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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

Nor can any obedience be merely passive


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and sovereignty of that providence

that hath subjected them under such a slavery; and are not to attempt a violent ejection or excussion, when either the thing attempted is altogether impracticable, or the means and manner of effectuating it dubious and unwarrantable, or the necessary concomitants and consequents of the cure more hurtful or dangerous than the disease, or the like. As in many cases also a man may be subject to a robber prevailing against him; so we find the people of Israel in Egypt and Babylon, &c. yielded subjection to tyrants. But in this case we deny two things to them, (1.) Allegiance or active and voluntary subjection, so as to own them for magistrates. (2.) Stupid _passive obedience_, or suffering without resistance. For the first, we owe it only to magistrates, by virtue of the law, either ordinative of God, or constitutive of man. And it is no argument to infer; as a man's subjecting himself to a robber assaulting him, is no solid proof of his approving or acknowledging the injury and violence committed by the robbery, therefore a person's yielding subjection to a tyrant a public robber does not argue his acknowledging or approving his tyranny and oppression. For, the subjection that a tyrant requires, and which a robber requires, is not of the same nature; the one is legal of subjects, which we cannot own to a tyrant; the other is forced of the subdued, which we must acknowledge to a robber. But to make the parallel; if the robber should demand, in our subjecting ourselves to him,
an owning of him to be no robber but an honest man, as the tyrant demands in our subjecting ourselves to him in owning him to be no tyrant, but a magistrate, then we ought not to yield it to the one no more than to the other. For the second, to allow them passive obedience is unintelligible nonsense and a mere contradiction; for nothing that is merely passive can be obedience as relative to a law; nor can any obedience be merely passive; for obedience is always active. But not only is the inaccuracy of the phrase excepted against, but also that position maintained by many, that, in reference to a yoke of tyranny, there is a time which may be called the proper season of suffering, that is, when suffering (in opposition to acting or resisting) is a necessary and indispensible duty, and resisting is a sin: for if the one be an indispensible duty, the other must be a sin at the same time, but this cannot be admitted. For, though certainly there is such a season of suffering, wherein suffering is lawful, laudable and necessary, and all must lay their account with suffering, and little else can be attempted, but which will increase sufferings; yet even then we may resist as well as we can: and these two, resistance and suffering, at the same time, are not incompatible: David did bear most patiently the injury of his son's usurpation, when he said, 'Let the Lord do to me as seemeth him good,' 2 Sam. xv. 26. chap. x. 12. and betaketh himself to fervent prayers, Psal. iii. and yet these were not all the weapons he used against him; neither did he ever own him as a magistrate. We are to suffer all things patiently as the servants of the Lord, and look to him for mercy and relief, (Psal. cxxiii. 2.); but we are not obliged to suffer even in that season, as the slaves of men. Again, suffering in opposition to resistance, does never fall under any moral law of God, except in the absolutely extraordinary case of Christ's passive obedience, which cannot fall under our deliberation or imitation; or in the case of a positive law, as was given to the Jews to submit to Nebuchadnezzar, which was express and peculiar to them, as shall be cleared. That can never be commanded as indispensible duty, which does not fall under our free will or deliberation, but the enemies will, as the Lord permits them, as the case of suffering is. That can never be indispensible duty, which we may decline without sin, as we may do suffering, if we have not a call to it; yea, in that case, it were sin to suffer; therefore, in no case it can be formally and indispensibly commanded, so as we may not shift it, if we can without sin. Suffering simply the evil of punishment, just or unjust, can never be a conformity to God's preceptive will, but only to his providential disposal; it hath not the will of the sign for its rule, but only the will of well-pleasing. All the commands that we have for suffering, are either to direct the manner of it, that it be patiently and cheerfully, when forced to it wrongfully, 1 Pet. ii. 19, 20, or comparatively, to determine our choice in an unavoidable alternative, either to suffer or sin; and so we are commanded, rather to suffer, than to deny Christ, Matth. xiii. 33. and we are commanded upon these terms to follow Christ, to take up his cross, when he lays it on his providence, Matth. xvi. 24. See at length this cleared, Lex Rex, Q. 30. page 317-320 otherwise in no case subjection, even passive, can be a duty; for it is always to be considered under the notion of a plague, judgment and curse, to be complained of as a burden, never to be owned as a duty to magistrates.


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