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great violations of our natural love and rights, be inflicted
and suffered.

2. But the other evils are such as are intolerable in civil
and natural account; and every creature declines death, and
the addresses and preparations to it, with so much earnest-
ness, that it would be very unnatural and inhuman not to
allow to condemned persons a civil and moral power of
hating and declining death, and avoiding it in all means of
natural capacity and opportunity. A man may, if he can,
redeem his life with money, but he must not corrupt justice;
a man may run from prison if he can, but to do it he must
not kill the gaoler ; he may escape death, but he must not
fight with the ministers of justice ; he may run away, but he
must not break his word ; that is, he may do what is in his
natural capacity to avoid these violences and extremities of
nature, but nothing that is against a moral duty. " Non
peccat quisquam, cum evitat supplicium, sedcum facit aliquid
dignum supplicio ; He that avoids his punishment sins not,
provided that in so doing he act nothing else worthy of
punishment : " so St. Austin. 3

3. This relies also upon a tacit or implicit permission of
law ; for in sentences given by judges, and to be executed by
the ministers of law, the condemned person is not commanded,
nor yet trusted with the execution, and it is wholly committed
to ministers of purpose : and therefore the law supposes the
condemned person infinitely unwilling, and lays bars, re-
straints, guards, and observators, upon him ; from all which

Lib. de Mendac. c. 13.


if he can escape, he hath done no more than what the law-
giver supposed he was willing to do, and from which he did
not restrain him hy laws, but by force. But if to fly from
prison, or to decline any other sentence, be expressly for-
bidden in the law, or if it be against his promise, or if a dis-
tinct penalty be annexed to such escapings, then it is plain
that the law intends to oblige the conscience, for the law
cannot punish what is no sin ; it is in this case a transgres-
sion of the law, and therefore not lawful. But because
the law hath no punishment greater than death, it cannot
but be lawful for a condemned man to escape from prison if
he can, because the law hath no punishment to establish a
law against flying from prison after the sentence of death.
And if it be said that if a prisoner who flies be taken, he
hath more irons and more guards upon him, and worse usage
in the prison ; that is matter of caution, not punishment, at
least not of law : for as for the gaoler's spite and anger, his
cruelty and revenge, himself alone is to give accounts.

4. But now for the other part of the rule, there is some
more difficulty ; which is caused by the great example of
some great and little persons, 6 who, to prevent a death by the
hand of their enemies, with the additions of shame and tor-
ment, have laid violent hands upon themselves. So did Zeno
and Chrysippus, Cleanthes and Empedocles, Euphrates the
philosopher and Demosthenes, Cato Uticensis and Porcius
Latro, Aristarchus and Anaxagoras, Cornelius Rufus and
Silius Italicus. The Indians esteemed it the most glorious
way of dying, as we find in Strabo, d Olympiodorus,* and Por-
phyry ; f and Eusebius tells that most of the Germans did use
to hang themselves. And, amongst the Romans, they that
out of shame of being in debt, or impatience of grief, killed
themselves, might make their wills, and after death they
stood ; " manebant testamenta, pretium festinandi," saith
Tacitus, that was "the price of their making haste." Plato, g
discoursing of this question, said, Ou p'evroi "aa; ftidffsrai auroV
o-j yae part Stptrov tivai, " Peradventure a man must not do
violence to himself, for they say it is not lawful." Upon this,
Olympiodorus discoursing on these words, reckons five cases

b Vide Diogen. Laert. in Zenon. Alexander Aj.hrodis. in 2. de Anima. Lu-
cian. in Macrob. Galen. 5. de Loc. Affect. Plutarch, in Pericle. Suidas. Plin.
lib. i. ep. 12. <= Lib. xv. d In Pha;dou. Platon.

