The Origin, Design, Business and Necessity of civil Government.
For, for this Cause pay you Tribute also: for they are GOD's Ministers, attending con|tinually upon this very Thing.
_THE Necessity of civil Government is so obvious to any One, that considers the State & Circumstan|ces of the World, that we may conclude, None will despise Go|verment, but such unhappy Persons, whose Minds & Consciences are defiled, and themselves unto every good Work reprobate; walking after their own Lusts.
FOR, as in the Days when there was no King in Israel, and every Man did that which was right in his own Eyes, (Judg. 21.25.) Judg|ment departed from them, and all evil Works & Confusions prevail'd amongst; them; So will it be amongst every People where there is no Government. Judgment will turn away back|ward, and Justice stand afar off from such a People: Truth will fail, and he that departeth from Evil, will make himself a Prey. The Feet of Multitudes will run to Evil, and they make Page 2 haste to shed innocent Blood. Wasting and De|struction will indeed be in their Paths; and all manner of Oppressions prevail among them. The Prophesie concerning Ishmael would soon be the just Character of Multitudes, that He should be a wild Man, his Hand against every Man, & every Man's Hand against him, (Gen. 16.12.)
BUT yet, there have arose, even amongst them that pretend to approve Things that are excel|lent, and to believe on the Name of JESUS CHRIST, some that despise Dominion, & speak evil of Dignities, (Jude 7.) Under a Pretence of Liberty, falsly so called, they would put down all Rule, & all Authority, & Power among Men: Pleading in Defence of their licentious Doctrine, that CHRIST hath made all his Peo|ple Kings; and they shall reign on the Earth.
THIS they pretend is the Liberty where with Christ have made them free. They pretend to believe, that the Prosperity of the Church of Christ depends upon the Destruction of all temporal Powers; and that the golden Age of the Church, and the expected Millennium is to be introduced by weakning the Power of the Princes of this World, and setting Men upon a Level. And therefore have sometimes been called by the Name of Levellers.
BUT now that no Man may have any the least Ground, to pretend from any Thing that St. Page 3Paul hath written concerning thrift christian Liberty, that he was a Friend to Anarchy, — and coun|cenanced such Levelling Principles, He treats particularly upon civil Government in this Chapter: Shewing the divine Institution and Appointment, the Use & Design of it; and the great Work & Business of those that are intrusded with the Administration thereof: Declaring also, that GOD himself requires Obedience and Subjection to the Same.
HE injoins that every Soul be subjeft unto the higher Powers, [or the Authority placed over them] For there is no Power, saith He, but of GOD, [the Fountain of it:] The Powers that be are ordained of GOD, v.1.
HE is so far from countenancing Disobe|dience to Authority, that he declares, as v.2. Whosoever therefore resisteth the Power, resisteth the Ordinance of GOD: and they that resist, shall receive to themselves Damnation. To resist the Government, in the Administration of that Power GOD hath committed to them, is as it were to wage War against GOD himself, and to renounce His Government, by whom Princes rule, & Nobles, even all the Judges of the Earth, (Prov. 8.16.) And therefore the Children of Rebellion have Reason to expect that GOD himself will arise to plead his Cause, and vindi|cate his Authority; that He will speak to them in his Wrath, & vex them in his sore Displeasure.
Page 4THE Apostle also presseth Subjection to Au|thority from the Original Intention & Design of Government, which is the publick Good. For Rulers, saith He, are not a Terrour to good Works, but to the evil; in the former Part of v.3. Rulers acting by the Authority of GOD, (and there is no Power but of GOD) are not a Discouragement to good works, but to the evil: They are not design'd to discourage any Thing, that tends to promote the Welfare of the World, but only to be a Terrour to such Works, as bring a Curse upon the World, and hurt the In|terests of Men. They are armed with Autho|rity & Power, to prepare Judgments for Scor|ners, and Stripes for the Back of Fools; to scatter the Wicked, and bring the Wheel over them, (Prov 19.29. & 20.26.) Let Men but lead a peaceable & quiet Life in all Godliness & Honesty, and the Magistrate, as GOD's Vicegerent, will do them no Hurt; but will rather protect and incourage them.
AND therefore saith the Apostle, in the latter Part of v.3, & Beginning of v.4. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the Power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have Praise of the same: For he is the Minister of GOD to thee for Good. Magistrates are deputed & delegated to act for GOD: He gives them Power & Authority to incourage the Vertuous; to maintain their Right and Cause.
Page 5INDEED, if Men are contentious, and do not o|bey the Truth, but obey Unrighteousness, they have Reason to be afraid of the Magistrate's Power: And therefore saith the Apostle, in the latter Part of v.4. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the Sword in vain: for he is the Minister of GOD, a revenger to execute Wrath upon him that doeth evil. They are as it were armed with GOD's Sword of Justice, and must weild it for Him. GOD hath made them his Officers not only to incourage the Vertuous, but to execute Punishments & Wrath upon them that do evil.
WHEREFORE, saith the Apostle, v.5 Ye must needs be subject, not only for Wrath, but also for Conscience Sake. I.E. Not only for Fear of Pu|nishment from the Magistrate, but out of Con|science and Duty; because so is the Will of GOD,(1 Pet. 2.15.)
FOR, saith the Apostle in our Text, for this Cause pay you Tribute also: for they are GOD's Ministers, attending continually upon this very Thing. Q. D. 'Tis in Token of that Subjection you owe them, and in Support of their Autho|rity, you pay Tribute to them, as being GOD's Ministers, and imployed in the publick Service of their Country; attending continually upon this great Work, to which they are commission'd, as Trustees for the publick Good, Scil. to pro|tect & incourage the Righteous, to maintain the Page 6 publick Peace, and plead the Cause of Truth, and stand up for GOD against the evil Doers a|mongst Men, and avenge his Authority in exe|cuting Wrath upon them.
THE Text, I think will naturally lead us, to consider the following Things, agreeable to the Occasion of this Day.
I. THE Authority by which the civil Powers rule.
II. THE great Ends & Designs of civil Go|vernment, and the great Work & Business of those that are intrusted with the Administration thereof.
III THE Obligations upon a People to Sup|port Government.
I. IN the first Place, let us consider the Au|thority by which the civil Powers rule.
Now the Text tells us, They are GOD's Ministers. I am sensible indeed, there is a Distinction between the supreme Powers, and inferiour Magistrates, commission'd by them, according to 1 Pet. 2.13, 14 Submit your selves to every Ordinance of Man for the Lord's sake: Whether it be to the King, as supreme; or unto Governours, as unto them that are sent by him for the Punishment of evil Doers, and for the Praise of them that do Well.
BUT althô there are various Degrees & Or|ders of Men intrusted with the administration of Government, and the lower Orders imme|diately derive their Authority from those above Page 7 them, yet they all ultimately derive their Au|thority from GOD; are His Ministers, and rule for Him. And therefore 'tis said, Prov. 8.15, 16. By me Kings reign, and Princes decree Justice. By me Princes rule, ana Nobles, even all the Judges of the Earth.
As in Kingdoms & particular Governments, all Power descends, from the supreme Au|thority upon subordinate Magistrates & Offi|cers; so in the universal Monarchy of the World, all lawful Power & Authority is deri|ved from GOD, the supreme Lord of the World. And, thô the Derivation of this Authority be mediate, and Men are in various Ways intro|duced thereunto, according to the diverse Con|stitutions of Kingdoms, States & Governments; yet still the Authority by which they rule is from GOD, the Head & Fountain of all Do|minion and Authority.
'Tis the most High that rules in the King|doms of Men by the Ministry of Princes and Magistrates: And they minister as in His Name, and by Authority and Commission from Him: And therefore they are stiled Gods, Psal. 82.6. I have said, Ye are Gods: and all of you are Children of the most High.
ALL Government belongs originally unto GOD himself; but he deputes some of the Sons of Men to act for Him; vests them with His Au|thority, and charges them, as 2 Chron. 19.6. Take Page 8 Heed what ye do: for ye judge not for Man, but for the LORD.
BUT we proceed to consider,
II. IN the second Place, The great Ends and Design of civil Government, and the great Work and Business of those intrusted with the Admi|nistration thereof.
AND in general, we may say, that the publick Good is the great End, and original Design of the Institution of civil Government. It was ordain'd as a Means to promote the Peace & Welfare of the World; to guard & defend the Innocent, shelter and relieve the Oppressed, in|courage the Vertuous, and discourage Vice & Wickedness: And This is the great Thing civil Rulers are continually to attend upon.
POWER is given to them from above, to the End they may incourage such Things as pro|mote the Welfare of Mankind, & may suppress such Things as are injurious to the World. A Sword is put into their Hands for the Protection of them that do Well, and the Chastisements of evil Doers. Particularly,
1st. ONE End & Design of civil Government, and so Part of the Work & Business of those that are intrusted with the Administration thereof, is, to maintain the publick Peace. Peace & Quietness is absolutely necessary to the Well|Being of any People. 'Tis a fundamental Thing in all Governments, without which none Page 9 of the other Ends of Government can be secu|red, nor it self long supported. A Kingdom di|vided against it self cannot stand, (Mar. 3.24.)
AND then, where Men can't live quietly, they can't live happily. Broils & Contention will render any Society of People unhappy, and overspread the whole Face thereof with Con|fusion & Misery. 'Tis better dwelling alone in a Wilderness, than in the Midst of Contentions & Quarrels, where Fire-Brands, Arrows & Death are cast about. David in such a Case wish'd for Wings swift as a Dove to flie away far off to some Place of Safety & Repose, Psal 55.7, 8, 9.
BUT now, without Government there would be endless Broils & Strifes, Wars & Fightings. To prevent which, the GOD of Peace hath or|dain'd Government in the World. And Rulers are Ministers of GOD to restrain the Wrath of Men, to curb in that Spirit of Discord, so ready to prevail on all Occasions.
