<445>

CHAPTER XVII.
OF PUBLIC DUTIES TOWARDS OUR NEIGHBOUR.

HITHERTO we have treated of the private duties of man towards his neighbour. Public duties are of two kinds, political and ecclesiastical.

Under political duties are comprehended the obligations of the magistrate and the people to each other, and to foreign nations.

The duties of the magistrate to the people are described Exod. xxiii. 8. "thou shalt take no gift, for the gift blindeth the wise." xxxii. 11. "Moses be sought Jehovah his God, and said, Jehovah, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people?" Lev. xix. 1-5. "thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty; but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour." Num. xi. 11, &c. "wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me?" xiv. 13. "Moses said unto Jehovah, Then the Egyptians shall hear it —." Deut. i. 9. "I am not able to bear you myself alone." xvii. 20. "that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment to the right <446> hand or to the left." 1 Kings. ii. 3. "keep the charge of Jehovah thy God —." iii. 8-10. "give thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people —." See also 2 Chron. i. 10. 1 Chron. xiii. 2. "David said unto all the congregation of Israel, If it seem good unto you, and that it be of Jehovah our God, let us send abroad unto our brethren every where —." xxviii. 2. "hear me, my brethren, and my people." 2 Chron. xix. 6. "he said to the judges, Take heed what ye do, for ye judge not for man, but for Jehovah, who is with you in the judgment." Psal. lxxii. 2. "he shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment." lxxv. 2. "when I shall receive the congregation, I will judge uprightly." lxxxii. 3. "defend the poor and fatherless." Prov. xi. 14. "where no counsel is, the people fall; but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety." xvi. 12. "it is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness, for the throne is established by righteousness." xxix. 4. "the king by judgment establisheth the land, but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it." xviii. 17. "he that is first in his own cause seemeth just, but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him." xx. 8. "a king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes." xxiv. 23. "it is not good to have respect of persons in judgment." xxxi. 1-10. "the words of king Lemuel," &c. Jer. xxi. 12. "thus saith Jehovah..... Execute judgment in the morning." xxii. 3, 4. "execute ye judgment and righteousness." Neh. v. 14. "from the time that I was appointed to be their governor..... and my brethren have not eaten the bread of the governor." Matt. xx. 25 27. "ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exer <447> else dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them; but it shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister." See also Mark. x. 42, &c. Luke. xxii. 25, &c. Rom. xiii. 3, 4. "rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil..... for he is the minister of God to thee for good."

In the matter of reward and punishment. Psal. ci. 4, &c. "a froward heart shall depart from me... mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land." Inordinate punishment is forbidden. Deut. xxv. 3. "forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed." 1 Kings. ii. 26, "thou art worthy of death, but I will not at this time put thee to death, because," &c.

The right of the magistrate as regards the sword. Gen. ix. 6. whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." Job. xii. 18. "he looseth the bond of kings." Psal. lxxv. 6. "promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south." Prov. viii, 15, 16. "by me kings reign." Dan. ii. 21. "he changeth the times and the seasons." iv. 17. "that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men." v. 18-20. "the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, &c but when his heart was lifted up he was deposed from his kingly throne." Rom. xiii. 1, &c. "let every soul be subject unto the higher powers for he beareth not the sword in vain; if therefore not in vain, much less for the injury of the good."[1] 1 Pet. ii. 13, 14. "as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers."

<448>

Of the election of magistrates, see Exod. Xviii. 21. "thou shalt provide out of all the people able men...... and place such over them." Numb. xi. 16, 17, 25. "gather unto me seventy men —." Deut. i. 13, &c. "take you wise men and understanding —." 1 Sam. xi. 15. compared with xii. 1. "all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king... behold, I have hearkened unto your voice in all that ye said unto me, and have made a king over you." 2 Sam. ii. 4. "the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah."

