Lex Rex [Law Is King, or The Law & The Prince] (1644)
Whether or No Passive Obedience Be a Mean to Which We Are Subjected in Conscience, by Virtue of a Divine Commandment; and What a Mean Resistance Is. That Flying Is Resistance
Much is built, to commend patient suffering of ill, and to condemn all resistance of superiors, by royalists, on the place, 1 Pet. 2:18, where we are commanded, being servants, to suffer buffets not only for ill-doing of good masters, but also undeservedly; and when we do well, we are to suffer of those masters that are evil; and so much more are we patiently without resistance to suffer of kings. But it is clear, the place is nothing against resistance, as in these assertions I clear: —
Assert. 1. — Patient suffering of wicked men, and violent resisting are not incompatible, but they may well stand together; so this consequence is the basis of the argument, and it is just nothing: to wit, servants are to suffer unjustly wounds and buffering of their wicked masters, and they are to bear it patiently; therefore, servants are in conscience obliged to non-resistance. Now, Scripture makes this clear, —
1. The church of God is to bear with all patience the indignation of the Lord, because she has sinned, and to suffer of wicked enemies which were to be trodden as mire in the streets (Micah 7:9-12); but withal, they were not obliged to non-resistance and not to fight against these enemies, yea, they were obliged to fight against them also. If these were Babylon, Judah might have resisted and fought if God had not given a special commandment of a positive law, that they should not fight; if these were the Assyrians and other enemies, or rather both, the people were to resist by fighting, and yet to endure patiently the indignation of the Lord. David did bear most patiently the wrong that his own son Absalom, and Ahitophel, and the people inflicted on him, in pursuing him to take his life and the kingdom from him, as is clear by his gracious expressions (2 Sam. 15:25, 26; 16:10-12; Psal. 3:1-3); yea, he prays for a blessing on the people chat conspired against him (Psal. 3:3); yet did he lawfully resist Absalom and the conspirators, and sent out Joab and a huge army in open battle against them, (2 Sam. 18:1-4, etc.,) and fought against them. And were not the people of God patient to endure the violence done to them in the wilderness by Og, king of Bashan; Sihon, king of Heshbon; by the Amorites, Moabites, etc.? I think God’s law ties all men, especially his people, to as patient a suffering in wars. (Deut. 8:16.) God then trying and humbling his people, as the servant is to endure patiently, unjustly inflicted buffets (1 Pet. 2:18); and yet God’s people at God’s command did resist these kings and people, and did fight and kill them, and possess their land, as the history is clear. See the like Josh. 11:18, 19.
2. One act of grace and virtue is not contrary to another; resistance is in the children of God an innocent act of self-preservation, as is patient suffering, and therefore they may well subsist in one. And so says Amasa by the Spirit of the Lord, 1 Chron. 12:18, “Peace, peace be unto thee, and peace to thy helpers, for God helps thee.” Now, in that, David and all his helpers were resisters of king Saul.
3. The scope of the place (1 Pet. 2) is not to forbid all violent resisting, as is clear he speaks nothing of violent resisting either one way or other, but only he forbids revengeful resisting of repaying one wrong with another, from the example of Christ, who, “when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not;” therefore, the argument is a falacy, ab eo quod docitur kata/ ti, ad illud quod dicitur a9plw~j. Though therefore the master should attempt to kill an innocent servant, and invade him with a weapon of death suddenly, without all reason or cause, or unavoidably, Dr Ferne, (p. 3, sect. 2, p. 10,) in that case, does free a subject from guiltiness if he violently resist his prince; therefore, the servant who should violently resist his master in the aforesaid case should, and might patiently suffer and violently resist, notwithstanding anything that royalists can conclude on the contrary.
4. No prince has a masterly or lordly dominion over his subjects, but only a free, ingenuous, paternal and tutorly oversight for the good of the people. (Rom. 13:4.) The master, especially in the apostle Peter’s time, had a dominion over servants as over their proper goods.
