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Thomas Hobbes

Glyn Hughes’ Squashed Philosophers


Glyn Hughes’ Squashed Philosophers

The Condensed Edition of
Thomas Hobbes’
or, The Matter, Forme and Power of A Common-Wealth Ecclesiastical And Civill
… in 11,7000 words

“…the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”

THE development of Hobbes’s greatest and best-known work was materially affected by the political unrest with which he found England seething on his return to it in 1637. Analysing the principles which underlay the dissensions, he found himself equally opposed to the theory of the divine right of kings and to the principles on which the Parliamentarians based their action. In the course of the following years he devoted himself to the construction of a science of politics and in 1651 he published Leviathan, or The Matter, Form and Power of a Commonwealth, Ecclesiastical and Civil. The work contains the most definite enunciation made up to that time of the doctrine of the social contract, which later took so different a shape in the hands of Rousseau.

God’s natural world is imitated by man in making the great LEVIATHAN or COMMON-WEALTH or STATE which is but an artificial man, with sovereignty as soul, officers as joints, reward and punishment as nerves, wealth as strength, laws as reason.
All our thoughts are derived from things outside ourselves, and our knowledge and our dreams is but an interpretation of that. Speech was invented by God himself that we might learn from each other, and reason – for true and false are attributes of speech, not of things. Reasoning is a mathematical process, which many scholars are ignorant of. A science is certain when a man can demonstrate the truth of it to others. All discourse aims to gain knowledge, which is not mere ‘belief in’. Knowledge is either of fact; or of consequences, which is called science. The power of man is his ability to obtain some future good, and all men have all mankind have a perpetual and restless desire after power.
As religion is only found in man, so its seed must be in man. Men live always in fear, and make gods of things to praise and blame for their condition.
All men have some great skill or ability, but when they conflict in their desires without an agreed Sovereignty to rule them their life is but solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. There is a law of nature that every man protect himself, and this right they transfer entirely to the Sovereign Power, be it an assembly of men, or, preferably, one man.

Hobbes wrote in the age of Kyd, Spenser and Shakespeare. This was, depending on your preference, either the time of the English language’s most noble flourishing, or the era of its most florid abstruseness. Either way, Hobbes is not an easy read today, so, this Squashed version is not only a condensed abridgement, but a translation into something approaching modern English. With his stern insistence on precision of language and clear expression toward your intended audience, we hope Hobbes would have heartily approved. The first edition of Leviathan, on which this is based, was very liberally sprinkled with italics and capitalisation; most of this has been removed, as making for difficult reading on a computer screen. At the same time, much of the original layout, which, with its bullet-point lists and a flow-chart, seems remarkably modern, has been retained. The first edition of was also well-known to contain significant typographical errors, most of these, excepting oddities of numbered lists, have been corrected.

Accident which was used to indicate a unplanned happening, but without the overtone of misfortune it now carries, and as a synonym for ‘property’ in the sense of ‘attribute’, has been changed to ‘chance’ or ‘characteristic’.
Ratiocination, defined by JS Mill as “inference of a proposition from propositions equally general or more general” has been replaced with the more modern ‘reasoning’

or The Matter, Forme and Power of A Common-Wealth
Ecclesiastical And Civill
by Thomas Hobbes, 1651
Squashed version edited by Glyn Hughes © 2003

NATURE (the art whereby God hath made and governs the world) is by the art of man imitated. For as men make automata that move themselves by springs and wheels, so men create that great LEVIATHAN called a COMMONWEALTH, or STATE, which is but an artificial man, in which the sovereignty is an artificial soul; the magistrates and officers, artificial joints; reward and punishment, the nerves; wealth and riches its strength; equity and laws, an artificial reason; all united by covenants like to the ‘Let Us Make Man’, pronounced by God in the Creation.
Men say that understanding is not to be found in books, but in men. Yet he that is to govern a nation must read no particular man, but mankind: which is a thing harder to learn than any language or science.



CONCERNING the thoughts of man every single one is a representation of some quality of an object outside us, and the rest are derived from that original. The cause of sense is external objects, which press the nerves and membranes of the body, and thereby cause pressure in the brain and heart. For if colours and sounds were in the objects that cause them, they could not be separated from them, as by looking-glasses or echoes.
But the universities of Christendom teach the doctrine of Aristotle, that the cause of vision is in the thing seen sending forth a visible species, or the thing heard an audible species, or the thing understood an intelligible species.


THAT a thing will lie still forever, unless somewhat else stir it, is a truth that no man doubts. But that a thing in motion will be in motion eternally, unless somewhat stay it, though the reason be the same (namely, that nothing can change itself), is not so easily accepted. For men measure all things by themselves, and think that everything seeks repose after motion. But such is the case with the internal motions of man, as when he sees, dreams, etc. Imagination, therefore, is nothing but decaying sense; and the longer the time after the sight or sense of any object, the weaker the imagination.
The imaginations of dreams, therefore, can be of nothing but what proceeds from the inward parts of man’s body, and from old imaginings. Hence, it is thought by many impossible to distinguish between sense and dreaming. For my part, I do not remember so long a train of coherent thoughts dreaming as at other times; thus I am well satisfied that, being awake, I know I dream not; though when I dream, I think myself awake.
From the fancies of dreams, did arise much of the religion of the Gentiles, that worshiped satyrs, nymphs, and the like; and nowadays the opinion that rude people have of fairies, ghosts, goblins, and such. As for witches, I think not that they have real power, but are nearer to a new religion than to a craft or science.


WHEN a man thinketh on anything, his next thought is not so casual as it seems. As we have no imagination of anything, we have not formerly had sense of, so we have no transition from one imagination to another unless we had the like before.
This train of thoughts, or mental discourse, is of two sorts. The first is unguided; where the thoughts wander, as in a dream, like the sound of a lute out of tune. The second is regulated by desire and design, either when we seek the original cause of an effect; or when we seek the possible effects of a thing, as one would sweep a room to find a jewel.
He that foresees the future of a criminal, re-cons what he has seen before: the officer, the judge and the gallows. Such thought is called foresight, prudence, or wisdom. Of which, this is certain; that the best prophet is the best guesser; which is he best studied in the matter.
Whatsoever we imagine is finite. No man can conceive of infinite swiftness, time or power. When we say anything is infinite, we signify only that we are not able to conceive the ends and bounds of the thing, but only our own inability. Therefore, the name of God is used, not to make us conceive Him (being incomprehensible), but that we might honour Him.