IT can't be expected but that there will be some turbulent & contentious Men among every People; unruly & fierce, inclin'd to improve every Opportunity to set People together by the Ears, and scatter the Seeds of Discord, and violate the Laws of Peace: Now Government is design'd to restrain such, that People may lead quiet & peaceable Lives.
2dly; ANOTHER End of civil Government, and so Part of the Business of civil Rulers, is, to Page 10 protect Men in the Enjoyment or their just Rights and Privileges, both natural & acquired, civil & religious.
I SHALL not exercise your Patience, to consi|der the various natural & acquired, civil & tem|poral Rights & Privileges of Men; which they justly value & esteem, and could not securely possels without the Protection of Government: It is sufficient to say, before an Auditory so well acquainted with the Rights & Privileges of Man|kind, that the great GOD, who loveth Righ|teousnesfs, hath instituted Government for the securing of Men in the Enjoyment of these their Rights and Privileges.
IF there were none in Authority, but every Man was left to do what was right in his own Eyes, there would be no secure possessing of any Thing. Justice and Righteousness would soon forsake the Earth; Rapine & Violence, Falshood & Oppression would every where pre|vail & triumph, and those that turn Judgment to Wormwnood; and leave off Righteousness in the Earth be multiplied. Neither Promises nor Bonds would avail Strength of Arm would be the only Law of Justice obtaining and acknowleged among Men.
FOR the maintaining of Righteousness and Judgment therefore in the Earth, is Govern|ment set up. And therefore GOD charges his Ministers intrusted with the Administration Page 11 thereof, to execute Judgment & Righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the Oppressor, and to let Judgment run down as Wa|ters, and Righteousness as a mighty Stream, (Jer. 22.3. Amos 5.24)
BUT besides our temporal Rights, we have our Spiritual Ones, as we are Members of the Body of Christ; even the invaluable Privileges of the Gospel: Which, if they should be taken from us, what have we more!
AND yet, there may be Men dispos'd to take these from us; who, if unrestrain'd would spread forth their Hands upon all our pleasant Things; drive us from the House of the LORD, or disturb us in our Worship there; break down the carved Work of the House of GOD, or cast Fire into his Sanctuary.
GOVERNMENT is therefore also design'd to protect Men in the Possession of their spiritual Privileges. And therefore 'tis said concerning Zion, Isa. 49.23. Kings shall be thy nursing Fathers, and their Queens thy nursing Mothers. They are to be Guardians of the Religion, as well as the civil Rights & Liberties of their People.
3dly; ANOTHER great Design of Govern|ment, and so what Men intrusted with the Admi|nistration thereof are continually to attend up|on, is, to incourage Men in well Doing. The A|postle saith in v.3, of our Context, Do that which Page 12 is good, and thou shalt have Praise of the same, i.e. Of the Powers and Rulers.
GOVERNMENT is appointed to incourage & promote universal Righteousness & Goodness; that Men might live not only peaceably and honestly, but religiously in the World.
THERE hath indeed been a great Cry of late Years, that the civil Magistrate hath Nothing to do about religious Matters, nor ought to make any Laws for the Incouragement of Re|ligion and Protection of the Church of Christ. But this is new Doctrine to the Church of Christ: Which hath always expected that christian Kings should be it's nursing Fathers, and christian Queens it's nursing Mothers.
INDEED, whilst the civil Powers remain'd E|nemies to the Cross of CHRIST, nor acknow|leged Him their Head & King, the Churches expected no great Help from them. They trusted on the Arm of Christ, whom GOD had set his King upon his holy Hill of Zion, im|mediately to work Salvation for them. And Christ himself by his immediate & unseen Hand was their Defence. And there is no Doubt, but Christ is yet able to plead his own Cause, and to maintain his little Flock in the World, if the higher Powers of this World should neglect the Cause of Zion and Religion, and take no Care to support the Worship of GOD, and the Cause of Truth.
Page 13BUT yet, as it pleases GOD ordinarily to govern tne World more mediately; and when he design Good to the Church, to raise up & spirit the higher Powers to protect & help it; the People of Christ justly have their Eyes to these Vice-gerents of GOD for Protection and Help.
THE First Day of the new Testament-Church was a Day of Miracles, and GOD more im|mediately maintan'd his Church and Cause in the World. But since Christianity hath been established amongst Men, and Kings have seen the Glory of the LORD upon his Church, and come to the Brightness of her Rising, she hath sucked the Breasts of Kings, according to the Prophecy concerning her, Isa. 60.16.
IT was therefore an ancient Promise to the Church, that when the Gentiles Should come to her Light, Their Kings should minister unto her, Isa. 69.10.
AND indeed, as the Kingdom is CHRIST's, and He is made universal Lord under his Father, and all Power is given Him in Heaven & Earth, (Mat, 28.18) and He is given to be Head over all Things to the Church, (Eph. 1.22.) what are the Powers of this World but the Ministers of His Kingdom? — And if so, their Character Obliges them, to exert their Power for the Pro|tection, Preservation and Glory of Christ's Kingdom.
Page 14OR, if we only consider them as the Minissters of GOD for Good to the World, it is impossible that they should answer to this Character, with|out endeavouring to support & incourage Re|ligion. For there is Nothing the Welfare of Mankind is so much interested in, as Religion: Nothing that will so beautifie and bless the World; that will so promote Peace & Friend|ship, good Order and Prosperity.
RELIGION is profitable unto all Things, ha|ving Promse of the Life that now is, and of that which is to come, 1 Tim. 4.8. 'Tis profitable to obtain the Blessing of GOD, and to promote those social Vertues that are the Glory & Strength of a Society †. Indeed, 'tis the main Support and strongest Bond of civil Societies. And therefore, to incourage and support Religion is one of the greatest & best Ends of Government.
Page 15ALL wise Governments therefore, have thôt, that it belong'd to them, to take Care of the Cause of Religion. Even the Heathen Governments, that have been fam'd for Wisdom, and that have flourish'd & become great in the World, took Care of the Religious Intercfts of their People, & incourag'd what they suppos'd to be Godliness.
AND where ever we find a Government in Scripture under the Direction of Heaven, we shall find this to be a great Part of the Business thereof. If we attentively read the History of the Kings of GOD's ancient People, we shall find that those Princes, who obtain'd the Cha|racter of doing that which was right in the Sight of GOD, appear'd active in their publick Chara|cter for Religion; taking Care for the Support of the Ministers of Religion, incouraging them to their Work; giving out Proclamations that the Ordinances of GOD be observed, and issuing out their Orders to pull down the Altars of Page 16 strange Gods, and the high Plates & the Croves, which were disallow'd of GOD, 2 Chron.14.3.
AND to say, at some do, that GOD himself was the King of Israel, and their Princes & Powers but Officers under Him, thô it be true, doth not weaken the Argument; for Christ still remains King in Zion, and the lawful Governours of his People are his Ministers & Officers, and rule for Him.
AND therefore since the Coming of Christ, and the Preaching of his unsearchable Riches amongst the Gentiles, where ever we have hid an Account of Nations christianiz'd, and brôt to an Obedience to the Faith, and their Kings submitting themselves unto the Scepter of Christ, we find the high Powers becoming the Guar|dians of the Church, and imploying their Power to maintain the Glory and Honour of Christ's Kingdom amongst their People.
SO particularly Constantine the first christian Emperor establish'd Christianity throughout his Realm, and made it Part of his Business & Care to incourage the Profession & Practice of Religion in all his Dominions.‖. And this is represented as the Day of Christ's Victory over the Enemies of his Gospel, in St. John's Vision, Rev. 12, & seq.
Page 17INDEED Donatus, who headed that terrible Faction, that in the early Times of Christianity insested the Church, was wont to say, Quid Im|peratori cum Ecclesia? What hath the civil Ma|gistrate to do with the Church? But the pious Fathers of the Church earnestly insisted upon it, that Kings were to be nursing Fathers unto the Church.
So it was, 'till Popery lifted high it's formidable Head in the World, & the Bishop of Rome preten|ded to be Christ's Vicar upon Earth, vested with Power over the Nations of the Earth, to rule them as with a Rod of Iron, and the World wondred af|ter the Beast, saying, Who is like unto the Beast? Who is able to make War with him, Rev. 13, 3.4.
THEN indeed the Romish Clergy run down the Magistrate's Power, and set on high their Ec|clesiastical Courts; pretending Power therein to execute Vengeance upon the unruly, and Punish|ments upon the People; to bind their Kings with Chains, and their Nobles with Fetters of Iron. They insisted that civil Rulers should bow be|fore them, and acknowlege that they held their Crowns & Scepters under them. And there|fore they allow'd Magistrates to have Nothing to do about Religion, but to give Life to the, Image of the Beast, to support the Usurpation of the Court of Rome, and draw the Sword a|gainst those, that were there condemn'd, and by them deliver'd over to the secular Arm.
Page 18BUT when the appointed Time of Mercy was come, that GOD would command the Light to shine out of Darkness, and discover the Myste|ry of Iniquity, the Reformers began to see that the Power exercised by the Bishop of Rome and his Court was but a Usurpation, and to vindi|cate the Power of the civil Magisitrate.
IT was then received as a Doctrine of Truth amongst the reformed Churches, that it was Part of the Business of the Magistrate to take Care about the Worship of GOD, in their Juris|diction; to guard & defend the Churches, to provide that Houses for Worship be built, the Ministers of Christ maintained, their just Au|thority supported, and Obedience to the Laws of CHRIST encouraged.
IT was the common Doctrine of the Protestant Nations, that the civil Magistrate is the Keeper of both Tables of the Law.
IT is well known how much this was insisted upon, in the Beginning of the Reformation in England, in Opposition to the Devotees of Rome.
AND herein the Reformers in the other Na|tions agreed with them. And therefore the reformed Divines of Leyden, in their Collection of the Doctrines of the Reformation, Or Synop|sis of pure Divinity, represent it as Part of the Business of the civil Magistrate, to take Care a|bout the Worship of GOD in their Jurisdiction, to take Care that there be such a Worship as Page 19 GOD hath appointed maintain'd therein, and to guard the Church against the Incroachments of Seducers. And represent it upon this Account necessary, that christian Powers be knowing in the Scriptures, according to which the Churches are to be formed, or reformed.