Assert. 2. — Neither suffering formally as suffering; and so neither can non-resisting passive fall under any moral law of God, except in two conditions:
1. In the point of Christ’s passive obedience, he being the eternal God as well as man, and so lord of his own blood and life, by virtue of a special commandment imposed on him by his Father, was commanded to lay down his life, yea, and to be an agent as well as a patient in dying (Job. 10:18); yea, and actively he was to contribute something for his own death, and offer himself willingly to death (Matt 28:20); and, knowing the hour that he was to depart out of this world unto the Father, (John 13:1,) would not only not fly — which is to royalists lawful, to us a special point of resistance (John 14:31; 18:4-7) — but upbraided Peter as the agent of Satan, who would dissuade him to die, (Matt 16:22, 23,) and would fight for him. And he does not fetch any argument against Peter’s drawing of his sword from the unlawfulness of self-defense and innocent resistance, (which he should have done if royalists plead with any color of reason from his example, against the lawfulness of resistance and self-defense,) but from the absolute power of God.
2. From God’s positive will, who commanded him to die. (Matt, 26:53-54.) If therefore royalists prove anything against the lawfulness of resisting kings, when they offer (most unjustly) violence to the life of God’s servants, from this one merely extraordinary and rare example of Christ, the like whereof was never in the world, they may, from the same example, prove it unlawful to fly, for Christ would not fly. (Psal. 40:6-7; Heb. 10:6-9; John 14:31; 18:4-7.)
- 1st. They may prove that people sought by a tyrant to be crucified for the cause of God, are to reveal and discover themselves to an array of men who come to seek them. (John 13:1-2; 18:4-7).
- 2nd. That martyrs are of purpose to go to the place where they know they shall be apprehended and put to death, for this Christ did, and are willingly to offer themselves to the enemy’s army, for so did Christ (John 14:3; Mark 4:41, 42; Matt 26:46, 47); and so by his example, all the parliament, all the innocents of the city of London, and assembly of divines, are obliged to lay down arms and to go to their own death to prince Rupert, and the bloody Irish rebels.
- 3rd. By this example it is unlawful to resist the cut-throats of a king, for Caesar in His own royal person — the high priest in person, came not out against Christ; yea, it is not lawful for the parliament to resist a Judas, who has fled as a traitorous apostate from the truth and the temple of Christ.
- 4th. It is not lawful for innocents to defend themselves by any violence against the invasion of superiors, in Dr Ferne’s three cases in which he allows resistance: (1.) When the invasion is sudden. (2.) Unavoidable. (3.) Without all color of law and reason. In the two last cases, royalists defend the lawfulness of self-defense.
- 5th. If the example be pressed, — Christ did not this and that, he resisted not with violence, to save his own life, therefore, we are to abstain from resistance and such and such means of self-preservation; then, because Christ appealed not from inferior judges to the emperor Caesar; who, no doubt, would have shown him more favor than the scribes and pharisees did, and because Christ conveyed not a humble supplication to his sovereign and father Caesar, — then because he proffered not a humble petition to prince Pilate for his life, he being an innocent man, and his cause just, — because he neither procured an orator to plead his own just cause, nor did he so plead for himself, and give in word and writ, all lawful and possible defenses for his own safety, but answered many things with silence, to the admiration of the judge, (Mark 15:3-5,) and was thrice pronounced by the judge to be innocent (Luke 22:23); because, I say, Christ did not all these for his own life, therefore it is unlawful for Scotland and England to appeal to the king, to supplicate, to give in apologies, etc. I think royalists dare not say so. But if they say he would not resist, and yet might have done all these lawfully, because these be lawful means, and resistance with the sword unlawful, — because “He that takes the sword, shall perish by the sword,” — let me answer then, (1.) They leave the argument from Christ’s example, who was thus far subject to higher powers, that he would not resist, and plead from the unlawfulness of resistance; this is petitio principii. (2.) He that takes the sword without God’s warrant, which Peter had not, but the contrary, he was himself a Satan to Christ, who would but counsel him not to die: but there is no shadow of a word to prove that violent resisting is unlawful, when the king and his Irish cut-throats pursue as unjustly; only Christ says, when God may deliver extraordinarily by his angels, except it be his absolute will that his Son should drink the cup of death, then to take the sword, when God has declared his will on the contrary, is unlawful; and that is all; though I do not question but Christ’s asking for swords, and his arresting all his enemies to the ground (John 18:6) backward, is a justifying of self-defense. But
hitherto it is clear, by Christ’s example, that he only was commanded to suffer.