THE INVENTION of printing, though ingenious, is no great matter compared with the invention of writing. And of speech, the first author was God himself, who instructed Adam how to name the creatures, but which was lost at Babel, when God made the diversity of languages that now exists.
A man blind and deaf, might, by contemplation, establish that the angles of a triangle equal two right angles. But he who knows words, may learn this universal rule from others, which delivers us from much labour. Before the numbers had names, men did apply their fingers to counting; hence, our number words are ten, or in some nations, five. The natural fool may recite numbers, yet not know what he has done, nor add, subtract, and perform arithmetic. So that without words there is no possibility of reckoning numbers.
When two names are joined together into a consequence, or affirmation, as ‘A man is a living creature’, then if the name ‘living creature’ signifies all that ‘man’ signifieth, then the affirmation, or consequence, is true; otherwise false. For true and false are attributes of speech, not things. And where speech is not, there is neither truth nor falsehood, for words are the counters wise men reckon with, but they are the money of fools.
The types of names are but four.
First, of matter, or body. Secondly, of quality: as ‘being moved’, ‘being so long’, which are called abstract names.
Thirdly, for the properties of our own bodies whereby we make distinctions; as colour, sound or ideas of things.
Fourthly, we give names to names themselves: as ‘commandment’, ‘oration’, and such.
All other names are but insignificant sounds, as when men make a name of two contradictories: such as ’round quadrangle’, or say that virtue can be ‘poured’.
As all names signify our conceptions, so the diversity of our constitutions and prejudices gives everything a tincture of our different passions. Thus, one man calleth wisdom what another calleth fear; and one cruelty what another calleth justice. Therefore such names can never be true grounds of ratiocination.


WHEN man reasoneth, he does so as arithmeticians add and subtract numbers. So writers of politics add together pactions to find men’s duties; and lawyers add laws and facts to find right and wrong. In sum, in what matter soever there is place for Addition and Substraction, there also is place for Reason; and where these have no place, there Reason has nothing at all to do.
And as even professors may err in arithmetic, so when a man reasons without words even the most prudent may go astray. But when we reason in words and fall upon a general inference which is false; it is an absurdity, as when a man should talk of ‘accidents of bread in cheese’, or ‘immaterial substances’, or of ‘free will’. This privilege of absurdity belongs to no creature but men, and most especially to philosophers, as Cicero saith; for not one of them begins from the definitions of the names they use; which is the method of geometry, whose conclusions have thereby been made indisputable.
The first cause of absurd conclusions is not beginning from settled definitions.
Second, is the giving of names of bodies to accidents; as they that say, ‘faith is inspired’; when nothing can be breathed into anything, except a solid body.
Third, giving names of accidents of bodies outside us to the accidents of our own bodies; as with saying, ‘the colour is in the thing’; ‘the sound is in the air’, etc.
Fourth, giving the names of bodies to names or speeches.
Fifth, giving the names of accidents to names and speeches; as they that say, ‘the nature of a thing is its definition’; ‘a man’s command is his will’, and such.
Sixth, the use of metaphors and rhetorical figures, instead of proper words.
Seventh, using names that signify nothing, but are learned by rote, as; ‘transubstantiate’, ‘eternal now’, and the like canting of Schoolmen.
He that can avoyd these things, will avoyd absurdity.
And whereas sense and memory are knowledge of fact, past and irrevocable, science is the knowledge of consequences, and dependence of one fact upon another; by which, from that we can presently do, we may know how to do something else.
Children have no reason at all, till they have attained the use of speech. But most men know not what science is, and are like children that are told by the women that they were not born, but found in the garden. Yet they are to be preferred to men who, by misreasoning, fall upon absurd general rules.
The light of humane minds is words, exactly defined and purged from ambiguity; reason is the pace; increase of science, the way; and the benefit of mankind, the end. Metaphors and ambiguities are like ignes fatui. And they that trust only books follow the blind blindly, like he that, trusting to a false master of fencing, ventures upon an adversary that kills him.
A science is certain when he that pretendeth it can demonstrate its truth to another: uncertain, when he demands that others take it only as he says.

THERE be in animals two sorts of motions. One called vital, such as the course of the blood, breathing, excretion, etc., which needs no help of imagination. The other is voluntary motion; as in speaking, or moving our limbs, in such manner as is first fancied in our minds and begun through small motions within the body, commonly called endeavour, or appetite, or desire.
Desire and love are the same thing; save that by desire, we signify the absence of the object; by love, its presence. Of appetites and aversions, some are born with men; as appetite of food. The rest, which are appetites of particular things, proceed from experience. And because the constitution of man’s body is in continual mutation, it is impossible that all things should always cause the same appetites and aversions. Thus, whatsoever one man calleth ‘good’ or ‘evil’, ‘foul’, ‘ugly’, and such, is so in relation to himself: there being nothing that is simply so.
While we live in this life, there is no such thing as perpetual tranquillity of mind; because life itself is but motion, and can never be without desire, nor without fear, no more than without sense.


ALL discourse governed by desire of knowledge, has at last an end, either by attaining or by giving over. But no discourse whatsoever can end in absolute knowledge of fact, past or to come. By discourse, man can know only that if this be, that is; if this has been, that has been; if this shall be, that shall be; which is to know conditionally. When a man’s discourse beginneth not at definitions, but at some contemplation of his own, then it is called opinion; if it beginneth at some saying of another, it is called belief and faith.
But by ‘believing in’, as in the Creed, is meant, not trust in persons, but confession and acknowledgement of the doctrine. Thus, when we believe a saying to be true, from no argument but the authority of him that saith it; then the honour of believing is done to him only. Thus they that believe that a prophet speaks in the name of God, honour the prophet. And, if Livy say the gods made a cow speak, we distrust not God, but Livy.
So that it is evident that whatsoever we believe, if founded only on the authority of men and their writings, whether they be sent from God or not, is faith in men only.


The ‘virtues intellectual’ are either natural or acquired. The natural sort is that swiftness of imagining, and steady direction to some end, gotten by use and experience. Such is of they that well judge between thing and thing, which virtue is called discretion.
There is nowhere so much difference of men as in their fancies and judgements; and a plain husbandman is more prudent in his own affairs than a Privy Counsellor in the affairs of others. This difference of wits proceeds partly from bodily constitution, and partly from education, and is most apparent as the more or less desire of riches, knowledge and honour; which are but several loves of power.
The passion which maketh madness is either great self-conceit, or the great dejection of mind, called melancholy. Yet, what greater madness can there be than to clamour and throw stones at our friends? Yet, this is less than what a multitude will do. And if madness be in the multitude, it is in every man, as the quiet lapping of waves makes up the roar of the sea.
Opinions concerning the cause of madness have been that it derives from the passions, or from demons and spirits. Once in Abdera, at the acting of the tragedy of Andromeda, upon an extreme hot day, many of the spectators began to speak only in iambics; which madness proceeded from the passion of the play. Likewise, a fit of madness in another Grecian city caused many young maidens to hang themselves. This was thought an act of the devil, but the magistrates instructed such to be hanged out naked; from fear of which shame, the madness ended.
The Greeks ascribed madness to the Furies, and other gods, as also the Romans and the Jews, who called madmen prophets. How could the Jews fall into this opinion? I can imagine no reason but that which is common to all men; namely, lacking curiosity to search natural causes, they think it supernatural. When our Saviour speaketh to a disease as to a person (Luke 4.39), and of an unclean spirit (Matthew 12.43); it is manifestly a parable. I see nothing in Scripture that showeth that demoniacs were any other but madmen.
There is yet another sort of madness; namely, that abuse of words, which I have called absurdity. The common sort of men seldom speak insignificantly, and are therefore counted idiots. But let a man take any book of a Schoolman and see if he can translate any chapter to make it intelligible. What is the meaning of Suarez’s words: “The first cause does not necessarily inflow anything into the second?” When men write whole volumes of such stuff, are they not mad, or intend to make others so?

