence, but in the motions of the brain. And the worship of these with divine honour is that which is in the Scripture called idolatry, and rebellion against God. For God being King of the Jews, and His lieutenant being first Moses, and afterward the high priest, if the people had been permitted to worship and pray to images (which are representations of their own fancies), they had had no further dependence on the true God, of whom there can be no similitude; nor on His prime ministers, Moses and the high priests; but every man had governed himself according to his own appetite, to the utter eversion of the Commonwealth, and their own destruction for want of union. And therefore the first law of God was: they should not take for gods, alienos deos, that is, the gods of other nations, but that only true God, who vouchsafed to commune with Moses, and by him to give them laws and directions for their peace, and for their salvation from their enemies. And the second was that they should not make to themselves any image to worship, of their own invention. For it is the same deposing of a king to submit to another king, whether he be set up by a neighbour nation or by ourselves.
The places of Scripture pretended to countenance the setting up of images to worship them, or to set them up at all in the places where God is worshipped, are, first, two examples; one of the cherubim over the Ark of God; the other of the brazen serpent: secondly, some texts whereby we are commanded to worship certain creatures for their relation to God; as to worship His footstool: and lastly, some other texts, by which is authorized a religious honouring of holy things. But before I examine the force of those places, to prove that which is pretended, I must first explain what is to be understood by worshipping, and what by images and idols.
I have already shown, in the twentieth Chapter of this discourse, that to honour is to value highly the power of any person, and that such value is measured by our comparing him with others. But because there is nothing to be compared with God in power, we honour Him not, but dishonour Him, by any value less than infinite. And thus honour is properly of its own nature secret, and internal in the heart. But the inward thoughts of men, which appear outwardly in their words and actions, are the signs of our honouring, and these go by the name of worship; in Latin, cultus. Therefore, to pray to, to swear by, to obey, to be diligent and officious in serving; in sum, all words and actions that betoken fear to offend, or desire to please, is worship, whether those words and actions be sincere or feigned: and because they appear as signs of honouring are ordinarily also called honour.
The worship we exhibit to those we esteem to be but men, as to kings and men in authority, is civil worship: but the worship we exhibit to that which we think to be God, whatsoever the words, ceremonies, gestures, or other actions be, is divine worship. To fall prostrate before a king, in him that thinks him but a man, is but civil worship: and he that but putteth off his hat in the church, for this cause, that he thinketh it the house of God, worshippeth with divine worship. They that seek the distinction of divine and civil worship, not in the intention of the worshipper, but in the words douleia and latreia, deceive themselves. For whereas there be two sorts of servants: that sort which is of those that are absolutely in the power of their masters, as slaves taken in war, and their issue, whose bodies are not in their own power (their lives depending on the will of their masters, in such manner as to forfeit them upon the least disobedience), and that are bought and sold as beasts, were called Douloi, that is properly, slaves, and their service, Douleia; the other, which is of those that serve for hire, or in hope of benefit from their masters voluntarily, are called Thetes, that is, domestic servants; to whose service the masters have no further right than is contained in the covenants made betwixt them. These two kinds of servants have thus much common to them both, that their labour is appointed them by another: and the word Latris is the general name of both, signifying him that worketh for another, whether as a slave or a voluntary servant. So that latreia signifieth generally all service; but douleia the service of bondmen only, and the condition of slavery: and both are used in Scripture, to signify our service of God, promiscuously. Douleia, because we are God's slaves; latreia, because we serve Him: and in all kinds of service is contained, not only obedience, but also worship; that is, such actions, gestures, and words as signify honour.
An image, in the most strict signification of the word, is the resemblance of something visible: in which sense the fantastical forms, apparitions, or seemings of visible bodies to the sight, are only images; such as are the show of a man or other thing in the water, by reflection or refraction; or of the sun or stars by direct vision in the air; which are nothing real in the things seen, nor in the place where they seem to be; nor are their magnitudes and figures the same with that of the object, but changeable, by the variation of the organs of sight, or by glasses; and are present oftentimes in our imagination, and in our dreams, when the object is absent; or changed into other colours, and shapes, as things that depend only upon the fancy. And these are the images which are originally and most properly called ideas and idols, and derived from the language of the Grecians, with whom the word eido signifieth to see. They are also called phantasms, which is in the same language, apparitions. And from these images it is that one of the faculties of man's nature is called the imagination. And from hence it is manifest that there neither is, nor can be, any image made of a thing invisible.
It is also evident that there can be no image of a thing infinite: for all the images and phantasms that are made by the impression of things visible are figured. But figure is quantity every way determined, and therefore there can be no image of God, nor of the soul of man, nor of spirits; but only of bodies visible, that is, bodies that have light in themselves, or are by such enlightened.
And whereas a man can fancy shapes he never saw, making up a figure out of the parts of diverse creatures, as the poets make their centaurs, chimeras, and other monsters never seen: so can he also give matter to those shapes, and make them in wood, clay, or metal. And these are also called images, not for the resemblance of any corporeal thing, but for the resemblance of some fantastical inhabitants of the brain of the maker. But in these idols, as they are originally in the brain, and as they are painted, carved, moulded, or molten in matter, there is a similitude of the one to the other, for which the material body made by art may be said to be the image of the fantastical idol made by nature.
But in a larger use of the word image is contained also any representation of one thing by another. So an earthly sovereign may be called the image of God, and an inferior magistrate the image of an earthly sovereign. And many times in the idolatry of the Gentiles there was little regard to the similitude of their material idol to the idol in their fancy, and yet it was called the image of it. For a stone unhewn has been set up for Neptune, and diverse other shapes far different from the shapes they conceived of their gods. And at this day we see many images of the Virgin Mary, and other saints, unlike one another, and without correspondence to any one man's fancy; and yet serve well enough for the purpose they were erected for, which was no more but by the names only to represent the persons mentioned in the history; to which every man applieth a mental image of his own making, or none at all. And thus an image, in the largest sense, is either the resemblance or the representation of some thing visible; or both together, as it happeneth for the most part.
But the name of idol is extended yet further in Scripture, to signify also the sun, or a star, or any other creature, visible or invisible, when they are worshipped for gods.
Having shown what is worship, and what an image, I will now put them together, and examine what that idolatry is which is forbidden in the second Commandment, and other places of the Scripture.
To worship an image is voluntarily to do those external acts which are signs of honouring either the matter of the image (which is wood, stone, metal, or some other visible creature), or the phantasm of the brain for the resemblance or representation whereof the matter was formed and figured, or both together as one animate body composed of the matter and the phantasm, as of a body and soul.
To be uncovered, before a man of power and authority, or before the throne of a prince, or in such other places as he ordaineth to that purpose in his absence, is to worship that man or prince with civil worship; as being a sign, not of honouring the stool or place, but the person, and is not idolatry. But if he that doth it should suppose the soul of the prince to be in the stool, or should present a petition to the stool, it were divine worship, and idolatry.
To pray to a king for such things as he is able to do for us, though we prostrate ourselves before him, is but civil worship, because we acknowledge no other power in him but human: but voluntarily to pray unto him for fair weather, or for anything which God only can do for us, is divine worship, and idolatry. On the other side, if a king compel a man to it by the terror of death, or other great corporal punishment, it is not idolatry; for the worship which the sovereign commandeth to be done unto himself by the terror of his laws is not a sign that he that obeyeth him does inwardly honour him as a god, but that he is desirous to save himself from death, or from a miserable life: and that which is not a sign of internal honour is no worship, and therefore no idolatry. Neither can it be said that he that does it scandalizeth or layeth any stumbling block before his brother: because how wise or learned soever he be that worshippeth in that manner, another man cannot from thence argue that he approveth it, but that he doth it for fear; and that it is not his act, but the act of his sovereign.
To worship God in some peculiar place, or turning a man's face towards an image or determinate place, is not to worship or honour the place or image, but to acknowledge it holy; that is to say, to acknowledge the image or the place to be set apart from common use, for that is the meaning of the word holy; which implies no new quality in the place or image, but only a new relation by appropriation to God, and therefore is not idolatry; no more than it was idolatry to worship God before the brazen serpent; or for the Jews, when they were out of their own country, to turn their faces, when they prayed, toward the temple of Jerusalem; or for Moses to put off his shoes when he was before the flaming bush, the ground appertaining to Mount Sinai, which place God had chosen to appear in, and to give His laws to the people of Israel, and was therefore holy ground, not by inherent sanctity, but by separation to God's use; or for Christians to worship in the churches which are once solemnly dedicated to God for that purpose by the authority of the king or other true representant of the Church. But to worship God as inanimating or inhabiting such image or place; that is to say, an infinite substance in a finite place, is idolatry: for such finite gods are but idols of the brain, nothing real, and are commonly called in the Scripture by the names of vanity, and lies, and nothing. Also to worship God, not as inanimating, or present in the place or image, but to the end to be put in mind of Him, or of some works of His, in case the place or image be dedicated or set up by private authority, and not by the authority of them that are our sovereign pastors, is idolatry. For the Commandment is, "Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image." God commanded Moses to set up the brazen serpent; he did not make it to himself; it was not therefore against the Commandment. But the making of the golden calf by Aaron and the people, as being done without authority from God, was idolatry; not only because they held it for God, but also because they made it for a religious use, without warrant either from God their Sovereign, or from Moses that was His lieutenant.
The Gentiles worshipped, for gods, Jupiter and others that, living, were men perhaps that had done great and glorious acts; and, for the children of God, diverse men and women, supposing them gotten between an immortal deity and a mortal man. This was idolatry, because they made them so to themselves, having no authority from God, neither in His eternal law of reason, nor in His positive and revealed will. But though our Saviour was a man, whom we also believe to be God immortal and the Son of God, yet this is no idolatry, because we build not that belief upon our own fancy or judgement, but upon the word of God revealed in the Scriptures. And for the adoration of the Eucharist, if the words of Christ, "This is my body," signify that he himself, and the seeming bread in his hand, and not only so, but that all the seeming morsels of bread that have ever since been, and any time hereafter shall be, consecrated by priests, be so many Christ's bodies, and yet all of them but one body, then is that no idolatry, because it is authorized by our Saviour: but if that text do not signify that (for there is no other that can be alleged for it), then, because it is a worship of human institution, it is idolatry. For it is not enough to say, God can transubstantiate the bread into Christ's body, for the Gentiles also held God to be omnipotent, and might upon that ground no less excuse their idolatry, by pretending, as well as others, a transubstantiation of their wood and stone into God Almighty.
