Lex Rex [Law Is King, or The Law & The Prince] (1644)

Samuel Rutherford

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Whether does the P. Prelate upon Good Grounds Ascribe to Us the Doctrine of Jesuits in These Questions of Lawful Defensive Wars

The P. Prelate, without all ground, will have us all Jesuits in this point, but if we make good that this truth was in Scripture before a Jesuit was in the earth, he falls from his cause.

P. Prelate (c. 1, p. 1, 2). — The Begardi says, There was no government, no law given to the just. It fears me this age fancies to itself some such thing, and have learned of Koran, Dathan, etc.

Ans. — This calumniator, in the next words, belies himself when he says, We presuppose that those with whom we are to enter in lists, do willingly grant that government is not only lawful and just, but necessary both for church and commonwealth: then we fancy no such thing as he imputes to us.

P. Prelate. — Some said that the right of dominion is founded on grace, whether the Waldenses and Huss held any such tenet, I cannot now insist to prove or disprove. Gerson and others held that there must be a new title and right to what men possess. Too many too confidently hold these or the like.

Ans. — 1. That dominion is founded upon grace as its essential pillar, so as wicked men be no magistrates, because they are in mortal sin, was falsely imputed to ancient protestants, the Waldenses, Wicliff, and Huss, by papists; and this day by Jesuits, Suarez, Bellarmine, Becanus. The P. Prelate will leave them under this calumny, that he may offend papists and Jesuits as little as he can, but he would lay it on us; but if the P. Prelate think that dominion is not founded on grace, de jure, that rulers should have that spirit that God put on the seventy elders for their calling, and that they ought not to be “men fearing God and hating covetousness,” as Gerson and others did, he belies the Scripture. 2. It is no error of Gerson that believers have a spiritual right to their civil possessions, but by Scripture, 1 Cor. 4:21; Rev. 21:7.

P. Prelate. — The Jesuits are ashamed of the error of casuists, who hold that, directum imperium, the direct and primary power, supreme, civil, and ecclesiastical, is in the Pope; and, therefore, they give an indirect directive and coercive power to him over kings and states, in ordine ad spiritualia, so may he king and unking princes at his pleasure. Our presbyterians, if they run not fully this way, are very near to it.

Ans. — 1st. The windy man would seem versed in schoolmen. He should have named some casuists, who hold any like thing.

    2nd. The presbyterians must be popes, because they subject kings to the gospel, and Christ’s scepter in church censures, and think Christian kings may be rebuked for blasphemy, bloodshed, etc., whereas prelates, in ordine ad diabolica, murder souls of kings.
    3rd. Prelates do king princes. A popish archprelate, when our king was crowned, put the crown on king Charles’ head, the sword and scepter in his hand, anointed him in his hands, crown, shoulders, arms, with sacred oil. The king mast kiss the archbishop and bishops. Is not this to king princes in ordine ad spiritualia? And those that king may unking and judge what relation the popish archbishop Spotswood had, when he proffered to the king the oath that the popish kings swears to maintain the professed religion, (not one word of the true protestant religion,) and will carefully root out all heretics and enemies (that is protestants as they expone it) to the true worship of God, that shall be convicted by the church of God of the foresaid crimes. And when the prelates professed they held not their prelacies of the king, but of the Pope indeed: who are then nearest to the Pope’s power, in ordine ad spiritualia?
    4th. How will this black-mouthed calumniator make presbyterians to dethrone kings? He has written a pamphlet of the inconsistency of monarchy and presbyterian government, consisting of lies, invented calumnies of his church, in which he was baptized. But the truth is, all his arguments prove the inconsistency of monarchs and parliaments, and transform any king into a most absolute tyrant; for which treason he deserves to suffer as a traitor.

P. Prelate (q. 1, c. 1). The puritan says that all power civil is radically and originally seated in the community; he here joins hands with the Jesuit.

