Politics Drawn From Holy Scripture by Jacques Benigne Bossuet
Of the Principles of Human Society
Man is Made to Live in Society
Men have but one and the same end and one and the same object, which is God
“Hear, Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. Thou shalt love the Lord they God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole strength.”
The love of God obliges men to love one another
A doctor of the law asked Jesus: “Master, which is the first commandment? Jesus answered him: The first commandment of all is: Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one God: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength. This is the first commandment, and the second is like to it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
“On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets.”
We must then love one another, because we must all love the same God, who is our common father, and his unity is our bond. “There is but one God, says St. Paul; if there are others who reckon many gods, there is but one God for us, the father; of whom are all things, and we unto him.”
If there are nations that do not know God, he is not less their creator, and he has not the less made them after his own image and likeness. For he said, in creating man, “Let us make man to our own image and likeness”: and, in the next verse, “God created man to his own image, to the image of God he created him.”
He repeats it frequently, so that we should learn upon what model we are formed, and that we should love in each other the image of God. For which reason our Lord said that the precept of loving our neighbor, is like that of loving God, because it is natural that he who loves God, loves also for the love of him, all that is made after his image; and these two obligations are alike.
We see also that when God forbids an attempt on the life of man, he gives this reason: “I will require the blood of your lives at the hand of every beast, and at the hand of man: whosoever shall shed man’s blood, his blood shall be shed: for man was made in the image of God.”
The very beasts are, as it were, called in this passage to the judgment of God, to give account of the human blood they have shed. God speaks thus to cause sanguinary men to tremble; and it is true, in one sense, that God will redemand, even of the animals, the men they have devoured, when, despite their cruelty, they shall rise again on the last day.
All men are brothers
Firstly, they are all children of the same God. “One is your master, and all you are brethren. And call none your father upon earth: for one is your father who is in heaven.”
Those whom we call fathers, and from whom we come according to the flesh, do not know who we are; God alone knew us from all eternity, and it is for this reason that Isaiah said, “For thou art our father, and Abraham hath not known us, and Israel hath been ignorant of us: thou O Lord, art our Father, our protector; from everlasting is thy name.”
Secondly, God has established the fraternity of men, in making them all descend from one, who is, therefore, the common father, and carries in himself the image of the paternity of God. We do not read that God made the other animals all descend from one common stock: “God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds: and saw that it was good; and he said, Let us make man to our image and likeness.”
God speaks of man in the singular number, and marks distinctly that he would make but one only, from whom all others should be born, as it is aid in the Acts: “And hath made of one, all mankind, to dwell upon the whole face of the earth.” The Greek says, “that God made him of the same blood.” He even willed that the woman whom he gave to the first man should be drawn from him, to the end that all should be one in the same human race. “The Lord built the rib which he took from Adam, into a woman: and brought her to Adam. And Adam said, this is now is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man. Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh.”
Thus the character of friendship is perfect in the human race; and men, who have all but one common father, ought to love each other as brothers. God forbids that kings should believe themselves exempt from this law, or that they should imagine that it diminishes the respect which is due them. God distinctly declares that the kings whom he will give to his people, “shall be taken from the number of their brethren,” and adds, that “they shall not be puffed up with pride,” and that in this condition, their reign shall be long.
Men having forgotten their fraternity, and murders having multiplied upon the earth, God resolved to destroy mankind, with the exception of Noah and his family, by whom he restored the human race, and willed that in this renovation of the world, we shall all still have one common father.
Soon afterwards, he forbad murder, reminding men that they are all brothers, descended from the same Adam, and subsequently, from the same Noah: “I will require the blood of the lives of man, at the hand of every man, and of his brother.”
No man is a stranger to another man
Our Lord, after having established the precept of loving our neighbor, interrogated by a doctor of law [concerning] whom we are to regard as our neighbor, condemned the error of the Jews, who regarded as such only those of their nation. He showed them, by the parable of the Samaritan, who assists the traveler who was despised by a priest and by a Levite, that it is not on our nation, but upon humanity in general, that the union of men must be founded. “A priest saw a traveler wounded, and passed by, and a Levite near him, continued his road. But a Samaritan seeing him, was touched with compassion.” He relates with what care he assisted him, and then he says to the scribe: “Which of these three, in thy opinion, was neighbor to him that fell among robbers: and the scribe said: he that showed mercy to him: and Jesus said to him, Go, and do thou in like manner.”
