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that the law is in all things possible to be observed; so he hath made this addition : Maledictus qui dicit impossibilia Deum præcepisse ; “ Accursed is he that saith that God “ hath commanded things (in themselves, and not through " our fault) impossible.” Now as the places are many which command us to keep the law, so is our weakness also in the scriptures laid before us; and therefore it is thus safely to be understood, that we should without evasion, or without betraying of ourselves, do our faithful endeavours to observe them; which if we do unfeignedly, no doubt but God will accept our desires therein. For that there is no man just, David witnesseth ; o Enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight no flesh that liveth shall be justified. And in 1 Kings viii. 46. There is no man that sinneth not: and again, P Who can say, I have made my heart clean? But seeing there is no sin grievous without deliberation, let every man's conscience judge him, whether he give way willingly, or restrain himself in all that he can; yea, or no: for when a king gives to his subject a commandment upon pain of loss of his love, to perform some service; if the subject neglecting the same, seek to satisfy his sovereign with shifting excuses, out of doubt such a prince will take himself to be derided therein.
SECT. XIV. If there were not any religion, nor judgment to come, yet the Deca
logue were most necessary to be observed. AND if we consider advisedly and soberly of the moral law, or ten commandments, which God by the hand of Moses gave unto his people, it will appear that such was his merciful providence in the choice of them, as were there neither pain nor profit adjoined to the observing or not observing of them, were there no divine power at all, nor any religion among men; yet, if we did not for our own sakes strive to observe these laws, all society of men, and all endeavours, all happiness and contentment in this life would be taken away, and every state and commonweal in the . Psalm cxliii. 2.
p Prov. XX. 9.
world fall to the ground and dissolve. Therefore these laws were not imposed as a burden, but as a blessing; to the end that the innocent might be defended, that every man might enjoy the fruits of his own travail ; that right might be done to all men from all men; that by justice, order, and peace, we might live the lives of reasonable men, and not of beasts; of freemen, and not of slaves; of civil men, and not of savages. And hereof making our human reason only judge, let us see the inconveniences in this life which would follow by the breach and neglect of these laws.
As first, What would the issue be, if we acknowledged many gods? Would not a far greater hatred, war, and bloodshed follow, than that which the difference of ceremony and diversity of interpretation hath already brought into the world, even among those nations which acknowledge one God and one Christ ?
And what could it profit mankind to pray to idols, and images of gold, metal, dead stones, and rotten wood, whence nothing can be hoped but the loss of time, and an impossibility to receive thencefrom either help or comfort ?
The breach of the third commandment bringeth therewith this disadvantage and ill to man, that whosoever taketh the name of God in vain, shall not at any time benefit himself by calling God to witness for him, when he may justly use his holy name.
The observing the sabbath holy, giveth rest to men and beasts; and nature herself requireth intermission of labour.
If we despise our parents, who have given us being, we thereby teach our own children to scorn and neglect us, when our aged years require comfort and help at their hands.
If murder were not forbidden and severely punished, the races of mankind would be extinguished; and whosoever would take the liberty to destroy others, giveth liberty to others to destroy himself.
If adultery were lawful and permitted, no man could say unto himself, This is my son: there could be no inheritance proper, no honour descend to posterity, no endeavour by virtue and undertaking to raise families; murders and poisonings between man and wife would be daily committed, and every man subject to most filthy and unclean diseases.
If stealth and violent rapine were suffered, all mankind would shortly after perish, or live as the savages, by roots and acorns.
For no man laboureth but to enjoy the fruits thereof. And such is the mischief of robbery, as where Moses for lesser crimes appointed restitution fourfold, policy of state and necessity hath made it death.
To permit false witnesses, is to take all men's lives and estates from them by corruption; the wicked would swear against the virtuous, the waster against the wealthy, the idle beggar and loiterer against the careful and painful labourer; all trial of right were taken away, and justice thereby banished out of the world.
The coveting of that which belongs to other men bringeth no other profit than a distraction of mind with an inward vexation; for while we covet what appertains to others, we neglect our own : our appetites are therein fed with vain and fruitless hopes, so long as we do but covet ; and if we do attain to the desire of the one or the other, to wit, the wives or goods of our neighbours, we can look for no other but that ourselves shall also, either by theft or by strong hand, be deprived of our own.
