John Floyd

Excerpts from:

God and the king.
Or a dialogue wherein is treated of allegiance due to our most gracious Lord, King Iames, within his dominions. Which (by removing all controversies, and causes of dissentions and suspitions) bindeth subiects, by an inviolable band of love and duty, to their soveraigne.

[Floyd was an English Jesuit who lived and taught overseas, especially at the English College at St. Omer in the Spanish Netherlands. This book was published in Latin in 1619, and in English in 1620].


Aristobulus: … The sum of this their doctrine is contained in the Treatise entitled God & The King. The Author whereof had no reason to term himself Theodidact, that is, Taught of God, seeing he speaketh divers things that the spirit of God could not suggest unto him. He undertaketh the proof of four propositions.
 The first is, That Kings have authority immediately & only from God, the Church and people not being any thing in the gift thereof.
This is the fundamental one, whereon is built the second: that Kings have no superior on earth to chastise and punish them.
 The third is. That neither Tyranny, nor Heresy, nor Apostasy can release subjects of their Obedience.
The fourth: That Kings may neither be deposed nor resisted (but by tears and prayers) though they should be so tyrannous & profane, as to endeavour to oppress the whole Church and Commonwealth at once, and utterly to extinguish the light of Christian Religion.

…And the danger of such flattering speculations as this Dialogist teacheth, is so much the greater to the Sovereign, whilst they extol him above measure to the state of absolute Lord & God upon earth, as it is hateful to the subject to see himself abased to servile & abhorred captivity, & put to a more miserable condition, then the bondage of slaves. For slaves (to speak nothing of  human laws that have appointed limits to their miseries) have some rights and liberties by the law
of nature inviolable, which (if they be able) they may defend by force against even their own Masters that shall violently and unjustly invade them. Such liberty they have to marry and propagate humankind, to enjoy life so long as they have done nothing worthy of death, but principally to worship God their maker and supreme Lord. But this new doctrine of Princely absolute Sovereignty set  down in the Treatise mentioned, makes the Common-wealth so miserable, and the people such bondmen to their Prince, that they may not defend their national freedoms how just & necessary soever, nor the liberties and rights that nature hath bequeathed even upon slaves. But that if the Prince wanton in cruelty, should keep men by force from marrying, so to bring the Common-wealth to utter desolation in one age: or if not having patience to attend that lingering consumption of the state, he should daily send men by multitudes like herds of sheep or oxen to the slaughter; or if (out of a desire his subjects may perish eternally) he should seek utterly to extinguish the doctrine of salvation within his Realms: In these cases (I say) or the like, of extremest necessity and most hostile invasion, according to the doctrine of this Dialogist, they may not lift up so much as their finger against his attempts, nor join with any power upon earth, that would relieve them.

Aristobulus: …And to begin with the first, that the king hath power from God only, independently of the Common wealth, because this is the ground of all his discourse, and of the other three, I will more fully show the unsoundness thereof, that the world may see, that Theodidact, as either a most unskillful Architect that lays so weak a principle of the building he pretends to raise to the sky; or a subtle Arch-traitor purposely placing the Sovereignty of Kings, which he desires may fall upon a most ruinous foundation.
Three be the ways, by the which men come to be Kings: popular election: lawful conquest; God's personal appointment specially revealed. I say specially revealed, for I nothing doubt but Kings by the two other titles be made by Gods special providence. The title of election depends on men's hearts. The title of Conquest upon battles, which are two things most uncertain, and their success only in Gods hand, who bestoweth popular favour and victory in war on whom he will.
For this reason it is said that, Kings reign by him; that he placeth them in their throne; ruleth in the Kingdome of men; giveth it to whomsoever he please, not that he maketh Monarchs without secondary causes; but because these secondary causes work not, but by the special direction of his hand. Wherefore the titles of Election and Conquest be specially from God, though not only & immediately from him, as is the third claim, when God by special revelation declares his will to make some certain person King, as he did Saul and David.

