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odiousness of the sin of tyranny, (which at this day keepeth out the Gospel from the far greatest part of the world, and is the greatest enemy to the kingdom of Christ ;) nor yet as they plead for the just liberties of the people; but I am not for their authority. · Direct. 11, · Begin with an absolute, universal, resolved obedience to God, your Creator and Redeemer, who is your sovereign King, and will be your final, righteous Judge.' As he that is no loyal subject to the king, can never well obey his officers; so he that subjecteth not his soul to the original power of his Creator, can never well obey the derivative power of earthly governors . · Object. ' But, you may say, ' experience teacheth us, that many ungodly people are obedient to their superiors as well as others.' I answer, Materially they are, but not formally, and from a right principle, and to right ends : as a rebel against the king may obey a justice of peace for his own ends, as long as he will let him alone, or take his part. But not formally as he is the king's officer. So ungodly men may flatter princes and magistrates for their own ends, or on some low and bye account, but not sincerely as the officers of God. He is not like to be truly obedient to man, that is so foolish, dishonest, and impious as to rebel against his Maker; nor to obey that authority, which he first denieth in its original and first efficient cause. Whatever satan and his servants may say, and however some hypocrites may contradict in their practices the religion which they profess, yet nothing is more certain, than that the most serious, godly Christians, are the best subjects upon earth. As their principles themselves will easily demonstrate.
Direct. III. · Having begun with God, obey your governors as the officers of God, with an obedience ultimately divine q.' All things must be done in holiness by the holy. That is, God must be discerned, obeyed, and intended in all; and therefore in magistrates in a special manner. In two respects magistrates are obeyed, or rather flattered by the ungodly: first, as they are men that are able to do them corporal good or hurt: as a horse, or dog, or other brute · will follow you for his belly, and loveth to be where he fareth-best. Secondly, as the head of his party, and encourager of him in his evil way, when he meets with rulers that will be so bad. Wicked men love wicked magistrates for being the servants of satan; but faithful men must honour and obey a magistrate, as an officer of God; even a magistrate as a magistrate, and not only as holy, is an officer of the Lord of all. Therefore the fifth commandment is as the hinge of the two tables; many of the ancients thought that it was the last commandment of the first table, and the moderns think it is the first commandment of the last table; for it commandeth our duty to the noblest sort of men; but not nierely as men, but as the officers of God. They debase magistrates that look at them merely as those that master other men, as the strongest beast doth by the weaker; nothing will make you sincere and constant in your honouring and obeying them, but taking them as the officers of God, and remembering by whose commission they rule, and whose work they do ; that “ they are the ministers of God to us for good. If you do not this, 1. You wrong God, whose servants they are ; for he that despiseth, despiseth not man but God. 2. You wrong the magistrate, as much as you should do an ambassador, if you took him to be the messenger of some Jack Straw, or some fellow that signifieth no more than his personal worth importeth. 3. And you wrong yourselves; for while you neglect the interest and authority of God in your rulers, you forfeit the acceptance, protection, and reward of God. Subjects as well as servants must learn that great lesson, “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as to the Lord, and not unto men: knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance, for ye serve the Lord Christ : but he that doth wrong shall receive for the wrong, and there is no respect of persons " Magistrates are as truly God's officers as preachers : and therefore as he that heareth preachers heareth him, so he that obeyeth rulers obeyeth him: the exceptions are but the like in both cases: it is not every thing that we must receive from preachers; nor every thing that we must do at the command of rulers : but both in their proper place and work, must be regarded as the officers of 1 Rom. xiii. 1-5.
4 Greg. Nazianzen cited by Bilson of Subjection, p. 361. Thou reignest together with Christ; rulest with him; thy sword is from him ; thou art the image of God.
God: and not as men that have no higher authority than their own to bear them out.
Direct. iv. 'Let no vices of the person cause you to forget the dignity of his office.' The authority of a sinful ruler is of God, and must accordingly be obeyed : of this read Bishop Bilson at large in his excellent treatise of Christian Subjection ; against the Papists that excommunicate and depose princes whom they account heretics, or favourers of them. Those sins which will damn a man's soul, and deprive him of heaven, will not deprive him of his kingdom, nor disoblige the subjects from their obedience. An infidel, or an ungodly Christian (that is, an hypocrite) is capable of being a prince, as well as being a parent, husband, master; and the apostle hath taught all as well as servants, their duty to such. “ Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; and not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward; for this is thank-worthy, if a man for conscience toward God, endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it if when you are buffetted for your faults, you take it patiently? but if when ye do well and suffer for it ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God; for even hereunto were ye called t.” Though it be a rare mercy to have godly rulers, and a great judgment to have ungodly ones, it is such as must be borneu.