. 4. f Aimal. 6. * Phaed. Fischer, c. v. p. 252.


in which the stoics held it lawful to kill themselves. 1 . For
public good ; 2. For private necessity, to avoid a tyrant's
snare ; 3. In cases of natural madness ; 4. When the body
is intolerably afflicted ; 5. and lastly, In extreme poverty.
And the Greeks commended a Pythagorean woman, who
being asked why she and her sect did not eat beans, she said
she would rather eat them than tell : but being commanded
by a tyrant to eat them, she said she would rather tell than
eat them : but, in fine, she cut out her tongue, because she
would neither taste nor tell. Thus Seneca h tells of a pri-
soner, that being to be exposed to beasts in the theatre, he
broke his neck in the spondyls of the wheel upon which he
was drawn to the spectacles ; and of another that died by a
pertinacious holding of his breath. But that of Samson,
and Saul, and Razis, are also brought into example ; and are
alleged to prove that a man may a few hours or days hasten
his death, if by so doing he takes the lighter part. St. Chry-
sostom 1 tells of St. Pelagia; "Pelagia virgo, quindeciin
annos nata, sponte sibi necem maturavit : parata quidem
erat ad cruciatus tormentaque et omne suppliciorum genus
perferenduin : sed mutuebat tamen ne virginitatis coronam
perderet ; Being a virgin of fifteen years of age, of her
own accord she hastened death unto herself: she was indeed
ready to have suffered all sorts of most exquisite torments,
but she was not willing to lose the crown of her virginity."
Upon which fact of hers he thus discourses: "Hence you
may perceive, that the lust of the wicked hangmen struck
fear into Pelagia, and therefore from their injurious lust the
maiden removed and snatched herself: for if she might have
kept the crown of her virginity, and receive the crown of
martyrdom besides, she would not have refused the judgment-
seat; but because it was altogether necessary to lose the one
of them, she had a just cause, by her own voluntary death, to
prevent so great an injury." And St. Ambrose, k writing to
his sister Marcelliua, expressly commends those virgin mar-
tyrs, who, to prevent their ravishments, did hasten their death
by voluntary precipices, or drowning ; and particularly allows
the fact of Pelagia. To which I add also St. Jerome, 1 who,

fc Epist 70. 20. Ruhkopf, vol. ii. p. 331.

1 Vide Front. Duca-uin, torn. i. S. Chrysost. n. 628.

k Lib. iii. de Virgin. ' In c. i. Jonae, in haec verba, Mittite me in mare.


though he gives express testimony to the rule, yet he excepts
the case of chastity ; " Non est nostrum mortem arripere, sed
illatam ab aliis liberiter excipere : unde et in persecutionibus
non licet propria manu, absque eo ubi castitas periclitatur,
sed percutienti colla submittere ; We must not snatch
death with our own hands, but willingly receive it, when it
is imposed by others : and therefore, in persecutions we must
not die by our own hands, unless it be when our chastity is
in danger :"

Heu quanto melius, vel czede peractil,

Parcere Romano potuit fortuna pudori. m

" In other cases we must lay down our necks under him that
strikes." And this seems reasonable, because, as the empe-
ror said, n " Viris bonis metum istum [pudicitiae amittendae]
majorem esse debere quam ipsius mortis ; He that fears
to lose his chastity, fears more justly than he that fears to
lose his life."

5. To this I answer, that the case is indeed very hard ;
and every one in this is apt not only to excuse, but to mag-
nify, the great and glorious minds of those who, to preserve
their honour, despised their life. And, therefore, when the
Muscovites broke into Livonia, and, in their sacking of the
city of Wenden, used all manner of cruelties and barbarous
immanities to men and women, filling all the streets and
houses with blood and lust ; a great many of the citizens
running to the castle, blew up themselves with their wives
and children, to prevent those horrors and shames of lust
which they abhorred more than death. Now Laurentius
Muller, who tells the story, says, that although the preachers
of Riga did in their pulpits condemn this act of the women
and maidens; yet the other -Li vonians and the Muscovites
themselves did not only account it sad and pitiable, but
excellent and admirable. And so the author of the books of
Maccabees commends the fact of Razis as glorious and
great : but yet this does not conclude it lawful ; for it is upon
no account lawful for a man of his own accord to kill himself.

