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Human laws oblige to an active obedience, but not to a spontaneous offer, and ultroneous seeking of opportunities. It may be a sin, it is always an infirmity, to seek for excuses and dispensations in divine laws: but it is lawful, by all fair means, to seek to be freed from the band of any human law, that is not of public concernment, and is of private incommodity. A man may decline a burden of the law, or seek a privilege and exemption. The citizens of Rome were tied to keep guards in course, and do other duties; but he that had three children, had a right of exemption; and he that hath none, may lawfully desire and petition for the privilege. The burden of a human law may be thrust upon another, if it be done by just and charitable means; but in the laws of God every man must bear his own burden choosingly and delightfully.

38. (5.) Human laws only consider the outward action, not the secret opinion; you must obey man, when, at the same time, without sin, you may believe the law to be imprudent or imperfect, or fit to be annulled. But in the laws of God, we must submit our most secret thoughts, and we must be sure so to obey human laws, as we keep for God the prerogative of his but though to God we must give account of our thoughts, yet human laws meddle not with them at all. "Cogitationis poenam nemo meretur," saith the law.

39. (6.) Human laws oblige only that they be not despised, that is, that they be not transgressed without a reasonable cause: but the laws of God must be obeyed in all cases; and there is no cause to break them, and there can be no necessity upon us to commit a sin. In the obedience to human laws, we may suppose there was a weakness in the sanction, they could not foresee the evil that was future, the inconveniences upon some men, the impossibilities of many, the intolerable burden upon others: and therefore although a reason is always to be had, when we do not obey, and that a good one; yet the reason and the goodness of it are not to be the greatest and the best, or to be exacted according to the strictest measure of necessity alone. For though the laws of God bind to obedience without dispute, without diminution, without excuse, and in all necessities and accidents that can supervene; yet beyond that which is good, that

Ff. de Pœnis.

which is equal and probable and profitable, human laws do not bind but of this in the sequel.

40. (7.) He that despises the law of God, dies for it; and he that neglects it, is accounted to despise it: the not doing it, is, by interpretation, a contempt of God's law. He that despises human laws, is also guilty before God: but he only is accounted to despise it, that voluntarily and without reason disobeys. But he that out of the multitude of other affairs, or an incuriousness of spirit, unknowingly or ignorantly neglects it, by not thinking of it, is in most cases innocent before God: but is tied to submit to the punishment if he be required and deprehended. This only is to be added, that a great and a dissolute negligence even in human laws is so far from excusing the breach of the law, that it doubles the guilt: "Dissoluta negligentia prope dolum est," saith the law. "A great negligence is accounted malice."

41. (8.) Ignorance of the laws of God excuses no man, because they are sufficiently revealed to every man ; and he is not only bound to inquire much, if there should be need,but there is also so clear a communication of them, that a little inquiry will serve the turn, and, therefore, no man is here excused by ignorance. But in the laws of man, ignorance is easier pleaded, and does more excuse, and does unavoidably happen to many men in very many cases; and they are less bound to inquire, and a less matter makes the ignorance probable and quit from malice: of all which a prudent and a good man is to be the judge.

42. (9.) When divine and human laws are opposed, these must always yield to those; and without dispute, God is to be obeyed rather than man; and although we must obey man for God, we must never obey man against God: and therefore it was excellently counselled by Ben Sirach, “Let not the reverence of any man cause thee to sin."

43. (10.) As a consequent to the former, all the ministers of justice are bound to be more severe in exacting obedience to God's laws than to their own, in an equal or like matter; they must be easy in the matter of their own laws, and zealous for God: and this also does prove, that, where the effect and the appendages and circumstances do not alter it, it is, in the whole, a less sin to break a human law, than to break a

Ff. Mandati, lib. Fidejussor, et ff. de Action. et Obligat. lib. 1. sect. Is quoque.

divine: that is, although both are sins, yet in the nature of the action it is of a less degree of crime to break the law of our superior than of our supreme, of man than of God.

44. (11.) Divine laws are imposed upon the people; but human laws are imposed indeed, but commonly by their consent, explicit or implicit, formal or interpretative, and without acceptation in a sweet regiment may indeed, but are not usually, passed into the sanction and sacredness of laws d. For the civil government is not absolute, and mere and supreme; bnt in some senses, and to some purposes, and in some degrees, limited, conditional, precarious, and mixed, full of need, and supported by them who are to be ruled, who therefore are to be regarded.

12. Some add this; The divine laws bind both in public and in private, the human in public only: that is, because human laws take no cognizance of what is secret, therefore neither do they, of themselves, bind in secret. But this although in speculation it hath some truth, yet, when it is reduced to practice, the consideration is different. For though man's laws know not what is in secret, and therefore cannot judge; yet God, that binds human laws upon our consciences, knows the most secret breach of laws, and he judges and discerns. But this hath some difficulties in it, and many very material considerations, and therefore, is to be distinctly handled in some of the following pages. This only for the present. When in private we can be excused or innocent before God; in that private, and in those circumstances, human laws oblige not. But God's laws equally oblige both in public and private, respectively to the subjectmatter. Of themselves, human laws have nothing to do with private actions; that is, neither with the obligation, nor the notice.