The following texts show what is contrary to the duties of the magistrate. Psal. xxvi. 10. "their right hand is full of bribes." xciv. 20. "shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee?" Prov. xvii. 23. "a wicked man taketh a gift out of the bosom to pervert the ways of judgment." xxi. 7. "they refuse to do judgment." xxviii. 15, 16. "as a roaring lion and a ranging bear, so is a wicked ruler over the poor people." xxix. 4. "he that receiveth gifts overthroweth the land." v. 12. "if a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked." Eccles. iv. 13. "better is a poor and wise child, than an old and foolish king who will no more be admonished." x. 5, 6. "there is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which proceed eth from the ruler; folly is set in great dignity —." v. 16, 17. "woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning." Isai. i. 23. "thy princes are rebellious and <449> companions of thieves, every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards, they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them." iii 4. "I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them." v. 12. "as for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them." v. 14. "Jehovah will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people —." v. 23. which justify the wicked for reward." x. 12. "I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria." Ezek. xxix. 3. "behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt," &c. Amos. v. 7. "ye who turn judgment to wormwood —." See also vi. 12. Micah. iii. 11. "the heads thereof judge for reward —." vii. 3. "the prince asketh, and the judge asketh for a reward."

The licentiousness of courts is exposed, Gen. xii. 15. "the princes also of Pharaoh saw her and commended her before Pharaoh." Prov. xxv.5. "take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness." 2 Chron. xxiv. 17. "after the death of Jehoiada came the princes of Judah," &c. Isai. xxii. 15, 16. "get thee unto this treasurer, even unto Shebna, which is over the house," &c. 1 Kings. xxi. 7. "Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel?" Esther. iii. 6. "he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone —." v. 9. "if it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed." Dan. vi. 7. all the presidents of the kingdom have consulted together to make a royal decree ."

It is especially the duty of the magistrate to encourage religion and the service of God (public worship <450> in particular), and to reverence the church. Isai. xlix. 23. "kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers; they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet." That the church, however, does not stand in need of the superintendence of the magistrate, but that, if left in peace, she is fully qualified, in the exercise of her own proper laws and discipline, to govern herself aright, and enlarge her boundaries, is evident from Acts. ix. 31. "then had the churches rest throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified, and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied."

Religion therefore is to be protected by the magistrate, not forced upon the people.[2] Josh. xxiv. 15. "if it seem evil unto you to serve Jehovah, choose you this day whom ye will serve but as for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah." Psal. cv. 14. "he suffered no man to do them wrong, yea, he reproved kings for their sakes, saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm." If then kings are forbidden to exercise violence against religious persons in any matter whatever, much more are they forbidden <451> to force the consciences of such persons in the matter of religion itself, especially on points where the magistrate is fully as liable to be mistaken as the pope, and is actually mistaken in many instances; unless indeed they are content, like him, to be accounted antichrist, a name given to the pope himself chiefly from his encroachments on the consciences of man kind. True it is, that the Jewish kings and magistrates interposed their judgment in matters of religion, and even employed force in the execution of their decrees; but this was only in cases where the law of God was clear and express, and where the magistrate might safely decide without danger of mistake or controversy. In our own times, on the contrary, Christians are on many occasions persecuted or subjected to punishment for matters either purely controversial, or left by Christian liberty to the judgment of each believer, or concerning which there is no express declaration in the gospel. Against such magistrates, Christians only in name, many heathen and Jewish rulers will rise in judgment, and among the rest Pontius Pilate himself, whose deference to Jewish opinions was such, that he did not think it derogatory to his proconsular dignity to go out to speak to the Jews, when they, from a religious scruple, declined entering the judgment-hall. John. xviii. 28, 29. So also Gamaliel, Acts. v. 39. "if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it;" and Gallio, xviii. 15. "I will be no judge of such matters."

