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fence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached, and I therein do rejoice, yea and will rejoice.
To conclude, The fum of the forgoing obfervations is this, viz. that Chrift, and be only, is the head or governour, properly fo called, of the christian church, and all the members of that body stand upon a level in point of authority, they being all fellow-fervants of the fame master, and fellow fubjects to the fame prince. That tho' the Apoftles were intrufted with that valuable treasure the gospel, which they were faithful to dispense to both Jews and Gentiles, yet they had no authoarity, properly fo called, lodged in them, over
the confciences of men, either in point of faith or practice. That they never exercifed fuch authority themfelves, nor pretended to confer it upon others. That the relation which chriftians, as chriftians, ftand in to Chrift, and to one another, is wholly founded in their union by faith and fubjection to Chrift, and not in any external profeffion, privilege, or enjoyment. That tho' the Apoftles were commiffioned to preach Chrift to unbelievers, yet that preaching was not confined to the apoftolick office, but might be performed by others, to whom God had given ability and opportunity for fuch a work. And confequently, that chriftian unity, or the unity of Christ's church, does not confift in the members union with, and fubjection to the unjust and groundlefs authority of their fellow-members, but only in their union, by faith and subjection, to the bead, Chrift.
That important queftion, Whether Chrift is fole King in his own kingdom? or, whether the civil magiftrate, or the paftors in Chrift's church are invefted with authority to rule Christ's fubjects, by making laws to direct their behaviour and conduct in Chrft's fervice? which laws they (viz. Chrift's fubjects) are obliged in confcience to pay active obedience to. In a Letter to a Gentleman. SIR,
HE ftate of chriftianity at this time, in this part of the world, is very remarkable, For as chriftians are here divided into two more general parts, viz. Papifts and Proteftants; fo fome of these feem to change hands: fome Proteftants feemingly avowing those principles, upon which popery is founded, and fome Papifts leemingly afferting thofe which are the foundation of proteftantifm. This seems evident from what has been objected to, and offer'd against the Bishop of Bangor's fermom lately preach'd be
fore the King; and from that noble speech made by the reprefentative of the Sorbone in France, when in their name, he prefented their book to the Earl of Stairs. What will be the event is not eafy to forefee.
The prefent dabate among us feems to be, Whether Chrift is fole King in his own kingdom? or, Whether the civil magiftrates, or, the paftors in Christ's church, are invefted with authority to rule Chrift's fubjects, by making laws to direct their behaviour and conduct in Chrift's service? which laws, they (viz. Christ's subjects) are obliged in confcience to pay active obedience to. Thisqueftion feems to be of great importance; for if Chrift is fole King in his own kingdom, then chriftians have no other laws but thofe of Chrift, for the directing of their behaviour and conduct in his fervice, which they are, in duty bound, to pay active obedience to; but if the civil magiftrates, or the paftors in Christ's church, are invested with authority to rule Chrift's fubjects, by making laws to direct their behaviour in Chrift's fervice, then the freedom of the gofpel may be a much greater bondage than the bondage of the Mofaick law, if those who are invefted with fuch authority are difpofed to make it fo. And as this question is of great importance, fo chriftians, even proteftants, feem to be very much divided in their opinions. concerning it. This being the cafe, Sir, I prefume you will not take it amifs if I make one or two obfervations relating to this question, and fubmit them to your confideration and judgment, I obferve,
First, As magiftracy, or the exercife of a regular government in human fociety, is the ordinance of God, and as the great and main end of govern ment is the good and happiness of the fociety in which it is exercifed; and as magiftrates are the guardis
guardians of human fociety, by being a fecurity to every one's property, and keeping every one in the quiet poffeffion of his own; and as they can have no right to invade that which the nature and end of their office obliges them to fecure; fo their authority, or right to command, can extend no farther, than to those things wherein the advantage or disadvantage of human fociety is concern'd, the happiness and well-being of that fociety being their only and peculiar province; and confequently, if they fhould, at any time, take upon them to command, or forbid, that which no way concerns the intereft of human fociety, and should add fanctions to fuch laws; as this would be acting out of their sphere, and doing that which they had no right or authority to do; fo confequently their people would not be obliged, in confcience, to pay active obedience to fuch laws, any otherways than as when two natural evils prefent themselves, fo that one or other of them muft of neceffity be fubmitted to, it is our duty to chufe the less. The truth of this obfervation will more plainly appear, when I have premifed, that as magiftrates are the guardians of human fociety, fo their authority is annexed to, and founded on, and confined to that relation. King George had no authority over the people of Great Britain, 'till he became the King or Guardian of that people; and confequently his authority in Great Britain is annexed to, and founded on, the relation in which he stands to the people of this nation. And as the authority of magistrates is annexed to, and founded on fuch their relation; fo it is wholly confined to it. King George hath no authority out of his dominions, over the fubjects of another Prince. And the reafon of this is evident, because he does not stand in the relation of a guardian to them; and confequently his authority is wholly confined to his re
tion. This being premifed, I lay down the two following propofitions.
First, That the ground of our obligation to obedience, is wholly founded on the authority or right of commanding in the law-giver. And, Secondly, That the province or relation of the gogovernor, is the rule or measure of his authority, both with respect to perfons and things. First, The ground of our obligation to obedi ence, is wholly founded on the authority or right of commanding in the law-giver. Hath God commanded us to obey others? that obedience can be due only to fuch perfons, and in fuch things, as they, by virtue of their relation, are invested with authority to command; feeing God hath not commanded us (either in his written word, or from the nature and reafon of things) to obey any particular command, or any particular perfon commanding, confidered diftinct from his relation. And as the authority of the magiftrate is founded on, and confined to his relation; fo our obligation to obedience, must be founded on, and confined to his authority: and confequently where there is no authority to command, there can be no obligation to obey, either with respect to perfons or things. Befides if the ground of our obligation to obedience, confidered as obedience, be any thing befides the authority of the law-giver (which properly speaking is the authority of God, because it is he that gives that authority to command, and requires obedience to it, by requiring every thing to be done which the nature and reafon of things makes neceffary) then we are utterly at a lofs to know whom we ought to obey, and whom not: and confequently, for ought I know, I may be obliged, in confcience, to obey eve.y one that shall take a liberty to command me, whether he hath autho