Two Treatises of Government/Book I
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The First Treatise of Government: The False Principles and Foundations of Sir Robert Filmer, and His Followers, are Detected and Overthrown
- 1 Chap. I. The Introduction
- 2 Chap. II. Of Paternal and Regal Power
- 3 Chap. III. Of Adam’s Title to Sovereignty, by Creation
- 4 Chap. IV. Of Adam’s Title to Sovereignty, by Donation
- 5 Chap. V. Of Adam’s Title to Sovereignty, by the Subjection of Eve
- 6 Chap. VI. Of Adam’s Title to Sovereignty, by Fatherhood
- 7 Chap. VII. Of Fatherhood and Propriety, consider'd together as Fountains of Sovereignty
- 8 Chap. VIII. Of the Conveyance of Adam’s Sovereign Monarchical Power
- 9 Chap. IX. Of Monarchy, by Inheritance from Adam
- 10 Chap. X. Of the Heir to the Monarchical Power of Adam
- 11 Chap. XI. Who Heir?
- 11.1 106.
- 11.2 107.
- 11.3 108.
- 11.4 109.
- 11.5 110.
- 11.6 111.
- 11.7 112.
- 11.8 113.
- 11.9 114.
- 11.10 115.
- 11.11 116.
- 11.12 117.
- 11.13 118.
- 11.14 119.
- 11.15 120.
- 11.16 121.
- 11.17 122.
- 11.18 123.
- 11.19 124.
- 11.20 125.
- 11.21 126.
- 11.22 127.
- 11.23 128.
- 11.24 129.
- 11.25 130.
- 11.26 131.
- 11.27 132.
- 11.28 133.
- 11.29 134.
- 11.30 135.
- 11.31 136.
- 11.32 137.
- 11.33 138.
- 11.34 139.
- 11.35 140.
- 11.36 141.
- 11.37 142.
- 11.38 143.
- 11.39 144.
- 11.40 145.
- 11.41 146.
- 11.42 147.
- 11.43 148.
- 11.44 149.
- 11.45 150.
- 11.46 151.
- 11.47 152.
- 11.48 153.
- 11.49 154.
- 11.50 155.
- 11.51 156.
- 11.52 157.
- 11.53 158.
- 11.54 159.
- 11.55 160.
- 11.56 161.
- 11.57 162.
- 11.58 163.
- 11.59 164.
- 11.60 165.
- 11.61 166.
- 11.62 167.
- 11.63 168.
- 11.64 169.
Chap. I. The Introduction
Slavery is so vile and miserable an estate of man, and so directly opposite to the generous temper and courage of our nation; that it is hardly to be conceived, that an Englishman, much less a gentleman, should plead for it. And truly I should have taken Sir Robert Filmer’s Patriarcha, as any other treatise, which would persuade all men, that they are slaves, and ought to be so, for such another exercise of wit, as was his who writ the encomium of Nero; rather than for a serious discourse meant in earnest, had not the gravity of the title and epistle, the picture in the front of the book, and the applause that followed it, required me to believe, that the author and publisher were both in earnest. I therefore took it into my hands with all the expectation, and read it through with all the attention due to a treatise that made such a noise at its coming abroad, and cannot but confess my self mightily surprised, that in a book, which was to provide chains for all mankind, I should find nothing but a rope of sand, useful perhaps to such, whose skill and business it is to raise a dust, and would blind the people, the better to mislead them; but in truth not of any force to draw those into bondage, who have their eyes open, and so much sense about them, as to consider, that chains are but an ill wearing, how much care soever hath been taken to file and polish them.
If any one think I take too much liberty in speaking so freely of a man, who is the great champion of absolute power, and the idol of those who worship it; I beseech him to make this small allowance for once, to one, who, even after the reading of Sir Robert’s book, cannot but think himself, as the laws allow him, a freeman: and I know no fault it is to do so, unless any one better skilled in the fate of it, than I, should have it revealed to him, that this treatise, which has lain dormant so long, was, when it appeared in the world, to carry, by strength of its arguments, all liberty out of it; and that from thenceforth our author’s short model was to be the pattern in the mount, and the perfect standard of politics for the future. His system lies in a little compass, it is no more but this,
* That all government is absolute monarchy. * And the ground he builds on, is this, * That no man is born free.
In this last age a generation of men has sprung up amongst us, that would flatter princes with an opinion, that they have a divine right to absolute power, let the laws by which they are constituted, and are to govern, and the conditions under which they enter upon their authority, be what they will, and their engagements to observe them never so well ratified by solemn oaths and promises. To make way for this doctrine, they have denied mankind a right to natural freedom; whereby they have not only, as much as in them lies, exposed all subjects to the utmost misery of tyranny and oppression, but have also unsettled the titles, and shaken the thrones of princes: (for they too, by these mens system, except only one, are all born slaves, and by divine right are subjects to Adam’s right heir;) as if they had designed to make war upon all government, and subvert the very foundations of human society, to serve their present turn.
However we must believe them upon their own bare words, when they tell us, we are all born slaves, and we must continue so, there is no remedy for it; life and thraldom we enter’d into together, and can never be quit of the one, till we part with the other. Scripture or reason I am sure do not any where say so, notwithstanding the noise of divine right, as if divine authority hath subjected us to the unlimited will of another. An admirable state of mankind, and that which they have not had wit enough to find out till this latter age. For, however Sir Robert Filmer seems to condemn the novelty of the contrary opinion, Patr. p. 3. yet I believe it will be hard for him to find any other age, or country of the world, but this, which has asserted monarchy to be jure divino. And he confesses, Patr. p. 4. That Heyward, Blackwood, Barclay, and others, that have bravely vindicated the right of kings in most points, never thought of this, but with one consent admitted the natural liberty and equality of mankind.
By whom this doctrine came at first to be broached, and brought in fashion amongst us, and what sad effects it gave rise to, I leave to historians to relate, or to the memory of those, who were contemporaries with Sibthorp and Manwering, to recollect. My business at present is only to consider what Sir Robert Filmer, who is allowed to have carried this argument farthest, and is supposed to have brought it to perfection, has said in it; for from him every one, who would be as fashionable as French was at court, has learned, and runs away with this short system of politics, viz. Men are not born free, and therefore could never have the liberty to choose either governors, or forms of government. Princes have their power absolute, and by divine right; for slaves could never have a right to compact or consent. Adam was an absolute monarch, and so are all princes ever since.