Whereas there be, that pretend divine inspiration to be a supernatural entering of the Holy Ghost into a man, and not an acquisition of God's graces by doctrine and study, I think they are in a very dangerous dilemma. For if they worship not the men whom they believe to be so inspired, they fall into impiety, as not adoring God's supernatural presence. And again, if they worship them they commit idolatry, for the Apostles would never permit themselves to be so worshipped. Therefore the safest way is to believe that by the descending of the dove upon the Apostles, and by Christ's breathing on them when he gave them the Holy Ghost, and by the giving of it by imposition of hands, are understood the signs which God hath been pleased to use, or ordain to be used, of his promise to assist those persons in their study to preach His kingdom, and in their conversation, that it might not be scandalous, but edifying to others.
Besides the idolatrous worship of images, there is also a scandalous worship of them, which is also a sin, but not idolatry. For idolatry is to worship by signs of an internal and real honour; but scandalous worship is but seeming worship, and may sometimes be joined with an inward and hearty detestation, both of the image and of the fantastical demon or idol to which it is dedicated; and proceed only from the fear of death or other grievous punishment; and is nevertheless a sin in them that so worship, in case they be men whose actions are looked at by others as lights to guide them by; because following their ways, they cannot but stumble and fall in the way of religion: whereas the example of those we regard not, works not on us at all, but leaves us to our own diligence and caution, and consequently are no causes of our falling.
If therefore a pastor lawfully called to teach and direct others, or any other, of whose knowledge there is a great opinion, do external honour to an idol for fear; unless he make his fear and unwillingness to it as evident as the worship, he scandalizeth his brother by seeming to approve idolatry. For his brother arguing from the action of his teacher, or of him whose knowledge he esteemeth great, concludes it to be lawful in itself. And this scandal is sin, and a scandal given. But if one being no pastor, nor of eminent reputation for knowledge in Christian doctrine, do the same, and another follow him, this is no scandal given (for he had no cause to follow such example), but is a pretence of scandal which he taketh of himself for an excuse before men. For an unlearned man that is in the power of an idolatrous king or state, if commanded on pain of death to worship before an idol, he detesteth the idol in his heart: he doth well; though if he had the fortitude to suffer death, rather than worship it, he should do better. But if a pastor, who as Christ's messenger has undertaken to teach Christ's doctrine to all nations, should do the same, it were not only a sinful scandal, in respect of other Christian men's consciences, but a perfidious forsaking of his charge.
The sum of that which I have said hitherto, concerning the worship of images, is this, that he that worshippeth in an image, or any creature, either the matter thereof, or any fancy of his own which he thinketh to dwell in it; or both together; or believeth that such things hear his prayers, or see his devotions, without ears or eyes, committeth idolatry. And he that counterfeiteth such worship for fear of punishment, if he be a man whose example hath power amongst his brethren, committeth a sin. But he that worshippeth the Creator of the world before such an image, or in such a place as he hath not made or chosen of himself, but taken from the commandment of God's word, as the Jews did in worshipping God before the cherubim, and before the brazen serpent for a time, and in or towards the temple of Jerusalem, which was also but for a time, committeth not idolatry.
Now for the worship of saints, and images, and relics, and other things at this day practised in the Church of Rome, I say they are not allowed by the word of God, nor brought into the Church of Rome from the doctrine there taught; but partly left in it at the first conversion of the Gentiles, and afterwards countenanced, and confirmed, and augmented by the bishops of Rome.
As for the proofs alleged out of Scripture; namely, those examples of images appointed by God to be set up; they were not set up for the people or any man to worship, but that they should worship God Himself before them; as before the cherubim over the Ark, and the brazen serpent. For we read not that the priest or any other did worship the cherubim. But contrarily we read that Hezekiah broke in pieces the brazen serpent which Moses had set up,* because the people burnt incense to it. Besides, those examples are not put for our imitation, that we also should set up images, under pretence of worshipping God before them; because the words of the second Commandment, "Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image," etc., distinguish between the images that God commanded to be set up, and those which we set up to ourselves. And therefore from the cherubim or brazen serpent, to the images of man's devising; and from the worship commanded by God, to the will-worship of men, the argument is not good. This also is to be considered, that as Hezekiah broke in pieces the brazen serpent, because the Jews did worship it, to the end they should do so no more; so also Christian sovereigns ought to break down the images which their subjects have been accustomed to worship, that there be no more occasion of such idolatry. For at this day the ignorant people, where images are worshipped, do really believe there is a divine power in the images; and are told by their pastors that some of them have spoken, and have bled; and that miracles have been done by them; which they apprehend as done by the saint, which they think either is the image itself, or in it. The Israelites, when they worshipped the calf, did think they worshipped the God that brought them out of Egypt, and yet it was idolatry, because they thought the calf either was that God, or had Him in his belly. And though some man may think it impossible for people to be so stupid as to think the image to be God, or a saint, or to worship it in that notion, yet it is manifest in Scripture to the contrary; where, when the golden calf was made, the people said, "These are thy gods, O Israel";
- (2) and where the images of Laban are called his gods.
- (3) And we see daily by experience in all sorts of people that such men as study nothing but their food and ease are content to believe any absurdity, rather than to trouble themselves to examine it, holding their faith as it were by entail unalienable, except by an express and new law.
- II Kings, 18. 4
- (2) Exodus, 32
- (3) Genesis, 31. 30
But they infer from some other places that it is lawful to paint angels, and also God Himself: as from God's walking in the garden; from Jacob's seeing God at the top of the ladder; and from other visions and dreams. But visions and dreams, whether natural or supernatural, are but phantasms: and he that painteth an image of any of them, maketh not an image of God, but of his own phantasm, which is making of an idol. I say not, that to draw a picture after a fancy is a sin; but when it is drawn, to hold it for a representation of God is against the second Commandment and can be of no use but to worship. And the same may be said of the images of angels, and of men dead; unless as monuments of friends, or of men worthy remembrance: for such use of an image is not worship of the image, but a civil honouring of the person; not that is, but that was: but when it is done to the image which we make of a saint, for no other reason but that we think he heareth our prayers, and is pleased with the honour we do him, when dead and without sense, we attribute to him more than human power, and therefore it is idolatry.
Seeing therefore there is no authority, neither in the Law of Moses nor in the Gospel, for the religious worship of images or other representations of God which men set up to themselves, or for the worship of the image of any creature in heaven, or earth, or under the earth; and whereas Christian kings, who are living representants of God, are not to be worshipped by their subjects by any act that signifieth a greater esteem of his power than the nature of mortal man is capable of; it cannot be imagined that the religious worship now in use was brought into the Church by misunderstanding of the Scripture. It resteth therefore that it was left in it by not destroying the images themselves in the conversion of the Gentiles that worshipped them.
The cause whereof was the immoderate esteem and prices set upon the workmanship of them, which made the owners, though converted from worshipping them as they had done religiously for demons, to retain them still in their houses, upon pretence of doing it in the honor of Christ, of the Virgin Mary, and of the Apostles, and other the pastors of the primitive Church; as being easy, by giving them new names, to make that an image of the Virgin Mary and of her Son our Saviour, which before perhaps was called the image of Venus and Cupid; and so of a Jupiter to make a Barnabas, and of Mercury, a Paul, and the like. And as worldly ambition, creeping by degrees into the pastors, drew them to an endeavour of pleasing the new-made Christians; and also to a liking of this kind of honour, which they also might hope for after their decease, as well as those that had already gained it: so the worshipping of the images of Christ and his Apostles grew more and more idolatrous; save that somewhat after the time of Constantine diverse emperors, and bishops, and general councils observed and opposed the unlawfulness thereof, but too late or too weakly.
The canonizing of saints is another relic of Gentilism: it is neither a misunderstanding of Scripture, nor a new invention of the Roman Church, but a custom as ancient as the Commonwealth of Rome itself. The first that ever was canonized at Rome was Romulus, and that upon the narration of Julius Proculus, that swore before the Senate he spoke with him after his death, and was assured by him he dwelt in heaven, and was there called Quirinus, and would be propitious to the state of their new city: and thereupon the Senate gave public testimony of his sanctity. Julius Caesar, and other emperors after him, had the like testimony; that is, were canonized for saints: for by such testimony is canonization now defined, and is the same with the apotheosis of the heathen.
It is also from the Roman heathen that the popes have received the name and power of Pontifex Maximus. This was the name of him that in the ancient Commonwealth of Rome had the supreme authority under the Senate and people of regulating all ceremonies and doctrines concerning their religion: and when Augustus Caesar changed the state into a monarchy, he took to himself no more but this office, and that of tribune of the people (that is to say, the supreme power both in state and religion); and the succeeding emperors enjoyed the same. But when the Emperor Constantine lived, who was the first that professed and authorized Christian religion, it was consonant to his profession to cause religion to be regulated, under his authority, by the bishop of Rome: though it do not appear they had so soon the name of Pontifex; but rather that the succeeding bishops took it of themselves, to countenance the power they exercised over the bishops of the Roman provinces. For it is not any privilege of St. Peter, but the privilege of the city of Rome, which the emperors were always willing to uphold, that gave them such authority over other bishops; as may be evidently seen by that, that the bishop of Constantinople, when the Emperor made that city the seat of the Empire, pretended to be equal to the bishop of Rome; though at last, not without contention, the Pope carried it, and became the Pontifex Maximus; but in right only of the Emperor, and not without the bounds of the Empire, nor anywhere after the Emperor had lost his power in Rome, though it were the Pope himself that took his power from him. From whence we may by the way observe that there is no place for the superiority of the Pope over other bishops, except in the territories whereof he is himself the civil sovereign; and where the emperor, having sovereign power civil, hath expressly chosen the Pope for the chief pastor under himself of his Christian subjects.
The carrying about of images in procession is another relic of the religion of the Greeks and Romans, for they also carried their idols from place to place, in a kind of chariot, which was peculiarly dedicated to that use, which the Latins called thensa, and vehiculum Deorum; and the image was placed in a frame, or shrine, which they called ferculum. And that which they called pompa is the same that now is named procession; according whereunto, amongst the divine honours which were given to Julius Caesar by the Senate, this was one, that in the pomp, or procession, at the Circaean games, he should have thensam et ferculum, a sacred chariot and a shrine; which was as much as to be carried up and down as a god, just as at this day the popes are carried by Switzers under a canopy.
