Two Treatises on Government (1680-1690)
Of Adam’s Title to Sovereignty by Fatherhood
§ 50. There is one thing more, and then I think I have given you all that our A brings for proof of Adam’s sovereignty, and that is a supposition of a natural right of dominion over his children, by being their father, and this title of fatherhood he is so pleased with, that you will find it brought in almost in every page, particularly, he says, “not only Adam, but the succeeding patriarchs had by right of fatherhood royal authority over their children,” p. 12. And in the same page, “this subjection of children being the fountain of all regal authority,” &c. This being, as one would think by his so frequent mentioning it, the main basis of all his frame, we may well expect clear and evident reason for it, since he lays it down as a position necessary to his purpose, that “every man that is born is so far from being free, that by his very birth he becomes a subject of him that begets him,” O. 156. So that Adam being the only man created, and all ever since being begotten, nobody has been born free. If we ask how Adam comes by this power over his children, he tell us here it is by begetting them: and so again, O. 223, “This natural dominion of Adam,” says he, “may be proved out of Grotius himself, who teacheth, that generatione jus acquiritur parentibus in liberos.” And indeed the act of begetting being that which makes a man a father, his right of father over his children can naturally arise from nothing else.
§ 51. Grotius tells us not here how far this jus in liberos, this power of parents over their children extends; but our A always very clear in the point, assures us, it is supreme power, and like that of absolute monarchs over their slaves, absolute power of life and death. He that should demand of him, how, or for what reason it is, that begetting a child gives the father such an absolute power over him, will find him answer nothing: we are to take his word for this as well as several other things, and by that the laws of nature and the constitutions of government must stand or fall. Had he been an absolute monarch, this way of talking might have suited well enough; pro ratione voluntas, might have been of force in his mouth, but in the way of proof or argument is very unbecoming and will little advantage his plea for absolute monarchy. Sir Robert has to much lessened a subject’s authority to leave himself the hopes of establishing anything by his bare saying it. One slave’s opinion without proof is not of weight enough to dispose of the liberty and fortunes of all mankind. If all men are not, as I think they are, naturally equal, I’m sure all slaves are; and then I may without presumption oppose my single opinion to his, and be confident that my saying, “that begetting of children makes them not slaves. to their fathers,” as certainly sets all mankind free; as his affirming the contrary makes them all slaves. But that this position, which is the foundation of all their doctrine, who would have monarchy to be jure divino, may have all fair play, let us hear what reasons others give for it, since our A offers none.
§ 52. The argument, I have heard others make use of, to prove that fathers, by begetting them, come by an absolute power over their children, is this; that “fathers have a power over the lives of their children, because they give them life and being,” which is the only proof it is capable of, since there can be no reason, why naturally one man should have any claim or pretense of right over that in another, which was never his, which he bestowed not, but was received from the bounty of another.
1st. I answer, That everyone who gives another anything, has not always thereby a right to take it away again. But,
2nd. They who say the father gives life to his children, are so dazzled with the thoughts of monarchy, that they do not, as they ought, remember God, who is “the author and giver of life: it is in him alone we live, move, and have our being.” How can he be thought to give life to another, that knows not wherein his own life consists? Philosophers are at a loss about it after their most diligent enquiries; and anatomists, after their whole lives and studies spent in dissections, and diligent examining the bodies of men, confess their ignorance in the structure and use of many parts of man’s body, and in that operation wherein life consists in the whole. And doth the rude ploughman, or the more ignorant voluptuary, frame or fashion such an admirable engine as this is, and then put life and sense into it? Can any man say, he formed the parts that are necessary to the life of his child? Or can he suppose himself to give the life, and yet not know what subject is fit to receive it, nor what actions or organs are necessary for its reception or preservation?