45. There are many other material differences between the laws of God and man, as to their obligation upon conscience; which I shall afterward explicate upon the occasion of particular rules. The great sum of all is this, so far as relates to conscience; The law of God binds stronger, and in more cases, than human laws. A breach of a human law is not so great a sin, nor is it so often a sin, as a breach of the divine; the advantage both in the extension and the ine Rule 4. of this chapter.

d Vide rule 6. of this chapter.

tension being (as there is all reason it should) on the part of God; that God, who is in all, may be above all.

46. Thus they differ; but, in order to the verification of the rule, it is to be remembered, that, in the main obligation of conscience, they do agree. The divine law places things in the order of virtue and vice; and the sacraments are therefore good, because they are appointed by Christ, our great lawgiver; and in the old law the eating of swine's flesh was therefore evil, because it was forbidden by the law of God. For all the goodness of man's will, consists in a conformity to the will of God, which is the great rule and measure of human actions. And just so it is in human laws, according to their proportion and degree: when the law of the church commands fasting, to do so then is an act of temperance as well as of obedience, and to disobey is gluttony; and to wear cloth of gold is luxury, when the law commands us to wear plain broadcloth. To give great gifts at marriages and feasts may be magnificence; but if the law limits to a certain sum, to go beyond is pride and prodigality. This is the work of God, though by the hands of Moses and Aaron for it matters not by what means he effects his own purposes; by himself, or by his power administered by second causes. The sum is this, which I represent in the words of St. Gregory Nazianzen; "Submittamus nos tum Deo, tum aliis, tum iis qui imperium in terra gerunt: Deo quidem omnibus de causis; alii autem aliis propter caritatis fœdus; principibus denique propter ordinem, publicæque disciplinæ rationem:" "Let us submit ourselves to God, to one another, and to princes to God, for all the reason in the world: to one another, for charity's sake; to princes, for order's sake, and the account of public government.”—But if we refuse to obey men, God will punish us; and if we refuse to obey God, even the prince ought to punish us; and both promote the interests. of the same kingdom. Κολάζεσθαι δὲ τοὺς μὴ ἀκολούθως τοῖς διδάγμασιν αὐτοῦ βιοῦντας, λεγομένους δὲ μόνον Χριστιανοὺς, кaì v úμív ážovμev, saith Justin Martyr; "We pray you, kings and princes, to punish them who are Christians only in name, and do not live according to the decrees of our great Master:" and then for their own interest this is his account; Θεὸν μὲν μόνον προσκυνοῦμεν, ὑμῖν δὲ πρὸς τὰ ἄλλα Apolog. 2. pro Christ.

1 Orat. 17.

χαίροντες ὑπηρετοῦμεν, βασιλεῖς καὶ ἄρχοντας ἀνθρώπων ὑμοAoYouUTES "We worship God alone; but in other things we gladly serve and obey you, confessing you to be the kings and princes of the people."-I conclude this in the words of St. Bernard : "Sive Deus, sive homo mandatum quodcunque tradiderit, pari profecto obsequendum est cura, pari reverentia deferendum;" "A law, whether given by God or by man, is to be observed by a like care, and a like reverence;" alike in the kind, but not in the degree.


Human Laws do not oblige the Conscience to an active Obedience, when there is an imminent Danger of Death, or an intolerable or very grievous Evil in the Obedience.

1. THIS rule is to be understood to be true regularly and ordinarily, and in laws purely human; that is, such, which are not commentaries or defensatives of a natural and a divine law. For if the forbidden action have in it any thing, that is intrinsically evil,—then the action must not be done, though to save our lives: for no sin ought to be the price of our life, and we ought not to exchange an eternal life for a temporal. Here our blessed Saviour's words are plain, "Fear not them which can kill the body;" and, "What profit have you, if you gain the whole world and lose your own soul ?” and, "It is better to go into life maimed and blind, than, having two feet or two eyes, to go into hell-fire ;" and, "God is to be obeyed rather than man ;" and, "He that would save his life, shall lose it;" and divers others to the same purpose. Now when any thing of this nature is the subject-matter of a human law directly, or if the violation of any thing of a divine commandment be the consequent of the breach of a human law, then the human law binds to its observation though with the loss of our lives.

2. But the question here is concerning mere human laws established in an indifferent matter; and in this it is, that

Lib. 1. de Præcept. et Dispens. cap. 11, 12.

Videat Lector Latomi librum, de Ecclesia et Legis Humanæ Obligatione: et Claudium Carninum, de Vi et Potestate Legum Humanarum; Cajetanum verb. Præceptum, Navarrum, Card. Toletum de hac Materia in Libello de 7. Peccatis Mortal.

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