Ans. — In six pages he repeats the same things, 1. Is this such an heresy, that a colony cast into America by the tyranny of popish prelates, have power to choose their own government? All Israel was heretical in this; for David could not be their king, though designed and anointed by God, (1 Sam. 16,) till the people (2 Sam. 5) put forth in act this power, and made David king in Hebron. 2. Let the Prelate make a syllogism, it is but ex utraque affirmante in secunda figura, logic like the bellies of the court, in which men of their own way is disgraced and cast out of grace and court; because in this controversy of the king with his two parliaments, they are llke Erasmus in God’s matters, who said, Lutherum nec accuso, nec defendo. He is discourted, whoever he be, who is in shape like a puritan, and not fire and sword against religion and his country, and oath and covenant with God; and so it is this: The Jesuit teaches that power of government is in the community originally. The puritan teaches, that power of government is in the community originally; therefore, the puritan is a Jesuit. But so the puritan is a Jesuit, because he and the Jesuit teaches that there is one God and three persons. And if the Prelate like this reasoning, we shall make himself and the prelates, and court-divines, Jesuits upon surer grounds.

1. Jesuits teach, (1.) The Pope is not the antiChrist. (2.) Christ locally descended to hell to free some out of that prison. (3.) It was sin to separate from Babylonish Rome. (4.) We are justified by works. (5.) The merit of fasting is not to be condemned. (6.) The mass is no idolatry. (7.) The Church is the judge of controversies. (8.) All the Arminian points are safer to be believed, than the contrary; yea, and all the substantiate of popery are true, and catholic doctrine to be preached and printed.

2. The prelates and court-divines, and this Prelate, conspires in all these with the Jesuits, as is learnedly and invincibly proved in the treatise, called au0tokatakri/sij the Canterburian self-conviction; to which no man of the prelatical and Romish faction dared ever make answer for their hearts; and see then who are Jesuits.

3. This doctrine was taught by lawyers, protestants, yielded to by papists, before any Jesuit was whelped in rerum natura. Never learned man wrote of policy, till of late, but he held power of government, by the light of nature, must be radically and originally in a community. The P. Prelate says, Jesuits are not the fathers of this opinion (c. 1, p. 12). How then can the liar say, that the puritan conspires with the Jesuit? Suarez, the Jesuit, (de primat. sum. pontifi. l. 3, c. 2, n. 10,) Non est novum, aut a Cardinali Bellarmine inventum. The Jesuit Tannerus, will not have their family the mother of this opinion, (tom 2, disp. 5, de leg, q. 5, in 12, q. 95, 96; Dubi. 1, n. 7). Sine dubio communal omnium Theologorum et Jurisperitorum sententia, etc. The Jesuit Tolet, (in Rom, 13,) takes it for a ground, that the civil powers are from God, by the natural mediation of men, and civil societies.

4. Jesuits teach that there is no lawful Christian society, truly politic, that has a near and formal power to choose and ordain their own magistrates, but that which acknowledges subjection, and the due regulation of their creating of magistrates, to be due and proper to the Pope of Rome. We acknowledge nowise the bishop of Rome, for a lawful bishop and pastor at all. But this popish Prelate does acknowledge him, for he has these words, (c. 5, p. 58,) “It is high presumption in the Pope to challenge to himself the title or right of Christ’s universal vicar on earth, by divine right. The Pope, the bishop of Rome, has no more by divine right, (what he may have by positive ecclesiastical right is not pertinent for us now to examine and discuss,) no higher privilege, (except it be in extent,) than the meanest bishop of the world in his diocese.”

And amongst all proofs, he passing by Scriptures, which should prove, or improve a divine right, he will content himself with one proof of Cyprian, (de unitat. Eccles.,) and ends with these words, — “Would God, both sides in this, and other controversies, would submit to the judgment of the holy fathers.”