§ 53. To give Life to that which has yet no being, is to frame and make a living creature, fashion the parts, and mold and suit them to their uses, and having proportioned and fitted them together, to put into them a living soul. He that could do this, might indeed have some pretense to destroy his own workmanship. But is there anyone so bold, that dares thus far arrogate to himself the incomprehensible works of the Almighty? Who alone did at first, and continues still to make a living soul, He alone can breathe in the breath of life. If anyone thinks himself an artist at this, let him number up the parts of his child’s body which he hath made, tell me their uses and operations, and when the living and rational soul began to inhabit this curious structure, when sense began, and how this engine which he has framed thinks and reasons: if he made it, let him, when it is out of order, mend it, at least tell wherein the defects lie. “Shall he that made the eye not see?” says the Psalmist, Psalm 94:9. See these men’s vanities: the structure of that one part is sufficient to convince us of an all-wise contriver, and he has so visible a claim to us as his workmanship, that one of the ordinary appellations of God in scripture is, “God our maker,” and the “Lord our maker.” And therefore though our A for the magnifying his fatherhood, be pleased to say, O 159, “That even the power which God himself exerciseth over mankind is by right of fatherhood,” yet this fatherhood is such an one as utterly excludes all pretense of title in earthly parents; for he is king because he is indeed maker of us all, which no parents can pretend to be of their children.
§ 54. But had men skill and power to make their children, it is not so slight a piece of workmanship, that it can be imagined they could make them without designing it. What father of a thousand, when he begets a child, thinks farther then the satisfying his present appetite? God in his infinite wisdom has put strong desires of copulation into the constitution of men, thereby to continue the race of mankind, which he doth most commonly without the intention, and often against the consent and will of the begetter. And indeed those who desire and design children, are but the occasions of their being, and when they design and wish to beget them, do little more towards their making, than Ducalion and his wife in the fable did towards the making of mankind, by throwing pebbles over their heads.
§ 55. But grant that the parents made their children, gave them life and being, and that hence there followed an absolute power. This would give the father but a joint dominion with the mother over them. For nobody can deny but that the woman hath an equal share, if not the greater, as nourishing the child a long time in her own body out of her own substance. There it is fashioned, and from her it receives the materials and principles of its constitution; and it is so hard to imagine the rational soul should presently inhabit the yet unformed embryo, as soon as the father has done his part in the act of generation, that if it must be supposed to derive anything from the parents, it must certainly owe most to the mother: but be that as it will, the mother cannot be denied an equal share in begetting of the child, and so the absolute authority of the father will not arise from hence. Our A indeed is of another mind; for he says, “we know that God at the creation gave the sovereignty to the man over the woman, as being the nobler and principal agent in generation,” O. 172. I remember not this in my Bible, and when the place is brought where God at the creation gave the sovereignty to man over the woman, and that for this reason, “because he is the nobler and principal agent in generation,” it will be time enough to consider and answer it. But it is no new thing for our A to tell us his own fancies for certain and divine truths, though there be often a great deal of difference between his and divine revelations: for God in the scripture says, “his father and his mother that begot him.”
§ 56. They who allege the practice of mankind, for exposing or selling their children, as a proof of their power over them, are with Sir Robert happy arguers, and cannot but recommend their opinion by founding it on the most shameful action, and most unnatural murder, humane nature is capable of. The dens of lions and nurseries of wolves know no such cruelty as this: these savage inhabitants of the desert obey God and nature in being tender and careful of their offspring: they will hunt, watch, fight, and almost starve for the preservation of their young, never part with them, never forsake them till they are able to shift for themselves; and is it the privilege of man alone to act more contrary to nature than the wild and most untamed part of the creation? Doth God forbid us under the severest penalty, that of death, to take away the life of any man, a stranger, and upon provocation? and does he permit us to destroy those he has given us the charge and care of, and by the dictates of nature and reason, as well as his revealed command, requires us to preserve? He has in all the parts of the creation taken a peculiar care to propagate and continue the several species of creatures, and makes the individuals act so strongly to this end, that they sometimes neglect their own private good for it, and seem to forget that general rule which nature teaches all things of self preservation, and the preservation of their young, as the strongest principle in them over rules the constitution of their particular natures. Thus we see when their young stand in need of it, the timorous become valiant, the fierce and savage kind, and the ravenous tender and liberal.