For if even the ecclesiastical minister is not entitled to exercise absolute authority over the church, much less can the civil magistrate claim such authority.[3] 2 <452> Cor. i. 24. "not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy; for by faith ye stand." Coloss. ii. 18. "Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility," &c. 1 Pet. v. 3. "neither as being lords over God's heritage." Rom. xiv. 4. "who art thou that judgest another man's servant?" See also James. iv. 12. For other arguments to the same effect, I refer to Book I of this treatise, under the heads of Christ's kingdom, faith, the gospel, Christian liberty, church discipline and its objects. Undoubtedly, as the kingdom of Christ is not of this world, so neither is it sustained by force and compulsion, the supports of earthly rule. Hence the outward profession of the gospel ought not to be made a matter of constraint; and as to the inner parts of religion, faith and liberty and conscience, these are beyond its power, being from their very nature matter of ecclesiastical discipline alone, and incapable of being affected by the determinations of human tribunals: not to mention the absurdity and impiety of compelling the conscientious to adopt a religion which they do not approve, or of constraining the profane to bear a part in that public worship from which God has interdicted them. Psal. 1. 16, 17. "unto the wicked God said, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?" Prov. xv. 8. and xxi. 27. "the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; how much more when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?"

<453>

For the duties of the people towards the magistrate, see Exod. xxii. 28. "thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people." 2 Sam. xxi. 17. "then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel." Prov. xxiv. 21, 22. "my son, fear thou Jehovah and the king." xxix. 26. "many seek the ruler's favour, but every man's judgment cometh from Jehovah." Eccles. viii. 2. "I counsel thee to keep the king's commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God." Matt. xxii. 21. "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's." Rom. xiii. 1. "let every soul be subject unto the higher powers —." 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2. "I exhort therefore, that first of all supplications... be made for all men, for kings, and for all that are in authority." Tit. iii. 1. "put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work." 1 Pet. ii. 13. "submit yourselves to every ordinance of God for the Lord's sake."

Even towards unjust magistrates. Matt. xvii. 26, 27. "then are the children free; notwithstanding, lest we should offend them," &c. Acts. xxiii. 4, &c. "re-vilest thou God's high priest?..... I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people." Those cases must be excepted, in which compliance with the commands of men would be incompatible with our duty towards God. Exod. i. 17. "the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them." ii. 2. "she hid him three months." Josh. i. 17. "only Jehovah thy God be with thee —." <454> 1 Sam. xiv. 45. " so the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not." xx. 1, &c. "he said unto him, God forbid, thou shalt not die." xxii. 17. "the servants of the king would not put forth their hand." 2 Chron. xxi. 10. "Libnah revolted from under his hand, be cause he had forsaken Jehovah God of his fathers." xxvi. 18. "they withstood Uzziah the king." Esth. iii. 2, 4. "Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence." Dan. iii. 16. "we are not careful to answer thee in this matter." v. 1 8. "if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods." vi. 10. "when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house," &c. Acts. iv. 19. "whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye." Heb. xi. 23. "by faith Moses when he was born was hid three months of his parents and they were not afraid of the king's commandment."

Opposed to this are, first, rebellion. Numb. xvi. 1. "now Korah took men —." 2 Sam. xx. 1. "and there happened to be there a man of Belial, whose name was Sheba," &c.

Secondly, obedience in things unlawful. 1 Sam. xxii. 18. "Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests," &c.

The opinion maintained by some, that obedience is due to the commands not only of an upright magistrate, but of an usurper, and that in matters contrary to justice, has no foundation in Scripture.[4] For <455> with regard to 1 Pet. ii. 13. "submit yourselves to every ordinance of man, it is evident from v. 14. that although this passage comprehends all human ordinances, all forms of government indiscriminately, it applies to them only so far as they are legitimately constituted. The eighteenth verse, which is alleged to the same purpose, relates to servants exclusively, and affords no rule for the conduct of free nations, whose rights are of a kind altogether distinct from those of purchased or hired servants. As for the obedience of the Israelites to Pharaoh, we have no means of ascertaining whether it was voluntary or compulsory, or whether in obeying they acted rightly or otherwise, inasmuch as we are no where told, either that they were enjoined to obey him, or that their obedience was made matter of commendation. The conduct of Daniel in captivity is equally foreign to the purpose, as under his circumstances it was impossible for him to act otherwise. Besides, it is written, Psalm lx. 4. "thou hast given a banner to them that feared thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth." That it may be the part of prudence to obey the commands even of a tyrant in lawful things, or, more properly, to comply with the necessity of the times for the sake of public peace, as well as of personal safety,[5] I am far from denying.