Now the second case in which suffering falls under a commandment, is indirectly and comparatively, when it comes to the election of the witness of Jesus, that it is referred to them, either to deny the truth of Christ and his name, or then to suffer death. The choice is apparently evident; and this choice that persecutors refer us unto, is to us a commandment of God, that we must choose suffering for Christ, and refuse sinning against Christ. But the supposition must stand, that this alternative is unavoidable, that is not in our power to decline either suffering for Christ, or denying of Christ before men; otherwise no man is to expect the reward of a witness of Jesus, who having a lawful possible means of eschewing suffering, does yet cast himself into suffering needlessly. But I prove that suffering by men of this world falls not formally and directly under any divine positive law; for the law of nature, — whatever Arminians in their declaration, or this Arminian excommunicate think with them, (for they teach that God gave a commandment to Adam, to abstain from such and such fruit, with pain and trouble to sinless nature,) — does not command suffering, or anything contrary to nature, as nature is sinless: I prove it thus: —
1. Whatever falls under a positive commandment of God, I may say here, under any commandment of God, is not a thing under the free will and power of others, from whom we are not descended necessarily by natural generation, but that men of the world kill me, even these from whom I am not descended by natural generation (which I speak to exclude Adam, who killed all his posterity) is not in my free will, either as if they had my common nature in that act, or as if I were accessory by counsel, consent, or approbation to that act, for this is under the free will and power of others, not under my own free will; therefore, that I suffer by others is not under my free will, and cannot fall under a commandment of God; and certainly it is an irrational law (glorified be his name) that God should command Antipas either formally to suffer, or formally not to suffer death by these of the synagogue of Satan, (Rev. 2:13,) because if they be pleased not to kill him, it is not in his free will to be killed by them; and if they shall have him in their power (except God extraordinarily deliver) it is not in his power, in an ordinary providence, not to be killed.
2. All these places of God’s word, that recommends suffering to the followers of Christ, do not command formally that we suffer; therefore, suffering falls not formally under any commandment of God. I prove the antecedent, because if they be considered, they prove only that comparatively we are to choose rather to suffer than to deny Christ before men, (Mat. 10:28, 32; Rev. 2:13; Mat. 10:37; 16:24; 19:29,) or then they command not suffering according to the substance of the passion, but according to the manner that we suffer, willingly, cheerfully, and patiently. Hence Christ’s word to take up his cross, which is not a mere passion, but commends an act of the virtue of patience. Now no Christian virtue consists in a mere passion, but in laudable habits, and good and gracious acts, and the text we are now on (1 Pet. 2:18-19) does not recommend suffering from the example of Christ, but patient suffering; and so the word u(potasso/menon, not simply enjoined, but e9n panti\ fo/bw| in all fear, (ver. 18,) and the words u9pofe/rwn and u9pomenei~v, to suffer with patience, as 2 Tim. 3:11; 1 Cor. 10:13, and u9pomenei~n; is to suffer patiently, I Cor. 13:7, love pa/nta u9pome/nei suffers all things; Heb. 12:17, if you suffer correction; 1 Tim. 5:5, she continues patiently in prayers; Heb. 12:2, Christ endures the cross patiently (Rom. 15:5; 8:25; Luke 8:15; 21:29). The derivations hence signify patience; so do all our interpreters, Beza, Calvin, Marloratus, and popish expositors, as Lorinus, Estius, Carthusian, Lyra, Hugo Cardinalis, expound it of patient suffering; and the text is clear, it is suffering like Christ, without rendering evil for evil, and reviling for reviling.
3. Suffering simply, according to substance of the passion, (I cannot say action,) is common to good and ill, and to the wicked, yea to the damned in hell, who suffer against their will, and that cannot be joined according to its substance as an act of formal obedience and subjection to higher powers, kings, fathers, masters, by force of the fifth commandment, and of the place, Rom. 13:1-2 Which, according to its substance, wicked men suffer, and the damned in hell also against their will.