THEY observe, that the pious Rulers of Israel ever looked upon this as falling within their Pro|vince, and being part of their Business; Whom they represent the reformed Princes imitating. They call the cristian Magistrate the Keeper and Avenger of both Tables of the Law*.
AND thus, as far as can find, the Reformers did unanimously teach, that
AND therefore they were wont to pray, ac|cording to the Apostolical Direction, 1 Tim. 2.2. For Kings, and all that are in Authority; that they might lead a quiet & peaceable Life in all GODLINESS and Honesty. Looking upon these Powers as ordain'd of GOD, not only to pro|mote Peace, but Godliness and Honesty, their Prayers were unto GOD for them, that they might answer to their Character, and the great Page 20 End of Government be obtain'd in the peacea|ble, honest and godly Lives of the People.
NOT indeed that they look'd upon the civil Magistrate, as impower'd to make new Arti|cles of Faith, or to appoint any new Institutions in the Worship of GOD. This they have looked upon, as the Prerogative of Christ, the Head and great Law-giver to his Church*.
NOR have they pretended, that proper Eccle|siastical Government & Discipline is to be ad|ministred by the civil Magistrate. They have not been ignorant that there is a just & neces|sary Distinction between the civil & ecclesiasti|cal Government of a People; and that Each of these have their distinct Provinces & Bounda|ries. The temporal Sword they have acknow|leged to be in the Hands of the civil Magistrate, but the spiritual Sword in the Hands of the spiritual Officers in the House of GOD‡.
Page 21THE Reformers carefully examin'd the Lines of these Powers, that one might not justle the other; and these Powers clash and be divided against Page 22 each other. For it is easie to see, that, that would tend to Ruin & Confusion,†. But to proceed,
Page 234thly; ANOTHER great End of Government, and so part of the Work & Business of civil Ru|lers, is, to be a Teror to evil Doers. He is a Re|vonger, saith the Apostle in v.4. of our Context, to execute Wrath upon him that doth Evil.
Page 24THIS indeed hath of late been contradicted; and many have said, that the civil Magistrate hath no Right to punish Men for the Violation of the four first Commands of the Decalogue, — Page 25 That, if Men should openly & dirctly set up the Worship of Devils, and in their Assemblies invoke the Prince of Darkness, in Opposition to the first Commandment of the moral Law, they must not be called to an Account by the Page 26 Magistrate. — Or, if any are dispos'd to set up their Thresholds, in the most idolatrous Man|ner to worship GOD, by his own Thresholds, aid therein to set up their Images of Jealousie, contrary to the second Commandment, they must not be restrain'd. — Or, if they desile their Mouths with horrid Oaths, and draw out their Tongues against the Heavens, blasphe|ming the LORD of Heaven & Earth, in Op|position to the third Commandment, the Ma|gistrate must not yet unsheath his Sword, nor offer to reftrain them. — Nor call them to any Account, how much soever they prosane his Sabbaths, in Opposition to the fourth Com|mandment. —
THIS is what many have pleaded of late, who would be thôt zealous for GOD, above others‖.
Page 27BUT the Apostle Paul was othcrwise minded: He look'd upon the civil Powers, as commissio|ned of GOD, to be Revengers to execute Wrath upon civil Doers; GOD's Vice-gerents upon Earth to call evil Doers, Men that openly tram|ple upon the Laws of GOD to an Account.
AND one would wonder, that any One should be of a different Judgment: For, Nothing is more evident than that civil Rulers are invested with Power, & instructed with a Charge to pu|nish Evil-Doers. And whom must they deem Evil-Doers, if not those that insult the Lord, by whom they rule? — Must they call him an Evil|Doer, that offends against one of his Fellow|Creatures, and not him that blasphemes the su|preme LORD of all? What? Must they see their great Lord and Master's Attributes blas|phem'd, his Name taken in Vain, his Sabbaths prosan'd, and excuse themselves from using the Sword, wherewith they are arm'd, Saying, These are not Evil-Doers? — What! Not they Evil|Doers, Page 28 That stretch out their Hand, and draw out their Tongues against GOD, & run upon him, even on his Neck, upon the thick Bosses of his Buckler?
SURELY, These are some of the Evil-Doers, that, David, the King favour'd of Heaven, and raised up on high, called Sons of Belial, that shall be all of them as Thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with Hands. But the Man that shall touch them, must be fenced with Iron, and the Staff of a spear, 2 Sam. 23 6, 7. Persons, that were not to be managed by a gentle Re|proof, but were to be restrain'd by Law and the Sword of Justice. We can't think he ex|cepted such as these, when he said, Psal. 101.8. I will early destroy all the Wicked of the Land: that I may cut off all wicked Doers from the City of the LORD.
AND the Time would fail to tell of the Practice of the pious Princes & Governours of Israel, who brought the Wheel over the Wicked. Con|temners of GOD, and his Laws. I shall there|fore not enlarge here, but proceed to consider,
III. THE Obligations upon a People to support Government.
ONE would think, that every one, that con|sider'd the great Ends & Design of Govern|ment, and the good Work Magistrates are em|ploy'd in, even to be Ministers of GOD to their People for Good, and serve the publick Interests of Mankind, would think it a Favour, that Page 29 GOD will establish a visible Authority upon Earth, and set up any to act in his Name and Stead, who are to attend upon this very Thing, even to imploy their Power and Influence for the Good and Happiness of the People under them, that under their Shadow they might lead quiet and peaceable Lives, in all Godliness and Honesty; and would therefore contribute all he may, to support their Dignity, and maintain their Character; to strengthen their Hands & encourage their Hearts.
AND so it would be, if all Men understood the Necessity and Advantages of Government, and were disposed to incourage what is for the Good of the World.
BUT alas! how many unreasonable Men are there, who are ever dispos'd to oppose what tends to promote the Good of Mankind? — This makes the Business of Rule and Govern|ment so much the more difficult; — and lays an additional Obligation upon all that wish well to Mankind to endeavour to support Go|vernment, — It shews that Government is so much the more necessary, as well as a more dif|ficult Work.
BUT my Design, under this Proposition, is, just to hint at what it is proper for a People to do in Support of Government, and then touch upon some Obligations upon a People so to do.
Page 301st; WE are to hint at what it is proper for a People to do in Support of Government.
1st; CHEARFULLY to pay Tribute: For this Cause, saith the Apostle in our Text, pay you Tribute also. For they are GOD's Minister, attending continually upon this very Thing. As they employ themselves in publick Service, so a Tribute is due to them, and necessary to enable them to maintain the Honour of Government, and to live and appear in a Manner suitable to the Dignity of their Places.
2dly; To honour and Reverence those in Au|thority; paying a high Regard to their Cha|racter, and to their Persons for their Work and Office sake. This is necessary in Order to main|tain their Authority. Dis-respect, shewed either to the Character or Persons of Rulers, tends to weaken their Power, and to hinder the good Effects of their Administration; to weaken their Hands and discourage their Hearts.
To support Government then, we must re|verence Authority, and honour those that are improv'd in the Administration of Govern|ment, according to the Dignity of their Cha|racter; considering them as GOD's Vicegerents amongst Men; bearing his Character, & honou|red to be his Representatives, in the World.
AUTHORITY is a sacred Thing, and to be reverenc'd accordingly; and Rulers are as it Page 31 were subordinate Gods to Men, and are not to be treated as thô they were not the Lord's anoin|ted. That divine Law, thô conceived in so few Words, is a binding one, 1 Pet. 2.17. Honour the King. By the King in which Place, I understand the lawful Authority over us, what|ever be the particular Form of Government we are under. The Command is doubtless as obliging, in a Common-wealth, as under a Mo|narchy.
3dly; IN Order to support Government,we must be subject thereunto. Let every Soul, says the Apostle, in the 1st v. of our Context, be subjeft to the higher Powers. The Rebellious and Disobedient aim not at the supporting, but destroying the Government: Whil'st they trample upon humane Laws & Ordinances, they despise Government.
INDEED, if any Rulers should be left to frame Mischief by a Law, to command what GOD forbids, or forbid what GOD commands, in such a Case, we easily conclude, as the Apostles did, when they were commanded to preach no more in the Name of Jesus, who said, Whether it be right in the Sight of GOD, to bearken unto you, more than unto GOD, judge Ye, Act. 4.19. But then, we can't disobey their just Commands without despising the Authority by which they rule, and bidding defiance to GOD, whose Ministers they are. And therefore we are told, Page 32 Context, v.2. Whosoever resisteth the Power, resisteth the Ordinance of GOD.
THE Doctrine of Obedience & Subjection to Magistrates, hath doubtless been carried too far by those, who allow the People to make no Resistance, nor Self-Defence, under the most arbitrary & illegal Abuses of Power, but insist, that they tamely sit still, and see their Laws and Liberties, Religion & Properties invaded under a Notion of Authority & Power. — Doubt|less, when the whole Head is sick, and the Foun|dations of a State are removed, when the go|verning Powers become tyrannical & arbitrary, and usurp a Power that never was given them, and evidently go counter to the Instructions of that great Lord, by whom they rule, the Law of Self-Defence is in Force amongst a People, and they may judge, that GOD is to be Obeyed rather than Man. But then, Men must be very careful, that, under pretence of the mismanage|ment of the Powers, they don't usurp an Autho|rity to themselves, which GOD hath not given them, and themselves embroil the State, & over|throw the Foundations of Government. — And, whenever they refuse Subjection to any Law of Man, they must see, that they have sure Warrant therefore in the Word of GOD; that it interferes with some Command of GOD; for we are told, Context, v.2. Whosoevcr resisteth the Power, resisteth the Ordinance of GOD; And Page 33 they that resist, shall receive to themselves Dam|nation.