THERE are of knowledge two kinds, one is of fact; the other of the consequence of one affirmation to another, which is called science. And this is the knowledge required in a philosopher, that is to say, he that pretends to reasoning.

Books of philosophy may be divided as in the following manner:


THE POWER of a man is his present means to obtain some future good, and is either natural or instrumental. Natural power is the eminence of the faculties of body or mind; as strength, eloquence or nobility. Instrumental are those powers which are means to acquire more; as riches, reputation, friends, and the secret working of God which men call good luck.
For the nature of power is like fame, increasing as it proceeds; or like the motion of heavy bodies, which, the further they go, make the more haste. And the greatest power is the united powers of many men, which is the power of a Commonwealth. The value or worth of a man is, as of all other things, his price; that is to say, as much as others would give for the use of his power. And as in other things, so in men, not the seller, but the buyer determines the price.
Good fortune, if lasting, is honourable; as a sign of the favour of God.
Riches are honourable, for they are power.
Actions and speeches that proceed from much experience, science, discretion, or wit are honourable.
To be descended from conspicuous parents is honourable; because they more easily attain aid. But to be descended from obscure parentage is dishonourable.
Covetousness of great riches and honours, are honourable; as signs of power to obtain them.
Nor does it alter the case of honour whether an action be just or unjust: for honour consisteth only in the opinion of power. Thus, the ancient heathen greatly honoured Jupiter’s adulteries, and the frauds and thefts of Mercury. Also, before there were great Commonwealths, it was thought no dishonour to be a pirate, or a highway thief. And at this day, private duels are, and always will be, honourable, though unlawful. Scutcheons and coats of arms hereditary, where they have privileges, are equally honourable.

BY MANNERS, I mean not how a man should pick his teeth before company, and such small points; but those qualities that concern living together in peace and unity. In the first place, I take it that all mankind have a perpetual and restless desire after power, that ceaseth only in death. Thus, desire of ease and sensual delight disposeth men to obey a common power, because such desires cause a man to lose the protection of his own industry.
Vainglorious men are inclined to rash engaging; and retire on the approach of danger or difficulty. Men that have a strong opinion of their own wisdom, or have eloquence, are disposed to ambition. Frugality, though a virtue in poor men, maketh a man unapt to achieve actions with others: for endeavour is nourished by reward. Eloquence and flattery disposeth men to confide in them that have it; because the former seems wisdom, and the latter seems kindness.
Ignorance of the causes of right, equity, law, and justice, disposeth a man to make custom and example the rule of his actions. Ignorance of remote causes disposeth men to attribute all events to immediate causes. Hence, when men are grieved with taxes, they discharge their anger upon the collectors of public revenue. Ignorance of natural causes disposeth a man to believe impossibilities; and because men love to be hearkened unto in company, disposeth them to lying.
Anxiety for the future disposeth men to inquire into the causes of things; till of necessity he must come to the eternal cause which men call God. And they that make no inquiry into the natural causes of things are inclined to suppose invisible powers, the fear of which is the seed of what every one in himself calleth religion; and in them that worship otherwise than they do, superstition. And to this seed of religion is often added invention of opinions by which to govern others.

SEEING there are no signs of religion but in man, thus the seed of religion is likewise in man. Men are inquisitive and consider antecedence and consequence, which makes anxiety. So every man is like to Prometheus (‘the prudent man’), who was bound to the hill Caucasus, where an eagle, feeding on his liver, devoured in the day as much as was repaired in the night: so that man hath his heart all the day gnawed by fear of death, poverty, or other calamity.
This perpetual fear needs have some object. Thus, when there is nothing to be seen, there is nothing to accuse but some power invisible: and here consisteth the seed of religion. From these seeds, men hath cultured according to their own invention, as did the Gentiles; or by God’s commandments, as did Abraham, Moses, and our blessed Saviour. But both sorts have done it to make men more obedient to civil society.
There is almost nothing that has not been esteemed a god or devil. The unformed matter of the world was the god Chaos. The gentiles filled the plains with Pans and Panises, the woods with Fauns and Nymphs; the sea with Tritons; every house with its Lares, or familiars; every man with his Genius.
Through ignorance of causes, they ascribed fecundity to Venus, arts to Apollo, craft to Mercury and storms to Aeolus. They made men believe the revelations of the priests at Delphi; which were made ambiguous, to own the event both ways, like those of Nostradamus; or absurd, by the intoxicating sulphurous vapour of the place,
And the founders of Commonwealths took care to persuade that their precepts concerning religion proceeded not from their own device, but from the dictates of the gods. So Numa Pompilius pretended to hear the nymph Egeria; and Mahomet pretended to have conferences with the Holy Ghost in form of a dove. They made it believed that the things forbidden by laws were displeasing to the gods, and prescribed ceremonies, sacrifices and festivals to asuage the anger of those gods. And by these, the common people were the less apt to mutiny against their governors.
But where God himself, by supernatural revelation, planted religion, there he also made a special kingdom, and gave laws. Thereby, in the kingdom of God, the policy and civil laws are a part of religion.
Yet, as in natural things men require natural signs, so in supernatural things they require signs supernatural. All which did manifestly appear to the children of Israel, and continued when, in the planting of Christian religion, the oracles ceased in the Roman Empire.
The religion of the Church of Rome was abolished in England, and many other parts, as the failing of virtue in the pastors maketh faith fail in the people. I may attribute all the changes of religion in the world to one cause, that is, unpleasant priests.

NATURE hath made men so little different in body and mind that every man can claim some benefit to which another may not pretend. And the weakest of body has strength enough to kill the strongest, by secret machination or confederacy with others.
As to the faculties of mind, howsoever men may acknowledge others more witty, more eloquent or more learned, yet they will hardly believe many to be so wise as themselves. This proveth rather that men are in that point equal, for there is no greater signe of equal distribution than that every man is contented with his share.
From this equality, ariseth equality of hope in attaining our ends. Thus, if two men desire the same thing, they become enemies. And from this diffidence of one another, there is no way for any man to be master of all men. So that in the nature of man, we find three principal causes of quarrel: competition, diffidence and glory.
Hereby it is manifest that without a common power to keep them all in awe, man are in a condition of war of every man against every man. In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation; no commodious building; no knowledge of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. If any man not trust this inference, let him consider what opinion he has of his fellows when he rides armed or locks his doors; and of his children, and servants, when he locks his chests.
But though there never has been any time wherein men were in a condition of such war, saving the savages in America, yet kings and sovereigns are always in continual jealousy, like gladiators, their weapons pointing, their eyes fixed on the forts and frontiers of one another.
In this war of every man against every man the notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice, have no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law; where no law, no injustice. Force and fraud are, in war, the two cardinal virtues.
But the passions that incline men to peace are: fear of death and desire of commodious living. And reason suggesteth convenient articles to attain these, which are called the laws of nature, whereof I shall speak more.