To these processions also belonged the bearing of burning torches and candles before the images of the gods, both amongst the Greeks and Romans. For afterwards the emperors of Rome received the same honor; as we read of Caligula, that at his reception to the Empire he was carried from Misenum to Rome in the midst of a throng of people, the ways beset with altars, and beasts for sacrifice, and burning torches; and of Caracalla, that was received into Alexandria with incense, and with casting of flowers, and dadouchiais, that is, with torches; for dadochoi were they that amongst the Greeks carried torches lighted in the processions of their gods. And in process of time the devout but ignorant people did many times honour their bishops with the like pomp of wax candles, and the images of our Saviour and the saints, constantly, in the church itself. And thus came in the use of wax candles and was also established by some of the ancient councils.
The heathens had also their aqua lustralis, that is to say, holy water. The Church of Rome imitates them also in their holy days. They had their bacchanalia, and we have our wakes, answering to them; they their saturnalia, and we our carnivals and Shrove Tuesday's liberty of servants; they their procession of Priapus, we our fetching in, erection, and dancing about Maypoles; and dancing is one kind of worship. They had their procession called Ambarvalia, and we our procession about the fields in the Rogation week. Nor do I think that these are all the ceremonies that have been left in the Church, from the first conversion of the Gentiles, but they are all that I can for the present call to mind. And if a man would well observe that which is delivered in the histories, concerning the religious rites of the Greeks and Romans, I doubt not but he might find many more of these old empty bottles of Gentilism which the doctors of the Roman Church, either by negligence or ambition, have filled up again with the new wine of Christianity, that will not fail in time to break them.
Chapter XLVI: Of Darkness from Vain Philosophy and Fabulous Traditions
By philosophy is understood the knowledge acquired by reasoning, from the manner of the generation of anything, to the properties; or from the properties, to some possible way of generation of the same; to the end to be able to produce, as far as matter and human force permit, such effects as human life requireth. So the geometrician, from the construction of figures, findeth out many properties thereof; and from the properties, new ways of their construction, by reasoning; to the end to be able to measure land and water; and for infinite other uses. So the astronomer, from the rising, setting, and moving of the sun and stars in diverse parts of the heavens, findeth out the causes of day and night, and of the different seasons of the year, whereby he keepeth an account of time; and the like of other sciences.
By which definition it is evident that we are not to account as any part thereof that original knowledge called experience, in which consisteth prudence, because it is not attained by reasoning, but found as well in brute beasts as in man; and is but a memory of successions of events in times past, wherein the omission of every little circumstance, altering the effect frustrateth the expectation of the most prudent: whereas nothing is produced by reasoning aright, but general, eternal, and immutable truth.
Nor are we therefore to give that name to any false conclusions; for he that reasoneth aright in words he understandeth can never conclude an error:
Nor to that which any man knows by supernatural revelation; because it is not acquired by reasoning:
Nor that which is gotten by reasoning from the authority of books; because it is not by reasoning from the cause to the effect, nor from the effect to the cause; and is not knowledge, but faith.
The faculty of reasoning being consequent to the use of speech, it was not possible but that there should have been some general truths found out by reasoning, as ancient almost as language itself. The savages of America are not without some good moral sentences; also they have a little arithmetic, to add and divide in numbers not too great; but they are not therefore philosophers. For as there were plants of corn and wine in small quantity dispersed in the fields and woods, before men knew their virtue, or made use of them for their nourishment, or planted them apart in fields and vineyards; in which time they fed on acorns and drank water: so also there have been diverse true, general, and profitable speculations from the beginning, as being the natural plants of human reason. But they were at first but few in number; men lived upon gross experience; there was no method; that is to say, no sowing nor planting of knowledge by itself, apart from the weeds and common plants of error and conjecture. And the cause of it being the want of leisure from procuring the necessities of life, and defending themselves against their neighbours, it was impossible, till the erecting of great Commonwealths, it should be otherwise. Leisure is the mother of philosophy; and Commonwealth, the mother of peace and leisure. Where first were great and flourishing cities, there was first the study of philosophy. The Gymnosophists of India, the Magi of Persia, and the Priests of Chaldaea and Egypt are counted the most ancient philosophers; and those countries were the most ancient of kingdoms. Philosophy was not risen to the Grecians and other people of the West, whose Commonwealths, no greater perhaps than Lucca or Geneva, had never peace but when their fears of one another were equal; nor the leisure to observe anything but one another. At length, when war had united many of these Grecian lesser cities into fewer and greater, then began seven men, of several parts of Greece, to get the reputation of being wise; some of them for moral and politic sentences, and others for the learning of the Chaldaeans and Egyptians, which was astronomy and geometry. But we hear not yet of any schools of philosophy.
After the Athenians, by the overthrow of the Persian armies, had gotten the dominion of the sea; and thereby, of all the islands and maritime cities of the archipelago, as well of Asia as Europe; and were grown wealthy; they that had no employment, neither at home nor abroad, had little else to employ themselves in but either, as St. Luke says, "in telling and hearing news,"* or in discoursing of philosophy publicly to the youth of the city. Every master took some place for that purpose: Plato, in certain public walks called Academia, from one Academus; Aristotle in the walk of the temple of Pan, called Lycaeum; others in the Stoa, or covered walk, wherein the merchants' goods were brought to land; others in other places, where they spent the time of their leisure in teaching or in disputing of their opinions; and some in any place where they could get the youth of the city together to hear them talk. And this was it which Carneades also did at Rome, when he was ambassador, which caused Cato to advise the Senate to dispatch him quickly, for fear of corrupting the manners of the young men that delighted to hear him speak, as they thought, fine things.
- Acts, 17. 21
From this it was that the place where any of them taught and disputed was called schola, which in their tongue signifieth leisure; and their disputations, diatribae, that is to say, passing of the time. Also the philosophers themselves had the name of their sects, some of them, from these their schools: for they that followed Plato's doctrine were called Academics; the followers of Aristotle, Peripatetics, from the walk he taught in; and those that Zeno taught, Stoics, from the Stoa: as if we should denominate men from More-fields, from Paul's Church, and from the Exchange, because they meet there often to prate and loiter.
Nevertheless, men were so much taken with this custom, that in time it spread itself over all Europe, and the best part of Africa; so as there were schools, publicly erected and maintained, for lectures and disputations, almost in every Commonwealth.
There were also schools, anciently, both before and after the time of our Saviour, amongst the Jews: but they were schools of their law. For though they were called synagogues, that is to say, congregations of the people; yet, inasmuch as the law was every Sabbath day read, expounded, and disputed in them, they differed not in nature, but in name only, from public schools; and were not only in Jerusalem, but in every city of the Gentiles where the Jews inhabited. There was such a school at Damascus, whereinto Paul entered, to persecute. There were others at Antioch, Iconium and Thessalonica, whereinto he entered, to dispute. And such was the synagogue of the Libertines, Cyrenians, Alexandrians, Cilicians, and those of Asia; that is to say, the school of Libertines, and of Jews, that were strangers in Jerusalem: and of this school they were that disputed with St. Stephen.*
- Acts, 6. 9
But what has been the utility of those schools? What science is there at this day acquired by their readings and disputings? That we have of geometry, which is the mother of all natural science, we are not indebted for it to the schools. Plato, that was the best philosopher of the Greeks, forbade entrance into his school to all that were not already in some measure geometricians. There were many that studied that science to the great advantage of mankind: but there is no mention of their schools; nor was there any sect of geometricians; nor did they then pass under the name of philosophers. The natural philosophy of those schools was rather a dream than science, and set forth in senseless and insignificant language, which cannot be avoided by those that will teach philosophy without having first attained great knowledge in geometry. For nature worketh by motion; the ways and degrees whereof cannot be known without the knowledge of the proportions and properties of lines and figures. Their moral philosophy is but a description of their own passions. For the rule of manners, without civil government, is the law of nature; and in it, the law civil, that determineth what is honest and dishonest; what is just and unjust; and generally what is good and evil. Whereas they make the rules of good and bad by their own liking and disliking; by which means, in so great diversity of taste, there is nothing generally agreed on; but every one doth, as far as he dares, whatsoever seemeth good in his own eyes, to the subversion of Commonwealth. Their logic, which should be the method of reasoning, is nothing else but captions of words, and inventions how to puzzle such as should go about to pose them. To conclude, there is nothing so absurd that the old philosophers (as Cicero saith, who was one of them) have not some of them maintained. And I believe that scarce anything can be more absurdly said in natural philosophy than that which now is called Aristotle's Metaphysics; nor more repugnant to government than much of that he hath said in his Politics, nor more ignorantly, than a great part of his Ethics.
The school of the Jews was originally a school of the law of Moses, who commanded that at the end of every seventh year, at the Feast of the Tabernacles, it should be read to all the people, that they might hear and learn it.* Therefore the reading of the law (which was in use after the Captivity) every Sabbath day ought to have had no other end but the acquainting of the people with the Commandments which they were to obey, and to expound unto them the writings of the prophets. But it is manifest, by the many reprehensions of them by our Saviour, that they corrupted the text of the law with their false commentaries, and vain traditions; and so little understood the prophets that they did neither acknowledge Christ, nor the works he did, of which the prophets prophesied. So that by their lectures and disputations in their synagogues, they turned the doctrine of their law into a fantastical kind of philosophy, concerning the incomprehensible nature of God and of spirits; which they compounded of the vain philosophy and theology of the Grecians, mingled with their own fancies, drawn from the obscurer places of the Scripture, and which might most easily be wrested to their purpose; and from the fabulous traditions of their ancestors.
- Deuteronomy, 31. 10
That which is now called a University is a joining together, and an incorporation under one government, of many public schools in one and the same town or city, in which the principal schools were ordained for the three professions; that is to say, of the Roman religion, of the Roman law, and of the art of medicine. And for the study of philosophy it hath no otherwise place than as a handmaid to the Roman religion: and since the authority of Aristotle is only current there, that study is not properly philosophy (the nature whereof dependeth not on authors), but Aristotelity. And for geometry, till of very late times it had no place at all, as being subservient to nothing but rigid truth. And if any man by the ingenuity of his own nature had attained to any degree of perfection therein, he was commonly thought a magician, and his art diabolical.
Now to descend to the particular tenets of vain philosophy, derived to the Universities, and thence into the Church, partly from Aristotle, partly from blindness of understanding; I shall first consider their principles. There is a certain philosophia prima on which all other philosophy ought to depend; and consisteth principally in right limiting of the significations of such appellations, or names, as are of all others the most universal; which limitations serve to avoid ambiguity and equivocation in reasoning, and are commonly called definitions; such as are the definitions of body, time, place, matter, form, essence, subject, substance, accident, power, act, finite, infinite, quantity, quality, motion, action, passion, and diverse others, necessary to the explaining of a man's conceptions concerning the nature and generation of bodies. The explication (that is, the settling of the meaning) of which, and the like terms, is commonly in the Schools called metaphysics; as being a part of the philosophy of Aristotle, which hath that for title. But it is in another sense; for there it signifieth as much as "books written or placed after his natural philosophy": but the Schools take them for books of supernatural philosophy: for the word metaphysics will bear both these senses. And indeed that which is there written is for the most part so far from the possibility of being understood, and so repugnant to natural reason, that whosoever thinketh there is anything to be understood by it must needs think it supernatural.
