Hooker begins this chapter by distinguishing himself from many previous theologians who think there is only one Eternal Law. Hooker believes there are two. The first is the one with which he closed the previous chapter, namely, the law that God established for himself to work by. This is not a limit which God puts on himself as such since “the imposition of this law upon himself is his own free and voluntary act.” (II.6) This is why law as an analogue of God’s being cannot go all the way because law is fundamentally about limit (“we somewhat more enlarging the sense thereof term any kind of rule or canon, whereby actions are framed, a law”), while God is infinite. So the being of God is not an eternal law.
The second Eternal Law is what is discussed in this third part. This law is perhaps more like the entire group of laws which limit all created agents, yet these he considers a “part” of the second Eternal Law. It seems that the distinction ought to be maintained if we’re to be clear. So whether the law of Nature, the Angels, Reason, Divine (revelation), or human, these all “are conformed unto this second law eternal.” And these in turn are governed by the first eternal law.
- I found it interesting that Hooker believes that the law of a thing is dependent on its form. For instance, a single carbon atom or a molecule with carbon, though fundamentally composed of the same stuff, operates under a different law than carbon in a living organism or, more simply, in a gas. Hooker seems to reject a sub-christian platonic version of forms as a realm of pure, abstract, ideas (4); nevertheless, he does see the second eternal law as in some way a “guide” or “draught written in the bosom of God himself.”
- Most things are called agents even if they are distinguished from voluntary agents. I’m not entirely sure how to tease this out but it’s fascinating since agency is a rich and suggestive word. What might it mean for a rock to be an agent, even if not a free and voluntary one?
- Hooker remains here persistently doxological. Consider the rising rhetorical questioning at the end of section two. “Now if nature should intermit her course…if…if…etc…” The true workings of nature are not knowable in their entirety — “[the nature of things] hath in it more than men have as yet attained to know, or perhaps ever shall attain…that perceiving how much the least thing in the world hath in it more than the wisest are able to reach unto, they may by this means learn humility.” The perception of the depth of things has a “moral” dimension, it’s pedagogically oriented to teach the proper response to God’s working.
- If we affirm that natural science is able to perceive truth, even if sometimes in a limited or skewed way, then I don’t see that even apocalypticists could deny this level of law.
- I was quickly struck by Hooker’s phrase “divine malediction.” Surely God is not malicious, yes?! But I did some looking into the word’s English usage in the Oxford English Dictionary and malediction here, it seems, means “curse,” therefore this is a reference to the Fall. The reason that nature does not always operate as it ought is due to the Fall, which Hooker must see in a “cosmic” light if its effects are that far reaching.
- That it is due to the Fall is something only revelation can uncover.
- He uses the Eternal Law to demythologize the pagan notion of fate. Natural destiny is nothing other than the providence of God, which is as far from the ancient view of destiny as you can get. Fate was blind and arbitrary, binding even on the gods, God’s providence is the result of his freedom.
- So too, he says that the pagans assigned gods to natural forces when they ought to have been seeking the one God who orders everything.
- The laws are teleologically “social,” they ought to “prefer the good of the whole before whatsoever their own particular.”
I’m working on a few translations. Just a random note without context can be pretty hard to translate, actually.