Philanax.: You omit Succession, which is a claim to the Crown.

Aristobulus.: Succession in blood is not a prime and original title, but a means to deriue to posterity these three forenamed claims from Ancestors that first enjoyed them; none of which titles do sufficiently institute a person King without the consent of commonwealth. When a King is made by election the case is clear; but the Conqueror seems to come to the crown against the Commonwealth's will. Indeed the right of Conqueror he may have, will they nil they; yet Royal authority over them he cannot have without their grant. The right of lawful Conquest binds the state conquered to make the conqueror their King upon just conditions which he may prescribe heavy or hard according to the quantity of their offence. If they refuse to yield, he hath the right of the sword to force them, not the right of Prince to govern them, till they consent. This consent being yielded, then there begins a new Society and Commonwealth compacted of conquerors and the people conquered, and the Prince of the conquering side becomes King to govern them both according to the laws and conditions agreed upon: which conditions if he neglect, he is no less subject and corrigible by the Commonwealth, than Kings made by election.
When God personally appoints anyone to be King, as he did Saul, & David, neither then have Kings power immediately, and only from God. God is said to have made Saul, and David Kings, because he eternally decreed they should be Kings, in due time revealed this his will, gave commandment to his people, and effectually stirred up their hearts to make them Kings. These are remote titles and afar off: but it can never be proved that in making Saul and David Kings, the peoples grant did not concur with God's, yea the Scripture signifies that it did, saying, all the people went to Galgala and made Saul King before the Lord. The elders of Judah and Israel anointed David King over them.
… But (to omit these Kings that were by Gods express commission personally designed) that other Kings have power only from God, is a paradox which scarce any Christian Divine holds. Catholics, Puritans, foreign Protestants, even our English Conformitants, derive regal authority from the Commonwealth.

Aristobulus:  …The practice of all Countries that have transferred the Crown from family to family [is to] have restrained and enlarged the bounds thereof by politic laws. What reason, if we respect only the law of God and nature why Spain should be governed by a Monarch, rather then Venice? That in England women may succeed to the Crown, from which they are excluded in France? That in Scotland the Crown descendeth to the nearest in blood, and Poland the King is made by the free choice of estates? What is the reason that by the law of nations the whole Commonwealth may be punished & brought into bondage for the sins of their Prince? Why should the Prince's crimes be imputed to them, if it were not their choice, neither at the first to have him, nor afterward to want him? Without question the general voice of humankind is, that Commonwealths have power to make Princes, and upon just reason unmake them: and therefore they are accountable to their neighbouring States, if they admit one to the Crown with their injury, or finding him incorrigible do not remove him. Whence ariseth that strong inclination in subjects to fight for their Prince, to wit from love, to justify their own doings & the States public judgment of their Prince's worthiness.

Aristobulus.: He {Mocket] allegeth divers testimonies, that every soul is to be subject to the higher powers: and of Fathers averring, that there is no state, nor man in the world equal to the Emperor: Which particularly to relate were to waste paper, seeing these testimonies prove no more; then what Papists commonly grant. That Kings are Sovereign and supreme in temporal affaires, within their Dominions, That all men whatsoever, Prophets, Evangelists, Apostles, Priests, Monks that live within their states, are subject to their Government, and to the laws which they make, for the good of the Commonwealth. They prove that primitive Christians both laymen & Priests, were bound to pay tribute to the Emperor, & were in criminal causes answerable before the temporal Magistrate. For the dignity of Priestly state, and the special ordinance of Christ exempting them, was not then sufficiently promulgated, nor accepted of by Princes, as afterward it was in gratitude for the benefit of their conversion to Christianity, by the preaching and labours of Priesthood. The places then of Scriptures and Fathers show, that Priests even Apostles, were subject to the Emperor in causes temporal: but can any man with reason think that their testimonies import, that unbelieving Emperors were in all spiritual occurrences the sovereign Governors of the Christian Church. That the supreme Pastorship to decide doubts of faith, gather Councils, or excommunicate disobedient Christians, was committed to them. I think Protestants will hardly grant this. Whence Papists infer, that had Kings been ordained by Christ supreme Governors next himself in the Ecclesiastical hierarchy, he would have provided Christian Kings to furnish that place in the first erecting of his Church. Which seeing he did not, they further deduce that Kings cannot challenge by Christ's institution any place of government in Church-affairs: that the keys of his Church, signifying supreme authority were by him delivered not to Kings, but to Peter, by which gift he made him high steward of his house. Whosoeuer will be of Christ's family, must yield themselves, their swords, their Crowns subject to Peter's keys.