THE right of nature, called jus naturale, is the liberty each man hath to use his own power as he will to preserve his own nature; that is to say, his life. Liberty is, properly understood, the absence of external impediments.
A law of nature, lex naturalis, is a precept, or general rule, found by reason, by which a man is forbidden to do that which is destructive of his life. (Jus and lex, right and law, ought to be distinguished, because right consisteth in liberty to do or to forbear; whereas law determineth and bindeth.)
In the condition of war of everyone, every man has a right to everything, even to another’s body. Thus it is a fundamental law of nature: to seek peace and to defend ourselves. From this is derived a second law: that a man be contented with so much liberty against other men as he would allow other men against himself. This is that law of the gospel: Whatsoever you require that others should do to you, that do ye to them.
Men renouce their rights, only for hope of greater gain, yet the natural right to protect oneself can never be understood to have been abandoned. The mutual transferring of right is what men call contract, made by words spoken, or by signs of inference, or by silence, or actions.
To make covenants with brute beasts is impossible, because they understand not our speech, nor can make any mutual acceptation, without which there is no covenant. To make covenant with God is impossible but by mediation of His prophets or His lieutenants: for otherwise we know not whether our covenants be accepted or not.
Men are freed of their covenants two ways; by performing, or by being forgiven. Just as covenant not to defend myself is always void, so is a covenant to accuse oneself, without assurance of pardon. Thus, accusations upon torture are not to be reputed as testimonies. Torture is only a means of conjecture in the search of truth: for what is confessed tendeth only to the ease of the tortured.
Words being too weak to hold men to their covenants, it may be strenghtened by two things only; a fear of the consequence, or a pride in appearing not to break them. Of these two, the latter is commonly the greater, for the fear of consequences, is in every man his own religion. All, therefore, that can be done between two men not subject to civil power is to swear by the God he feareth. As the heathen form, ‘Let Jupiter kill me else, as I kill this beast’; so is our form, ‘I shall do thus, so help me God.’ But swearing unnecessarily by God is a profaning of his name: and swearing by other things, is not swearing, but an impious custom.


FROM that law of nature which obligeth us to transfer to another such rights as hinder peace, it followeth that men must perform their covenants; without which we are still in the condition of war. In this consisteth the fountain and origin of justice.
Justice, that is to say, keeping of covenant, is a rule of reason by which we are forbidden to do anything destructive to our life, and consequently a law of nature. That which gives to human actions the relish of justice is a certain nobleness of courage, but rarely found, by which a man scorns fraud and breach of promise.
The injustice of manners is the disposition to do injury. Justice of actions is, by writers, divided into commutative and distributive. Commutative is the equality of value of the things contracted for. But value is measured by the appetite of the contractors, as when a man buys cheap and sells dear, and therefore this distinction is not right. And distributive justice, the equal distribution of benefit, may be called, more properly, equity, which also is a law of nature.
A fifth law of nature is complaisance; that is to say, that every man strive to accommodate himself to the rest. The observers of this law may be called sociable, the contrary, stubborn and insociable. A sixth law of nature is to pardon offences that are past and repented. A seventh is: that in revenges (ie, retribution of evil for evil), men look not at evils past, but the greatness of the good to follow.
I know that Aristotle, in his Politics, maketh men by nature, some worthy to command, meaning the wiser sort, such as he thought himself to be; and others to serve. Yet even foolish men would rather govern themselves than be governed by others. Therefore, for a ninth law of nature, I say that every man acknowledge another for his equal by nature. The breach of which is pride.
Also, if a man be trusted to judge between man and man, it is a law of nature that he deal equally between them. For without that, controversies cannot be determined but by war. From this followeth another law: that those things which cannot be enjoyed in common, nor divided, ought to be adjudged to the first possessor; or to the first born. It is also a law of nature that men who mediate peace be allowed safe conduct.
And, though men be willing to observe these laws, there may arise questions. Therefore it is a law of nature that they who are at controversy submit to the judgement of an impartial arbitrator, for no man is a fit judge in his own cause.
And though all this may seem too subtle a deduction of the laws of nature, when most men are too busy in getting food, or too negligent to understand; yet there is one easy sum, intelligible to the meanest capacity; and that is: Do not that to another which thou wouldest not have done to thyself. The laws of nature are immutable and eternal, and the science of them is the true and only moral philosophy, which is the science of what is good and evil in mankind.


THE words or actions of a person may represent either himself or another man. When they are his own, then is he called a natural person: and when representing another, then is he a feigned or artificial person.
As of goods and possessions we speak of an owner; so of words and actions there is an author. And as the right of possession is called dominion so the right of doing any action is called authority. Hence it followeth that covenants made by actors, or representers, have authority so far as their commission from the author extends, but no further.
Few are the things incapable of being represented by fiction. Inanimate things, as a church, a hospital, a bridge, may be personated by a rector, master, or overseer. But things inanimate cannot be authors, nor therefore give authority to their actors.
Children, fools, and madmen that have no use of reason may be personated by guardians. An idol may be personated, as were the heathen gods. But idols cannot be authors: for an idol is nothing. Yet the true God may be personated, as He was: first, with Moses, then with His own Son Jesus Christ, and by the Holy Ghost, or Comforter, speaking and working in the Apostles.
A multitude of men are made one person when they are represented by one person, represented. And if the representative consist of many men, the voice of the greater number must be considered as the voice of them all.



MEN (who naturally love liberty, and dominion over others) accept the restraint of living in Commonwealths only for their own preservation, and a more contented life. It is true that certain living creatures, as bees and ants, live sociably together: therefore some may ask why mankind cannot do the same.
To which I answer, first, that men are continually in competition for honour and dignity, which these creatures are not. Secondly, amongst creatures the common good differeth not from the private, but man’s joy consisteth in comparing himself with others. Thirdly, creatures, having no use of reason, do not find fault in their administrations. Fourthly, they want sufficient art of words to lie. Fifthly, they cannot distinguish between injury and damage; and therefore as long as they be at ease, they are not offended with their fellows. Lastly, the agreement of these creatures is natural; that of men is by covenant, which is artificial.
The only way to erect a common power, able to defend men from the invasion of foreigners, and the injuries of one another, is to confer all power and strength upon one single Sovereign Power, be it a man, or an assembly of men. The multitude so united in one person is called a COMMONWEALTH; in Latin, CIVITAS. This is the great LEVIATHAN, or that mortal god, to which we owe, under the immortal God, our peace and defence.

