Sir Robert Filmer c. He was called to the bar in , but there is no evidence he practised law. He bought the porter's lodge at Westminster Abbey for use as his town house. Filmer's father died in November and Filmer, as the oldest child, took over his father's manor house and estate. He became a Justice of the Peace and an officer of the county militia in the s.

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Libertas — Populi, quem regna coercent Libertate perit —. Fallitur egregio quisquis sub Poincipe oredit. Servitium; nusquam Libertas gratior extat Quam sub Rege pio —. HOW great a Loss I had in the death of my most dear and honoured Friend, your deceased Father, no man is Edition: current; Page: [ iv ] able to conjecture; but he that hath suffered in the like. So affable was his Conversation, his Discourse so rational, his Judgment so exact in most parts of Learning; and his Affections to the Church so exemplary in him, that I never enjoyed a greater Felicity in the company of any Man living, than I did in his.

In which Respects I may affirm both with Safety and Modesty, that we did not only take Sweet Counsel together; but walked in the House of God as Friends: I must needs say, Edition: current; Page: [ v ] I was prepared for that great Blow, by the Loss of my Preferment in the Church of Westminster, which gave me the Opportunity of so dear and beloved a Neighbourhood; so that I lost him partly before he died, which made the Misery the more supportable, when I was deprived of him for altogether.

But I was never more sensible of the Infelicity, than I am at this present, in reference to that Satisfaction, which I am sure he could have given the Gentleman whom I am to deal with: Edition: current; Page: [ vi ] His eminent Abilities in these Political Disputes, exemplified in his Judicious Observations upon Aristotles Politiques; as also in some passages on Grotius, Hunton, Hobbs, and other of our late Discoursers about Forms of Government, declare abundantly how fit a Man he might have been to have dealt in this cause, which I would not willingly should be betrayed by unskilful handling: And had he pleased to have suffered his Excellent Discourse called Patriarcha to appear in Publick, it would Edition: current; Page: [ vii ] have given such satisfaction to all our great Masters in the Schools of Politie, that all other Tractates in that kind, had been found unnecessary.

In danger the People of Rome always fled to Monarchy. Kings were before Laws. The Kings of Judah and Israel not tied to Laws. SInce the time that School-Divinity began to flourish, there hath been a common Opinion maintained, as well by Divines, as by divers other learned Men, which affirms,.

Mankind is naturally endowed and born with Freedom from all Subjection, and at liberty to chose what Form of Government it please: And that the Power which any one Man hath over others, was at first bestowed according to the discretion of the Multitude. The Divines also of the Reformed Churches have entertained it, and the Common People every where tenderly embrace it, as being most plausible to Flesh and blood, for that it prodigally destributes a Portion of Liberty to the meanest of the Multitude, who magnifie Liberty, as if the height of Humane Felicity were only to be found in it, never Edition: current; Page: [ [3] ] remembring That the desire of Liberty was the first Cause of the Fall of Adam.

It is hard to say whether it be more erroneous in Divinity, or dangerous in Policy. Yet upon the ground of this Doctrine both Jesuites, and some other zealous favourers of the Geneva Discipline, have built a perillous Conclusion, which is, That the People or Multitude have Power to punish, or deprive the Prince, if he transgress the Laws of the Kingdom; witness Parsons and Buchanan: the first under the name of Dolman, in the Third Chapter of his First Book labours to prove, that Kings have been lawfully chastised by their Commonwealths: The latter in his Book De jure Regni apud Edition: current; Page: [ [4] ] Scotos, maintains A Liberty of the People to depose their Prince.

Cardinal Bellarmine and Calvin, both look asquint this way. This desperate Assertion whereby Kings are made subject to the Censures and Deprivations of their Subjects, follows as the Authors of it conceive as a necessary Consequence of that former Position of the supposed Natural Equality and Freedom of Mankind, and Liberty to choose what form of Government it please. And though Sir John Heywood, Adam Blackwood, John Barclay, and some others have Learnedly Confuted both Buchanan and Parsons, and bravely vindicated the Right of Kings in most Points, yet all of them, when they come to the Argument drawn from the Natural Liberty and Equality of Mankind, do with one consent admit it for a Truth unquestionable, not so much as once denying or opposing it; whereas if they did but Confute this first erroneous Principle, the whole Fabrick of this vast Engine of Popular Sedition would drop down of it self.

The Rebellious Consequence which follows this prime Article of the Natural Freedom of Mankind may be my Sufficient Warrant for a modest Examination of the original Truth of it; much hath been said, and by many, for the Affirmative; Equity requires that an Ear be reserved a little for the Negative.