1. Hence the P. Prelate, in his fourth article, (the other two I shall touch anon,) makes puritans grosser than Jesuits, in dethroning kings; because if the king be deficient, the people may resume their power, and govern for him, and so dethrone the king. But Bellarmine (l 3, q. de laic.) holds the people cannot dethrone the king, but, in certis casibus, in some cases, that is, (as Suarez says,) si Rex sua potestate in manifestam, (Civitatis ceu Regni,) perniciem abutatur. But I will demonstrate, that if papists hold that the Pope may dethrone kings, this Prelate is of their mind; for, 1. The words I cited make good that he is for the Pope’s supremacy; (now it is a joint or part of his supremacy, to king and unking princes.) 2. They make good that he is a papist; for, 1. It is presumption in the Pope to challenge to himself that he is Christ’s universal vicar on earth, by divine right. Why says he not, by no right at all, but only he is not Christ’s vicar by divine right; for it is evident, that papists make him Christ’s vicar only by ecclesiastical right; for they profess succession of popes to this day cannot be proved but by tradition, not by Scripture.

2. The Pope’s supremacy, by papists, is expressly reckoned amongst unwritten traditions, and so there is no necessity that the right of it be proved from Scripture.

3. The Prelate expressly says, “He will not discuss the ecclesiastical right that the Pope has to be Christ’s vicar;” and by that he clearly insinuates that he has a right to be Christ’s vicar, besides a scriptural and divine right; only, for offending papists, he will not discuss it.

4. He has no higher privilege, says he, than other bishops, except in extent, by divine right. Now other bishops, as officers, in nature different from presbyters, (for of such the P. Prelate must speak in his own dialect,) have their office by divine right; and this the Prelate’s word must include, else he says nonsense to the matter in hand. And, in extent, the Pope has, by divine right, more than other bishops have. Now what is the Pope of Rome’s extent? All know it is the whole catholic visible church on earth. If then, all bishops be particular ambassadors in Christ’s stead, (2 Cor. 5:20,) and so legates and deputies of Christ, he who by divine right is a bishop in extent over the whole world, is as like one that calls himself the universal vicar of Christ, as one egg is like another. The doctrine taught by this Prelate, so popish, and hints, yea, are more than evidences, of gross popery in this book, and his other pamphlet against presbyteries. And his desire that the controversy, concerning the Pope’s supremacy and others, were determined with submission to the judgment of the fathers, do cry that he is but a rotten papist. For why will he submit all other controversies to the judgment of the fathers? Why not to the prophets and apostles? Can fathers decide controversies better than the Word of God? A reason cannot be dreamed of why the fathers should be judges, and not the Scriptures, except that the Scriptures are obscure. Their authority and light cannot determine and judge controversies, except in so far as they have authority from fathers and the church; and we know this to be proprium quarto modo, proper to Jesuits and papists, to cry, Fathers, fathers, in all controversies, though the fathers be more for us than for them, except two things: — (1.) What fathers speak for us, are corrupted by them. (2.) What were but errors in fathers, when children add contumacy to error, becomes the heresies of the sons.

And it is most false that we join with Jesuits. (1.) We teach no more against tyrants, in exercitio, than Grotius, Barclay, and Winzetus, in the matter of deposing kings; and in this, royalists conspire with Jesuits. (2.) We deny that the Pope may loose subjects from the oath of fidelity when a king turns heretical. (3.) That people, at the Pope’ commandment, are to dethrone kings for heresy; so do the prelates, and their fellows the papists, teach; so Gregory VII practiced; so Aquinas taught, (22 q. 12. ar. 2.) Antonin, (sum. par. 3. t. 22, c. 3, sect. 7.) “Thou hast put all things under the Pope’s feet,” oves, id est, Christianos; boves. Judusos et hereticos; pecora, Paganos; so Navar. (1. 1, c. 13,) Pagans have no jurisdiction. Jaco. Symanca, (de Catho. Instit. tit. 45, n. 25,) “Catholica uxor heretico viro debitum reddere nontenetur” Item, Constat. haereticum privatum esse omni dominio, naturali, civili, politico, naturali quod habet in filios, nam propter haeresin patris efficiuntur filii sui juris, civili, quod habet in servos, ab eo enim servi liberantur, politico, quod rerum domini habent in subditos, ita Bannes, (22. q. 12, art. 10.) Gregor. (de valent. 22. dis. 1, q. 12, p. 2, lod. Mol. to. 1, de just. et jur. tract. 2, dis. 29, v. 3.) Papists hold that generatio clerici est corruptio subditi, churchmen are not subjects under the king’s Law. It is a canonical privilege of the clergy, that they are not subject to the king’s civil laws. Now this Prelate and his fellows made the king swear, at his coronation, to maintain all canonical privileges of the prelatical clergy, the very oath and words sworn by all the popish kings.