Chap. II. Of Paternal and Regal Power
SIR Robert Filmer’s great position is, that men are not naturally free. This is the foundation on which his absolute monarchy stands, and from which it erects itself to an height, that its power is above every power, caput inter nubila, so high above all earthly and human things, that thought can scarce reach it; that promises and oaths, which tye the infinite Deity, cannot confine it. But if this foundation fails, all his fabric falls with it, and governments must be left again to the old way of being made by contrivance, and the consent of men (Άνϧϛωπίνη ϰτίσιϛ) making use of their reason to unite together into society. To prove this grand position of his, he tells us, p. 12. Menare born in subjection to their parents, and therefore cannot be free. And this authority of parents, he calls royal authority, p. 12, 14. Fatherly authority, right of fatherhood, p. 12, 20. One would have thought he would, in the beginning of such a work as this, on which was to depend the authority of princes, and the obedience of subjects, have told us expresly, what that fatherly authority is, have defined it, though not limited it, because in some other treatises of his he tells us, it is unlimited, and* unlimitable; he should at least have given us such an account of it, that we might have had an entire notion of this fatherhood, or fatherly authority, whenever it came in our way in his writings: this I expected to have found in the first chapter of his Patriarcha. But instead thereof, having, 1. en passant, made his obeysance to the arcana imperii, p. 5. 2. made his compliment to the rights and liberties of this, or any other nation, p. 6. which he is going presently to null and destroy; and, 3. made his leg to those learned men, who did not see so far into the matter as himself, p. 7. he comes to fall on Bellarmine, p. 8. and, by a victory over him, establishes his fatherly authority beyond any question. Bellarmine being routed by his own confession, p. 11. the day is clear got, and there is no more need of any forces: for having done that, I observe not that he states the question, or rallies up any arguments to make good his opinion, but rather tells us the story, as he thinks fit, of this strange kind of domineering phantom, called the fatherhood, which whoever could catch, presently got empire, and unlimited absolute power. He assures us how this fatherhood began in Adam, continued its course, and kept the world in order all the time of the patriarchs till the flood, got out of the ark with Noah and his sons, made and supported all the kings of the earth till the captivity of the Israelites in Egypt, and then the poor fatherhood was under hatches, till God, by giving the Israelites kings, re-established the ancient and prime right of the lineal succession in paternal government. This is his business from p. 12. to 19. And then obviating an objection, and clearing a difficulty or two with one half reason, p. 23. to confirm the natural right of regal power, he ends the first chapter. I hope it is no injury to call an half quotation an half reason; for God says, Honour thy father and mother; but our author contents himself with half, leaves out thymother quite, as little serviceable to his purpose. But of that more in another place.
I do not think our author so little skilled in the way of writing discourses of this nature, nor so careless of the point in hand, that he by over-sight commits the fault, that he himself, in his Anarchy of a mixed Monarchy, p. 239. objects to Mr. Hunton in these words: Where first I charge the author, that he hath not given us any definition, or description of monarchy in general; for by the rules of method he should have first defined. And by the like rule of method Sir Robert should have told us, what his fatherhood or fatherly authority is, before he had told us, in whom it was to be found, and talked so much of it. But perhaps Sir Robert found, that this fatherly authority, this power of fathers, and of kings, for he makes them both the same, p. 24. would make a very odd and frightful figure, and very disagreeing with what either children imagine of their parents, or subjects of their kings, if he should have given us the whole draught together in that gigantic form, he had painted it in his own fancy; and therefore, like a wary physician, when he would have his patient swallow some harsh or corrosive liquor, he mingles it with a large quantity of that which may dilute it; that the scattered parts may go down with less feeling, and cause less aversion.
Let us then endeavour to find what account he gives us of this fatherly authority, as it lies scattered in the several parts of his writings. And first, as it was vested in Adam, he says, Not only Adam, but the succeeding patriarchs, had, by right of fatherhood, royal authority over their children, p. 12. This lordship which Adam by command had over the whole world, and by right descending from him the patriarchs did enjoy, was as large and ample as the absolute dominion of any monarch, which hath been since the creation, p. 13. Dominion of life and death, making war, and concluding peace, p. 13. Adam and the patriarchs had absolute power of life and death, p. 35. Kings, in the right of parents, succeed to the exercise of supreme jurisdiction, p. 19. As kingly power is by the law of God, so it hath no inferior law to limit it; Adam was lord of all, p. 40. The father of a family governs by no other law, than by his own will, p. 78. The superiority of princes is above laws, p. 79. The unlimited jurisdiction of kings is so amply described by Samuel, p. 80. Kings are above the laws, p. 93. And to this purpose see a great deal more which our author delivers in Bodin’s words: It is certain, that all laws, privileges, and grants of princes, have no force, but during their life; if they be not ratified by the express consent, or by sufferance of the prince following, especially privileges, Observations, p. 279. The reason why laws have been also made by kings, was this; when kings were either busied with wars, or distracted with public cares, so that every private man could not have access to their persons, to learn their wills and pleasure, then were laws of necessity invented, that so every particular subject might find his prince’s pleasure decyphered unto him in the tables of his laws, p. 92. In a monarchy, the king must by necessity be above the laws, p. 100. A perfect kingdom is that, wherein the king rules all things according to his own will, p. 100. Neither common nor statute laws are, or can be, any diminution of that general power, which kings have over their people by right of fatherhood, p. 115. Adam was the father, king, and lord over his family; a son, a subject, and a servant or slave, were one and the same thing at first. The father had power to dispose or sell his children or servants; whence we find, that the first reckoning up of goods in scripture, the man-servant and the maid-servant, are numbred among the possessions and substance of the owner, as other goods were, Observations, Pref. God also hath given to the father a right or liberty, to alien his power over his children to any other; whence we find the sale and gift of children to have much been in use in the beginning of the world, when men had their servants for a possession and an inheritance, as well as other goods; whereupon we find the power of castrating and making eunuchs much in use in old times, Observations,p. 155. Law is nothing else but the will of him that hath the power of the supreme father, Observations, p. 223. It was God’s ordinance that the supremacy should be unlimited in Adam, and as large as all the acts of his will; and as in him so in all others that have supreme power, Observations, p. 245.
I have been fain to trouble my reader with these several quotations in our author’s own words, that in them might be seen his own description of his fatherly authority, as it lies scattered up and down in his writings, which he supposes was first vested in Adam, and by right belongs to all princes ever since. This fatherly authority then, or right of fatherhood, in our author’s sense, is a divine unalterable right of sovereignty, whereby a father or a prince hath an absolute, arbitrary, unlimited, and unlimitable power over the lives, liberties, and estates of his children and subjects; so that he may take or alienate their estates, sell, castrate, or use their persons as he pleases, they being all his slaves, and he lord or proprietor of every thing, and his unbounded will their law.
Our author having placed such a mighty power in Adam, and upon that supposition sounded all government, and all power of princes, it is reasonable to expect, that he should have proved this with arguments clear and evident, suitable to the weightiness of the cause; that since men had nothing else left them, they might in slavery have such undeniable proofs of its necessity, that their consciences might be convinced, and oblige them to submit peaceably to that absolute dominion, which their governors had a right to exercise over them. Without this, what good could our author do, or pretend to do, by erecting such an unlimited power, but flatter the natural vanity and ambition of men, too apt of itself to grow and encrease with the possession of any power? and by persuading those, who, by the consent of their fellowmen, are advanced to great, but limited, degrees of it, that by that part which is given them, they have a right to all, that was not so; and therefore may do what they please, because they have authority to do more than others, and so tempt them to do what is neither for their own, nor the good of those under their care; whereby great mischiefs cannot but follow.
