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it hath the form of right reason; from which if it differ, it is then impositio iniqua, “ a wicked imposition,” and only borroweth the name of a law.
To this eternal law all things are subjected, as well angels and men, as all other creatures, or things created; whether necessary or contingent, natural or moral, and human. For the law eternal runneth through all the universal, and therefore it is the law also of things which are simple, natural, and inanimate.
Hence it is that all things created are commanded to praise God their Creator and Director ; as, e Praise him, all ye his angels : praise ye him, sun and moon, all bright stars, heavens of heavens, for he hath established them for ever
He hath made an ordinance which shall not pass. Praise ye the Lord
from the earth, ye dragons, and all depths : fire, and hail; snow, and vapours; stormy winds which execute his word: mountains, and hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars: beasts, and all cattle, &c. Now as the reasonable creatures are by this eternal law bound by the glory and felicity proposed unto them, (beatitude being both the attractive and the end,) so all other natural things and creatures have in themselves, and in their own natures, an obedience formal to it, without any proper intention, known cause, or end proposed. For beasts are led by sense and natural instinct; things without life by their created form, or formal appetites; as that which is heavy, to fall downward, things light, to mount upward, &c. and fire, to heat whatsoever is apposed. This kind of working the Aristotelians ascribe to common nature, others to fate; a difference used in terms only; it being no other than God's general providence: for as it is truly said of God, that he is omnia super omnia ; so are all things which appear in themselves thence derived, thereunder subjected, thencefrom by his eternal law and providence directed, even from the greatest to the least of his creatures in heaven and in earth.
The schoolmen are very curious and ample in the consideration of these laws; and in discourse of the profit, and of the matter and object of the eternal law. But as the profit is manifest in the good of all creatures, who have thencefrom either reason, sense, vegetation, or appetition, to conduct them ; so is the object and matter of the law, the whole creature. For according to St. Augustine, f Lex æterna est, qua justum est ut omnia sint ordinatissima; “ The law eternal is that, whereby it is just that all things “ should be disposed in the best and goodliest order.”
e Psalm cxlviii.
Lastly, It is disputed, whether the eternal law be immutable, yea or no ? but the resolution is, that it changeth not; for which St. Augustine useth a sufficient argument in his first book of Free Will, the sixth chapter. For the law of Moses, which had a time prefixed, was eternally by God ordained to last until the time of the pedagogy of God's people, or introduction to Christ, should be expired; which time of expiration some think our Saviour noted to be come, when on the cross he said, & Consummatum est. But I rather think these words of our Saviour to have no other signification, than that now the prophecy of their giving him vinegar to drink was fulfilled. For so St. John expounds it, when he saith, ver. 28. That Christ seeing all [other] things to be fulfilled, ut consummaretur scriptura, that the scripture in this also might be fulfilled, said, I thirst; though I deny not, but at the same time also the date of the law was expired, to wit, of the law ceremonial, and of so much of the judicial as appertained peculiarly to the Jews, and agreeth not with the law of the New Testament and gospel of Christ. For the immutable law of God, though prescribing things mutable, is not therefore changed in itself; but the things prescribed change according to this eternal ordinance, of which the Wisdom of Solomon, And being one she can do all things, and remaining in herself reneweth ali.
Of the law of nature. OF the law of nature, as it is taken in general, I find no
fL. 1. de lib. arb. c. 6. & John xix. 30. Psalm lxix. 21.
definition among the schoolmen ; only as it is considered in man, it is called, “ The impression of divine light, and a
participation of the eternal law in the reasonable crea“ ture;" h Lex naturalis est impressio divini luminis in nobis, et participatio legis æternæ in rationali creatura. i Ulpian defines the natural law to be the same which nature hath taught all living creatures : Jus naturale est quod natura omnia animalia docuit; and he afterwards addeth, Jus istud non humani generis proprium, sed omnium animalium quæ terra marique nascuntur, avium quoque commune est : “ The law of nature is not proper to man alone, 6 but the same is common to all living creatures, as well “to birds, as to those which the land and sea produceth." But this definition is not general, but of the natural law in things of life.
