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380 Joint Use of Reason and Scripture in Church Laws.
BOOK 111/force and use of man's reason in things divine, I must crave
that I be not so understood or construed, as if any such thing by
IX. Laws for the Church are not made as they should be, regiment of unless the makers follow such direction as they ought to be max by the guided by: wherein that Scripture standeth not the Church
of God in any stead, or serveth nothing at all to direct, but
be let pass as needless to be consulted with, we judge it how these profane, impious, and irreligious to think. For although it
were in vain to make laws which the Scripture hath already word of God made, because what we are already there commanded to do, in his sight." on our parts there resteth nothing but only that it be executed;
yet because both in that which we are commanded, it con-
How laws for the
advice of men follow. ing therein the light of
laws being not repug
19 Violatores. 25. q.i. (Decret. Gratian, caus. xxv. quæst. i. c. 6. in Corp. Jur. Canon. Paris. 1618. p. 313. “ Violatores canonum volun
“tari graviter a sanctis patribus ju“ dicantur, et a Sancto Spiritu (in“ stinctu cujus, et dono dictati sunt) “ damnantur."]
Human Laws well defined by Aquinas.
Ch. ix, 3,
but left them unto the careful discretion of the Church; we BOOK III. are to search how the Church in these cases may be well directed to make that provision by laws which is most convenient and fit. And what is so in these cases, partly Scripture and partly reason must teach to discern. Scripture comprehending examples and laws, laws some natural and some positive : examples there neither are for all cases which require laws to be made, and when there are, they can but direct as precedents only. Natural laws direct in such sort, that in all things we must for ever do according unto them; Positive so, that against them in no case we may do any thing, as long as the will of God is that they should remain in force. Howbeit when Scripture doth yield us precedents, how far forth they are to be followed; when it giveth natural laws, what particular order is thereunto most agreeable; when positive, which way to make laws unrepugnant unto them; yea though all these should want, yet what kind of ordinances would be most | for that good of the Church which is aimed at, all this must be by reason found out. And therefore, “to refuse the conduct of “ the light of nature,” saith St. Augustine, “ is not folly alone “ but accompanied with impiety 20.”
[2.] The greatest amongst the school-divines studying how to set down by exact definition the nature of an human law (of which nature all the Church's constitutions are) found not which way better to do it than in these words: “Out of the
precepts of the law of nature, as out of certain common and « undemonstrable principles, man's reason doth necessarily “ proceed unto certain more particular determinations; which “ particular determinations being found out according unto the
reason of man, they have the names of human laws, so that “ such other conditions be therein kept as the making of laws “ doth require 21,” that is, if they whose authority is thereunto required do establish and publish them as laws. And
“ Luminis naturalis ducatum .“ repellere non modo stultum est sed
“ strabilibus, necesse est quod ratio
et impium.” August. lib. iv. de Trin. cap. 6. [The editor has not been able to verify this quotation.]
21 Tho. Aqui. 1, 2. q: 91, art. 3. [t. xi. p. i. 199.]
“ Ex præceptis legis naturalis, quasi ex quibusdam principiis communibus et indemon
particulariter disponenda. Et istæ
particulares dispositiones adinven“ tæ secundum rationem humanam “ dicuntur leges humana, observatis “ aliis conditionibus quæ pertinent “ ad rationem legis."
382 Human Laws are of moral and religious Obligation. BOOK 111. the truth is, that all our controversy in this cause concerning
the orders of the Church is, what particulars the Church may appoint. That which doth find them out is the force of man's reason. That which doth guide and direct his reason is first the general law of nature; which law of nature and the moral law of Scripture are in the substance of law all one. But because there are also in Scripture a number of laws particular and positive, which being in force may not by any law of man be violated; we are in making laws to have thereunto an especial eye. As for example, it might perhaps seem reasonable unto the Church of God, following the general laws concerning the nature of marriage, to ordain in particular that cousin-germans shall not marry. Which law notwithstanding ought not to be received in the Church, if there should be in Scripture a law particular to the contrary, forbidding utterly the bonds of marriage to be so far forth abridged. The same Thomas therefore whose definition of human laws we mentioned before, doth add thereunto this caution concerning the rule and canon whereby to make them 22: human laws are measures in respect of men whose actions they must direct; howbeit such measures they are, as have also their higher rules to be measured by, which rules are two, the law of God, and the law of nature. So that laws human must be made according to the general laws of nature, and without contradiction unto any positive law in Scripture. Otherwise they are ill made.
