« PreviousContinue »
to any other form, or rite, than his, that sweareth, is in vain; and no oath : and that there is no swearing by any thing which the swearer thinks not God. For though men have sometimes used to swear by their kings, for fear, or flattery ; yet they would have it thereby understood, they attributed to them divine honour. And that swearing unnecessarily by God, is but prophaning of his name: and swearing by other things, as men do in common discourse, is not swearing, but an impious custom, gotten by too much vehemence of talking.
It appears also, that the oath adds nothing to the obligation. For a covenant, if lawful, binds in the sight of God, without the oath, as much as with it: if unlawful, bindeth not at all ; though it be confirmed with an oath.
An oath adds nothing to the obligation.
OF OTHER LAWS OF NATURE,
The third law From that law of nature, by which we are obliged of nature, justice.
to transfer to another, such rights, as being retained, hinder the peace of mankind, there followeth a third ; which is this, that men perform their covenants made : without which, covenants are in vain, and but empty words; and the right of all men to all things remaining, we are still in the condition of war.
And in this law of nature, consisteth the fountain justice what. and original of JUSTICE.
For where no covenant hath preceded, there hath no right been transferred, and every man has right to every thing; and consequently, no action can be unjust. But when a covenant is made, then to break it is unjust: and
Justice and in
the definition of INJUSTICE, is no other than the PART I. not performance of covenant. And whatsoever is not unjust, is just.
But because covenants of mutual trust, where Justice and there is a fear of not performance on either part, with the con
propriety begin as hath been said in the former chapter, are institution of
commonwealth valid ; though the original of justice be the making of covenants; yet injustice actually there can be none, till the cause of such fear be taken away ; which while men are in the natural condition of war, cannot be done. Therefore before the names of just, and unjust can have place, there must be some coercive power, to compel men equally to the performance of their covenants, by the terror of some punishment, greater than the benefit they expect by the breach of their covenant; and to make good that propriety, which by mutual contract men acquire, in recompense of the universal right they abandon : and such power there is none before the erection of a commonwealth. And this is also to be gathered out of the ordinary definition of justice in the Schools : for they say, that justice is the constant will of giving to every man his own. And therefore where there is no own, that is no propriety, there is no injustice; and where there is no coercive power erected, that is, where there is no commonwealth, there is no propriety; all men having right to all things: therefore where there is no commonwealth, there nothing is unjust. So that the nature of justice, consisteth in keeping of valid covenants : but the validity of covenants begins not but with the constitution of a civil
power, sufficient to compel men to keep them : and then it is also that propriety begins.
Justice not contrary to reason
The fool hath said in his heart, there is no such thing as justice; and sometimes also with his tongue; seriously alleging, that every man's conservation, and contentment, being committed to his own care, there could be no reason, why every man might not do what he thought conduced thereunto: and therefore also to make, or not make; keep, or not keep covenants, was not against reason, when it conduced to one's benefit. He does not therein deny, that there be covenants; and that they are sometimes broken, sometimes kept; and that such breach of them may be called injustice, and the observance of them justice: but he questioneth, whether injustice, taking away the fear of God, for the same fool hath said in his heart there is no God, may not sometimes stand with that reason, which dictateth to every man his own good; and particularly then, when it conduceth to such a benefit, as shall put a man in a condition, to neglect not only the dispraise, and revilings, but also the power
of other men.
The kingdom of God is gotten by violence : but what if it could be gotten by unjust violence ? were it against reason so to get it, when it is impossible to receive hurt by it? and if it be not against reason, it is not against justice; or else justice is not to be approved for good. From such reasoning as this, successful wickedness hath obtained the name of virtue: and some that in all other things have disallowed the violation of faith ; yet have allowed it, when it is for the getting of a kingdom. And the heathen that believed, that Saturn was deposed by his son Jupiter, believed nevertheless the same Jupiter to be the avenger of injustice: somewhat like to a piece of law in Coke's Commentaries on Littleton; where he says, if th
right heir of the crown be attainted of treason; PART I. yet the crown shall descend to him, and eo instante the attainder be void : from which instances a man Justice not
contrary to will be very prone to infer; that when the heir reason. apparent of a kingdom, shall kill him that is in possession, though his father ; you may call it injustice, or by what other name you will ; yet it can never be against reason, seeing all the voluntary actions of men tend to the benefit of themselves; and those actions are most reasonable, that conduce most to their ends. This specious reasoning is nevertheless false.
For the question is not of promises mutual, where there is no security of performance on either side; as when there is no civil power erected over the parties promising ; for such promises are no covenants : but either where one of the parties has performed already; or where there is a power to make him perform ; there is the question whether it be against reason, that is, against the benefit of the other to perform, or not. And I say it is not against reason. For the manifestation whereof, we are to consider ; first, that when a man doth a thing, which notwithstanding any thing can be foreseen, and reckoned on, tendeth to his own destruction, howsoever some accident which he could not expect, arriving may turn it to his benefit; yet such events do not make it reasonably or wisely done. Secondly, that in a condition of war, wherein every man to every man, for want of a common power to keep them all in awe, is an enemy, there is no man who can hope by his own strength, or wit, to defend himself from destruction, without the help of confederates; where every one expects the same defence by the confederation, that any one else
PART 1. does : and therefore he which declares he thinks it 15.
reason to deceive those that help him, can in reaJustice not son expect no other means of safety, than what contrary to
can be had from his own single power. He therefore that breaketh his covenant, and consequently declareth that he thinks he may with reason do so, cannot be received into any society, that unite themselves for peace and defence, but by the error of them that receive him; nor when he is received, be retained in it, without seeing the danger of their error; which errors a man cannot reasonably reckon upon as the means of his security : and therefore if he be left, or cast out of society, he perisheth ; and if he live in society, it is by the errors of other men, which he could not foresee, nor reckon upon; and consequently against the reason of his preservation; and so, as all men that contribute not to his destruction, forbear him only out of ignorance of what is good for themselves.
As for the instance of gaining the secure and perpetual felicity of heaven, by any way; it is frivolous: there being but one way imaginable; and that is not breaking, but keeping of covenant.
And for the other instance of attaining sovereignty by rebellion ; it is manifest, that though the event follow, yet because it cannot reasonably be expected, but rather the contrary; and because by gaining it so, others are taught to gain the same in like manner, the attempt thereof is against reason. Justice therefore, that is to say, keeping of covenant, is a rule of reason, by which we are forbidden to do any thing destructive to our life; and consequently a law of nature.
There be some that proceed further; and will not have the law of nature, to be those rules which