A COMMONWEALTH is instituted when a multitude of men all do agree, he that voted for and he that voted against, to give the right to represent them all to a man, or assembly. Being so bound to one, they cannot lawfully make a new covenant with any other, without his permission. Thus, they that are subjects to a monarch cannot, without his leave, cast off monarchy.
Secondly, he that is made sovereign maketh no covenant with his subjects before hand; because either he must make it with the whole multitude, or he must make a several covenant with every man. That men see a difference between a monarchy and a popular government proceedeth from the ambition of some to participate in the assembly.
Thirdly, because the majority hath declared a sovereign, he that dissented must be left in the condition of war wherein he might justly be destroyed by any man.
Fourthly, because every subject is author of all the actions of the sovereign, it follows that whatsoever he doth, can be no injury to any. It is true that they that have sovereign power may commit iniquity, but not injustice or injury, properly understood.
Fifthly, no man that hath sovereign power can justly be put to death, or punished by his subjects.
Sixthly, it is for the sovereignty to judge what opinions and what books are to be allowed, for in the well governing of opinions consisteth the gaining of peace.
Seventhly, it is for the sovereignty to prescribe the rules of property, of ownership and of action, which men call propriety.
Eighthly, the sovereignty hath the right of judicature; that is to say, of deciding all controversies in law.
Ninthly, the sovereignty hath the right of making war and peace with other nations, when it is for the public good.
Tenthly, the sovereignty has the choosing of all counsellors, ministers, magistrates, and officers; and of rewarding and of punishing.
Lastly, it is necessary that there be laws of honour, and a valuation of such men as are able to deserve well of the Commonwealth, and that there be force to put the laws in execution.
These are the rights which make the essence of sovereignty. But a man may object that the condition of subjects is very miserable, which they that live under a monarch commonly think it the fault of monarchy; while they that live under democracy attribute to the assembly. For all men are by nature provided with notable multiplying glasses (of passions and self-love) through which every little payment appeareth a great grievance, but are destitute of those prospective glasses (namely moral and civil science) to see afar off the miseries that hang over them if such payments be avoyded.

THE difference of Commonwealths consisteth in the difference of the sovereign, or the person representative of all.
When the representative is one man, then is the Commonwealth a monarchy; when an assembly of all, then it is a democracy, or popular Commonwealth; when an assembly of a part only, then it is called an aristocracy. Other names of government are but these same forms misliked. They that are discontented under monarchy call it tyranny; and they that are displeased with aristocracy call it oligarchy: they which find themselves grieved under a democracy call it anarchy.
The difference between these three kinds of Commonwealth consisteth in the difference of aptitude to produce the peace and security of the people.
And we may observe that whosoever beareth the person of the people, though he be careful in his politic person to procure the common interest, yet he is more, or no less, careful to procure the private good of himself, his family and friends: for the passions of men are more potent than their reason. Hence it follows that where the public and private interest are most closely united, there is the public most advanced. In monarchy the riches, power, and honour of a monarch arise only from the riches, strength, and reputation of his subjects, whereas in a democracy, or aristocracy, prosperity falls most to the corrupt or ambitious.
Secondly, a monarch receiveth any counsel he pleaseth. But a sovereign assembly admits no counsel but such as have a right thereto; which for the most part are those versed more in the acquisition of wealth than knowledge.
Thirdly, the resolutions of a monarch are subject to the inconstancy of human nature; but in assemblies contrary opinion undoes today all that was concluded yesterday.
Fourthly, a monarch cannot disagree with himself; but an assembly may; even sufficient to produce a civil war.
Fifthly, in monarchy any subject, by the power of one man may be deprived of all he possesseth; which is a great inconvenience. But the same may happen in an assembly: for they are as subject to evil counsel, and to being seduced by favourite orators.
Sixthly, it is an inconvenience in monarchy that the sovereignty may descend upon an infant, or a fool. Yet, a sovereign assembly may often be equally in the condition of a child.
All these forms of government, being mortal do die, so it is necessary that there be an artificial eternity of life; which is the right of succession. The Romans, when they had subdued nations, to make their government digestible were wont to give the privileges of Roman citizenship. And thus our most wise King James, had he had success in uniting his realms of England and Scotland, would likely have prevented the present civil wars by which both kingdoms are made miserable.


A COMMONWEALTH by acquisition is that where the sovereign power is acquired by force; by men singly, or many together. But the rights and consequences of sovereignty are the same.
Dominion is acquired by generation or by conquest. Generation is that which the parent hath over his children, and is called paternal. As there are two parents: the child should be equally subject to both; but no man can obey two masters. And whereas some have attributed dominion to the man only, as being the more excellent sex, they misreckon in it, for there is not always that difference of strength or prudence between the man and the woman. Dominion acquired by conquest, or victory in war, is acquired to the victor when the vanquished, to avoyd the present stroke of death, covenanteth that so long as his life is allowed him, the victor shall have the use thereof at his pleasure.
The master of a servant is likewise master of all he hath, of his goods, his labour and of his children, to dispose as he shall think fit. For he holdeth his life from his master by a covenant of obedience. And case the master, if he dissent, kill him, or otherwise punish him, the servant is the author of the same, and cannot complain of injury.
Let us consider what Scripture teacheth. God Himself, by the mouth of Samuel, saith, “This shall be the right of the king you will have to reign over you. He shall take your sons, to drive his chariots, and… your daughters to make perfumes, to be his cooks… He shall take your fields, your vineyards, and your olive-yards… and you shall be his servants.” (I Samuel 8.11-17) Here is confirmed the right that sovereigns have, as absolute power as one man can possibly transfer to another. Our Saviour Himself acknowledges that men ought to pay taxes imposed by kings, where He says, “Give to Caesar that which is Caesar’s”.
So that it appeareth plainly, to my understanding, both from reason and Scripture, that the sovereign power, whether placed in one man, or in one assembly, is as great as possibly can be. And though men may fancy many evil consequences from such unlimited power, yet the consequences of the want of it, which is perpetual war of every man against his neighbour, are much worse.


