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1 PETER 2. Part of the iğth
Verse. Submit your selves to
your selves to every Ordinance of Man for the Lord's Sake---
HEN the Foundation of thes e R M. Christian Church was to be VI. laid, it was set forth under the
Notion of a Kingdom of which Christ the Messiah was to be King. John the Baptist, his Fore-runner, proclaims his Advent in those Words cited from the Prophesy of Isaiah, Prepare ye the Way of the Lord, make bis Paths straight, which are an Allusion to the Custom of levelling and straightning the Roads where great Princes were to pass. And when he made his publick Entry into Jerusalem, the Multitude in Conformity to the same Custom strewed their Garments, and the Branches of Trees before him, making Acclamation,
Serm. Blessed be be that cometh in the Name of the
Lord, Hosanna in the highest, and this was
likewise prophesied of Messiah the King ; Zach. 9. 9. Rejoice greatly, 0 Daughter of Sion, mout,
O Daughter of Jerusalem, bebold thy King cometh unto thee, be is just, and having Salvation, lowly, and riding upon an Ass. The Apostles and Disciples dignify him every where with the Title of Lord, and he frankly owned himself to be a King in his Examination before Pilate.
All this might probably possess the first Christians with a Notion of their being a Sort of privileged Persons, who owed no Allegiance to Heathen Princes, and were only Subjects to their own King Jesus.
The Apostles, in order to obviate a Principle so absurd in itself, and so prejudicial to the Christian Religion, enforced in their Epistles to the Churches the Duty of civil Obedience to their Princes in every Country, notwithstanding their being Heathens.
St. Paul is very strong and copious upon this Head in his Epistle to the Christians of Rome, as you may read, Rom. 13. And St Peter does the same in the Words of my Text, Submit your felves to every Ordinance of Man, for the Lord's Sake.
The Words plainly consist of twoS E R M. Parts,
IA, A Duty incumbent upon all Christians, which is Submission to every Ordinance of Man.
2dly, A Motive or Consideration for enforcing the same, that is particular to Chriftians, which is for the Lord's Sake.
I shall begin with the Duty, and shall consider the Subjection due to the Authority of the civil Magistrate both as it regards our civil, and our religious Actions.
ist, All Christians are in Duty bound to submit themselves to the lawful Commands of the civil Magistrate with regard to their civil Actions.
This Duty arises from the very Nature of human Society, and is so effential, that it would be impoffible for Communities to subsist without it. If every Man was to follow his own Inclinations, and even his own Judgment in dealing with other Men, the World would be a Scene of infinite Confufion and Misery ; the Weak would be a
SE R M.
Prey to the Strong, and the Wise, and the Good, who are alway the Minority, to the Self will’d and the Wicked, and even Men of humane Tempers might do Wrong from that unperceived Biass that naturally draws the Judgment to the Side of Self-love and Self-interest : And if one Man might claim a Right to follow his own Inclinations or his own Judgment in his Commerce with other Men, by the same Rule, every other Man has a natural Right to do the same ; for in a State of Nature all Men are equal, where the Order of Relation has not created a natural Subjection and Dependency.
Every one will perceive at first Sight, what the Consequence of this would be to Mankind; it was therefore absolutely necessary for the Safety and Happiness of Men, who by a secret Magnetism inclined to one another, and desired to live in Society, that the Right which all Men separately claimed of judging and acting for themselves with respect to other Men, should be devolved on some one or more Persons, who by Agreement became a common Judge between them.
And here a Magistracy arises at once to us ; for every Man being thus divested of the
Power he had in a State of Nature to dos E R M. himself Right, that Power center'd in the civil Magistrate, who instantly became the sole Arbiter of Right and Wrong, of Rewards and Punishments, and even of Life and Death, for the whole Community.
And as in the Nature of the Thing, it is neither necessary, nor fit, that this Compact should be always personal, it is sufficient that it was once made either expresly or tacitly, and has been established by Acquiescence and Enjoyment of its Benefits; and it shall descend, and bind Posterity who were begotten under its Protection, and whose Liberties and Properties are derived down to them as the Fruit of that compact originally made by their Ancestors, who had a Right to provide for their Good, when they could not do it for themselves.
Here, I say, a Magistracy arises at once to our View, whether it be in the worst Form of an absolute Government, or in the better Form of a Commonwealth, or in the best of all Form of a mixt Government, where the Will of the Prince is counterpoised and ballanced by the Will and the Judgment of the collective Body, leaving