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thens, or other enemies to the Christian religion, and before Christian magistrates.
2. Between going to law in malice for revenge, and going merely to seek my right, or to seek the suppression and reformation of sin.
3. Between going to law when you are bound to forgive, and when you are not.
4. And between going to law in haste and needlessly, and going to law as the last remedy, in case of necessity, when other means fail.
5. And between going to law when the hurt is like to be greater than the benefit, and going to law when it is likely to do good. There is a great deal of difference between these cases.
Prop. 1. Christians must rather suffer wrong, than go to law before the enemies of religion, when it is like to harden them, and to bring Christianity into contempt.
Prop. 11 It is not lawful to make law and justice the means of private unlawful revenge; nor to vent our malice nor to oppress the innocent.
Prop. 111. Whenever I am bound to forgive the trespass, wrong or debt, then it is unlawful to seek my own at law. For that is not forgiving.
Prop. IV. There are many other remedies which must first be tried (ordinarily) before we go to law; as,
1. To rebuke our neighbour for his wrong, and privately to desire necessary reparations.
2. To take two or three to admonish him; or to refer the matter to arbitrators (or in some cases to a lot). And if any make law their first remedy needlessly, while the other means should first be used, it is a sin.
Prop. v. It is not lawful to go to lawsuits, when prudence may discern that the hurt which may come by it, will be greater than the benefit; (either by hardening the person, or disturbing ourselves, or scandalizing others against religion, or drawing any to ways of unpeaceableness or revenge, &c.) The foreseen consequences may overrule the
But on the other side, Prop. 1. It is lawful to make use of Christian judicatories, so it be done in a lawful manner : yea, and in some cases, of the judicatories of infidels.
Prop. 11. The suppressing of sin, and the defending the innocent, and righting of the wronged, being the duty of governors, it is lawful to seek these benefits at their hands.
Prop. 111. In cases where I am not obliged to forgive (as I have shewed before some such there be), I may justly make use of governors as the ordinance of God.
Prop. iv. The order and season is when I have tried other means in vain. When persuasion or arbitration will do no good, or cannot be used with hope of success.
Prop. v. And the great condition to prove it lawful is, when it is not like to do more hurt than good, either directly of itself, or by men's abuse; when religion, or the soul of any man, or any one's body, or estate or name, is not like to lose more than my gain, or any other benefits will compensate; when all these concur, it is lawful to go to law.
Quest. v. Is it lawful to defend any person, life or estate against a thief, or murderer, or unjust invader, by force of arms?'
Answ. You must distinguish, 1. Between such defence as the law of the land alloweth, and such as it forbiddeth. 2. Between necessary and unnecessary actions of defence.
Prop. 1. There is no doubt but it is both lawful and a duty to defend ourselves by such convenient means as are likely to attain their end, and are not contrary to any law, of God or man. We must defend our neighbour if he be assaulted or oppressed, and we must love our neighbour as ourselves.
Prop. 11. This self-defence by force, is then lawful, when it is necessary, and other more gentle means have been ineffectual, or have no place, (supposing still that the means be such as the law of God or man forbiddeth not).
Prop. 111. And it is necessary to the lawfulness of it, that the means be such as in its nature is like to be successful, or like to do more good than harm.
But on the other side, Prop. 1. We may not defend ourselves by any such force as either the laws of God or our rulers, thereto authorized by him shall forbid. For,
1. The laws are made by such as have more power over our lives, than we have over them ourselves.
2. And they are made for the good of the commonwealth; which is to be preferred before the good or life of any single person. And whatever selfish infidels say, both nature and grace do teach us to lay down our lives, for the welfare of the church or state, and to prefer a multitude before ourselves. Therefore it is better to be robbed, oppressed, or killed, than to break the peace of the commonwealth.
Prop. 11. Therefore a private man may not raise an army to defend his life against his prince, or lawful governor. Perhaps he might hold his hands if personally he went about to murder him, without the violation of the public peace; but he cannot raise a war without it.
Prop. 111. We may not do that by blood or violence, which might be done by persuasion, or by any gentle, lawful means: violence must be used, even in defence, but in case of true necessity.
