John Fortescue.

The works of Sir John Fortescue, Knight, Chief Justice of England and Lord Chancellor to King Henry the Sixth (Volume 1) online

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great and divine a gift ; but we believe it to have emanated from juftice, juft: as we faid above
that radiance trowed t'rom light, heat from tire, water from the Ipring, and knowledge
from the human mind. And as the aforefiid Auguftine likened the generation ot the lohir
ray and the flowing t'orth of the fpring-water to the generation ot the Eternal Son, he
emboldens us to fay that the production of the law of nature may, without the brand of
rafhnefs, be likened to the fame Divine generation. Whence with Chrift, who iaith, " I am
in the Father and the Father in me," the Law of Nature may fay, I am in Juftice and Juftice
is in me. Wherefore, we alio, with the fime Lord who faid to Philip, " He who leeth me
feeth my Father alfo," are furely able to fay, He who looks upon the law of nature rightly
with the eye of refledion truly contemplates that juftice likewife which brought it turth.
Thus when the mode of the origin of juftice is lliown, the manner ot the birth of the law ot
nature is at the fame time revealed.

Is not, then, the law of nature moft rightly detincd in what goes before, whei it is
afferted to be the truth of juftice, llich as human realon is capable of untoiding ; ftnce as
God is the Son of God, the uncreated Truth of the Father, lb the Law of Nature is begotten
of Juftice, the created Truth of Juftice, which, itfelf eternal, now regulates iince its founda-
tion the world which Eternal Truth hath founded ?
1; .H H.


2 34 On the Law of Nature.



Chai>. XXXVllI.

Row the Laiv of Nature \vas created.

^P~7.{|R0M what hath been above written we now underftand how the Law of Nature
before it came into being, was, by the oracle of Divine Providence, ordained to
be afterwards created ; but how it was perfeftly created is not yet n-.ade known
to us. The book of Genefis, therefore, aforefaid, wliich revealed to us the Divine counfel
concerning its creation then to come, mud, we believe, be confulted and examined concerning
its perfeifl creation. But in the 2nd chapter of the faid book it is thus written : " There-
tore the Lord God formed man of the clay of the earth, and breathed intc his countenancj
the breath ot lite, and man was made into a living foul." The Lord d.-termined above
that He would form for Himfelf a minilkr, and Himfelf marked out what his miniiliry
fhould be. That minifter whom, before he was made, the Lord foretold thould be man, hath
now been made. Hath not, then, the office of his minillry, which the Lord alfo proi lifed
that man fliould have, been with the faid man made perlcd ? for, as is above writien. the
Lord faith, conjundively, "Let us make man, and let him prefide (pra-Jtt) ovei e .'ery
creature;" whence it is inferred that in no inftant of time could man have exited, Liit that
in the fame inflant he prefided over every creature. Man, therefore, was made into a living
loul, and was at the fame time made the Prelate (pre/atiis) of the world, which could not have
been if he had not had the prelacy {prelatiaui) thereof". The minifter, therefore, whom the
Lord promifed He would make hath now been made; and in like manner the office of his
miniftry, which was the prelacy of the world, hath been together with the lame mai. made
perfecft ; and ieeing that the faid office without juftice could not be, as above (hown, it is thus
clearly taught in the foregoing that, together with man and his office, in their creation jniHce
alfo was created. And feeing thatjullice and the law of nature are proved to be of oiiL'fub-
ftance (although accidental), of one quality and nature, and therefore o>ie, we are moll lurely
inflrufled that the law of nature was created in one and the fune iniLint togetlier W'itli ijian ;
whence we are compelled to iay that law and man are coeval, as were the firfl man, his reafon,
his will, and his memory, which powers, before they exilled, the Lord did not expr^fsly
promife He would make, but when Lie decreed to make man at"ter His own image. He at
the fame time, by way of inclullon, ordained thefe powers whereby man fiould io be
fafhioned. So, likewife, when He ordained the office of governing the world, 1 le ordained
at the fame time the creation of that jultice by which the world lliould be govei neO ; which
thing He exprefsly and perfeftly accomplifhed when He made man upright and pon'efTxi of
a good will, as is above more fully declared. And thus at one and the fame time was made
the fubftance, namely, man, and the accident, namely, the law of nature, fo infufed into and

'ART I.] ■ On the Law of Nature.


