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But the nature of goodness being thus ample, a Law is properly that which reason in such sort defineth to be good that it must be done. And the Law of Reason or human Nature is that which men by discourse of natural Reason have rightly found out themselves to be all for ever bound unto in their actions. Laws of Reason have these marks to be known by : such as keep them resemble most lively in their voluntary actions that very manner of working which Nature herself doth necessarily observe in the course of the whole world. The works of Nature are all behoveful, beautiful, without superfluity or defect; even so theirs, if they be framed according to that which the Law of Reason teacheth. Secondly, Those Laws are investigable by Reason, without the help of Revelation supernatural and divine. Finally, In such sort they are investigable, that the knowledge of them is general, the world hath always been acquainted with them ; according to that which one in Sophocles observeth, concerning a branch of this Law: “It is no child of to-day's or yesterday's birth, but hath been no man knoweth how long sithence.” It is not agreed upon by one, or two, or few, but by all. Which we may not so understand, as if every particular man in the whole world did know and confess whatsoever the Law of Reason doth contain: but this Law is such, that being proposed, no man can reject it as unreasonable and unjust. Again, there is nothing in it, but any man, having natural perfection of wit, and ripeness of judgment, may by labour and travail find out. And to conclude, the general principles thereof are such, as it is not easy to find men ignorant of them. Law rational therefore, which men commonly use to call the Law of Nature, meaning thereby the Law. which human Nature knoweth itself in reason universally bound unto, which also for that cause may be termed, most fitly, the Law of Reason ; this Law, I say, comprehendeth all those things which men by the light of their natural understanding evidently know, or at leastwise may know, to be beseeming or unbeseeming, virtuous or vicious, good or evil for them to do. Now
although it be true, which some have said, that whatsoever is done amiss, the Law of Nature and Reason thereby is transgressed, because even those offences which are by their special qualities breaches of supernatural Laws, do also, for that they are generally evil, · violate in general that principle of Reason, which willeth universally to fly from evil; yet do we not therefore so far extend the Law of Reason, as to contain in it all manner of Laws whereunto reasonable creatures are bound, but, as hath been shewed, we restrain it to those only duties, which all men by force of natural wit either do, or might understand to be such duties as concern all men.
Now the due observation of this Law which Reason teacheth us cannot but be effectual unto their great good that observe the same. For we see the whole world and each part thereof so compacted, that as long as each thing performeth only that work which is natural unto it, it thereby preserveth both other things, and also itself. Contrariwise, let any principal thing, as the sun, the moon, any one of the heavens or elements, but once cease, or fail, or swerve, and who doth not easily conceive that the sequel thereof would be ruin both to itself and whatsoever dependeth on it ? And is it possible, that Man being not only the noblest creature in the world, but even a very world in himself, his transgressing the Law of his Nature should draw no manner of harm after it? Yes, “Tribulation and anguish unto every soul that doth evil.” Good doth follow unto all things by observing the course of their nature, and on the contrary side evil by not observing it ; but not unto natural agents that good which we call reward, nor that evil which we properly term punishment. The reason whereof is, because amongst creatures in this world, only man's observation of the Law of his Nature is Righteousness, only man's transgression Sin. And the reason of this is, the difference in his manner of observing or transgressing the Law of his Nature. He doth not otherwise than voluntarily the one or the other. What we do against our wills, or constrainedly, we are not properly said to do it, because the motive cause of doing it is not in ourselves, but carrieth us, as if the wind should drive a feather in the air, we no whit furthering that whereby we are driven. In such cases therefore the evil which is done moveth compassion. Men are pitied for it, as being rather miserable in such respect than culpable. Some things are likewise done by man, though not through outward force and impulsion, though not against, yet without their wills; as in alienation of mind, or any the like inevitable utter absence of wit and judgment. For which cause, no man did ever think the hurtful actions of furious men and innocents to be punishable. Again, some things we do neither against nor without, and yet not simply and merely with our wills, but with our wills in such sort moved, that albeit there be no impossibility but that we might, nevertheless we are not so easily able to do otherwise. In this consideration, one evil deed is made more pardonable than