Imatges de pÓgina
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" the powers that be are ordained of God. “ Whosoever therefore resisteth the power re“ fisteth the ordinance of God: and they that “ resist shall receive to themselves damnation. “ For rụlers are not a terror to good works, but

to the evil. 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 s minister of God to thee for good. 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 wrathi

upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must “ needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also « for conscience fake. For, for this cause

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tribute also: for they are God's ministers, “ attending continually upon this very thing. " Render therefore to all their dues : tribute to “ whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, " fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour.”

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1 Peter, ii. 13—18. “ Submit yourselves to every ordinance of " man for the Lord's fake : 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

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“ do well. For so is the will of God, that with “ well-doing ye may put to silence the igno

rance of foolish men : as free, and not using

your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but “ as the servants of God.”

To comprehend the proper import of these instructions, let the reader reflect, that upon the subject of civil obedience there are two questions; the first, whether to obey government be a moral duty and obligation upon the conscience at all: the second, how far, and to what cases, that obedience ought to extend: that these two questions are so distinguishable in the imagination, that it is possible to treat of the one, without any thought of the other; and laftly, that if expressions which relate to one of these queftions be transferred and applied to the other, it is with great danger of giving them a signification very

different from the author's meaning. This distinction is not only possible, but natural. If I met with a person who appeared to entertain doubts, whether civil obedience were a moral duty which ought to be voluntarily discharged, or whether it were not a mere submission to force, like that which we yield to a robber who holds a pistol to our breast, I should represent to him the use and offices of civil government,

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the end and the necessity of civil subjection; or, if I preferred a different theory, I should explain to him the social compact, urgę him with the obligation and the equity of his implied promise and tacit consent to be governed by the laws of the state from which he received protection; or I hould argue, perhaps, that nature herself dictated the law of subordination, when she planted within us an inclination to associate with our species, and framed us with capacities so various and unequal.---From whatever principle I set out, I should labour to infer from it this conclufion, “ That obedience to the state, is to be “ numbered amongst the relative duties of hu“ man life, for the transgression of which we shall “ be accountable at the tribunal of divine justice, “ whether the magistrate be able to punish us for “ it or not;" and being arrived at this conclusion, I should stop, having delivered the conclusion itself, and throughout the whole argument expressed the obedience, which I incul. cated, in the most general and unqualified terms; all reservations and restrictions being superfluous, and foreign to the doubts I was employed to remove.

If in a short time afterwards I should be accosted by the fame person, with complaints of

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public grievances, of exorbitant taxes, of acts of cruelty and oppression, of tyrannical encroachments upon the ancient or ftipulated rights of the people, and should be consulted whether it were lawful to revolt, or justifiable to join in an attempt to shake off the yoke by open resistance; I should certainly consider myself as having a case and question before me very different from the former. I should now define and discriminate. I should reply, that if public expediency be the foundation, it is also the measure of civil obedience ; that the obligation of subjects and sovereigns is reciprocal; that the duty of allegiance, whether it be founded in utility or compact, is neither unlimited nor unconditional; that peace may be purchased too dear ; that patience becomes culpable pusillanimity, when it serves only to encourage our rulers to increase the weight of our burthen, or to bind it the fafter ; that the submission which surrenders the liberty of a nation, and entails slavery upon fu. ture generations, is enjoined by no law of rational morality: finally, I should inftru& the inquirer to compare the peril and expence of his enterprise with the effects it was expected to produce, and to make choice of the alternative, by which not his own present relief or profit, but

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the whole and permanent interest of the state was likely to be best promoted. If any one who had been present at both these conversations should upbraid me with change or inconsistency of opinion, should retort upon me the passive do&rine I before taught, the large and absolute terms in which I then delivered leffons of obedience and submission, I should account myself unfairly dealt with. I should reply, that the only difference which the language of the two conversations presented was, that I added now many exceptions and linitations, which were omitted or unthought of then; that this difference arole naturally from the two occasions, such exceptions being as necessary to the subject of our present conference, as they would have been fuperfluous and unseasonable in the former. Now the difference in these two conversations is precisely the distinction to be taken in interpreting those passages of Scripture, concerning which we are debating. They inculcate the duty, they do not describe the extent of it. They enforce the obligation by the proper sanctions of Christianity, without intending either to enlarge or contract, without considering indeed the limits by which it is bounded. This is also the method in which the same Apostles enjoin the

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