Lex Rex [Law Is King, or The Law & The Prince] (1644)
Whether or No the Sufferings of the Martyrs in the Primitive Church Militate Against the Lawfulness of Defensive Wars
Obj. 1. — Royalists think they burden our cause much with hatred, when they bring the fathers and ancient martyrs against us; so the P. Prelate (p. 74-76,) extracted out of other authors testimonies for this, and from I. Armagh, in a sermon on Rom. 13 (p. 20, 21); so the doctors of Aberdeen. The Prelate proves from Clem. Alexand. (l. 7, c. 17) that the king is constituted by the Lord; so Ignatius.
Ans. 1. — Except he prove from these fathers that the king is from God only and immediately, he proves nothing.
Obj. 2. — Iren. (l. 5, adv. haer. c. 20). — proves that God gives kingdoms, and that the devil lied, Luke 4; and we make the people to make kings, and so to be the children of the devil.
Ans. — If we denied God to dispose of kingdoms, this man might allege the church of God in England and Scotland to be the sons of Satan; but God’s word, in Deut. 17:18, and many other places, makes the people to make kings, and yet not devils. But to say that prelates should crown kings, and with their foul fingers anoint him, and that as the Pope’s substitute, is to make him that is the son of perdition a donor of kingdoms; also to make a man, with his bloody sword, to ascend to a throne, is to deny God to be the disposer of kingdoms; and prelates teach both these.
Obj. 3. — Tertul. (Apol. c. 30). — Inde est imperator, unde et homo, antequam imperator, inde potestas illi, unde et spiritus, God is no less the creator of sovereignty than of the soul of man.
Ans. — God only makes kings by his absolute sovereignty, as he only makes high and low, and so only he makes mayors, provosts, bailiffs, for there is no power but of him, (Rom 13) therefore provosts and bailiffs are not from men. The reader shall not be troubled with the rest of the testimonies of this poor plagiary, for they prove what never man denied but prelates and royalists, to wit, that kings are not from God’s approving and regulating will, which they oppose, when they say, Sole conquest is a just title to the crown.
But they deserve rather an answer which Grotius, Barclay, Arnisaeus, and Spalato, allege, as, —
Obj. 1 — Cyprian (epist. 1). — Non est fas Christianis, armis, ac vi tueri se adversus impetum persecutorum. Christians cannot, by violence, defend themselves against persecutors.
Ans. — If these words be pressed literally, it were not lawful to defend ourselves against murderers; but Cyprian is expressly condemning in that place the seditious tumults of people against the lawful magistrate.
Obj. 2. — The ancients say he was justly punished who did rend and tear the edict of Dioclesian and Maximinus (Euseb. l. 7, Hist. Eccles. c. 5).
Ans. — To rend an edict is no act of natural self-defense, but a breach of a positive commandment of the emperor’s, and could not be lawfully done, especially by a private man.
Obj. 3. — Cyprian (epist. 56) Incumbamus gemitibus assiduis et deprecationibus crebris, haec enim sunt munimenta spiritualia et tela divina quae protegunt; and Ruffinus, (1. 2, c. 6,) Ambrosius adversus reginae (Justinae Arinae) furorem non se manu defensabat aut telo, sed jejuniis continuatisque vigiliis sub altari positus.
Ans. — It is true, Cyprian reputed prayers his armor, but not his only armor. Though Ambrose, de facto, used no other against Justina, the places say nothing against the lawfulness of self-defense. Ambrose speaks of that armor and these means of defense that are proper to pastors, and these are prayers and tears, not the sword; because pastors carry the ark, that is their charge, not the sword, that is the magistrate’s place.
Obj. 4. — Tertullian (apolog. c. 37) says expressly, that the Christians might, for strength and number, have defended themselves against their persecutors, but thought it unlawful. Quando vel una nox pauculis faculis largitatem ultionis poss et operari, si malum malo dispungi penes nos liceret, sed absit ut igni humano vindicetur divina secta, aut doleat pati, in quo probetur. Si enim hostes extraneos, non tantum vindices occultos agere vellemus, deesset nobis vis numerorum et copiarum?
Ans. — I will not go about to say that Tertullian thought it lawful to raise arms against the emperor: I ingenuously confess Tertullian was in that error. But, 1. something of the man; 2. Of the Christians. 1. Of the man — Tertullian after this turned a Montanist. 2. Pamelius says of him, in vit. Tertul. inter Apocrypha numeratur — excommunicatus. 3. It was Tertullian’s error in a fact, not in a question, that he believed Christians were so numerous as that they might have fought with the emperors. 4. M. Pryn does judiciously observe, (part 3, Sovereign Power of Parl. p. 139, 140,) he not only thought it unlawful to resist, but also to flee, and therefore wrote a book de fuga; and therefore as some men are excessive in doing for Christ, so also in suffering for Christ. Hence I infer, that Tertullian is neither ours nor theirs in this point; and we can cite Tertullian against them also, Jam sumus ergo pares; yea, Fox, in his Monum., says, “Christians ran to the stakes to be burnt, when they were neither condemned nor cited.” 5. What if we cite Theodoret, (fol. 98. De provid.) “Who, about that time, say that evil men reign a0rxome/nwn a0nandri/a, through the cowardliness of the subjects;” as the Prelate says of Tertullian, I turn it, If Theodoret were now living he would go for a rebel.
- (1.) About that time Christians sought help from Constantine the Great against Lycinius their emperor, and overthrew him in battle; and the Christians, being oppressed by the king of Persia their own king, sent to Theodosius to help them against him.
(2.) For the man, Tertullian, in the place cited, says, “The Christians were strangers under the emperor,” externi sumus, and therefore they had no laws of their own, but were under the civil laws of heathen till Constantine’s time; and they had sworn to Julian, as his soldiers, and therefore might have, and no doubt had, scruples of conscience to resist the emperor.
(3.) It is known Julian had huge numbers of heathen in his army, and to resist had been great danger.
(4.) Wanting leaders and commanders, (many prime men doubting of the lawfulness thereof,) though they had been equal in number, yet number is not all in war, skill in valorous commanders is required.
(5.) What if all Christians were not of Tertullian’s mind.
(6.) If I would go to human testimonies, which I judge not satisfactory to the conscience, I might cite many: the practice of France, of Holland, the divines in Luther’s time, (Sleidan. 8, c. 8, 22,) resolved resistance to be lawful; Calvin, Beza, Pareus, the German divines, Buchanan, and an host might be produced.