The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic

By Thomas Hobbes; J. C. A. Gaskin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVI
THAT SUBJECTS ARE NOT BOUND TO FOLLOW THE JUDGMENT OF ANY AUTHORITIES IN CONTROVERSIES OF RELIGION WHICH IS NOT DEPENDENT ON THE SOVEREIGN POWER

I. IN the former chapter have been removed those difficulties opposing our obedience to human authority, which arise from misunderstanding of our Saviour's title and laws; in the former whereof, namely his title, consisteth our faith; and in the latter, our justice. Now they who differ not amongst themselves concerning his title and laws, may nevertheless have different opinions concerning his magistrates, and the authority he hath given them. And this is the cause why many Christians have denied obedience to their princes; pretending that our Saviour Christ hath not given this magistracy to them, but to others. As for example: some say, to the pope universally; some, to a synod aristocratical; some, to a synod democratical in every several commonwealth; and the magistrates of Christ being they by whom he speaketh: the question is, whether he speak unto us by the pope, or by convocations of bishops and ministers, or by them that have the sovereign power in every commonwealth.

2. This controversy was the cause of those two mutinies that happened against Moses in the wilderness. The first by Aaron and his sister Miriam, who took upon them to censure Moses, for marrying an Ethiopian woman. And the state of the question between them and Moses they set forth Numbers 12, 2, in these words: What hath the Lord spoken but only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the Lord heard this, &c., and punished the same in Miriam, forgiving Aaron upon his repentance. And this is the case of all them that set up the priesthood against the sovereignty. The other was of Corah, Dathan, and Abiram, who with two hundred and fifty captains gathered themselves together against Moses, and against Aaron. The state of their controversy was this: Whether God were not with the multitude,

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