4. Passive obedience to wicked emperors can but be enjoined (Rom. 13) but only in the manner, and upon supposition, that we must be subject to them, and must suffer against our wills all the ill of punishment that they can inflict; we must suffer patiently, and because it is God’s permissive will that they punish us unjustly; for it is not God’s ruling and approving will (called voluntas signi) that they should, against the law of God and man, kill us, and persecute us; and therefore neither Rom. 13, nor 1 Pet. 2, nor any other place in God’s word, any common divine, natural, national or any municipal law, commands formally obedience passive, or subjection passive, or non-resistance under the notion of passive obedience; yea, to me, obedience passive (if we speak of obedience, properly called, as relative essentially to a law) is a chimera, a dream, and repugnantia in adjecto; and therefore I utterly deny that resistance passive, or subjection passive, does formally fall under either commandment of God affirmative or negative; only the unlawful manner of resistance by way of revenge, or for defense of popery and false religion, and out of impatient toleration of monarchy or any tyranny, is forbidden in God’s word; and certainly all the words used Rom. 13, as they fall under a formal commandment of God, are words of action, not of any chimerical passive obedience, as we are not to resist actively God’s ordinance, as his ordinance, (ver. 1-2,) that is, to resist God actively. We are to do good works, not evil, if we would have the ruler no terror to us (ver. 3). We must not do ill if we would be free of vengeance’s sword (ver. 7); we are to pay tribute and to give fear and honor to the ruler, all which are evidently actions, not passive subjection; and if any passive subjection be commanded, it is not here, nor in the first commandment, commanded, but in the first commandment under the hand of patience and submission under God’s hand in suffering, or in the third commandment under the hand of rather dying for Christ than denying his truth before men.
Hence I argue here (Rom. 13; 1 Pet. 2; Tit. 3) is nothing else but an exposition of the fifth commandment; but in the fifth commandment only active obedience is formally commanded, and the subordination of inferiors to superiors is ordained, and passive obedience is nowhere commanded, but only modus rei, the manner of suffering, and the occasion of the commandment, here it is thought that the Jews converted under this pretext, that they were God’s people, believed that they should not be subject to the Romans. A certain Galilean made the Galileans believe that they should not pay tribute to strangers, and that they should call none lord, out the God of heaven; as Josephus says, (Antiq. Judaic. l. 20, c. 2, and de bell. Judaic. i 7, c. 29,) yea and Hieron. (Com. in Tit.,) says, At this time the sect of the Galileans were on foot. It is like the Jews were thought to be Galileans, and that their liberty, purchased in Christ, could not consist with the order of master and servant, king and subject. And to remove this, Paul established magistracy, and commands obedience in the Lord; and he is more to prove the office of the magistrate to be of God than any other thing, and to show what is his due, than to establish absoluteness in Nero to be of God; yea, to me, every word in the text speaks limitedness of princes, and cries down absoluteness: —
- (1.) No power of God,
(2.) no ordinance of God, who is a terror to evil, but a praise to good works,
(3.) no minister of God for good, etc. can be a power to which we submit ourselves on earth, as next unto God, without controlment.
That passive obedience falls formally under no commandment of God, I prove thus: All obedience liable to a divine commandment, does commend morally the performer of obedience, as having a will conformed to God’s moral law, and deformity between the will of him who performs not obedience, involves the non-obedient in wrath and guiltiness. But non-passive subjection to the sword of the judge does not morally commend him that suffers not punishment; for no man is formally a sinner against a moral law because he suffers not the ill of punishment, nor is he morally good, or to be commended, because he suffers ill of punishment, but because he does the ill of sin. And all evil of punishment unjustly inflicted has God’s voluntas beneplaciti, the instrumental and hidden decree of God, which orders both good and ill, (Ephes. 1:11.) for its rule and cause, and has not God’s will or approbation called, voluntas signi, for its rule, both is contrary to that will. I am sure Epiphanius, (l. 1, tom. 3, heres. 40,) Basilius (in Psal.32), Nazianzen Orat. (ad subd. et imperat.), Hilar. (li. ad Constant.), and Augustine, all cites these words, and says the same. If, then, passive subjection be not commanded, non-subjection passive cannot be forbidden, and this text, Rom. 13, and 1 Pet. 2 cannot a whit help the bad cause of royalists. All then must be reduced to some action of resisting; arguments for passive subjection, though there were shipfuls of them, they cannot help us.
