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Laws command and forbid.

[002] 1[And because] in truth these English laws and customs, by the authority of kings,
[003] sometimes command, sometimes forbid, sometimes castigate and punish offenders.2
[004] 3Since they have been approved by the consent of those who use them4 and confirmed
[005] by the oath of kings, they cannot be changed without the common consent
[006] of all those by whose counsel and consent they were promulgated.5 They cannot
[007] be nullified without their consent,6 but may be changed for the better, for to change
[008] for the better is not to nullify. If new and unusual matters arise which have not
[009] before been seen7 in the realm, [If like matters arise let them be decided by like,8
[010] since the occasion is a good one for proceeding a similibus ad similia.]9 10and
[011] their judgment is difficult and unclear, let them be adjourned to the great court to
[012] be there determined by counsel of the court,11 [though there are some who, presuming
[013] on their own knowledge, as though nothing connected with the law were
[014] beyond their competence, are unwilling to seek the counsel of anyone,] [since] it is
[015] more becoming and more lawyer-like to take counsel rather than to determine
[016] anything rashly, nor is it discreditable to be in doubt as to individual cases.12

He who judges ought to be wise.

[018] 13Let no one, unwise and unlearned, presume to ascend the seat of judgment,14
[019] which is like unto the throne of God, lest for light he bring darkness and for
[020] darkness light,15 and, with unskilful hand, even as a madman, he put the innocent
[021] to the sword and set free the guilty, and 16lest he fall from on high, as from the
[022] throne of God, in attempting to fly before he has wings.17 And though one is fit
[023] to judge and to be made a judge, let each one take care for himself lest, by judging
[024] perversely and against the laws, because of prayer or price, for the advantage of a
[025] temporary and insignificant gain, he dare to bring upon himself sorrow and
[026] lamentation everlasting,

What the punishment for evil judging is.

[028] 18and lest in the day of the wrath of the Lord he feel the vengeance of Him who
[029] said, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’19 on that day when kings and princes of
[030] the earth shall weep and bewail20 when they behold the Son of Man, because of
[031] fear of his torments,21 where gold and silver will be of no avail to set them free.
[032] Who shall not fear that trial, where the Lord shall be the accuser, the advocate
[033] and the judge? From his sentence there is no appeal, for the Father has committed
[034] all judgment to the Son;22 he shuts and there is none to open; he opens and there
[035] is none to shut.23 O how strict shall that judgment be, where we shall give account
[036] not only of our acts but even of every idle word


1. Br. and Azo, 7, 15-17; a supplement to 19, n. 8

2. Azo, Summa Inst., proe. Azonis, pr.: ‘omnium imperatorum auctoritate iubet, vetat, vindicat, punit . . .’; D. 1.3.7: ‘Legis virtus haec est, imperare, vetare, permittere, punire’

3. A supplement to 19, n. 12

4. D. 1.3.33, 35; Inst. 1.2.9: ‘diuturni mores consensu utentium comprobati’; infra 22, 27

5. Infra iv, 285

6. Infra iv, 289

7. ‘visitata’

8. B.N.B., no. 409 (margin)

9. D. 1.3.12: ‘ad similia procedere’; 1.3.13: ‘bona occasio’; infra iv, 357

10. Om: ‘Si autem ... evenerint;’ a connective

11. Infra iii, 73

12. Azo, Summa Cod. 1.1, no. 8: ‘Item Aristotle ait: Dubitare de singulis non est inutile.’

13. Br. and Azo, 9, 17; this and the following paragraph a supplement to 19, n. 11

14. Infra 307

15. Isai. 5:20

16-17. Azo, Summa Inst., proe. Azonis, no. 2

18. Br. and Azo, 9-11, 17

19. Rom. 12:19; infra iii, 43

20. Apoc. 18:9

21. Apoc. 18:10

22. Joan. 5:22

23. Apoc. 3:7

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