The sovereignty of Adam, being that on which, as a sure basis, our author builds his mighty absolute monarchy, I expected, that in his Patriarcha, this his main supposition would have been proved, and established with all that evidence of arguments, that such a fundamental tenet required; and that this, on which the great stress of the business depends, would have been made out with reasons sufficient to justify the confidence with which it was assumed. But in all that treatise, I could find very little tending that way; the thing is there so taken for granted, without proof, that I could scarce believe myself, when, upon attentive reading that treatise, I found there so mighty a structure raised upon the bare supposition of this foundation: for it is scarce credible, that in a discourse, where he pretends to confute the erroneous principle of man’s natural freedom, he should do it by a bare supposition of Adam’s authority, without offering any proof for that authority. Indeed he confidently says, that Adam had royal authority, p. 12, and 13. Absolute lordship and dominion of life and death, p. 13. An universal monarchy, p. 33. Absolute power of life and death, p. 35. He is very frequent in such assertions; but, what is strange, in all his whole Patriarcha I find not one pretence of a reason to establish this his great foundation of government; not any thing that looks like an argument, but these words: To confirm this natural right of regal power, we find in the Decalogue, that the law which enjoyns obedience to kings, is delivered in the terms, Honour thy father, as if all power were originally in the father. And why may I not add as well, that in the Decalogue, the law that enjoyns obedience to queens, is delivered in the terms of Honour thy mother, as if all power were originally in the mother? The argument, as Sir Robert puts it, will hold as well for one as the other: but of this, more in its due place.
All that I take notice of here, is, that this is all our author says in this first, or any of the following chapters, to prove the absolute power of Adam, which is his great principle: and yet, as if he had there settled it upon sure demonstration, he begins his second chapter with these words, By conferring these proofs and reasons, drawn from the authority of the scripture. Where those proofs and reasons for Adam’s sovereignty are, bating that of Honour thy father, above mentioned, I confess, I cannot find; unless what he says, p. 11. In these words we have an evident confession, viz. of Bellarmine, that creation made man prince of his posterity, must be taken for proofs and reasons drawn from scripture, or for any sort of proof at all: though from thence by a new way of inference, in the words immediately following, he concludes, the royal authority of Adam sufficiently settled in him.
If he has in that chapter, or any where in the whole treatise, given any other proofs of Adam’s royal authority, other than by often repeating it, which, among some men, goes for argument, I desire any body for him to shew me the place and page, that I may be convinced of my mistake, and acknowledge my oversight. If no such arguments are to be found, I beseech those men, who have so much cried up this book, to consider, whether they do not give the world cause to suspect, that it is not the force of reason and argument, that makes them for absolute monarchy, but some other by interest, and therefore are resolved to applaud any author, that writes in favour of this doctrine, whether he support it with reason or no. But I hope they do not expect, that rational and indifferent men should be brought over to their opinion, because this their great doctor of it, in a discourse made on purpose, to set up the absolute monarchical power of Adam, in opposition to the natural freedom of mankind, has said so little to prove it, from whence it is rather naturally to be concluded, that there is little to be said.
But that I might omit no care to inform myself in our author’s full sense, I consulted his Observations on Aristotle, Hobbes, &c. to see whether in disputing with others he made use of any arguments for this his darling tenet of Adam’s sovereignty; since in his treatise of the Natural Power of Kings, he hath been so sparing of them. In his Observations on Mr. Hobbes’s Leviathan, I think he has put, in short, all those arguments for it together, which in his writings I find him any where to make use of: his words are these: If God created only Adam, and of a piece of him made the woman, and if by generation from them two, as parts of them, all mankind be propagated: if also God gave to Adam not only the dominion over the woman and the children that should issue from them, but also over all the earth to subdue it, and over all the creatures on it, so that as long as Adam lived, no man could claim or enjoy any thing but by donation, assignation or permission from him, I wonder, &c. Observations, 165. Here we have the sum of all his arguments, for Adam’s sovereignty and against natural freedom, which I find up and down in his other treatises: and they are these following; God’s creation of Adam, the dominion he gave him over Eve, and the dominion he had as father over his children: all which I shall particularly consider.
Chap. III. Of Adam’s Title to Sovereignty, by Creation
SIR Robert, in his preface to his Observations on Aristotle’s politics, tells us, A natural freedom of mankind cannot be supposed without the denial of the creation of Adam: but how Adam’s being created, which was nothing but his receiving a being immediately from omnipotence and the hand of God, gave Adam a sovereignty over any thing, I cannot see, nor consequently understand, how a supposition of natural freedom is a denial of Adam’s creation, and would be glad any body else (since our author did not vouchsafe us the favour) would make it out for him: for I find no difficulty to suppose the freedom of mankind, though I have always believed the creation of Adam. He was created, or began to exist, by God’s immediate power, without the intervention of parents or the pre-existence of any of the same species to beget him, when it pleased God he should; and so did the lion, the king of beasts, before him, by the same creating power of God: and if bare existence by that power, and in that way, will give dominion, without any more ado, our author, by this argument, will make the lion have as good a title to it, as he, and certainly the antienter. No! for Adam had his title by the appointment of God, says our author in another place. Then bare creation gave him not dominion, and one might have supposed mankind free without the denying the creation of Adam, since it was God’s appointment made him monarch.
But let us see, how he puts his creation and this appointment together. By the appointment of God, says Sir Robert, as soon as Adam was created, he was monarch of the world, though he had no subjects; for though there could not be actual government till there were subjects, yet by the right of nature it was due to Adam to be governor of his posterity:though not in act, yet at least in habit, Adam was a king from his creation. I wish he had told us here, what he meant by God’s appointment: for whatsoever providence orders, or the law of nature directs, or positive revelation declares, may be said to be by God’s appointment: but I suppose it cannot be meant here in the first sense, i. e. by providence; because that would be to say no more, but that as soon as Adam was created he was de facto monarch, because by right of nature it was due to Adam, to be governor of his posterity. But he could not de facto be by providence constituted the governor of the world, at a time when there was actually no government, no subjects to be governed, which our author here confesses. Monarch of the world is also differently used by our author; for sometimes he means by it a proprietor of all the world exclusive of the rest of mankind, and thus he does in the same page of his preface before cited: Adam, says he, being commanded to multiply and people the earth, and to subdue it, and having dominion given him over all creatures, was thereby the monarch of the whole world; none of his posterity had any right to possess any thing but by his grant or permission, or by succession from him. 2. Let us understand then by monarch proprietor of the world, and by appointment God’s actual donation, and revealed positive grant made to Adam, i. Gen. 28. as we see Sir Robert himself does in this parallel place, and then his argument will stand thus, by the positive grant of God: as soon as Adam was created, he was proprietor of the world, because by the right of nature it was due to Adam to be governor of his posterity. In which way of arguing there are two manifest falsehoods. First, It is false, that God made that grant to Adam, as soon as he was created, since, tho’ it stands in the text immediately after his creation, yet it is plain it could not be spoken to Adam, till after Eve was made and brought to him: and how then could he be monarch by appointment as soon as created, especially since he calls, if I mistake not, that which God says to Eve, iii. Gen. 16, the original grant of government, which not being till after the fall, when Adam was somewhat, at least in time, and very much distant in condition, from his creation, I cannot see, how our author can say in this sense, that by God’s appointment, as soon as Adam was created, he was monarch of the world. Secondly, were it true that God’s actual donation appointed Adam monarch of the world as soon as he was created, yet the reason here given for it would not prove it; but it would always be a false inference, that God, by a positive donation, appointed Adam monarch of the world, because by right of nature it was due to Adam to be governor of his posterity: for having given him the right of government by nature, there was no need of a positive donation; at least it will never be a proof of such a donation.
