Page images

yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, Thou shalt not live; and his father and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through when he prophesieth.”, Zech. xiii. 3. Here not the father only, but the father and mother jointly, had power in this case of life and death. Thus ran the law of the Old Testament, and in the New they are likewise joined, in the obedience of their children, Eph. vi. 1. The rule is, Children, obey your parents;" and I do not remember, that I any

where read, “ Children, obey your father,” and no more: the Scripture joins mother too in that homage which is due from children; and had there been any text, where the honour or obedience of children had been directed to the father alone, it is not likely that our author, who pretends to build all upon Seripture, would have omitted it: nay, the Scripture makes the authority of father and mother, in respect of those they have begot, so equal, that in some places it neglects even the priority of order, which is thought due to the father, and the mother is put first, as Lev. xix. 3. From which so constantly joining father and mother together, as is found quite through Scripture, we may conclude that the honour they have a title to from their children is one common right belonging so equally to them both, that neither can claim it wholly, neither can be excluded.

62. One would wonder then how our author infers from the fifth commandment, that all“

power was originally in the father;" how he finds « monarchical power of government settled and fixed by the com- . mandment, Honour thy father and thy mother.” If all the honour due by the commandment, be it what it will, be the only right of the father, because he, as our author says, " has the sovereignty over the wo-, man, as being the nobler and principal agent in generation,” why did God afterwards all along join the mother with him, to share in his honour ? Can the father, by this sovereignty of his, discharge the child from paying this honour to his mother? The Scripture gave no such licence to the Jews, and yet there were often

[ocr errors]


breaches wide enough betwixt husband and wife, even to divorce and separation : and, I think, nobody will say a child may withhold honour from his mother, or, as the Scripture terms it, “set light by her,” though his father should command him to do so; no more than the mother could dispense with him for neglecting to honour his father: whereby it is plain, that this command of God gives the father no sovereignty, no supremacy:

§ 63. I agree with our author that the title to this honour is vested in the parents by nature, and is a right which accrues to them by their having begotten their children, and God by many positive declarations has confirmed it to them: I also allow our author's rule, “ that in grants and gifts, that have their original from God and nature, as the power of the father,” (let me add " and mother,” for whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder) “ no inferior power of men can limit, nor make any law of prescription against them,” O. 158: so that the mother having, by this law of God, a right to honour from her children, which is not subject to the will of her husband, we see this “absolute monarchical power of the father” can neither be founded on it, nor consist with it; and he has a power very far from monarchical, very far from that absoluteness our author contends for, when another has over his subjects the same power he hath, and by the same title: and therefore he cannot forbear saying himself that “ he cannot see how any man's children can be free from subjection to their parents," p. 12; which, in common speech, I think, signifies mother as well as father, or if parents here signifies only father, it is the first time I ever yet knew it to do so, and by such an use of words one may say any thing.

$ 64. By our author's doctrine, the father having absolute jurisdiction over his children, has also the same over their issue; and the consequence is good, were it true that the father had such a power: and yet I ask our author whether the grandfather, by his sovereignty, could discharge the grandchild from paying to his father the honour due to him by the fifth commandment. If the grandfather hath, by “ right of fatherhood,” sole

sovereign power in him, and that obedience which is due to the supreme magistrate be commanded in these words, “ Honour thy father,” it is certain the grandfather might dispense with the grandson's honouring his father, which since it is evident in common sense he cannot, it follows from hence, that “honour thy father and mother” cannot mean an absolute subjection to a sovereign power, but something else. The right therefore which parents have by nature, and which is confirmed to them by the fifth commandment, cannot be that political dominion which our author would derive from it: for that being in every civil society supreme somewhere,can discharge any subject from any political obedience to any one of his fellow-subjects. But what law of the magistrate can give a child liberty not to “honour his father and mother?” It is an eternal law, annexed purely to the relation of parents and children, and so contains nothing of the magistrate's power in it, nor is subjected to it.

