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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 merely 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 * Rom. xiii. 1–5. * Col. iii. 23–25. So Eph. vi. 5–8.
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'.” Though it be a rare mercy to have godly rulers, and a great judgment to have ungodly ones, it is such as must be borne". 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.
" 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 makedness. 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. v1. “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 honour’). 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".” 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".” And is not all this enough, without the revenge of your passionate tongues 2 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". If you believe, that God will justify the innocent, and avenge them speedily", what need you be so forward to justify and avenge yourselves? 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 7' 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". Direct. v11. ‘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 againer by it. To revenge himself, or to rise up to some higher place, or increase his riches, he will betray and ruin his king, his country and his nearest friends. A selfish, ambitious, covetous man, is faithful to no man, longer than he serveth his ends; nor is he any further to be trusted, than his own interest will allow. Self-denial, and a public spirit, are necessary to every faithful subject. Direct. viii. “Wish not evil to your governors in your secret thoughts; but if any such thought would enter into your hearts, reject it with abhorrence.’ “Curse not the king, no, not in thy thoughts; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber : for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter".” A feverish, misguided zeal for religion, and a passionate discontent for personal injuries, do make many greatly guilty in this point; they would be much pleased, if God would shew some grievous judgment upon persecutors; and take no warning by Christ's rebukes of James and John, but secretly are wishing for fire from heaven, not knowing what manner of spirit they are of. They cherish such thoughts as are pleasing to them, though they dare not utter them in words. And he that dare wish hurt, is in danger of being drawn by temptation to do hurt. Object. “But may we not pray for the cutting off of persecutors? And may we not give God thanks for it, if he do it himself, without any sinful means of ours?” Answ. 1. Every ruler that casteth down one sect or party of Christians, and setteth up another (perhaps as true to the interest of Christianity as they) is not to be prayed against, and his destruction wished by the suffering party. 2. If he be a persecutor of Christianity and piety itself, as heathens and infidels are, yet if his government do more good, than his persecution doth harm, you may not so much as wish his downfall. 3. If he were a Nero, or a Julian, you must pray first for his conversion; and if that may not be, then next for his restraint, and never for his destruction, but on supposition, that neither of the former may be attained (which you cannot say). 4. You must pray for the deliverance of the persecuted church, and leave the way and means to God, and not prescribe to him. Hurtful desires and * Eccles. x. 20.
x 1 Pet. ii. 17. Mark vii. 10. x. 19.
y Lamprid, saith of Alex. Severus that, Amavit literatos homines, vehementer eos etiam reformidans, nequid de se asperum scriberent. Universal. Hist. p. 132. Tiberius bellua luto et sanguine macerata; suitegendi peritissimus artisex, totustamen posteritatis oculis patuit, Deo hypocrisim detractione larvae plectente.
* Prov. x. 7.
* Sext. Aurel. Victor. de Calig. De quo nescio an decuerit memoriae prodi, ni
si forte quia juvat de principibus mosse omnia, ut improbi saltem famae metu talia declinent.