<456>

The duties of the magistrate and people towards their neighbours regard the transactions of peace and war.

Under the head of peace are included international treaties. In order to ascertain whether, in particular cases, these may be lawfully contracted with the wicked, we ought to consider the purposes for which treaties are concluded, whether simply for the sake of peace, or of mutual defence and closer intimacy.

Of the former class are the confederacy of Abraham with the men of Mamre, Gen. xiv. 13. and with Abimelech, xxi. 27. that of Isaac with Abimelech, xxvi. 29-31. that of Solomon with Hiram, 1 Kings. v. 12. from which examples the lawfulness of such alliances appears evident.

Of the latter class are the treaties of Asa with Benhadad, 1 Kings. xv. 19. of Jehoshaphat with the house of Ahab, 2 Chron. xviii. 1. compared with xix. 2. of Amaziah with the Israelites, xxv. 6-8. of Ahaz with the Assyrians, 2 Kings. xvi. 7. and that which the Jews sought to contract with the Egyptians, Isai. xxx. 2, &c. These were unlawful, and led to calamitous results. Exod. xxiii. 32. "thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods." xxxiv. 12. "take heed to thyself lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee." See also v. 15. Deut. vii. 4. "they will turn away thy son from following me." Ezek. xvi. 26. "thou hast committed fornication with the Egyptians thy neighbours, <457> great of flesh." 2 Cor. vi. 14. "be not ye unequally yoked with unbelievers, for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness, and what communion hath light with darkness?"

Asa, 2 Chron. xvi. 3. and Zedekiah, xxxvi. 13. Ezek. xvii. are examples of the violation of treaties.

On the subject of asylums see Num. xxxv. 6-15. Deut. xxiii. 15.

With regard to the duties of war, it is enjoined, first, that it be not undertaken without mature deliberation. Prov. xx. 18. xxiv. 6. Luke. xiv. 31. "what king going to make war against another king sitteth not down first and consulteth?" Secondly, that it be carried on wisely and skilfully. 1 Sam. xiv. 28. "thy father straitly charged the people with an oath," &c. xxiii. 22. "it is told me that he dealeth very subtilly." Prov. xxi. 22. "a wise man scaleth the city of the mighty." Thirdly, that it be prosecuted with moderation. Deut. xx. 19. "thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof," &c. Fourthly, that it be waged in a spirit of godliness. Deut. xxiii. 9, &c. "when the host goeth forth against thine enemies, then keep thee from every wicked thing." xxxii. 29, 30. "O that they were wise... how should one chase a thousand —!" 1 Sam. vii. 10. "as Samuel was offering up the burnt-offering..... Jehovah thundered with a great thunder on that day against the Philistines." Isai. xxxi. 6. "turn ye unto him then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword." Amos. i. 13. "because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they might enlarge their border." Fifthly, that no mercy be shown to a merciless enemy. 1 Sam. xv. 33. "as thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women." Psal. <458> xviii. 41, 42. "they cried, but there was none to save them then did I beat them small as the dust before the wind." lx. 8. "Moab is my wash-pot: over Edom will I cast out my shoe —." Jer. xlviii. 10. "cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood." Sixthly, that our confidence be not placed in human strength, but in God alone. Exod. xiv. 17, 18. "I will get me honour upon Pharaoh and all his host." Deut. xx. 1. "when thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses and chariots," &c. 1 Sam. xiv. 6. "there is no restraint to Jehovah to save by many or by few." xvii. 47. "all this assembly shall know that Jehovah saveth not with sword and spear." Psal. xxxiii. 16, 17. "there is no king saved by the multitude of an host —." xliv, 2, &c. "thou didst drive out the heathen with thine hand —." lx. 1. "O God, thou hast cast us off," &c. cxliv. 1. "blessed be Jehovah my strength, which teacheth my hands to war." cxlvii. 10. "he delighteth not in the strength of the horse." v. 13. "he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates —." Prov. xxi. 31. "the horse is prepared against the day of battle; but safety is of Jehovah." 2 Chron. xiv. 11. "it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power —." xx. 21. "he appointed singers unto Jehovah," &c. xxiv. 24. "the army of the Syrians came with a small company of men, and Jehovah delivered a very great host into their hand." Isai. v. 26. "he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far," &c. Jer. xxi. 4. "I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands —." xxxvii. 10. "for though ye had smitten the whole army of the Chaldeans that fight against you," &c. Ezek . xiii. 5. "ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the <459> house of Israel —." Zech. x. 5, 6. "they shall be as mighty men which tread down their enemies in tin; mire of the streets in the battle —." Amos. ii. 14. "the strong shall not strengthen his force." Seventhly, that the booty be distributed in equitable proportions. Numb. xxxi. 27. "divide the prey into two parts between them that took the war upon them, who went out to battle, and between all the congregation." Deut. xx. 14. "all the spoil thereof shalt thou take unto thyself, and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies." Josh. xxii. 8, "he blessed them, and he spake unto them, saying, Return with much riches unto your tents —." 1 Sam. xxx. 24. "as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff."