Secondly, I am not to question, or quarrel at the Rights or Liberties of this or any other Nation, my task is chiefly to enquire from whom these first came, not to dispute what, or how many these are; but whether they were derived from the Laws of Natural Liberty, or from the Grace and bounty of Princes.

My desire and Hope is, that the people of England may and do enjoy as ample Priviledges as any Nation under Heaven; the greatest Liberty in the World if it be duly considered is for a people to live under a Monarch. It is the Magna Charta of this Kingdom, all other shews or pretexts of Liberty, are Edition: current; Page: [ [7] ] but several degrees of Slavery, and a Liberty only to destroy Liberty. If such as Maintain the Natural Liberty of Mankind, take Offence at the Liberty I take to Examine it, they must take heed that they do not deny by Retail, that Liberty which they affirm by Wholesale: For, if the Thesis be true, the Hypothesis will follow, that all men may Examine their own Charters, Deeds, or Evidences by which they claim and hold the Inheritance or Free-hold of their Liberties.

Thirdly, I must not detract from the Worth of all those Learned Men, who are of a contrary Opinion in the Point of Natural Liberty: The profoundest Scholar that ever was known hath not been able to search out every Truth that is discoverable; neither Aristotle in Philosophy, nor Hooker in Divinity.

They are but men, yet I reverence their Judgments in most Points, and confess my self beholding to their Errors too in this; something that I found amiss in their Opinions, guided me in the discovery of that Truth which I perswade Edition: current; Page: [ [8] ] my self they missed.

A Dwarf sometimes may see that which a Giant looks over; for whilest one Truth is curiously searched after, another must necessarily be neglected. Late Writers have taken up too much upon Trust from the subtile School-Men, who to be sure to thrust down the King below the Pope, thought it the safest course to advance the People above the King.

Thus many an Ignorant Subject hath been fooled into this Faith, that a man may become a Martyr for his Countrey, by being a Traytor to his Prince; whereas the Newcoyned distinction of Subjects into Royallists and Patriots, is most unnatural, since the relation between King and People is so great, that their well-being is so Reciprocal.

This Power is immediately in the whole Multitude, as in the Subject of it; for this Power is in the Divine Law, but the Divine Law hath given this Power to no particular Man— If the Positive Law be taken away, there is left no Reason, why amongst a Multitude who are Equal one rather than another should bear Rule over the rest?

Thus far Bellarmine; in which passages are comprised the strength of all that ever I have read, or heard produced for the Natural Liberty of the Subject.

First, He saith, that by the law of God, Power is immediately in the People; hereby he makes God to be the immediate Author of a Democratical Estate; for a Democrasy is nothing else but the Power of the Multitude. If this be true, not only Aristocracies, but all Monarchies are altogether unlawful, as being ordained as he thinks by Men, whenas God himself hath chosen a Democracy.

Secondly, He holds, that although a Democracy be the Ordinance of God, yet the people have no power to use the Power which God hath given them, but only power to give away their Power; whereby it followeth, that there can be no Democratical Government, because he saith, the people must give their Power to One Man, or to some Few; which maketh either a Regal or Aristocratical Estate; which the Multitude is tyed to do, even by the same Law of Nature which Originally gave them the Power: And why then doth he say, the Multitude may change the Kingdom into a Democracy?

Thirdly, He concludes, that if there be a lawful Cause, the Multitude may change the Kingdom. Here I would fain know who shall judg of this lawful Cause? If the Multitude for I see no Body else can then this is a pestilent and dangerous Conclusion.

It is thus framed: That God hath given or ordained Power, is evident by Scripture; But God hath given it to no particular Person, because by nature all Men are Equal; therefore he hath given Power to the People or Multitude. To Answer this Reason, drawn from the Equality of Mankind by Nature, I will first use the help of Bellarmine himself, whose very words are these: If many men had been together created out of the Earth, they all ought to have been Princes over their Posterity.

Nor dares Bellarmine deny this also. This Lordship which Adam by Command had over the whole World, and by Right descending from him the Patriarchs did enjoy, was as large and ample as the Absolutest Dominion of any Monarch which hath been since the Creation: For Dominion of Life and Death, we find that Judah the Father pronounced Sentence of Death against Thamar his Daughter-in-law, for playing the Harlot; Bring her forth saith he that she may be burnt. The three Sons of Noah had the whole World divided amongst Edition: current; Page: [ 14 ] them by their Father; for of them was the whole World over-spread, according to the Benediction given to him and his Sons, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the Earth.