Aristobulus.:…I cannot commend their wisdom that cause or permit Treatises that plead for the impunity of tyrants, to be set forth by his Majesty's special authority. Will any man think this impunity would be so eagerly defended, were it not also loved and desired? or loved for mere speculation's sake, not for the use and exercise thereof? It is enough for private men (as said a prudent Empress to her husband) that they be innocent, but Princes seeing they govern not brute beasts but men, must also procure not to be suspected: specially in matter of Tyranny, wherein
subjects are naturally jealous, and apt to think the worst upon any light occasion. Sometimes weak denials be taken as grants. Kings that coldly detest tyranny, may soon be suspected to love it. Some kind of sins may never be named, without great show of execration, some may not be named at all, there being no words that can sufficiently express the horror, that when they are named must wait upon them. Hence it is, that the rules of Tragedy command that bloody & barbarous murders be not represented on the stage, nor related without tragical declamations against them. …
This being the suspicious disposition of men; what may we think of Treatises set forth by authority, wherein the bloodiest cruelties be related without horror; yea their Authors be named as worthy of honour, not as monsters, deserving banishment from the face of the earth, and memory of mankind? What is this but to cast suspicions that his Majesty secretly affects such courses, and could find in his heart that most merciless tyranny might reign impunely? Wherein the wrong done him is exceeding great, his gracious disposition being as far, from loving Tyranny, as his happy Reign from the exercise of it.


Aristobulus.:…the Papists hold that the sentence of deposition must not only be given by a public magistrate, but also by the whole magistracy and nobility of the Commonwealth, or by the far greater part thereof. And for this cause (they say) that neither Julian the Apostata, nor Constantius, nor Valens - Arian Emperors - were deposed, which Theodidact exaggerateth as an argument of great moment to prove that Christians cause no forcible resistance against persecuting Princes. But the cause why these heretical Emperors were not deposed, cannot be proved to have been want of authority in the Church, but because there wanted at that time means to unite the whole Empire in the business of deposing heretical Emperors. For from the time of Constantine to the sack of Rome by Alaricus, heathens and infidels did abound through the whole Roman Empire, many of them bearing chief offices even in the Senate, who could not be brought nor commanded to concur against Emperors for their heresy or apostasy: so that the attempts of Catholics to depose them could then have had no other success, but faction and civil war. Nor could the sentence of the supreme pastor unite them in that enterprise, seeing a great part of the Empire were Infidels (as hath been said) and so not the Pope's subjects. But when the Commonwealth consisteth of only Christians, then heresy and apostasy of the Prince joined with persecution ought to breed in them all, a general dislike thereof: & the sentence of their spiritual Pastor challengeth likewise universal obedience; so that if factions grow amongst them, the fault is not in the cause which is common to all, nor in the sentence which bendeth them all, but in themselves that are neither zealous in their Religion, nor obedient to the Church.


[Spelling and punctuation modernized]


The tract is in the form of a dialogue between Philanax and Aristobulus. It was consciously modeled on Mocket's God and the King, and offers the response of Catholic resistance theory to the Divine Right of Kings.

Theodidact = The main speaker in Mocket's God and the King.

Conformitants = Those who conformed to the established Church of England (i.e. conforminsts or Anglicans).

impunely = with impunity, i.e. at no risk of suffering punishment.