« PreviousContinue »
hearts, as they can rectify the errors of their conscience.
6. It is infallibly certain, that God himself, under the Old Testament appointed magistrates to restrain and punish: men for blasphemy and idolatry, let their conscience dictate them as strongly as it pleased, -Had men in these early ages, no conscience to govern them? Or did God then, like the old fashioned Protestants, not understand human liberty and the rights of men's conscience ? Did he indeed then so far mistake his way, as to appoint what is so cruel and diabolical; what is the very worst part of Popery, and the principal support of that abominable syfem? Or hath God, or the nature of fin, cruelty and tyranny, been changed? How fhocking the thought!
OBJECT. XVII. «« As men's natural and civil rights nowise depend upon their being orthodox Chriftians, magiftrates ought to protect them in these privileges, be their opinions and worfhip what they will; nay; to give them legal fecurity for their protection of them, in these opinions and worship, that they may not be exposed to the caprices of particular magistrates."
Answ. 1. The Christian liberty, which Christ purchased, is not a liberty to commit fin, but a fpiritual freedom from it; Gal. v. 1, 13. Luke i. 74, 75. Heb. xii. 28; 29: Chrift came not to save men's lives from restraint or punishment required by his own law, in order that they, by fpreading grofs h esy, blafphemy, and idolatry, might ruin nations and damn men's souls.
2.. You might have forborne to demand legal or authoritative licenses for men to blafpheme Godi worship devils in his stead, c. till
you Satan to be the absolute proprietor and governor of this world, and the primary granter of all civil
and natural rights to men;--or proven, that God,, who is infinitely holy, juft and good, hath, or can, give men natural or civil rights protecting them in public blafphemy, idolatry, or the like, any more than rights protecting them in incest, robbery, murder; or that magistrates, as his minifters ought, in his name and authority, to grant men such rights.
3. If God hath so frequently turned men out of their civil property and life for their idolatry and blasphemy, Isa. x. xiv, xxxvii. xlvi. xlvii. Jer. xlviii. li. Èzek. XXXV.,-how absurd to require magistrates, who are his miniflers for good to men, to execute their office, which is his. ordinance, Rom. xiii. 16. in encouraging and protecting men, in openly and infolently contradiding, blaspheming, rebelling against, and robbing him?--Ought the Sheriff and Justices of peace in Britian, as the king's ministers for good to the nation; to have executed their office in protecting the arch-rebels in 17.15; and 17.45, in the undisturbed enjoyment of all their civil rights, or to have given them new legal securities, in order to enable them, more boldly and successfully to carry on their treacherous and murderous rebellion against his Majesty? Or ought they, by proclamation, to war. want all the subjects in their respective counties to revile, rob; and take arms against our king and Parliament, and promise them protection in so doing, but always prohibiting them to injure their fellow subjects?
OBJECT. XVIII. “Magistrates ought not to rule their subjects by the Bible, but by the civil laws of the nation, according to which they are admitted to their power, by, their subjects, from whom all their power originates."
Answ. 1. That magistrates' power originates, from their subjects is a notion plainly atheistical. It
, . " xi. 36. Pfalm. lxxv. 7. Dan. ii. 21.
2. If magistrates must regulate their government by no other law than that which they or their fub-. jects have establiihed for themselves or one another;; they must act as atheists independent of God, in the execution of an office wholly derived from him, and for every act of which they must be accountable to him. If the useful laws of one nation, may be adopted into the civil law of another, Why may not the will of God, the fupreme governor of nations, declared in his laws of nature and revelation, be also adopted into it? Are God's laws more dishonour. able or dangerous, more imfit to be adopted into our civil law, than those of our finful neighbours? Is the Scotch law the worse, that many of God's ftatutes, prescribed in his word have been adopted into it,--nay, that all the leading doctrines of Chriftianity contained in our two Confeffions of Faith and Catechisms have been adopted into it, and the Con.. feffons themselves expressly ingroffed into acts of Parliament? Indeed, if nations adopt nothing of the manifested will of God, into their civil law, it will contain nothing but useless triftes. Will thefe be fit for directing the administrations of miniAers of God for good to men, or for securing, and, promoting the important welfare of any nation under heaven?:
3. If all civil authority to make laws, resident, cither in fubjects or magistrates, be necessarily de. rived from God, as Former and King of nations ; Imagiftrates be ordained of God, to be ministers of God for good to men, to be for terror and punishment, and revengers of evil.doers, and a praife of them that da well, and to be obeyed for conscience fake noe for the Lord's fake, Rom. xi. 16. 1 Pet. ii. 13. 14. Common sense loudly demands, That neither their will nor that of their subjects, but the manifested will of God, their independent and infinitely high
Superior, should be the supreme rule and fandard of all their administrations, and that no civil law should or can bind either magistrates or their subjects, but in so far as it is agreeable and subordinated to the ławs of God.
OBJECT. XIX:.:“ Magiftracy being an office, not founded in revelation, but in the law of nature, the whole execution of it ought to be regulated by that law of nature, not by the will of God revealed in Scripture."
ANSW. i. I thank you for fở quickly overturning your preceding objection, and adopting the divine law of nature, instead of your civil law, as the fuo preme standard of magiftratical administration.
2. According to your objection, parents, mafters, children and servants, must regulate their per. formance of relative duties, merely, by the law of nature, without taking the smallest affitance from the directions of the Holy Ghost in Scripture. No parents: ar: masters must instruct their children or fervants in the knowledge of the doctrines, promises, laws, worship, or virtue required in the Bible, as these relations, depend no more on Revelation than magiftracy doth. I defy you to prove they do. In performing the duty of our natural or civil relations, we must act as mere deifts, ignorant of, or pouring contempt on the inspired oracles of the Great God, our Saviour. What hurt have the laws of revelation done to fuch relative duties, that they must be thus infamoufly excluded from being any part of a rule of them?
3. No man can truely obey the law of nature, without heartily embracing and chearfully improving whatever revelations God is pleafed to bestow on him,-as such revelations proceed from the same divine authority as the law of nature; and must be a noted means of promoting true and proper
ence to it, To exclude divine revelation, where granted, from regulating our performance of relative duties, must therefore not only amount to an beathenish contempt of the Scriptures; but to an athea istical contempt of the law of nature, which necef. sarily requires us to adopt divine Revelation for our supreme rule, whenever it is gracioully grant. ed to us. OBJECT. XX. “Many
of the above-mentioned instances of magiftrates' care about religion, and their restraint and punishment of idolaters, blasphea. mers, and false prophets, related merely to the Jew. ifh Theocracy which was typical, and therefore not now to be copied." - Answ. 1. Many of the above-mentioned instan: ces, particularly those respecting Heathens, or contained in thie promises to the gospel Church, have not the least appearance of being typical. Nay, I. defy you to prove that the instances of Jewish rulers . were merely typical. 1,
26 Thele typical magistrates of the Jewish nation also exercised laws relative to murder, theft, unchaftity, treason, and other matters of the fecond table of the morallaw. Ought therefore no magistrates now to do so? The laws respecting duties of the second table pertained as much to the Jewish Theocracy, as those, relating to the first.. Muft, therefore the Christian magistrate, for fear of copying the Jewish Theocracya; meddle with no morality, at all?
3. Must every thing that was once typical, be now, under the gospel, excluded from regulating, authority? Must all the excellent patterns of Abel, Enoch, Noah. Abraham, Ifaac, Jacob, Jospeh, Job, Mofes, Aaron, Samuel, David, and other Hebrew saints be rejected as typical and useless? Must all the laws directing to elect men, fearing. Gods and hating covetousness, to be magistrates, or