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non-resistance

non-resistance. ‘For who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord's anointed and be guiltless?’ The doctrine of non-resistance flourished in the aftermath of the Civil War, holding that monarchs had total jurisdiction and that their subjects owed them total obedience. Sir Robert Filmer's Patriarcha, published in 1680 some 40 years after it was written, declared that the idea that ‘the multitude may correct or depose their prince’ was a ‘damnable conclusion’. After the Restoration, the Corporation Act (1661) and the Act of Uniformity (1662) insisted on an oath that ‘it is not lawful on any pretence whatsoever to take up arms against the king’. But James II's attack upon the Church of England placed many Tories in an acute dilemma and the majority abandoned non-resistance to support the invasion of William of Orange. In 1689, the statute 1 Wm. & Mar. c. 8 specifically declared that the previous oath against the lawfulness of resistance ‘shall not from henceforth be required’. The last great debate on the subject took place during the impeachment of Henry Sacheverell in 1710. After 1714, with a Hanoverian on the throne and the Whigs firmly entrenched in power, the doctrine of non-resistance seemed less appealing to the Tories.

J. A. Cannon

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