This parable teaches us that no man is foreign to another man, were he even of a nation as hated by our own, as was that of the Samaritans by the Jews.
Each man ought to take care of other men
If we are all brethren, all made after the image of God and equally his children, all one race and one blood, we ought to take care of each other; and it is not without reason that it is written, “God has charged every one to have compassion towards his neighbor.” If they do not do it in good faith, God will avenge it; for, as Ecclesiasticus adds: “Our ways are always before him, and they cannot be hidden from his eyes.” We must then succor our neighbor, as having to render account to God, who sees us.
There are none but parricides and the enemies of the human race, who say, like Cain, “I know not where is my brother: am I my brother’s keeper?” “Have we not all one father? Hath not one God created us? Why then doth every one of us despise our brother, violating the covenant of our fathers?”
Interest itself unites us
“A brother, that is helped by his brother, is like a strong city.” Remark how strength is multiplied by society, and by mutual assistance.
“It is better, therefore, that two should be together, than one: for they have the advantage of their society: If one fall, he shall be supported by the other: woe to him that is alone, for when he falleth he has none to lift him up. And if two men lie together, they shall warm one another: how shall one alone be warmed? And if a man prevail against one, two shall withstand him: a three-fold cord is not easily broken.”
They console, they assist, they fortify each other. God, having willed to establish society, has established that each one shall find in it his well-being, and remain attached to it through that interest.
For which reason, he has given to men different talents. One proper for one thing, and another for another, to the end that they must act together as the members of one body, and that their union be cemented by mutual wants. “For as in one body, we have many members, but all the members have not the same office; so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and each one members of each other.” Each of us has his gift, and his special grace.
“For the body also is not one member, but many. If the foot should say, because I am not the hand, I am not of the body: is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, because I am not the eye, I am not of the body: is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were the eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God hath set the members, every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they all were one member, where would be the body? But now there are many members, indeed, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand: I need not thy help: nor again the head to the feet: I have no need of you. Yea much more those that seem to be the more feeble members of the body, are more necessary: And such as we think to be the less honorable members of the body, upon these we bestow more abundant honor: and those that are our uncomely parts, have more abundant comeliness. But our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, giving the more abundant honor to that which he wanted. That there might be no schism in the body, but the members might be mutually careful one for another.”
Thus, by different talents, the strong have need of the weak, the great of the little, each one of him who appears the most remote from him; because mutual wants attract all, and render all necessary.
Jesus Christ, in forming his Church, established unity on this foundation, and shows us what are the principles of human society.
The world subsists by this law. “All things live, and remain forever, and for every use all things obey him. All things are double, one against another, and he hath made nothing defective.”
We see, then, human society supported upon these irreversible foundations; one same God, one same object, one same end, one common origin, one same blood, one same interest, one mutual want, alike for the affairs, as for the enjoyments of life.
– Lucas G. Westman
 Deut. 6:4-5
 Matt. 23:35
 Mark 12:28-31
 Matt. 23:40
 1 Cor. 8:46
 Gen. 1:26
 Ibid., 1:27
 Ibid., 9:5-6
 Matt. 23:8-9
 Isa. 43:16
 Gen. 1:25-26
 Acts 17:26
 Ibid., 17:26
 Gen. 2:22-24
 Ibid., 2:22-24
 Deut. 17:15
 Ibid., 17:20
 Gen. 6
 Ibid., 9:5
 Luke 10:29-37
 Ecclus. 17:12
 Ecclus. 13
 Gen. 4:9
 Mal. 2:10
 Prov. 18:19
 Eccles. 4:9-12
 Rom. 12:4-5
 1 Cor. 12:14-25
 Ecclus. 42:24-26
 Paraphrase of Eph. 4:3-6