Page images

Laws properly Divine may be Mutable.


Ch, X. 2.


at the first instituted. Because when a thing doth cease to BOOK HI. be available unto the end which gave it being, the continuance of it must then of necessity appear superfluous. And of this we cannot be ignorant, how sometimes that hath done great good, which afterwards, when time hath changed the ancient course of things, doth grow to be either very hurtful, or not so greatly profitable and necessary. If therefore the end for which a law provideth be perpetually necessary, and the way whereby it provideth perpetually also most apt, no doubt but that every such law ought for ever to remain unchangeable.

[2.] Whether God be the author of laws by authorizing that power of men whereby they are made, or by delivering them made immediately from himself, by word only, or in writing also, or howsoever ; notwithstanding the authority of their Maker, the mutability of that end for which they are made doth also make them changeable. The law of ceremonies came from God: Moses had commandment to commit it unto the sacred records of Scripture, where it continueth even unto this very day and hour : in force still, as the Jew surmiseth, because God himself was author of it, and for us to abolish what he hath established were presumption most intolerable. But that which they in the blindness of their

( obdurate hearts are not able to discern) sith the end for which that law was ordained is now fulfilled, past and gone; how should it but cease any longer to be, which hath no longer any cause of being in force as before? “ That which necessity “ of some special time doth cause to be enjoined bindeth no “ longer than during that time, but doth afterwards become 66 free 29.

Which thing is also plain even by that law which the Apostles assembled at the council of Jerusalem did from thence deliver unto the Church of Christ, the preface whereof to authorize it was, “ To the Holy Ghost and to us it hath “ seemed good 30 :" which style they did not use as matching themselves in power with the Holy Ghost, but as testifying the Holy Ghost to be the author, and themselves but only

29 “Quod pro necessitate tem- sit. [i. e. Decr. Gratiani, pars 1.

poris statutum est, cessante neces- causa 1. qu. 1. C. 41. in Corp. Jur. “ sitate, debet cessare pariter quod Canon. 116.] “ urgebat.” i. q. 1. Quod pro neces

30 Acts xv. 28. HOOKER, VOL. I.


Ch. x. 3.

386 Laws may be Mutable, their main End continuing: BOOK III. utterers of that decree. This law therefore to have proceeded

from God as the author thereof no faithful man will deny. It was of God, not only because God gave them the power whereby they might make laws, but for that it proceeded even from the holy motion and suggestion of that secret divine Spirit, whose sentence they did but only pronounce.

Notwithstanding, as the law of ceremonies delivered unto the Jews, so this very law which the Gentiles received from the mouth of the Holy Ghost, is in like respect abrogated by decease of the end for which it was given.

(3.) But such as do not stick at this point, such as grant that what hath been instituted upon any special cause needeth not to be observed 31, that cause ceasing, do notwithstanding herein fail ; they judge the laws of God only by the author and main end for which they were made, so that for us to change that which he hath established, they hold it execrable pride and presumption, if so be the end and purpose for which God by that mean provideth be permanent. And upon this they ground those ample disputes concerning orders and offices, which being by him appointed for the government of his Church, if it be necessary always that the Church of Christ be governed, then doth the end for which God provided remain still; and therefore in those means which he by law did establish as being fittest unto that end, for us to alter any thing is to lift up ourselves against God, and as it were to countermand him. Wherein they mark not that laws are instruments to rule by, and that instruments are not only to be framed according unto the general end for which they are provided, but even according unto that very particular, which riseth out of the matter whereon they have to

[ocr errors]

31 Counterp. p. 8. [Cosin in his “ Acts iii. 42 ; xx. 7, 11, &c. Neither “ Answer to the Abstract,” had pro- can that be said to be according to duced the change of time in celebrat- “ the institution, which being done ing the Eucharist, from the evening upon a particular cause (as all diafter supper, to the morning before “ vines agree) should not be observed the first meal, as an instance of the where that cause ceaseth.T. C.ü. authority left with the Church to 465. “ Neither any man, nor all vary matters of discipline. The men in the world, could have put author of the Counter-poison replies, “ down the temporal ministeries of “ As it is a mere circumstance of Apostles, Evangelists, &c. which “ time, so the alteration hath ground “the Lord ordained, unless the Lord “ in the Scripture, because one and “ himself had withdrawn them."] “ the same time is not always kept.


Illustration from the Jewish Polity.

387 work. The end wherefore laws were made may

perma- BOOK III.

Ch. x. 4 nent, and those laws nevertheless require some alteration, if there be any unfitness in the means which they prescribe as tending unto that end and purpose. As for example, a law that to bridle theft doth punish thieves with a quadruple restitution hath an end which will continue as long as the world itself continueth. Theft will be always, and will always need to be bridled. But that the mean which this law provideth for that end 32, namely the punishment of quadruple restitution, that this will be always sufficient to bridle and restrain that kind of enormity no man can warrant. Insufficiency of laws doth sometimes come by want of judgment in the makers. Which cause cannot fall into any law termed properly and immediately divine, as it may and doth into human laws often. But that which hath been once most sufficient may wax otherwise by alteration of time and place ; that punishment which hath been sometime forcible to bridle sin may grow afterwards too weak and feeble.