From these metaphysics, which are mingled with the Scripture to make School divinity, we are told there be in the world certain essences separated from bodies, which they call abstract essences, and substantial forms; for the interpreting of which jargon, there is need of somewhat more than ordinary attention in this place. Also I ask pardon of those that are not used to this kind of discourse for applying myself to those that are. The world (I mean not the earth only, that denominates the lovers of it "worldly men," but the universe, that is, the whole mass of all things that are) is corporeal, that is to say, body; and hath the dimensions of magnitude, namely, length, breadth, and depth: also every part of body is likewise body, and hath the like dimensions; and consequently every part of the universe is body, and that which is not body is no part of the universe: and because the universe is all that which is no part of it is nothing, and consequently nowhere. Nor does it follow from hence that spirits are nothing: for they have dimensions and are therefore really bodies; though that name in common speech be given to such bodies only as are visible or palpable; that is, that have some degree of opacity: but for spirits, they call them incorporeal, which is a name of more honour, and may therefore with more piety be attributed to God Himself; in whom we consider not what attribute expresseth best His nature, which is incomprehensible, but what best expresseth our desire to honour Him.
To know now upon what grounds they say there be essences abstract, or substantial forms, we are to consider what those words do properly signify. The use of words is to register to ourselves, and make manifest to others, the thoughts and conceptions of our minds. Of which words, some are the names of the things conceived; as the names of all sorts of bodies that work upon the senses and leave an impression in the imagination: others are the names of the imaginations themselves; that is to say, of those ideas or mental images we have of all things we see or remember: and others again are names of names, or of different sorts of speech; as universal, plural, singular, are the names of names; and definition, affirmation, negation, true, false, syllogism, interrogation, promise, covenant, are the names of certain forms of speech. Others serve to show the consequence or repugnance of one name to another; as when one saith, "a man is a body," he intendeth that the name of body is necessarily consequent to the name of man, as being but serval name of the same thing, man; which consequence is signified by coupling them together with the word is. And as we use the verb is; so the Latins use their verb est, and the Greeks their esti through all its declinations. Whether all other nations of the world have in their several languages a word that answereth to it, or not, I cannot tell; but I am sure they have not need of it: for the placing of two names in order may serve to signify their consequence, if it were the custom (for custom is it that gives words their force), as well as the words is, or be, or are, and the like.
And if it were so, that there were a language without any verb answerable to est, or is, or be; yet the men that used it would be not a jot the less capable of inferring, concluding, and of all kind of reasoning, than were the Greeks and Latins. But what then would become of these terms, of entity, essence, essential, essentiality, that are derived from it, and of many more that depend on these, applied as most commonly they are? They are therefore no names of things; but signs, by which we make known that we conceive the consequence of one name or attribute to another: as when we say, "a man is a living body," we mean not that the man is one thing, the living body another, and the is, or being, a third; but that the man and the living body is the same thing, because the consequence, "If he be a man, he is a living body," is a true consequence, signified by that word is. Therefore, to be a body, to walk, to be speaking, to live, to see, and the like infinitives; also corporeity, walking, speaking, life, sight, and the like, that signify just the same, are the names of nothing; as I have elsewhere more amply expressed.
But to what purpose, may some man say, is such subtlety in a work of this nature, where I pretend to nothing but what is necessary to the doctrine of government and obedience? It is to this purpose, that men may no longer suffer themselves to be abused by them that by this doctrine of "separated essences," built on the vain philosophy of Aristotle, would fright them from obeying the laws of their country, with empty names; as men fright birds from the corn with an empty doublet, a hat, and a crooked stick. For it is upon this ground that, when a man is dead and buried, they say his soul, that is his life, can walk separated from his body, and is seen by night amongst the graves. Upon the same ground, they say that the figure, and colour, and taste of a piece of bread has a being, there, where they say there is no bread: and upon the same ground they say that faith, and wisdom, and other virtues are sometimes poured into a man, sometimes blown into him, from heaven; if the virtuous and their virtues could be asunder; and a great many other things that serve to lessen the dependence of subjects on the sovereign power of their country. For who will endeavour to obey the laws, if he expect obedience to be poured or blown into him? Or who will not obey a priest, that can make God, rather than his sovereign; nay, than God Himself?
Or who that is in fear of ghosts will not bear great respect to those that can make the holy water that drives them from him? And this shall suffice for an example of the errors which are brought into the Church from the entities and essences of Aristotle: which it may be he knew to be false philosophy, but wrote it as a thing consonant to, and corroborative of, their religion; and fearing the fate of Socrates.
Being once fallen into this error of "separated essences," they are thereby necessarily involved in many other absurdities that follow it. For seeing they will have these forms to be real, they are obliged to assign them some place. But because they hold them incorporeal, without all dimension of quantity, and all men know that place is dimension, and not to be filled but by that which is corporeal, they are driven to uphold their credit with a distinction, that they are not indeed anywhere circumscriptive, but definitive: which terms being mere words, and in this occasion insignificant, pass only in Latin, that the vanity of them may be concealed. For the circumscription of a thing is nothing else but the determination or defining of its place; and so both the terms of the distinction are the same. And in particular, of the essence of a man, which, they say, is his soul, they affirm it to be all of it in his little finger, and all of it in every other part, how small soever, of his body; and yet no more soul in the whole body than in any one of those parts. Can any man think that God is served with such absurdities? And yet all this is necessary to believe, to those that will believe the existence of an incorporeal soul, separated from the body.
And when they come to give account how an incorporeal substance can be capable of pain, and be tormented in the fire of hell or purgatory, they have nothing at all to answer, but that it cannot be known how fire can burn souls.
Again, whereas motion is change of place, and incorporeal substances are not capable of place, they are troubled to make it seem possible how a soul can go hence, without the body, to heaven, hell, or purgatory; and how the ghosts of men (and I may add, of their clothes which they appear in) can walk by night in churches, churchyards, and other places of sepulture. To which I know not what they can answer, unless they will say, they walk definitive, not circumscriptive, or spiritually, not temporally: for such egregious distinctions are equally applicable to any difficulty whatsoever.
For the meaning of eternity, they will not have it to be an endless succession of time; for then they should not be able to render a reason how God's will and pre-ordaining of things to come should not be before His prescience of the same, as the efficient cause before the effect, or agent before the action; nor of many other their bold opinions concerning the incomprehensible nature of God. But they will teach us that eternity is the standing still of the present time, a nunc-stans, as the Schools call it; which neither they nor any else understand, no more than they would a hic-stans for an infinite greatness of place.
And whereas men divide a body in their thought, by numbering parts of it, and in numbering those parts, number also the parts of the place it filled; it cannot be but in making many parts, we make also many places of those parts; whereby there cannot be conceived in the mind of any man more or fewer parts than there are places for: yet they will have us believe that by the Almighty power of God, one body may be at one and the same time in many places; and many bodies at one and the same time in one place; as if it were an acknowledgement of the Divine Power to say, that which is, is not; or that which has been, has not been. And these are but a small part of the incongruities they are forced to, from their disputing philosophically, instead of admiring and adoring of the divine and incomprehensible Nature; whose attributes cannot signify what He is, but ought to signify our desire to honour Him with the best appellations we can think on. But they that venture to reason of His nature, from these attributes of honour, losing their understanding in the very first attempt, fall from one inconvenience into another, without end and without number; in the same manner as when a man ignorant of the ceremonies of court, coming into the presence of a greater person than he is used to speak to, and stumbling at his entrance, to save himself from falling, lets slip his cloak; to recover his cloak, lets fall his hat; and, with one disorder after another, discovers his astonishment and rusticity.
Then for physics, that is, the knowledge of the subordinate and secondary causes of natural events, they render none at all but empty words. If you desire to know why some kind of bodies sink naturally downwards toward the earth, and others go naturally from it, the Schools will tell you, out of Aristotle, that the bodies that sink downwards are heavy; and that this heaviness is it that causes them to descend. But if you ask what they mean by heaviness, they will define it to be an endeavour to go to the center of the earth: so that the cause why things sink downward is an endeavour to be below; which is as much as to say that bodies descend, or ascend, because they do. Or they will tell you the center of the earth is the place of rest and conservation for heavy things, and therefore they endeavour to be there: as if stones and metals had a desire, or could discern the place they would be at, as man does; or loved rest, as man does not; or that a piece of glass were less safe in the window than falling into the street.
If we would know why the same body seems greater, without adding to it, one time than another; they say, when it seems less, it is condensed; when greater, rarefied. What is that condensed and rarefied? Condensed is when there is in the very same matter less quantity than before; and rarefied, when more. As if there could be matter that had not some determined quantity; when quantity is nothing else but the determination of matter; that is to say, of body, by which we say one body is greater or lesser than another by thus, or thus much. Or as if a body were made without any quantity at all, and that afterwards more or less were put into it, according as it is intended the body should be more or less dense.
For the cause of the soul of man, they say, creatur infundendo and creando infunditur: that is, "It is created by pouring it in," and "poured in by creation."
For the cause of sense, an ubiquity of species; that is, of the shows or apparitions of objects; which when they be apparitions to the eye is sight; when to the ear, hearing; to the palate, taste; to the nostril, smelling; and to the rest of the body, feeling.
For cause of the will to do any particular action, which is called volitio, they assign the faculty, that is to say, the capacity in general, that men have to will sometimes one thing, sometimes another, which is called voluntas; making the power the cause of the act: as if one should assign for cause of the good or evil acts of men their ability to do them.
And in many occasions they put for cause of natural events, their own ignorance, but disguised in other words: as when they say, fortune is the cause of things contingent; that is, of things whereof they know no cause: and as when they attribute many effects to occult qualities; that is, qualities not known to them, and therefore also, as they think, to no man else: and to sympathy, antipathy, antiperistasis, specifical qualities, and other like terms, which signify neither the agent that produceth them, nor the operation by which they are produced.
If such metaphysics and physics as this be not vain philosophy, there was never any; nor needed St. Paul to give us warning to avoid it.
