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well-being of society, in whatever view we take it, that all christians professing themselves protestants have, in their public declarations of faith, almost unanimously agreed in the point of doctrine, however much they may have differed from each other, nay even from themselves, in point of practice. The first Scottish reformed • Confession of Faith,' anno 1560, is abundantly copious as to this article-' Acknowledging em

pires, kingdoms, dominions, titles, and the powers and authorities in the same, to be God's holy ' ordinance; so that whosoever goeth about to take

away, or to confound the holy state of civil po• licies, now long established, are not only enemies 'to mankind, but do also wickedly fight against • God's express will ;' affirming also, “ that such as ' resist the supreme powers, doing that which appertaineth to their charge, do resist God's ordinance, and therefore cannot be guiltless', &c.

Even the covenanted assembly of Westminster, anno 1643, does confess, that God the

supreme • Lord, and King of all the world, hath ordained • civil magistrates to be, under hin, over the

people, for his own glory, and the public good :' and it declares “the duty of the people’ to be, 'to • pray for magistrates, to honour their persons, to

pay them tribute, and other dues, and to obey • their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority for conscience-sake ; since neither in

fidelity, ' fidelity, nor difference in religion, makes void


* See Confession, &c. 1560, ch. xxiv.

the magistrates just and legal authority, nor frees • the people from their due obedience unto him'. I have adduced these two confessions, not in confirmation of scripture, which is a privilege I dare not allow to any councils—provincial, national, or general. I adduce them merely to shew how distinct and decisive scripture authority must, at these periods, have been thought, upon the obedience due to the civil magistrate, when it could have forced such declarations from the mouths and


of those who were either acting, or intending to act, in direct opposition to their declarations.

Such anomalies have of late years taken place in the science of government, and the rights of princes, and the rights of insurgents and rebels, have been made not only so much matter of literary discussion, but so much matter of bloody warfare, that • the still small voice' of divine revelation, the only voice which now-a-days speaks peace to man, is overborne by floods of obloquy and contempt, and by · the oppositions of science falsely so called.' Indeed the torrid and frigid zones are not so far asunder, as are the doctrines of revelation, and the doctrines of revolutionists, on the highly important subject-· The Origin of Government: The former say expressly, that all power,' whether in its origin, its object, or its cnd, is of God;' the latter say, that all power,' in the same indefinite language, is of the people. This popular whim, this visionary dogma, which, riding in the whirlwind of insurrection, has torn, or will, sooner or later, tear from the roots every well regulated European state, the church and churchmen of Christ do most cordially detest and abhor. It is the abomination of desolationrevived ; at the sight of which, the peaceful christian, the loyal subject for conscience-sake, must obey his Saviour's command, and • flee unto the mountains,' rather than, by giving the revolutionary demagogue • the right hand • of fellowship,' make the world believe, that there does, or can exist any concord between Christ • and Belial,' any communion between light and darkness.

say, Sce Confess. West. 1643, ch. xxiii,

It has been alleged, that when we rightly ascribe the origin of government to the King of heaven, there do arise doubts and difficulties even in this, the scriptural scheme of civil polity. But my principles induce me to believe, that these doubts and difficulties have their origin rather in hypothetical cases, artfully superinduced upon the scriptural scheme of civil polity, than generated by it. One thing is certain, that scripture requires obedience to civil rulers, and condemns, in express terms, the doctrine of resistance. This is scriptural, and therefore divine doctrine. If we wish to see it reduced to practice, we have only to consult the ecclesiastical history of the first three centuries. Froin this authentic record, we shall find, that under the re

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peated peated persecution of three hundred years, the first christians never swerved from practising what, in this instance, the precepts of their holy religion enjoined. Their natural feelings were as much alive to oppression, as are the feelings of this untoward generation of men ; and their hourly increasing numbers certainly afforded them means of resistance, had they not been precluded from employing them.

But to the former, they in no one instance gave way; and the latter, even with arms in their hands, they never once thought of turning against their persecutors. Principle silenced feeling, and conscience outweighed numbers. While so highly was primitive example distinguished, that the doctrines which promoted it were characterized in other language than that usually employed to denote the submission of subjects ; and the terms, * PASSIVE OBEDIENCE,' and ' NON-RESISTANCE,' were invented to express, in our language, the implicit respect to the 'powers that be, with which the first christians were animated.

Yet, notwithstanding the authority, no less than divine, of which it has to boast, the doctrine of passive obedience, like the doctrines of original sin, and of imputed righteousness, has been exploded; more, I would sometimes fondly think, from some fancied impropriety in the terms, than from any error which has been, or can be discovered, on christim principles, in the doctrine. But however much the political critic may amuse himself with the ap



parently inapplicable conjunction of the epithet passive with the term obedience, which simply means * one's calmly obeying, where he honestly can obey; and patiently suffering where he honestly cannot

obey, yet there lies not the same grammatical objection to the term ' non-resistance. By non-resistance, under the iron rule of a despot, we may lose our property ; we may lose our preferment; we may lose our very lives. But, by resistance, should the despot' also prove a tyrant, we lose' something of greater consequence than even the whole ' world,' we lose our own souls; for the spirit of God hath explicitly declared, that they that resist • shall receive to themselves damnation : The scripture no where forbids, or ever disapproves of * non-resistance,' even when carried to the extremity of forbearances. But the scripture, as you well know, peremptorily prohibits resistance, and that, in such general terms, as leaves no room for evasion, or mental reservation, upon any account, or under

any interpretation whatever.

Nevertheless a question has arisen in the minds of some people, who are, as in duty bound, dispos


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! I cannot well imagine how the term despot' should have ever been understood in the sense which it presently bears. • The Lord who ' bought them,' (2 Peter ii. 1), is in the Greek language. ayoqarasta 'autous der Toth '—the despot who bought them. Yet says our Lord, • My yoke is easy, and my burden light.' Christians should beware of abusing any name which (see Jude 4. in the original) is ascribed 'Nova Osw-to God alone. 2 Rom. xiii. 2.

3 St Matth. v. 39-42.

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