Page images
PDF
EPUB

fatherly authority, lets several new governments with their governors start up, who could not all have fatherly authority? And is it not as much reason to say, that God is careful to destroy fatherly authority, when he suffers one, who is in possession of it, to have his government torn in pieces, and shared by several of his subjects ? Would it not be an argument just like this, for monarchical government to say, when any monarchy was shattered

to pieces, and divided amongst revolted subjects, that God was careful to preserve monarchical power, by rending a settled empire into a multitude of little governments? If any one will say, that what happens in providence to be preserved, God is careful to preserve as a thing therefore to be esteemed by men as necessary or useful; it is a peculiar propriety of speech, which every one will not think fit to imitate: but this I am sure is impossible to be either proper or true speaking, that Shem, for example (for he was then alive), should have fatherly authority, or sovereignty by right of fatherhood, over that one people at Babel, and that the next moment, Shem yet living, 72 others should have fatherly authority, or sovereignty by right of fatherhood, over the same people, divided into so many distinct governments: either these 72 fathers actually were rulers, just before the confusion, and then they were not one people, but that God himself says they were; or else they were a commonwealth, and then where was monarchy? or else these 72 fathers had fatherly authority, but knew it not. Strange! that fatherly authority should be the only original of government amongst men, and yet all mankind not know it; and stranger yet, that the confusion of tongues should reveal it to them all of a sudden, that in an instant these 72 should know that they had fatherly power, and all others know that they were to obey it in them, and every one know that particular fatherly authority to which he was a subject. He that can think this arguing from Scripture, may from thence make out what model of an Utopia will best suit with his fancy or interest; and this fatherhood, thus disposed of, will justify both a prince who claims an universal monarchy,

and his subjects, who, being fathers of families, shall quit all subjection to him, and canton his empire into less governments for themselves : for it will always remain a doubt in which of these the fatherly authority resided, till our author resolves us, whether Shem, who was then alive, or these 72 new princes, beginning so many new empires in his dominions, and over his sub. jects, had right to govern; since our author tells us, that both one and the other had fatherly, which is supreme authority, and are brought in by him as instances of those who did“ enjoy the lordships of Adam by right descending to them, which was as large and ample as the absolutest dominion of any monarch.” This at least is unavoidable, that if “ God was careful to preserve the fatherly authority, in the 72 new-erected nations,” it necessarily follows, that he was as careful to destroy all pretences of Adam's heir; since he took care, and therefore did preserve the fatherly authority in so many, at least 71, that could not possibly be Adam's heirs, when the right heir (if God had ever ordained any such inheritance) could not but be known; Shem then living, and they being all one people,

§ 148. Nimrod is his next instance of enjoying this patriarchal power, p. 16, but I know not for what reason our author seems a little unkind to him, and says, that he “ against right enlarged his empire, by seizing violently on the rights of other lords of families. These lords of families here were called fathers of families, in his account of the dispersion at Babel : but it matters not how they were called, so we know who they are; for this fatherly authority must be in them, either as heirs to Adam, and so there could not be 72, nor above one at once; or else as natural parents over their children, and so every father will have paternal authority over his children by the same right, and in as large extent as those 72 had, and so be independent princes over their own offspring. Taking his lords of families in this latter sense (as it is hard to give those words any other sense in this place), he gives us a very pretty account of the original of monarchy, in these following words, p. 16. “And in this sense he may

be

said to be the author and founder of monarchy," viz. As against right seizing violently on the rights of fathers over their children; which paternal authority, if it be in them, by right of nature (for else how could those 72 come by it?) nobody can take from them without their own consents; and then I desire our author and his friends to consider, how far this will concern other princes, and whether it will not, according to his conclusion of that paragraph, resolve all regal power of those, whose dominions extend beyond their families, either into tyranny and usurpation, or election and consent of fathers of families, which will differ

very

little from consent of the people.