$ 65. Our author says, “ God hath given to a father a right or liberty to alien his power over his children to any other," O. 155. I doubt whether he can alien wholly the right of honour that is due from them; but be that as it will, this I am sure, he cannot alien and retain the same power. If therefore the magistrate's sovereignty be, as our author would have it,

nothing but the authority of a supreme father," p. 23, it is unavoidable, that if the magistrate hath all this paternal right, as he must have if fatherhood be the fountain of all authority; then the subjects, though fathers, can have no power over their children, no right to honour from them : for it cannot be all in another's hands, and a part remain with the parents. So that, according to our author's own doctrine, “Honour thy father and mother” cannot possibly be understood of political subjection and obedience: since the laws both in the Old and New Testament, that commanded children to “honour and obey their parents,” were given to such, whose fathers were under civil government, and fellow-subjects with them in political societies; and to have bid them “ honour and obey their parents," in our author's sense, had been to bid them be subjects to those who had no title to it: the right to obedience from subjects being all vested in another; and instead of teaching obedience, this had been to foment sedition, by setting up powers that were not. If therefore this command, “Honour thy father and mother," concern political dominion, it directly overthrows our author's monarchy: since it being to be paid by every child to his father, even in society, every father must necessarily have political dominion, and there will be as many sovereigns as there are fathers: besides that the mother too hath her title, which destroys the sovereignty of one supreme monarch. But if “ Honour thy father and mother” mean something distinct from political power, as necessarily it must, it is besides our author's business, and serves nothing to his purpose.

§ 66. “ The law that enjoins obedience to kings is delivered,” says our author, “in the terms, Honour thy

j's father, as if all power were originally in the father, O. 254 : and that law is also delivered, say I, in the terms, “ Honour thy mother,” as if all power were originally in the mother. I appeal whether the argument be not as good on one side as the other, father and mother being joined all along in the Old and New Testament wherever honour or obedience is enjoined children. Again, our author tells us, 0. 251, “ that

" this command, Honour thy father, gives the right to govern, and makes the form of government monarchical.” To which I answer, that if by “Honour thy father” be meant obedience to the political power of the magistrate, it concerns not any duty we owe to our natural fathers, who are subjects; because they, by our author's doctrine, are divested of all that power, being placed wholly in the prince, and so being equally subjects and slaves with their children, can have no right, by that title, to any such honour or obedience as contains in it political subjection : if “ Honour thy father and mother” signifies the duty we owe our natural parents, as by our Saviour's interpretation, Matth. xv. 4, and all the other mentioned places, it is plain it does; then it cannot concern political obedience, but a


duty that is owing to persons who have no title to sovereignty, nor any political authority as magistrates over subjects. For the person of a private father, and a title to obedience, due to the supreme magistrate, are things inconsistent; and therefore this command, which must necessarily comprehend the persons of natural fathers, must mean a duty we owe them distinct from our obedience to the magistrate, and from which the most absolute power of princes cannot absolve us. What this duty is, we shall in its due place examine.

$ 67. And thus we have at last got through all, that in our author looks like an argument for that absolute unlimited sovereignty described, sect. 8, which he supposes in Adam; so that mankind have ever since been all born slaves, without any title to freedom. But if creation, which gave nothing but a being, made not Adam prince of his posterity: if Adam, Gen. i. 28, was not constituted lord of mankind, nor had a private dominion given him exclusive of his children, but only a right and power over the earth and inferior creatures in common with the children of men: if also, Gen. iii. 16, God gave not any particular power to Adam over his wife and children, butonly subjected Eve to Adam, as a punishment, or foretold the subjection of the weaker sex, in the ordering the common concernments of their families, but gave not thereby to Adam, as to the husband, power of life and death, which necessarily belongs to the magistrate: if fathers by begetting their children acquire no such power over them; and if the command, “ Honour thy father and mother,” give it not, but only enjoins a duty owing to parents equally, whether subjects or not, and to the mother as well as the father: if all this be so, as I think by what has been said is very evident; then man has a natural freedom, notwithstanding all our author confidently says to the contrary; since all that share in the same common nature, faculties, and powers, are in nature equal, and ought to partake in the same common rights and privileges, till the manifest appointment of God, who is “ Lord over all, blessed for ever,” can be produced to show any particular person's supremacy; or a man's own

« PreviousContinue »