And for their moral and civil philosophy, it hath the same or greater absurdities. If a man do an action of injustice, that is to say, an action contrary to the law, God, they say, is the prime cause of the law and also the prime cause of that and all other actions; but no cause at all of the injustice; which is the inconformity of the action to the law. This is vain philosophy. A man might as well say that one man maketh both a straight line and a crooked, and another maketh their incongruity. And such is the philosophy of all men that resolve of their conclusions before they know their premises, pretending to comprehend that which is incomprehensible; and of attributes of honour to make attributes of nature; as this distinction was made to maintain the doctrine of free will, that is, of a will of man not subject to the will of God.
Aristotle and other heathen philosophers define good and evil by the appetite of men; and well enough, as long as we consider them governed every one by his own law: for in the condition of men that have no other law but their own appetites, there can be no general rule of good and evil actions. But in a Commonwealth this measure is false: not the appetite of private men, but the law, which is the will and appetite of the state, is the measure. And yet is this doctrine still practised, and men judge the goodness or wickedness of their own and of other men's actions, and of the actions of the Commonwealth itself, by their own passions; and no man calleth good or evil but that which is so in his own eyes, without any regard at all to the public laws; except only monks and friars, that are bound by vow to that simple obedience to their superior to which every subject ought to think himself bound by the law of nature to the civil sovereign. And this private measure of good is a doctrine, not only vain, but also pernicious to the public state.
It is also vain and false philosophy to say the work of marriage is repugnant to chastity or continence, and by consequence to make them moral vices; as they do that pretend chastity and continence for the ground of denying marriage to the clergy. For they confess it is no more but a constitution of the Church that requireth in those holy orders, that continually attend the altar and administration of the Eucharist, a continual abstinence from women, under the name of continual chastity, continence, and purity. Therefore they call the lawful use of wives want of chastity and continence; and so make marriage a sin, or at least a thing so impure and unclean as to render a man unfit for the altar. If the law were made because the use of wives is incontinence, and contrary to chastity, then all marriage is vice: if because it is a thing too impure and unclean for a man consecrated to God, much more should other natural, necessary, and daily works, which all men do, render men unworthy to be priests, because they are more unclean.
But the secret foundation of this prohibition of marriage of priests is not likely to have been laid so slightly as upon such errors in moral philosophy; nor yet upon the preference of single life to the estate of matrimony; which proceeded from the wisdom of St. Paul, who perceived how inconvenient a thing it was for those that in those times of persecution were preachers of the gospel, and forced to fly from one country to another, to be clogged with the care of wife and children; but upon the design of the popes and priests of after times, to make themselves, (the clergy, that is to say,) sole heirs of the kingdom of God in this world, to which it was necessary to take from them the use of marriage, because our Saviour saith that at the coming of his kingdom the children of God "shall neither marry, nor be given in marriage, but shall be as the angels in heaven"; that is to say, spiritual. Seeing then they had taken on them the name of spiritual, to have allowed themselves, when there was no need, the propriety of wives, had been an incongruity.
From Aristotle's civil philosophy, they have learned to call all manner of Commonwealths but the popular (such as was at that time the state of Athens), tyranny. All kings they called tyrants; and the aristocracy of the thirty governors set up there by the Lacedaemonians that subdued them, the thirty tyrants: as also to call the condition of the people under the democracy, liberty. A tyrant originally signified no more, simply, but a monarch. But when afterwards in most parts of Greece that kind of government was abolished, the name began to signify, not only the thing it did before, but with it the hatred which the popular states bore towards it: as also the name of king became odious after the deposing of the kings in Rome, as being a thing natural to all men to conceive some great fault to be signified in any attribute that is given in despite, and to a great enemy. And when the same men shall be displeased with those that have the administration of the democracy, or aristocracy, they are not to seek for disgraceful names to express their anger in; but call readily the one anarchy, and the other oligarchy, or the tyranny of a few. And that which offendeth the people is no other thing but that they are governed, not as every one of them would himself, but as the public representant, be it one man or an assembly of men, thinks fit; that is, by an arbitrary government: for which they give evil names to their superiors, never knowing (till perhaps a little after a civil war) that without such arbitrary government, such war must be perpetual; and that it is men and arms, not words and promises, that make the force and power of the laws.
And therefore this is another error of Aristotle's politics, that in a well-ordered Commonwealth, not men should govern, but the laws. What man that has his natural senses, though he can neither write nor read, does not find himself governed by them he fears, and believes can kill or hurt him when he obeyeth not? Or that believes the law can hurt him; that is, words and paper, without hands and swords of men? And this is of the number of pernicious errors: for they induce men, as oft as they like not their governors, to adhere to those that call them tyrants, and to think it lawful to raise war against them: and yet they are many times cherished from the pulpit, by the clergy.
There is another error in their civil philosophy (which they never learned of Aristotle, nor Cicero, nor any other of the heathen), to extend the power of the law, which is the rule of actions only, to the very thoughts and consciences of men, by examination and inquisition of what they hold, notwithstanding the conformity of their speech and actions. By which men are either punished for answering the truth of their thoughts, or constrained to answer an untruth for fear of punishment. It is true that the civil magistrate, intending to employ a minister in the charge of teaching, may enquire of him if he be content to preach such and such doctrines; and, in case of refusal, may deny him the employment: but to force him to accuse himself of opinions, when his actions are not by law forbidden, is against the law of nature; and especially in them who teach that a man shall be damned to eternal and extreme torments, if he die in a false opinion concerning an article of the Christian faith. For who is there (that knowing there is so great danger in an error) whom the natural care of himself compelleth not to hazard his soul upon his own judgement, rather than that of any other man that is unconcerned in his damnation?
For a private man, without the authority of the Commonwealth; that is to say, without permission from the representant thereof, to interpret the law by his own spirit, is another error in the politics: but not drawn from Aristotle, nor from any other of the heathen philosophers. For none of them deny but that in the power of making laws is comprehended also the power of explaining them when there is need. And are not the Scriptures, in all places where they are law, made law by the authority of the Commonwealth and, consequently, a part of the civil law? OF the same kind it is also when any but the sovereign restraineth in any man that power which the Commonwealth hath not restrained; as they do that impropriate the preaching of the gospel to one certain order of men, where the laws have left it free. If the state give me leave to preach or teach; that is, if it forbid me not, no man can forbid me. If I find myself amongst the idolaters of America, shall I that am a Christian, though not in orders, think it a sin to preach Jesus Christ, till I have received orders from Rome? Or when I have preached, shall not I answer their doubts and expound the Scriptures to them; that is, shall I not teach? But for this may some say, as also for administering to them the sacraments, the necessity shall be esteemed for a sufficient mission; which is true. But this is true also, that for whatsoever a dispensation is due for the necessity, for the same there needs no dispensation when there is no law that forbids it. Therefore to deny these functions to those to whom the civil sovereign hath not denied them is a taking away of a lawful liberty, which is contrary to the doctrine of civil government.
More examples of vain philosophy, brought into religion by the doctors of School divinity, might be produced; but other men may if they please observe them of themselves. I shall only add this, that the writings of School divines are nothing else, for the most part, but insignificant trains of strange and barbarous words, or words otherwise used than in the common use of the Latin tongue; such as would pose Cicero, and Varro, and all the grammarians of ancient Rome. Which, if any man would see proved, let him (as I have said once before) see whether he can translate any School divine into any of the modern tongues, as French, English, or any other copious language: for that which cannot in most of these be made intelligible is not intelligible in the Latin. Which insignificancy of language, though I cannot note it for false philosophy, yet it hath a quality, not only to hide the truth, but also to make men think they have it, and desist from further search.
Lastly, for the errors brought in from false or uncertain history, what is all the legend of fictitious miracles in the lives of the saints; and all the histories of apparitions and ghosts alleged by the doctors of the Roman Church, to make good their doctrines of hell and purgatory, the power of exorcism, and other doctrines which have no warrant, neither in reason nor Scripture; as also all those traditions which they call the unwritten word of God; but old wives' fables? Whereof, though they find dispersed somewhat in the writings of the ancient Fathers, yet those Fathers were men that might too easily believe false reports. And the producing of their opinions for testimony of the truth of what they believed hath no other force with them that, according to the counsel of St. John,* examine spirits than in all things that concern the power of the Roman Church (the abuse whereof either they suspected not, or had benefit by it), to discredit their testimony in respect of too rash belief of reports; which the most sincere men without great knowledge of natural causes, such as the Fathers were, are commonly the most subject to: for naturally, the best men are the least suspicious of fraudulent purposes. Gregory the Pope and St. Bernard have somewhat of apparitions of ghosts that said they were in purgatory; and so has our Bede: but nowhere, I believe, but by report from others. But if they, or any other, relate any such stories of their own knowledge, they shall not thereby confirm the more such vain reports, but discover their own infirmity or fraud.
- I John, 4. 1
With the introduction of false, we may join also the suppression of true philosophy by such men as neither by lawful authority nor sufficient study are competent judges of the truth. Our own navigations make manifest, and all men learned in human sciences now acknowledge, there are antipodes: and every day it appeareth more and more that years and days are determined by motions of the earth. Nevertheless, men that have in their writings but supposed such doctrine, as an occasion to lay open the reasons for and against it, have been punished for it by authority ecclesiastical. But what reason is there for it? Is it because such opinions are contrary to true religion? That cannot be, if they be true. Let therefore the truth be first examined by competent judges, or confuted by them that pretend to know the contrary. Is it because they be contrary to the religion established? Let them be silenced by the laws of those to whom the teachers of them are subject; that is, by the laws civil: for disobedience may lawfully be punished in them that against the laws teach even true philosophy. Is it because they tend to disorder in government, as countenancing rebellion or sedition? Then let them be silenced, and the teachers punished, by virtue of his power to whom the care of the public quiet is committed; which is the authority civil. For whatsoever power ecclesiastics take upon themselves (in any place where they are subject to the state) in their own right, though they call it God's right, is but usurpation.
Chapter XLVII: Of the Benefit That Proceedeth from Such Darkness, and to Whom It Accrueth
Cicero maketh honourable mention of one of the Cassii, a severe judge amongst the Romans, for a custom he had in criminal causes, when the testimony of the witnesses was not sufficient, to ask the accusers, cui bono; that is to say, what profit, honour, or other contentment the accused obtained or expected by the fact. For amongst presumptions, there is none that so evidently declareth the author as doth the benefit of the action. By the same rule I intend in this place to examine who they may be that have possessed the people so long in this part of Christendom with these doctrines contrary to the peaceable societies of mankind.
