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I have avoyded coming a shore, which those Times have so infested both with shelves, and Tempests.
At what expence of time and industry I have beene in this scrutiny after Truth, I am not ignorant; but to
what purpose, I know not. For being partiall Judges of our selves, we lay a partiall estimate upon our
own productions. I therefore offer up this Book to your Lordships, not favour, but censure first, as
having found by many experiments, that it is not the credit of the Author, nor the newnesse of the work,
nor yet the ornament of the style, but only the weight of Reason, which recommends any Opinion to
your Lordships Favour and Approbation. If it fortune to please, that is to say, if it be sound, if it be
usefull, if it be not vulgar; I humbly offer it to your Lordship as both my Glory, and my protection; But if
in any thing I have erred, your Lordship will yet accept it as a Testimony of my Gratitude, for that the
means of study which I enjoyed by your Lordships Goodnesse, I have employed to the procurement of
your Lordships Favour. The God of Heaven crown your Lordship with length of Dayes in this earthly
Station, and in the heavenly Jerusalem, with a crown of Glory.
Your Honours most humble,
and most devoted Servant,
Tho. Hobbs.
The Author's Preface to the Reader
Reader, I promise thee here such things, which ordinarily promised, doe seeme to challenge the
greatest attention, and I lay them here before thine eyes, whether thou regard the dignity or profit of the
matter treated of, or the right method of handling it, or the honest motive, and good advice to undertake
it, or lastly the moderation of the Authour. In this Book thou shalt finde briefly described the duties of
men, First as Men, then as Subjects, Lastly, as Christians; under which duties are contained not only
the elements of the Lawes of Nature, and of Nations, together with the true originall, and power of
Justice, but also the very essence of Christian Religion it selfe, so farre forth as the measure of this my
purpose could well bear it.
Which kinde of doctrine (excepting what relates to Christian Religion) the most antient Sages did judge
fittest to be delivered to posterity, either curiously adorned with Verse, or clouded with Allegories, as a
most beautifull and hallowed mystery of Royall authority; lest by the disputations of private men, it
might be defiled; Other philosophers in the mean time, to the advantage of mankinde, did contemplate
the faces, and motions of things; others, without disadvantage, their natures, and causes. But in after
times, Socrates is said to have been the first, who truly loved this civill Science, although hitherto not
throughly understood, yet glimmering forth as through a cloud in the government of the Common
weale, and that he set so great a value on this, that utterly abandoning, and despising all other parts of
philosophy, he wholly embraced this, as judging it onely worthy the labour of his minde. After him
comes Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and other philosophers, as well Greeke, as Latine. And now at length all
men of all Nations, not only philosophers, but even the vulgar, have, and doe still deale with this as a
matter of ease, exposed and prostitute to every Mother-wit, and to be attained without any great care or
study. And which makes mainly for its dignity, those who suppose themselves to have it, or are in such
employment, as they ought to have it, doe so wonderfully please themselves in its Idaea, as they easily
brooke the followers of other arts to be esteemed and styled ingenuous, learned, skilfull, what you will;
except prudent: for this Name, in regard of civill knowledge, they presume to be due to themselves
onely. Whether therefore the worth of arts is to be weighed by the worthinesse of the persons who
entertain them, or by the number of those who have written of them, or by the judgement of the wisest;
certainly this must carry it, which so neerly relates to princes, and others engaged in the government of
mankinde, in whose adulterate Species also the most part of men doe delight themselves, and in which
the most excellent wits of philosophers have been conversant. The benefit of it when rightly delivered
(that is) when derived from true principles by evident connexion, we shall then best discerne, when we
shall but well have considered the mischiefes that have befallen mankinde in its counterfeit and babling
form; for in such matters as are speculated for the exercise of our wits, if any errour escape us, it is
without hurt; neither is there any losse, but of time onely: but in those things which every man ought to
meditate for the steerage of his life, it necessarily happens, that not onely from errours, but even from
ignorance it selfe, there arise offences, contentions, nay even slaughter it selfe. Look now, how great a
prejudice these are, such, and so great is the benefit arising from this doctrine of morality, truly
declared. How many Kings (and those good men too) hath this one errour, That a Tyrant King might
lawfully be put to death, been the slaughter of? How many throats hath this false position cut, That a
prince for some causes may by some certain men be deposed? And what blood-shed hath not this
erroneous doctrine caused, That Kings are not superiours to, but administrators for the multitude?
Lastly, how many rebellions hath this opinion been the cause of which teacheth that the knowledge
whether the commands of Kings be just or unjust, belongs to private men, and that before they yeeld