4thly; IN Order to support Government we should pray for those in Authority. I exhort therefore, says the Apostle, that firsf of all, Sup|plications, Prayers, Intercessions, and Giving of Thanks be made for all Men: For Kings, and for all that are in Authority; that we may lead to quiet and peaceable Life in all Gcdliness and Honesty, 1 Tim. 2.1, 2.
As large Supplies of Grace are necessary, for the faithful Discharge of the Duties of their high Character; as their Work is difficult, and their Station attended with great Temptations; as the Welfare of their People is much con|cerned in the Wisdom & Faithfulness of their Government: We should strive together in Prayer to GOD for them, that they may be a|bundantly inrich'd with Grace, and indued with every needful Qualification, to be the Shields of the Earth, and Blessings in their Places; That they may be indued with that Wisdom that is profitable to direct; that they may have Under|standing of the Times, to know what Israel ought to do; that they may be indued with Courage to stand in their Stations, when GOD's Way is in the Whirlwind, and in the Storm, and the Clouds are the Dust of his Feet, that their Soul may not be melted because of trouble, nor they reel to & fro, and be at their Wits End, like Page 34 affrighted Mariners, when the stormy Wind is raised. In a Word, we are to pray that God would dispose them to, qualify them for, and succeed them in the due Discharge of the Duties of their Station; that under their Ad|ministration, Judgment may run, down as Wa|ters, end Righteousness as a mighty Stream.
IF we have any Interest in Heaven, any Power with GOD, we should improve it in their Behalf: If effectual fervent Prayers any thing avail, we should be importunate in our Intercession with GOD for them. For who, not assisted of GOD, not strengthned from a|bove, is sufficient for the Work, to the which they are called? A Work, the Difficulties whereof are proportionable to it's Dignity.
HE † was well acquainted with the Life and Business of Princes & Rulers, who said, Happy is he who is not oblig'd to command, the King has the least Liberty and Repose of any Man in his Kingdom; ... is a Slave to all those he seems to command;.. is burthen'd with all their Cares. The best of Rulers have somtimes, been almost overborn with the Burden & Difficulty of their Work. The Murmurings and Jealousies, the ill Humour & Untractableness of their People have even discouraged their Hearts. Thus we find even the meek Moses himself, discouraged, Page 35 and saying to GOD, Numb. 11.11, 12 — Where|fore bast thou afflicted thy Servant? and where|fore have I not found Favour in thy Sight, that thou layest the Burden of all this People upon me? Have I conceived all this People? Have I be|gotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, carry them in thy Bosom....? I am not able to bear all this People alone, because it is too heavy for me. And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of Hand. Now surely, we should not cease to pray for them, whose Business is so burden some & full of Difficulties.
AND then, their Station is attended with Temptations proportionally great unto the Dignity thereof. It oftentimes happens, that the Way to please the Multitude, is, to desert the Cause of GOD, and betray the Interest of their Country: And, if they have Resolution enough, to stem the Current of popular Hu|mour, and to endeavour, to the last, to prevent the Ruin a People would bring upon them|selves, they will doubtless, be often censured and reproach'd, and evil intreated; all their Labour, Solicitude & Care, for an unthankful People, being ill taken, and misrepresented. And can it be expected but that this should try their Patience, anger their Spirits, if not pro|voke them to retire like Elijah from their Post, saying as the Fig-Tree; in Jotham's Parable, (in Judg. 9.11.) Should I forsake my Sweetness, Page 36 and my good Fruit, and go to be promoted over the Trees? Or as in Isa. 3.7. I will not be an Healer;.. make me not a Ruler of the People. We know Moses himfelf was to provoked with the Murmurings and Complainings of an un|thankful People, that be spake unadvisedly with his Lips, and himself provoked GOD, so that it went ill with him, (Psal. 106.32, 33.)
BESIDES, we may conclude that the great Adversary of Men, that goes to and fro in the Eartb, and walks up & down in, seeking what Misehief he may do, and Whom he may devour among Men, especially endeavours to seduce those, that are set in the higher Seats amongst Men, as knowing that, if Rulers hearken to Lies, the People are in a fair Way, to become wicked, (Prov. 29.12.) and that the Corruption of a Man in Power is a wounding Blow to the People. And therefore we read, that when Satan stood up against Israel, he provoked David to number Israel, 1 Chron. 21.1. His Design was to injure all the People, but his Endeavour was to cor|rupt the Prince, in Order to affect it. And, if the Temptations of Rulers are so great, our Prayers should be always ascending before GOD in their Behalf.
BUT having thus hinted at what, it is proper for a People to do in Support of Government, we are, Page 37 11dly; BRIEFLY to consider Some of the Ob|ligations upon a People thus to endeavour to sup|port Government. And here,
1st; WE are under an Obligation to Support Government, as it is of GOD's own Ordination. The Apostle tells us, v.1. of our Context, The Powers that be, are ordained of GOD. And surely it becomes us to support that, which is of divine Appointment. Surely, as GOD himself hath raised Rulers on high for the good of Men, We are oblig'd, to do all we properly can, to support their Dignity, and maintain their Character.
2dly; AN Obligation on us, to endeavour to support Government, arises from the great Ne|cessity and Benefit of it to the World.
As the State of our World is, Government is absolutely necessary for it's Well-Being; and there could be no tolerable Living without it: And therefore GOD hath in Compassion to Man|kind, appointed Government for their own Good, that they may lead a quiet and peaceable Life in all Godliness and Honesty. As therefore we desire the Welfare of Mankind; as we de+sire the Blessings of Peace, Godlines & Honesty, it concerns us to support Government.
To be sure, All, that wish well to Jerusalem, will be Friends to Government; for; 'tis the ordinary Means GOD makes use of, to support his Church in the World.
Page 38INDEED, He, that is anointed King in Zion is able to protect his Church, if earthly Powers should desert it, and willingly see it labouring under all imaginable Discouragements, yea, rased to the Foundation.
AND therefore, when the civil Powers were Persecutors of the Truth, as in the first Ages of Christianity; when they refus'd to exert their Power to protect the Church, and defend the Faith, yea, rather imploy'd their Power to pull down and destroy the same, yet the Church was upheld, to the Admiration & astonishing Confusion of her Enemies. The Lord alone was her Defence. As the Rulers of the World knew him not, his own almighty Arm, in a miraculous Way, brôt Salvation to his People.
BUT since Christianity is become the Reli|gion of many Nations, and so many Princes have laid down their Scepters at the Feet of Christ, and as it were taken out their Com|missions from Him, he is pleased to make these Powers his Ministers to protect his Church.
AND we may conclude, that, if amongst the christian Nations, their Rulers will not favour Zion, it is a Day of the Lord's Displeasure with his People, and that the Lord is pleased to take away their Hedge and their Defence: And therefore we may expect, that it will be a Day of treading down in the Valley of Vision, and of breaking down the Wells of Zion; Her Glory Page 39 will flie away like a Bird, and all they which pass by the Way, will pluck her: Unruly Men will rend her in Pieces, destroy her Order, dis|urb her Peace, and deface her Beauty. The Boar out of the Wood will waste her, and the wild Beast of the Field devour her.
THEN, indeed, there will be perillous Times, and evil Men and Seducers will wax worse and & worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
THUS we see that the spiritual, as well as the temporal Interests of Men, call upon us to en|deavour to support Government. So that for our own Sakes, for our Families and our Friends Sake, and for Zion's Sake, We should contri|bute what in us lies, that Government may be maintained, incouraged & supported amongst us. But it is Time to come to the
I. LEARN hence, how thankful we should be for Government; and especially, if we are bless'd with faithful Rulers, that attend upon this very Thing, even to be Ministers of GOD for Good to them that do well, and Revengers to execute Wrath upon them that do Evil.
ALMOST any, even a tyrannous Government is better than none; because, while the Govern|ment is never so tyrannical, there are but a few cxercising that Tyranny: The Multitude are in Page 40 the mean Time under Restraint. Whereas, if there was no Government at all, every One would be let loose to be a Tyrant; and every domineering Wretch would set up his own Will for a Law, to which he would demand Obedience from Others, and inflict what Penal|ties upon the Disobedient thereunto, his Malice should dictate, and his Arm could execute: So that no Man could be secure. Fear, and the Pit, and the Snare would be upon all; and that Text in Isa. 42.22. would be in the most literal fense fulfilled amongst them, This is a People robbed and spoiled, they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison-houses; They are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith restore.
THE Lusts and Passions of Men are such, that if entirely left loose, to themselves, without any Restraint of Govcrnment, the World it self would scarce be a habitable Place, but rather a confused Scene of Intemperance, Lewdness, Oppression, Robbery, Murder, and all Manner of Exorbitances. By Reafon of the Multitude cf Oppressions, they would make the Oppressed to crie; Violence and Spoil would be heard in the Midst of them, and Grief and Wounds be conti|nually before them. So that any Government is better than None.
BUT by how much the better, the Designs of Government are answered, by how much Page 41 the more, the Blessings of Peace, and Godliness and Honesty are promoted by the Powers that be, by how much the more, the Vices destru|ctive to the World are restrain'd, and kept un|der thereby; So much the more Reason have a People to rejoice in the Blessings of Govern|ment, and to be thankful therefor.
'Tis Matter therefore of great Thankfulness, when any are favour'd with a legal well consti|tuted Government, such as that of the British Dominions, perhaps the best in any, of the Nations of the Earth.
IT is therefore Matter of Wonder, that so many, who have sat fo securely under the Sha|dow of so excellent a Government, and enjoy'd so many Liberties and valuable Blessings under the Same, have been dispos'd to rebel, and to exchange so good a Government for Bondage and Slavery.
AND we have Reason to bless and to praise the most high GOD, that ruleth in the Kingdom of Men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, that those Sons of Rebellion have not been able to perform their Enterprise, but that the happy Establishment still remains. Oh! may so great a Blessing never be taken from the British Do|minions as a Punishment of their Discontent, Frowardness & Murmurings against the Lord, or sad Neglect to improve the Privileges in their Hands!
