Lex Rex [Law Is King, or The Law & The Prince] (1644)
Whether Government Be Warranted by a Divine Law
I reduce all that I am to speak of the power of kings, to the author or efficient, — the matter or subject, — the form or power, — the end and fruit of their government, — and to some cases of resistance. Hence,
The question is either of government in general, or of particular species of government, such as government by one only, called monarchy, the government by some chief leading men, named aristocracy, the government by the people, going under the name of democracy. We cannot but put difference between the institution of the office, viz. government, and the designation of person or persons to the office. What is warranted by the direction of nature’s light is warranted by the law of nature, and consequently by a divine law; for who can deny the law of nature to be a divine law?
That power of government in general must be from God, I make good,
- 1st, Because (Rom. 13:1) “there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God.”
- 2nd, God commands obedience, and so subjection of conscience to powers; Rom. 13:5, “Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, (or civil punishment) but also for conscience sake;” 1 Pet. 2:13, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king as supreme,” etc. Now God only by a divine law can lay a band of subjection on the conscience, tying men to guilt and punishment if they transgress.
Conclus. All civil power is immediately from God in its root; in that,
- 1st, God has made man a social creature, and one who inclines to be governed by man, then certainly he must have put this power in man’s nature; so are we, by good reason, taught by Aristotle.1
- 2nd, God and nature intends the policy and peace of mankind, then must God and nature have given to mankind a power to compass this end; and this must be a power of government. I see not, then, why John Prelate, Mr. Maxwell, the excommunicated prelate of Ross, who speaks in the name of J. Armagh,2 had reason to say. That he feared that we fancied that the government of superiors was only for the more perfect, but had no authority over or above the perfect, nec lex, nec rex, justo posita. He might have imputed this to the Brazilians, who teach that every single man has the power of the sword to revenge his own injuries, as Molina says.3
1. Aristot. Polit. lib. 1, c. 2.
2. Sacro Sanc. Reg. Majestus, c. 1, p. 1,
3. Molina, tom. 1, de justit. disp. 22.