And first, to this error that the present Church, now militant on earth, is the kingdom of God (that is, the kingdom of glory, or the land of promise; not the kingdom of grace, which is but a promise of the land), are annexed these worldly benefits: first, that the pastors and teachers of the Church are entitled thereby, as God's public ministers, to a right of governing the Church; and consequently, because the Church and Commonwealth are the same persons, to be rectors and governors of the Commonwealth. By this title it is that the Pope prevailed with the subjects of all Christian princes to believe that to disobey him was to disobey Christ himself; and in all differences between him and other princes (charmed with the word power spiritual) to abandon their lawful sovereigns; which is in effect a universal monarchy over all Christendom. For though they were first invested in the right of being supreme teachers of Christian doctrine, by and under Christian emperors within the limits of the Roman Empire (as is acknowledged by themselves), by the title of Pontifex Maximus, who was an officer subject to the civil state; yet after the Empire was divided and dissolved, it was not hard to obtrude upon the people already subject to them, another title, namely, the right of St. Peter; not only to save entire their pretended power, but also to extend the same over the same Christian provinces, though no more united in the Empire of Rome. This benefit of a universal monarchy, considering the desire of men to bear rule, is a sufficient presumption that the Popes that pretended to it, and for a long time enjoyed it, were the authors of the doctrine by which it was obtained; namely, that the Church now on earth is the kingdom of Christ. For that granted, it must be understood that Christ hath some lieutenant amongst us by whom we are to be told what are his commandments.
After that certain Churches had renounced this universal power of the Pope, one would expect, in reason, that the civil sovereigns in all those Churches should have recovered so much of it as (before they had unadvisedly let it go) was their own right and in their own hands. And in England it was so in effect; saving that they by whom the kings administered the government of religion, by maintaining their employment to be in God's right, seemed to usurp, if not a supremacy, yet an independency on the civil power: and they but seemed to usurp it, inasmuch as they acknowledged a right in the king to deprive them of the exercise of their functions at his pleasure.
But in those places where the presbytery took that office, though many other doctrines of the Church of Rome were forbidden to be taught; yet this doctrine, that the kingdom of Christ is already come, and that it began at the resurrection of our Saviour, was still retained. But cui bono? What profit did they expect from it? The same which the popes expected: to have a sovereign power over the people. For what is it for men to excommunicate their lawful king, but to keep him from all places of God's public service in his own kingdom; and with force to resist him when he with force endeavoureth to correct them? Or what is it, without authority from the civil sovereign, to excommunicate any person, but to take from him his lawful liberty, that is, to usurp an unlawful power over their brethren? The authors therefore of this darkness in religion are the Roman and the Presbyterian clergy.
To this head, I refer also all those doctrines that serve them to keep the possession of this spiritual sovereignty after it is gotten. As first, that the Pope, in his public capacity, cannot err. For who is there that, believing this to be true, will not readily obey him in whatsoever he commands?
Secondly, that all other bishops, in what Commonwealth soever, have not their right, neither immediately from God, nor mediately from their civil sovereigns, but from the Pope, is a doctrine by which there comes to be in every Christian Commonwealth many potent men (for so are Bishops) that have their dependence on the Pope, owe obedience to him, though he be a foreign prince; by which means he is able, as he hath done many times, to raise a civil war against the state that submits not itself to be governed according to his pleasure and interest.
Thirdly, the exemption of these and of all other priests, and of all monks and friars, from the power of the civil laws. For by this means, there is a great part of every Commonwealth that enjoy the benefit of the laws and are protected by the power of the civil state, which nevertheless pay no part of the public expense; nor are liable to the penalties, as other subjects, due to their crimes; and, consequently, stand not in fear of any man, but the Pope; and adhere to him only, to uphold his universal monarchy.
Fourthly, the giving to their priests (which is no more in the New Testament but presbyters, that is, elders) the name of sacerdotes, that is, sacrificers, which was the title of the civil sovereign, and his public ministers, amongst the Jews, whilst God was their king. Also, the making the Lord's Supper a sacrifice serveth to make the people believe the Pope hath the same power over all Christians that Moses and Aaron had over the Jews; that is to say, all power, both civil and ecclesiastical, as the high priest then had.
Fifthly, the teaching that matrimony is a sacrament giveth to the clergy the judging of the lawfulness of marriages; and thereby, of what children are legitimate; and consequently, of the right of succession to hereditary kingdoms.
Sixthly, the denial of marriage to priests serveth to assure this power of the Pope over kings. For if a king be a priest, he cannot marry and transmit his kingdom to his posterity; if he be not a priest, then the Pope pretendeth this authority ecclesiastical over him, and over his people.
Seventhly, from auricular confession they obtain, for the assurance of their power, better intelligence of the designs of princes and great persons in the civil state than these can have of the designs of the state ecclesiastical.
Eighthly, by the canonization of saints, and declaring who are martyrs, they assure their power in that they induce simple men into an obstinacy against the laws and commands of their civil sovereigns, even to death, if by the Pope's excommunication they be declared heretics or enemies to the Church; that is, as they interpret it, to the Pope.
Ninthly, they assure the same, by the power they ascribe to every priest of making Christ; and by the power of ordaining penance, and of remitting and retaining of sins.
Tenthly, by the doctrine of purgatory, of justification by external works, and of indulgences, the clergy is enriched.
Eleventhly, by their demonology, and the use of exorcism, and other things appertaining thereto, they keep, or think they keep, the people more in awe of their power.
Lastly, the metaphysics, ethics, and politics of Aristotle, the frivolous distinctions, barbarous terms, and obscure language of the Schoolmen, taught in the universities (which have been all erected and regulated by the Pope's authority), serve them to keep these errors from being detected, and to make men mistake the ignis fatuus of vain philosophy for the light of the Gospel.
To these, if they sufficed not, might be added other of their dark doctrines, the profit whereof redoundeth manifestly to the setting up of an unlawful power over the lawful sovereigns of Christian people; or for the sustaining of the same when it is set up; or to the worldly riches, honour, and authority of those that sustain it. And therefore by the aforesaid rule of cui bono, we may justly pronounce for the authors of all this spiritual darkness, the Pope, and Roman clergy, and all those besides that endeavour to settle in the minds of men this erroneous doctrine, that the Church now on earth is that kingdom of God mentioned in the Old and New Testament.
But the emperors, and other Christian sovereigns, under whose government these errors and the like encroachments of ecclesiastics upon their office at first crept in, to the disturbance of their possessions and of the tranquillity of their subjects, though they suffered the same for want of foresight of the sequel, and of insight into the designs of their teachers, may nevertheless be esteemed accessaries to their own and the public damage. For without their authority there could at first no seditious doctrine have been publicly preached. I say they might have hindered the same in the beginning: but when the people were once possessed by those spiritual men, there was no human remedy to be applied that any man could invent. And for the remedies that God should provide, who never faileth in His good time to destroy all the machinations of men against the truth, we are to attend His good pleasure that suffereth many times the prosperity of His enemies, together with their ambition, to grow to such a height as the violence thereof openeth the eyes, which the wariness of their predecessors had before sealed up, and makes men by too much grasping let go all, as Peter's net was broken by the struggling of too great a multitude of fishes; whereas the impatience of those that strive to resist such encroachment, before their subjects' eyes were opened, did but increase the power they resisted. I do not therefore blame the Emperor Frederick for holding the stirrup to our countryman Pope Adrian; for such was the disposition of his subjects then, as if he had not done it, he was not likely to have succeeded in the empire. But I blame those that, in the beginning, when their power was entire, by suffering such doctrines to be forged in the universities of their own dominions, have held the stirrup to all the succeeding popes, whilst they mounted into the thrones of all Christian sovereigns, to ride and tire both them and their people, at their pleasure.
But as the inventions of men are woven, so also are they ravelled out; the way is the same, but the order is inverted. The web begins at the first elements of power, which are wisdom, humility, sincerity, and other virtues of the Apostles, whom the people, converted, obeyed out of reverence, not by obligation. Their consciences were free, and their words and actions subject to none but the civil power. Afterwards the presbyters, as the flocks of Christ increased, assembling to consider what they should teach, and thereby obliging themselves to teach nothing against the decrees of their assemblies, made it to be thought the people were thereby obliged to follow their doctrine, and, when they refused, refused to keep them company (that was then called excommunication), not as being infidels, but as being disobedient: and this was the first knot upon their liberty. And the number of presbyters increasing, the presbyters of the chief city or province got themselves an authority over the parochial presbyters, and appropriated to themselves the names of bishops: and this was a second knot on Christian liberty. Lastly, the bishop of Rome, in regard of the Imperial City, took upon him an authority (partly by the wills of the emperors themselves, and by the title of Pontifex Maximus, and at last when the emperors were grown weak, by the privileges of St. Peter) over all other bishops of the Empire: which was the third and last knot, and the whole synthesis and construction of the pontifical power.
And therefore the analysis or resolution is by the same way, but beginneth with the knot that was last tied; as we may see in the dissolution of the preterpolitical Church government in England. First, the power of the popes was dissolved totally by Queen Elizabeth; and the bishops, who before exercised their functions in right of the Pope, did afterwards exercise the same in right of the Queen and her successors; though by retaining the phrase of jure divino they were thought to demand it by immediate right from God: and so was untied the first knot. After this, the Presbyterians lately in England obtained the putting down of Episcopacy: and so was the second knot dissolved. And almost at the same time, the power was taken also from the Presbyterians: and so we are reduced to the independency of the primitive Christians to follow Paul, or Cephas, or Apollos, every man as he liketh best: which if it be without contention, and without measuring the doctrine of Christ by our affection to the person of his minister (the fault which the Apostle reprehended in the Corinthians), is perhaps the best: first, because there ought to be no power over the consciences of men, but of the word itself, working faith in every one, not always according to the purpose of them that plant and water, but of God Himself, that giveth the increase. And secondly, because it is unreasonable in them, who teach there is such danger in every little error, to require of a man endued with reason of his own to follow the reason of any other man, or of the most voices of many other men, which is little better than to venture his salvation at cross and pile. Nor ought those teachers to be displeased with this loss of their ancient authority: for there is none should know better than they that power is preserved by the same virtues by which it is acquired; that is to say, by wisdom, humility, clearness of doctrine, and sincerity of conversation; and not by suppression of the natural sciences, and of the morality of natural reason; nor by obscure language; nor by arrogating to themselves more knowledge than they make appear; nor by pious frauds; nor by such other faults as in the pastors of God's Church are not only faults, but also scandals, apt to make men stumble one time or other upon the suppression of their authority.
