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definition among the schoolmen ; only as it is considered in man, it is called, “ The impression of divine light, and a “ participation of the eternal law in the reasonable crea“ ture;" h Lex naturalis est impressio divini luminis in nobis, et participatio legis æternæ in rationali creatura. i
Ulpian defines the natural law to be the same which nature hath taught all living creatures : Jus naturale est quod natura omnia animalia docuit; and he afterwards addeth, Jus istud non humani generis proprium, sed omnium animalium quæ terra marique nascuntur, avium quoque commune est; “ The law of nature is not proper to man alone, “ but the same is common to all living creatures, as well
to birds, as to those which the land and sea produceth.” But this definition is not general, but of the natural law in things of life.
The law of nature in general, I take to be that disposition, instinct, and formal quality, which God in his eternal providence hath given and imprinted in the nature of every creature, animate and inanimate. And as it is divinum lumen in men, enlightening our formal reason; so is it more than sense in beasts, and more than vegetation in plants. For it is not sense alone in beasts, which teacheth them at first sight, and without experience or instruction, to fly from the enemies of their lives; seeing that bulls and horses appear unto the sense more fearful and terrible than the least kind of dogs ; and yet the hare and deer feed by the one, and fly from the other, yea, though by them never seen before, and that as soon as they fall from their dams. Neither is it sense which hath taught other beasts to provide for winter, birds to build their nests, high or low, according to the tempestuous or quiet seasons; or the birds of India to make their nests on the smallest twigs which hang over rivers, and not on any other part of the tree, or elsewhere, to save their eggs and young ones from the monkeys, and other beasts, whose weight such a twig will not bear ; and which would fear to fall into the water. The instances
b Aug. in Epist. ad Hil. 89. et in Evang. Joh. tract. 49. Justitia et Jure, 1, 1. tit. 1.
in this kind are exceeding many, which may be given. Neither is it out of the vegetable or growing nature of plants, that some trees, as the female of the palmitto, will not bear any fruit, except the male grow in sight. But this they do by that law, which the infinite and unsearchable wisdom of God had in all eternity provided for them, and for every nature created. In man this law is double, corrupt and incorrupt ; corrupt, where the reason of man hath made itself subject, and a vassal to passions and affections brutal; and incorrupt, where time and custom hath bred in men a new nature, which also, as is aforesaid, is a kind of law. For it was not by the law of nature incorrupt, which kSt. Augustine calleth the law of reason, but by a nature blinded and corrupted, that the Germans did anciently allow of theft, and that other nations were by law constrained to become idolaters ; that by the laws of 1 Lycurgus it was permitted to men to use one another's wife, and to the women to choose them others besides their husbands, to beget them with child; which law in those parts hath lasted long, and is not forgotten to this day.
The m Scythians, and the people of both Indies, hold it lawful to bury with them the best beloved wives; as also they have many other customs remembered by G. Valentia, against nature and right reason.
And I know not from what authority it is, that these laws some men avow to be natural, except it be of this corrupt nature; as, among others, to pay guile with guile ; to become faithless among the faithless; to provide for ourselves by another man's destruction; that injury is not done to him that is willing ; to destroy those whom we fear, and the like. For taking the definition of natural laws either out of n St. Augustine or Aquinas, (the one calling it the impression of divine light; the other, the dictate, or sentence, of practick reason,) the same can teach us or incline us to no other thing, than to the exercise of justice and uprightness ; k Supra, f. 4. ex loco ad Rom. vii.
n Nemo jure naturæ cum alterius Theod. l. 9. de curandis affect. detrimento locupletior fieri debet.
and not to offer or perform any thing towards others, save that which we would be content should be offered or performed towards ourselves. For such is the law of nature to the mind, as the eye is to the body; and that which according to o David sheweth us good, that is, the observation of those things which lead us thereby to our last end, which is eternal life; though of themselves not sufficient without faith and grace.