Page 42'Tis an unspeakable Favour of Heaven also, when a People are favour'd with such Rulers, who are dispos'd to minister for Good unto them; who attend upon this very Thing, to answer to the good Designs of Government, to secure Men in the Enjoyment of their Liberties and Possessions; to maintain Truth & Peace; Who espouse the Cause of Christ, establish the true Religion, uphold the pure Worship of GOD, support the Ministers of Religion, make Evil|Doers afraid, and encourage those that do well. Happy has New-England been upon this Ac|count. May such a Blessing be continued to us as long as the Sun and the Moon shall en|dure! May our Judges be as at the first, and our Counsellers as at the Begining! May our Officers be Peace, and our Exactors Righteous|ness to all Generations!
II. LEARN hence, that it is a privileged Peo|ple, that may choose their own Rulers, Seeing so great & good are the Ends of Government, and it is so great a Blessing to have Rulers at|tending thereunto, and exercising their Power to the Purposes, for which it was communicated to them, such a People have an Advantage to make themselves happy in this Respect. If such a People are not happy in their Rulers, whom shall they blame, but Themselves?
As for other People, whose Rulers are not of their own Election, it will not be so much to Page 43 be wondred at, if, oftentimes, Men are set over them in Places of Rule and Authority, not so equal thereunto, nor so well qualified to sustain such Characters: For it is a rare thing, when Men are so concerned for Others Welfare as their own. And therefore, when they advance Men over others, the Temptation is stronger to set such over them, as their own private In|terests and Aff•ctions incline them unto.
BUT as for those, whose Rulers are of their own Election, what hinders but they may have the best furnish'd & qualify'd among them to sustain such Characters and Posts of Trust?
WE of this Colony may therefore look upon Ourselves as a greatly privileged People; our Lines are fallen unto us in pleasant Places; yea, We have a goodly Heritage.
WHENCE then proceeds that Spirit of Dis|content, those Murmurings and Complainings, and that Desire of Change so visible amongst this People? — Must not these Things pro|ceed from Weakness of Judgment, or some ill Affection of Mind; a Desire of Novelty, foolish Ambition, or a Spirit that can't be contented with any Condition.
How much the Disposition of such resem|bles that of the Israelites, who under the best of Governments were discontented, and said, Nay, but we will have a King over us: that we also way be like all the Nations? (1 Sam. 8.19.) Page 44 They would not be contented with their own most excellent Constitution of Government, 'till it was indeed changed, and they found the Disadvantage of a Change.
AT present, We enjoy the Privileges, Others wish for. They, which hate us, see and envy, our Privileges: Our Neighbours mark the Same, and are ready to say, Who is like unto thee, O People saved by the Lord? And why are any, amongst ourselves, weary of their own Mercies and Privileges?
III. HENCE People may be directed in the Choice of their Rulers.
WE have heard something of the great and good Designs of Government, and of the Work and Business of Governours & Men in Autho|rity. And now whom shall our Freemen pre|sent to GOD, to be authoriz'd as his Vice|Gerents, and commission'd to the great and im|portant Work, but such as are the best qualified to fill such Places of Honour and Trust? Such as are the most fit to support their Character, and the most likely, in Conformity to the great Design of Government, to employ their Power most effectually for the Good of those who live under the Shadow of it? Such as will be the Glory of the Land, and as the Light of the Morning, when the Sun riseth, even a Morning without Clouds?
Page 45JETHRO's Direction to Moses, with Respect to the Qualifications of Men to be improved in Places of Authority and Trust, is proper to be given to all our Freemen; Exod. 18, 21. Thou, shalt provide out of all the People, able Men, sucb as fear GOD, Men of Truths, hating Cove|tousness; and place such over them.
RULERS should be able Men: Men of Genius and Parts; of a good Capacity, cool Judg|ment and clear Reason; Men of Understand|ing and Prudence, and of an excellent Spirit; Men of Courage and Resolution, that will stand stedfast in the most stormy Times, when nei|ther Flatteries nor Clamours can warp aside, but who will remain unmoveable in Days of Temptation, like Rocks, against which the Winds spend their Rage, and the roaring Bil|lows break in Vain.
MOREOVER, they should be sucb as fear God: Men of Religion and Piety, zealous of the Ho|nour of GOD, and Friends to Zion; such who prefer Jerusalem above their chief Joy. David, the Man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the GOD of Jacob, said, yea, the Spirit of the Lord spake by him, and the GOD of Israel said, He that ruleth over Men must be just, ruling in the Fear of GOD, 2 Sam. 23.3.
IT can't be expected, that Men destitute of Religion, will faithfully stand in their Station, and employ their Power, as much as may be, Page 46 to answer the great Designs of Government. Will they, who themselves are destitute of the Principles of Vertue and Righteousness, lay out themselves to encourage the Cause of Vertue, and be a Terrour to Evil-Doers? Will they, in earnest, maintain the Cause of GOD, who themselves are no Friends thereto, nor have the Love of God dwelling in them?
Is it likely, that such will stand Steady in the Cause of Zion, if a Time of Temptation should come on, and they might thereby increase the Number of their Enemies, or disadvantage some appearing Interest in the World? No, there is greater Reason to expect, they will swim with the Tide, and be carried away with the Stream of the Times, and behave so as to secure their private Interests, and render themselves popular, whatever becomes of the Cause of GOD in the World.
THERE is no rational Prospect, that such, who are not themselves Lovers of GOD, his People, his House, the Ordinances & Ministers thereof, will lay out themselves to protect the People of GOD, to defend the Faith, to support the Worship of GOD, to incourage the Hearts, and strengthen the Hands of the Ministers of Religion. — Did I say, there was no rational Prospect of this? I might have said, that, it is a thousand Times likelier, such will desert the Cause of GOD, and leave his Church to be Page 47 trampled on, devoured and wasted by all her Adversaries, and the House of GOD to go to Ruin; and abandon the Ministers of the San|ctuary; yea, and help to make their Burden heavy, and themselves contribute to weaken their Hands, and discourage their Hearts.
OR, if they will smile upon the Practice of Piety, and cherish the Worship & Worshippers of GOD, so long as it comes not across their Interest in the World, yet except they are for|tified with the Principles of Grace & Religion, there is but little Ground to hope they will be valiant for the Truth, and in the Cause of the Churches, or stedfast in the Defence thereof, if once they should look upon that a sinking Cause in the World, and see the Enemies of the Welfare of Zion the rising Party: And thai: Promotion is likely to be found amongst them, 'Tis likelier they will serve the Times, and keep in with the rising Side. We see therefore, of how great Importance it is, that Men of Reli|gion be chosen to rule over us.
BUT here, Such, as are concern'd in choo|sing Rulers over them, are to be caution'd that they don't judge amiss as to Mens being reli|gious. Some have placed Religion, almost al|together, in Enthusiasm, Raptures, Impulses, and warm Imaginations, which it is possible for a Man to abound with, who hath Nothing of the Fear of GOD: But the Psalmist directs on Page 48 whom our Eyes should be as Men of Reli|gion, Psal. 101.6. Scil. the Faithful in tie Land, that walk in a perfect Way. The Se|crets of Hearts are out of our View, but those that, to Appearance, pay the highest Regards to the weightier Matters of the Law, Judg|ment, Mercy, Faith, and the Love of GOD, should be in our Esteem the Excellent of the Earth.
FURTHERMORE, they should be Men of Truth: Men of Integrity & Uprightness; of Honour and Sincerity.
AND finally, they should be Men hating Co|vetousness: Men of a publick Spirit, whose Views & Designs are generous and noble, not little and selfish, and contracted within the Li|mits of their own private Interest & Advantage. They should be Men of a great, a generous and disinterested Spirit. It is not for their own Sake, that Men are exalted to Places of Power, but it is for the Service of the People: So that they should be Men, that prefer the publick Good to their own personal Interests.
IV. WE may also infer from this Discourse, the great Evil and Danger of despising Govern|ment and speaktng Evil of Dignities. We have heard that Government is of GOD: And there|fore as he, that resisteth the Power, resisteth the Ordinance of GOD; so they, that despise and make light of Government, offer an Affront to Page 49 GOD's own Majesty, in whose Name it is ad|ministred, and by whose Authority all earthly Powers rule. And GOD himself will sooner or later, arise & vindicate his despis'd Autho|rity; and call to an Account the Sons of Men, that have dar'd to despise or revile the God's, his Representatives upon Earth.
IT cannot be safe to insult, and rudely treat those that bear GOD's Name, and are his anointed Ones in the Earth. And therefore, a Wo is denounced against those Murmurers and Complainers, that despise Dominion, and speak evil of Dignities, in the Epistle of Jude; and St. Peter tells us, that such are especially reser|ved unto the Day of Judgment to be punished, 2 Epist. 2.9, 10.
BUT yet, Seditious Men and Male-Contents are ready to imagine, many Times, they are serving the Cause of GOD, and their Country, and doing well, all the Time, they are sowing the Seeds of Faction; reviling the Powers that be, and fomenting Jealousies of them amongst the People.
THEY imagine they are weak, or designing, or partial Men, that are at the Helm of the Government: And their high Conceit of them|selves strengthens them herein. They imagine that themselves are the People, and Wisdom shall die with them: that their Thoughts are just, their Schemes perfect; and that, were but the Page 50 Publick Affairs managed according to their No|tions, Things would go well But yet they are neglected, and not promoted as, they think their Merit calls for, nor are their Schemes en|tertain'd by the ruling Powers, as they think they ought to be. They imagine therefore, that they are not only too much neglected, but the Country is ruin'd: And that therefore they must, in Faithfulness, raise a Cry against those in Authority, and expose their Faults.
BUT Men had need consider what manner of Spirit they are of, in all this, and to take heed that their Hearts carry them not away, while they let such complaining Words go out of their Mouths; and remember that Law, Exod. 22.28 Thou shalt not revile the Gods, nor curse the Ruler of thy People.
