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“ of their colours,” or are ingathering them. That we should therefore inhabit and dwell within ourselves, and become fearful witnesses of our secretest evils, did that reverend philosopher Pythagoras teach in this golden precept: Nil turpe committus, neque coram aliis, neque tecum, maxime omnium verere teipsum ; “ Commit nothing foul or dis“ honest,” saith he,“ neither to be known to others, nor to " thine own heart, but above all men reverence thine own “ conscience.” And this may be a precept of nature and right reason ; by which law, men, and all creatures and bodies, are inclined to those operations which are answerable to their own form, as fire to give heat. Now, as the reasonable mind is the form of man, so is he aptly moved to those things which his proper form presenteth unto him, to wit, to that which right reason offereth ; and the acts of right reason are the acts of virtue ; and in the breach of the rules of this reason is man least excusable, as being a reasonable creature. For all else, both sensitive, growing, and inanimate, obey the law which God imposed on them at their first creation.
The earth performeth her office, according to the law of God in nature; for it bringeth forth the bud of the herb which seedeth seed, &c. and the beast which liveth there
He gave a law to the seas, and commanded them to keep their bounds, which they obey. He made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunders.
He caused the sun to move, and to give light, and to serve for signs and for seasons. Were these as rebellious as man, for whose sake they were created, or did they once break the law of their natures and forms, the whole world would then perish, and all return to the first chaos, darkness and confusion.
By this natural law, or law of human reason, did Cain perceive his own wickedness and offence, in the murder of Abel ; for he not only feared the displeasure of God, but the revenge of men; it being written in his reason, that whatsoever he performed towards others, the same by others
might be done unto him again. And that this judgment of well and evil doing was put into our natures by God and his eternal law, before the law written, Moses, in the person of God, witnesseth, Gen. iv. 7. If thou do well, shalt thou not be accepted ? and if thou do not well, sin lieth at
The schoolmen are large also in this question of the natural law, the same being opened amply by Reinerius, Antoninus, and Valentia. But it is not my purpose to write a volume of this subject.
But this law which Thomas Aquinas calleth an act of reason taken properly, and not a habit, as it is an evident natural judgment of practick reason ; they divide into indemonstrable, or needing no demonstration; (as that good is to be followed, and evil eschewed :) and demonstrable, which is evidently proved out of higher and more universal propositions. Again, as it answereth the natural appetite, prescribing things to be desired as good, or to be avoided as evil; (as of the first, to desire to live, and to satisfy hunger, &c. and of the second, to eschew pains, sorrow, and death ;) in this consideration they divide it, according to the divers kinds of appetites that are in us. t For in every man there are three sorts of appetites, which answer the three degrees of natural law. The first is, to be that which we are ; in which is comprehended the desire both to live, and to preserve our being and life, also the desire of issue, with care to provide for them ; for the father after his death lives in his children; and therefore the desire of life comprehends the desire of children. And to these appetites are referred the first indemonstrable laws of nature, for the most part. For it needs no proof, that all creatures should desire to be, to live, and to be defended, and to live in their issue when they cannot in themselves. And as man is a being, ens or res; so he doth desire good and shun evil. For it is common to all things, to desire things agreeable to their own natures, which is, to desire their own good. And so is good defined by u Aristotle to be that
+ Tho. q. 94. art. 2.
u Ethic. l. 1. c. 1.
which all desire. Which definition Basil, upon the 44th Psalm, approveth : Recte quidem bonum definierunt, quod omnia expetunt; “ Rightly have some men defined good
or goodness, to be that which all things desire.”
The second kind of appetite is of those things which appertain to us, as we have sense. Whence, by the law of nature, we desire the delights of every sense; but with such moderation as may neither glut us with satiety, nor hurt us with excess. For as sense itself is for the
preservation of life and being ; so is it meet, even by the law of nature, that the sensitive appetite should not carry us to the destruction either of our life or being. And although (seeing both these kinds of appetites are in beasts) we may well say, that nature hath given divers laws unto them ; in which sense the civilians define natural right, or jus naturale, to be the same which nature hath taught all living creatures; yet the schoolmen admit not, that the instincts of beasts can be properly called a law, but only a jus, or right, which is the matter and aim of every law. For so they distinguish it, where Ulpian affirmeth, that jus naturale is that which nature hath taught all. living creatures. In this place, saith Valentia, jus is not to be taken for a law, but for the matter of the law. And yet where Ulpian also distinguisheth the right belonging to living creatures in general, from the right belonging to men ; calling the one jus nature, the other jus gentium ; the divines understand the law of nature more largely, that is, for all evident dictates, precepts,or biddings of divine reason, both in beasts and men; and restrain the law of nations to a kind of human right.