§ 57. But if the example of what hath been done, be the rule of what ought to be, history would have furnished our A with instances of this absolute fatherly power in its height and perfection, and he might have showed us in Peru, people that begot children on purpose to fatten and eat them. The story is so remarkable, that I cannot but set it down in the A’s words. “In some provinces,” says he, “they were so liquorish after man’s flesh, that they would not have the patience to stay till the breath was out of the body, but would suck the blood as it ran from the wounds of the dying man; they had public shambles of man’s flesh, and their madness herein was to that degree, that they spared not their own children which they had begot on strangers taken in war: for they made their captives their mistresses and choicely nourished the children they had by them, till about thirteen years old they butchered and eat them, and they served the mothers after the same fashion, when they grew past child bearing, and ceased to bring them any more roasters,” Garcilasso de la vega hist. des yncas de Peru, 1, 1. c. 12.
§ 58. Thus far can the busy mind of man carry him to a brutality below the level of beasts, when he quits his reason, which places him almost equal to angels. Nor can it be otherwise in a creature, whose thoughts are more than the sands, and wider than the ocean, where fancy and passion must needs run him into strange courses, if reason, which is his only star and compass, be not that he steers by. The imagination is always restless and suggests variety of thoughts, and the will, reason being laid aside, is ready for every extravagant project; and in this state, he that goes farthest out of the way, is thought fittest to lead, and is sure of most followers: and when fashion hath once established, what folly or craft began, custom makes it sacred, and it will be thought impudence or madness, to contradict or question it. He that will impartially survey the nations of the world, will find so much of their governments, religions, and manners brought in and continued amongst them by these means, that he will have but little reverence for the practices which are in use and credit amongst men, and will have reason to think, that the woods and forests, where the irrational untaught inhabitants keep right by following nature, are fitter to give us rules, than cities and palaces, where those that call themselves civil and rational, go out of their way, by the authority of example. If precedents are sufficient to establish a rule in the case, our A might have found in holy writ children sacrificed by their parents and this amongst the people of God themselves. The Psalmist tells us, Psalm. 106:38, “They shed innocent blood even the blood of their sons and of their daughters when they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan.” But God judged not of this by our A’s rule, nor allowed of the authority of practice against his righteous law, but as it follows there, “the land was polluted with blood, therefore was the wrath of the lord kindled against his people in so much that he abhorred his own inheritance.” The killing of their children, though it were fashionable, was charged on them as innocent blood, and so had, in the account of God, the guilt of murder, as the offering them to idols had the guilt of idolatry.
§ 59. Be it then as Sir Robert says, that anciently, it was usual for men “to sell and castrate their children,” O. 155. Let it be, that they exposed them; add to it, if you please, for this is still greater power, that they begat them for their tables to fat and eat them: if this proves a right to do so, we may, by the same argument, justify adultery, incest and sodomy, for there are examples of these too, both ancient and modern; sins, which I suppose, have their principal aggravation from this, that they cross the main intention of nature, which willeth the increase of mankind, and the continuation of the species in the highest perfection, and the distinction of families, with the security of the marriage bed, as necessary thereunto.
§ 60. In confirmation of this natural authority of the father, our A brings a lame proof, from the positive command of God in scripture; his words are, “to confirm the natural right of regal power, we find in the decalogue, that the law which enjoins obedience to kings, is delivered in the terms, honour thy father,” p. 23. “Whereas many confess, that government only in the abstract, is the ordinance of God, they are not able to prove any such ordinance in the scripture, but only in the fatherly power, and therefore we find the commandment, that enjoins obedience to superiors, given in the terms, honour thy father; so that not only the power and right of government, but the form of the power governing, and the person having the power, are all the ordinances of God. The first father had not only simply power, but power monarchical, as he was father immediately from God,” O. 254. To the same purpose, the same law is cited by our A in several other places, and just after the same fashion, that is, “and mother,” as apocryphal words, are always left out; a great argument of our A’s ingenuity, and the goodness of his cause, which required in its defender zeal to a degree of warmth, able to warp the sacred rule of the word of God, to make it comply with his present occasion; a way of proceeding, not unusual to those, who embrace not truths, because reason and revelation offer them; but espouse tenets and parties, for ends different from truth, and then resolve at any rate to defend them; and so do with the words and sense of authors, they would fit to their purpose, just as Procrustes did with his guests, lop or stretch them, as may best fit them to the size of their notions: and they always prove like those, so served, deformed, lame, and useless.
