I say, then, that, in order to prove that I am not irreverent to the Majesty of the Empire, it is requisite, in the first place, to see what reverence is. I say that reverence is no other than a confession of due submission by an evident sign; and, having seen this, it remains to distinguish between them. Irreverent expresses privation, not reverent expresses negation; and, therefore, irreverence is to disavow the due submission by a manifest sign. The want of reverence is to refuse submission as not due. A man can deny or refuse a thing in a double sense. In one way, the man can deny offending against the Truth when he abstains from the due confession, and this properly is to disavow. In another way, the man can deny offending against the Truth when he does not confess that which is not, and this is proper negation; even as for the man to deny that he is entirely mortal is to deny properly speaking. Wherefore, if I deny or refuse reverence due to the Imperial Authority, I am not irreverent, but I am not reverent; which is not against reverence, forasmuch as it offends not that Imperial Authority; even as not to live does not offend Life, but Death, which is privation of that Life, offends; wherefore, to die is one thing and not to live is another thing, for not to live is in the stones. And since Death expresses privation, which cannot be except in decease of the subject, and the stones are not the subject of Life, they should not be called dead, but not living. In like manner, I, who in this case ought not to have reverence to the Imperial Authority, am not irreverent if I deny or refuse it, but I am not reverent, which is neither boldness, nor presumption, nor a thing to be blamed. But it would be presumption to be reverent, if it could be called reverence, since it would fall into greater and more true irreverence, that is, into irreverence of Nature and of Truth, as will be seen in the sequel. Against this error that Master of Philosophers, Aristotle, guards, in the beginning of the book of Ethics, when he says: “If the friends are two, and one is the Truth, their one mind is the Truth’s.” If I have said that I am not reverent, that is, to deny reverence, or by a manifest sign to deny or refuse a submission not due. It is to be seen how this is to deny and not to disavow, that is to say, it remains to be seen how, in this case, I am not rightfully subject to the Imperial Majesty. It must be a long argument wherewith I intend to prove this in the chapter next following.
To see how in this case, that is, in approving or in not approving the opinion of the Emperor, I am not held in subjection to him, it is necessary to recall to mind that which has been argued previously concerning the Imperial Office, in the fourth chapter of this treatise, namely, that to promote the perfection of human Life, Imperial Authority was designed; and that it is the director and ruler of all our operations,