Page images

and the greater the happiness of the Commonwealth be. The more faithfully magiftrates act in curbing of crimes, and promoting obedience to God the King of nations, as a mean of securing his felicitating blessing to the Commonwealth, the more delightfully will Church-power be exercised, and the more abundantly it will tend to the welfare of the Church. Nay, though the mediatorial power of Christ be infinitely sufficient in its own place, to answer its own ends, yet the delightful exercise and success of it is not a little promoted by the faithful exercise of the powers of conscience, husbands, pam rents, masters, magistrates and Church-rulers, Acts xxiv. 16. 1 Tim. 5. Eph. ivo-vi. Col. iii. iv. I & 2 Tim. Titus i.i. 1 Pet. ii.-5. Pfalm ii. 10,–12. Rev. ii. 15. xvii. 14, 16. xxi. 24. Ilai. xlix. 23. lx. 3, 4, 10, 16.

8. Though the marital, parental, magifterial, magistratical, and ministerial powers be altogether diftinct from, and independent of one another, and each of them has its own particular exercises pertaining to it alone;- yet the same person, in refpect of different relations, may be at once fuperior or inferior to another perfon--and fo may be required to fulfil the particular duties of his station, by one who hath not any lawful right to perform them himself. Thus magiftrates and ministers as such, may require husbands to perform their duties to ther wives, parents to perform theirs to their children, or masters theirs to their servants, as a mean of promoting the welfare of the Commons wealth and of the Church, in obedience to God, and aiming at his glory. An uncrowned husband of a queen may command her, faithfully to exercise her magistratical power, as a mean of honour and happiness to his family, and she as queen may command him in every thing relating to the welfare of

[ocr errors]

the State, as her officer or subject. A parent may require his son, as such, faithfully to exercise his ministerial, magiftratical, or magifterial power as a mean of honour and happiness to his family. A fon may command his father, who is his servant, in every thing pertaining to the service due from him, and even to order his family aright, in so far as it tends to promote that service. Ministers, as the amballadors of Christ, have power to require magiftrates, as Church members, faithfully to exercise their magiftratical power, so as may beft promote the honour of Christ, and the welfare of his Church, And on the other hand, magistrates have power to require ministers as their subjects, faithfully to exercise their ministerial power, as a mean of rendering the națion pious and virtuous, in order to promote its happiness.--and all this in subordination to the law, and to promote the glory of God as the supreme governor of families, Churches, or nations.

9. Though the marital, parental, magifterial, magistratical and ministerial powers, have, each of them, something for its peculiar and distinguishing object, in which no other power can interfere with it; --Thus it is always unlawful for husbands, parents, masters or ministers, as such, to affume the power of civil magiftrates in levying taxes, ada judging criminals to death,--always unlawful for parents, masters, or magistrates, as such, to preach the gospel, dispense facraments, or Church-censures; yet if the exercise of some of these powers be fear. fully neglected or abused, the other powers may be exercised, in order to rectify the disorders occationed, further than would be proper if there were no such neglect, abuse, or disorder. Thus if husbands, parents, or masters, fearfully abuse their power, re

lative to wives, children, or fervants, the rulers of ; Church or State, for the benefit of these societies

may interfere more with their family-concerns, than would be proper in other circumstances. If Churchrulers be notoriously negligent or wicked, magiftrates as Church-members, and to promote the welfare of the State, may do more in the reformation of the Church, than would be proper for them, if Church rulers were diligent and faithful. And, if through the indolence or wickedness of magiftrates, the affairs of the nation be thrown into terrible confufion, ministers as members of the Commonwealth, and to promote the welfare of the Chureb, may do more in the rectification of affairs, than would be proper, if the magistrates were faithful, 2 Kings xi. 2 Chron. xxiii.

