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he began with an inquiry into the nature of law in general ; traced it to its source in the bosom of God; showed that as it flows thence it divides itself into many branches, such as the law which controls the operations of matter, the law by which angels are governed, the law proper to creatures possessed merely of instinct and appetite, the law of reason and the law of revelation. These various branches of law, he contended, are not opposed. Each has its own sphere, and he who appeals to the law of reason in those matters where reason was given to be a guide, is breaking no rule of faith, is guilty of no neglect or contempt of revealed law. Advancing from this position, Hooker proceeds to refate in detail those arguments which his opponents maintained that they found in Scripture for their theory. He then directly upholds the position, that no form of Church government is enjoined in the New Testament, and that therefore rites and ceremonies may be ordered as circumstances shall seem to require, so that all things be done decently and with a view to edification. He then deals with specific objections urged by the Puritans against the Church. He replies to their complaint that it is corrupted with Popish rites ; that in the public services many superstitious and unedifying usages are retained; and that, with respect to the various classes and orders of ministers and officials, there is a departure from primitive simplicity. In his concluding books he discusses the subject of ecclesiastical jurisdiction and the relations between Church and State.
It may be observed that the last three books of the Ecclesiastical Polity are much inferior to the rest in completeness of argument and finish of style. This arises from the fact that they never received the author's final revision and correction. There is no foundation for the assertion that they were tampered with by Puritan agents from dishonest motives.
The style of Hooker is well entitled to the epithet Classical, for it has something of a Roman fulness and stateliness in its march. There is often much harmony in the flow of the periods, much vigour and terseness in the turn of the phrases and the antithetical balance of the sentences. At times we meet with that inversion in the order of the words which seems like an imitation of the Latin idiom, but which really belonged also to the earlier stages of the English language. Deeply imbued as the author was with ancient lore, his style exhibits no pedantry, and little of that affectation of Latinisms in word and phrase which characterized some later writers. On the contrary, a strong vein of manly Saxon runs through his composition, and very few of the words made use of by him are obsolete or unintelligible to a modern reader.
LAW : ITS NATURE AND SEVERAL BRANCHES.
All things that are, have some operation not violent or casual: neither doth anything ever begin to exercise the same,
without some 1 foreconceived end for which it worketh. And the end which it worketh for is not obtained, unless the work be also fit to obtain it by; for unto every end, every operation will not serve. That which doth assign unto each thing the kind, that which doth ? moderate the force and power, that which doth appoint the form and measure of working, the same we term a law. So that no certain end could ever be attained, unless the actions whereby it is attained were regular; that is to say, made suitable, fit, and correspondent unto their end, by some canon, rule, or law. Which thing doth first take place in the works even of God himself. All things therefore do work after a sort according to law; all other things according to a law, whereof some superior, unto whom they are subject, is author; only the works and operations of God have him both for their worker, and for the law whereby they are wrought. The being of God is a kind of law to his working; for that perfection which God is, giveth perfection to 3 that he doth. Those natural, necessary, and internal operations of God, the generation of the Son, the proceeding of the Spirit, are without the compass of my present intent; which is to touch only such operations as have their beginning and being by a voluntary purpose, wherewith God hath eternally decreed when and how they should be: which eternal decree is that we term an eternal law. Dangerous it were for the feeble brain of man to wade far into the doings of the most High; whom although to know be life, and joy to make mention of his name, yet our soundest knowledge is to know that we know him, not as indeed he is, neither can know him: and our safest eloquence concerning him is our silence, when we confess without confession that his glory is inexplicable, his greatness above our capacity and reach. He is above, and we upon earth; therefore it behoveth our words to be wary and few. ....
I am not ignorant, that by law eternal, the learned for the most part do understand the order, not which God hath eternally purposed himself in all his works to observe, but rather that which with himself he hath set down as expedient to be kept by all his creatures, according to the several conditions wherewith he hath endued them. They who thus are accustomed to speak, apply the name of law unto that only rule of working which superior authority imposes; whereas we somewhat more enlarging the sense thereof, term any kind of rule or canon, whereby actions are framed, a law. Now that law which, as it is laid up in the bosom of God, they call eternal, receiveth, according unto the different kind of things which are subject anto it, different and sundry kinds of names. That part of it which ordereth natural agents, we call usually nature's law; that which angels do clearly behold, and without any swerving observe, is a law celestial and heavenly; the law of reason, that which bindeth creatures ? reasonable in this world, and with which by reason they most plainly perceive themselves bound; that which bindeth them, and is not known but by special revelation from God, divine law. Human law, that which out of the law, either of reason or of God, men probably gathering to be expedient, they make it a law. All things, therefore, which are as they ought to be, are conformed unto this second law eternal; and even those things which to this eternal law are not conformable, are notwithstanding in some sort ordered by the first eternal law. For what good or evil is there under the sun ; what action correspondent or repugnant unto the law which God hath imposed upon his creatures, but in, or upon it, God doth work according to the law which himself hath eternally purposed to keep ; that is to say, the first eternal law ? So that a twofold law eternal being thus made, it is not hard to conceive how they both take place in all things.
