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SÈ R M.

VI.

only the Execution of the Laws to his personal Province, under a solemn Oath.

The Magistrate thus created and constituted by the Act of the Society, is as truly the Officer of God, and vested with the divine Right as the fupream Judges, and Kings of Israel were, tho' he be not appointed in the fame extraordinary Manner : For as Mankind could ill subsist, and anfwer the Ends of their Creation without some Government, it evidently follows that it is the Will of the great Creator and supreme Governor, that some should rule and others obey, for the Preservation not only of Peace and Order, but even of the very Species of Mankind; and consequently that the legal Magistrate in every Community, is God's Officer and Vicegerent, and has a divine Right to be obeyed as such in the due Exccution of his Office,

This Point is so clearly stated by St. Paul in the 13th of Rom. that no Christian can withstand it. Let every Soul be subject unto the higher Powers, and the Reason follows, for there is no Power but of God. The Powers that be, are ordained of God, V. 1. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for Wrath, but also for Conscience Sake, V. 5.

And

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And who was it that had supream Power SER M.
at this very Time? it was no better a Prince
than Nero, an heathen Emperor, a most
profligate Man, and a cruel Persecutor of
the Christians, and who afterwards behead-
ed St. Paul the Vindicator of his royal Au-
thority in this Chapter. But wicked as he
was, St. Paul knew how to distinguish be-
tween the Man and the Prince, and to
command Obedience to him for Conscience
Sake, as to one who was their lawful
Sovereign, and who in the due Exercise of
his Power acted under a divine Commif-
fion.

But when Nero exceeded his Commissi-
on, and became a Tyrant, and by a Wan-
tonness of Cruelty burnt the City of Rome,
and murdered his innocent Subjects, and
violated their Rights and Properties, he
ceased to be the Minister of God in those
Actions, and became the Minister of his
own wicked Lusts and Passions; and if
Men obeyed him for Wrath, and to save
their own Lives, yet for Conscience Sake they
could not be bound to submit themselves to
his wicked Commands, because he was not
the Minister of God for Good.

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VI.

SE R M. Here then is a manifest Limitation to the in general Words of St. Peter in my Text,

requiring Submision to every Ordinance of Man for the Lord's Sake ; and the same Limitation is clearly implied in the Words following, the Office of Kings; and of Governors sent or commissioned by them, being for the Punishment of Evil-doers, and the Praise of them that do well; that is, Princes being God's Vicegerents upon Earth, the chief Part of their Office must be to difcourage and punish all Disobedience to the divine Laws, and to protect and countenance Virtue and virtuous Men: and being also Trustees for the Community, the very

Nature of their Office implies, that they are to do Justice, and execute righteous Judgment, and make all their Subjects happy in the Enjoyment of their Rights and Liberties.

This is the Trust committed to Princes, both by the King of Kings, and by the Community, and it is upon this Foundation only that Obedience is due to their Commands.

If therefore it should be the hard Lot of Subjects to be pressed by two contrary Commands, there is no doubt concerning the Side they are to take, for the Case is clearly

resolved

resolved in the 5th of the Afts, 29th Verse, Serm.

VI. Then answered Peter and the rest of the Apostles, we ought to obey God rather than Men. And we have a Case in point of greater Antiquity than this, which is to be found in the 3d Chapter of Daniel, where Nebuchadnezzar having threatned the three Hebrews with the fiery Furnace, for refusing to commit Idolatry in Obedience to his Edict, they boldly replied, Be it known to thee, o King, that we will not serve thy Gods, nor worship the golden Image which thou hast jet up, Verse 18. As God had forbidden the Worship of Images, the King's Command was in that Respect a Nullity, and it was Religion to disobey him.

I need not insist longer upon this Doctrine, which for many Years past has been fo fully and plainly stated and cleared up from the Subtilties of felf-designing Men, and which the late happy Revolution has justified, to the Conviction, and the feeling of all Protestants.

I come therefore in the

2d Place, to consider the Submission due to the Magistrate in Matters of Religion.

I shall

M 2

SE R M.

VI:

I shall treat this under these two Branches.

ist, As it regards Matters of Faith.

2dly, As it regards the publick Worship.

With regard to the Former, it is certain that our internal and private Belief cannot be subject to any human Authority for this plain Reason, because one Man cannot possibly know the inward Belief of another Man unless he could search his heart, which is the sole Prerogative of God. And if the Magistrate cannot have Cognizance of any Man's internal Belief, it is absurd that he should be made a Judge of it, or that he should prescribe what shall be the Faith of his Heart.

And from hence it likewise follows, that the Magistrate has no Authority to compel the outward Profession of any Doctrine that is meerly religious, because it may happen to be contrary to what a Man inwardly and really believes, and in that Case he will be compelled to become an Hypocrite and a Liar, which being gross Immoralities, no Authority whatever can make lawful.

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