10. All governing authority empowers the posfeffors of it, to iffue forth laws or commandments, binding on the subject of it. But these laws or commandments can extend their binding force no further, than the particular department belonging to that power, as by that, every particular form of authority, derived from God, is limited. The laws or commandments of parents, masters, magistrates, and Church-rulers, extend only to external things in the family, Commonwealth, or Church. Thele of conscience and of Christ extend also to that which is inward in the heart. And as all human superiors are imperfect in knowledge themselves, and cannot enable their subjects perfectly to understand their whole duty, it is necefiary that laws of families or nations, or constitutions of Churches require nothing but what is plainly agreeable to the law of God, and nothing in religion but what is plainly required by the word of God, that fo nothing may be contrary to these laws but what is not only really, but plainly contrary to the word of God. And, the weaker the subje&t's are, the more condescension ought to be exercised towards them in this matter, Rom. xv. 1, 2.

11. As men cannot bow the hearts of their inferiors unto subjection, they ought always to iffue forth their commandments in the most prudent, mild and gaining manner. It is very improper to ifsue forth any law doubtful or obfcure, or which most of the subjects are not likely to be got peaceably to comply with. This ought especially to be attended to, in the framing and imposing of laws and conftitutions relative to religion, which ought to be a reafonable and voluntary service.

17. As nothing, particularly in religion, ought to be contrary to any law of Church or State but what is plainly contrary to the law of God; and nothing ought to be held censurable by the laws of the Church, or punishable by the laws of the State, but what is plainly contrary to these laws, and hath become duly public, in the providence of God, without requiring the

party concerned to be his own accufer. So on account of the weakness or number of the offenders, or the disordered state of the society, many real scandals in the Church must be forhorne without cenfure, and many real crimes against the State forborne with out punishment; notwithstanding, it would be extremely wicked, authoritatively to licence or tolerate them in either. If your children be very young, raving in a fever, delirious, or apt to fall into convul. five fits, it might be very prudent and dutiful for you to forbear fevere chastisement of them for playing on the Lord's day; repeating some wicked exo pressions, they had heard from their fellow children, or the like. But would it be lawful in you to give them aparental licence to profane the Sabbath of dame of God, and promise them protection in so do. ing? You dare not pretend it. God himfelf wise. ly forbears the punishment of many things, which his law forbids.

13. As it is never errors or corruptions of the

beart, but wicked words and deeds, fufficiently and regularly manifested, which are to be corrected in families, punished in Commonwealths, or censured in Churches, Deut. xiii. 1,--14. xvii. 46. Heb. X. 28 I Tim. v.

So even in punishing manifest crimes, especially in matters of religion, all proper mildness ought to be exercised, never proceeding to extremities, where there is any hope of reformation, or where, as in the case of herefy or blasphemy, confession and repentance can make any kind of reftitution, Mat. xviii. 15,18. Among the Hebrews, not one appears to have been punished for idolatry, if he profeffed repentance and reformation. The princes of Israel first attempted to bring the Reubenites and Gadites, whom they supposed guilty of it, to repentance, Joh. xxii. Never in the reformation by Ala, Hezekiah, or Jofiah, have we one instance of a penia tent idolater flain. The idolaters. condemned to death, Deut. xiii. xvii. are represented as men of Belial, presumptuous, and obftinate in their wickedness. The prophets of Baal whom Eiljah caused be put to death, 1 Kings xviii. 40. and Mattan the priest, who was flain by Jehoiada's orders, 2 Kings xi. 18. were no doubt of this sort; and probably allo guilty of promoting the murder of the Lord's

prophets and people. The man put to death for profanation of the Sabbath, appears to have acted presumptuously, Num. xv. 30–36. - Afa and his fubjects covenanted to put to death such as obstinately adhered to idolatry, 2 Chron. xv. 12, 13.

14. Magistrates ought never to attempt forcing men to believe with their hearts, even the most fundamental truths of religion, or to practise any religious duty,--that being no means appointed by God for convincing them of the truth, or inducing them to a cordial performance of religious duites, 2 Cor.


« PreviousContinue »