There seems no reason why war should be unlawful now, any more than in the time of the Jews; nor is it any where forbidden in the New Testament. Psal. cxlix. 6. "let a two-edged sword be in their hand." Two centurions, namely, the man of Capernaum and Cornelius, are reckoned among believers, Matt. viii. Acts. x. Neither does John exhort the soldiers to refrain from war, but only from wrong and robbery; Luke. iii. 14. "he said unto the soldiers, Do violence to no man —." 1 Cor. ix. 7. "who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? Paul like wise availed himself of a guard of soldiers for his personal security;" Acts. xxiii. 17. "bring this young man unto the chief captain."

The observance of the divine commandments is the source of prosperity to nations. See Lev. xxvi. It renders them flourishing, wealthy, and victorious, Deut. xv. 4-6. lords over many nations, v. 6. xxvi. 17-19. exalted above all others, xxviii. 1, &c. a <460> chapter which should be read again and again by those who have the direction of political affairs.[6] Compare also chap. xxix. and iv. Judges. ii. and iii. and Psal. xxxiii. 12. "blessed is the nation whose God is Jehovah." Prov. xi. 11. "by the blessing of the upright the city is exalted." xiv. 34. "righteousness exalteth a nation." xxviii. 2. "for the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof." See also Isai. iii. and xxiv. xlviii. 18. "O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments —!" See also Jer. v. Ezek. vii.

The consequences of impiety to nations are described, Isai. iii. 7. "in my house is neither bread nor clothing, make me not a ruler of the people." lvii. 9, 10, 13. "thou wentest to the king with ointment —." Hos. v. 13. "when Ephraim saw his sickness," &c. vii. 11, 12. "Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart —." x ii. 1. "Ephraim feedeth on wind and followeth after the east wind —." Habak. ii.12. "woe to him that buildeth a town with blood."

Public ecclesiastical duties consist in the reciprocal obligations of ministers, and of the church considered collectively and individually.

