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I pray that Your Majesty will favorably accept this my little work of suggestion and advice on these matters; and if Your Majesty or anyone else should be of the opinion that I have proposed anything not in agreement with the eternal Word of God, I beg to be advised of this admonition, as I am always prepared in all things to follow the pure Word of God itself and to consecrate my total self to it.
16 min read
In this institution, modification, and enforcement of penalties Your Majesty will prove his trust and zeal for governing the commonwealth in a holy way for Christ the Lord, our heavenly King, if for every single crime, misdeed, or offense he establishes and imposes those penalties which the Lord himself has sanctioned. By means of these, in addition to changing and arousing to true repentance those who have sinned, he will strike the others with fear and dread of sinning; thus he will seek to burn away, i.e., deeply excise and exterminate, not only all licentiousness and boldness in wrongdoing, but also all yearning and desire for it. This is the purpose of penalties and punishments which God proposes in his law.
9 min read
The Reign of Christ. Book Two. Chapter Fifty Nine: The Thirteenth Law: the Custody of Accused Persons
This realm is guilty of a grave sin against God by its rather harsh and unjust imprisonment of accused persons. Men plainly innocent are sometimes cast into prison on slight suspicion and detained there for some months before their case is heard. Who would not acknowledge that this is unjust and cruel? For this is the decree of the divine law and the law of nature as given concerning prisoners by Gratian, Valentinian, and Theodosius: “Concerning those who are imprisoned, we order definitely either that a convicted person must undergo his penalty quickly or that a person who is to be set free is not to suffer from lengthy incarceration.” It is certainly unfair and cruel to cause the torment of an innocent man even for one hour. And what should judges deem more useful and necessary for them to do than to render judgment and justice and deliver the innocent from all wrong?
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The Reign of Christ. Book Two. Chapter Fifty Eight: The Twelfth Law: the Establishment and Correction of Tribunals and Judges
This must also be required of judges, that they judge sincerely according to the laws, i.e., according to the meaning germane to the laws, and not permit themselves to relax any part of the laws in any case. For if some case demands an amendment of the laws or if in another case a dispensation is required, this is to be sought from superiors and the magistrates appointed for this very purpose, and even from Your Majesty himself. For as there is need of as many judges as possible, so it is the duty of only a few to write good laws and also to amend them or to decide what their exceptions ought to be.
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The Reign of Christ. Book Two. Chapter Fifty Seven: The Eleventh Law: the Appointment of Magistrates
However wisely laws are enacted and however fully they are explained, they are of no use to the well-being of the commonwealth unless they are strenuously defended by ordinary magistrates and unless the obedience of all is very strictly exacted; good magistrates are called “living laws.” And so Your Majesty will most earnestly take care that there will never be lacking to his subjects pious, holy, and prudent magistrates who love the commonwealth.
19 min read
The Reign of Christ. Book Two. Chapter Fifty Six: The Tenth Law: on the Revision and Elaboration of Civil Laws
In all laws it must first of all be required that all self-love and all greed be suppressed and that everyone embrace and help his neighbors and transact all things with them in the same good faith that everyone wishes others to have in entering into and making contracts with himself. These things, therefore, should be considered and regarded by the correctors of all laws which are promulgated for the observance of so-called commutative justice, by which men are made to acknowledge that they have been born not for themselves but for God, Church, country, and neighbor, and that they wickedly injure God and the commonwealth and deserve to be rejected from the human community if they should be discovered to have preferred in any matter their own good to the good of the commonwealth and their neighbor.
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The Reign of Christ. Book Two. Chapter Fifty Five: The Ninth Law: Controlling Luxury and Harmful Expenses
For those who wish to live up to the profession of piety and the worship of God and who put all their hope in the living God clearly ought to manifest a pleasing worship of God, glorify the holy name of God, propagate and adorn his Kingdom, even in dress, even in housing, even in food, drink, care of the body, in all corporal matters and activities, and in such a way as to declare themselves in these matters also “crucified to the world, and the world to them,” and to be abhorrent of all glory which does not consist “in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
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Since human nature has that weakness by which it cannot always concentrate on grave and serious matters but demands other rest besides sleep, there must also be provision made for certain relaxations from work and useful studies and a certain recreation of the strength both of the spirit and of the body in play and games, especially when grave and serious obligations have been satisfied, and by all means in proper moderation and prudence, so that the kind of games is prescribed and presented for adults and youth in which there need not be feared any relaxation of morals or delight in wicked idleness and from which there may also be gained a certain strengthening of health as well as some improvement in the cultivation of the mind.
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For this procedure of assigning citizens to definite virtuous and whole lives, whether philosophical or mechanical, and for their assignment to work useful to the commonwealth, it will be necessary to appoint guardians and overseers.
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The Reign of Christ. Book Two. Chapter Fifty Two: Those Who Have No Aptitude for Honorable Skills Should Be Reduced to Manual Labor And Humble Tasks
People who are found not to be endowed with any particular skill should be designated to humble and harder work, whether they do work by the day in proportion to their need or commit themselves to service for a certain period of time.
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Public decency furthermore demands that public inns and hospices be entrusted to the particular care only of men who have been recognized to be endowed with piety, chastity, and decency.
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Marketing is a business which is honest and necessary for the commonwealth if it confines itself to the export and import of things that are advantageous to the commonwealth for living well and in a holy way, but not those which encourage and foster impious pomp and luxury. In order to benefit men’s piety, this purpose ought never to be absent from the thoughts and deeds of Christians but should always be considered and weighed as scrupulously as possible.
