John Ponet on the law of nature and the commonwealth

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Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
This rule is the law of nature, first planted and grafted only in the mind of man, than after for that his mind was through sin defiled, filled with darkness, and encumbered with many doubts) set further in writing in the Decalogue or ten commandments: and after reduced by Christ our saviour in to these two words: Thou shalt love thy lord God above all things, and thy neighbour as thy self. The latter part whereof he also thus expoundeth: what so ever ye will that men do unto you, do ye even so to them.

In this law is comprehended all justice, the perfect way to serve and glorify God, and the right mean to rule every man particularly, and all men generally: and the only stay to maintain every common wealth. This is the touchstone to try every man’s doings (be he king or beggar) whether they be good or evil. By this all man’s laws be discerned, whether they be just or unjust, godly or wicked. As for an example. Those that have authority to make laws in a common wealth, make this law, that no pins shall be made, but in their own country. It seemeth but a trifle. Yet if by this means the people may be kept from idleness, it is a good and just law and pleaseth God. For idleness is a vice wherewith God is offended: …

On the other side, if the people be well in other things, and the people of an other country live by pin making, and uttering that if there should be a law made, that they not sell them to their neighbours of the country, otherwise well occupied, it were a wicked and an unjust law. Taking away the mean, whereby they live, a mean is devised to kill them with famine, and so is not only this commandment broken: Thou shalt not kill, but also the general law, that sayeth: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy self. And, what so ever ye will that men do unto you, even so do you unto thee. For you your selves would not be killed with hunger. ...

For more, see John Ponet on the law of nature and the commonwealth.
 
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