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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

Everting the ordinances of the magistracy


HEAD II.

_The sufferings of many for refusing to own the tyrant's authority vindicated._

The other grand ordinance of God, magistracy, which he hath in his sovereign wisdom, justice, and goodness, appointed, ordained, and consecrated, for the demonstration, illustration, and vindication of his own glory, and the communication, conservation, and reparation of the peace, safety, order, liberty, and universal good of mankind, is next to that of the ministry of great concern: wherein not only the prudence, policy, property, and liberty of men, but also the conscience, duty, and religion of Christians, have a special interest. And therefore it is no less important, pertinent, profitable, and necessary for every one that hath any of these to care and contend for, keep and recover, to inquire into and understand something of the institution, constitution, nature, and boundaries of the sacred ordinances of magistracy, than into the holy ordinance of the ministry; so far at least as may consist with the sphere of every one's capacity and station, and may conduce to the satisfaction of every one's conscience, in the discharge of the duties of their relations. Every private man indeed hath neither capacity, concern, nor necessity, to study the politics, or search into the secrets, or intrigues of government, no more than he is to be versed in all the administrations of ecclesiastical policy, and interests of the ministry; yet every man's conscience is no less concerned, in distinguishing the character of God's ministers of justice, the magistrates, to whom he owes and owns allegiance, that they be not usurping tyrants, everting the ordinances of the magistracy, than in acknowledging the character of Christ's ministers of the gospel, to whom he owes and owns obedience, that they be not usurping prelates or impostors, perverting the ordinance of the ministry. The glory of God is much concerned, in our owning and keeping pure and entire, according to his will and word, both these ordinances. And our conscience as well as interest is concerned in the advantage or hurt, profit or prejudice, of the right or wrong, observation or prevarication, of both these ordinances; being interested in the advantage of magistracy, and hurt of tyranny in the state, as well as in the advantage of the ministry, and hurt of diocesan, or erastian supremacy in the church; in the advantage of liberty, and hurt of slavery in the state, as well as in the advantage of religion, and hurt of profaneness in the church; in the profit of laws, and prejudice of prerogative in the state, as well as in the profit of truth, and prejudice of error in the church; in the profit of peace and true loyalty, and prejudice of oppression and rebellion in the state, as well as in the profit of purity and unity, and prejudice of defection, and division or schism in the church. So that in confidence, we are no more free to prostitute our loyalty and liberty absolutely, in owning every possessor of the magistracy; than we are free to prostitute our religion and faith implicitly, in owning every pretender to the ministry.


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