§ 61. For had our A set down this command without garbling, as God gave it, and joined mother to father, every reader would have seen that it had made directly against him, and that it was so far from establishing the “monarchical power of the father,” that it set up the mother equal with him, and enjoined nothing but what was due in common, to both father and mother: for that is the constant tenor of the scripture, “Honour thy father and thy mother,” Exod. 20. “He that smiteth his father or mother, shall surely be put to death,” 21:15. “He that curseth his father or mother, shall surely be put to death,” Ver. 17. Repeated Lev. 20:9, and by our Saviour, Matth. 15:4. “Ye shall fear every man his mother and his father,” Lev. 19:3. “If a man have a rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother; then shall his father and his mother, lay hold on him, and say, this our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice,” Deut. 21:18, 19, 20, 21. “Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother,” 27:16. “My son, hear the instructions of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother,” are the words of Solomon a king, who was not ignorant of what belonged to him, as a father or a king, and yet he joins father and mother together, in all the instructions he gives children quite through his book of Proverbs. “Woe unto him, that sayeth unto his father, what begettest thou, or to the woman, what hast thou brought forth,” Isa. 45:10. “In thee have they set light by father or mother,” Ezek. 22:7. “And it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him, shall say unto him, thou shalt not live, and his father and his mother that begot him, shall thrust him through when he prophesieth,” Zech. 13:3. Here not the father only, but father and mother jointly, had power in this case of life and death. Thus ran the law of the Old Testament, and in the New they are likewise joined, in the obedience of their children, Eph. 6:1. The rule is, “Children obey your parents,” and I do not remember, that I anywhere read, “children, obey your father” and no more. The scripture joins mother too in that homage, which is due from children, and had there been any text, where the honour or obedience of children had been directed to the father alone, it is not likely that our A, who pretends to build all upon scripture, would have omitted it. Nay, the scripture makes the authority of father and mother, in respect of those they have begot, so equal, that in some places it neglects, even the priority of order, which is thought due to the father, and the mother is put first, as Lev. 19:3. From which so constantly joining father and mother together, as is found quite through the scripture, we may conclude that the honour they have a title to from their children, is one common right belonging so equally to them both, that neither can claim it wholly, neither can be excluded.
§ 62. One would wonder then how our A infers from the 5th commandment, that all “power was originally in the father;” how he finds “monarchical power of government, settled and fixed by the commandment, honour thy father and thy mother.” If all the honour due by the commandment, be it what it will, be the only right of the father, because he, as our A says, “has the sovereignty over the woman, as being the nobler and principal agent in generation,” why did God afterwards all along join the mother with him, to share in this honour? Can the father, by this sovereignty of his, discharge the child from paying this honour to his mother? The scripture gave no such license to the Jews, and yet there were often breaches wide enough betwixt husband and wife, even to divorce and separation, and, I think, nobody will say a child may withhold honour from his mother, or, as the scripture terms it, set light by her, though his father should command him to do so, no more than the mother could dispense with him, for neglecting to honour his father, whereby it is plain, that this command of God, gives the father no sovereignty, no supremacy.
§ 63. I agree with our A, that the title to this honour is vested in the parents by nature, and is a right which accrues to them, by their having begotten their children, and God by many positive declarations has confirmed it to them: I also allow our A’s rule, “that in grants and gifts, that have their original from God and nature, as the power of the father” (let me add and mother, for whom God hath joined together, let no man put asunder) “no inferior power of men can limit, nor make any law of prescription against them,” O. 158, so that the mother having by this law of God, a right to honour from her children, which is not subject to the will of her husband, we see this “absolute monarchical power of the father,” can neither be founded on it, nor consist with it; and he has a power very far from monarchical, very far from that absoluteness our A contends for, when another has over his subjects the same power he hath, and by the same title: and therefore he cannot forbear saying himself that “he cannot see how any man’s children can be free from subjection to their parents,” p. 12. which, in common speech, I think, signifies mother as well as father, or if parents here signifies only father, it is the first time I ever yet knew it to do so, and by such an use of words, one may say anything.