It is a common Opinion, that at the Confusion of Tongues there were 72 distinct Nations erected, all which were not Confused Multitudes, without Heads or Governors, and at Liberty to chose what Governors or Government they pleased; but they were distinct Families, which had Fathers for Rulers over them; whereby it appears that even in the Confusion God was careful to preserve the Fatherly Authority, by distributing the diversity of Languages according to the diversity of Families; for so plainly it appears by the Text: First, after the Enumeration of the Sons Edition: current; Page: [ [15] ] of Japhet, the Conclusion is, By these were the Isles of the Gentiles divided in their Lands, every one after his Tongue, after their Families, in their Nations; so it is said: These are the Sons of Ham after their Families, after their Tongues, in their Countreys, and in their Nations.

These are the Families of the Sons of Noah after their Generations in their Nations; and by these were these Nations divided in the Earth, after the F lood. In this Division of the World, some are of Opinion that Noah used Lots for the distribution of it; others affirm he sayled about the Mediterranean Sea in Ten years, and as he went about, appointed to each Son his part, and so made the Division of the then known World into Asia, Africa, and Europe, according to the number of his Sons the Limits of which Three Parts are all found in that Midland Sea.

Amongst these was Nimrod, who no doubt as Sir Walter Raleigh affirms was by good Right, Lord or King over his Family; yet against Right did he enlarge his Empire, by seizing violently on the Rights of other Lords of Families: And in this sense he may be said to be the Author and first Founder of Monarchy. And all those that do attribute unto him the Original Regal Power, do hold he got it by Tyrany or Usurpation, and not by any due Election of the People or Multitude, or by any Faction with them.

And these are the Names of the Dukes that came of Esau, according to Edition: current; Page: [ [17] ] their Families and their Places by their Nations. In the Land of Canaan, which was but a small circuit, Joshua destroyed thirty one Kings; and about the same time, Adonibeseck had 70 Kings whose hands and toes he had cut off, and made them feed under his Table. These heaps of Kings in each Nation are an Argument their Territories were but small, and strongly confirms our Assertion, that Erection of Kingdoms came at first only by Distinction of Families.

By manifest Footsteps we may trace this Paternal Government unto the Israelites coming into Egypt, where the Exercise of Supream Partriarchal Jurisdiction was intermitted, because they were in subjection to a stronger Prince. After the Return of these Israelites out of Bondage, God out of a special Care of them, chose Moses and Joshua successively to govern as Princes in the place and stead of the Supream Fathers: and after them likewise for a time, he raised up Judges, to defend his People in time of Peril.

And Edition: current; Page: [ [19] ] whensoever he made choice of any special Person to be King, he intended that the Issue also should have benefit thereof, as being comprehended sufficiently in the Person of the Father, although the Father only was named in the Graunt.

It may seem absurd to maintain, that Kings now are the Fathers of their People, since Experience shews the contrary. It is true, all Kings be not the Natural Parents of their Subjects, yet they all either are, or are to be reputed the next Heirs to those first Progenitors, who were at first the Natural Parents of the whole People, and in their Right succeed to the Exercise of Supreme Jurisdiction; and such Heirs are not only Lords of their own Children, but also of their Brethren, and all others that were subject to their Fathers: And therefore we find, that God told Cain of his Brother Abel, His Desires shall be subject unto thee, and thou shalt rule over him.

It may be demanded what becomes of the Right of Fatherhood, in Case the Crown does escheat for want of an Heir? Whether doth it not then Divolve to the People?

If Adam himself were still living, and now ready to die, it is certain that there is One Man, and but One in the World who is next Heir, Edition: current; Page: [ [21] ] although the Knowledge who should be that One Man be quite lost.

This Ignorance of the People being admitted, it doth not by any means follow; that for want of Heirs the Supreme Power is devolved to the Multitude, and that they have Power to Rule, and Chose what Rulers they please. No, the Kingly Power escheats in such cases to the Princes and independent Heads of Families: for every Kingdom is resolved into those parts whereof at first it was made.

By the Uniting of great Families or petty Kingdoms, we find the greater Monarchies were at the first erected; and into such again, as into their first Matter many times they return again. And because the dependencie of ancient Families is oft obscure or worn out of Knowledge; therefore the wisdom of All or Most Princes have thought fit to adopt many times those for Heads of Families, and Princes of Provinces, whose Merits, Abilities, or Fortunes, have enobled them, or made them fit and capable of such Regal Favours.

All such prime Heads and Fathers have power to consent in the Edition: current; Page: [ [22] ] uniting or conferring of their Fatherly Right of Sovereign Authority on whom they please: And he that is so Elected, claims not his Power as a Donative from the People; but as being substituted properly by God, from whom he receives his Royal Charter of an Universal Father, though testified by the Ministry of the Heads of the People.