LIBERTY, or freedom, signifieth the absence of opposition (which is external impediments of motion); and may be applied no less to irrational and inanimate creatures than to rational. But when the impediment of motion is in the constitution of the thing itself, we say not that it wants liberty, but the power to move; as when a stone lieth still, or a man is fastened to his bed by sickness.
Thus a freeman is he that is not hindered to do what he wills. But the words ‘free’ and ‘liberty’ are abused when applied to anything but bodies; as when we say we speak freely, for it is not the liberty of speech, but of the man.
Liberty and necessity are consistent: they flow like water which hath, not only liberty, but a necessity of descending the stream; likewise, the voluntary actions of men proceed from liberty, but because every act, every desire and every inclination, proceedeth from some cause, and that from another cause, in a continual chain (whose first link is of God), it proceedeth from necessity. To him that could see, as God seeth, the connexion of all those causes, the necessity of men’s voluntary actions would appear manifest.
Men, to gain peace, have made artificial chains, called civil laws. Which bonds, though in their nature weak, may be made to hold, by the danger, if not the difficulty, of breaking them. Yet it is impossible that there be rules for all the actions: thus it followeth that men have the liberty of doing what is most profitable to themselves: such as to buy and sell; to choose their abode, their diet, their trade, and institute their children as they think fit; and the like.
Nevertheless we are not to understand by such liberty that the sovereign power of life and death is abolished or limited. I have shown before that, by covenants, I allow the sovereign to kill me, yet I am not bound to kill myself, or any man, when he commands me. Thus a man commanded to fight, though his sovereign may rightfully punish refusal with death, may nevertheless in many cases refuse without injustice; as when he substituteth a sufficient soldier in his place: for thereby he deserteth not the Commonwealth. And there is allowance to be made for natural timorousness, not only to women (of whom no dangerous duty is expected), but also to men of feminine courage.
As for cases where the sovereign has prescribed no rule, there the subject hath the liberty to do, or forbear, at his own discretion. As for example, in some places men have the liberty of many wives: in other places, such is not allowed. But if a subject have a controversy of law, he hath the same liberty to sue for his right as against a subject. For seeing the sovereign demandeth by force of law, he declareth thereby that he holds to that law.
The obligation of subjects to the sovereign lasts only as long as the sovereign can protect them. But if a monarch be subdued by war, his subjects become obliged to the victor.


THE NUTRITION of a Commonwealth consisteth in the plenty and distribution of materials conducing to life. Which commodities, from the two breasts of our common mother, land and sea, God usually either freely giveth, or for labour selleth to mankind.
The first law is for division of the land itself: wherein the sovereign assigneth to every man a portion. Further, it is necessary that men have means to distribute that which they can spare, which means is gold, and silver, and money. And because silver and gold have their worth from the matter itself, the value of them cannot be altered.
The children of a Commonwealth we call plantations, or colonies, sent out to inhabit a foreign country. And when a colony is settled, they are either a Commonwealth of themselves, or else they remain united to their metropolis, as were the colonies of Rome. So that the right of colonies dependeth wholly on the license by which their sovereign authorized.


WHEN a man saith, “Do this,” or “Do not this”, it may be counsel or command. Command is directed to a man’s own benefit, and counsel to the benefit of another. And from this ariseth, that a man may be obliged to do only what is commanded.
In Holy Scripture, “Kill not”; “Steal not,” etc. are commands, because we are to obey them from the will of God our King. But, “Sell all thou hast, give it to the poor; and follow me,” is counsel, because we are to do so for our own benefit, that we gain “treasure in Heaven.”


BY civil laws, I understand the laws that men are bound to observe, because they are members of a Commonwealth. The knowledge of particular laws belongeth to lawyers; but the knowledge of civil law in general, to all men.
1.The legislator in all Commonwealths is the sovereign, be he one man, or one assembly; hence none can abrogate a law but the sovereign.
2.The sovereign is not subject to the civil laws, for he that can bind can release.
3. It is not long usage of a law that maketh the authority, but the will of the sovereign signified by his silence.
4.The law of nature and the civil law contain each other and are of equal extent.
5.If the sovereign of one Commonwealth subdue a people, and afterwards govern them by their old laws, then those become the laws of the victor, and not of the vanquished.
6. As all laws proceed from the will of the Commonwealth; a man may wonder from at the opinions of eminent lawyers that legislative power depends on private men or judges or parliaments. But such is so of, for example, only where a parliament has sovereign power.
7.That law can never be against reason, our lawyers are agreed: and that not the construction of every letter, but that which accords to the intention of the legislator.
8.The law is a command, which is a declaration of the will of him that commandeth, by voice, writing, or other manifestation.
Over natural fools, children, or madmen, there is no law, no more than over brute beasts; nor are they capable of the title of just or unjust, because they never had power to make covenants or to understand the consequences thereof. Divine laws, being the commandments of God, are declared by those whom God hath authorized. But sanctity may be feigned, so therefore, no man can infallibly know that another has a supernatural revelation of God’s will.


A SIN is not only a transgression of a law, but also any contempt of the legislator, and may consist, not only in commission of a fact, but also in the intention to transgress. Of all passions, that which inclineth men least to break the laws is fear. Nay, excepting some generous natures, it is the only thing that makes men keep them. And yet a crime may be committed through fear, as when a man assaulteth an assailant.
There is place for excuses and extenuations, by which a crime that seemed great, is made less:
The want of means to know the law excuseth: but the want of diligence to enquire does not.
A man compelled to act unlawfully by terror, is totally excused.
When a man, destitute of food or other necessities, can preserve himself only against the law; he is totally excused.
That done against the law, if it proceed from presumption of strength, riches, or friends to resist those that execute the law, is a greater crime than if it proceed from hope of not being discovered.
A crime which is know to be so is greater than from a false persuasion that it is lawful. Though he whose error proceeds from authorised interpreters of the law is not so faulty as he whose error proceedeth from his own principles.
A crime arising from sudden passion is not so great as from long meditation.
Those facts which the law condemneth, but the lawmaker tacitly approveth, are lesser crimes. The examples of princes are more potent to govern men than the laws; and though it be our duty to do, not what they do, but what they say; such will never happen till it please God to give men an extraordinary grace.
To kill against the law is a greater crime than any other injury. And to kill with torment, greater still.
And mutilation of a limb, greater than the spoiling a man of his goods.
And the spoiling a man of his goods by terror of death or wounds, greater than by clandestine surreption.
And by clandestine surreption, than by consent fraudulently obtained.
The violation of chastity by force, is greater than by flattery; and greater of a woman married.
To rob a poor man is a greater crime than to rob a rich man.
A crime is greater if committed in a place of devotion.
Many other cases of aggravation and extenuation might be added.


A punishment is an evil inflicted by public authority on him that hath transgressed the law, to thereby make men better disposed to obedience. Before the institution of Commonwealth, every man had a right of subduing or killing any man. This is the door by which this right of punishing came to the sovereign.
Thus, first, private revenges cannot be styled punishment, because they proceed not from public authority.
Secondly, to be unpreferred by public favour is not a punishment, because no new evil is inflicted.
Thirdly, punishment inflicted without proper judgement is a transgression of the law.
Fourthly, evil inflicted by usurped power is not punishment, but hostility.
Fifthly, evil inflicted without intention of making men obey the laws is not punishment, but hostility.
Sixthly, when actions bring hurtful consequences; as when a man in assaulting another is himself slain; or when he falleth into sickness by the doing some unlawful act; such hurt is not punishment by man, but God.
Seventhly, if the harm inflicted be less than the benefit of the crime, that harm is the price of a crime, not punishment.
Punishments may be divine or human. Human punishments are either corporal, pecuniary, ignominy, imprisonment, exile, or mixed of these, and all punishments of innocent subjects are against the law of nature. But the infliction of evil on an innocent man that is not a subject, if it be for the benefit of the Commonwealth, is no breach of the law of nature.


