« PreviousContinue »
an absolute power. This would give the father but a joint dominion with the mother over them : for nobody can deny but that the woman hath an equal share, if not the greater, as nourishing the child a long time in her own body out of her own substance: there it is fashioned, and from her it receives the materials and principles of its constitution : and it is so hard to imagine the rational soul should presently inhabit the yet unformed embryo, as soon as the father has done his part in the act of generation, that if it must be supposed to derive any thing from the parents, it must certainly owe most to the mother. But be that as it will, the mother cannot be denied an equal share in begetting of the child, and so the absolute authority of the father will not arise from hence. Our author indeed is of another mind;
. for he says, " we know that God at the creation gave
, the sovereignty to the man over the woman, as being the nobler and principal agent in generation,” 0.172. I remember not this in my Bible; and when the place is brought where God at the creation gave the sovereignty to man over the woman, and that for this reason, because “ he is the nobler and principal agent in generation," it will be time enough to consider, and answer it. But it is no new thing for our author to tell us his own fancies for certain and divine truths, though there be often a great deal of difference between his and divine revelations; for God in the Scripture says, “ his father and his mother' that begot him."
$ 56. They who allege the practice of mankind, for exposing or selling their children, as a proof of their power over them, are with sir Robert happy arguers; and cannot but recommend their opinion, by founding it on the most shameful action, and most unnatural murder human nature is capable of. The dens of lions and nurseries of wolves know no such cruelty as this: these savage inhabitants of the desert obey God and nature in being tender and careful of their offspring: they will hunt, watch, fight, and almost starve for the preservation of their young; never part with them; never forsake them, till they are able to shift for themselves. And is it the privilege of man alone to act more contrary to nature than the wild and most untamed part of the creation? doth God forbid us under the severest penalty, that of death, to take away the life of any man, a stranger, and upon provocation ? and does he permit us to destroy those he has given us the charge and care of; and by the dictates of nature and reason, as well as his revealed command, requires us to preserve? He has in all the parts of creation taken a peculiar care to propagate and continue the several species of creatures, and makes the individuals act so strongly to this end, that they sometimes neglect their own private good for it, and seem to forget that general rule, which nature teaches all things, of self-preservation; and the preservation of their young, as the strongest principle in them, over-rules the constitution of their particular natures. Thus we see, when their young stand in need of it, the timorous become valiant, the fierce and savage kind, and the ravenous, tender and liberal.
$ 57. But if the example of what hath been done be the rule of what ought to be, history would have furnished our author with instances of this absolute fatherly power in its height and perfection, and he might have showed us in Peru people that begot children on purpose to fatten and eat them. The story is so remarkable, that I cannot but set it down in the author's words: “ In some provinces, says he, they were so liquorish after man's flesh, that they would not have the patience to stay till the breath was out of the body, but would suck the blood as it ran from the wounds of the dying man; they had publie shambles of man's flesh, and their madness herein was to that degree, that they spared not their own children, which they had begot on strangers taken in war: for they made their captives their mistresses, and choieely nourished the children they had by them, till about thirteen years old they butchered and eat them; and they served the mothers after the same fashion, when they grew past child-bearing, and ceased to bring them any more roasters." Garcilasso de la Vega Hist. des. Yncas de Peru, 1. i. c. 12.