Wherein then appeareth the burden of God's commandments, if there be nothing in them but rules and directions for the general and particular good of all living? Surely, for our own good, and not in respect of himself, did the most merciful and provident God ordain them; without the observation of which, the virtues of heavenly bodies, the fertility of the earth, with all the blessings given us in this life, would be unto us altogether unprofitable and of no use. For we should remain but in the state of brute beasts, if not in a far more unhappy condition.
SECT. XV. Of human law, written and unwritten. HUMAN law, of which now it followeth to speak, is first divided into two, viz. written and unwritten. The unwritten consists of usage, approved by time, which Isidore calls mores ; and he defines mores to be consuetudines vetustate probata, to be “ customs approved by antiquity," or unwritten laws. Now custom differeth from use, as the cause from the effect; in that custom is by use and continuance established into a law; but yet there, where the law is defective, saith Isidore.
And of customs there are two general natures, containing innumerable particulars; the first are written customs, received and exercised by nations; as the customs of Burgundy and Normandy, the ancient general custom of England, and the customs of Castile and other provinces.
The second are these petty customs used in particular places, cities, hundreds, and manors. The general or national customs are some written, others unwritten.
The particular or petty customs are seldom written, but witnessed by testimony of the inhabitants. The customs of the duchy of Cornwall, comprehending also the stannery of Devon, as touching tin, and tin causes, are written in Devon, but not in Cornwall. But howsoever use and time hath made these customs as laws, yet ought every custom to be rationabilis, as well as præscripta: 9 Non firmatur tractu temporis quod de juré ab initio non subsistit ; " That 6 which at first was not grounded upon good right, is not “ made good
good by continuance of time.” And, saith Ulpian, Quod ab initio vitiosum est, non potest tractu temporis convalescere; 66 Course of time amends not that which was “ naught from the first beginning." For these two defences are necessary in all laws of custom; the one, that it be not repugnant to the law divine and natural; the other, that the cause and reason be strong, proving a right birth and necessary continuance; it being manifest, that every custom, which is against the law, had its beginning from evil deeds, and therefore not without the former considerations to be allowed. And it is true, that all customs of this nature were but tolerated for a time by the lawmakers, 1 In reg. jur. v. 2. q. 117. art. 1.
+ Ulp. 1. 29.
though they have been sincé continued, because posterity is not bound to examine by what cause their ancestors were thereto moved. For, non sufficit simplex toleratio. And it is in this sort overruled in the law: Per populum consuetudo contra legem induci non potest, nisi de voluntate illius qui novam legem, et novam constitutionem statuere potest, qui solus princeps est ; " The people cannot bring in a new custom against law, save by his will who hath
power “ to make a new law and ordinance, which is only the
” Human law generally taken, to wit, human law written, is by some defined to be the decree or doom of practick reason; by which human actions are ruled and directed. Papinian calls the law a common precept, the advisement of wise men, and the restraint of offences committed, either willingly or ignorantly. Isidore calls the law a constitution written, agreeing with religion, fittest for government and common profit : and more largely, omne id quod ratione consistit, “ all that stands with reason."
Lastly, and more precisely, it is thus defined ; s Human law is a righteous decree, agreeing with the law natural and eternal; made by the rational discourse of those that exercise public authority; prescribing necessary observances to the subject. That every law ought to be a righteous decree, St. Augustine teacheth, saying, Mihi lex esse non videtur, que justa non fuerit ; “ It seems to be no law at all to me, “ which is not just ;" and just it cannot be, except it agree with the law natural and eternal. For there is no law just and legitimate, saith St. Augustine, which the lawmakers have not derived from the eternal : t Nihil justum atque legitimum est, quod non ab æterna lege sibi homines derivaverint.
Secondly, It ought to be constituted by discourse of reason, whereby it is distinguished from the law natural, to wit, the natural, indemonstrable, or needing no demonstration, from whence the law human is taken and deduced.
Greg. de Val. ex Tho. q. 91. art. 3. et q. 94. art. 2. · Lib. 1. de lib. arb. cap. 6.