another. Finally, that which we do being evil, is notwithstanding by so much more pardonable, by how much the exigence of so doing, or the difficulty of doing otherwise, is greater ; unless this necessity or difficulty have originally risen from ourselves. It is no excuse therefore unto him, who being drunk committeth incest, and allegeth that his wits were not his own; inasmuch as himself might have chosen, whether his wits should by that means have been taken from him. Now rewards and punishments do always presuppose something willingly done well or ill; without which respect, though we may sometimes receive good or harm, yet then the one is only a benefit and not a reward, the other simply an hurt not a punishment. From the sundry dispositions of man's will, which is the root of all his actions, there groweth variety in the sequel of rewards and punishments, which are by these and the like rules measured : Take away the will, and all acts are equal : That which we do not, and would do, is commonly accepted as done. By these and the like rules, men's actions are determined of and judged, whether they be in their own nature rewardable or punishable. Rewards and punishments are not received, but at the hands of such as being above us have power to examine and judge our deeds. How men come to have this authority one over another in external actions, we shall more diligently examine in that which followeth. But for this present so much all do acknowledge, that sith every man's heart and conscience doth in good or evil, even secretly committed and known to none but itself, either like or disallow itself, and accordingly either rejoice, very Nature exulting, as it were, in certain hope of reward, or else grieve, as it were, in a sense of future punishment; neither of which can in this case be looked for from any other, saving only from him who discerneth and judgeth the very secrets of all hearts : therefore he is the only rewarder and revenger of all such actions; although not of such actions only, but of all, whereby the Law of Nature is broken whereof himself is author. For which cause, the Roman Laws, called The Laws of the Twelve Tables, requiring offices of inward affection which the eye of man cannot reach unto, threaten the neglecter of them with none but divine punishment.
That which hitherto we have set down, is, I hope, sufficient to shew their brutishness, which imagine that Religion and Virtue are only as men will account of them; that we might make as much account, if we would, of the contrary, without any harm unto ourselves, and that in nature they are as indifferent one as the other. We see then how Nature itself teacheth Laws and Statutes to live by. The Laws, which have been hitherto mentioned, do bind men absolutely, even as they are men, although they have never any settled fellowship, never any solemn agreement amongst themselves what to do, or not to do. But forasmuch as we are not by ourselves sufficient to furnish ourselves with competent store of things needful for such a life as our nature doth desire, a life fit for the dignity of man ; therefore to supply those defects and imperfections which are in us living single and solely by ourselves, we are naturally induced to seek communion and fellowship with others. This was the cause of men's uniting themselves at the first in politic societies, which societies could not be without government, nor government without a distinct kind of Law from that which hath been already declared. Two. foundations there are which bear up public societies ; the one, a natural inclination whereby all men desire sociable life and fellowship; the other, an order expressly or secretly agreed upon touching the manner of their union in living together. The latter is that which we call the Law of a Commonweal, the very soul of a politic body, the parts whereof are by Law animated, held together, and set on work in such actions as the common good requireth. Laws politic, ordained for external order and regiment amongst men, are never framed as they should be, unless presuming the will of man to be inwardly obstinate, rebellious, and averse from all obedience unto the sacred Laws of his Nature: in a word, unless presuming man to be in regard of his depraved mind little better than a wild beast, they do accordingly provide notwithstanding so to frame his outward actions, that they be no hindrance unto the common good for which societies are instituted; unless they do this they are not perfect.
The complaint which they make about psalms and hymns, might as well be overpast without any answer, as it is without any cause brought forth. But our desire is to content them, if it may be, and to yield them a just reason even of the least things, wherein undeservedly they have but as much as dreamed or suspected that we do amiss. They seem sometimes so to speak, as if it greatly offended them that such hymns and psalms as are Scripture should in Common Prayer be otherwise used than the rest of the Scripture is wont; sometimes displeased they are at the artificial music which we add unto psalms of this kind, or. of any other nature else; sometime the plainest and the most intelligible rehearsal of them yet they savour not, because it is done by interlocution, and with a