P. Prelate. — Power is given by the multitude to the king immediately, and by God mediately, not so much by collation, as by approbation, how the Jesuit and puritan walk all along in equal pace. See Bellarmine, l. 1. de liac. c. 6. Suarez cont. sect. Angl. l. 2. c. 3.

Ans. — It is a calumny that we teach that the power of the king is from God mediately, by mere approbation; indeed, a fellow of his, a papist, writing against the king’s supremacy, Anthony Capell says,1 Saul was made king, and others also, by God’s permission, and Deo invito et irato, God being angry, that is not our doctrine; but with what real efficiency God has made men and communities rational and social men with the same has he made them by instinct of nature, by the mediation of reason, to create a king; and Bellarmine and Suarez say not God makes kings by approbation only.

P. Prelate. — The people may change monarchy into aristocracy or democracy, or aristocracy into monarchy; for aught I know, they differ not in this neither.

Ans. 1. — The P. Prelate knows not all things — the two Jesuits, Bellarmine and Suarez are produced only, as if they were all Jesuits; and Suarez says, (De prim. po. l. 3, n, 4,) “Donationem absotutam, semel valide factam revocari non posse, neque in totum, neque ex parce, maxime quando onerosa fuit,” If the people once give their power to the king, they cannot resume it without cause; and laying down the grounds of Suarez and other Jesuits, that our religion is heresy, they do soundly collect this consequence, “That no king can be lord of the consciences of their subjects, to compel them to an heretical religion.” We teach that the king of Spain has no power over the consciences of protestant subjects to force them to idolatry, and that their souls are not his subjects, but only their persons, and in the Lord. 2. It is no great crime, that if a king degenerate in a tyranny, or if the royal fine fail, that we think the people have liberty to change monarchy into aristocracy, aut contra. Jesuits deny that the people can make this change without the Pope’s consent. We judge neither the great bishop, the Pope, nor the little popes, ought to have hand in making kings.

P. Prelate. — They say the power is derived to the king from the people, comulative or communicative, non privative, by way of communication, not by way of privation, so as the people denude not themselves of this sovereignty. As the king makes a lieutenant in Ireland, not to denude himself of his royal power, but to put him in trust for his service. If this be their mind, the king is in a poor case. The principal authority is in the delegate, and so the people is still judge, and the king their deputy.

Ans. — The P. Prelate takes on him to write, he knows not what, this is not our opinion. The king is king, and has the people’s power, not as their deputy.

1. Because the people is not principal judge, and the king subordinate. The king, in the executive power of laws, is really a sovereign above the people; a deputy is not so.

2. The people have irrevocably made over to the king their power of governing, defending, and protecting themselves, I except the power of sell-preservation, which people can no more make away, it being sinless nature’s birthright, than the liberty of eating, drinking, sleeping; and this the people cannot resume, except in case of the king’s tyranny; there is no power by the king so irrevocably resigned to his servant or deputy, but he may use it himself.

3. A delegate is accountable for all he does to those that put him in trust, whether he do ill or well. The king, in acts of justice, is not accountable to any; for if his acts be not liable to high suspicions of tyranny, no man may say to him, What dost thou? only in acts of injustice; and those so tyrannous, that they be inconsistent with the habitual fiduciary repose and trust put on him, he is to render accounts to the parliament, which represents the people.