[4.] In a word, we plainly perceive by the difference of those three laws which the Jews received at the hands of God, the moral, ceremonial, and judicial, that if the end for which and the matter according whereunto God maketh his laws continue always one and the same, his laws also do the like; for which cause the moral law cannot be altered : secondly, that whether the matter whereon laws are made continue or continue not, if their end have once ceased, they cease also to be of force; as in the law ceremonial it fareth : finally, that albeit the end continue, as in that law of theft specified and in a great part of those ancient judicials it doth ; yet forasmuch as there is not in all respects the same subject or matter remaining for which they were first instituted, even this is sufficient cause of change: and therefore laws, though both ordained of God himself, and the end for which they were ordained continuing, may notwithstanding cease, if by alterations of persons or times they be found insufficient to attain unto that end. In which respect why may we not presume that God doth even call for such change or alteration as the very condition of things themselves doth make necessary?

[Exod. xxii. I; 2 Sam. xii. 6.]


God's Law not dishonoured by partial Mutability,

BOOK III. Ch. X. 5,6, 7.

[ocr errors]

[5.] They which do therefore plead the authority of the law-maker as an argument, wherefore it should not be lawful to change that which he hath instituted, and will have this the cause why all the ordinances of our Saviour are immutable; they which urge the wisdom of God as a proof, that whatsoever laws he hath made they ought to stand, unless himself from heaven proclaim them disannulled, because it is not in man to correct the ordinance of God; may know, if it please them to take notice thereof, that we are far from presuming to think that men can better any thing which God hath done, even as we are from thinking that men should presume to undo some things of men, which God doth know they cannot better. God never ordained any thing that could be bettered. Yet many things he hath that have been changed, and that for the better. That which succeedeth as better now when change is requisite, had been worse when that which now is changed was instituted. Otherwise God had not then left this to choose that, neither would now reject that to choose this, were it not for some new-grown occasion making that which hath been better worse. In this case therefore men do not presume to change God's ordinance, but they yield thereunto requiring itself to be changed.

[6.] Against this it is objected, that to abrogate or innovate the Gospel of Christ if men or angels should attempt, it were most heinous and cursed sacrilege. And the Gospel (as they say) containeth not only doctrine instructing men how they should believe, but also precepts concerning the regiment of the Church. Discipline therefore is “a part of the Gospel 33 ;" and God being the author of the whole Gospel, as well of discipline as of doctrine, it cannot be but that both of them

have a common cause." So that as we are to believe for ever the articles of evangelical doctrine, so the precepts of discipline we are in like sort bound for ever to observe.

[7.] Touching points of doctrine, as for example, the Unity 33 “ We offer to shew the disci- nor above the Gospel, but the "pline to be a part of the Gospel, “Gospel.” T. C. lib. ii. p. I, 4. “and therefore to have a common [These latter words are in p. 5, but

cause; so that in the repulse of in p. 4 are the following: “the discipline the Gospel receives“ discipline being, as it is propounda check."

And again, “I speak ed, and offered to be proved, a “ of the discipline as of a part of the “part of the Gospel, must needs arm

Gospel, and therefore neither under “ the Lord against the refuser.”]

« The

[ocr errors]

Ch. x. 7.

so as the Rule of Faith is kept entire. 389 of God, the Trinity of Persons, salvation by Christ, the resur- BOOK 111. rection of the body, life everlasting, the judgment to come, and such like, they have been since the first hour that there was a Church in the world, and till the last they must be believed. But as for matters of regiment, they are for the most part of another nature. To make new articles of faith and doctrine no man thinketh it lawful; new laws of government what commonwealth or church is there which maketh not either at one time or another? - The rule “ of faith 34,” saith Tertullian," is but one, and that alone “ immoveable and impossible to be framed or cast anew." The law of outward order and polity not so 35. There is no reason in the world wherefore we should esteem it as necessary always to do, as always to believe, the same things; seeing every man knoweth that the matter of faith is constant, the matter contrariwise of action daily changeable, especially the matter of action belonging unto church polity.

Neither can I find that men of soundest judgment have any otherwise taught, than that articles of belief, and things which all men must of necessity do to the end they may be saved, are either expressly set down in Scripture, or else plainly thereby to be gathered. But touching things which belong to discipline and outward polity, the Church hath authority to make canons, laws, and decrees, even as we read that in the Apostles' times it did 36. Which kind of laws (forasmuch as they are not in themselves necessary to salvation) may after they are made be also changed as the difference of times or places shall require. Yea, it is not denied I am sure by themselves, that certain things in discipline are of that nature, as they may be varied by times, places, persons, and other the like circumstances. Whereupon I demand, are those changeable points of discipline commanded in the word of God or no? If they be

34 Tert. de Veland. Virg. c. 1.

35 Mart. [i. e. Peter Martyr] in 1 Sam. xiv. [“ Positum sit, licere “ Ecclesiæ scribere sibi aut ca

nones, aut leges, aut decreta, aut “ sanctiones, aut quocunque ea velis “ nomine appellari. Est enim Ec« clesia cætus, et regi debet verbo

Dei, præsertim quod attinet ad

“ salutem ipsius, et cultum Dei. “ Sed sunt alia, quæ tantum perti“ nent ad externam disciplinam ... “ Istarum legum finis esse debet “ ædificatio et evtačía. Quoniam

autem necessariæ non sunt, pro “temporum et locorum ratione mu“tari possunt.”]

36 Acts xv.

« PreviousContinue »