§ 149. All his instances, in the next section, p. 17, of the 12 dukes of Edom, the nine kings in a little corner of Asia in Abraham's days, the 31 kings in Canaan destroyed by Joshua, and the care he takes to prove that these were all sovereign princes, and that every town in those days had a king, are so many direct proofs against him, that it was not the lordship of Adam by right descending to them, that made kings: for if they had held their royalties by that title, either there must have been but one sovereign over them all, or else every father of a family had been as good a prince, and had as good a claim to royalty, as these: for if all the sons of Esau had each of them, the younger as well as the eldest, the right of fatherhood, and so were sovereign princes after their father's death; the same right had their sons after them, and so on to all posterity; which will limit all the natural power of fatherhood, only to be over the issue of their own bodies, and their descendents; which power of fatherhood dies with the head of each family, and makes way for the like power of fatherhood to take place in each of his sons over their respective posterities: whereby the power of fatherhood will be preserved indeed, and is intelligible, but will not be at all to our author's purpose. None of the instances he brings are proofs of any power they had, as heirs of Adam's paternal authority, by the title of his fatherhood descending to them ; no, nor of any power they had by virtue of their own: for Adam's fatherhood being over all mankind, it could descend to but one at once, and from him to his right heir only, and so there could by that title be but one king in the world at a time: and by right of fatherhood, not descending from Adam, it must be only as they themselves were fathers, and so could be over none but their own posterity. So that if those 12 dukes of Edom; if Abraham and the nine kings his neighbours; if Jacob and Esau, and the 31 kings in Canaan, the 72 kings mutilated by Adonibeseck, the 32 kings that came to Benhadad, the 70 kings of Greece making war at Troy; were, as our author contends, all of them sovereign princes; it is evident that kings derived their power from some other original than fatherhood, since some of these had power over more than their own posterity; and it is demonstration, they could not be all heirs to Adam: for I challenge any man to make any pretence to power by right of fatherhood either intelligible or possible in any one, otherwise, than either as Adam's heir, or as progenitor over his own descendents, naturally sprung from him. And if our author could show that any one of these princes, of which he gives us here so large a catalogue, had his authority by either of these titles, I think I might yield him the cause; though it is manifest they are all impertinent, and directly contrary to what he brings them to prove, viz. “ That the lordship which Adam had over the world by right descended to the patriarchs.”

$ 150. Having told us, p. 16, That “the patriarchal government continued in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, until the Egyptian bondage,” p. 17, he tells us, " by manifest footsteps we may trace this paternal government unto the Israelites coming into Egypt, where the exercise of the supreme patriarchal government was intermitted, because they were in subjection to a stronger prince.” What these footsteps are of paternal government, in our author's sense, i.e. of absosute monarchical power descending from Adam, and exercised by right of fatherhood, we have seen; that is, for 2290 years no footsteps at all; since in all that time he cannot produce any one example of

any person who

claimed or exercised regal authority by right of fatherhood; or show any one who being a king was Adam's heir : all that his proofs amount to is only this, that there were fathers, patriarchs, and kings, in that age of the world; but that the fathers and patriarchs had any absolute arbitrary power, or by what titles those kings had theirs, and of what extent it was, the Scripture is wholly silent; it is manifest by right of fatherhood they neither did, nor could claim any title to dominion or empire. $ 151. To say,

6 That the exercise of supreme patriarchal government was intermitted, because they were in subjection to a stronger prince," proves nothing but what I before suspected, viz. “ That patriarchal jurisdiction or government” is a fallacious expression, and does not in 'our author signify (what he would yet insinuate by it) paternal and regal power, such an absolute sovereignty as he supposes was in Adam.

§ 152. For how can he say that patriarchal jurisdiction was intermitted in Egypt, where there was a king, under whose regal government the Israelites were, if patriarchal were absolute monarchical jurisdiction? And if it were not, but something else, why does he make such ado about a power not in question, and nothing to the purpose ? The exercise of patriarchal jurisdiction, if patriarchal be regal, was not intermitted whilst the Israelites were in Egypt. It is true, the exercise of regal power was not then in the hands of any of the promised seeds of Abraham, nor before neither that I know: but what is that to the intermission of regal authority, as descending from Adam; unless our author will have it, that this chosen line of Abraham had the right of inheritance to Adam's lordship? and then to what

purpose are his instances of the 72 rulers, in whom the fatherly authority was preserved in the confusion at Babel ? Why does he bring the 12 princes sons of Ishmael, and the dukes of Edom, and join them with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as examples of the exercise of true patriarchal government, if the exercise of patriarchal jurisdiction were intermitted in the world,

« PreviousContinue »