Prop. IV. When self-defence is like to have consequents so ill, as the saving of ourselves cannot countervail, it is then unlawful 'finis gratia,' and not to be attempted.
Prop. v. Therefore if self-defence be unlikely to prevail, our strength being inconsiderable, and when the enemy is but like to be the more exasperated by it, and our sufferings like to be the greater; nature and reason teach us to submit, and use the more effectual (lawful) means.
Quest. VI. Is it lawful to take away another's life, in the defending of my purse or estate?'
Answ. 1. You must again distinguish between such defence, as the law of the land alloweth, and such as it forbiddeth.
2. Between what is necessary, and what is unnecessary. 3. Between a life less worth than the prize which he contendeth for, and a life more worth than it, or than mine
4. Between the simple defence of my purse, and the defence of it, and my life together.
5. Between what I do with purpose and desire, and what I do unwillingly through the assailant's temerity or violence.
6. And between what I do in mere defence, and what I
do to bring a thief or robber unto legal punishment. And so I answer,
Prop. 1. You may not defend your purse, or your estate by such actions, as the law of the land forbiddeth: (unless it go against the law of God;) because it is to be supposed, that it is better a man's estate or purse be lost, than law and public order violated.
Prop. 11. You may not (against an ordinary thief or robber) defend your purse with the probable hazard of his life, if a few good words, or other safe and gentle means, which you have opportunity to use, be like to serve turn without such violence.
Prop. 111. If it might be supposed that a prince, or other person of great use and service to the commonwealth, should in a frolic, or otherwise, assault your person for your estate or purse, it is not lawful to take away his life by a defensive violence, if you know it to be he; because (though in some countries the law might allow it you, yet) 'finis gratia' it is unlawful; because his life is more necessary to the common good, than yours.
Prop. iv. If a pilfering thief would steal your purse, without any violence which hazardeth your life, (ordinarily) you may not take away his life in the defending of it. Because it is the work of the magistrate to punish him by public justice, and your defence requireth it not.
Prop. v. All this is chiefly meant, of the voluntary, designed taking away of his life; and not of any lawful action, which doth it accidentally against your will.
On the other side, Prop. 1. If the law of the land allow you to take away a man's life in the defending of your purse, it removeth the scruple, if the weight of the matter also do allow it because it supposeth, that the law taketh the offender to be worthy of death, and maketh you in that case the executioner of it. And if indeed, the crime be such as deserveth death, you may be the executioner when the law alloweth it.
Prop. 11. And this is more clear, when the robber for your money doth assault your life, or is like for aught you see to do it.
Prop. 111. And when gentler means will not serve the
turn, but violence is the only remedy which is left you, which is like to avail for your defence.
Prop. IV. And when the person is a vile offender, who is rather a plague and burden to the commonwealth, than any necessary member of it.
Prop. v. If you desire not, and design not his death, but he rush upon it himseif in his fury, while you lawfully defend your own, the case is yet less questionable.
Prop.vi. If a thief have taken your purse, though you may not take away his life after to recover it (because it is of less value) nor yet in revenge (because that belongeth not to private men); yet if the law require or allow you to pursue him to bring him to a judicial trial, if you kill him while he resisteth, it is not your sin; because you are but suppressing sin in your place, according to the allowance of the law.
Quest. VII. May I kill or wound another in the defence or vindication of my honour, or good name?'
Answ. No: not by private assault or violence: but if the crime be so great, that the law of the land doth punish it with death, if that law be just, you may in some cases seek to bring the offender to public justice: but that is rare, and otherwise you may not do it. For,
1. It belongeth only to the magistrate, and not to you, to be the avenger.
2. And killing a man can be no meet defence against calumny or slander; for if you will kill a man for prevention, you kill the innocent; if you kill him afterwards, it is no defence, but an unprofitable revenge, which vindicateth not your honour, but dishonoureth you more. Your patience is your honour, and your bloody revenge doth shew you to be so like the devil, the destroyer, that it is your greatest shame.
3. It is odious pride which maketh men over-value their reputation among men, and think that a man's life is a just compensation to them for their dishonour! Such bloody sacrifices are fit to appease only the blood-thirsty spirit! But what is it that pride will not do and justify?