The duties of ministers towards the church in general, and towards individual believers in particu <461> lar, are stated in the first book, in the chapter on ministers. Towards the church in general: Jer. i. 7, 8. "say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee," &c. v. 17-19. "gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee." xv. 10, 11. "woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth." xviii. 19, &c. "remember that I stood before thee to speak good for them." xx. 7, &c. "thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived I am in derision daily." Isai. lviii. 1. "cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression —." Ezek. ii. 6. "thou, son of man, be not afraid of them," &c. iii. 8, 9. "behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces —." xxxiii. 2-31. "son of man, speak to the children of thy people," &c. Matt. iv. 19. "follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." viii. 21, 22. "suffer me first to go and bury my father; but Jesus said unto him, Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead." ix. 11. "why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? but when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick." v. 36. "he was moved with compassion on them, because they were scattered abroad —." x. 14. "whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words," &c. xiii. 52. "every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old." xviii. 12. "if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray," &c. Acts. xiii. 51. "they shook off the dust of their feet against thorn." xviii. 6. "when they opposed themselves, and blas <462> phemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them —." 2 Cor. ii. 17. "we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God, but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ." 1 Thess. ii. 5. "neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know." Tit. ii. 7. "in all things showing thyself a pattern of good works."

Opposed to the above are the ignorant, the slothful, the timid, flatterers, the dumb, false teachers, the covetous, the ambitious. Isai. ix. 15. "the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail." Ezek. xliv. 8. "ye have set keepers of my charge in my sanctuary for yourselves;" as was done by bishops formerly, and is not unfrequently practised by magistrates in the present day, thus depriving the people of their privilege of election. Isai. lvi. 10. "his watchmen are blind," &c. For an example of flatterers, see 2 Chron. xviii. 5. "the king of Israel gathered together of prophets four hundred men," &c. Neh. vi. 12. "lo, I perceived that God had not sent him." Jer. ii. 8. "the priests said not, Where is Jehovah?" v. 14. "because ye speak this word," &c. v. 31. "the prophets prophesy falsely." vi. 13, 14. "from the least of them even unto the greatest," &c. viii. 9. "lo, they have rejected the word of Jehovah, and what wisdom is in them?" x. 21. "the pastors are become brutish." xiv. 13 15, 18. "thus saith Jehovah concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name," &c. xxiii. 9, &c. "mine heart is broken within me, because of the prophets." In this class are to be placed Hananiah, chap, xxviii. with the two other prophets mentioned in chap. xxix. 21. and Shemaiah, v. 24, &c. "because thou hast sent letters in my name unto all the people that are at Jerusalem saying, Jehovah hath made <463> thee priest in the room of Jehoiada," &c. and Amaziah, Amos. vii. 10-17. Jer. 1. 6. "their shepherds have caused them to go astray." Lament. ii. 14. "thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee." iv. 13. "for the sins of the prophets —." Ezek. xiii. 2, &c. "prophesy against the prophets of Israel," &c. xxii. 26. "her priests have violated my law." v. 28. "her prophets have daubed them with untempered mortar." xxxiv. 2, &c." son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel —." Hos. vi. 9. "as troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way," &c. Amos. viii. 11. "I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread," &c. Mic. iii. 5, 6. "thus saith Jehovah concerning the prophets that make my people err —." v. 11. "the heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire —." Zeph. iii. 4. "her prophets are light and treacherous —." Zeph. xi. 15, 16. "take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd." v. 17. "woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock." xiii. 2, &c. "I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land." Mal. ii. 1-10." now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you." John. ii. 16. "he said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence," &c. x. 10. "the thief cometh not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy." 2 Pet. ii. 1, &c. "there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you."

The duties of the whole church and of individual believers towards their ministers are stated Book I. in the chapter concerning the ministers and people; to which many of the following texts may also be referred. Matt. ix. 37, 38. "the harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye there <464> fore the Lord of the harvest —." x. 40, &. "he that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me." See also John. xiii. 20. Luke. viii. 18. "take heed therefore how ye hear; for whosoever hath, to him shall he given, and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have." Philipp. iii. 17, 18. "brethren, be followers together of me," &c. 1 Thess. v. 12, 13. "we beseech you, brethren, to know them that labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love, for their work's sake." Heb. xiil 7. "remember them which have the rule overtoil." v. 17, 18. "obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves, for they watch for your souls as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy and not with grief, for that is unprofitable for you." Jer. xxiii. 16. "hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you; they make you vain; they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of Jehovah."