BUT it is high Time to come to a more par|ticular Application, in an Address to the sundry Orders of Men, that are now assembled before the Lord, in this House.
1. AND I would, in the first Place, with all dutiful Respect, address my self to his Honour the GOVERNOUR, and the whole honourable, LEGISLATURE of this Colony.
Honourable, worshipful, and much respected,
His HONOUR'S Command came very un|expected to me a Youth, and One of the meanestPage 51 that minister in the House of the Lord, to ap|pear in this awful Desk, in the LORD's Message, upon this great Occasion.
BUT yet, since his Honour hath been pleased so to order, thô sensible of my own Unfitness and Weakness, I have consider'd it as a Call of God, and hoping for His Assistance have inquired at the Word of the LORD, and am come to de|liver his Message.
AND I make no Doubt, but it was his Ho|nour's Mind, that I should deliver the Word of the Lord faithfully, as becometh a Messenger of the Lord of Hosts, and not be sollicitous to come unto You with Excellency of Speech, or with enticing Words of Man's Wisdom, nor to give flattering Titles unto Man, in doing of which my Maker would soon take me away.
I SHALL therefore, with Freedom, thô with Deference and Respect to your high Characters, apply this Discourse to You; and most earnest|ly recommend it to your Honour, and all the honourable Gentlemen of the General Assembly, to attend upon this very Thing, even to pro|mote the Welfare of this People, and to be Ministers of GOD unto them for Good.
GOD hath ordained Dominion and Govern|ment, not for the Grandure of Rulers, but the Good of the People: And Power is no other|wise to be reckon'd as a Perfection, than as it is the Instrument of doing Good.
Page 52You are therefore invested with Power a|bove Others, that you might have the larger Capacity to do them Good.
AND you are accountable to the great LORD of the World, wbo judgeth among the Gods, for your Improvement of that Power wherewith you are intrusted: Must give an Account how you attended his Instruction, who intrusted you with the Care of Others, and chose you to feed his People as a Shepherd his Flock, or a Father his Family. Your high Places in the World, will not excuse you from appearing before the Tribunal of GOD, who without Respect of Per|sons judgeth according to every Man's Work, (1 Pet. 1.17.) And the Day of the LORD will be as terrible to the mighty of the Earth that were not faithful in the Improvement of their Power and Opportunity to do Good, as to other Men.
OH! be faithful then to that great LORD, whose Image you bear, whose Ministers you are, and to whom you must give an Account, what you have done in your high Characters, as his Representatives on Earth.
You will suffer me also, Honoured Gentlemen, to remind you, that, as GOD hath honoured you to be his Vice-Gerents & Representatives among Men, and entrusted you with a Share of his own Authority, so that you are even cal|led Gods, and Children of the most High, so it is Page 53 only by attending to the Duties of your Sta|tion, and faithfully discharging your high Trust, that you will maintain the Honour of Govern|ment, which is GOD's.
RULERS themselves may be the Occasion of bringing Government into Contempt, and may as it were sully the Rays of Divinity upon them; so that even the Image of GOD, which they bear, may be despised: And, by this Means GOD's Honour may suffer in the World.
FOR the Sake of the Honour & Glory there|fore of that blessed Being, whose Representatives you are, we hope you will attend to the Duties of Government.
SOME imperfect Account whereof we have had in this Discourse; And you have in your Hands the Book of your instruction, eventh Word of GOD, in the which you are directed to read, all the Days of your Ministry on the Earth, Deut. 17.19 And governing according to the Rules & In|structions thereof, you will happily fulfil your Ministry, and be Ministers of God for Good.
THIS is the Rule according to which, we hope you will rule Us.
REGARDING this, we hope you will enact such Laws, as shall be the best calculated to preserve the publick Peace, and to protect, en|courage & promote Religion and Vertue. In this Book you will find all the essential Rules of Justice and Righteousness.
Page 54AND your Honours will doubtless judge it right & fit, to take Care, that the wholsom Laws, enacted by you, be duly executed. Unexe|cuted Laws will doubtless, ever do more Hurt than Good. They tend to bring the whole Body of Laws into Contempt. For, if it be seen that there are Laws, which are only de|sign'd for the Terror of the Ignorant, and, if they threaten, can do Nothing; which the Judges and Men in Authority & Office them|selves disregard, and trample upon; it will have a natural Tendency to lessen Men's Esteem & Regard of the Laws: And there will be Dan|ger, that every One conclude, that he has a Right to judge of the Expediency of Laws; and every executive Officer undertake to estab|lish or set aside what Laws he pleases.
AND we hope & expect that your Eyes will be upon the Faithful of the Land, to be the Executors of your Laws, and Judges in our Gates: That the Direction, given to Moses, will be remembred by you, Exod. 18.21. To provide out of all the People, able Men, such as fear God, Men of Truth, hating Covetousness; and place such over them,.,. to judge the Peo|ple. 'Tis the reasonable ‖ Expectation of your Page 55 People, that your Commissions be given to Men of Wisdom, Religion and Honour; to Men that are Friends of GOD and this People; Friends of our Civil and Ecclesiastical Privileges.
HONOURED Gentlemen, GOD hath set you over this People in a dark and evil Day, in which the Fire of Contention burns in the Midst of us, and threatens to destroy all our Glory, and the Transgression of the Land is heavy upon it. A Day, in which the Love of many waxes cold, and Iniquities abound: A Day, in which Murmurers and Complainers, walking after their own Lusts, are multiplied; and many are spor|ting themselves with their own Deceivings, walk|ing after the Flesh in the Lust of Uncleanness, despising Government; presumptuous and self|willed Persons, that are not afraid to speak Evil of Dignities: A Day,
AND now, who will rise up for GOD against the Evil Doers, and make up the Hedge, and Page 56 stand before the Lord for the Land that He should not destroy it?
HONOURED Fathers, We look to you, saying, as Isa. 3.6. Be ye our Rulers, and let this Ruin be under your Hands; and hope you will not say, as in the next Verse, We will not be Healers: For surely, it belongeth unto You to be Hea|lers in such a Day.
THE Sword of the Lord is in your Hands, and GOD hath invested you with Power and Authority above Others, that you may do more than they in pleading his Cause in the World. And shall the Lord's Sword, in your Hands, rust in it's Scabbord, whilst the Ministers of Religion draw the spiritual Sword in vain, and only laugh'd at, pleading with bold, hard|hearted and obstinate Transgressors in their Master's Name?
WHEN Wickedness becomes bold, and Men declare their Sin as Sodom, and hide it not, the Preachers of Righteousness can do little to re|strain them. They may lift up their Voice like a Trumpet, cry aloud end spare not, and yet a|vail no'more than the Prophet, when he com|plain'd, as Jer. 6.1•. To whom shall I speak and give Warning, that they may hear? Behold their Ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hear|ken: Behold, the Word of the LORD is unto them a Reproach: They have no Delight in it. They are harden'd against the spiritual SwordPage 57 so that there is but little Hope of their Refor|mation, except the Sword of Justice will reach them, and they are afraid of the Sword in the Hands of those whom GOD hath appointed to execute Wrath upon Evil Doers,†.
ARISE then, Ye Men of Influence & Power, anoint the Shield, and gird the Sword upon your Armour, and bear it not in vain, but brandish it before the Transgrestors of the Land, and cut off all the Horn of the Wicked: For this Matter belongeth unto You.
Page 58I WOULD fain hope, that our Condition is not desperate, nor our Wound incurable as yet; but that the Power in your Hands may yet, by the Blessing of GOD, stop the Mouth of Ini|quity, and scatter away the Evil of the Land.
BE intreated then to try your Skill, and do all you think proper to recover our Health. O let all your Power be exerted to loose the Bands and break the Power of our Wickedness, and all your healing Medicines be produced for us.
MAY not those Sons of Idleness, whose God is their Belly, who count it Pleasure to riot in the Day Time, and waste their Time & Estate, at Taverns or Tipling Houses, — Or to spend the Night, given for Rest or Sleep, amongst Wine-Bibbers, and foolish and hurtful Compa|ny, be restrain'd by the Fear of your Sword? Is it impossible by the Force of any Laws and Penalties to prevent such an Evil?
AND can your Power and Authority do no|thing more, to prevent that Cry of Injustice and Oppression that fills the Land? — Or, can none of the Cloaks and Occasions of, and Ex|cuses for the Unrighteousness of the Land be removed?
YOUR Honours are sensible, that Our Medium of Exchange is, at least, the Occasion of, and Ex|cuse for a great Deal of Unrighteousness. Let a Man's Demand for any Necessary, he hath to spare to his Neighbour, be never so extrava|gant, Page 59 let him never so much grind the Faces of the Poor thereby, his Excuse is, The Money is fallen; On the other Hand, however great hath been the Discount, since a Debt hath been con|tracted, the Man pretends he does well, if he pays the same Number of Pounds or Shillings he contracted for. By which Means Righte|ousness hath stood afar off.
NOTHING is more evident than that our Paper Mediuum hath been, at least in this Way, an Instrument of Unrighteousness. It hath been an uncertain Measure and Standard; and so a Stumbling Block to the People, and the Cause of a great Deal of Evil. It has put an Ad|vantage into the Hands of Cheats & Knaves; incourag'd People to continue in Debt: And has as an Occasion, at least, made the People to sin.
THE Country hath now been groaning, many Years, under the Injustice, that hath by this Means, been common in the Land. Some have been spoiled hereby, 'tis probable, of the better Half of their Substance: And the Burden hath especially, fallen upon Orphans, and Pcrsons that ought to be treated with especial Care and Tenderness.