NOTHING can be immortal which mortals make; and thus infirmities arise in commonwealths. The first of these is from an imperfect institution, resembling the diseases of a the body proceeding from defective procreation. As when the sovereign taketh too little power to maintain public safety, so that when such power be needed, it seemeth unjust, and disposeth men to rebel.
Other diseases of a Commonwealth proceed from the poison of seditious doctrineS: that a man prefer his own conscience to the law of his country; that the sovereign power is subject to the civil laws, whereas only laws of nature hold the sovereign; that every man has an absolute propriety in his goods, excluding the sovereign.
The dividing of sovereignty, or the imitation of foreign manners, as when the Jews were stirred up to reject God and call upon Samuel for king, is great infirmity; as is seen of the late troubles in England from an imitation of the Low Countries.
One of the most frequent causes of rebellion is the reading of histories of ancient Greece and Rome; which show the supposed liberty of democracies, yet consider not the frequent seditions and civil wars so produced. It would be better such books were not publicly read, without the correctives of discreet masters to take away their venom: which venom is like the biting of a mad dog, where he that is bitten has a torment of thirst, and yet abhorreth water.
Some doctors have it that there be three souls in man; but there may be only one sovereign in a commonwealth. Thus some do set up a supremacy against the sovereignty, working on men’s minds with obscurities that claim another, invisible, kingdom, as it were a kingdom of fairies. When these two powers oppose one another, their is great danger of civil war and dissolution. This disease may be compared to epilepsy, or falling sickness, which the Jews thought to be possession by demons.
Sometimes in civil government there be more than one soul: as when the power of levying money dependeth on an assembly; the power of command on one man; and the power of making laws, on a third. To what disease I may compare this I know not. But I have seen a man that had another man growing out of his side, if he had had another man growing on his other side, the comparison might then have been exact.
Again, there is sometimes in a Commonwealth a disease which resembleth the pleurisy; when the treasury is gathered in too much abundance in one or a few private men. Another infirmity is the immoderate greatness of a town, like worms in the entrails of man. We may further add the disease of insatiable appetite, or bulimia, of enlarging dominions.


THE office of the sovereign, be it a monarch or an assembly, consisteth of the safety of the people, to which he is obliged by the law of nature, and will render an account thereof to God alone.
And this should be done by good laws, for which the sovereign needs to maintain his rights, and to let the people know well the grounds of such rights, else men are easily drawn to rebel. Some say that the common people have not capacity enough to understand, yet their minds are like clean paper, fit to receive whatsoever public authority shall imprint in them.
In particular, the people are to be taught not to love any form of government they see in neighbouring nations. Such desire is like a breach of God’s Commandment: “Thou shalt not have the Gods of other nations”.
Secondly, not to be led with admiration of any fellow subject, except the sovereign assembly.
Thirdly, that it is a fault to speak evil of the sovereign representative.
Fourthly, seeing people cannot be taught this, nor remember it, it is necessary that they, at times, be assembled together, and, after prayers, hear their duties told them.
The inequality of subjects proceedeth from the acts of sovereign power, and therefore has no more place in the presence of the sovereign; that is to say, in a court of justice, than the inequality between kings and subjects before the King of kings. To equal justice appertaineth also equal imposition of taxes. When taxes are laid upon those things which men consume, every man payeth equally for what he useth; and the Commonwealth is not defrauded by the luxurious waste of private men.
And whereas, by misfortune, many men become unable to maintain themselves, they ought not to be left to private charity, but be provided for. But such as have strong bodies are to be forced to work.
It belongeth also to the office of the sovereign to make a right application of punishments and rewards, and to choose good counsellors. And the benefit of counsel is greater when advice is given privately, than it in an assembly by way of orations. The best counsel is to be taken from the people of each province, who are best acquainted with their own wants.


THERE wants only, for knowledge of civil duty, to know the laws of God.
God declareth his laws three ways; by natural reason, by revelation, and by the prophetic voice of those, who, by miracles, procure credit with the rest. To honour God is to think as highly of His power and goodness as is possible, of which the external signs are called worship.
For worship, first, it is manifest, we ought to attribute existence to God. Those philosophers who said the soul of the world was God, or that the world was not created, but eternal, spake unworthily of Him. Equally, they who take from God the care of mankind, take from Him his honour. It is part of rational worship not to use His name rashly, and to worship God in the public sight of men: for without that, the procuring of others to honour Him is lost. Lastly, obedience to His laws (that is, to the laws of nature) is the greatest worship of all.
To the natural laws of the kingdom of God, are attached natural punishments. Thus, intemperance is punished with diseases; rashness, with mischances; injustice, with the violence of enemies; pride, with ruin; cowardice, with oppression; negligent government with rebellion; and rebellion, with slaughter.



HOW God speaketh to a man is impossible for any but the hearer to know.
To say that God hath spoken through Holy Scripture is to say only that God speaks to all Christian men. To say He hath spoken in a dream is no more than to say a man dreamed that God spake; which is no argument. To say a man speaks by supernatural inspiration is to say he hath a desire to speak, for which he knows no natural reason. If, as we know from Holy Scripture, (I Kings 13) that one prophet may deceive another, how may we know the will of God?
To which I answer that there be two marks, by which together, a true prophet may be known. One is the doing of miracles; the other is the teaching only that religion which is already established. “If a prophet rise amongst you, and shall do a miracle; if he say, Let us follow strange gods, thou shalt not hearken to him” (Deuteronomy 13 1-5). Here, to revolt from the Lord your God, is equivalent to revolt from your king.
Preaching the true doctrine, without the doing of miracles, is an insufficient argument of revelation. But seeing that miracles now cease, we have no sign left, save the Holy Scriptures.


BY THE Books of Holy Scripture, I can acknowledge no other but those which are acknowledged by the Church of England. Though these books be ancient, the first enumeration of all the books of the Old and New Testament is in the Canons of the Apostles, collected by Clement the First, Bishop of Rome. But the Council of Laodicea, in the 364th year after Christ, is the first that recommended the Bible to all the churches.