4. A delegate in esse, in fieri, both that he may be a delegate, and that he may continue a delegate, whether he do ill or well, depends on his pleasure who delegates him; but though a king depend in fieri, in regard of his call to the crown, upon the suffrages of his people, yet that he may be continued king, he depends not on the people simply, but only in case of tyrannical administration, and in this sense Suarez and Bellarmine spake with no more honesty than we do, but with more than prelates do, for they profess any emissary of hell may stab a protestant king. We know the prelates profess the contrary, but their judgment is the same with Jesuits in all points; and since they will have the Pope Christ’s vicar, by such a divine right as they themselves are bishops, and have the king under oath to maintain the clergy, bishops, and all their canonical privileges, (amongst which the bishops of Rome’s indirect power in ordine ad spiritualia, and to dethrone kings who turn heretics, is one principal right,) I see not how prelates are not as deep in treason against kings as the Pope himself, and therefore, P. Prelate, take the beam out of your own eye.

The P. Prelate takes unlearned pains to prove that Gerson, Occam, Jac. de Almaine, and the Parisian doctors, maintained these same grounds anent the people’s power over kings in the case of tyranny, and that before Luther and Calvin were in the world; and this is to give himself the lie, that Luther, Calvin, and we, have not this doctrine from Jesuits; and what is Calvin’s mind is evident, (Instit. l. 4, c. 4,) all that the estates may coerce, and reduce in order a tyrant, else they are deficient in their trust that God has given them over the commonwealth and church; and this is the doctrine for which royalists cry out against Knox of blessed memory, Buchanan, Junius Brutus, Bouchier, Rossaeus, and Althusius. Luther, in scripto ad pastorem, (tom. 7, German, fol. 386,) brings two examples for resistance; the people resisted Saul, when he was willing to kill Jonathan his son, and Ahikam and other princes rescued Jeremiah out of the hands of the king of Judah; and Gerardus cites many divines who second Luther in this, as Bugenliagius, Justus Jonas, Nicholas Ambsderffius, George Spalatinus, Justus Menius, Christopher Hofmanus. It is known what is the mind of protestant divines, as Beza, Pareus, Melancthon, Bucanus, Polanus, Chamer, and all the divines of France, of Germany, and of Holland. No wonder than prelates were upon the plot of betraying the city of Rochelle, and of the protestant church there, when they then will have the protestants of France, for their defensive wars, to be rebels, and siders with Jesuits, when, in these wars, Jesuits sought their blood and ruin.

The P. Prelate having shown his mind concerning the deposing of Childerick by the Pope, (of which I say nothing, but the Pope was an antiChristian usurper, and the poor man never fit to bear a crown,) he goes on to set down an opinion of some mute authors; he might devise a thousand opinions that way, to make men believe he had been in a world of learned men’s secrets, and that never man saw the bottom of the controversy, while he, seeing the escapes of many pens, (as supercilious Bubo praises,) was forced to appear a star new risen in the firmament of pursuivants, and reveal all dreams, and teach all the new statists, the Gamaliels, Buchanan, Junius Brutus, and a world who were all sleeping, while this Lucifer, the son of the night, did appear, this new way of laws, divinity, and casuists’ theology.

P. Prelate. — They hold sovereign power is primarily and naturally in the multitude, from it derived to the king, immediately from God. The reason of which order is, because we cannot reap the fruits of government unless by compact we submit to some possible and accidental inconveniences.

Ans. 1. — Who says so the P. Prelate cannot name, — That sovereign power is primarily and naturally in the multitude. Virtually (it may be) sovereignty is in the multitude, but primarily and naturally, as heat is in the fire, light in the sun, I think the P. Prelate dreamed it; no man said it but himself; for what attribute is naturally in a subject, I conceive may directly and naturally be predicated thereof. Now the P. Prelate has taught as this very natural predication. “Our dreadful and sovereign lord, the multitude, commands this and that.”

2. This is no more reason for a monarchy than for a democracy, for we can reap the fruits of no government except we submit to it.