innate in man, that it can by no force be feparateci from him, becaufe, as when the Lord
faici, " Let the earth bring fortli the green herb," the eartli was imbued with the natural
power of producing iierbs (as fiith St. Thomas); fo, when the Lord had faid that the man
about to be created fliould prefide over the whole creation, when he was created lie was
endued in his creation with the office of the world's prelacy, and at the fame time the law of
nature alfo was made, and thus that office and law are innate in him, contemporary with him,
and eternal ; fo that by reafon of fo great a union with, inherence in, and participation of
human nature, that law hath from the faid nature drawn its name, and is called the Law of
Nature, which law together with human nature, before they came into being, was by the
oracle of the Divine voice predeftinated, then with the fame nature jointly created, and fo,
one by and through the other, they rule the whole creation. Concerning this law, alfo, the
Canons before mentioned (ay that it began from the beginning of the rational creation that
is to fay, man ; in which words this propofition " from" is taken to be ufed not exclufu'cly,
but inclufively, as when it is laid in the Gofpel, " Poflcfs ye the kingdom prepared for you
from the foundation of the world," this prepofition " from" doth not fay that the founda-
tion of the world was before the preparation of the kingdom for them that fliould be faved.
So, alfo, there was no time in which the human race was not fubjeOt to the law of nature.
For after the creation of man the Lord ceafed thenceforth to form new creatures. I'hus,
therefore, and in this fafhion was the law of nature eftabliflied, whofe origin we have fo
diligently bufied ourfelves to inveftigate.

Chap. XXXIX. ;

It is here Piown how Jitjlice reinained in man, after that man had abandoned her.

^rfSr^y/7f HEN now we call to mind that jullice, which is no other than the law of nature,
^V7\w='^ is the will that alliens to every man his right (/"-')> ^'id that it hath been above
^cvjfey'i'5^ laid down that the fiill man, allured by another will, abandoned her, we are
compelled to afk where juiVice went when flie thus cfeafed to dwell with man. But if the
things above handled be firmly fixed in our minds, this which is now fought becomes maiii-
fetl without the inlfruttion of a teacher. l<'or the law of nature, abounding as it doth with
certain dill:in6t operations, and as it were powers, by which, while always itfelf one, it difp ays
in divers manners the effefts of its virtue, we have likened, even as we do the human loul,
to the image of the Divine efl'ence. Wherefore fince Holy Scripture frec|uently relates hat
God, who fills the whole world with His ellence, prefence, and power, is fometunes prefent,
fometimes abfent, and yet He, from whom all things, in whom all things, and by whom all
things are made and exiit can nowhere be wanting; although lb often as He cherilhes us with
the good things of His bounty, we fiiy Ik' is prefent with us, and when He withholds tJ;e

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236 On the Law of Natwe. [part i.

fame from us, we complain that He is abfent; fo juftice alfo, which as the print of His
footfteps we have likened to God, we fpeak of as abfent from us, fo often as we withdraw
ourfelves from her laws; and yet flie herfelf doth never defert us ; but tliofe wliom fometimes
fhe cannot reward for their deferts, feeing they have none, (he ceafes not to puniih for their
crime ; and thus is ever prefent with us, punidiing, directing, rewarding, according as our
deferts require. For flie doth not, like bodily things, fo occupy fpace, that when deprived
of the dwelling-place of man's will fhe can no longer fubfill: within us; but, as God, whom
the fmner oftentimes carts out of his foul, doth not run to and fro as a wanderer from that
His hoft, but ftill abiding with him preferves him in being, and, feeing He cannot reward
him for his deferts, doth not ceafe to puniih him for his offences, even fo doth julHce abide
ever m man, and with man, never devoid of efteft, but always ruling him, and paying him,
one way or the other, the wages which he hath earned. And although the Laws define
juftice to be a perfed: will, Anfelm, as before recited, doth not ^ly that ihe is will,, but
redtitude of will, whence indeed a will poiTcirmg rectitude is not called merely a right will,
but rightly takes the name of julHce. bor, as fiith St. Augulfine, in the 14th Book, De
Civitate Dei, " Will in all things, yea all will, is no other than particular wills are." Where'on'
alfo he fays— " What is defire and joy but will in accord with thofe things which we \/ifl-
for ? And what is fear and fadnefs but will in difcord with the things which we would noi
have r" Thus therefore we too may fay — Wliat is julfice but will in accord with a perpetual
conihncy in rendering to each and every man that which is his due ? Wherefore as the
paifions aforefaid feem to ceafe in man fo often as his will in accord or difcord with them,
comes to a (fop, fo alfo virtue, which is juftice, is faid to ceafe in man fo often as man's will
ceafes to be in accord with re(5titude. But as the paffions aforefaid are not by man's difc jrd
with them altogether extind: in man, fo neither is juftice extinguiftved, although fometimes it
ftand not in man's will, and fo worketh no merit for itfelf. t

Chap. XL.