SEEING the foundation of all true ratiocination is clarity of words, it is necessary to determine the meaning of some words in the Bible.
When God saith “I will bring my Spirit upon the earth” (Genesis 8.1), by Spirit is understood a wind of air. And by, “Jesus full of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 14.26), may be understood the zeal to do the work of the Father. How we came to translate ‘spirits’ by the word ‘ghosts’, I know not.
By the name of Angel, is signified most often a Messenger of God that makes known his extraordinary Presence, especially by a Dream, or Vision. The Angels which Jacob saw on the Ladder of Heaven (Genesis 28.12) were a Vision of his sleep; therefore only Fancy, and a Dream. Though we find in Daniel two names of Angels, Gabriel, and Michael; yet is clear out of the text it selfe, (Daniel 12.1) that by Michael is meant Christ, not as an Angel, but as a Prince: and that Gabriel was nothing but a supernaturall phantasme.
The ‘Kingdom of God’ in the writings of divines, is taken commonly for eternal life in heaven. Yet, I find the Kingdom of God signifies a proper kingdom, when the people of Israel chose God for their king. And that which is so given to God, to be used in his service, is called sacred, and said to be consecrated.
BY miracles, or wonders, are signified the admirable works of God. And men wonder at any event if it be strange; or if we cannot imagine the natural means of it. The first rainbow was a miracle, because of its great strangeness, as a sign that God would not again flood all the earth. But as they are now frequent, they are not miracles. A juggler, handling his goblets and trinkets, were it not now ordinarily practised, would be thought to have the power of the Devil. A man that can speak by drawing in his breath (called ventriloqui) is able to make men believe it is a voice from heaven.
Eternal life was lost by Adam committing sin, but Jesus Christ hath satisfied for the sins of all, and therefore recovered to all believers that eternal life. That the place wherein men are to live eternally, is the starry heaven, is not drawn from any text that I can find. Seeing it hath been already proved from Scripture that the kingdom of God is a civil Commonwealth; the same places do also prove that after the coming again of our Saviour in his majesty to reign, the kingdom of God is to be on earth.
The place of the damned is sometimes expressed by fire: as in the Apocalypse 21.8, but it is manifest that this is a metaphor, signifying not a place of torment, but infinite destruction.
The word ‘Church’ (ecclesia) when not taken for a house of prayer, signifieth a congregation, or assembly, of citizens, the doctors of which are called pastors: and chief pastor, as hath been shown, is the civil sovereign.
Our Saviour’s own words, “My kingdom is not of this world”; (John, 18. 36) show that his pastors on earth have no authority from God over men. If a man should ask a pastor, as the chief priests asked our Saviour, “Who gave thee this authority?”: (Matthew 21.23) he can make no just answer but that he doth it by the authority of the Commonwealth, given him by the king or assembly that. If they please, therefore, Christian kings may commit the government of their subjects in matters of religion to the Pope; but then the Pope is in that point subordinate to them.
All that is necessary to salvation, for reception into the kingdom of God, is contained in two virtues, faith in Christ, and obedience to laws.



Besides the sovereign powers, divine and human, there is mention in Scripture of another power, namely, “the kingdom of Satan,” (Matthew, 12.26). This considered, is nothing else but the confederacy of deceivers, who have sown the tares of spiritual error; first, by abusing the light of the Scriptures. Secondly, by introducing heathen demonology, which are but idols or phantasms of the brain; such as dead men’s ghosts, fairies, and old wives’ tales. Thirdly, by mixing with the Scripture much of the vain and erroneous religion and philosophy of the Greeks, especially Aristotle.
The greatest abuse of Scripture is taking it to prove that the kingdom of God is the present Church, and consequently that the Pope of Rome hath temporal power to make kings.


BY philosophy is understood the knowledge acquired, not by experience, but by reasoning. The faculty of reasoning being consequent to the use of speech, even the savages of America are not without some good moral sentences, also they have a little arithmetic; but they are not therefore philosophers.
Leisure is the mother of philosophy, and Commonwealth, the mother of peace and leisure. Thus, the first philosophers arose in the most ancient kingdoms; the Gymnosophists of India, the Magi of Persia, and the Priests of Chaldaea. And the Athenians, when they had overthrow the Persian armies, and gotten wealthy, had little else to employ themselves but discoursing of philosophy and creating schools.
But what science has been acquired by this? Geometry came not from the schools. Their moral philosophy is but a description of their passions, and their logic nothing but words and puzzles.
There is a certain philosophia prima on which all other philosophy ought to depend; which consisteth in right limiting the significations of names, to avoyd ambiguity; such as the definitions of body, time, place, matter, essence, accident, power, quality, motion and diverse others, necessary for explaining nature.
Instead, from Aristotle’s metaphysics, mingled with Scripture, the Schools teach that there are certain essences separated from bodies, which they call abstract essences. From this nonsense, many absurdities follow. The essence of a man, they say, is his soul, which they affirm to be all of it in his little finger, and yet all of it in every other part of his body. We ask how an incorporeal substance can feel pain, and be tormented in the fire of hell? Again, whereas motion is change of place, and incorporeal substances are not capable of place, how may ghosts of men (and their clothes) walk by night in churchyards? They teach that eternity is the standing still of the present time, a nunc-stans, as they call it; which neither they nor any else understand.
Such incongruities are from disputing philosophically, instead of admiring the divine and incomprehensible Nature of God

CICERO maketh honourable mention of one of the Cassii, a severe Judge amongst the Romans, for a custom he had to ask cui bono; that is to say, ‘who profits’. By the same rule, I ask cui bono? of the doctrines of the Church of Rome.
That the Pope, in his public capacity, cannot err.
That bishops have not their right from God, nor from civil sovereigns, but from the Pope.
The exemption of priests from the civil laws.
The teaching that matrimony is a sacrament, which giveth the clergy the judging the right of succession to hereditary kingdoms.
That from heard confessions they obtain intelligence of the designs of princes.
By the canonization of saints and martyrs, they induce simple men into obstinacy against their civil sovereigns.
By the doctrine of purgatory and of indulgences, the clergy is enriched.
The papacy is no other than the ghost of the deceased Roman Empire, sitting crowned upon the grave thereof. The Roman ecclesiastics take from young men the use of reason, by traditions and abused Scripture, just as fairies are said to take young children from their cradles and change them into mischievous elves. How the fairies make their enchantment, the old wives have not determined. But the makers of the clergy are known to be the universities.
It was not difficult for Henry the Eighth, by his exorcism, to cast them out. But who knows that this spirit of Rome, now walking through the dry places of China and the Indies, may not return?

It hath been an argument that no man can be disposed to civil duty when the business of the world consisteth in nothing but perpetual contention for honour, riches, and authority. These are indeed great difficulties, but not impossibilities: for by education and discipline, they may be reconciled. I have known clearness of judgement, strength of reason, courage and fear of the laws, all eminently in one man; my most noble and honoured friend, Mr. Sidney Godolphin; who was unfortunately slain in the late civil war.
There is nothing in this whole discourse, as far as I can perceive, contrary either to the word of God; to good manners; or to disturb public tranquillity. Therefore I think it may be profitably printed, and more profitably taught in the Universities, that most men, knowing their duties, will be the less subject to serve the ambition of a few discontented persons in their purposes against the state.
And thus I end my discourse. If God give me health to finish it, I hope the novelty of it, and the doctrine of an artificial body, will please. For such truth as opposeth no man’s profit nor pleasure is to all men welcome.


Thomas Hobbes

Hobbes gravestone in Ault Hucknall church, Derbyshire, England








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