On the other side the matter will not be much mended, if we understand by God’s appointment the law of nature, (though it be a pretty harsh expression for it in this place) and by monarch of the world, sovereign ruler of mankind: for then the sentence under consideration must run thus: By the law of nature, as soon as Adam was created he was governor of mankind, for by right of nature it was due to Adam to be governor of his posterity; which amounts to this, he was governor by right of nature, because he was governor by right of nature: but supposing we should grant, that a man is by nature governor of his children, Adam could not hereby be monarch as soon as created: for this right of nature being founded in his being their father, how Adam could have a natural right to be governor, before he was a father, when by being a father only he had that right, is, methinks, hard to conceive, unless he will have him to be a father before he was a father, and to have a title before he had it.
To this foreseen objection, our author answers very logically, he was governor in habit, and not in act: a very pretty way of being a governor without government, a father without children, and a king without subjects. And thus Sir Robert was an author before he writ his book; not in act it is true, but in habit; for when he had once published it, it was due to him by the right of nature, to be an author, as much as it was to Adam to be governor of his children, when he had begot them: and if to be such a monarch of the world, an absolute monarch in habit, but not in act, will serve the turn, I should not much envy it to any of Sir Robert’s friends, that he thought fit graciously to bestow it upon, though even this of act and habit, if it signified any thing but our author’s skill in distinctions, be not to his purpose in this place. For the question is not here about Adam’s actual exercise of government, but actually having a title to be governor. Government, says our author, was due to Adam by the right of nature: what is this right of nature? A right fathers have over their children by begetting them; generatione jus acquiritur parentibus in liberos, says our author out of Grotius, Observations, 223. The right then follows the begetting as arising from it; so that, according to this way of reasoning or distinguishing of our author, Adam, as soon as he was created, had a title only in habit, and not in act, which in plain English is, he had actually no title at all.
To speak less learnedly, and more intelligibly, one may say of Adam, he was in a possibility of being governor, since it was possible he might beget children, and thereby acquire that right of nature, be it what it will, to govern them, that accrues from thence: but what connection has this with Adam’s creation, to make him say, that as soon as he was created, he was monarch of the world? for it may be as well said of Noah, that as soon as he was born, he was monarch of the world, since he was in possibility (which in our author’s sense is enough to make a monarch, a monarch in habit,) to outlive all mankind, but his own posterity. What such necessary connection there is betwixt Adam’s creation and his right to government, so that a natural freedom of mankind cannot be supposed without the denial of the creation of Adam, I confess for my part I do not see; nor how those words, by the appointment, &c. Observations, 254. how ever explained, can be put together, to make any tolerable sense, at least to establish this position, with which they end, viz. Adam was a king from his creation; a king, says our author, not in act, but in habit, i. e. actually no king at all.
I fear I have tired my reader’s patience, by dwelling longer on this passage, than the weightiness of any argument in it seems to require: but I have unavoidably been engaged in it by our author’s way of writing, who, hudling several suppositions together, and that in doubtful and general terms, makes such a medly and confusion, that it is impossible to shew his mistakes, without examining the several senses wherein his words may be taken, and without seeing how, in any of these various meanings, they will consist together, and have any truth in them: for in this present passage before us, how can any one argue against this position of his, that Adam was a king from his creation, unless one examine, whether the words, from his creation, be to be taken, as they may, for the time of the commencement of his government, as the foregoing words import, as soon as he was created he was monarch; or, for the cause of it, as he says, p. 11. creation made man prince of his posterity? how farther can one judge of the truth of his being thus king, till one has examined whether king be to be taken, as the words in the beginning of this passage would persuade, on supposition of his private dominion, which was, by God’s positive grant, monarch of the world by appointment; or king on supposition of his fatherly power over his off-spring, which was by nature, due by the right of nature; whether, I say, king be to be taken in both, or one only of these two senses, or in neither of them, but only this, that creation made him prince, in a way different from both the other? For though this assertion, that Adam was king from his creation, be true in no sense, yet it stands here as an evident conclusion drawn from the preceding words, though in truth it be but a bare assertion joined to other assertions of the same kind, which confidently put together in words of undetermined and dubious meaning, look like a sort of arguing, when there is indeed neither proof nor connection: a way very familiar with our author: of which having given the reader a taste here, I shall, as much as the argument will permit me, avoid touching on hereafter; and should not have done it here, were it not to let the world see, how incoherences in matter, and suppositions without proofs put handsomely together in good words and a plausible stile, are apt to pass for strong reason and good sense, till they come to be looked into with attention.
Chap. IV. Of Adam’s Title to Sovereignty, by Donation
Having at last got through the foregoing passage, where we have been so long detained, not by the force of arguments and opposition, but the intricacy of the words, and the doubtfulness of the meaning ; let us go on to his next argument, for Adam's sovereignty. Our author tells us in the words of Mr. Selden, that Adam by donation from God, Gen. i. 28. was made the general lord of all things, not without such a private dominion to himself as without his grant did exclude his children. This determination of Mr. Selden, says our author, is consonant to the history of the Bible, and natural reason, Observations, 210. And in his Pref. to his Observations on Aristotle, he says thus, The first government in the world was monarchical in the father of all flesh, Adam being commanded to multiply and people the earth, and to subdue it, and having dominion given him over all creatures, was thereby the monarch of the whole world : none of his posterity had any right to possess any thing, but by his grant or permission, or by succession from him : The earth, saith the Psalmist, hath he given to the children of men, which shew the title comes from fatherhood.
Before I examine this argument, and the text on which it is founded, it is necessary to desire the reader to observe, that our author, according to his usual method, begins in one sense, and concludes in another ; he begins here with Adam's propriety, or private dominion, by donation ; and his conclusion is, which shew the title comes from fatherhood.