Wherefore to come to the law of nature, albeit thereby we sometimes mean that manner of working which God hath set for each created thing to keep, yet forasmuch as those things are termed most properly natural agents, which keep the law of their kind 8 unwittingly, as the heavens and elements of the world, which can
do no otherwise than they do; and forasmuch as we give unto intellectual natures the name of voluntary agents, that so we may distinguish them from the other; expedient it will be, that we sever the law of nature observed by the one, from that which the other is tied unto. Touching the former, their strict keeping of one tenure, statute, and law is spoken of by all; but hath in it more than men have as yet attained to know, or perhaps ever shall attain, seeing 9 the travail of wading herein is given of God to the sons of men; that perceiving how much the least thing in the world hath in it, more than the wisest are able to reach unto, they may by this means learn humility. Moses, in describing the work of creation, attributeth speech unto God: “God said, Let there be light: let there be a firmament: let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place: let the earth bring forth : let there be lights in the firmament of heaven.” Was this only the intent of Moses, to signify the infinite greatness of God's power, by the easiness of his accomplishing such effects, without travail, pain, or-labour ? Surely, it seemeth that Moses had herein, besides this, a further purpose, namely, first, to teach that God did not work as a necessary, but a voluntary agent, intending beforehand, and decreeing with himself, that which did outwardly proceed from him. Secondly, to show that God did then institute a law natural to be observed by creatures; and therefore, according to the manner of laws, the institution thereof is described as being established by solemn injunction. His commanding those things to be which are, and to be in such sort as they are, to keep that tenure and course which they do, importeth the establishment of nature's law. The world's first creation, and the preservation since of things created, what is it, but only so far forth a manifestation, by execution, what the eternal law of God is concerning things natural? And as it cometh to pass in a kingdom rightly ordered, that after a law is once published, it presently takes effect far and wide, all States framing themselves thereunto; even so let us think it fareth in the natural course of the world : since the time that God did first proclaim the edicts of his law upon it, heaven and earth hath hearkened unto his voice, and their labour hath been to
do his will. “He made a law for the rain;" he gave his “decree unto the sea, that the waters should not pass his commandment."
Now, if nature should intermit her course, and leave altogether, though it were but for a while, the observation of her own laws; if those principal and mother elements of the world, whereof all things in this lower world are made, should lose the qualities which now they have; 10 if the frame of that heavenly arch erected over our heads should loosen and dissolve itself; if the celestial spheres should forget their wonted motions, and by irregular volubility turn themselves any way as it might happen; if the prince of the lights of heaven, which now as a giant doth run his unwearied course, should, as it were, through a languishing faintness, begin to stand, and to rest himself ; if the moon should wander from her beaten way, the times and seasons of the year blend themselves by disordered and confused mixture, the winds breathe out their last gasp, the clouds yield no rain, the earth be 11 defeated of heavenly influence, the fruits of the earth pine away, as children at the breasts of their mother, no longer able to yield them relief ; what would become of man himself, whom these things do now all serve? See we not plainly, that obedience of creatures unto the law of nature is the stay of the whole world ? Notwithstanding, with nature it cometh sometimes to pass as with art. Let 12 Phidias have rude and obstinate stuff to carve, though his art do that it should, his work will lack that beauty which otherwise in fitter matter it might have had. He that striketh an instrument with skill, may cause notwithstanding a very unpleasant sound, if the string whereon he striketh chance to be incapable of harmony. In the matter whereof things natural consist, that of Theophrastus takes place: Πολύ το ουχ υπακούον ουδε δεχόμενον το εύ– “Much of it is oftentimes such as will by no means yield to receive that impression which were best and most perfect.” Which defect in the matter of things natural, they who gave themselves unto the contemplation of nature amongst the heathen, observed often; but the true original cause thereof, divine malediction, laid for the sin of man upon these creatures, which God had made for the use of man, this being an article of that saving truth which God hath revealed unto his Church, was above the reach