§ 64. By our A’s doctrine, the father having absolute jurisdiction over his children, has also the same over their issue, and the consequence is good, were it true, that the father had such a power: and yet I ask our A whether the grandfather, by his sovereignty, could discharge the grandchild from paying to his father the honour due to him by the 5th commandment. If the grandfather hath by “right of fatherhood,” sole sovereign power in him, and that obedience which is due to the supreme magistrate, be commanded in these words, “honour thy father,” it is certain the grandfather might dispense with the grandson’s honouring his father, which, since it is evident in common sense, he cannot, it follows from hence that, “honour thy father and mother,” cannot mean an absolute subjection to a sovereign power, but something else. The right therefore which parents have by nature, and which is confirmed to them by the 5th commandment, cannot be that political dominion, which our A would derive from it: for that being in every civil society supreme somewhere, can discharge any subject from any political obedience to anyone of his fellow subjects. But what law of the magistrate, can give a child liberty, not to “honour his father and mother?” It is an eternal law annexed purely to the relation of parents and children, and so contains nothing of the magistrates power in it, nor is subjected to it.
§ 65. Our A says, “God hath given to a Father, a right or liberty to alien his power over his children to any other,” O. 155. I doubt whether he can alien wholly the right of honour that is due from them; but be that as it will, this I am sure, he cannot alien, and retain the same power, if therefore the magistrates sovereignty be as our A would have it, “nothing but the authority of a supreme father,” p. 23, it is unavoidable, that if the magistrate hath all this paternal right as he must have if fatherhood be the fountain of all authority, then the subjects though fathers, can have no power over their children, no right to honour from them: for it cannot be all in another’s hands, and a part remain with the parents. So that according to our A’s own doctrine, “Honour thy father and mother” cannot possibly be understood of political subjection and obedience; since the laws both in the Old and New Testament, that commanded children to honour and obey their parents, were given to such; whose fathers were under civil government, and fellow subjects with them in political societies; and to have bid them “honour and obey their parents” in our A’s sense, had been to bid them be subjects to those who had no title to it, the right to obedience from subjects, being all vested in another: and instead of teaching obedience, this had been to foment sedition, by setting up powers that were not. If therefore this command, “Honour thy father and mother,” concern political dominion, it directly overthrows our A’s monarchy; it being since to be paid by every child to his father, even in society, every father must necessarily have political dominion, and there will be as many sovereigns as there are fathers: besides that the mother too hath her title, which destroys the sovereignty of one supreme monarch. But if “Honour thy father and mother” mean something distinct from political power, as necessarily it must, it is besides our A’s business, and serves nothing to his purpose.
§ 66. “The law that enjoins obedience to kings is delivered,” says our A, “in the terms, Honour thy father, as if all power were originally in the father,” p. 23. And that law is also delivered, say I, in the terms, “Honour thy mother,” as if all power were originally in the mother. I appeal whether the argument be not as good on one side as the other, father and mother being joined all along in the Old and New Testament where ever honour or obedience is enjoined children. Again our A tells us, O. 254, “that this command, Honour thy father gives the right to govern, and makes the form of government, monarchical.” To which I answer, that, if by “Honour thy father” be meant obedience to the political power of the magistrate, it concerns not any duty we owe to our natural fathers who are subjects: because they, by our A’s doctrine, are divested of all that power, it being placed wholly in the prince, and so being equally subjects and slaves with their children, can have no right by that title, to any such honour or obedience, as contains in it political subjection: If “Honour thy father and mother” signifies the duty we owe our natural parents, as by our Saviour’s interpretation, Matth. 15:4, and all the other mentioned places, it is plain it does, then it cannot concern political obedience, but a duty that is owing to persons, who have no title to sovereignty, nor any political authority as magistrates over subjects. For the person of a private father, and a title to obedience, due to the supreme magistrate, are things inconsistent; and therefore this command, which must necessarily comprehend the persons of our natural fathers, must mean a duty we owe them distinct from our obedience to the magistrate, and from which the most absolute power of princes cannot absolve us: what this duty is, we shall in its due place examine.