Direct. v. 'Do not either divulge or aggravate the vices of your governors to their dishonour; for their honour is necessary to the public good. If they have not care of their own honour, yet their subjects must have a care of it. If once they be dishonoured, they will the more easily be contemned, hated and disobeyed. Therefore the dishonouring of the rulers tendeth to the dissolution of the government, and ruin of the commonwealth. Only in two cases did the ancient Christians aggravate the wickedness of their governors. 1. In case they were such cruel monsters as Nero, who lived to the misery of mankind. 2. In case they were not only open enemies of the church of Christ, but their honour stood in competition with the honour of Chris
1 Pet. ii. 18—21.
u Victor. Utic. saith of Victorianus proconsul of Carthage, that even to an Arian persecuting, usurping tyrant, Pro rebus sibi commissis semper fidelissimus habebatur; and the like of Sebastian and others, p. 460.
tianity, piety and honesty, as in Julian's case ; I confess against Nero and Julian both living and dead (and many like them), the tongues and pens of wise and sober persons have been very free; but the fifth commandment is not to be forgotten, “ Honour thy father and mother ;” and “ Fear God, honour the king *;” though you must not call evil good, yet you may conceal and hide evil: Ham was cursed for opening his father's nakedness. Though you must flatter none in their sins, nor hinder their repentance, but further it by all righteous means, yet must you speak honourably of your rulers, and endeavour to breed an honourable esteem of them in the people's minds; and not as some, that think they do well, if they can secretly make their rulers seem odious, by opening and aggravating their faults.
Direct. vi. “Subdue your passions, that no injuries which you may suffer by them, may disturb your reason, and make you dishonour them' by way of revenge.' If you may not revenge yourselves on private men, much less on magistrates; and the tongue may be an unjust revenger, as well as the hand. Passion will provoke you to tell all men, • Thus and thus I was used,' and to persuade you that it is no sin to tell the truth of what you suffered: but remember, that the public good, and the honour of God's officers are of greater value, than the righting of a particular person that is injured. Many a discontented person hath set kingdoms on fire, by divulging the faults of governors for the righting of themselves. - Object. “But shall cruel and unrighteous or persecuting men do mischief, and not hear of it, nor be humbled for it?'
Answ. 1. Preachers of the Gospel, and others that have opportunity, may privately tell them of it, to bring them to repentance (if they will endure it) without dishonouring them by making it public. 2. Historians will tell posterity of it, to their perpetual infamy, (if repentance and welldoing recover not their honoury). Flatterers abuse the living, but truth will dishonour their wickedness when they are dead : for it is God's own decree, “That the memory of the just is blessed, but the name of the wicked shall rot 2.” 3. And God himself will fully be avenged upon the impenitent for ever, having told you, “That it were better for him that offendeth one of his little ones, that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea a." And is not all this enough, without the revenge of your passionate tongues? To speak evil of dignities, and despise dominion, and bring railing accusations, are the sins of the old licentious heretics. Christ left us his example, not to revile the meanest, when we are reviled b. If you believe, that God will justify the innocent, and avenge them speedily', what need you be so forward to justify and avenge yourselves ?
x 1 Pet. ii. 17. Mark vii. 10. 8. 19.
y Lamprid. saith of Alex. Severus that, Amarit literatos homines, vehementer eos etiam reformidans, nequid de se asperum scriberent. Universal. Hist. p. 132. Tiberius bellua luto et sanguine macerata ; sui tegendi peritissimus artifex, totus tamen posteritatis oculis patuit, Deo hypocrisim detractione larvæ plectente,
Object. “If God will have their names to rot, and spoken evil of when they are dead, why may l not do it while they are alive?'
Answ. There is a great deal of difference between a true historian, and a self-avenger in the reason of the thing, and in the effects: to dishonour bad rulers while they live, doth tend to excite the people to rebellion, and to disable them to govern: but for truth to be spoken of them, when they are dead, doth only lay an odium upon the sin, and is a warning to others, that they follow them not in evil: and this no wicked prince was ever so great and powerful as to prevent; for it is a part of God's resolved judgment. Yet must historians so open the faults of the person, as not to bring the office into contempt, but preserve the reverence due to the authority and place of governors d.
Direct. vii. • By all means overcome a selfish mind, and get such a holy and a public spirit, as more regardeth God's honour, and the public interest, than your own.' It is Selfishness that is the great rebel and enemy of God, and of the king, and of our neighbour. A selfish, private spirit careth not what the commonwealth suffereth, if he himself may be
2 Prov. x. 7.
e Luke xviii. 7, 8. d Sext. Aurel. Victor. de Calig. De quo nescio an decuerit memoriæ prodi, nisi forte quia juvat de principibus nosse omnia, ut improbi saliem famæ metu talia declinent.