Sunday, July 31, 2011

Two Quotes from Calvin on Natural Law & Civil Laws

[T]here are some who deny that a commonwealth is duly framed which neglects the political system of Moses, and is ruled by the common law of nations. Let other men consider how perilous and seditious this notion is; it will be enough for me to have proved it false and foolish. (IV.XX.14)
Now, since that last quote is a bit of a tongue-twister, I thought I would restate it in a way that reads like English. So here it is - Adam's paraphrase:
If you don't think that a good nation should be ruled by the common law of nations and instead you think that a good nation's laws must include the Mosaic law, you are a dummy.
I didn't say it - Calvin did! (I didn't say it would be a kind paraphrase.)

In the next section, Calvin discusses the importance of Equity.
We [should examine]...these two things: the constitution of the law, and the equity on which its constitution is itself founded and rests. Equity, because it is natural, cannot but be the same for all, and therefore this same purpose ought to apply to all laws, whatever their object. Constitutions have certain circumstances upon which they in part depend. It therefore does not matter that they are different, provided all equally press toward the same goal of equity.
It is a fact that the law of God which we call the moral law is nothing else than a testimony of natural law and of that conscience which God has engraved upon the minds of men. Consequently, the entire scheme of this equity of which we are now speaking has been prescribed in it. Hence, this equity alone must be the goal and rule and limit of all laws.

Whatever laws shall be framed to that rule, directed to that goal, bound by that limit, there is no reason why we should disapprove of them, howsoever they may differ from the Jewish law and among themselves. (IV.XX.16)
You'll have to forgive all of the Two Kingdoms posts. That's what I've been studying and reading about lately; ergo... lots of 2K discussions. Or maybe I've just been looking for lots of excuses to Photoshop humorous images of Calvin onto other peoples' bodies...


  1. I protest! (Just to make you feel better of course.)

  2. A-ha! It took puppy killing to draw you out, I see. ;-)


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