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their frecdom, and to resist every serious encroachment upon it, with such efforts, as are necessary for its preservation.
Thirdly. Subjects are bound to obey Every Magistrale, acting lawfully, in the same manner.
The Constable and Tithing-man are, in their own sphere, as truly armed with the authority of the State, as the Governor and the Prince: and the Divine Command is, Submit to every ordinance of man, that is, to governmental authority in every departinent, for the Lord's sake. To resist Rulers in high stations may be productive of more mischief, than to resist those in low ones. In other respects the guilt of the resistance is the same.
3. Subjects are bound to Honour their Rulers.
They are bound to treat them with all the becoming marks of respect and reverence. Rulers, when treated with little external respect, will soon cease to be respected.
They are bound to Support them honourably. This is one of the few doctrines, in which all ages and nations have united. Avarice alone has, in any case, prompted men to believe the contrary doctrine, or hindered them from carrying this into proper execution. An honourable support to Rulers is that, which the general sense of propriety pronounces to be of this nature.
Subjects are bound also to Speak Respectfully of their Rulers. On this subject it will be necessary to be somewhat more particular.
Thou shalt not speak edil of the Ruler of thy People, is certainly a precept, dictated by Reason, as well as Revelation. Still, it cannot, I think, be denied, that the faults of Rulers are, on certain occasions, to be exposed, as well as those of private indivi. duals. The Prophets frequently exposed the faults of their Rulers; and Christ and his Apostles, those of the magistrates of their day. The question, When and in what manner this may be done by us, becomes, therefore, a serious topic of investigation.
Concerning this subject the following thoughts have occurred to me.
First, Censures of Rulers, in order to be lawful, must be True.
Secondly. There must be a real and solid reason for ultering them. It is not enough, that a Ruler has donc evil. In order to
be justified in publishing it, we must be assured, that some important good will, with high probability, spring from the publi. cation. The evil, arising from this source, is, in the abstract, always real and important. Where there is no good, sufficiently probable, and sufficiently important, to balance this evil, we cannot be vindicated in bringing it into existence.
Thirdly. We must sincerely aim at doing this good.
A watchful and faithful determination of this kind, accompanied by a scrupulous and conscientious sense of its high importance, as a part of our duty, will ordinarily preserve us from the danger of transgression. He, who in the proper and Evangelical manner has formed such a determination, and made it an habitual part of his character, will almost always perform his duty with respect to this subject; and rarely, or never, censure a Ruler, unless on solid grounds.
Fourthly. Such censures should in all ordinary cases be uttered in the language of Moderation, and not of Invective, or Ridicule.
A great part of the evils, done in this way, flow from the Manner, in which the Censure is conducted. Where this is sober and temperate, there is usually little room to fear. Where it is not, the Censurer is always exposed to the danger of criminality.
4. Subjects are bound to Defend their Rulers.
This duty equally includes opposition to private and civil violence, and resistance to open hostility; and is so obvious and acknowledged, as to need no illustration. In defending their Rulers, subjects are only employed in ultimately defending themselves.
5. Subjects are bound to furnish all necessary supplies for the exigences of Government
For this cause, says St. Paul, that is, for conscience sake, pay ye tribute also. For they, that is, Rulers, are God's ministers; attending continually upon this very thing. Render, therefore, to all, their dues ; tribute to whom tribute is due, and custom to whom custom. Taxes are, ordinarily, the only national supplies. Every public object, almost, demands some expense; not a little ; in war much more. If the necessary supplies be not furnished; these objects must either languish, or fail. God has, therefore, wisely and benevolently required mankind to render tribute and custom, when lawfully demanded. It is to be remembered, that this requisition is made by Infinite authority; and can no more be dispensed with, than any other command of God.