3. We must submit in monarchy (says he) to some possible and accidental inconveniences. Here be soft words, but is subversion of religion, laws, and liberties of church and state. Introducing of popery, Arminianism, of idolatry, altar-worship, the mass, (proved by a learned treatise, “the Canterburian self-conviction,” printed 1641, third ed., never answered, couched under the name of inconveniency,) the pardoning of the innocent blood of hundreds of thousand protestants in Ireland, the killing of many thousand nobles, barons, commons, by the hands of papists in arms against the law of the land, the making of England a field of blood, the obtruding of an idolatrous service-book, with armies of men, by sea and land, to block up the kingdom of Scotland, are all these inconveniences only?

4. Are they only possible and accidental? But make a monarch absolute, as the P. Prelate does, and tyranny is as necessary and as much intended by a sinful man, inclined to make a god of himself, as it is natural to men to sin, when they are tempted, and to be drunken and giddy with honor and greatness. Witness the kings of Israel and Judah, though de jure they were not absolute. Is it accidental to Nero, Julian, to the ten horns that grew out of the woman’s head, who sat upon the scarlet colored beast, to make war against the Lamb and his followers, especially the spirit of Satan being in them?

P. Prelate. — They infer, 1. They cannot, without violation of a divine ordinance and breach of faith, resume the authority they have placed in the king. 2. It were high sin to rob authority of its essentials. 3. This ordinance is not a3logoj but eu0doki/a and has urgent reasons.

Ans. 1. — These nameless authors cannot infer that an oath is broken which is made conditionally; all authority given by the people to the king is conditional, that he use it for the safety of the people; if it be used for their destruction, they break no faith to resume it, for they never made faith to give up their power to the king upon such terms, and so they cannot be said to resume what they never gave.

2. So the P. Prelate makes power to act all the former mischiefs, the essentials of a king. Balaam is not worthy his wages for prophesying thus, that the king’s essentials is a power of blood, and destructive to people, law, religion, and liberties of church and state, for otherwise we teach not, that people may resume from the king authority and power to disarm papists, to root out the bloody Irish, and in justice serve them as they have served us.

3. This ordinance of the people, giving lawful power to a king for the governing of the people in peace and godliness, is God’s good pleasure, and has just reasons and causes. But that the people make over a power to one man, to act all the inconveniences above named, I mean the bloody and destructive inconveniences, has nothing of God or reason in it.

P. Prelate. — The reasons of this opinion are: — 1. If power sovereign were not in one, he could not have strength enough to act all necessary parts and acts of government. 2. Nor to prevent divisions which attend multitudes, or many endowed with equal power; and the authors say, they must part with their native right entirely for a greater good, and to prevent greater evils. 3. To resume any part of this power, of which the people have totally divested themselves, or to limit it, is to disable sovereignty from government, loose the sinews of all society, etc.

Ans. 1. — I know none for this opinion, but the P. Prelate himself. The first reason may be made rhyme, but never reason: for though there be not absolute power to good and ill, there may be strength of limited power in abundance in the king, and sufficient for all acts of just government, and the adequate end of government, which is, salus populi, the safety of the people. But the royalist will have strength to be a tyrant, and act all the tyrannical and bloody inconveniences of which we spake, an essential part of the power of a king; as if weakness were essential to strength, and a king could not be powerful as a king, to do good, and save and protect, except he had power also as a tyrant to do evil, and to destroy and waste his people. This power is weakness, and no part of the image of the greatness of the King of kings, whom a king represents.

2. The second reason condemns democracy and aristocracy as unlawful, and makes monarchy the only physic to cure these; as if there were no government an ordinance of God save only absolute monarchy, which indeed is no ordinance of God at all, but contrary to the nature of a lawful king. (Deut. 17:3,)

3. That people must part with their native right totally to make an absolute monarch, is as. if the whole members of the body would part with their whole nutritive power, to cause the milt to swell, which would be the destruction of the body.

4. The people cannot divest themselves of power of defensive wars more than they can part with nature, and put themselves in a condition inferior to a slave, who, if his master, who has power to sell him, invade him unjustly, to take away his life, may oppose violence to unjust violence. And the other consequences are null.


     1.    Tract, contra primatum Regis Angliae.