The contrary conduct is condemned, Isai. xxx. 9, 10. "this is a rebellious people," &c. Jer. xliii. 2. "saying unto Jeremiah, Thou speakest falsely; Jehovah our God hath not sent thee —." Micah. ii. 6. "prophesy ye not; say ye to them that prophesy," &c. v. 11. "if a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying," &c. Luke. vii. 29, 30. "the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him." 3 John 9. "I wrote unto the church, but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence among them, receiveth us not."

THE END.

[1]

Definiendo enim explicat, nequis errare et opiniones hinc stolidas aucupari possit, qui sint magistrate potestatis hujus ministri, et quam ob causam subjectos esse nos hortetur; 'Magistratus non sunt timori bonis operibus, sed malis; boni a potestale hac laudem adipiscentur; magistratus minister est Dei nostro bono dalus; non frustra gladium gerit, vindex ad iram ei qui malum facit.'' Pro Populo Anglicano Defensio. Prose Works, V. 87.

[2]

See on this and the following paragraph the treatise On Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes, throughout. Again, in the History of Britain: 'While they taught compulsion without convincement, which not long before they complained of as executed unchristianly against themselves, these intents are clear to have been no better than antichristian; setting up a spiritual tyranny by a secular power, to the advancing of their own authority above the magistrate, whom they would have made their executioner to punish church-delinquencies, whereof civil laws have no cognizance.' Prose Works, IV. 84. This was one of the paragraphs omitted for political reasons in all the early editions of the History of Britain. It appeared first in the collection of Milton's Works published in 2 vols. folio, 1733.

[3]

'Why did he lay restraints, and force enlargements upon our consciences in things for which we were to answer God only and the church.' God bids us be subject for conscience sake, that is, as to a magistrate, and in the laws, not usurping over spiritual things, as Lucifer beyond his sphere. Answer to Eikon Basilike. Prose Works, III. 34.

[4]

'Neither God nor nature put civil power into the hand's of any whomsoever, but to a lawful end, and commands our obedience to the authority of law only, not to the tyrannical force of any person.' Answer to Eikon Basilike. Prose Works, III. 52. 'Que autem potestas, qui magistratus, contraria his facit, neque ilia, neque hic, a Deo proprie ordinatus est. Unde neque tali vel potestati vel maeristratui subjectio debetur aut praecipitur, neque nos prudenter obsistere prohibemur.' Pro Populo Anglicano Defensio. V. 88.

[5]

This is a remarkable passage, considering the prominent part taken by the author not only against the monarchy, but against the monarch himself. It is evident that his experience of the miseries caused by the civil disturbances of those evil times had taught him that a regard to the general good might sometimes render a temporary sacrifice of abstract rights not inconsistent with the sincerest love of political or religious liberty.

[6]

For Milton's opinion of the value of the Scriptures as teachers of political wisdom, see Paradise Regained, IV. 353.

Their orators thou then extoll'st, as those,

The top of eloquence, statists indeed,

And lovers of their country, as may seem;

But herein to our prophets far beneath,

As men divinely taught, and better teaching

The solid rules of civil government

In their majestic unaffected style

Than all the oratory of Greece and Rome.

In them is plainest taught, and easiest learnt

What makes a nation happy, and keeps it so,

What ruins kingdoms, and lays cities flat;

These only with our law best form a king.

© 2020 The Newton Project

Professor Rob Iliffe
Director, AHRC Newton Papers Project

Scott Mandelbrote,
Fellow & Perne librarian, Peterhouse, Cambridge

Faculty of History, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2RL - newtonproject@history.ox.ac.uk

Privacy Statement

  • University of Oxford
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council
  • JISC