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The Fourth SUNDAY Vol. II.
Notions, inconsistent with their new Profession; as the business of Faith and Worship
was most immediately concerned in. This made the Danger but too manifest, that they should likewise retain such other Notions, relating to Civil Government; as the Body of Men, they had lately left, entertained and avowed. It does not, that I know of, appear from any History, that the Christians, truly Orthodox, gave occasion for any Jealousy in this respect. But plain it is however, that the Perfecutors and Opposers of the Gospel, looking perhaps upon Christians as a Spawn of the Jews, were willing to fix the same odious Characters upon Them; and pretended at least, as a Colour for their Severity and Malice, constantly to think them Enemies of the State.
It is easy to see, how ill an Influence such an Opinion, if entertained and let alone, must needs have, upon the Religion of Christ, and all that should profess it. The Benefits of Society and Civil Rights are so many, and so valuable ; and do so entirely depend upon good Government and Order, and peaceable Submillion to those in publick Stations; that Men will naturally be very jealous of, very averse to, any Set of People or Principles, which shall attempt to break in upon Advantages so sensible and dear, as these may claim to be, to all Mankind. The generality even of Subjects would abhor a Doctrine, that should fow the Seeds of Discord and Confusion. But it is never to be conceived, how any one Prince or Ruler, should have been reconciled to the Faith, upon the Foot it then stood; Had it propagated, justified, or in any degree countenanced, Sedition and Licentiousness; by undertaking to set Men free from their Civil Obligations, and diffolve the Power and Authority, which Governors were otherwise allowed to have upon their People, when not Christians. And therefore, in all the ancient Apologies for our Religion, we find the Authors
particularly careful to wipe off this Calumny; to prove the Gospel, as it really is, the greatest Security to all Temporal Jurisdiction; the surest Promoter, and best Preserver, of Publick Orderand Quiet ; the strongest Support of Kings, and the most effectual Restraint
upon Subjects. Few Arguments were urged more frequently ; Few, we have reason to believe, contributed more successfully to recommend this Religion to the general good acceptance of the World; than the manifest tendency it had to the Safety and Welfare of Mankind; the particular Instructions it gave; the weighty Obligations and Motives it enforced them with; and the unparallel'd Examples it every day produced, for containing all sorts of Men within the bounds of their proper Station and Duty, for rendring them useful and serviceable to Society and Government, for a zealous and active Obedience to their Superiors in all lawful Instances, and for meek and patient Suffering, under even unjust Oppressions ; rather than they would become Instruments of disturbing the Peace of the Publick, or that of their own Consciences.
The Credit these Principles and Practices would bring to Christianity, The Check they would be to the Malice of its Persecutors, And the Mischiefs and Obstructions, which factious and turbulent Spirits must needs have derived upon it, may reasonably be thought a main Motive to St. Peter also, for insisting on this Duty. In the Second of his First Epiftle, he first enjoyns such a Behaviour in general, as may secure Christians a good esteem with Heathens, and convince them, that all the ill Reports concerning the Men of this Perfuasion, are utter Calumny and malịcious Fallhood. Then, as the best Expedient for this Purpose, he proceeds upon Submission to Supreme and Subordinate Magistrates ; enforcing this, as a fingular
Ver. 14, 15.
Instance of well-doing; most agreeable to
the Will of God, most effectual for stopping the Mouths, and rectifying the Mistakes of such, as did not, or would not, truly understand the Nature and Extent of Christian Liberty. And thus he at last
descends, to specify the several Duties inVer. 16, 17,
cumbent upon Men, according to the 18, 19, &c.
difference of their respective Capacities, and mutual Relations to each other.