[3.] Unto laws thus made and received by a whole church, they which live within the bosom of that church must not think it a matter indifferent either to yield or not to yield obedience. Is it a small offence to despise the Church of God 23 ? “ My son keep thy father's commandment,” saith Solomon, “and forget not thy mother's instruction : bind them “ both always about thine heart 24.” It doth not stand with the duty which we owe to our heavenly Father, that to the ordinances of our mother the Church we should shew ourselves disobedient. Let us not say we keep the commandments of the one, when we break the law of the other : for
The Laws of Reason are divinely sanctioned.
unless we observe both, we obey neither. And what doth let BOOK III. but that we may observe both, when they are not the one to the other in any sort repugnant? For of such laws only we speak, as being made in form and manner already declared, can have in them no contradiction unto the laws of Almighty God. Yea that which is more, the laws thus made God himself doth in such sort authorize, that to despise them is to despise in them Him. It is a loose and licentious opinion which the Anabaptists have embraced, holding that a Christian man's liberty is lost, and the soul which Christ hath redeemed unto himself injuriously drawn into servitude under the yoke of human power, if any law be now imposed besides the Gospel of Jesus Christ : in obedience whereunto the Spirit of God and not the constraint of man is to lead us, according to that of the blessed Apostle, “Such as are led by “ the Spirit of God they are the sons of God 25," and not such as live in thraldom unto men. Their judgment is therefore that the Church of Christ should admit no law-makers but the Evangelists. The author of that which causeth another thing to be, is author of that thing also which thereby is caused. The light of natural understanding, wit, and reason, is from God; he it is which thereby doth illuminate every man entering into the world 26. If there proceed from us any thing afterwards corrupt and naught, the mother thereof is our own darkness, neither doth it proceed from any such cause whereof God is the author. He is the author of all that we think or do by virtue of that light, which himself hath given. And therefore the laws which the very heathens did gather to direct their actions by, so far forth as they proceeded from the light of nature, God himself doth acknowledge to 27 have proceeded even from himself, and that he was the writer of them in the tables of their hearts. How much more then he the author of those laws, which have been made by his saints, endued further with the heavenly grace of his Spirit, and directed as much as might be with such instructions as his sacred word doth yield ! Surely if we have unto those laws that dutiful regard which their dignity doth require, it will not greatly need that we should be exhorted to live in obedience unto them. If they have God himself for their 25 Rom. viii. 14.
Ch. ix. 3.
27 Rom. i. 19; ii. 15.
26 John i. 9.
Tests of Mutability in Positive Laws.
Ch. x. 1.
them to Scripture, nor the con.
BOOK III. author, contempt which is offered unto them cannot choose
but redound unto him. The safest and unto God the most acceptable way of framing our lives therefore is, with all humility, lowliness, and singleness of heart, to study, which way our willing obedience both unto God and man may be yielded even to the utmost of that which is due.
X. Touching the mutability of laws that concern the the author of regiment and polity of the Church; changed they are, when committing either altogether abrogated, or in part repealed, or augmented
with farther additions. Wherein we are to note, that this tinuance of question about the changing of laws concerneth only such which they laws as are positive, and do make that now good or evil by tuted, is any being commanded or forbidden, which otherwise of itself were cient to prove not simply the one or the other. Unto such laws it is expressly wuchange sometimes added, how long they are to continue in force.
If this be no where exprest, then have we no light to direct our judgments concerning the changeableness or immutability of them, but by considering the nature and quality of such laws. The nature of every law must be judged of by the end for which it was made, and by the aptness of things therein prescribed unto the same end. It may so fall out that the reason why some laws of God were given is neither opened nor possible to be gathered by wit of man.
As why God should forbid Adam that one tree, there was no way for Adam ever to have certainly understood. And at Adam's ignorance of this point Satan took advantage, urging the more securely a false cause because the true was unto Adam unknown. Why the Jews were forbidden to plough their ground with an ox and an ass, why to clothe themselves with mingled attire of wool and linen 28, both it was unto them and to us it remaineth obscure. Such laws perhaps cannot be abrogated saving only by whom they were made: because the intent of them being known unto none but the author, he alone can judge how long it is requisite they should endure. But if the reason why things were instituted may be known, and being known do appear manifestly to be of perpetual necessity; then are those things also perpetual, unless they cease to be effectual unto that purpose for which they were
23 Deut. xxii. 10, 11. [Spencer evidence, that these were prohibi(de Legg. Hebræor. lib. ii. c. 31, tions of Sabæan ceremonies.] 33.) conjectures, but without direct