Assert. 3. — By the place, 1 Pet. 31, the servant unjustly buffeted is not to buffet his master again, but to bear patiently as Christ did, who, when he was reviled, did not revile again. Not because the place condemns resistance for self-defense, but because buffeting again is formally re-offending — not defending: defending is properly a warding off a blow or stroke. If my neighbor come to kill me, and I can by no means save my life by flight, I may defend myself; and all divines say I may rather kill ere I be killed, because I am nearer, by the law of nature, and dearer to myself and my own life than to my brother; — but if I kill him, out of malice or hatred, the act of defending, by the unlawful manner of doing, becomes an act of offending and murder; whence the mind of the blood-shedder will vary the nature of the action from whence this corollary does naturally issue, that the physical action of taking away the life makes not murder nor homicide, and so the physical action of offending my neighbor is not murder.
- 1st. Abraham may kill his son, — he for whom the cities of refuge were ordained, and did kill his brother, yet, not hating him, he was not, by God’s law, judged a murderer; and,
- 2nd. It necessarily hence follows, that an act which is physically an act of offending my brother, yea even to the taking away of his life, is often morally and legally an act of lawful self-defense: an offending of another, necessitated from the sole invention of self-defense, is no more but an act of innocent self-defense. If David, with his men, had killed any of Saul’s men in a set battle, David and his men only intending self-defense, the war on David’s part was mere defensive; for physical actions of killing, indifferent of themselves, yet imperated by a principle of natural self-defense, and clothed with this formal end of self-defense, or according to the substance of the action, the act is of self-defense.
If, therefore, one shall wound me deadly, and I know it is my death, after that, to kill the killer of myself, I being only a private man, must be no act of self-defense, but of homicide; because it cannot be imperated by a sinless dictate of a natural conscience, for this end of self-defense, after I know I am killed. Any mean not used for preventing death must be an act of revenge, not of self-defense, for it is physically unsuitable for the intended end of self-defense. And so, for a servant buffeted to buffet again, is of the same nature, — the second buffet not being a conducible mean to ward the first buffet, but a mean to procure heavier strokes, and, possibly, killing, it cannot be an act of self-defense; for an act of self-defense must be an act destinated ex natura rei, only for defense; and if it be known to be an act of sole offending, without any known necessary relation of a mean to self-defense as the end, it cannot be properly an act of self-defense.
Assert. 4. — When the matter is lighter, as in paying tribute, or suffering a buffet of a rough master, though unjustly, we are not to use any act of re-offending. For, though I be not absolute lord of my own goods, and so may not at my sole pleasure give tribute and expend monies to the hurting of my children, where I am not, by God’s law or man’s law, obliged to pay tribute; and though I be not an absolute lord of my members, to expose face, and cheeks, and back, to stripes and whips at my own mere will, yet have we a comparative dominion given to us of God in matters of goods, and disposing of our members, (I think I may except the case of mutilation, which is a little death,) for buffets, because Christ, no doubt to teach us the like, would rather give of his goods, and pay tribute where it was not due, than that this scandal be in the way of Christ, that Christ was no loyal subject to lawful emperors and kings. And (1 Cor. 9) Paul would rather not take stipend, though it was due to him, than hinder the course of the gospel. And the like is 1 Cor. 6, where the Corinthians were rather to suffer loss in their goods than to go to law before infidel judges, and by the like to prevent greater inconveniences, and mutilation, and death. The Christian servant has that dominion over his members, rather to suffer buffets than to ward off buffets with violent resistance. But it is no consequence, that innocent subjects should suffer death of tyrants, and servants be killed by masters, and yet that they shall not be allowed, by the law of nature, to defend themselves, by re-offending, when only self-defense is intended, because we have not that dominion over life and death.
And therefore, as a man is his brother’s murderer, who, with froward Cain, will not be his brother’s keeper, and may preserve his brother’s life, without loss of his own life, when his brother is unjustly preserved; so, when he may preserve his own life, and does not that which nature’s law allows him to do, (rather to kill ere he be killed,) he is guilty of self-murder, because he is deficient in the duty of lawful self-defense. But I grant, to offend or kill is not of the nature of defensive war, but accidental thereunto; and yet killing of cutthroats, sent forth by the illegal commandment of the king, may be intended as a mean, and a lawful mean, of self-defense. Of two ills of punishment, we have a comparative dominion over ourselves, — a man may cast his goods into the sea to redeem his life; so, for to redeem peace, we may suffer buffets, but because death is the greatest ill of punishment, God has not made it eligible to us when lawful seif-defense is at hand. But, in defending our own life against tyrannical power, though we do it by offending and killing, we resist no ordinance of God, only I judge killing of the king in self-defense not lawful, because self-defense must be national on just causes.
