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AUTHORITY


139


AUTHORITY


Authority, though varying in amount, is as uni- versal as man is everywhere. Man cannot live except under authority, as he cannot live out of civil society. It is by no convention, compact, or contract, that authority takes hold of him. It is a necessity of his nature. But while civil authority, or government, is natural and universal, the distribution of authority, otherwise called the form of government, or the con- stitution of the State, is a human convention, vary- ing in various countries, and in the same countrj' at different periods of its history. It is scarcely too much to say that there are as many various dis- tributions of civil authority, or various forms of gov- ernment, as there are varieties of vertebrate animals. They are classified as monarchies, aristocracies, democracies; but no two monarchies are quite alike, nor two democracies. Thus a democracy may be direct, as in ancient Athens, or representative, as in the United States. The monarchy of Edward VII is different from that of George III.

The one point fixed by nature, and by God, is that there must be authority every\vhere, and that the authority e.xistent for the time being, under such and such a form, be under that form obeyed; for since there is no actual authority in the country ex- cept under that form, to refuse to obey that is to refuse authority simply, and to revert to anarchy, which is against natvire: just as a man having noth- ing but bread and cheese to eat, and refusing to eat his bread and cheese, under pretence that he much prefers mutton, condemns liimself to starvation, which again is unnatural. But we must beware of saying of any particular form of authority, monarchy for example, or democracy either, what is true only of authority in the abstract, namely, that all nations are bound to live under it, and that never under any pretence can it be subverted. A country, once monarchical, is not eternally bound to monarchy; and circumstances are conceivable under which a republic might pass into monarchy, as Rome did under Augustus, much to its advantage. Authority rules by Divine right under whatsoever form it is establi-shed. No one form of government is more sacred and inviolate than another. Change of per- sons holding office is usually provided in the con- stitution, sometimes by rotation, sometimes by vote of the legislative assembly. No monarchical con- stitution provides for the change of the person of the monarch otherwise than by death or resignation. Change of the form of government can be effected constitutionally, but, as history shows, as often as not, it is brought about unconstitutionally. When the change is complete, the new government rules by right of accomplished fact. There must be au- thority in the countrj', and theirs is the only au- thority available.

Divisions. — The progre.ss of civilization sub- divides authority into legislative, judicial, and executive, and the latter again into civil and mili- tary. The king, or president, is chief of the execu- tive. Authority again is subdivided into imperial and local, the latter emanating from the former and subordinate to it.

Origin. — The question of the origin of authority seems first to have been raised by the Roman lawyers. In their hands it assumed the concrete form of the origin of the imperial power. This power they argued to reside primarily in the Roman people; the people, however, did not exercise nor retain it, but trans- ferred it by some implicit lex regia, or king-making ordinance, as a matter of course wholly, and irrev- ocably to each successive emperor at his accession. With the advent of Christianity, St. Paul's doctrine came into prominence, that authority is of God; yet in no clear way was it made out how it came of God until St. Thomas Aquinas showed that it was of God inasmuch as it was an essential of the


human nature which C!od has created, according to the doctrine of Aristotle above expo-^ed. Before St. Thomas arose, some churchmen had shown a disposition to cry down the civil power. They could not denj' that it was of God, but they regarded it as one of the conseciuences of the sin of Adam, and argued that, but for the Fall, man would have lived free from coercive jurisdiction. They rehearsed the legend of Romulus, and the asylum that he opened for robbers. States, they said, usually have their origin in rapine and injustice. Others invested the pope with tlie plenitude of secular as well as spiritual authority, by the gift of Christ, and argued that kings reigned only as his vicegerents, even in civil matters. The Aristoteleanism of St. Thomas was opposed to all this. On the other hand, the imperial and royal party made a pope of the king or emperor; the civil ruler was as much an institution of Christ as the pope himself, and, like the pope, enjoyed a God-given authority, no portion of which could validly be taken from him. This is the doctrine of "the divine right of kings ". According to it, in its rigour, in a State once monarchical, monarchy is forever the only law- ful government, and all authority is vested in the monarch, to be communicated by him, to such as he may select for the time being to share his power. This "divine right of kings" (very different from the doctrine that all authority, whether of king or of republic, is from God), has never been sanctioned by the Catholic Church. At the Reformation it assumed a form exceedingly hostile to Catholicism, monarchs like Henry VIII, and James I, of England, claiming the fullness of spiritual as well as of civil authority, and this in such inalienable possession that no jot or tittle of prerogative could ever pass away from the Crown. Against these monstrous pretensions were fought the battles of Marston Moor and Naseby.

Against the same pretensions a more pacific war- fare was waged by Francis Suarez, S.J. Suarez argued against James I that spiritual authority is not vested in the Crown, and that even civil au- thority is not the immediate gift of God to the king, but is given by God to the people collectively, and by them bestowed on the monarch, according to the theory of the Roman lawyers above mentioned, and according to Aristotle and St. Thomas. Authority, he asserted, is an attribute of a multitude assembled to form a State. By their nature they must form a State, and a State must have authority. Authority, therefore, is natural to mankind collectively; and whatever is natural, and rational, and indispensable for human progress, is an ordinance of God. Au- thority must be, and God will have it to be; but there is no such natural necessity of authority being all centred in one person. Authority is a Divine in- stitution, but kings are a human invention. The saying is a platitude in our time; three centuries ago, when Suarez wrote, it was a bold and startling pronouncement. Suarez saved his loyalty by the concession that the people having bestowed the supreme power on His Majesty's ancestors ages ago, their posterity could not now resume it, but it must descend, like an heirloom, from the king to the king's son for all time. This concession was not every- where borne in mind by posterity. Indeed it would appear a restriction on the development of a State for the distribution of authority to be thus fixed forever. In England at any rate the restriction has been broken through, and the king is not what he was in Stuart times, nor the Parliament either.

Theories. — There have been two great out- breaks against excess of royal prerogative; one in England, in the middle of the seventeenth century; another in France, at the end of the eighteenth. Each of these two periods was marked by the ap- pearance of a great political n-riter, Thomas Hobbes