I DOUBT not therefore, but it was agreeable to the Mind of the LORD, that His Prophets and Ministers should testify against these Ini|quities, and the Occasion thereof, which hath so Page 60 made the People to Sin. And accordingly, I think no Minister hath appeared in the Lord's Message, upon such an Occasion as the present, for some Years, but who hath cried out against the uncertain Medium, as an Occasion of a great Part of the Injustice and Extravagance in the Land. They have thought it their Duty, to plead for GOD and their Country with the Legislature, who alone, they suppos'd had it in their Power to redress so great an Evil, to arise and deliver the People from this Temptation to Injustice.
AND now, it is not for me to pretend to know, or say, wherefore our honourable Rulers have not redressed this Evil. I am not inclin'd to believe, that they disregard the Intreaties and reasonable••quests of the Ministers of Reli|gion, like the Jews in their declining State, to whom, thô GOD sent all his Servants the Pro|phets, rising up early and sending them, yet they hearkened not, but mocked them.
I SUPPOSE therefore, that the great Difficulty of fixing a Paper Medium upon any stable Foundation, and the different Sentiments of wise Men, as to what may be the most effectual Me|thod, to fix the Medium, may be the Reason, that as yet it hath been left undone.
BUT we hope, O Ye Fathers of our Country, that no Difficulties attending this Matter will discourage you from doing Something to re|move Page 61 move this great Grievance of your People: That no divided Sentiments, no private Interests will induce You to leave your Country any longer groaning under this Calamity: Which as it were stretcheth out her Hands to You, to implore your Help.
HER Tears are an her Cheeks, she weepeth sore, and cries for Compassion: And let me, in her Name and Behalf, intreat your Help before she be utterly ruin'd and undone. How is the faithful City already become an Harlot! It was full of Judgment, Righteousness lodged in it; but now Oppressors! And can we expect that Justice wil re-enter amongst us, or Judgment overtake us, 'till a fixed Medium or Standard of commutative Justice be restor'd to us? And if not, will not the Lord see it, and be dis|pleased that there is no Judgment?
LET me then with humble Importunity press it upon You, honoured Gentlemen, you would be dear to your Country, and be stiled the De|liverers thereof, as you would rescue the same from Ruin, and stand in the Breach before the Lord, to turn away his Wrath, lest be should de|stroy the Land; to find out, if possible, some Remedy for this great Calamity, and some Me|thod to remove this Stumbling-Block in the Way of your People.
BUT leaving this Matter,
Page 62I SHALL go on, to recommend the Cause of Religion and the Churches to your Care. Your great Power & Influence should be improv'd in making us if possible, a religious People.
THE Church of Christ is the especial Care and Delight of that great LORD, whose Mi|nisters you are, and by whom you rule. All Things are for the sake thereof, 2 Cor. 4.15.
'Tis for the Benefit of the Church CHRIST is anointed King in Zion, and all Things are put under his Feet, Eph. 1.22. And may those then, that rule for Him on Earth, and are the Ministers of His Providence in governing this lower World, cease caring for his Church? Surely no; for as they rule for Him, they are ultimately to aim at the same Design, for which He received all Power in Heaven and Earth.
You will suffer me therefore, Ye Heads and Fathers of this People, to beseech You in the Name of Christ, for whom you rule, and for whom I speak, to employ all your Power to Defend his Church, and advance his Kingdom:
'Tis a Day, in which you are called to shew your Zeal for the Lord: A Day, in which we have Reason to remember the Words, which were spoken before, by the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; who foretold, that there should be Mockers in the last Time, who should walk after their own ungodly Lasts; Men, who would separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit, (Jude 17, 18, 19.) A Day, in which the Lord's Name and Day are openly prophaned, and the Worship of GOD is contemned, and the Mi|nisters of his Sanctuary are misused, and set at nought.
BE intreated then to appear for GOD, and to do all that your Power enables you, to maintain the just Honour, GOD hath put upon his Day and Institutions & Ambassadors in the World.
PARTICULARLY, be intreated to consider, whether nothing further may be done, to put a Stop to the increasing Prophanation of the Page 64Lord's Day. I would humbly recommend it to your wife Reconsideration, whether the Sanction of your Law, made to secure the Honour of the Sabbath, be proportion'd to the great Im|portance of the Thing; whether it bears heavy enough upon Sabbath-Breakers: Who seem to be greatly increased amongst us.
Be intreated also to speak comfortably to the Messengers of Cbrist, in this Day of treading down; when they are exceedingly filled with Contempt; and their Temptations are strong to abandon themselves to Grief, and forsake their Charge, as Elijah when he retired into the Wilderness: And too many are forced to be|take themselves to some secular Employment for their Bread. And can you do nothing more for their Support & Encouragement?
I HAVE often thought, that the present Way of supporting our Ministers by a Rate, granted by the respective Parishes or Societies, is at|tended with many Inconveniences, and that the Danger is very great, left the Ruin of our Churches enter in at this Door.
NOT that I have any Doubt about the Righ|teousness of this Way of their Support,*.
Page 65BUT as the State of the World is, many Pa|rishes rather inquire how good a Bargain they can make with their Minister, to how low Terms they can bring him; than what will be an honourable Support & Maintenance for him: And the settling Minister is obliged to look to himself, that he may have a rational Prospect of such a Support, as will enable him to swquester his Time to the Work of the Gos|pel Ministry. And then he is look'd upon, by Many, as aiming only at Money and a Living. And perhaps after all his Care, the State of the Time so changes, as that what he contracted for, will not answer his Necessities; and he must complain of the Deficiency thereof to his Peo|ple: Who are generally incompetent Judges in this Matter. And suppose a Majority will allow any tolerable Maintainance; yet Mur|murers and Complainers are, for the most Part, multiplied; and, oftentimes, some turn away from the Communion of our Churches to avoid the Charge.
WHILST the Country was small, and a Spirit of Love & Religion, and Reverence to the Mi|nisters of the Sanctuary remained, there was no Difficulty in this Matter. But as the Country has increased, Religion declined, and the primitive Zeal of God's House ccased, and Covetousness pre|vailed, this Matter hath grown more & more difficult: And will, doubtless, still grow more so.
Page 66So that unless there be some settled Funds, or Provision for the Support of the Ministers of Religion, as in other Countries, under the Care and Direction of the Government, I am afraid our Churches will gradually sink and crumble into Pieces; and our Sanctuaries be brôt into Desolation.
I WOULD therefore humbly recommend it unto your Honour's Consideration, whether it be not fit and best, that the House & Worship of GOD be supported, more directly, at the Charge, and by Direction of the Government.
BUT leaving this Matter with your Honours,
I WOULD beg Leave further to plead before your Honours, in behalf of the Ecclesiastical Con|stitution of these Churches.
IT would trouble me, to doubt of the Love or Zeal of any of this honourable Ajssmbly to the Constitution of these Churches; which your Laws establish: A Constitution very dear to our Fathers; under which they enjoyed great Quietness for many Years; and had much of the Presence of Heaven with them.
WE accept it with all Thankfulness, that our Civil Fathers have made such a Hedge & Wall of Defence round it; and manifested their Dis|like of the Practices,
BUT then, as Many are the Enemies of our Constitution, and are endeavouring to break Page 67 down all the Hedges about it; we hope that you will not withdraw your Hands from the Defence thereof; but steadily Support the Con|stitution you have so justly establish'd: Which is excellent in it self, and seems to be the only probable Means to support our Churches, and preserve Religion in them, and prevent their utter Ruin.
I WOULD not plead against the Toleration of sober Dissenters: But then we expect, that, whilst Dissenters from the Constitution enjoy only the Benefits and Privileges implyed in a Toleration, the Constitution it self be supported and establish'd: That you make a Difference between the established Churches and those that are only tolerated ‡. And we hope, that the Page 68 Enemies of our Constitution and religious In|terests will Obtain nothing, by any of their Craft, from our Lcgislature, that shall have even the remotest Tendency to weaken, or destroy our Constitution. For, if this our Defence be taken from us, and they are encouraged that are pulling it down, we are doubless an undone People! And our Glory will fail; yea be turned into Shame!
Page 69FINALLY, let me intreat your Care of the Cause of Learning and Education. The Wel|fare of a People much depends upon this: Which is therefore justly a Matter of publick Care and Encouragement. Let the Education of Children therefore, in all your Towns, be the Subject of your constant Regard: And let that publick Seminary of Learning, that has hitherto been so much of a Blessing, be kindly supported and cherished, and put under the best Advan|tages, to train up the Sons of your People for publick Usefulness, in Church and State.
THESE Things I leave with your Honours; and my the LORD your GOD be with you, and direct your Work in Truth.
II. I WOULD, in the next place, address my self to my Reverend FATHERS and BRE|THREN in the Ministry.
IF Civil Rulers are continually to attend upon this very Thing, to be Ministers of God for Good to Men, surely the Ministers of Religion, the spiritual Officers of CHRIST's Kingdom, are to give themselves wholly to this, to serve Men in their best Interests.
THÔ therefore, My Fathers and Brethren, I am not so vain, as to think my self sufficient, to be an Instructor unto you, yet you will suffer me to urge it upon my self and You, to take Heed to the Ministry, which We have received Page 70 in the Lord, that We fulfil it; and so serve our Generation, in their most valuable Concerns, by the Will of God. Let us watch in all Things, and make full Proof of our Ministry. Let us preach not our selves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and our selves the Servants of Souls for Jesus Sake. Let us very gladly spend and be spent for them, though the more abundantly we love them, the less We be loved. Let seek not our own Profit, but the Profit of many, that they may be saved, and make our selves Servants unto all our People, in the Gospel, that We might gain the more.
'Tis an important Trust committed to us: The Souls of Men are especially put under our Care. We are employed to treat with Men on the Affairs of their immortal Souls; the Re|demption whereof is precious.
IF we are successful, and turn many Souls to Righteousness, how great a Service we shall be the Instruments of doing for Men — And how much the better they will be for us? But if they are lost through Want of Pains or Faithfulness in us, how can we escape—! Or, what an Account can we give, when our great Lord & Master; the Lover of Souls, who died to redeem them to GOD, and committed so many to our Charge, shall at last inquire of us, what are become of them? How weighty and important therefore is the Work, whereunto we are called?
