Natural law, conscience and self-preservation
in Order and conflict
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In his Preface to the Discourse, Anthony Ascham advised his readers that his argument in support of Parliament's rule differed from the terms of the political debate of the early stages of the Civil Wars. Against those who raised the issue of conscience to refuse loyalty to Parliament's authority, Ascham replied that to obey a magistrate who ensured protection was consistent with natural law and God's will, and therefore did not prejudice the salvation of conscience. Natural law, although distinguished from God's law, was in harmony with it, as God expressly gifted human beings with a natural right of self-preservation. From 1648, Ascham differed from the preceding radical and philo-parliamentarian interpretations of natural law theory, in that he stressed the necessity to obey the present government and, accordingly, to renounce the right of self-defence.

Order and conflict

Anthony Ascham and English political thought, 1648–50


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