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God made use of every argument to turn them from such an idea; and, as the argument most likely to come home to their rude breasts, he placed before them a vivid picture of the oppression and hardship they must expect from the king they clamoured for. What a strange obliquity of understanding to take this for an argument in favour of the Divine right of kings Moreover, as to his not encouraging the Jews to rebel against their kings, bad as they were, even if this were true, it proves nothing, since those rude and ignorant men were not likely to improve their condition, bad as it was, by the disorders of incessant rebellion. But the fact is not so ; for God by his prophets repeatedly deposed bad kings, and altogether changed the line of succession, in order to show to the kings even of that day that they were to enjoy their high office only quamdiu se bene gesserint ; and thus doing exactly what the somewhat more advanced people of these later, though not yet mature ages, are now beginning to do, and what the bedarkened people of those early and infant ages of the world, sometimes styled “venerable antiquity,” were incapable of doing for themselves. So that, altogether, nothing could have gone more completely against the royal logician than the argument on which he has mainly founded his theory of the Divine and indefeasible right of kings. It is instructive, as well as curious and interesting, to observe the different use made of the above passage of Scripture, by one of our earliest constitutional lawyers. Sir John Fortescue, lord chief justice and lord high chancellor of England under King Henry the Sixth, in his work on “the Difference between an absolute and limited Monarchy,” or, as he terms it, “the Difference between Dominium Regale and Dominium Politicum et Regale,” has the following passage: “The children of Ysraell, as saith Saynt Thomas, after that God had chosynthem in populum peculiarem et regnum sacerdotale, were rulid by hym under jugs (judges) regaliter et politice,” unto the tyme that they desyryd to have a king, as than had al the Gentylys, which wee cal Panyms, that had a kyng, a man that reynyd on them regaliter tantum ; with which desyer God was gretly offendyd, as wel for their folye as for their unkyndness, that sithen they had a kyng, which was God, that reynid upon them politykly and royally, and yet w" chaunge hym for a kyng, a very man, that w" reynge upon them royally. And therefore God manasyd [menaced] them, and made them to be fearyd, with thonders and other ferefull thyngs from the heavn. And whan they wo not leve their foly, the desyer, he chargyd the prophete Samuell to declare unto them the lawe of such a kyng as they askyd; who, amongs other thyngs, said that he wo take from them their lands and goods, and gyfe them to hys servaunts; and also set their children in his works and labours, &c. Whereas, before
* “There be two kynds of kyngdomys, of the who that one ys a lordship, callid in Latyne Dominium Regale, and that other is callid Dominium Politicum et Regale. And they dyversen, in that the first may rule his people by such lawys as he makyth hymself; and therefor he may set upon them talys and other impositions, such as he wyl hymself, with their assent. The second may not rule hys people by other lawys than such as they assenten unto; and therfor he may set upon them non impositions with" their own assent.”—Difference, &c. pp. 1, 2, 3.
that tyme, while they were rulyd only by God, royally and politykly, under jugs, hyt" was not lefull to any man for to take from them any of their goods, or to greive their children that had not offendyd. Whereby it may appere, that in thoose days, regimen politicum et regale was dystyngwydd regimine tantum regali ; and that it was better to the people to be ruld politykly and royally than to be rulid only royally.”t As it was the object of King James's book to show this species of monarchy, which prevailed among the Jews, and which Fortescue calls regimen regale, or absolute monarchy, to be good, and the great purpose of his life to persuade his subjects that the English government was no other than this; so was it the object of Fortescue's book to show this sort of government to be bad, and to prove, moreover, that the English government was not this—not an absolute, but a limited monarchy. It is worthy of remark that Hobbes, notwithstanding his usual sagacity, has been led into nearly the same error in the application of the above passage of Scripture as King James; and it is a curious example how much, when the “wish is father to the thought,” the thought
* A perfect Saxon word, hye or hit.
t Difference, &c. pp. 4, 5, 6.—edit. Lond. 1714.
# A parallel instance, which most remarkably shows to what different uses the same things may be put, occurs to us. “Kings,” says Heylyn the churchman, “are God's deputies on earth, and, like him, love a cheerful giver.”—Life of Laud, p. 184. “Forced consecrations,” says Milton the republican, “out of another man's estate are no better than forced vows, hateful to God, who loves a cheerful giver.”—Considerations touching the likeliest means to remove Hirelings out of the Church.
is apt to be an erroneous one. It shows also the consequence of the practice of that age, of attempting to find authority for everything in Holy Writ. In fact, as regarded the authority of the Scripture, the Puritans and Republicans brought it to their support with about as much plausibility as the High-church and Divine-right men did to theirs. It became a sword that cut both ways. After quoting some of the verses of Samuel quoted above, Hobbes says, “This is absolute power, and summed up in the last words, you shall be his servants. Againe, when the people heard what power their king was to have, yet they consented thereto, and sayd thus, ‘We will be as all other nations, and our king shall judge our causes, and goe before us to conduct our wars.’ Here is confirmed the right that soveraigmes have, both to the militia and to all judicature, in which is contained as absolute power as one man can possibly transferre to another.”—Leviathan, chap. 20. It is important, however, to note the difference between the ideas entertained respectively by King James and Hobbes of a sovereign. With James, the sovereign was some individual like himself, the Lord's anointed, and the representative only of his own narrow interests, as of his own follies and vices. With Hobbes, the sovereign might be either one man or an assembly of men— and he was the representative of the interests, as of the power and the majesty of the whole people. These are his words:–“ The office of the soveraign (be it a monarch or an assembly) consisteth in the end for which he was trusted with the soveraign power, mamely, the procuration of the safety of the people, to which he is obliged by the law of nature; and to render an account thereof to God, the author of that law, and to none but him.”—Leviathan, chap. 30, ad init. He then enters into a long enumeration of the duties of the sovereign, the first and most important of which he holds to be “publique instruction and the making and executing of good lawes.”
The truthis, Hobbes was neither, as he has been called, “the apologist of tyranny” nor of “ Divine right;" but he held that an established government, whether a government of one or of many, cannot be disobeyed by its subjects, consistently with the common weal, or with the law of God, as known through utility or the Scriptures; and it was to support this position he made the above quotation. The error of Hobbes was, his not making sufficient allowance for the case of exception in which disobedience is prompted by the same principle which, in ordinary cases, prescribes submission; into which he was led partly no doubt by his extreme timidity. Hobbes cannot, however, be viewed as a Divine-right man at all. In the concluding part of the “Leviathan,” he manifestly considers possession as nine-tenths of the law, in the case of sovereignty; and determines the point at which subjects may withdraw their obedience to the sovereign to be that at which the sovereign can no longer afford them protection; for which he was keenly attacked by Clarendon, as thereby affording assistance to the usurpation of Cromwell.
Allusion has been made above to the fulsome compliments paid by courtiers to kings by Divine right.