6. St. Austin? denies to him the praise of magnanimity ;
" Magis enim mens infirma deprehenditur, quae ferre non

m Lucan. ii. 517. Oudendorp, p. 152.

beet, quod si ff. quod JNletus Causa. Histor. Septentr.

P Exposit in Johan. tract. 52, et lib. xix. de Civit. Dei.


potest duram corporis sui sanitatem, vel stultam vulgi opi-
nionem ; It is not greatness, but littleness of spirit, it is
either impatience or pride that makes a man kill himself to
avoid trouble to his body, or dishonour to his name amongst
fools." I suppose he had it from Josephus/ who excellently
and earnestly proves it to be cowardice to lay violent hands
upon ourselves ; and both of them might have it from Aris-
totle, 8 who will not allow it so much as to be brave and mag-
nanimous for a man to kill himself for the avoiding of any
evil : Ti> S 1 airodvriffxttv, pevyovra irtviav i] igurot, % 71 XUTTJOOV, oux
av&gtiov, aXXa /iaXXov du\ov, "To die that we may avoid
poverty, the torments of love, or any evil affliction whatso-
ever, is not the part of a valiant man, but of a coward."

Hostem cum fugeret, se Fannius ipse peremit.
Hie, rogo, non furor est, ne moriare, mori ?*

Fannius being pursued by the enemy, killed himself for fear.
It may be cowardice to die in some cases ; and to die to pre-
serve our chastity is to sin to avoid a sin, like Fannius's
case of fear.

Mortisque timorem
Morte fugant ; ultroque vocant venientia fata : B

or as St. Chrysostom's expression is ; Hob TW vavaytou vavxyiy
fffg//3aXX/i ffsavrbv, xal vgiv q d'i^aa^ai TXjyr,v axodvqffxtiv rcu
Bser "To die before the wound is given, and to leap into
the sea for fear of a shipwreck :" it is to do violence to our
body to preserve it chaste, to burn a temple to prevent its
being profaned. And therefore it is no just excuse to say
the virgin-martyrs did it, lest they should lose their crown
of virginity : for though I shall not urge the example of
Abraham, who rather ventured his wife's chastity, than his
own life ; yet this I say, that she that loses it by violence, is
never the less a virgin before God, but much more a martyr.
But then if any one can suppose it fit to be objected, that if
they lost their material virginity, there was danger, lest while
they were abused, they should also be tempted, and consent :
I suppose it will be sufficient to answer, that a certain sin is
not to be done to avoid an uncertain ; and yet further, that

r Bell. Judaic, lib. iii. c. 25. Ethic, ii. 7. Wilkinson, p. 111.

1 Martial, ii. 80. Mattaire, p. 47.

Metamorph. vii. 604.. Mitscherlich, vol. i.p. 507.


this could not be considerable in the case of the martyrs :
for besides that it is supposed that they were infinitely forti-
fied by the grace of God, their austere lives and holy habits,
the rare discourses of their spiritual guides, their expectations
of particular crowns, the great reputation and honour of
virgins, and the spirit of chastity, which then very much pre-
vailed ; besides all this, I say, they had then (particularly
St. Pelagia, and the virgins which St. Ambrose speaks of)
the sentence of death not only within them, but upon them ;
and the immediate torments which they expected after ravish-
ment were a very competent mortification for any such fears.
And therefore, as we should call it cowardice or impatience
for a man to kill himself, that he may die an easy death, and
prevent the hangman's more cruel hands ; so it is a foolish
and unreasonable caution, and a distrust of the sufficiency of
the Divine grace, to rush violently to death, lest we should
be dishonoured or tempted in another instance : and it is not
bravery, but want of courage ; /zaXax/'a yaa rb <$wyuv rat,
ET/T&>a, it is "softness and effeminacy by death to fly the
labours" of a sadder accident, says Aristotle. 1 But be it this
or not, it is certain it is something as bad.