§ 67. And thus we have at last got through all that in our A looks like an argument for that absolute unlimited sovereignty described, Sect. 8 which he supposes in Adam, so that mankind ever since have been all born slaves, without any title to freedom. But if creation which gave nothing but a being, made not Adam prince of his posterity: if Adam, Gen. 1:28, was not constituted lord of mankind, nor had a private dominion given him exclusive of his children, but only a right and power over the earth, and inferiour creatures in common with the children of men: if also Gen. 3:16, God gave not any political power to Adam over his wife and children, but only subjected Eve to Adam, as a punishment, or foretold the subjection of the weaker sex, in the ordering the common concernments of their families, but gave not thereby to Adam, as to the husband, power of life and death, which necessarily belongs to the magistrate: if fathers by begetting their children acquire no such power over them: and if the command, “Honour thy father and mother,” give it not, but only enjoins a duty owing to parents equally, whether subjects or not, and to the mother as well as the father: if all this be so, as I think, by what has been said, is very evident, then man has a natural freedom, notwithstanding all our A confidently says to the contrary, since all that share in the same common nature, faculties and powers, are in nature equal, and ought to partake in the same common rights and privileges, till the manifest appointment of God, who is “Lord over all, blessed forever,” can be produced to show any particular person’s supremacy, or a man’s own consent subjects him to a superior. This is so plain, that our A confesses, that Sir John Hayward, Blackwood and Barclay, the great vindicators of the right of kings, could not deny it, but admit with one consent the natural liberty and equality of mankind, for a truth unquestionable. And our A hath been so far from producing anything, that may make good his great position, “that Adam was absolute monarch,” and so “men are not naturally free,” that even his own proofs make against him; so that to use his own way of arguing, “this first erroneous principle failing, the whole fabrick of this vast engine of absolute power and tyranny, drops down of itself,” and there needs no more to be said in answer to all that he builds upon so false and frail a foundation.
§ 68. But to save others the pains, were there any need, he is not sparing himself to show, by his own contradictions, the weakness of his own doctrine. Adam’s absolute and sole dominion is that which he is everywhere full of, and all along builds on, and yet he tells us, pag. 12, “That as Adam was lord of his children, so his children under him had a command and power over their own children.” The unlimited and undivided sovereignty of Adam’s fatherhood, by our A’s computation, stood but a little while, only during the first generation, but as soon as he had grandchildren, Sir Robert could give but a very ill account of it. “Adam, as father of his children,” saith he, “hath an absolute, unlimited royal power over them, and by virtue thereof over those that they begot, and so to all generations;” and yet his children, viz. Cain and Seth, have a paternal power over their children at the same time: so that they are at the same time absolute lords, and yet vassals and slaves: Adam has all the authority, as “grandfather of the people,” and they have a part of it as fathers of a part of them: he is absolute over them and their posterity, by having begotten them, and yet they are absolute over their children by the same title. “No,” says our A, “Adam’s children under him, had power over their own children, but still with subordination to the first parent.” A good distinction that sounds well, and it is pity it signifies nothing, nor can be reconciled with our A’s words. I readily grant, that supposing Adam’s absolute power over his posterity, any of his children might have from him a delegated, and so a subordinate power over a part, or all the rest: but that cannot be the power our A speaks of here, it is not a power by grant and commission, but the natural paternal power he supposes a father to have over his children. For 1st, he says, “As Adam was lord of his children, so his children under him had a power over their own children:” They were then lords over their own children after the same manner, and by the same title, that Adam was, i.e. by right of generation, by right of fatherhood. 2nd. It is plain he means the natural power of fathers, because he limits it to be only “over their own children;” a delegated power has no such limitation, as only over their own children, it might be over others, as well as their own children. 3rd. If it were a delegated power, it must appear in scripture: but there is no ground in scripture to affirm, that Adam’s children had any other power over theirs, than what they naturally had as fathers.
§ 69. But that he means here paternal power, and no other, is past doubt from the inference he makes in these words immediately following, “I see not then how the children of Adam, or of any man else can be free from subjection to their parents:” whereby it appears, that the power on one side, and the subjection on the other, our A here speaks of, is that natural power and subjection between parents and children. For that which every man’s children owed, could be no other: and that our A always affirms to be absolute and unlimited. This natural power of parents over their children, Adam had over his posterity, says our A, and this power of parents over their children, his children had over theirs in his lifetime, says our A also: so that Adam, by a natural right of father, had an absolute, unlimited power over all his posterity, and at the same time his children had by the same right absolute unlimited power over theirs. Here then are two absolute unlimited powers existing together, which I would have anybody reconcile one to another, or to common sense. For the salvo he has put in of subordination, makes it more absurd: to have one absolute, unlimited, nay unlimitable power in subordination to another, is so manifest a contradiction, that nothing can be more. “Adam is absolute prince with the unlimited authority of fatherhood over all his posterity;” all his posterity are then absolutely his subjects, and, as our A says, his slaves, children and grandchildren, are equally in this state of subjection and slavery, and yet, says our A “the children of Adam have paternal, i.e. absolute, unlimited power over their own children:” which in plain English is, they are slaves and absolute princes at the same time, and in the same government, and one part of the subjects have an absolute unlimited power over the other by the natural right of parentage.
