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What Things are handled in the Books following. Book the First, concerning Laws in general.. The Second, of the use of Divine Law contained in Scripture ; whe
ther that be the only Law which ought to serve for our direction
in all things without exception. The Third, of Laws concerning Ecclesiastical Polity; whether the
form thereof be in Scripture so set down, that no addition or
change is lawful. The Fourth, of general exceptions taken against the Laws of our
Polity, as being popish, and banished out of certain reformed
churches. The Fifth, of our Laws that concern the public religious duties of
the Church, and the manner of bestowing that Power of Order, which enableth men in sundry degrees and callings to execute the
The Sixth, of the Power of Jurisdiction, which the reformed plat
form claimeth unto lay-elders, with others. The Seventh, of the power of Jurisdiction, and the honour which
is annexed thereunto in Bishops. The Eighth, of the power of Ecclesiastical Dominion or Supreme
Authority, which with us the highest governor or Prince hath, as well in regard of domestical Jurisdictions, as of that other foreignly claimed by the Bishop of Rome.
THE FIRST BOOK.
CONCERNING LAWS AND THEIR SEVERAL KINDS IN GENERAL.
THE MATTER CONTAINED IN THIS FIRST BOOK. I. The cause of writing this general Discourse concerning Laws. II. Of that Law which God from before the beginning hath set for
himself to do all things by. III. The Law which natural agents observe, and their necessary
manner of keeping it. IV. The Law which the angels of God obey. V. The Law whereby Man is in his actions directed to the imitation
of God. VI. Men's first beginning to understand that Law. VII. Of Man's Will, which is the first thing that Laws of action are
made to guide. VIII. Of the natural finding out of Laws by the light of Reason, to
guide the Will unto that which is good. IX. Of the benefit of keeping that Law which Reason teacheth. X. How Reason doth lead men unto the making of human Laws,
whereby politic Societies are governed, and to agreement about Laws whereby the fellowship or communion of independent
Societies standeth. XI. Wherefore God hath by Scripture further made known such
supernatural Laws as do serve for men's direction. XII. The cause why so many natural or rational Laws are set down
in Holy Scripture. XIII. The benefit of having divine Laws written. XIV. The sufficiency of Scripture unto the end for which it was
instituted. XV. Of Laws positive contained in Scripture, the mutability of
certain of them, and the general use of Scripture. XVI. A Conclusion, shewing how all this belongeth to the cause
in question. HOOKER, VOL. I.
Defence of established Things unpopular.
('h. i. 1, 2.
The cause of writing this general Discourse.
are not so well governed as they ought to be, shall never want attentive and favourable hearers ; because they know the manifold defects whereunto every kind of regiment is subject, but the secret lets and difficulties, which in public proceedings are innumerable and inevitable, they have not ordinarily the judgment to consider. And because such as openly reprove supposed disorders of state are taken for principal friends to the common benefit of all, and for men that carry singular freedom of mind; under this fair and plausible colour whatsoever they utter passeth for good and current. That which wanteth in the weight of their speech, is supplied by the aptness of men's minds to accept and believe it. Whereas on the other side, if we maintain things that are established, we have not only to strive with a number of heavy prejudices deeply rooted in the hearts of men, who think that herein we serve the time, and speak in favour of the present state, because thereby we either hold or seek preferment; but also to bear such exceptions as minds so averted beforehand usually take against that which they are loth should be poured into them.
[2.] Albeit therefore much of that we are to speak in this present cause may seem to a number perhaps tedious, perhaps obscure, dark, and intricate ; (for many talk of the truth, which never sounded the depth from whence it springeth ; and therefore when they are led thereunto they are soon weary, as men drawn from those beaten paths wherewith they have been inured ;) yet this may not so far prevail as to cut off that which the matter itself requireth, howsoever the nice humour of some be therewith pleased or no. They unto whom we shall seem tedious are in no wise injured by us, because it is in their own hands to spare that labour which they are not willing to endure. complain of obscurity, they must consider, that in these matters it cometh no otherwise to pass than in sundry the works both of art and also of nature, where that which hath greatest force in the very things we see is notwithstanding itself oftentimes not seen. The stateliness of houses, the goodliness of trees, when we behold them delighteth the eye ;
And if any
Ch. i. 3.