How the name of Juftice hath a likenefs to the name of Man.

>UT in order that theie things may be made more clearly and openly manifeft, let
SI ^^ "^ confider what follows. Man, as aforefaid, is made after the image of God,
C^t^^ vs^^ ""J yt-'t the ftrufture ot the human body, which is compofed of flefli, nerves, and
bones, beareth no likenefs to God, who is a Spirit without ftefti, nerves, or bones ; bi t becaufe
the foul of man is the true image of God, therefore, by reafon of the union of flefh and fpirit,
whereby foul and flefh are one man, the whole man is fiid to be made after the image of God,
as the Mafter of the Sentences teaches upon the Firft Kpilllc of Paul to the Corinthians,
chap. 1 1. So that power of the human foul which is called will, and oftentimes wills good


r[ ,., , i

PART 1.3 0)1 the Law of Nature.


and often evil, is not always jullice, which is virtue; but whenfoever the faid will firmly
willeth juftice, then by reaion ot its union with juftice the whole will hath the name of
juftice, and may be called fteadfaft and perpetual, becaufe that which it willeth is Ik-adfaft and
perpetual; but when it ceafeth to will the fame, then likewife it rightly ceafes to he called
juftice. Wherefore fince will and jultlce are fo united, they both thus joined in one are
entitled to be called jullice, as flefh and foul are entitled to be called one man. And thus
juftice returns and departs at the pleafure of human will, although when once abandoned man
recovers her not, unlefs when the grace of the Firlt Giver, who only juftifies the ungodly,
grants her to him again. Neverthelefs, though fhe thus changes her place with man, ihe yet
abides tor ever a conltant and perpetual virtue, granted to man anew, {o often as God gives
him the will to recover once more her whom he had loft ; and will, which alone is power,
varies its adfions in divers manners at its own pleafure.

Chap. XLI.

See how original jiijlice differs from natural jujtice.

4 'V^iw ^^ thing fliil remains to be explored, which thus far darkens, as it were with
^ w§^7/^ the fliadovv ot a cloud, the pert'eft notion of juflice. P'or jullice, which inckided
ng^^jK^! the grace that maketh acceptable, was in her beginning of fo great efficacy and
vigour, that if man had kept her he had been free from all trouble, and full of wifdom, and
could not have died, but, all the grievouineis of corruption being put away, he might in his
own fafhion have attained to equality with the angels, I'his doth not ftand forth as the
juftice whofe birth we are declaring ; wherefore we are conftrained to confefs either that there
were two kinds of juftice created, or that this one to which we are doing honour is not con-
ftant and perpetual, feeing fhe hath loft fuch mighty benefits which her virtue would have
procured her. But tar be it from us to fay that there were two kinds of juftice created; and
no lefs are we confounded if we lay upon juftice the fin of mutability or inconftancy. We
know, indeed, that the One God created after His own likenefs one man, one juftice, and fo
likewife one law of nature in the form which we have dilclofed. But that juftice, yea and
that man, He blefted abundantly in their beginning with fuch an affluence of His grace,
that if man had kept the fame juftice undefiled and unimpaired, he would have been borne
without the coft of troubles to the aforcfaid equality with the angels. But man, alas!
abandoned that juftice, and fo was deprived of the grace aforefaid, and therefore wounded
with ignorance, malice, infirmity, and luft. For in the uprightnefs of this juftice, whic.i was
the gift of fupernatural grace, man was made ; and ihe worked in him the fubjcdfion of his
reafon to the lupernatural God, fo that his body alio was perfectly iubdued to his ipirit, and

1 r! )■>!!!, V

.(); mrn

1 i'?liJ>V

2 3^ 0)1 the Law 0/ Nature. [part i.