But after this doctrine, that the Church now militant is the kingdom of God spoken of in the Old and New Testament, was received in the world, the ambition and canvassing for the offices that belong thereunto, and especially for that great office of being Christ's lieutenant, and the pomp of them that obtained therein the principal public charges, became by degrees so evident that they lost the inward reverence due to the pastoral function: insomuch as the wisest men of them that had any power in the civil state needed nothing but the authority of their princes to deny them any further obedience. For, from the time that the Bishop of Rome had gotten to be acknowledged for bishop universal, by pretence of succession to St. Peter, their whole hierarchy, or kingdom of darkness, may be compared not unfitly to the kingdom of fairies; that is, to the old wives' fables in England concerning ghosts and spirits, and the feats they play in the night. And if a man consider the original of this great ecclesiastical dominion, he will easily perceive that the papacy is no other than the ghost of the deceased Roman Empire, sitting crowned upon the grave thereof: for so did the papacy start up on a sudden out of the ruins of that heathen power.
The language also which they use, both in the churches and in their public acts, being Latin, which is not commonly used by any nation now in the world, what is it but the ghost of the old Roman language?
The fairies in what nation soever they converse have but one universal king, which some poets of ours call King Oberon; but the Scripture calls Beelzebub, prince of demons. The ecclesiastics likewise, in whose dominions soever they be found, acknowledge but one universal king, the Pope.
The ecclesiastics are spiritual men and ghostly fathers. The fairies are spirits and ghosts. Fairies and ghosts inhabit darkness, solitudes, and graves. The ecclesiastics walk in obscurity of doctrine, in monasteries, churches, and churchyards.
The ecclesiastics have their cathedral churches, which, in what town soever they be erected, by virtue of holy water, and certain charms called exorcisms, have the power to make those towns, cities, that is to say, seats of empire. The fairies also have their enchanted castles, and certain gigantic ghosts, that domineer over the regions round about them.
The fairies are not to be seized on, and brought to answer for the hurt they do. So also the ecclesiastics vanish away from the tribunals of civil justice.
The ecclesiastics take from young men the use of reason, by certain charms compounded of metaphysics, and miracles, and traditions, and abused Scripture, whereby they are good for nothing else but to execute what they command them. The fairies likewise are said to take young children out of their cradles, and to change them into natural fools, which common people do therefore call elves, and are apt to mischief.
In what shop or operatory the fairies make their enchantment, the old wives have not determined. But the operatories of the clergy are well enough known to be the universities, that received their discipline from authority pontifical.
When the fairies are displeased with anybody, they are said to send their elves to pinch them. The ecclesiastics, when they are displeased with any civil state, make also their elves, that is, superstitious, enchanted subjects, to pinch their princes, by preaching sedition; or one prince, enchanted with promises, to pinch another.
The fairies marry not; but there be amongst them incubi that have copulation with flesh and blood. The priests also marry not.
The ecclesiastics take the cream of the land, by donations of ignorant men that stand in awe of them, and by tithes: so also it is in the fable of fairies, that they enter into the dairies, and feast upon the cream, which they skim from the milk.
What kind of money is current in the kingdom of fairies is not recorded in the story. But the ecclesiastics in their receipts accept of the same money that we do; though when they are to make any payment, it is in canonizations, indulgences, and masses.
To this and such like resemblances between the papacy and the kingdom of fairies may be added this, that as the fairies have no existence but in the fancies of ignorant people, rising from the traditions of old wives or old poets: so the spiritual power of the Pope (without the bounds of his own civil dominion) consisteth only in the fear that seduced people stand in of their excommunications, upon hearing of false miracles, false traditions, and false interpretations of the Scripture.
It was not therefore a very difficult matter for Henry the Eighth by his exorcism; nor for Queen Elizabeth by hers, to cast them out. But who knows that this spirit of Rome, now gone out, and walking by missions through the dry places of China, Japan, and the Indies, that yield him little fruit, may not return; or rather, an assembly of spirits worse than he enter and inhabit this clean-swept house, and make the end thereof worse than the beginning? For it is not the Roman clergy only that pretends the kingdom of God to be of this world, and thereby to have a power therein, distinct from that of the civil state. And this is all I had a design to say, concerning the doctrine of the POLITICS. Which, when I have reviewed, I shall willingly expose it to the censure of my country.
A REVIEW AND CONCLUSION
FROM the contrariety of some of the natural faculties of the mind, one to another, as also of one passion to another, and from their reference to conversation, there has been an argument taken to infer an impossibility that any one man should be sufficiently disposed to all sorts of civil duty. The severity of judgement, they say, makes men censorious and unapt to pardon the errors and infirmities of other men: and on the other side, celerity of fancy makes the thoughts less steady than is necessary to discern exactly between right and wrong. Again, in all deliberations, and in all pleadings, the faculty of solid reasoning is necessary: for without it, the resolutions of men are rash, and their sentences unjust: and yet if there be not powerful eloquence, which procureth attention and consent, the effect of reason will be little. But these are contrary faculties; the former being grounded upon principles of truth; the other upon opinions already received, true or false; and upon the passions and interests of men, which are different and mutable.
And amongst the passions, courage (by which I mean the contempt of wounds and violent death) inclineth men to private revenges, and sometimes to endeavour the unsettling of the public peace: and timorousness many times disposeth to the desertion of the public defence. Both these, they say, cannot stand together in the same person.
And to consider the contrariety of men's opinions and manners in general, it is, they say, impossible to entertain a constant civil amity with all those with whom the business of the world constrains us to converse: which business consisteth almost in nothing else but a perpetual contention for honour, riches, and authority.
To which I answer that these are indeed great difficulties, but not impossibilities: for by education and discipline, they may be, and are sometimes, reconciled. Judgement and fancy may have place in the same man; but by turns; as the end which he aimeth at requireth. As the Israelites in Egypt were sometimes fastened to their labour of making bricks, and other times were ranging abroad to gather straw: so also may the judgement sometimes be fixed upon one certain consideration, and the fancy at another time wandering about the world. So also reason and eloquence (though not perhaps in the natural sciences, yet in the moral) may stand very well together. For wheresoever there is place for adorning and preferring of error, there is much more place for adorning and preferring of truth, if they have it to adorn. Nor is there any repugnancy between fearing the laws, and not fearing a public enemy; nor between abstaining from injury, and pardoning it in others. There is therefore no such inconsistence of human nature with civil duties, as some think. I have known clearness of judgement, and largeness of fancy; strength of reason, and graceful elocution; a courage for the war, and a fear for the laws, and all eminently in one man; and that was my most noble and honoured friend, Mr. Sidney Godolphin; who, hating no man, nor hated of any, was unfortunately slain in the beginning of the late civil war, in the public quarrel, by an undiscerned and an undiscerning hand.
To the Laws of Nature declared in the fifteenth Chapter, I would have this added: that every man is bound by nature, as much as in him lieth, to protect in war the authority by which he is himself protected in time of peace. For he that pretendeth a right of nature to preserve his own body, cannot pretend a right of nature to destroy him by whose strength he is preserved: it is a manifest contradiction of himself. And though this law may be drawn by consequence from some of those that are there already mentioned, yet the times require to have it inculcated and remembered.
And because I find by diverse English books lately printed that the civil wars have not yet sufficiently taught men in what point of time it is that a subject becomes obliged to the conqueror; nor what is conquest; nor how it comes about that it obliges men to obey his laws: therefore for further satisfaction of men therein, I say, the point of time wherein a man becomes subject to a conqueror is that point wherein, having liberty to submit to him, he consenteth, either by express words or by other sufficient sign, to be his subject. When it is that a man hath the liberty to submit, I have shown before in the end of the twenty-first Chapter; namely, that for him that hath no obligation to his former sovereign but that of an ordinary subject, it is then when the means of his life is within the guards and garrisons of the enemy; for it is then that he hath no longer protection from him, but is protected by the adverse party for his contribution. Seeing therefore such contribution is everywhere, as a thing inevitable, notwithstanding it be an assistance to the enemy, esteemed lawful; a total submission, which is but an assistance to the enemy, cannot be esteemed unlawful. Besides, if a man consider that they submit, assist the enemy but with part of their estates, whereas they that refuse, assist him with the whole, there is no reason to call their submission or composition an assistance, but rather a detriment, to the enemy. But if a man, besides the obligation of a subject, hath taken upon him a new obligation of a soldier, then he hath not the liberty to submit to a new power, as long as the old one keeps the field and giveth him means of subsistence, either in his armies or garrisons: for in this case, he cannot complain of want of protection and means to live as a soldier. But when that also fails, a soldier also may seek his protection wheresoever he has most hope to have it, and may lawfully submit himself to his new master. And so much for the time when he may do it lawfully, if he will. It therefore he do it, he is undoubtedly bound to be a true subject: for a contract lawfully made cannot lawfully be broken.
By this also a man may understand when it is that men may be said to be conquered; and in what the nature of conquest, and the right of a conqueror consisteth: for this submission is it implieth them all. Conquest is not the victory itself; but the acquisition, by victory, of a right over the persons of men. He therefore that is slain is overcome, but not conquered: he that is taken and put into prison or chains is not conquered, though overcome; for he is still an enemy, and may save himself if he can: but he that upon promise of obedience hath his life and liberty allowed him, is then conquered and a subject; and not before. The Romans used to say that their general had pacified such a province, that is to say, in English, conquered it; and that the country was pacified by victory when the people of it had promised imperata facere, that is, to do what the Roman people commanded them: this was to be conquered. But this promise may be either express or tacit: express, by promise; tacit, by other signs. As, for example, a man that hath not been called to make such an express promise, because he is one whose power perhaps is not considerable; yet if he live under their protection openly, he is understood to submit himself to the government: but if he live there secretly, he is liable to anything that may be done to a spy and enemy of the state. I say not, he does any injustice (for acts of open hostility bear not that name); but that he may be justly put to death. Likewise, if a man, when his country is conquered, be out of it, he is not conquered, nor subject: but if at his return he submit to the government, he is bound to obey it. So that conquest, to define it, is the acquiring of the right of sovereignty by victory. Which right is acquired in the people's submission, by which they contract with the victor, promising obedience, for life and liberty.