6. Subjects are bound to Pray for their Rulers.
To the performance of this duty no virtuous subject can ever want motives. The arduous nature of those duties, to which Rulers are called; the responsibility of their stations; the difficulties which they have to encounter; and the discouragements, under which they labour ; teach us in the strongest manner, that they daily, and eminently, need the Divine Blessing. This blessing, like all others, will be given only in answer to prayer: to the Prayers, indeed, of the Rulers themselves; and still more to the united prayers of both Rulers and people. Mere benevolence then, mere compassion for men, struggling with peculiar difficulties in their behalf, demands this duty from subjects.
At the same time, it is loudly called for by the regard, which we owe to the Public Welfare. National blessings are given in answer to national prayers. Of these blessings Rulers are the chief instruments. But they cannot be the means of good to a nation, unless their efforts are crowned with the Divine blessing. If nations, then, would receive public blessings; they are bound, indispensably, to supplicate for their Rulers the favour of God.
Finally. God has required such prayers at our hands. hort, therefore, says St. Paul, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men: for kings, and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty; for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.
The only remark, which I shall annex to this discourse, is; that, connected with the preceding one, it shows, unanswerably, the groundlessness and folly of an observation, repeated proverbially by multitudes of men in this and other countries, viz. that“ Religion has nothing to do with Politics, or, in other words, with Government."
These discourses, summarily as the subjects of them have been considered, prove beyond all reasonable debate, that the
whole vindicable conduct of Rulers towards their Subjects, and of Subjects towards their Rulers, is nothing but a mere collection of duties, objects of moral obligation, required by God, and indispensably owed to Him by men. The Christian Religion, therefore, the rule of all duty, and involving all moral obligation, is so far froin having nothing to do with this subject, that it is inseparably interwoven with every part of it. Accordingly, the Bible regulates, and, were it not sinfully prevented from its proper influence, would exactly and entirely control, all the political doctrines and actions of men. It is indeed as easy, and as common, to deny truth and refuse to perform our duty, to disobey God and injure men, in political concerns, as in any other. In truth, there has been no field of iniquity, more extensive than this : none, in which more enormous crimes, or more terrible sufferings, have existed. All these crimes, and sufferings, have sprung from the ignorance, or the disobedience, of the Scriptures. Were they allowed to govern the political conduct of mankind; both the crimes, and the sufferings, would vanish; every duty both of Rulers and subjects would be performed; and every interest would be completely secured. In what manner the doctrine against which I am contending ever came to be received by any man, who was not peculiarly weak, or wicked, I am at a loss to determine. It would seem, that even the careless and gross examination of the most heedless reflector must have evinced both its folly and falsehood. A dream is not more unfounded : the decisions of phrenzy are not more wild. To villains in power, or in pursuit of power, office, and public plunder, it is undoubtedly a most convenient doctrine ; as it will quiet the reproaches of conscience, where conscience has not ceased to reproach ; and throw the gate, which opens to every crime, and selfish gratification, from its hinges. To Subjects, to a State, to a Nation, it is literally fatal. The people which have adopted it, may be certainly pronounced to have bidden a final adieu to its peace and its happiness, its virtue and its safety. Vol. IV.
SERMON CXV. .
KILLING; WHEN LAWFUL; AND WHEN UNLAWFUL.
Exodus XX. 13.
Thou shalt not kill.
In the five preceding discourses, I have considered summarily several classes of duties, involved in the fifth Command. Had I no other object before me, beside the examination of this precept, I should feel myself obliged to investigate, also, the mutual duties of men, in various other relations of life; particularly those of husbands and wives, masters and servants, ministers and their congregations. All these, together with the duties of friends and neighbours, of the aged and the young, are, I think, obviously included in this precept; and are of sufficient importance to claim, not only a discussion, but a more extensive and minute investigation, than I have given to those, already examined. But a Work of this nature, although it may seem large, must necessarily be compendious. The field is too vast even to be wandered over by any single effort; and many parts of it must be left unexplored by any traveller.
The command, which is given us in the text, is expressed in the most absolute manner: Thou shalt not kill. To kill, is the