Let here the reader judge Barclay, (1. 3, c. 8, p. 159, con. Monar.) “If the king (says he) shall vex the commonwealth, or one part thereof, with great and intolerable cruelty, what shall the people do? They have (says he) in that case a power to resist and defend themselves from injury; but only to defend themselves, nor to invade the prince, nor to resist the injury, or to recede from reverence due to the prince.”1 I answer,
- 1st. Let Barclay or the Prelate, (if he may carry Barclay’s books) or any, difference these two, — the people may resist a tyrant, but they may not resist the injuries inflicted by a tyrant’s officers and cutthroats. I cannot imagine how to conciliate these two; for to resist the cruelty of a king is but to hold off the injury by resistance.
- 2nd. If this Nero waste the commonwealth insufferably with his cruelty, and remain a lawful king, to be honored as a king, who may resist him, according to the royalists’ way? But, from Rom. 13, they resist the ordinance of God. Resisting is not a mere suffering, nor is it a moral resisting by alleging laws to be broken by him. We had never a question with royalists about such resisting. Nor is this resisting non-obedience to unjust commandments; that resisting was never yet in question by any except the papists, who in good earnest, by consequent, say, It is better to obey men than God.
- 3rd. It is then resisting by bodily violence. But if the king have such an absolute power given him by God, as royalists fancy, from Rom. 13:1,2; 1 Sam. 8:9-11, I know not how subjects have any power given them of God to resist the power from God, and God’s ordinance. And if this resisting extend not itself to defensive wars, how shall the people defend themselves from injuries, and the greatest injuries imaginable, — from an army of cut-throats and idolaters, in war coming to destroy religion, set up idolatry, and root out the name of God’s people, and lay waste the mountain of the Lord’s house? And if they may defend themselves by defensive wars, how can wars be without offending?
- 4th. The law of nature teaches to repel violence with violence, when one man is oppressed, no less than when the commonwealth is oppressed. Barclay should have given either Scripture or the law of nature for his warrant here.
- 5th. Let us suppose a king can be perjured, how are the estates of the kingdom, who are his subjects, by Barclay’s way, not to challenge such a tyrant of his perjury? He did swear he should be meek and clement, and he is now become a furious lion. Shall the flock of God be committed to the keeping of a furious lion?
Dr Ferne (p. 3, sect. 2, p. 9,) adds, “Personal defense is lawful against sudden and illegal invasion, such as Elisha practiced, even if it were against the prince, to ward blows, and to hold the prince’s hand, but not to return blows; but general resistance by arms cannot be without many unjust violences, and does immediately strike at the order, which is the life of the commonwealth.
- Ans. — 1st. If it be natural to one man to defend himself against the personal invasion of a prince, then is it natural and warrantable to ten thousand, and to a whole kingdom; and what reason to defraud a kingdom of the benefit of self-defense more than one man?
- 2nd. Neither grace nor policy destroys nature; and how shall ten or twenty thousand be defended against cannons and muskets, that kills afar off, except they keep towns against the king, (which Dr Ferne and others say had been treason in David, if he had kept Keilah against king Saul,) except they be armed to offend, with weapons of the like nature to kill rather than be killed, as the law of nature teaches.
- 3rd. To hold the hands of the prince is no less resisting violence than to cut the skirt of his garment, which royalists think unlawful, and is an opposing of external force to the king’s person.
- 4th. It is true, wars merely defensive cannot be but they must be offensive; but they are offensive by accident, and intended for mere defense, and they cannot be without wars sinfully offensive, nor can any wars be in rerum natura now, (I except the wars commanded by God, who only must have been sinful in the manner of doing,) but some innocent must be killed; but wars cannot for that be condemned.
- 5th. Neither are offensive wars against those who are no powers and no ordinances of God, such as are cut-throat Irish, condemned prelates and papists now in arms, more destructive to the order established by God than acts of lawful war are, or the punishing of robbers. And by all this, protestants in Scotland and England should remain in their houses unarmed, while the papists and Irish come on them armed, and cut their throats, and spoil, and plunder at will.