7. (1.) It is directly against the commandment: "And
it is not for nothing that in all the canonical books we find
no precept, no permission from God," saith St. Austin, y
" ut vel adipiscendse ipsius immortalitatis, vel ullius carendi
cavendique mali causa, nobismet ipsis necera inferamus.
Nam et prohibitos nos esse intelligendum est, ubi lex ait,
non occides ; that either for the gaining of immortality it-
self, or for the avoiding of any evil, we should kill ourselves."
It is something like this which Aristotle says : z Td ^b yd*
sen ruv 6/xa/wv, rd xard Tatfac a.strr,v uiri rou v6>j,ou rtrayi^i'
ya, oiov ou x&tvsi iavrbv aToxrevE/V 6 VO/AOS' a 8e /ij) xsXfUE/,
d-TayooE-jE/ " Those things which the decrees have appointed
agreeable to virtue, those are to go for laws ; as for exam-
pie, The law does not command any man to kill himself, and
because the law does not command, therefore it does forbid :"
that is, because the law commands no man (though he be
condemned) to kill himself, therefore the law forbids him to
do it to himself; the law will not make a man executioner

Ubi supra. j Lib. i. c. 20, de Civit. Dei.

1 Eth. Nic. lib. vi. c. 11. Wilkinson, p. 2ii.


even of her sentence, therefore she permits him not to exe-
cute his own. But St. Austin adds beyond this, " For then
we were forbidden to do it, when God said, * Thou shalt do
no murder.' " And therefore it is observable, that although
God said, * Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy
neighbour;' yet he did not in this commandment add that
clause of ' contra proximum,' nor in that of adultery ; inti-
mating, that we must neither pollute nor destroy our own
bodies, any more than the body of our neighbour.

8. (2.) To prevent the hand of justice or of tyranny in
striking, is sometimes to prevent the hand of God in saving,
and is an act of desperation against the hopes of a good
man, and the goodness of God : for help may come in the
interval. Caius the emperor commanded some to be put to
death, whom he presently after infinitely wished to have been
alive ; the haste of the executioners destroyed the men more
than the rage of the prince : and it is all one if the man him-
self be hasty. And Pontanus tells us, that when Angelus
Konconius was accused to Pope Nicolas V. that he had given
way to Aversus whom the pope's forces had enclosed, and
gave leave to him to pass over the Tiber, the pope commanded
him to be proceeded against according to law ; but when he
rose in the morning, and told his ministers he would more
maturely consider the cause of Ronconius, they told him he
was that very night put to death, which caused extreme grief
to the pope. Concerning a man's life, all delay is little
enough ; and therefore for himself to hasten it is against
prudence, and hope, and charity.

9. (3.) The argument of Lactantius a is very good : "Si
homicida nefarius est, qui hominis extinctor est, eidem sce-
leri obstrictus est qui se necat ; If he that kills another is
a wicked homicide, so also is he that kills himself." Nay,
he is worse, said St. Chrysostom. b And this besides that
it relies upon the unlimited, indefinite commandment, which
must be understood universally but where God hath ex-
pressly set it limits ; and though he hath given leave to
public magistrates to do it, who therefore are not under that
commandment, yet because he hath not given leave to
ourselves to do it to ourselves, therefore we are under the
commandment : besides this, I say, it relies also upon this

Lib. iii. Instil, c. 28. b In Epist. ad Gal. c. i.


reason, that our love to ourselves is the measure of charity
to our neighbours ; and if we must not kill our neighbour
because we must love him as ourself, therefore neither must
we kill ourselves ; for then we might also kill our neighbour,
the reason and the measure, the standard and the proportion,
being taken away.

