Politics Drawn From Holy Scripture by
Jacques Benigne Bossuet
The Society of Mankind Gives Birth to Civil Society, That is to Say, to States, Peoples, and Nations
Human society has been destroyed and violated by the passions
God was the bond of human society. The first man having separated himself from God, by a just punishment division was cast in his family, and Cain killed his brother Abel.
The whole of the human race was divided. The children of Seth were called the children of God; and the children of Cain were called the children of men.
These two races, by their alliances, only augmented corruption. The giants were the offspring of their union, men known in Scripture, and in all the traditions of the human race, by their injustice and their violence.
“All the thoughts of men turned at all times to evil, and God repented of having made them. Noah alone found grace before him,” so general was the corruption.
It is easy to comprehend that this perversity renders men unsociable. Man governed by his passions, thinks only of satisfying them without considering others. “I am, said the proud man in Isaiah, and there is none also besides me upon earth.”
The language of Cain resounds everywhere. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” that is to say, I have nothing to do with him, nor do I trouble myself about him.
Thus each one desires all for himself. “You join, said Isaiah, house to house, and lay field to field. Shall you alone dwell in the midst of the earth?”
Jealousy, so universal among men, exposes the profound malignity of their hearts. Our brother does us no injury, he takes nothing from us; nevertheless, he becomes to us an object of hatred, only because we see him more happy, or more industrious, or more virtuous than ourselves. “Abel pleased God by innocent means, and Cain could not bear it. The Lord had respect to Abel, and to his offerings. But to Cain and his offerings he had no respect, and Cain was exceeding angry, and his countenance fell.” Thence arise treasons and murder. “And Cain said to Abel his brother: Let us go forth abroad; and when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother and slew him.”
A similar passion exposed Joseph to the fury of his brothers, when, far from hurting them, he went in search of them for their father, who was uneasy about them. “His brethren, seeing he was beloved by his father, more than all his sons, hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.” Their rage made them resolve upon killing him; and there was no other means of dissuading them from that tragic plan but in the proposal to sell him.
From so many insensate passions, and so many different interests arising from them, results that there is no faith to be reposed, or safety to be found among men. ‘Believe not a friend, and trust not a prince: keep the doors of thy mouth from her, that sleepeth in thy bosom. For the son dishonoreth the father, and the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law: and a man’s enemies are they of his own household.” From thence arise those cruelties so frequent in mankind. There is nothing so brutal or so sanguinary as man. “All lie in wait for blood; every one hunteth his brother to death.”
“Cursing, and lying, and killing, and theft, and adultery have overflowed, and blood hath touched blood,” that is to say, that one murder draws on another.
Thus human society, established by so many sacred bonds, is violated by the passions, and as St. Augustine says: “There is nothing more sociable than man by nature, or more unsociable than man by corruption.”
Human society, from the beginning of things, was divided into many branches by the different nations that have been formed
Besides that division which was made among men by their passions, there was another, which necessarily arose from the multiplications of the human race.
Moses points it out to us when, after having named the first descendants of Noah, he thereby shows the origin of nations and of people. “By these, he says, were divided the islands of the Gentiles in their lands, every one according to his tongue, and their families in their nations.”
From whence it appears that two things divided human society into many branches. The one, the diversity and distance of countries in which the children of Noah were spread and multiplied; the other, the diversity of languages.
This confusion of language happened before the separation, and was sent to men in punishment of their pride. It disposed men to separate from one another, to extend themselves throughout the earth which God had given them to inhabit. “Come ye, therefore, said the Lord, let us go down, and there confound their tongue, that they may not understand one another’s speech. And so the Lord scattered them from that place into all lands.”
Speech is the bond of society among men, by the communication which it gives of their thoughts. In proportion as they do not understand one another, they are strangers to each other. “If I know not the power of the voice, I shall be to him to whom I speak a barbarian, and he that speaketh a barbarian to me.” And St. Augustine remarks that that diversity of languages makes a man better pleased with his dog than with man his equal.”
Behold then the human race divided by tongues and by countries: and thence it has happened that inhabiting the same country, and having the same language, has been a motive to men to unite more strictly together.
There is even some appearances that, in the confusion of tongues at Babel, those who were found to have most conformity in language were thereby disposed to choose the same vicinity: to which parentage contributed much; and Scripture seems to remark these two causes which began to form around Babel the different bodies of nations, when it says, that men composed them, “in dividing themselves each one according to his language and family.”
The earth they inhabit together, serves as a bond amongst men, and forms the unity of nations
When God promised to Abraham, that he would make of his children a great people, he at the same time promised them a land which they should inhabit in common. “And I will make thee a great nation” And shortly after, “And to thy seed will I give this land.”
When he introduced the Israelites into that land promised to their fathers, he praised it before them, that they might love it. He constantly called it “A good and spacious land, flowing with milk and honey.”