Nor can we think that resistance to a king, in holding his hands, can be natural; if he be stronger, it is not a natural mean of self-preservation. Nature has appointed innocent and offending violence, against unjust violence, as a means of self-preservation. Goliath’s sword is no natural means to hold Saul’s hands, for a sword has no fingers; and if king Saul suddenly, without color of law or reason, or inevitably, should make personal invasion on David to kill him, Dr Ferne says he may resist; but resisting is essentially a re-action of violence. Show us Scripture or reason for violent holding a king’s hands in an unjust personal invasion, without any other re-action of offense. Walter Torrils killed king W. Rufus as he was shooting at a deer; the Earl of Suffolk killed Henry VIII at tilting: there is no treasonable intention here, and so no homicide. Defensive wars are offensive, ex eventu et effectu, not ex causa, or ex intentione.
But it may be asked, if no passive subjection at all be commanded as due to superiors. —
Ans. None properly so called, that is, purely passive, only we are, for fear of the sword, to do our duty. We are to suffer ill of punishment of tyrants, ex hypothesi, that they inflict that ill on us some other way, and in some other notion than we are to suffer ill of equals; for we are to suffer of equals not for any paternal authority that they have over us, as certainly we are to suffer ill inflicted by superiors. I demand of royalists, If tyrants inflicting evil of punishment upon subjects unjustly be powers ordained of God: if to resist a power in tyrannical acts be to resist God. Since we are not to yield active obedience to all the commandments of superiors, whether they be good or ill, by virtue of this place, Rom.13 how is it that we may not deny passive subjection to all the acts of violence exercised, whether of injustice, whether in these acts of violence wherein the prince in actu exercito and formally, punishes not in God’s stead, or in these wherein he punishes tyrannically, in no formal or actual subordination to God, we owe passive subjection? I desire an answer to these.
Assert. 5. — Flying from the tyranny of abused authority, is a plain resisting of rulers in their unlawful oppression and perverting of judgment.
All royalists grant it lawful, and ground it upon the law of nature, that those that are persecuted by tyrannous princes may flee, and it is evident from Christ’s commandment, “If they persecute you in one city, flee to another,” Matt. 10:23, and by Matt. 23:34. Christ fled from the fury of the Jews till his hour was come; Elias, Uriah, (Jer. 26:20,) and Joseph and Mary fled; the martyrs did hide themselves in caves and dens of the earth (Heb. 11:37, 38); Paul was let down through a window in a basket at Damascus. This certainly is resistance; for look, what legal power God has given to a tyrannous ruler, remaining a power ordained of God, to summon legally, and set before his tribunal the servants of God, that he may kill them, and murder them unjustly, that same legal power he has to murder them; for if it be a legal power to kill the innocent, and such a power as they are obliged in conscience to submit unto, they are obliged in conscience to submit to the legal power of citing; for it is one and the same power.
- 1st. Now if resistance to the one power be unlawful, resistance to the other must be unlawful also; and if the law of self-defense, or command of Chnst, warrant me to disobey a tyrannous power commanding me to compear to receive the sentence of death, that same law far more shall warrant me to resist and deny passive subjection in submitting to the unjust sentence of death.
- 2nd. When a murderer, self-convicted, flees from the just power of a judge lawfully citing him, he resists the just power ordained of God (Rom.13); therefore, by the same reason, if we flee from a tyrannous power, we resist that tyrannous power, and so, by royalists’ around, we resist the ordinance of God by flying Now, to be disobedient to a just power summoning a malefactor, is to hinder that lawful power to be put forth in lawful acts; for the judge cannot purge the land of blood if the murderer flee.
- 3rd. When the king of Israel sends a captain and fifty lictors to fetch Elisha, these come instructed with legal power from the king; if I may lay fetters on their power by flight, upon the ground of self-preservation, the same warrant shall allow me to oppose harmless violence for my own safety.
- 4th. Royalists hold it unlawful to keep a stronghold against the king, though the fort be not the king’s house, and though that David should not have offended if he had kept Keilah against Saul: Dr Ferne and royalists say it had been unlawful resistance. What more resistance is made to royal power by walls interposed than by seas and miles of earth interposed? Both are physical resistance, and violent in their kind.
1. Populo quidem hoc casu resitendi ac tuendi se ab injuria potestas competit. sed tuendi se tantum, non autem principem invadendi, et resistendi injuriae illatae, non recedendi a debita reverentia non vim praeteritam ulciscendi jus habet.