§ 70. If anyone will suppose in favour of our A that he here meant, that parents, who are in subjection themselves to the absolute authority of their father, have yet some power over their children: I confess he is something nearer the truth: but he will not at all hereby help our A. For he nowhere speaking of the paternal power, but as an absolute unlimited authority, cannot be supposed to understand anything else here, unless he himself had limited it, and showed how far it reached. And that he means here paternal authority in that large extent, is plain from the immediate following words; “This subjection of children being,” says he, “the fountain of all regal authority,” p. 12. The subjection, then that in the former line he says, “every man is in to his parents,” and consequently what Adam’s grandchildren were in to their parents, was that which was the fountain of all regal authority, i.e. according to our A, absolute, unlimitable authority. And thus Adam’s children had regal authority over their children, whilst they themselves were subjects to their father, and fellow subjects with their children. But let him mean as he pleases, it is plain he allows “Adam’s children to have paternal power,” p. 12, as also all other fathers to have “paternal power over their children,” O. 156. From whence one of these two things will necessarily follow, that either Adam’s children, even in his lifetime, had, and so all other fathers have, as he phrases it, p. 12, “by right of fatherhood royal authority over their children,” or else, that Adam, “by right of fatherhood, had not royal authority:” for it cannot be but that paternal power does, or does not, give royal authority to them that have it: if it does not, then Adam could not be sovereign by this title, nor anybody else, and then there is an end of all our A’s politics at once; if it does give royal authority, then every one that has paternal power has royal authority, and then by our A’s patriarchical government, there will be as many kings as there are fathers.
§ 71. And thus what a monarchy he hath set up, let him and his disciples consider. Princes certainly will have great reason to thank him for these new politics, which set up as many absolute kings in every country as there are fathers of children. And yet who can blame our A for it, it lying unavoidably in the way of one discoursing upon our A’s principles? For having placed an “absolute power in fathers by right of begetting,” he could not easily resolve how much of this power belonged to a son over the children he had begotten; and so it fell out to be a very hard matter to give all the power, as he does, to Adam, and yet allow a part in his lifetime to his children, when they were parents, and which he knew not well how to deny them. This makes him so doubtful in his expressions, and so uncertain where to place this absolute natural power, which he calls fatherhood, sometimes Adam alone has it all, as p. 13, O. 244, 245, & Pref.
- Sometimes parents have it, which word scarce signifies the father alone, p. 12, 19.
Sometimes children during their father’s lifetime, as p. 12.
Sometimes fathers of families, as p. 78, and 79.
Sometimes fathers indefinitely, O. 155.
Sometimes the heir to Adam, O. 253.
Sometimes the posterity of Adam, 244, 246.
Sometimes prime fathers, all sons or grandchildren of Noah, 0. 244.
Sometimes the eldest parents, p. 12.
Sometimes all kings, p. 19.
Sometimes all that have supreme power, O. 245.
Sometimes heirs to those first progenitors, who were at first the natural parents of the whole people, p. 19.
Sometimes an elective king, p. 23.
Sometimes those whether a few or a multitude that govern the commonwealth, p. 23.
Sometimes he that can catch it, an usurper, p. 23, 0. 155.
§ 72. Thus this new nothing, that is to carry with it all power, authority, and government; this fatherhood which is to design the person, and establish the throne of monarchs, whom the people are to obey, may, according to Sir Robert, come into any hands, any how, and so by his politics give to democracy royal authority, and make an usurper a lawful prince. And if it will do all these fine feats, much good do our A and all his followers with their omnipotent fatherhood, which can serve for nothing but to unsettle and destroy all the lawful governments in the world, and to establish in their room disorder, tyranny, and usurpation.