his lower powers to his reafon. From whence, according to Auguftine, the love of man to
God was then undifturbed and was true love [charitas), and fo his condirion alfo was holy
and above nature. h'or it his Itate had been only natLiral, it would lia/c remained the dime
even after fin, becaufe, according to Dionyfius, even in the demons the natural faculties given
remained entire after {\n, which was not the Hate of man after his fdl. I<"or he, teehng the
motion of his flefli to be difobedient to his fpirit, was confounded by his nakednefs, and fo
received a punifliment correlponding to ins difobedience. This julTiicej io long as grace fo
abounded, we have called original jullice ; but when bereaved of this great grace, we iliffer
it not to be called original, but juitice only. Are we, then, from this taught to confefs that
there were two kinds of julfice, or can JLiftice thence be branded vvith the vice of mutability
or inconltancy ? Nay, not fo, for ihe is ever the fame in kind, although by man's neglect
file be now deprived of the benefit of fo great grace. What doth it take from the nature
of cliaflity that chafiity once fpoiled is not virgin chalHty ? The grace which the virgin
poflefled hath departed, and fo the merit of her chartitv, although (he ftili remain continent^,
is diminiilied ; yet is the virtue of chaftity, in ref[-)e6l of the genus of virtue, ever the
fame in any celibate woman as in a virgin. So alfo what is called original fin, which is
deicribed in our firft parent as " the want of original juftice, together with the duty ot
pofTefiing it," was nothing elfe with refpeifl to the genus of fin than an averfion from un-
changeable good and a turning towards changeable good, even as all actual fin likewife is,
although one fin be heavier than another ; but that firfl one, becaufe it was the origin of all
the fins of the human race, concerning which the Apoftle faith (in the 5th chapter to the
f^omans), " By one man fin entered into this world, and death by fin," is defignated by the
name of original fin; and yet that and every mortal fin are of equal badnefs in reipecl of die
mode and kind of finning. So Saul, when he was made Paul, was the fame man as before,
but in a different ftate of grace, and fo he changed his name together with his charadler ; fo
likewife Peter, who at firft was called Simon Barjonas, when grace was given him, changed
alfo his name. Thus juftice alfo is not changed, although it acquire different nameij,
according to the abundance of the grace given to it ; for, as the Canons above quoted
fay of the law of nature, juftice began from the beginning of the rational creation, and
hath never been changed, but abides immutable.

PART I.] On the Law of Nature.


Chap. XLII.

H'h(r(fore the luiw of Nature is called Divine, a>id dau^^hter of the Divine Law.

^tiY'rtfM '^ ^^'''^ "°^^' "'^ffi'"'^s, fo thoroughly fearched out the nature ami efficacy of the
^Y\wJ& law of nature, that there remains for us no more jultice to be done to its power,
2^^ \ M dignity, or virtue. Neverthelefs, inafmuch as IfiJore, in his Book of l'',tymologies,
aaJ likcwifc the Canons, gives to that law the name ot Jus Divianiu, we too have faid above
ihit flic is the daughter of Eternal Law. But whence it is that thefe high titles belong to
her is not yet unfolded ; and it we fay that they came to her from her creation, as we have
difclofcd it, we thereby decorate all created things everywhere with like honours, wl ich is
not to be thought of. We muft, therefore, fearch out fome other caufe why the -aw of
nature is to be graced with thefe names, or elfe leave thefe things, as before, to be troubled
by the clouds in which juftice is enveloped. We judge it, therL-fore, neceifary to inc^uire firft
of all what that Law Divine is whofe daughter we have called the Law of Nature, and when
we know this thoroughly, we fhall perhaps apprehend in like manner why the law of nature
is named a Divine law. Now, St. Augufline (Contra Fauflum, book xxii.) faith thus, " That
is called fin which is done or defired contrary to eternal law, and by eternal law I mean Divine
Providence." From thefe words it is evident that the Saint taught Divine Providence to be
divine law, feeing that eternity docs not differ from divinity, nor yet divinity from eternity.
What, then, this Providence is, which Auguftine thus calls the law of God, we will further a(k.
Boethius, in his book of the Confolations of Philofophy, faith thus — " Providence is the
Divine reafon itfelf feated in the fupreme Governor of all, whereby it difpofes all things."
If it difpofe all things, it follows that it difpofes the law of nature. Boethius, however,
difclofes the thing much more openly when he fays in the fame book, " Tlie generation of
all things, and the whole progrefs of changeable natures, and whatever in any way is fubjed:
to movement, hath its caufes, order, ami form from the liability of the Divine miiul. This
latter, tranquil in the art of its own fim[ilicity, lays down a maiutold method for the ordering
of affairs, which method, when it is beheld in the very purity of the Divine intelligence, is
called Providence." With thefe agrees Damafcene, in the Second Book of the Sentences,
when he fiiys, " Providence is the will of God, whereby all things that are acquire a fitting
conduct;" from which things we are now clearly taught what that Divine I'rovidei ce is
which Auguftine affirms to be Divine law, and fo we have found the mother whofe dau diter
we have affcrted the law of nature to be. But why this latter fltould be called the daughter
of the former, or have the name of Divine Law, hath not yet been Chown. Concerning thefe
things, therefore, it feems the fitting time to feek the counfels of fome of our forefathers. Now
St. Thomas (in Prima Secundic, Ouedione Ixxx.xj., Articulo ij".) iaith thus; "All things

