Page:Behemoth 1889.djvu/64

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in the time of Henry VIII., they have continually endeavoured to recover.

B. What have they gotten by the teaching of Aristotle’s ethics?

A. It is some advantage to them, that neither the morals of Aristotle, nor of any other, have done them any harm, nor us any good. Their doctrines have caused a great deal of dispute concerning virtue and vice, but no knowledge of what they are, nor any method of attaining virtue nor of avoiding vice.—The end of moral philosophy is, to teach men of all sorts their duty, both to the public and to one another. They estimate virtue, partly by a mediocrity of the passions of men, and partly by that that they are praised. Whereas, it is not the Much or Little that makes an action virtuous, but the cause; nor Much or Little that makes an action vicious, but its being unconformable to the laws in such men as are subject to the law, or its being unconformable to equity or charity in all men whatsoever.

B. It seems you make a difference between the ethics of subjects and the ethics of sovereigns.

A. So I do. The virtue of a subject is comprehended wholly in obedience to the laws of the commonwealth. To obey the laws, is justice and equity, which is the law of nature, and, consequently, is civil law in all nations of the world; and nothing is injustice or iniquity, otherwise, than it is against the law. Likewise, to obey the laws, is the prudence of a subject; for without such obedience the commonwealth (which is every subject’s safety and protection) cannot subsist. And though it be prudence also in private men, justly and moderately to enrich themselves, yet craftily to withhold from the public or defraud it of such part of their wealth, as is by law required, is no sign of prudence, but of want of knowledge of what is necessary for their own defence.

The virtues of sovereigns are such as tend to the maintenance of peace at home, and to the resistance of foreign