But let us see the argument. The words of the text are these ; and God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth, i. Gen. 28. from whence our author concludes, that Adam, having here dominion given him over all creatures, was thereby the monarch of the whole world: whereby must be meant, that either this grant of God gave Adam property, or as our author calls it, private dominion over the earth, and all inferior or irrational creatures, and so consequently that he was thereby monarch; or 2dly, that it gave him rule and dominion over all earthly creatures whatsoever, and thereby over his children ; and so he was monarch : for, as Mr. Selden has properly worded it, Adam was made general lord of all things, one may very clearly understand him, that he means nothing to be granted to Adam here but property, and therefore he says not one word of Adam's monarchy. But our author says, Adam was hereby monarch of the world, which, properly speaking, signifies sovereign ruler of all the men in the world ; and so Adam, by this grant, must be constituted such a ruler. If our author means otherwise, he might with much clearness have said, that Adam was hereby proprietor of the whole world. But he begs your pardon in that point : clear distinct: speaking not serving every where to his purpose, you must not expect it in him, as in Mr. Selden, or other such writers.
In opposition therefore to our author's doctrine, that Adam was monarch of the whole world, founded on this place, I shall shew,
I. That by this grant, i. Gen. 28. God gave no immediate power to Adam over men, over his children, over those of his own species ; and so he was not made ruler, or monarch, by this charter.
2. That by this grant God gave him not private dominion over the inferior creatures, but right in common with all mankind ; so neither was he monarch, upon the account of the property here given him.
That this donation, i. Gen. 28. gave Adam no power over men, will appear if we consider the words of it : for since all positive grants convey no more than the express words they are made in will carry, let us see which of them here will comprehend mankind, or Adam's posterity, and those, I imagine, if any, must be these, every living thing that moveth : the words in Hebrew are, חיה חךמשת 'Bestiam Reptantem, of which words the scripture itself is the best interpreter : God having created the fishes and fowls the 5th day, the beginning of the 6th, he creates the irrational inhabitants of the dry land, which, v. 24. are described in these words, let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind; cattle and creeping things, and beasts of the earth, after his kind, and, v. 2. and God made the beasts of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth on the earth after his kind : here, in the creation of the brute inhabitants of the earth, he first speaks of them all under one general name, of living creatures, and then afterwards divides them into three ranks, 1. Cattle, or such creatures as were or might be tame, and so be the private possession of particular men ; 2. חיה which, ver. 24, and 25. in our Bible, is translated beasts, and by the Septuagint θηףίχ, wild beasts, and is the same word, that here in our text, ver. 28. where we have this great charter to Adam, is translated living thing, and is also the same word used, Gen. ix. 2. where this Grant is renewed to Noah, and there likewise translated beast. 3. The third rank were the creeping animals, which ver. 24, and 25. are comprised under the word, חךמּשת, the fame that is used here, ver. 28. and is translated moving, but in the former verses creeping, and by the Septuagint in all these places, έρπετά, or reptils ; from whence it appears, that the words which we translate here in God's donation, ver. 28. living creatures moving, are the same, which in the history of the creation, ver. 24, 25. signify two ranks of terrestrial creatures, viz. wild beasts and reptils, and are so understood by the Septuagint.
When God had made the irrational animals of the world, divided into three kinds, from the places of their habitation, viz. fishes of the sea, fowls of the air, and living creatures of the earth, and these again into cattle, wild beasts, and reptils, he considers of making man, and the dominion he should have over the terrestrial world, ver. 26. and then he reckons up the inhabitants of these three kingdoms, but in the terrestrial leaves out the second rank חיה or wild beasts: but here, ver. 28. where he actually exercises this design, and gives him this dominion, the text mentions the fishes of the sea, and fowls of the air, and the terrestrial creatures in the words that signify the wild beasts and reptils, though translated living thing that moveth, leaving out cattle. In both which places, though the word that signifies wild beasts be omitted in one, and that which signifies cattle in the other, yet, since God certainly executed in one place, what he declares he designed in the other, we cannot but understand the same in both places, and have here only an account, how the terrestrial irrational animals, which were already created and reckoned up at their creation, in three distinct ranks of cattle, wild beasts, and reptils, were here, ver. 28. actually put under the dominion of man, as they were designed, ver. 26. nor do these words contain in them the least appearance of any thing that can be wrested to signify God's giving to one man dominion over another, to Adam over his posterity.
And this further appears from Gen. ix. 2. where God renewing this charter to Noah and his sons, he gives them dominion over the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea, and the terrestrial creatures, expressed by חיה and ךךמש wild beasts and reptils, the same words that in the text before us, i. Gen. 28. are translated every moving thing, that moveth on the earth, which by no means can comprehend man, the grant being made to Noah and his sons, all the men then living, and not to one part of men over another : which is yet more evident from the very next words, ver. 3. where God gives every ךמש every moving thing, the very words used, ch. i. 28. to them for food. By all which it is plain that God's donation to Adam, ch. i. 28. and his designation, ver. 26. and his grant again to Noah and his sons, refer to and contain in them neither more nor less than the works of the creation the 5th day, and the beginning of the 6th, as they are set down from the 20th to 26th ver. inclusively of the 1st; ch. and so comprehend all the species of irrational animals of the terraqueous globe, tho' all the words, whereby they are expressed in the history of their creation, are no where used in any of the following grants, but some of them omitted in one, and some in another. From whence I think it is past: all doubt, that man cannot be comprehended in this grant, nor any dominion over those of his own species be conveyed to Adam. All the terrestrial irrational creatures are enumerated at their creation, ver. 25. under the names beasts of the earth, cattle and creeping things, but man, being not then created, was not contained under any of those names ; and therefore, whether we understand the Hebrew words right or no, they cannot be supposed to comprehend man, in the very same history, and the very next verses following, especially since that Hebrew word ךמש which, if any in this donation to Adam, ch. i. 28. must comprehend man, is so plainly used in contradistinction to him, as Gen. vi. 20. vii. 14, 21, 23. Gen. viii. 17, 19. And if God made all mankind slaves to Adam and his heirs by giving Adam dominion over every living thing that moveth on the earth, ch. i. 28. as our author would have it, methinks Sir Robert should have carried his monarchical power one step higher, and satisfied the world, that princes might eat their subjects too, since God gave as full power to Noah and his heirs, ch. ix. 2. to eat every living thing that moveth, as he did to Adam to have dominion over them, the Hebrew words in both places being the same.
David, who might be supposed to understand the donation of God in this text, and the right of kings too, as well as our author in his comment on this place, as the learned and judicious Ainsworth calls it, in the 8th Psalm, finds here no such charter of monarchical power, his words are, Thou hast made him, i. e. man, the Son of man, a little lower than the angels ; thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands ; thou hast put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and the beasts of the field, and the fowls of the air, and fish of the sea, and whatsover passeth thro' the paths of the sea. In which words, if any one can find out, that there is meant any monarchical power of one man over another, but only the dominion of the whole species of mankind, over the inferior species of creatures, he may, for aught I know, deserve to be one of Sir Robert's monarchs in habit, for the rareness of the discovery. And by this time, I hope it is evident, that he that gave dominion over every living thing that moveth on the earth, gave Adam no monarchical power over those of his own species, which will yet appear more fully in the next thing I am to shew.