Those who made the people disgusted with this land which was to nourish them so abundantly were punished with death, as seditious men and enemies of their country. “The men whom Moses sent to reconnoiter the land, and who at their return had made the whole multitude to murmur against him, speaking ill of the land, that it was naught, were struck with death in the sight of the Lord.”
Those among the people who had viewed this land with contempt were excluded from it and died in the desert. “You shall not enter into the land which I swore to your fathers I would give them. Your children, who are innocent and take no part in your unjust disgust, will enter into the land which displeased you; as for you, your dead bodies will rot in the desert.”
Thus human society demands that we should love the land on which we dwell together; regarding it as one mother, and one common nurse; being attached to, and united by it. This is what the Latins call caritas patria soli, the love of one’s country: and they regarded it as a bond among men.
Men, in effect, feel themselves bound by something strong, when they think that the same earth which bore them, and nourished them during life, will receive them into its bosom when they are dead. “Where you shall dwell, I also will dwell; your people shall be my people, said Ruth, to her mother-in-law Naomi – the land that shall receive thee dying, in the same will I die: and there will I lie buried.”
Joseph dying said to his brothers, “God will visit you after my death, and will make you go out of this land to the land which he swore to our fathers: carry my bones with you out of this place.” These were his last words. It was a consolation to him in dying, to hope to follow his brethren to the land which God had given to them for their country; and where his bones would repose more peaceably in the midst of his fellow citizens.
This is a sentiment natural to all people. Themistocles, the Athenian, was banished from his country as a traitor: he planned its ruin with the king of Persia, to whom he had surrendered himself; and nevertheless, in dying he forgot Magnesia, which the king had given him, and, although he had been so well treated, ordered his friends to bear his bones to Attica, to be buried privately; since the rigor of the public decrees would not permit it to be done otherwise. At the approach of death, when reason returned, and when his revenge ceased, the love of his country awoke in him: he believed he had satisfied his country: he believed he would be recalled from his exile after his death: and, as they then said, that the land would be more, kind, and more easy to his bones.
This is why good citizens are fond of their native land. “And it came to pass that Nehemias took up wine and gave it to the king, and I was as one languishing away before his face. And the king said to me: Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou dost not appear to be sick?…And I said to the king: king, live forever: why should not my countenance be sorrowful, seeing the city of the place of the sepulcher of my fathers is desolate, and the gates thereof are burnt with fire?…If it seem good to the king, and if thy servant hath found favor in they sight, that thou would send me into Judaea, to the city of the sepulcher of my father, and I will re-build it.”
Being arrived in Judaea, he summoned his fellow citizens, whom the love of their common country had united together, “You know, he said, the affliction wherein we are, because Jerusalem is desolate, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire: come and let us build up the walls of Jerusalem.”
While the Jews remained in the strange land, and so remote from their own country, they ceased not to mourn and to swell, if we may say so, with their tears, the waters of Babylon, in thinking of Zion. They could not resolve to sing their favorite songs, which were the canticles of the Lord, in a foreign land. Their instruments of music, formerly their consolation and their joy, remained suspended on the willows planted on the banks, and they had forgotten how to use them. “O Jerusalem, they said, if ever I forget thee, let my right hand be forgotten.” Those whom the conquerors had left in their native land esteemed themselves happy, and they said to the Lord, in the Psalms which they sang during their captivity, “Thou shalt arise and have mercy on Zion, for it is time, O Lord, to have mercy on it, for the stones thereof have pleased thy servants, and they shall have pity on the earth thereof.”
– Lucas G. Westman
 Gen. 4:8
 Ibid., 6:2
 Ibid., 6:4
 Ibid., 6:4
 Ibid., 6:5, 6, 8, 11
 Isa. 47:8
 Gen. 4:9
 Ecclus. 12:16
 Eccles. 5:9
 Isa. 5:8
 Gen. 4:4-5
 Ibid., 4:8
 Ibid., 37:12ff
 Ibid., 4
 Ibid., 19-28
 Micah 7:5-6
 Ibid., 2
 Hos. 4:2
 St. Augustine, De civitate Dei I. XII. XXV
 Gen. 10:5
 Gen. 11:9
 Ibid., 7-8
 1 Cor. 14:11
 St. Augustine, De civitate Dei I. XIX. VII
 Gen. 10:5
 Gen. 12:2
 Ibid., 7
 Exod. 3:8
 Num. 14:36-37
 Ibid. 30-32
 Cicero, De afficiis III. XXVII. 100; De legibus I. XV. 43
 Ruth 1:16-17
 Gen. 50:23-24
 Thucydides, Peloponnesian War I. 138
 Neh. 2:1,3-5
 Ibid., 17
 Ps. 136:1
 Ibid., 136:5
 Ps. 101:14-15