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The Reign of Christ. Book Two. Chapter Forty Nine: The Restoration of Various Crafts and Honest Pursuits of Profit
What person not completely destitute of the mind of Christ can fail to acknowledge that Christian princes must make it a major project that there should be as good men as possible everywhere who live for the glory of God; therefore, such princes must in every way be on guard lest a few evil and harmful men, such as they all are who try to advance their own interests more than those of the commonwealth, excited by the infinite stimulus of greed, should displace men from the lands, and rob the state of its greatest riches and ornaments, namely, good citizens, and deprive the Church and heaven of worshipers praising God.
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The Reign of Christ. Book Two. Chapter Forty Eight: The Eighth Law: the Civil Education of Youth and the Suppression of Idleness
Not only every private person but also every state and commonwealth should educate, form, and train its children for him with utmost care, and adapt each of them to those skills and activites for which the Lord himself has created each to be most suited; thus each person, as a sound and useful member in the body of the commonwealth, may contribute his share also to the good of the entire commonwealth, and no idle person may feed as a drone on the labors of others.
6 min read
For no one who has even a speck of honesty will deny that it must be a primary concern of pious princes and governors of states to bring it about that genuine purity and decency obtain and prevail among all men, and that if this is neglected, plainly all righteousness will also fail, all fear of God will be struck down, and true religion will become entirely obsolete.
3 min read
For unless this fountain and nursery of good citizenship, holy marriage, is most vigilantly preserved from every failing and disturbance, what, as I have said before, can be hoped for the coming generations of good citizens and the desired ordering and sanctification of the state? We certainly know that it is not enough for Christians to abstain from wicked affairs and deeds but that they also must avoid as earnestly as possible every appearance of evil.
3 min read
Your Majesty acknowledges that here also his authority and law are required in order to bring it about that his subjects so come and are present at the consecration of their nuptials, and give their attention to everything said to them by the priest, as becomes those who come into the presence and stand in the sight of God Almighty and Christ the Savior, and hear or invoke him through his minister; and the priests, as befits true ministers of Christ and faithful stewards of the mysteries of God, should read, exhort, and pray all these things with utmost dedication.
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The Reign of Christ. Book Two. Chapter Nineteen: Whether it May Be Permitted That the Promise Of Marriage May Be Rescinded Before It Is Fulfilled
Another question here arises about engagements, i.e., matrimonial agreements, when they ought to be held entirely valid and unchangeable. For religious emperors were not of the opinion that an agreement of matrimony would have to be held indissoluble until the bride was brought home and the solemnities had been celebrated. For they judged it a thing unworthy of natural and divine equity, and of the just reflection needed by human infirmity for deliberating and coming to a decision, when a space of time was given to renounce other contracts of much less moment which were not yet confirmed before the magistrates, and to deny this to the matrimonial contract, the holiest of all, which required most accurate circumspection and deliberation.
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The Reign of Christ. Book Two. Chapter Eighteen: Marriages Should Not Be Held Valid Which Are Contracted Without the Consent of Those Who Have Power Over the Ones Who Make The Contract, or Without Suitable Advisers
In the absence of these, a person nevertheless acts impiously if he enters the marriage contract, that lasting and highest union of human nature, without the counsel of important and pious men through whom he may be able to know the mind and will of God with more certainty. In less serious matters involving money and other things, the investment of which is often more profitable than the keeping of it, men who do not trust their own judgment use as counselors those whom they judge to have a bit more knowledge than they themselves in such matters; who does not see, therefore, that it is a mark of impious temerity and pernicious lust for a boy on his own responsibility to enter into an indissoluble covenant with a woman.
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I myself am of the opinion that it is fitting for pious princes and governors of states, in defining the degrees of consanguinity and affinity pertinent to the association of marriage, to follow the laws of God and the examples of the holy patriarchs praised in Holy Scriptures, rather than what men have later invented and observed in this matter, especially since pious emperors also preferred in their laws to follow the divine arrangement rather than human judgment.
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The Reign of Christ. Book Two. Chapter Sixteen: What Must Be Established Concerning the Contracting and Entering of Holy Marriage
In the first place, therefore, Your Majesty will propose laws to his subjects concerning the correct contracting and holy entering into marriage so that no one will be associated with another in matrimony unless it is according to God’s will for one person to be joined with another in this agreement and the contract concerning this union is entered into gravely, deliberately, and religiously, as befits those who have professed piety.
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The Reign of Christ. Book Two. Chapter Fifteen: The Seventh Law: the Sanctification and Regulation of Marriage
How important it is for the decency and well-being of the commonwealth that matrimony be contracted and reverenced according to the will of Christ and not dissolved without a just cause! Who would not understand this? For unless that first and most sacred union of man and woman is established in a holy way, so that household discipline flourishes among the spouses according to God’s precept, how can we expect a race of good men?
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For it hardly suffices for the churches of Christ that their people should merely be alive but it must also be provided for them that they live to the Lord for a certain and mutual usefulness among each other and within the State and the Church. Hence the churches must provide that all persons baptized into Christ should from childhood be properly educated and learn decent skills so that each one according to his portion may be able to contribute something to the common good and prove himself as a true and useful member of Christ.
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The Reign of Christ. Book Two. Chapter Thirteen: The Fifth Law: Claiming Ecclesiastical Goods For Christ the Lord, and Their Pious Use
Since, therefore, Your Majesty’s realm in relation to the religion and Kingdom of Christ is very gravely endangered by the indicated pillage and dispersion of church property, Your Majesty must quickly and conscientiously take care and bring it about that, just as the government has its treasury, its property, so our eternal King Jesus Christ, as he has his Kingdom in Your Majesty’s realm, should also have his treasury and property.
17 min read