Whatever God gave by the words of this grant, i. Gen. 28. it was not to Adam in particular, exclusive of all other men : whatever dominion he had thereby, it was not a private dominion, but a dominion in common with the rest of mankind. That this donation was not made in particular to Adam, appears evidently from the words of the text, it being made to more than one; for it was spoken in the plural number, God blessed them, and said unto them, Have dominion. God says unto Adam and Eve, Have dominion ; thereby, says our author, Adam was monarch of the world : but the grant being to them, i. e. spoke to Eve also, as many interpreters think with reason, that these words were not spoken till Adam had his wife, must not she thereby be lady, as well as he lord of the world ? If it be said, that Eve was subjected to Adam, it seems she was not so subjected to him, as to hinder her dominion over the creatures, or property in them : for shall we say that God ever made a joint grant to two, and one only was to have the benefit of it ?
But perhaps it will be said, Eve was not made till afterward : grant it so, what advantage will our author get by it ? The text will be only the more directly against him, and shew that God, in this donation, gave the world to mankind in common, and not to Adam in particular. The word them in the text must include the species of man, for it is certain them can by no means signify Adam alone. In the 26th verse, where God declares his intention to give this dominion, it is plain he meant, that he would make a species of creatures, that should have dominion over the other species of this terrestrial globe : the words are, And God said. Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish, &c. They then were to have dominion. Who ? even those who were to have the image of God, the individuals of that species of man, that he was going to make ; for that them should signify Adam, singly, exclusive of the rest that should be in the world with him, is against both scripture and all reason : and it cannot possibly be made sense, if man in the former part of the verse do not signify the same with them in the latter ; only man there, as is usual, is taken for the species, and them the individuals of that species : and we have a reason in the very text. God makes him in his own image, after his own likeness; makes him an intellectual creature, and so capable of dominion: for wherein soever else the image of God consisted, the intellectual nature was certainly a part of it, and belonged to the whole species, and enabled them to have dominion over the inferior creatures ; and therefore David says in the 8 th Psalm above cited, Thou hast made him little lower than the angels, thou haft made him to have dominion. It is not of Adam king David speaks here, for verse 4. it is plain, it is of man, and the son of man, of the species of mankind.
And that this grant spoken to Adam was made to him, and the whole species of man, is clear from our author's own proof out of the Psalmist. The earth, saith the Psalmist, hath he given to the children of men ; which shews the title comes from fatherhood. These are Sir Robert's words in the preface before cited, and a strange inference it is he makes; God hath given the earth to the children of men, ergo the title comes from fatherhood. It is pity the propriety of the Hebrew tongue had not used fathers of men, instead of children of men, to express mankind : then indeed our author might have had the countenance of the sound of the words, to have placed the title in the fatherhood. But to conclude, that the fatherhood had the right to the earth, because God gave it to the children of men, is a way of arguing peculiar to our author : and a man must have a great mind to go contrary to the sound as well as sense of the words, before he could light on it. But the sense is yet harder, and more remote from our author's purpose : for as it stands in his preface, it is to prove Adam's being monarch, and his reasoning is thus, God gave the earth to the children of men, ergo Adam was monarch of the world. I defy any man to make a more pleasant conclusion than this, which cannot be excused from the most obvious absurdity, till it can be shewn, that by children of men, he who had no father, Adam alone is signified ; but whatever our author does, the scripture speaks not nonsense.
To maintain this property and private dominion of Adam, our author labours in the following page to destroy the community granted to Noah and his sons, in that parallel place, ix. Gen. 1, 2, 3. and he endeavours to do it two ways.
I. Sir Robert would persuade us against the express words of the scripture, that what was here granted to Noah, was not granted to his sons in common with him. His words are, As for the general community between Noah and his sons, which Mr. Selden will have to be granted to them, ix. Gen. 2. the text doth not warrant it. What warrant our author would have, when the plain express words of scripture, not capable of another meaning, will not satisfy him, who pretends to build wholly on scripture, is not easy to imagine. The text says, God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, i. e. as our author would have it, unto him : for, saith he, although the sons are there mentioned with Noah in the blessing, yet it may best be understood, with a subordination or benediction in succession, Observations, 211. That indeed is best, for our author to be understood, which best serves to his purpose ; but that truly may best be understood by any body else, which best agrees with the plain construction of the words, and arises from the obvious meaning of the place; and then with subordination and in succession, will not be best understood, in a grant of God, where he himself put them not, nor mentions any such limitation. But yet, our author has reasons, why it may best be underfood so. The blessing, says he in the following words, might truly be fulfilled, if the sons, either under or after their father, enjoyed a private dominion, Obfervations, 211. which is to say, that a grant, whose express words give a joint title in present (for the text says, into your hands they are delivered) may best be understood with a subordination or in succession ; because it is possible, that in subordination, or in succession, it may be enjoyed. Which is all one as to say, that a grant of any thing in present possession may best be understood of reversion ; because it is possible one may live to enjoy it in reversion. If the grant be indeed to a father and to his sons after him, who is so kind as to let his children enjoy it presently in common with him, one may truly say, as to the event one will be as good as the other; but it can never be true, that what the express words grant in possession, and in common, may best be understood, to be in reversion. The sum of all his reasoning amounts to this : God did not give to the sons of Noah the world in common with their father, because it was possible they might enjoy it under, or after him. A very good sort of argument against an express text of scripture : but God must: not be believed, though he speaks it himself, when he says he does any thing, which will not consist with Sir Robert's hypothesis.
For it is plain, however he would exclude them, that part of this benediction, as he would have it in succession, must: needs be meant to the sons, and not to Noah himself at all : Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, says God, in this blessing. This part of the benediction, as appears by the sequel, concerned not Noah himself at all ; for we read not of any children he had after the flood; and in the following chapter, where his posterity is reckoned up, there is no mention of any; and so this benediction in succession was not to take place till 350 years after : and to save our author's imaginary monarchy, the peopling of the world must be deferred 350 years ; for this part of the benediction cannot be understood with subordination, unless our author will say, that they must ask leave of their father Noah to lie with their wives. But in this one point our author is constant to himself in all his discourses, he takes great care there should be monarchs in the world, but very little that there should be people ; and indeed his way of government is not the way to people the world : for how much absolute monarchy helps to fulfil this great and primary blessing of God Almighty, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, which contains in it the improvement too of arts and sciences, and the conveniences of life, may be seen in those large and rich countries which are happy under the Turkish government, where are not now to be found one third, nay in many, if not most parts of them one thirtieth, perhaps I might say not one hundredth of the people, that were formerly, as will easily appear to any one, who will compare the accounts we have of it at this time, with antient history. But this by the by.