In the twenty-ninth Chapter I have set down for one of the causes of the dissolutions of Commonwealths their imperfect generation, consisting in the want of an absolute and arbitrary legislative power; for want whereof, the civil sovereign is fain to handle the sword of justice unconstantly, and as if it were too hot for him to hold: one reason whereof (which I have not there mentioned) is this, that they will all of them justify the war by which their power was at first gotten, and whereon, as they think, their right dependeth, and not on the possession. As if, for example, the right of the kings of England did depend on the goodness of the cause of William the Conqueror, and upon their lineal and directest descent from him; by which means, there would perhaps be no tie of the subjects' obedience to their sovereign at this day in all the world: wherein whilst they needlessly think to justify themselves, they justify all the successful rebellions that ambition shall at any time raise against them and their successors. Therefore I put down for one of the most effectual seeds of the death of any state, that the conquerors require not only a submission of men's actions to them for the future, but also an approbation of all their actions past; when there is scarce a Commonwealth in the world whose beginnings can in conscience be justified.
And because the name of tyranny signifieth nothing more nor less than the name of sovereignty, be it in one or many men, saving that they that use the former word are understood to be angry with them they call tyrants; I think the toleration of a professed hatred of tyranny is a toleration of hatred to Commonwealth in general, and another evil seed, not differing much from the former. For to the justification of the cause of a conqueror, the reproach of the cause of the conquered is for the most part necessary: but neither of them necessary for the obligation of the conquered. And thus much I have thought fit to say upon the review of the first and second part of this discourse.
In the thirty-fifth Chapter, I have sufficiently declared out of the Scripture that in the Commonwealth of the Jews, God Himself was made the Sovereign, by pact with the people; who were therefore called His "peculiar people," to distinguish them from the rest of the world, over whom God reigned, not by their consent, but by His own power: and that in this kingdom Moses was God's lieutenant on earth; and that it was he that told them what laws God appointed them to be ruled by. But I have omitted to set down who were the officers appointed to do execution; especially in capital punishments; not then thinking it a matter of so necessary consideration as I find it since. We know that generally in all Commonwealths, the execution of corporeal punishments was either put upon the guards, or other soldiers of the sovereign power, or given to those in whom want of means, contempt of honour, and hardness of heart concurred to make them sue for such an office. But amongst the Israelites it was a positive law of God their Sovereign that he that was convicted of a capital crime should be stoned to death by the people; and that the witnesses should cast the first stone, and after the witnesses, then the rest of the people. This was a law that designed who were to be the executioners; but not that any one should throw a stone at him before conviction and sentence, where the congregation was judge. The witnesses were nevertheless to be heard before they proceeded to execution, unless the fact were committed in the presence of the congregation itself, or in sight of the lawful judges; for then there needed no other witnesses but the judges themselves. Nevertheless, this manner of proceeding, being not thoroughly understood, hath given occasion to a dangerous opinion, that any man may kill another, in some cases, by a right of zeal; as if the executions done upon offenders in the kingdom of God in old time proceeded not from the sovereign command, but from the authority of private zeal: which, if we consider the texts that seem to favour it, is quite contrary.
First, where the Levites fell upon the people that had made and worshipped the golden calf, and slew three thousand of them, it was by the commandment of Moses from the mouth of God; as is manifest, Exodus, 32. 27. And when the son of a woman of Israel had blasphemed God, they that heard it did not kill him, but brought him before Moses, who put him under custody, till God should give sentence against him; as appears, Leviticus, 24. 11, 12. Again, when Phinehas killed Zimri and Cozbi,* it was not by right of private zeal: their crime was committed in the sight of the assembly; there needed no witness; the law was known, and he the heir apparent to the sovereignty; and, which is the principal point, the lawfulness of his act depended wholly upon a subsequent ratification by Moses, whereof he had no cause to doubt. And this presumption of a future ratification is sometimes necessary to the safety of a Commonwealth; as in a sudden rebellion any man that can suppress it by his own power in the country where it begins, without express law or commission, may lawfully do it, and provide to have it ratified, or pardoned, whilst it is in doing, or after it is done. Also, it is expressly said, "Whosoever shall kill the murderer shall kill him upon the word of witnesses":
- (2) but witnesses suppose a formal judicature, and consequently condemn that pretence of jus zelotarum. The Law of Moses concerning him that enticeth to idolatry, that is to say, in the kingdom of God to a renouncing of his allegiance, forbids to conceal him, and commands the accuser to cause him to be put to death, and to cast the first stone at him;
- (3) but not to kill him before he be condemned. And the process against idolatry is exactly set down: for God there speaketh to the people as Judge, and commandeth them, when a man is accused of idolatry, to enquire diligently of the fact, and finding it true, then to stone him; but still the hand of the witness throweth the first stone.
- (4) This is not private zeal, but public condemnation. In like manner when a father hath a rebellious son, the law is that he shall bring him before the judges of the town, and all the people of the town shall stone him.
- (5) Lastly, by pretence of these laws it was that St. Stephen was stoned, and not by pretence of private zeal: for before he was carried away to execution, he had pleaded his cause before the high priest. There is nothing in all this, nor in any other part of the Bible, to countenance executions by private zeal; which, being oftentimes but a conjunction of ignorance and passion, is against both the justice and peace of a Commonwealth.
- Numbers, 25. 6, 7
- (2) Ibid., 35. 30
- (3) Deuteronomy, 13. 8
- (4) Ibid., 17. 4, 5, 6
- (5) Ibid., 21. 18-21
In the thirty-sixth Chapter I have said that it is not declared in what manner God spoke supernaturally to Moses: not that He spoke not to him sometimes by dreams and visions, and by a supernatural voice, as to other prophets; for the manner how He spoke unto him from the mercy seat is expressly set down in these words, "From that time forward, when Moses entered into Tabernacle of the congregation to speak with God, he heard a voice which spake unto him from over the mercy seat, which is over the Ark of the testimony; from between the cherubims he spake unto him."* But it is not declared in what consisted the pre-eminence of the manner of God's speaking to Moses, above that of His speaking to other prophets, as to Samuel and to Abraham, to whom He also spoke by a voice (that is, by vision), unless the difference consist in the clearness of the vision. For "face to face," and "mouth to mouth," cannot be literally understood of the infiniteness and incomprehensibility of the Divine Nature.
- Numbers, 7. 89
And as to the whole doctrine, I see not yet, but the principles of it are true and proper, and the ratiocination solid. For I ground the civil right of sovereigns, and both the duty and liberty of subjects, upon the known natural inclinations of mankind, and upon the articles of the law of nature; of which no man, that pretends but reason enough to govern his private family, ought to be ignorant. And for the power ecclesiastical of the same sovereigns, I ground it on such texts as are both evident in themselves and consonant to the scope of the whole Scripture, and therefore am persuaded that he that shall read it with a purpose only to be informed, shall be informed by it. But for those that by writing or public discourse, or by their eminent actions, have already engaged themselves to the maintaining of contrary opinions, they will not be so easily satisfied. For in such cases, it is natural for men, at one and the same time, both to proceed in reading and to lose their attention in the search of objections to that they had read before: of which, in a time wherein the interests of men are changed (seeing much of that doctrine which serveth to the establishing of a new government must needs be contrary to that which conduced to the dissolution of the old), there cannot choose but be very many.
In that part which treateth of a Christian Commonwealth, there are some new doctrines which, it may be, in a state where the contrary were already fully determined, were a fault for a subject without leave to divulge, as being a usurpation of the place of a teacher. But in this time that men call not only for peace, but also for truth, to offer such doctrines as I think true, and that manifestly tend to peace and loyalty, to the consideration of those that are yet in deliberation, is no more but to offer new wine, to be put into new casks, that both may be preserved together. And I suppose that then, when novelty can breed no trouble nor disorder in a state, men are not generally so much inclined to the reverence of antiquity as to prefer ancient errors before new and well-proved truth.
There is nothing I distrust more than my elocution, which nevertheless I am confident (excepting the mischances of the press) is not obscure. That I have neglected the ornament of quoting ancient poets, orators, and philosophers, contrary to the custom of late time, whether I have done well or ill in it, proceedeth from my judgement, grounded on many reasons. For first, all truth of doctrine dependeth either upon reason or upon Scripture; both which give credit to many, but never receive it from any writer. Secondly, the matters in question are not of fact, but of right, wherein there is no place for witnesses. There is scarce any of those old writers that contradicteth not sometimes both himself and others; which makes their testimonies insufficient. Fourthly, such opinions as are taken only upon credit of antiquity are not intrinsically the judgement of those that cite them, but words that pass, like gaping, from mouth to mouth. Fifthly, it is many times with a fraudulent design that men stick their corrupt doctrine with the cloves of other men's wit. Sixthly, I find not that the ancients they cite took it for an ornament to do the like with those that wrote before them. Seventhly, it is an argument of indigestion, when Greek and Latin sentences unchewed come up again, as they use to do, unchanged. Lastly, though I reverence those men of ancient time that either have written truth perspicuously, or set us in a better way to find it out ourselves; yet to the antiquity itself I think nothing due. For if we will reverence the age, the present is the oldest: if the antiquity of the writer, I am not sure that generally they to whom such honour is given, were more ancient when they wrote than I am that am writing: but if it be well considered, the praise of ancient authors proceeds not from the reverence of the dead, but from the competition and mutual envy of the living.
To conclude, there is nothing in this whole discourse, nor in that I wrote before of the same subject in Latin, as far as I can perceive, contrary either to the word of God or to good manners; or to the disturbance of the public tranquillity. Therefore I think it may be profitably printed, and more profitably taught in the Universities, in case they also think so, whom the judgement of the same belongeth. For seeing the Universities are the fountains of civil and moral doctrine, from whence the preachers and the gentry, drawing such water as they find, use to sprinkle the same (both from the pulpit and in their conversation) upon the people, there ought certainly to be great care taken, to have it pure, both from the venom of heathen politicians, and from the incantation of deceiving spirits. And by that means the most men, knowing their duties, will be the less subject to serve the ambition of a few discontented persons in their purposes against the state, and be the less grieved with the contributions necessary for their peace and defence; and the governors themselves have the less cause to maintain at the common charge any greater army than is necessary to make good the public liberty against the invasions and encroachments of foreign enemies.
And thus I have brought to an end my discourse of civil and ecclesiastical government, occasioned by the disorders of the present time, without partiality, without application, and without other design than to set before men's eyes the mutual relation between protection and obedience; of which the condition of human nature, and the laws divine, both natural and positive, require an inviolable observation. And though in the revolution of states there can be no very good constellation for truths of this nature to be born under (as having an angry aspect from the dissolvers of an old government, and seeing but the backs of them that erect a new); yet I cannot think it will be condemned at this time, either by the public judge of doctrine, or by any that desires the continuance of public peace. And in this hope I return to my interrupted speculation of bodies natural; wherein, if God give me health to finish it, I hope the novelty will as much please as in the doctrine of this artificial body it useth to offend. For such truth as opposeth no man's profit nor pleasure is to all men welcome.