Now, that which is truly and properly the law of nature, where the corruption is not taken for the law, is, as aforesaid, the impression of God's divine light in men, and a participation of the law increated and eternal. For without any law written, the right reason and understanding, which God hath given us, are abilities within ourselves, sufficient to give us knowledge of the good and evil, which by our gratitude to God, and distribution of right to men, or by the contrary, we prepare and purchase for ourselves. For when the Gentiles, saith St. Paul, which have not the law, do by nature those things contained in the law, they having not the law, are a law unto themselves. Now, to love God, by whom we are, and to do the same right unto all men which we desire should be done unto us, is an effect of the purest reason ; in whose highest turrets, the quiet of conscience hath made her restingplace and habitation: In arce altissima rationis quies habitat. Therefore the Gentiles, saith St. Paul, qwhich shew the effects of the law written in their hearts, have their consciences for witnesses of those effects; and the reprobate their thoughts to accuse them.
And it is most true, that whosoever is not a law unto himself, (while he hopeth to abuse the world by the advantage of hypocrisy,) worketh nothing else but the betraying of his own soul by crafty unrighteousness, purchasing eternal perdition. For it helpeth us not, to hide our corrupt hearts from the world's eye, seeing from him who is an infinite
we cannot hide them; some garlands we may gather in this May-game of the world; sed flos ille, dum loquimur, arescit; “those flowers wither while we discourse
p Rom. ii. 14.
9 Rom. ii. 15.
“ of their colours,” or are ingathering them. That we should therefore inhabit and dwell within ourselves, and become fearful witnesses of our secretest evils, did that reverend philosopher Pythagoras teach in this golden precept: Nil turpe committas, neque coram aliis, neque tecum, maxime omnium verere teipsum ; “ Commit nothing foul or dis“ honest,” saith he,“ neither to be known to others, nor to 6 thine own heart, but above all men reverence thine own “ conscience.” And this may be a precept of nature and right reason ; by which law, men, and all creatures and bodies, are inclined to those operations which are answerable to their own form, as fire to give heat. Now, as the reasonable mind is the form of man, so is he aptly moved to those things which his proper form presenteth unto him, to wit, to that which right reason offereth ; and the acts of right reason are the acts of virtue; and in the breach of the rules of this reason is man least excusable, as being a reasonable creature. For all else, both sensitive, growing, and inanimate, obey the law which God imposed on them at · their first creation.
The earth performeth her office, according to the law of God in nature; for it bringeth forth the bud of the herb which r seedeth seed, &c. and the beast which liveth thereНе. .
gave a law to the seas, and commanded them to keep their bounds, which they obey. He made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunders.
He caused the sun to move, and to give light, and to serve for signs and for seasons. Were these as rebellious as man, for whose sake they were created, or did they once break the law of their natures and forms, the whole world would then perish, and all return to the first chaos, darkness and confusion.
By this natural law, or law of human reason, did Cain perceive his own wickedness and offence, in the murder of Abel ; for he not only feared the displeasure of God, but the revenge of men; it being written in his reason, that whatsoever he performed towards others, the same by others
might be done unto him again. And that this judgment of well and evil doing was put into our natures by God and his eternal law, before the law written, Moses, in the person of God, witnesseth, Gen. iv. 7. If thou do well, shalt thou not be accepted ? and if thou do not well, sin lieth at thy door.
The schoolmen are large also in this question of the natural law, the same being opened amply by Reinerius, Antoninus, and Valentia. But it is not my purpose to write a volume of this subject.
But this law which Thomas Aquinas calleth an act of reason taken properly, and not a habit, as it is an evident natural judgment of practick reason ; they divide into indemonstrable, or needing no demonstration; (as that good is to be followed, and evil eschewed ;) and demonstrable, which is evidently proved out of higher and more universal propositions. Again, as it answereth the natural appetite, prescribing things to be desired as good, or to be avoided as evil; (as of the first, to desire to live, and to satisfy hunger, &c. and of the second, to eschew pains, sorrow, and death ;) in this consideration they divide it, according to the divers kinds of appetites that are in us. t For in every man there are three sorts of appetites, which answer the three degrees of natural law. The first is, to be that which we are ; in which is comprehended the desire both to live, and to preserve our being and life, also the desire of issue, with care to provide for them ; for the father after his death lives in his children; and therefore the desire of life comprehends the desire of children. And to these appetites are referred the first indemonstrable laws of nature, for the most part. For it needs no proof, that all creatures should desire to be, to live, and to be defended, and to live in their issue when they cannot in themselves. And as man is a being, ens or res; so he doth desire good and shun evil. For it is common to all things, to desire things agreeable to their own natures, which is, to desire their own good. And so is good defined by u Aristotle to be + Tho. q. 94. art. 2.
u Ethic. 1. 1. c. I.