8 58. Thus far can the busy mind of man carry him to a brutality below the level of beasts, when he quits his reason, which places him almost equal to angels. Nor can it be otherwise in a creature, whose thoughts are more than the sands, and wider than the ocean, where fancy and passion must needs run him into strange courses, if reason, which is his only star and compass, be not that he steers by. The imagination is always restless, and suggests variety of thoughts, and the will, reason being laid aside, is ready for every extravagant project; and in this state he that goes farthest out of the way, is thought fittest to lead, and is sure of most followers : and when fashion hath once established what folly or craft began, custom makes it sacred, and it will be thought impudence, or madness, to contradict or question it. He that will impartially survey the nations of the world, will find so much of their religions, governments, and manners, brought in and continued amongst them by these means, that he will have but little reverence for the practices which are in use and credit amongst men; and will have reason to think, that the woods and forests, where the irrational untaught inhabitants keep right by following nature, are fitter to give us rules, thạn cities and palaces, where those that call themselves civil and rational, go out of their way, by the authority of example. If precedents are sufficient to establish a rule in this case, our author might have found in holy writ children sacrificed by their parents, and this amongst
the people of God themselves : the Psalmist tells us, Psalm çvi. 38, “ They shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan." Bụt God judged not of this by our author's rule, nor allowed of the authority of practice against his righteous law; but, as it follows there, “ the land was polluted with blood; therefore was the wrath of the Lord kindled against his people, insomuch that he abhorred his own inheritance." The killing of their children, though it were fashionable, was eharged on them as innocent blood, and so had in the account of God
the guilt of murder, as the offering them to idols had the guilt of idolatry.
$ 59. Be it then, as sir Robert says, that anciently it was usual for men “ to sell and castrate their children," 0. 155. Let it be, that they exposed them; add to it, if you please, for this is still greater power, that they begat them for their tables, to fat and eat them: if this proves a right to do so, we may, by the same argument, justify adultery, incest, and sodomy, for there are examples of these too, both ancient and modern; sins, which I suppose have their principal aggravation from this, that they cross the main intention of nature, which willeth the increase of mankind, and the continuation of the species in the highest perfection, and the distinction of families, with the security of the marriage-bed, as necessary thereunto. .
$ 60. In confirmation of this natural authority of the father, o’r author brings a lame proof from the positive command of God in Scripture : his words are, « To confirm the natural right of regal power, we find in the decalogue, that the law which enjoins obedience to kings, is delivered in the terms, Honour thy father, p. 23. Whereas many confess, that government only in the abstract, is the ordinance of God, they are not able to prove any such ordinance in the Scripture, but only in the fatherly power; and therefore we find the commandment, that enjoins obedience to superiors, given in the terms, Honour thy father; so that not only the power and right of government, but the form of the power governing, and the person having the power, are all the ordinances of God. The first father had not only simply power, but power monarchical, as he was father immediately from God," 0. 254.
To the same purposé, the same law is cited by our author in several other places, and just after the same fashion; that is, “ and mother,” as apocryphal words, are always left out; a great argument of our author's ingenuity, and the goodness of his cause, which required in its defender zeal to a degree of warmth, able to warp the sacred rule of the word of God, to make it comply with
his present occasion; a way of proceeding not unusual to those who embrace not truths because reason and revelation offer them, but espouse tenets and parties for ends different from truth, and then resolve at any rate to defend them; and so do with the words and sense of authors, they would fit to their purpose, just as Procrustes did with his guests, lop or stretch them, as may best fit them to the size of their notions; and they always prove, like those so served, deformed, lame, and useless.
$ 61. For had our author set down this command without garbling, as God gave it, and joined mother to father, every reader would have seen, that it had made directly against him, and that it was so far from esta-' blishing the “monarchical power of the father,” that it set up the mother equal with him, and enjoined nothing but was due in common to both father and mother: for that is the constant tenour of the Scripture, “ Honour thy father and thy mother," Exod. xx." “ He that smiteth his father or mother, shall surely be put to death,” xxi. 15. “ He that curseth his father or mother, shall surely be put to death,” ver. 17. repeated Lev. xx. 9, and by our Saviour, Matth. xv. 4. " Ye shall fear every man his mother and his father,” Lev. xix. 3. “If any man have a rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother; then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and say, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice," Deut. xxi. 18, 19, 20, 21. “Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother,” xxvii. 16. My son, hear the instructions of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother,” are the words of Solomon, a king who was not ignorant of what belonged to him as a father or a king; and yet he joins father and mother together, in all the instructions he gives children quite through his book of Proverbs. “ Woe unto him, that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth ?” Isa. xlv. 10. “In thee have they set light by father and mother," Ezek. xxii. 17. " And it shall come to pass, that when any shall