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mooting of this, which is neither my element, nor my proper work here; since the book which I have to answer, pretends to reason, not to authorities and quotations; and I hold reason to be the best arbitrator, and the law of law itself.
From Chap. 6.
Upon the King's Retirement from Westminster,
Putting off the courtier, he now puis on the philosopher, and sententiously disputes to this effect: 6 that reason ought to be used to men, force and terror to beasts; that he deserves to be a slave who captivates the rational sovereignty of his soul, and liberty of his will to compulsion ; that he would not forfeit that freedom, which cannot be denied him as a king, because it belongs to him as a man and a christian, though to preserve his kingdom; but rather die enjoying the empire of his soul, than live in such a vassalage, as not to use his reason and conscience to like or dislike as a king.”—Which words of themselves, as far as they are sense, good and philosophical, yet in the mouth of him who to engross this common liberty to himself, would tread down all other men into the condition of slaves and beasts, they quite lose their commendation. He confesses a rational sovereignty of soul, and freedom of will in every man, and yet with an implicit repugnancy would have his reason the sovereign of that sovereignty, and would captivate and make useless that natural freedom of will in all other men but himself. But them that yield him this obedience he so well rewards, as to pronounce them worthy to be slaves. They who have lost all to be his subjects, may stoop and take up the reward. What that freedom is, which “ cannot be denied him as a king, because it belongs to him as a man and a christian," I understand not. If it be his negative voice, it concludes all men who have not such a negative as his against a whole parliament, to be neither men nor christians : and what was he himself then all this while, that we denied it him as a king? Will he say that he enjoyed within himself the less freedom for that? Might not he, both as a man and as a christian, have reigned within himself in full sovereignty of soul, no man repining, but that his outward and jinperious will must invade the civil liberties of a nation? Did we therefore not permit him to use his reason or his conscience, not permitting him to bereave us the use of ours? And might not he have enjoyed both as a king, governing us as freemen by what laws we ourselves would be governed ? It was not the inward use of his reason and his conscience that would content bim, but to use them both as a law over all his subjects, “ in whatever he declared as a king to like or dislike.” Which use of reason, most reasonless and unconscionable, is the utmost that any tyrant ever pretended over his vassals.
In all wise nations, the legislative power, and the judicial execution of that power, have been most commonly distinct, and in several hands ; but yet the former supreme, the other subordinate. If then the king be only set up to execute the law, which is indeed the highest of his office, he ought no more to make or forbid the making of any law, agreed upon in parliament, than other inferior judges, who are his deputies. Neither can he more reject a law offered him by the commons, than he can new-make a law which they reject. And yet the more to credit and uphold his cause, he would seem to have philosophy on his side, straining her wise dictates to unphilosophical purposes. But when kings come so low as to fawn upon philosophy, which before they neither valued nor understood, it is a sign that fails not, they are then put to their last trump. And philosophy as well requites them, by not suffering her golden sayings either to become their lips, or to be used as masks and colours of injurious and violent deeds. So that what they presume to borrow from her sage and virtuous rules, like the riddle of Sphinx pot understood, breaks the neck of their own cause.
But now again to politics : “ He cannot think the majesty and crown of England to be bound by any coronation oath in a blind and brutish formality, to consent to whatever its subjects in parliament shall require." What tyrant could presume to say more, when he meant to kick down all law, government, and bond of oath? But why he so desires to absolve himself the oath of his coronation would be worth the knowing. It cannot but be yielded, that the oath which binds him to performance of his trust, ought in reason to contain the sum of what his chief trust and office is. But if it neither do enjoin nor mention to him, as a part of his duty, the making or the marring of any law, or scrap of law, but requires only his assent to those laws which the people have already chosen, or shall choose, (for so both the Latin of that oath, and the old English, and all reason admits, that the people should not lose, under a new king, what freedom they had before) then that negative voice so contended for, to deny the passing of any law which the commons chose, is both against the oath of his coronation, and his kingly office.
And if the king may deny to pass what the parliament hath chosen to be a law, then doth the king make himself superior to his whole kingdom; which not only the general maxims of policy gainsay, but even our own standing laws, as hath been cited to him in remonstrances heretofore, that “ the king hath two superiors, the law, and
his court of parliament.” But this he counts to be a blind and brutish formality, whether it be law, or oath, or his duty, and thinks to turn it off with wholesome words and phrases, which he then first learnt of the honest people, when they were so often compelled to use them against those more truly blind and brutish formalities thrust upon us by his own command.
As for his instance, in case “ He and the house of peers attempted to enjoin the house of commons," it bears no equality: for he and the peers represent but themselves; the commons are the whole kingdom.
Thus he concludes “ his oath to be fully discharged in governing by laws already made," as being not bound to pass any new,
if his reason bids him deny ;” and so may infinite mischiefs grow, and a whole nation be ruined, while our general good and safety shall depend upon the private and overweening reason of one obstinate man, who, against all the kingdom, if he list, will interpret both the law and his oath of coronation by the tenor of his own will, which he himself confesses to be an arbitrary power, yet doubts not in his argument to imply; as. if he thought it more fit the parliament should be subject to his will, than he to their advice; a man neither by nature nor by nurture wise. How is it possible, that he in whom such principles as these