The other parts of this benediction, or grant, are so expressed, that they must needs be understood to belong equally to them all ; as much to Noah's sons as to Noah himself, and not to his sons with a subordination, or in succession. The fear of you ; and the dread of you, says God, shall be upon every beast, &c. Will any body but our author say, that the creatures feared and stood in awe of Noah only, and not of his sons without his leave, or till after his death? And the following words, into your hands they are delivered, are they to be understood as our author says, if your father please, or they shall be delivered into your hands hereafter ? If this be to argue from scripture, I know not what may not be proved by it ; and I can scarce see how much this differs from that fiction and fansie, or how much a furer foundation it will prove, than the opinions of philosophers and poets, which our author so much condemns in his preface.
But our author goes on to prove, that it may best be understood with a subordination, or a benediction in succession ; for, says he, it is not probable that the private dominion which God gave to Adam, and by his donation, assignation, or cession to his children, was abrogated, and a community of all things instituted between Noah and his sons-----Noah was left the sole heir of the world; why should it be thought that God would disinherit him of his birth-right and make him of all men in the world the only tenant in common with his children? Observations, 211.
The prejudices of our own ill-grounded opinions, however by us called probable, cannot authorise us to understand scripture contrary to the direct and plain meaning of the words. I grant, it is not probable, that Adam's private dominion was here abrogated : because it is more than improbable, (for it will never be proved) that ever Adam had any such private dominion ; and since parallel places of scripture are most probable to make us know how they may be best understood, there needs but the comparing this blessing here to Noah and his sons after the flood, with that to Adam after the creation, i. Gen. 28. to assure any one that God gave Adam no such private dominion. It is probable, I confess, that Noah should have the same title, the same property and dominion after the flood, that Adam had before it : but since private dominion cannot consist with the blessing and grant God gave to him and his sons in common, it is a sufficient reason to conclude, that Adam had none, especially since in the donation made to him, there are no words that express it, or do in the least favour it ; and then let my reader judge whether it may best be understood, when in the one place there is not one word for it, not to say what has been above proved, that the text itself proves the contrary ; and in the other, the words and sense are directly against it.
But our author says, Noah was the sole heir of the world ; why should it be thought that God would disinherit' him of his birth-right? Heir, indeed, in England, signifies the eldest son, who is by the law of England to have all his father's land ; but where God ever appointed any such heir of the world, our author would have done well to have shewed us ; and how God disinherited him of his birth-right, or what harm was done him if God gave his sons a right to make use of a part of the earth for the support of themselves and families, when the whole was not only more than Noah himself, but infinitely more than they all could make use of, and the possessions of one could not at all prejudice, or, as to any use, streighten that of the other.
Our author probably foreseeing he might not be very successful in persuading people out of their senses, and, say what he could, men would be apt to believe the plain words of scripture, and think, as they saw, that the grant was spoken to Noah and his sons jointly ; he endeavours to insinuate, as if this grant to Noah conveyed no property, no dominion ; because, subduing the earth and dominion over the creatures are therein omitted, nor the earth once named. And therefore, says he, there is a considerable difference between these two texts ; the first blessing gave Adam a dominion over the earth and all creatures ; the latter allows Noah liberty to use the living creatures for food : here is no alteration or diminishing of his title to a property of all things, but an enlargement only of his commons, Observations, 211. So that in our author's sense, all that was said here to Noah and his sons, gave them no dominion, no property, but only enlarged the commons ; their commons, I should say, since God says, to you are they given, though our author says his ; for as for Noah's sons, they, it seems, by Sir Robert's appointment, during their father's life-time, were to keep fasting days.
Any one but our author would be mightily suspected to be blinded with prejudice, that in all this blessing to Noah and his sons, could see nothing but only an enlargement of commons : for as to dominion, which our author thinks omitted, the fear of you, and the dread of you, says God, shall be upon every beast, which I suppose expresses the dominion, or superiority was designed man over the living creatures, as fully as may be ; for in that fear and dread seems chiefly to consist what was given to Adam over the inferior animals ; who, as absolute a monarch as he was, could not make bold with a lark or rabbet to satisfy his hunger, and had the herbs but in common with the beasts, as is plain from i Gen. 2, 9, and 30. In the next place, it is manifest: that in this blessing to Noah and his sons, property is not only given in clear words, but in a larger extent than it was to Adam. Into your hands they are given, says God to Noah and his sons; which words, if they give not property, nay, property in possession, it will be hard to find words that can ; since there is not a way to express a man's being possessed of any thing more natural, nor more certain, than to say, it is delivered into his hands. And ver. 3. to shew, that they had then given them the utmost property man is capable of, which is to have a right to destroy any thing by using it ; Every moving thing that liveth, saith God, shall be meat for you ; which was not allowed to Adam in his charter. This our author calls, a liberty of using them for food, and only an enlargement of commons, but no alteration of property, Observations, 211. What other property man can have in the creatures, but the liberty of using them, is hard to be understood : so that if the first blessing, as our author says, gave Adam dominion over the creatures, and the blessing to Noah and his sons, gave them such a liberty to use them, as Adam had not ; it must needs give them something that Adam with all his sovereignty wanted, something that one would be apt to take for a greater property ; for certainly he has no absolute dominion over even the brutal part of the creatures ; and the property he has in them is very narrow and scanty, who cannot make that use of them, which is permitted to another. Should any one who is, absolute lord of a country, have bidden our author subdue the earth, and given him dominion over the creatures in it, but not have permitted him to have taken a kid or a lamb out of the flock, to satisfy his hunger, I guess, he would scarce have thought himself lord or proprietor of that land, or the cattle on it ; but would have found the difference between having dominion, which a shepherd may have, and having full property as an owner. So that, had it been his own cafe, Sir Robert, I believe, would have thought here was an alteration, nay, an enlarging of property ; and that Noah and his children had by this grant, not only property given them, but such a property given them in the creatures, as Adam had not : For however, in respect of one another, men may be allowed to have propriety in their distinct: portions of the creatures ; yet in respect of God the maker of heaven and earth, who is sole lord and proprietor of the whole world, man's propriety in the creatures is nothing but that liberty to use them, which God has permitted ; and so man's property may be altered and enlarged, as we see it was here, after the flood, when other uses of them are allowed, which before were not. From all which I suppose it is clear, that neither Adam, nor Noah, had any private dominion, any property in the creatures, exclusive of his posterity, as they should successively grow up into need of them, and come to be able to make use of them.