10. (4.) To put ourselves to death without the command
of God or his lieutenant, is impiety and rebellion against
God ; it is a desertion of our military station, and a violation
of the proprieties and peculiar rights of God, who only hath
power over our lives, and gives it to whom he pleases : and
to this purpose Cicero c commends that saying of Pythago-
ras : " Nequis injussu imperatoris, id est, Dei, de praesidio et
statione vitse decedat;" God is our general, and he hath
commanded to us our abode and station, which, till he call
us off, must not be deserted : and the same doctrine he re-
cites out of Plato : d " Piis omnibus retinendum esse animum
in custodia corporis ; nee injussu ejus, a quo ille est vobis
datus, ex hominum vita migrandum esse, ne munus huma-
num assignatum a Deo defugisse videamur." The reason is
very good : " God gave us our soul and fixed it in the prison
of the body, tying it there to a certain portion of work, and
therefore we must not without his leave go forth, lest we run
from our work that God hath commanded us." Josephus
says, it is like a servant running away from his master's ser-
vice : " Et servos quidem fugientes ulcisci justum creditur,
quamvis nequam dominos fugerint ; ipsi vero fugientes Deum
et optimum Deum, impie facere non videbiinur? If ser-
vants fly from their cruel masters, they are justly punished ;
shall it not be accounted impiety to fly from our good God,
our most gracious Master?" And therefore Brutus con-
demned the fact of Cato, his father-in-law : 'fls ofy tffiot oW
av&go; l^yov I/TTO^WSE/V ru 8a.i'j,ovt, xai //,)} ds%f(&a,i rJ tfu/tT/cr-
TOV afau;, a>.x' uKizdidsa.ffxeiv " It was neither manly nor
pious to sink under his fortune, and to fly away from those
evils which he ought to have borne nobly." And therefore
the Hebrews called dying aKol.vteSai, a dismission : " Lord,
now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace," said old Si-
meon ; " Nunc dimittis." When God gives us our pass, then

e De Senect. c. XT. sect. 5. Wetzel, p. 109.

d Somn. Scip. c. iii. Tooly.p. 318 See Fischer's Pbaedon, c. v. and vii.


we must go, but we must not offer it an hour before : he that
does otherwise is, 1, ungrateful to God, by destroying the
noblest of his works below ; 2, impious, by running from
his service ; and 3, distrustful of his providence. " Nisi
Deus is, cujus hoc templum est omne quod conspicis, istis
te corporis cuslodiis liberaverit, hue tibi aditus patere non
potest," said Cicero,' " Unless God open the gate for you,
you can never pass from the prison of the body, and enter
into heaven." And the same is affirmed by Hierocles/ which
I tell for the strangeness of it ; for he was a Stoic, yet, against
the opinion of his sect, he spake on the behalf of reason
and religion : and this is the Christian sense,

*-"*? 6ict'

said St. Gregory Nyssen; g "We must stand bound, till
God untie us."

1 1 . (5.) For a man to kill himself is against the law, and
the voice and the very prime inclination of nature. Every
thing will preserve itself: "No man hateth his own flesh,
but nourisheth and cherisheth it," saith the apostle : and
therefore generally all nations, as taught by the voice of na-
ture, by the very first accents which she utters to all men,
did abhor the laying violent hands upon themselves. When.
some of the old Romans hanged themselves to avoid the
slavery that Tarquiiiius Superbus imposed upon them of
making public draught-houses, he commanded the dead
bodies to be crucified, said Servius. h So did Ptolemy to the
body of Cleomenes, who had killed himself; and Aristotle
says it was everywhere received, that the dead bodies of
self-murderers should be disgraced some way or other ; dra-
<pief vfSgifyiv rbv vtxgbv, 'by denying them burial:' that was
the usual way. So did the Milesians to their maidens who
hanged themselves, they exposed their bodies to a public
spectacle : and Strabo tells that the Indian priests and wise
men blamed the fact of Calanus, and that they hated those
hasty deaths of impatient or proud persons. " Alieno sce-
lere quam meo mori malo,"said King Darius ; " I had rather
die by the wickedness of another, than by my own."