If it please God, for the Correction of the Prince, or punishment of the People, to suffer Princes to be removed, and others to be placed in their rooms, either by the Factions of the Nobility, or Rebellion of the People; in all such cases, the Judgment of God, who hath Power to give and to take away Kingdoms, is most just: Yet the Ministry of Men who Execute Gods Judgments without Commission, is sinful and damnable. God doth but use and turn mens Unrighteous Acts to the performance of his Righteous Decrees.

There is, and always shall be continued to the end of the World, a Natural Right of a Supreme Father over every Multitude, although by the secret Will of God, many at first do most unjustly obtain the Exercise of it. If we compare the Natural Rights of a Father with those of a King, we find them all one, without any difference at all but only in the Latitude or Extent of them: as the Father over one Family, so the King as Father over many Families extends his care to preserve, feed, cloth, instruct and defend the whole Commonwealth.

His War, his Peace, his Courts of Justice, and all his Acts of Sovereignty tend only to preserve and distribute to every subordinate and inferiour Father, and to their Children, their Rights and Privileges; so that all the Duties of a King are summed up in an Universal Fatherly Care of his People. A Ristotle examined about the Freedom of the People and justified.

Suarez disputing against the Regality of Adam. Families diversly defined by Aristotle, Bodin and others. Suarez contradicting Bellarmine. Of Election of Kings. By the Major part of the People. By Proxy, and by silent Acceptation. No Example in Scripture of the Peoples chosing their King. God governed always by Monarchy. Imperfections of the Roman Democratie. In danger, the People of Rome always fled to Monarchy.

Whether Democraties were invented to bridle Tyrants, or rather that they came in by Stealth, Democraties vilified by their own Historians. Popular Government more bloody than Tyranny. Of a mixed Government of the King and People. The People may not judge or correct their King No Tyrants in England since the Conquest. BY conferring these Proofs and Reasons drawn from the Authority of the Scripture, it appears little less than a Paradox which Bellarmine and others affirm of the Freedom of the Multitude, to chose what Rulers they please.

Had the Patriarchs their Power given them by their own Children? Bellarmine does not say it, but the Contrary: If then the Fatherhood enjoyed this Authority for so many Ages by the Law of Nature, when was it lost, Edition: current; Page: [ [27] ] or when forfeited, or how is it devolved to the Liberty of the Multitude? Because the Scripture is not favourable to the Liberty of the People; therefore many fly to Natural Reason, and to the Authority of Aristotle.

I must crave Liberty to examine or explain the Opinion of this great Philosopher; but briefly, I find this Sentence in the Third of his Politiques. It seems to some not to be natural for one man to be Lord of all the Citizens, since a City consists of Equals.

And therefore at the beginning, Cities were under the Government of Kings, for the eldest in every house is King: And so for Kindred-sake it is in Colonies. And in the fourth of his Politiques, cap. Whosoever weighs advisedly these passages, will find little hope of Natural Reason in Aristotle to prove the Natural Liberty of the Multitude. Also before him the Divine Plato concludes a Commonweal to be nothing else but a large Family.

I know for this Position Aristotle quarrels with his Master, but most unjustly; for therein he contradicts his own Principles for they both agree to fetch the Orignial of Civil Government from the prime Government. Polybius, though otherwise a most profound Philosopher, and Judicious Historian, yet here he stumbles; for in searching out the Original of Civil Societies, he conceited, That Multitudes of Men after a Deluge, a Famine, or a Pestilence, met together like Herds of Cattel without any Dependency, until the strongest Bodies and boldest Minds got the Mastery of their Fellows; even as it is saith he among Bulls, Bears and Cocks.

And Aristotle himself, forgetting his first Doctrine, tells us, the first Heroical Kings were chosen by the People for their deserving well of the Multitude; either by teaching them some New Arts, or by Warring for them, or by Gathering Edition: current; Page: [ [31] ] them together, or by Dividing Land amongst them; also Aristotle had another Fancy, that those Men who prove wise of Mind, were by Nature intended to be Lords, and Govern; and those which were Strong of Body were ordained to obey, and to be Servants.

But this is a dangerous and uncertain Rule, and not without some Folly; for if a Man prove both Wise and Strong, what will Aristotle have done with him? Suarez the Jusuite riseth up against the Royal Authority of Adam, in defence of the Freedom and Liberty of the people; and thus argues.


Robert Filmer



Online Library of Liberty


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