The law of nature in general, I take to be that disposition, instinct, and formal quality, which God in his eternal providence hath given and imprinted in the nature of every creature, animate and inanimate. And as it is divinum lumen in men, enlightening our formal reason; so is it more than sense in beasts, and more than vegetation in plants. For it is not sense alone in beasts, which teacheth them at first sight, and without experience or instruction, to fly from the enemies of their lives, seeing that bulls and horses appear unto the sense more fearful and terrible than the least kind of dogs; and yet the hare and deer feed by the one, and fly from the other, yea, though by them never seen before, and that as soon as they fall from their dams. Neither is it sense which hath taught other beasts to provide for winter, birds to build their nests, high or low, according to the tempestuous or quiet seasons; or the birds of India to make their nests on the smallest twigs which hang over rivers, and not on any other part of the tree, or elsewhere, to save their eggs and young ones from the monkeys, and other beasts, whose weight such a twig will not bear ; and which would fear to fall into the water. The instances
h Aug. in Epist. ad Hil. 89. et in Evang. Joh. tract. 49. Justitia et Jure, 1. 1. tit. 1.
in this kind are exceeding many, which may be given. Neither is it out of the vegetable or growing nature of plants, that some trees, as the female of the palmitto, will not bear any fruit, except the male grow in sight. But this they do by that law, which the infinite and unsearchable wisdom of God had in all eternity provided for them, and for every nature created. In man this law is double, corrupt and incorrupt; corrupt, where the reason of man hath made itself subject, and a vassal to passions and affections brutal; and incorrupt, where time and custom hath bred in men a new nature, which also, as is aforesaid, is a kind of law. For it was not by the law of nature incorrupt, which kSt. Augustine calleth the law of reason, but by a nature blinded and corrupted, that the Germans did anciently allow of theft, and that other nations were by law constrained to become idolaters; that by the laws of ? Lycurgus it was permitted to men to use one another's wife, and to the women to choose them others besides their husbands, to beget them with child ; which law in those parts hath lasted long, and is not forgotten to this day.
The m Scythians, and the people of both Indies, hold it lawful to bury with them the best beloved wives; as also they have many other customs remembered by G. Valentia, against nature and right reason.
And I know not from what authority it is, that these laws some men avow to be natural, except it be of this corrupt nature; as, among others, to pay guile with guile ; to become faithless among the faithless; to provide for ourselves by another man's destruction; that injury is not done to him that is willing ; to destroy those whom we fear, and the like. For taking the definition of natural laws either out of n St. Augustine or Aquinas, (the one calling it the impression of divine light; the other, the dictate, or sentence, of practick reason,) the same can teach us or incline us to no other thing, than to the exercise of justice and uprightness ; Supra, §. 4. ex loco ad Rom. vii.
Nemo jure naturæ cum alterius 1 Theod. 1. 9. de curandis affect. detrimento locupletior fieri debet.
and not to offer or perform any thing towards others, save that which we would be content should be offered or performed towards ourselves. For such is the law of nature to the mind, as the eye is to the body; and that which according to o David sheweth us good, that is, the observation of those things which lead us thereby to our last end, which is eternal life; though of themselves not sufficient without
faith and grace.
Now, that which is truly and properly the law of nature, where the corruption is not taken for the law, is, as aforesaid, the impression of God's divine light in men, and a participation of the law increated and eternal. For without any law written, the right reason and understanding, which God hath given us, are abilities within ourselves, sufficient to give us knowledge of the good and evil, which by our gratitude to God, and distribution of right to men, or by the contrary, we prepare and purchase for ourselves. P For when the Gentiles, saith St. Paul, which have not the law, do by nature those things contained in the law, they having not the law, are a law unto themselves. Now, to love God, by whom we are, and to do the same right unto all men which we desire should be done unto us, is an effect of the purest reason ; in whose highest turrets, the quiet of conscience hath made her restingplace and habitation : In arce altissima rationis quies habitat. Therefore the Gentiles, saith St. Paul, which shew the effects of the law written in their hearts, have their consciences for witnesses of those effects ; and the reprobate their thoughts to accuse them.
And it is most true, that whosoever is not a law unto himself, (while he hopeth to abuse the world by the advantage of hypocrisy,) worketh nothing else but the betraying of his own soul by crafty unrighteousness, purchasing eternal perdition. For it helpeth us not, to hide our corrupt hearts from the world's eye, seeing from him who is an infinite eye we cannot hide them; some garlands we may gather in this May-game of the world; sed flos ille, dum loquimur, arescit ; “ those flowers wither while we discourse Psalm iy.
9 Rom. ii. 15
p Rom. ii. 14