Soran. Scip. c. iii. Tooly, p. 317.

' Ad Carm. aur. Py th. Needham, p. 68.

I Jamb. 18. b In xii.


12. (6.) Aristotle says, that they who kill themselves,
hastening their own death before God or the public com-
mands them, are injurious to the commonwealth ; from
whose service and profit they subtract themselves, if they be
innocent, and if they be criminal, they withdraw themselves
from her justice: ' Xbr/.-f ago.' aXXefc r/va; rr t v ro'X/v* xa/ rn;
a.rifj,!a trioffEffr! r< lavrbi ftiafdthctvri, us rqv crdX/v dS/xouxr;'
" He that kills himself, does wrong to the city ; and is, after
death, disgraced as an unjust person to the public." 1

13. Now then to the examples and great precedents
above mentioned I shall give this answer. (l.)That Samson
is by all means to be excused, because St. Paul accounts him
in the catalogue of saints who died in faith ; and therefore
St. Austin k says ' he did it by a peculiar instinct and inspira-
tion of the Spirit of God.' But no man can tell whether he
did or no : and therefore .1 like that better, which Peter
Martyr says in this inquiry ; ' he did primarily and directly
intend only to kill the enemies of God, which was properly
his work, to which he was in his whole calling designed by
the Spirit of God ; but that he died himself in the ruin, was
his suffering, but not his design ; but like a soldier fighting
against his enemies, at the command of his general undertakes
the service, though he knows he shall die for it.' Thus do
the mariners blow up themselves _in a sea-fight, when they
can no otherwise destroy the enemy ; they do it as ministers
of justice, and by command ; else they are not to be excused ;
and he that gives it must take care it be just and reasonable.
Thus did the brave Eleazar 1 Savaran, the brother of Judas
Maccabaeus : he, supposing their grand enemy Antiochus to
be upon a towered elephant, goes under the beast and kills
him, who with his fall crushed the brave prince to death ; he
intended to kill not himself, but, to kill Antiochus, he
would venture himself or suffer death.

14. (2.) The fact of Saul is no just precedent; it looks
like despair : but the Hebrews say, that it is not lawful for
any man to die by his own hands, unless the prolongation
of his life be a dishonour to God, and to a cause of religion ;
and upon this account they excuse both Saul and Samson,
for they knew that if they should fall or abide respectively

' Lib. v. c. 1 1. Eth. Wilkinson, p. 224.

k Lib. i. de Civil. Dei, c. 16 et 21. > 1 Mace. vi. 43,


in the hands of scorners, the dishonour of their persons would
disparage the religion, and reach to God. So they. But
this is not right : for we only are to take care of the laws of
God, and of his glory in the ways of his own appointment ;
for extraordinaries and rare contingencies, let him alone ; he
will secure his own glory.

15. (3.) For Razias, Lipsius says it is a question whether
it was well or ill done ; and who please to see it disputed,
may read Lucas Brugensis on one side, and Nicolaus de
Lyra upon the other. For my own part, I, at no hand, be-
lieve it fit to be imitated ; but concerning what brave and
glorious persons do, and by what spirit they acted, I am not
willing to give hasty sentence : for there are many secrets
which we know not ; but we are to follow our rule, and not
to trust any spirit, of which we are not sure it is from God.

16. (4.) But of that which is most difficult, I have already
spoken something ; but shall add more : for it is a pitiable
case that virtuous women, highly sensible of their honour,
zealous for chastity, despisers of life, should not as well
receive the reward of their suffering to preserve the interest
of chastity, as of any other grace ; especially since they
choose death rather than shame, and would not willingly
choose either, but being forced, run to death for sanctuary.

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