Thus we have examined our author's argument for Adam's monarchy, founded on the blessing pronounced, i.Gen. 28. Wherein I think it is impossible for any sober reader, to find any other but the setting of mankind above the other kinds of creatures, in this habitable earth of ours. It is nothing but the giving to man, the whole species of man, as the chief inhabitant, who is the image of his Maker, the dominion over the other creatures. This lies so obvious in the plain words, that any one, but our author, would have thought it necessary to have shewn, how these words, that seemed to say the quite contrary, gave Adam monarchical absolute power over other men, or the sole property in all the creatures ; and methinks in a business of this moment, and that whereon he builds all that follows, he should have done something more than barely cite words, which apparently make against him ; for I confess, I cannot see any thing in them, tending to Adam's monarchy, or private dominion, but quite the contrary. And I the less deplore the dulness of my apprehension herein, since I find the apostle seems to have as little notion of any such private dominion of Adam as I, when he says, God gives us all things richly to enjoy, which he could not do, if it were all given away already, to Monarch Adam, and the monarchs his heirs and successors. To conclude, this text is so far from proving Adam sole proprietor, that, on the contrary, it is a confirmation of the original community of all things amongst the sons of men, which appearing from this donation of God, as well as other places of scripture, the sovereignty of Adam, built upon his private dominion, must fall, not having any foundation to support it.
But yet, if after all, any one will needs have it so, that by this donation of God, Adam was made sole proprietor of the whole earth, what will this be to his sovereignty ? and how will it appear, that propriety in land gives a man power over the life of another ? or how will the possession even of the whole earth, give any one a sovereign arbitrary authority over the persons of men ? The most specious thing to be said, is, that he that is proprietor of the whole world, may deny all the rest of mankind food, and so at his pleasure starve them, if they will not acknowledge his sovereignty, and obey his will. If this were true, it would be a good argument to prove, that there never was any such property, that God never gave any such private dominion ; since it is more reasonable to think, that God, who bid mankind increase and multiply, should rather himself give them all a right to make use of the food and raiment, and other conveniences of life, the materials whereof he had so plentifully provided for them ; than to make them depend upon the will of a man for their subsistence, who should have power to destroy them all when he pleased, and who, being no better than other men, was in succession likelier, by want and the dependence of a scanty fortune, to tie them to hard service, than by liberal allowance of the conveniences of life to promote the great design of God, increase and multiply : he that doubts this, let him look into the absolute monarchies of the world, and see what becomes of the conveniences of life, and the multitudes of people.
But we know God hath not left one man so to the mercy of another, that he may starve, him if he please : God the Lord and Father of all has given no one of his children such a property in his peculiar portion of the things of this world, but that he has given his needy brother a right to the surplusage of his goods ; so that it cannot justly be denied him, when his pressing wants call for it : and therefore no man could ever have a just power over the life of another by right of property in land or possessions ; since it would always be a sin, in any man of estate, to let his brother perish for want of affording him relief out of his plenty. As justice gives every man a title to the product of his honest industry, and the fair acquisitions of his ancestors descended to him ; so charity gives every man a title to so much out of another's plenty, as will keep him from extreme want, where he has no means to subsist otherwise : and a man can no more justly make use of another's necessity, to force him to become his vassal, by with-holding that relief, God requires him to afford to the wants of his brother, than he that has more strength can seize upon a weaker, master him to his obedience, and with a dagger at his throat offer him death or slavery.
Should any one make so perverse an use of God's blessings poured on him with a liberal hand ; should any one be cruel and uncharitable to that extremity, yet all this would not prove that propriety in land, even in this cafe, gave any authority over the persons of men, but only that compact might ; since the authority of the rich proprietor, and the subjection of the needy beggar, began not from the possession of the Lord, but the consent of the poor man, who preferred being his subject to starving. And the man he thus submits to, can pretend to no more power over him, than he has consented to, upon compact. Upon this ground a man's having his stores filled in a time of scarcity, having money in his pocket, being in a vessel at sea, being able to swim, &c. may as well be the foundation of rule and dominion, as being possessor of all the land in the world ; any of these being sufficient to enable me to save a man's life, who would perish if such assistance were denied him; and any thing, by this rule, that may be an occasion of working upon another's necessity, to save his life, or any thing dear to him, at the rate of his freedom, may be made a foundation of sovereignty, as well as property. From all which it is clear, that though God should have given Adam private dominion, yet that private dominion could give him no sovereignty ; but we have already sufficiently proved, that God gave him no private dominion.
Chap. V. Of Adam’s Title to Sovereignty, by the Subjection of Eve
The next place of Scripture we find our author builds his monarchy of Adam on, is Gen. iii. 26. “And thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. Here we have (says he) the original grant of government,” from whence he concludes, in the following part of the page, O. 244, “That the supreme power is settled in the fatherhood, and limited to one kind of government, that is, to monarchy.” For let his premises be what they will, this is always the conclusion; let rule, in any text, be but once named, and presently absolute monarchy is by divine right established. If any one will but carefully read our author’s own reasoning from these words, O. 244, and consider, among other things, “the line and posterity of Adam,” as he there brings them in, he will find some difficulty to make sense of what he says; but we will allow this at present to his peculiar way of writing, and consider the force of the text in hand. The words are the curse of God upon the woman for having been the first and forwardest in the disobedience; and if we will consider the occasion of what God says here to our first parents, that he was denouncing judgment, and declaring his wrath against them both for their disobedience, we cannot suppose that this was the time wherein God was granting Adam prerogatives and privileges, investing him with dignity and authority, elevating him to dominion and monarchy: for though, as a holster in the temptation, live was laid below him, and so he had accidentally a superiority over her, for her greater punishment; yet he too had his share in the fall, as well as the sin, and was laid lower, as may be seen in the following verses: and it would be hard to imagine, that Gall, in the same breath, should make him universal monarch over all mankind, and a day-labourer for his life; turn lain out of “paradise to till the ground,” ver. 23, and at the same time advance him to a throne, and all the privileges and case of absolute power.
Chap. VI. Of Adam’s Title to Sovereignty, by Fatherhood
Chap. VII. Of Fatherhood and Propriety, consider'd together as Fountains of Sovereignty
Chap. VIII. Of the Conveyance of Adam’s Sovereign Monarchical Power
Chap. IX. Of Monarchy, by Inheritance from Adam
But not to follow our author too far out of the way, the plain of the case is this. God having made man, and planted in him, as in all other animals, a strong desire of self-preservation; and furnished the world with things fit for food and raiment, and other necessaries of life, subservient to his design, that man should live and abide for some time upon the face of the earth, and not that so curious and wonderful a piece of workmanship, by his own negligence, or want of necessaries, should perish again, presently after a few moments continuance; God, I say, having made man and the world thus, spoke to him, (that is) directed him by his senses and reason, as he did the inferior animals by their sense and instinct, which were serviceable for his subsistence, and given him as the means of his preservation. And therefore I doubt not, but before these words were pronounced, i. Gen. 28, 29. (if they must be understood literally to have been spoken) and without any such verbal donation, man had a right to an use of the creatures, by the will and grant of God: for the desire, strong desire of preserving his life and being, having been planted in him as a principle of action by God himself, reason, which was the voice of God in him, could not but teach him and assure him, that pursuing that natural inclination he had to preserve his being, he followed the will of his maker, and therefore had a right to make use of those creatures, which by his reason or senses he could discover would be serviceable thereunto. And thus man’s property in the creatures was founded upon the right he had to make use of those things that were necessary or useful to his being.