But St. Paul, in the Portion of Scripture now in hand, treats of this matter more at large, and after another manner. He declares the Nature of the Duty enjoined, the Universality of its Obligation, the Reasons upon which that Obligation is founded, the Danger of refusing to comply with it, the Equity of making it good, the particular Instances wherein it ought to be express’d. And all these he declares to be not meerly Matters of secular Convenience, or Christi. an Prudence; but a part of Religion, and such as directly bind the Conscience. This is the Substance of the Doctrine, recommended to our Confideration at present. Of which I shall endeavour to give you a just Sense, by treating of it, in as plain and practical a Method as I am able: Branching out the Sum, of what the Apostle seems to have intended we should collect from his Discourse here, into the following Particulars.
.1. First. By the Higher Powers, it is certain are meant such Authority, and such Persons vested with it, as are Civil and Secular. For the Third Verse explains this by Rulers, and the Fourth by the Charaeter of bearing the Sword, being a revenger to execute wrath; that is, having a right to inflict Temporal Punishments, such as extend even to Death it self, where the Offence provoking them, is Capital. And the Sixth and Seventh Verse describe them, as Perfons, to whom Tribute and Custom are, and ought to
be paid. Now all these are Prerogatives, peculiar to the Civil, and such as belong to no
Other Power ; nor to any invested with That, except the Chief Governor. But because this Chief cannot satisfy the Ends of Government alone, it is necessary he should call in the Adistance of other Eyes and Hands, and appoint Them to act under him. These, in Their proper Spheres, are His Representatives ; and all Their Legal Proceedings are His; His virtually; His originally. Consequently, we do not discharge our Part to Him, except we pay, to all commissioned under Him, a Subjection, proportion'd to that Extent and Degree of Honour, and Authority, which he hath thought fit to derive upon them. This is evident to any, who at all consider the Reason of the Thing. But, if it were not, St. Peter hath taken care to determine the Cafe. For He hath prevented all necesity of arguing upon the Point, by commanding in express Terms, that we Submit to every Ordinance of Man, whether it be to the King as Supreme, or unto Governors, as unto them that are sent by Him, for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well: and all this, he says, is to be done for the Lord's sake. The Meaning whereof we shall best understand, by considering, what St. Paul hath urged more fully in the Pallage at present before us. Which is,
2. Secondly, That all Power and Authority whatsoever, is originally in, and from God, and communicated by Him to such Persons, and in such Proportions, as He sees requisite, for the Order and good Government of this his own World. Accordingly the Apostle does, upon this ground, raise his Argument, for enforcing Subjection to the Higher Powers; by putting Men in mind, whose Sword they bear, and Wience their Jurisdiction is derived. For, says he,
i Pet. ii. 13, 15.
there is no Power but of God, and the Powers that be, are ordained of God.
Authority and Distinction are, in their own Nature, so necessary to Sociable Creatures; that it does not seem possible to conceive, how Mankind could have sublisted without them: even supposing the state of Innocence to have continued. But, as God, the universal Cause, hath, in virtue of his being so, an indisputable Dominion over all that proceed from Him: So we may reasonably infer some Right of Government, inseparable from the Relation and Character of a Parent, as made by God the next and subordinate Cause, of the Children, who descend from Him. Such a Superiority in Private Families is so far from the Effect of Sin, or any Punishment of it, that we have a Pattern of it, even in the Persons of the Blessed Trinity themselves. But indeed, when we extend our Thoughts to Persons, whom these Engagements of Blood and Descent cannot reach, the Case is altered. For then, how fondly soever some People may talk, or think, of a Dominion, or a Slavery, founded in Nature ; it should be very hard, methinks, to convince Men, upon Principles of Reason; that, as to their Politick Capacities, they are not by Nature free: harder yet, to advance such Notions among Christians, who are taught by Revelation, where to lay this whole Matter. For the Scriptures are sufficiently express, Who He is, that makes one Man to differ from, to be higher and better than another: and, that Every one in his own Case may, to any sort of Superior, (whether by Natureor by positive Institution) alledge those words of our Saviour to Pilate, Thou couldst have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.
For hence it follows undeniably, that no Governor, or Parent, of what kind soever, can either have any Power originally inherent in himself, or that he can draw it from any other Source. God therefore,