The third appetite is of those things which appertain properly to man, as he is a living creature reasonable; as well with relation to God, and to our neighbour, as for ourselves; and the laws of this appetite are the commandments of our religion.
Now although there are many other branches and divisions of this law of nature, answering the division of matter which it prescribeth, and as manifold as the moral actions are which it commandeth or forbiddeth ; yet is the law of
nature but one law, according to Aquinas ; first, because it hath one fountain or root in the natural or motive faculty, which is but one, stirring up to good, and declining the contrary; secondly, because all is contained in that general natural precept, that good is to be followed, and ill avoided; and thirdly, because all the parts are reduced to one and the same last end.
That this law of nature bindeth all creatures, it is manifest; and chiefly man, because he is endued with reason ; in whom as reason groweth, so this band of observing the law of nature increaseth : * Postquam ratio ad perfectum venit, tunc fit quod scriptum est, adveniente mandato, peccatum revixit ; “ When reason grew to perfection, then it “ came to pass which was written by St. Paul, when the coms mandment came, sin revived.” Neither is it a small warrant for this law of nature, when those which break the same are said by St. Paul y to be delivered over unto a reprobate sense, (or mind,) to do those things which are not convenient; and again, 2 that their consciences bear witness, and their thoughts accuse them. For though this law of nature stretch not to every particular, as to command fasting and the like, yet it commandeth in general all good, and whatsoever is agreeable to right reason.
And therefore said Damascene; a Homines facti sunt mali, declinando in id quod contra naturam est : “ Men,” saith he,“ are made evil, by declining unto that which is con
trary to nature:” and St. Augustine, Omne vitium naturæ nocet, ac per hoc contra naturam est; “Every vice doth “ wrong to nature, and is therefore contrary unto it.”
Neither yet are the rules of this law of nature so strait, but that they suffer exceptions in some particulars. For whereas by this law all men are born lords of the earth, yet it well alloweth inequality of portions, according to unequal merit; by taking from the evil, and giving to the good; and by permitting and commanding that all men shall enjoy the fruits of their labours to themselves ; according to the rules of justice and equity. x Basil. y Rom. i. 28. z Rom. ii. 15.
a Lib. 2. Fid. Orthod.c.30.
And though the law of nature command that all things be restored which are left in trust, yet
some causes, this her law she suffereth to be broken ; as to deny a madman his weapons, and the like, which he left in keeping while he was sober. But the universal principles can no more be changed, than the decrees of God are alterable ; who, according to bSt. Paul, abideth faithful, and cannot deny himself.
Of the written law of God. AFTER the eternal and natural, the law positive or imposed is the next in order, which law, being nothing but an addition, or rather explication of the former, hath two kinds; divine and human. Again, the divine positive law is double, the old and new; the old was given unto Moses in mount Sinai, or Horeb, at such time as the world had stood 2513 whole years, and in the sixty-seventh day of this year, when as c Ascatades, or Ascades, governed the Assyrians ; Marathus, the Sicyonians ; Triopas, the Argives ; Cecrops, Attica; and Acherres, Egypt; to wit, after the promise to Abraham 430 years. And this, it seems, was the first written law which the world received. For the very word vóuos, signifying a law, was not then, nor long after, invented by the Grecians, no not in Homer's time, who lived after the fall of Troy eighty years at least; and Troy itself was cast down 335 years after Moses led Israel out of Egypt. This law it pleased God to engrave in stone, that it might remain a lasting book of his expressed will in the church, and that the priests and people might have whereof to meditate, till the coming of Christ ; and that so these children of Israel, though bred among an idolatrous people in Egypt, might be without excuse; the slight defences of ignorance being taken from them.
The reason known to us why this law was not written before is, that when the people were few, and their lives long, the elders of families might easily, without any written 2 Tim. ii. 13
· Aug. de Civit. Dei, lib. 18.