Apology for some Abstruseness in the Argument. 147 but that foundation which beareth up the one, that root BOOK I. which ministereth unto the other nourishment and life, is in the bosom of the earth concealed; and if there be at any time occasion to search into it, such labour is then more necessary than pleasant, both to them which undertake it and for the lookers-on. In like manner, the use and benefit of good) laws all that live under them may enjoy with delight and comfort, albeit the grounds and first original causes from whence they have sprung be unknown, as to the greatest part of men they are. But when they who withdraw their obedience pretend that the laws which they should obey are corrupt and vicious; for better examination of their quality, it behoveth the very foundation and root, the highest wellspring and fountain of them to be discovered. Which because we are not oftentimes accustomed to do, when we do it the pains we take are more needful a great deal than acceptable, and the matters which we handle seem by reason of newness (till the mind grow better acquainted with them) dark, intricate, and unfamiliar. For as much help whereof as may be in this case, I have endeavoured throughout the body of this whole discourse, that every former part might give strength unto all that follow, and every later bring some light unto all before. So that if the judgments of men do but hold themselves in suspense as touching these first more general meditations, till in order they have perused the rest that ensue ; what may seem dark at the first will afterwards be found more plain, even as the later particular decisions will appear I doubt not more strong, when the other have been read before.
[3.] The Laws of the Church, whereby for so many ages together we have been guided in the exercise of Christian religion and the service of the true God, our rites, customs, and orders of ecclesiastical government, are called in question: we are accused as men that will not have Christ Jesus to rule over them, but have wilfully cast his statutes behind their backs, hating to be reformed and made subject unto the sceptre of his discipline. Behold therefore we offer the laws whereby we live unto the general trial and judgment of the whole world ; heartily beseeching Almighty God, whom we desire to serve according to his own will, that both we
Of that law
himself to do
148 What Law is, generally: God only is a Law to Himself. BOOK I. and others (all kind of partial affection being clean laid aside) Ch. ii. 1, 2.
may have eyes to see and hearts to embrace the things that in his sight are most acceptable.
And because the point about which we strive is the quality of our laws, our first entrance hereinto cannot better be made, than with consideration of the nature of law in general, and of that law which giveth life unto all the rest, which are commendable, just, and good ; namely the law whereby the Eternal himself doth work. Proceeding from hence to the law, first of Nature, then of Scripture, we shall have the easier access unto those things which come after to be debated, concerning the particular cause and question which we have in hand.
II. All things that are, have some operation not violent or from before casual. Neither doth any thing ever begin to exercise the hath set for same, without some fore-conceived end for which it worketh. all things by. And the end which it worketh for is not obtained, unless
the work be also fit to obtain it by. For unto every end every operation will not serve. That which doth assign unto each thing the kind, that which doth moderate the force and power, that which doth appoint the form and measure, of working, the same we term a Law. So that no certain end could ever be attained, unless the actions whereby it is attained were regular; that is to say, made suitable, fit and correspondent unto their end, by some canon, rule or law. Which thing doth first take place in the works even of God himself.
[2.] All things therefore do work after a sort according to law: all other things according to a law, whereof some superior, unto whom they are subject, is author; only the works and operations of God have Him both for their worker, and for the law whereby they are wrought. The being of God is a kind of law to his working : for that perfection which God is, giveth perfection to that he doth. Those natural, necessary, and internal operations of God, the Generation of the Son, the Proceeding of the Spirit, are without the compass of my present intent: which is to touch only such operations as have their beginning and being by a voluntary purpose, wherewith God hath eternally decreed when and how they should be. Which eternal decree is that we term an eternal law.