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Vol II No. 5

NOMOTHEOLOGY: RICHARD HOOKER’S Theology of Law

by
Torrance Kirby

In sundry the workes both of art and also of nature, where that which hath greatest force in the very things we see, is notwithstanding it selfe oftentimes not seene. The statelinesse of houses, the goodliness of trees, when we behold them delighteth the eye; but that foundation which beareth up the one, that root which ministreth unto the other nourishment and life, is in the bosome of the earth concealed: and if there be at any time occasion to search into it, such labour is then more necessary then pleasant both to them which undertake it, and for the lookers on. In like maner the use and benefite of good lawes, all that live under them may enjoy with delight and comfort, albeit the groundes and first originall causes from whence they have sprong be unknowne, as to the greatest part of men they are.

In the first book of his great treatise Of the Lawes of Ecclesiasticall Politie (1593), Richard Hooker commences his discussion of the origin of law—‘that lawe which giveth life unto all the rest’—with an appeal to two vivid metaphors, one artificial and another natural, a constructed foundation and a nourishing root. As his argument unfolds, it becomes clear that his aim in the Lawes is to show that the Elizabethan religious and constitutional settlement of 1559—the ‘stately house’, as it were, of the

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