Page 71AND many are the Difficulties of this Work? Who is sufficient, said the great Apostle of the Gentiles, for these Things? And 'tis especially an evil Time, we are called to prophesy in, when uncommon Difficulties attend our Work. The Principles of Korah are propagated among our People: And the Time is come, when Mul|titudes will not endure sound Doctrine; but after their own Lusts beap to themselves Teachers, ha|ving itching Ears; turning away their Ears from the Truth, and being turned unto Fables. Such therefore are the Circumstances of the Times, and the Difficulties attending our Calling, that there is but little in the World to support and en|courage us.
BUT yet, as we are employed in the Service of Christ for the Good of Men, who will accept of, and reward our faithful Endeavours to ad|vance his Kingdom in the World, and to do Good to the Souls of Men; let no Discourage|ments or Difficulties, no Hardship or Ill-Treat|ment take us off from a servent Prosecution of our Work and Duty. Let no Abuses, nor Re|proaches, nor any of the Sufferings of this pre|sent Time move us from, or abate our Diligence in the Work whereunto we are called. Let us learn to say with the great Apostle Paul, Act. 20.24. None of these Things move me; neither count I my Life dear unto my self, so that I might finish my Course with Joy, and the Ministry which I Page 72 have received of the Lord Jesus Christ. For however we are treated in the World, yet if faithful in the House of GOD, we shall be ho|noured in the future and everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is a faitful Saying, if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him, (2 Tim. 2.11, 12.) We shall be unto GOD a sweet Savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish, (2 Cor. 2 15) Thô Israel be not gathered, yet our Judgment is with the LORD, and our Work with our GOD, and We shall be glorious in the Eyes of the LORD, and shall shine as the Brightness of the Firmament, and the Stars for ever and ever, (Isa., 49 4, 5. Dan. 12.3.) That everlasting Glory, that Christ will confer upon us, will, ten Thou|sand Times over, recompence all our Labour & Pains, all our Services, and Trials, in fulfilling our Ministry. Let us therefore faint not, nor be weary in our Minds, but be strong in the Grace that is in Christ Jesus, and endure Hard|ness, as good Soldiers of Jesus Christ: And let our Zeal and our Endeavours, to serve the Cause of Christ and the Souls of Men, be as great as our Difficulties and Trials be.
PARTICULARLY, my venerable Fathers and deerly respected Brethren, as we are set for the Defence of the Gospel, (Phil. 1.17.) and are ap|pointed as Watchmen upon the Walls of our Jerusalem, to give Warning (Ezek. 3.17.) to Page 73our People of any Danger they may be in, let us be faithful to caution and warn our People against all hurtful Errors and Practices.
IT is sadly evident, that a Spirit of Error and Disorder hath gone forth in our Land, and un|happily broken & divided our Churches; and many foolish and hurtful Errors, which tend to drown Men in Destruction and Perdition are propagated. Let us faithfully Endeavour to discover to our People the dangerous Tenden|cy of these Things. Let us put on Courage, and cry aloud against the Errors of the Times, thô we be esteem'd by many their Enemies, be|cause we tell them the Truth.
I AM afraid we have been too slow in ap|pearing against the Errors of the Times; that we have been too ready to excuse our selves from speaking plainly and freely in the Cause of Truth. But let us wax bold, and as we are allowed of God to be put in Trust with the Gospel, even so let us speak, not as pleasing Men, but GOD, which trieth our Hearts, (1 Thes. 2.4)
INDEED we shall do well to avoid all Strife about Words to no Profit, but to the subverting of the Hearers, and foolish & unlearned Questions that gender Strife, (2 Tim. 2.14, 23.) And it is becoming our Character, that we strive not; but be gentle unto all Men; in Meekness instruct|ing these that oppose themselves; if God perad|venture Page 74 will give them Repentance to the ac|knowleging of the Truth, (2 Tim. 2.24, 25.)
BUT yet, when we see our People departing from the Faith, giving Heed to seducing Spirits; when we see them as Children tossed to and fro, & carried about with every wind of Doctrine, by the Slight of Men, and cunning Craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; when we observe Men causing Divisions & Offences, contrary to the Doctrine which we have learned, and by good Words & fair Speeches deceiving the Hearts of the Simple; it becomes us to appear openly and boldly for God; to warn our People of their Danger, & shew them the Paths of the Destroyer.
MOREOVER, let us put our People in mind to be subject to Principalities and Powers, to obey Magistrates, according to the Apostle's Di|rection, Tit. 3.1.
I HAVE heard it cast as a Reproach upon the Clergy, that they have been the foremost in pro|pagating the Principles of Sedition, and Disobe|dience to Authority. I am perswaded the Charge is unjust: And hope, the Instances are but few, of those that have given any Occasion for such a Charge †
Page 75FOR, as civil Government is of GOD, or|dain'd out of Compassion to Mankind, and as a Blessing to the World, it becomes those, whom God hath ordain'd to teach the People the Things of their Peace, and the Will of GOD, to practise themselves, and teach their People Loyalty and Obedience to Magistrates. Let silthy Dreamers despise Dominion, and speak evil of Dignities, and fome out their own Shame: The Ministers of Jesus must render to all their Dues: Fear to whom Fear, Honour to whom Honour is due.
AND indeed, seeing the Powers that be, are of GOD, and rule for Him, I need not call to Remembrance our Obligation to teach Sub|jection thereunto: I shall only therefore stir up our Minds by the Consideration of the Licen|tiousness of the Times. It is easy to observe a levelling and seditious Spirit prevailing, and an Impatience of all Rule and Restraint. Alas for the Day! How many Murmurers and Com|plainers are there, walking after their own Lusts, despising Government? And how many are cor|rupted by their Pleas for lawless Liberty, thô themselves are in the worst Sort of Bondage, Page 76 being the Servants of Corruption? O let us warn our People of the dangerous Tendency of such a Spirit, & press it upon them, to submit themselves to every Ordinance of Man for the Lord's Sake; and let them know that so is the Will of GOD.
FURTHERMORE, let it be our united Endea|vour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace. The better we are united, the greater will be our Influence on our People, and the greater Advantage we shall be under to serve them in their best Interests.
'Tis Matter of Mourning & Lamentation, that the primitive Union & Harmony, that so many Years subsisted amongst us, have been so interrupted of late. For this let Tears run down like a River, Night & Day: Let us pour out our Hearts like Water before the Face of the LORD.
AND Oh! that GOD would unite our Hearts in his Work; that we might all join together in Defence of the Order & Truth of the Gospel, and in promoting the Kingdom of Christ, and the Good of Men, and in bearing Testimony against the Iniquities of a wicked World, and the Errors of the Times.
LET us then, put on Charity, which is the Bond of Perfectness; (Col. 3.14.) and take heed that we do not entertain Jealousies & evil Surmisings of one another; and that there be no more Sepa|rations & Divisions, no more Alienations and Strangeness amongst our selves.
Page 77FINALLY, Let us give Our selves to Prayer; and for our Jerusalem's sake not rest, until the Righteousness thereof go forth as Brightness, and the Salvation thereof as a Lamp that burneth.
III. AND lastly, I would address my self to all the People in general, now assembled before the Lord in this House.
As Government is instituted, and the higher Powers are vested with Authority for the Good of Men, that they may live peaceably, righteously and godly in the World; So it is the Duty of Subjects to pray for Kings & all in Authority, that the Effects of their Government may be an|swerable to the End of it's Institution; and join their Endeavours to their Prayers, and con|tribute what lies in them, to strengthen the Government, and render•• subservient, to the great and good Purposes of it's Institution.
WE are a People greatly privileged in Res|pect of our Government. We may choose out able and Faithful Men from amongst our selves to rule over us: Men, whose Interest is One with ours; Men of our own Religion, Lovers of our Constitution in Church & State.
BUT we may be unhappy under the best of Governments, if we will contribute nothing our selves to render it a Blessing to us.
LET US then in our sundry Spheres and Ca|pacities, do our Part, that our Rulers may be Page 78 Ministers of God unto us for Good. Let us lift up our Souls, and cry mightily unto GOD in their Behalf, that they may be always under the Direction of Heaven, and succeeded in their Ministrations for the Good of Men.
AND let us do all we may to incourage them in their Work, which is difficult and very important. Let us contribute what in us lies to the Preservation of Peace, and the Ad|vancement of Religion and Godliness, the great Ends of Government▪ For, if the People will disturb the Peace, and transgress the Rules of Vertue and Religion, thô the Rulers be never so well qualified to govern, and never so much intent upon this very Thing, that Men might live peaceably, vertuously and relig•ously to|gether, yet they can never effect it The Head cannot say to the •••t, I have no Need of you. Let us come to the Help of these Powers, and endeavour to render their Government useful, by being such as Government is designed to make us.
LET US mark those that cause Divisions, fo|ment Jealousies, and are continually murmur|ing and complaining, and weakning the Hands of our Rulers, and come not into their Secret, nor be united unto their Assembly.
LET US fear the LORD and the King; and meddle not with them that are given to Change. Let us study to be quiet, and to do our own Bu|siness. Page 79 Let us be subject to the Authority over us, and shew all Meekness to all Men, and be ready to every good Work.
So shall we incourage the Hearts of our Rulers, and strengthen their Hands: And then may we hope, that they will be Ministers of God unto us for Good; that under their Ad|ministration the Righteous may flourish, and Abundance of Peace bless the Land; that Judg|ment will run down as Waters, and Righteous|ness as a mighty Stream, and our Light rise in Cbscurity, and break forth as the Morning: Then may we hope, that GOD will return, and remember Mercy for us, and renew our Days as of old; be the Repairer of our Breaches, and the Restorer of Paths to dwell in; be the Shield of our Help, and the Sword of our Excel|lency: Ride upon the heavens in our Help, and in his Excellency on the Skie. And Happy is the People that is in such a Case; yea Happy is that People, whose GOD is the LORD.