>i (• s


240 Ofi the Laiii of Nature. [


which are rubje(ft to Divine Providence piirtake of the eternal law in fo far as they have
inclinations toward their proper aftions and ends; and among the reft the rational creature
is fubjecft in a certain excellent manner to Divine I'rovidence, in lii far as it is itfelf parta cer
of the faculty of providence, as providing hetorehand for itfelf and for others ; whence there
is in it a partaking ot the eternal reafon, whereby it hath a natural inclination to its rightfid
aiflion and end, and inch participation of the eternal law in a rational creature is called tlie
law of nature ; and thus the law of nature is nothing but the participation of the eternal law
in a rational creature." So ipeaks St. Idiomas. And fmcc men by grace of participatio.i
of Divinity, which participation includes the grace that makes acceptable {gratum'), are
counted worthy to be called, not fons of God only, but gods, (for John faith in the
Goipel, " As many as received Flim to them gave He power to become the fons of God;"
and the Pfalmift, " I fiid, Ye are gods, and all of you children of the Mol: High ;" and
Apollle to the Romans, chap, vili., " Whoever are led by the fpirit of 'jod, they are tiie
fons of God;" and in like manner in the Firlt to the Corinthians, chap, vi., " He who is
joined to God is one fpirit with Him;" wherefore Boethius alfo, in the jrd booiC cf his
treatife aforefaid, faith that, " although God be by nature one, nothing hinders but th it by
participation of Him there fhould be gods innumerable"), it is conlequently to be ju Iged
that, fmce the law of nature fo partakes of the eternal law as to be itfelf, as faith St. Th. )mas
aforelaid, nothing elfe but a participation of that law, it fhould not only be ca lei.' the
daughter of the law Divine, but is worthy to bear the name ot Divine law, by way of
imitation, indeed, and not of equality. Oh, how great a thing is this participation of eternal
law ! feeing that not only doth the law of nature adhere to and unite with the Divine law,
as man with God, but that whatever is nature's law is a partaking of the hiw Divin;, from
which I will not fay that the law of nature itfelf flows as a ftream from its fource, but as a
bay is of the high feas, it is a part of the abyfs of higheft Deity. For the Civil Laws fav that
the offspring is a portion of the mother's entrails, and yet the offspring hath a portion ' from
the father. But this law of nature hath nothing toward the full coiupletion of its nature
from any other fource but that which hath been poured forth from the illimitable ocean of
eternal law ; nor is it a part of the Divine law like a quantity which, when taken from
a quantity, leaves that lefs from which it is taken, but, like fire kindled from fire, without
diminifhing the light of the Divine law, it renders it the brighter to us through the medium
of itfelf. Thus, therefore, the lav.' of nature is the law Divine, iuice all that it is is Divine,
and daughter of the Divine law, fmce the latter hath brought forth, and is ever bringing
forth, the whole of it. Thefe are the two great lights fet in the firmament of \ leaven— that
is, in the Church of God. The greater light is the Law Divine, which rules th .■ day of our
fpiritual life, wherein we contemplate God, and enjoy Him here on earth. The lelfer light
is the Law of Nature, which rules the dark night of this our temporal converlation, wherein
we fojourn far from the Lord, doing jullly in this life by His grace alone.

1 ;i; -Of

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PART I.] On the Law of Nature. 241

C Chap. XLIII.

As the moon is to the fuii Jo are human la-ivs to the Divine Laio.

UT, alas! out ot what hath been concluded we perceive certain black exhalations
!v>p^ arile, which, unlefs they be fcattered by the warm rays of the fun of truth, will

grow into a thick cloud, which will darken with its fliade all that hath now been
alcertained. For we faid above that human culloins and conftitutions are fubjeft to the
rules ot the law of nature, and having iHued from its boundaries do io partake ot its nature,
that, if not ratified thereby, fuch cuitoms and conllitutions deferve not to be called laws, but
rather corruptions. And we have now iaid that the law of nature itlelf proceeded from out of
the bounds of the law Divine, fo that, I will not fay like a daughter from the mothei , a part
of whofe entrails flie is, but like liglit from light, fpringing from the law Divine, it becomes
together therewith a Divine law ; from which things we are rightly taught that m the Divine
law confiffs the plenary power and virtue of all human laws, feeing that tliere exill: no other
and no more human lav.'s than culloms, conllitutions, and the law of nature, and that thefe

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