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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

And be subject to Nebuchadnezzar


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Rev. xiii. 5, 7. His tyranny

also was very great extensively, in respect of his oppressions and usurpations by conquest; but it was not so great intensively, as our robbers and spoilers may be charged with; he was never such a perverter of all the ends of government, nor a treacherous overturner of all conditions, he was never a persecutor of the Jewish religion, he never oppressed them upon that account, nor endeavoured its extirpation, he never enacted such mischiefs by law. The Lord only made use of him to bring about the holy ends of the glory of his justice and wisdom, in which respect alone he is called his servant, as elsewhere his rod and hammer, having given him a charge against an hypocritical nation, to trample them down in his holy providence; and accordingly there was no resistance could prevail, they must be trampled upon, no help for it; but no subjection was required, acknowledging his magistratical right by divine ordinance, but only a submissive stooping to the holy disposal of divine providence; no owning was exacted either of the equity of that power, or of fealty to the administrator. 2. This behoved to be a particular command, by positive revelation given at that time, not binding to others in the like condition; which I refer to the judgment of the objectors: put the case, and make it run parallel, if the king of England were in league with the king of France, and breaking that league, should provoke that aspiring prince, growing potent by many conquests to discover his designs, make
preparations and give out threatnings for the conquest of England and all Britain; were the people of England bound to surrender themselves as servants and tributaries to him for 70 years, or for ever, under pain of destruction, if they should not? This were one of the most ridiculous inferences that ever was pleaded; nay, it would make all refusal of subjection to invaders unlawful. 3. I will draw an argument from this to confirm my plea: for these commands of subjection to Babylon, were not delivered, until after the king of Judah had surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar, and entred into covenant with him to be subject to him, 2 Kings xxiv. chap. in keeping which covenant the kingdom might have stood, and after he had rebelled against him, and broken that covenant, "when lo, he had given his hand," after which he could "not prosper, or escape, or be delivered," Ezek. xviii. 14, 15, 18, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 13. Then the commandment came, that they should disown their own king Zedekiah, now forfeiting his right by breach of covenant, and be subject to Nebuchadnezzar, whence I argue, if people are commanded to disown their covenant-breaking rulers, and subject themselves to conquerors, then I have all I plead for; but the former is true, by the truth of this objection: therefore also the latter. There is a 2d Objection from Rom xiii. 1. "Let every soul be subject to the higher powers, the powers that be are ordained of God;" yet the Roman emperor, to which they were to be subject, was an usurper. Ans. It cannot be proven, that the apostle intendeth here the Roman emperor as the higher power: there were at this time several competitions for the empire, about which Christians might have their own scruples whom to own; the apostle does not determine their litigations, nor interest himself in parties but gives the general standard of God's ordinance they had to go by. And the best expositors of the place do alledge, the question and doubt of Christians then was not so much in whom the supremacy was, as whether Christians were at all bound to obey civil power, especially Pagan? Which the apostle resolves, in giving general directions, to obey the ordinance of magistracy, conform to its original, and as it respects the end for which he had and would set it up: but no respect is there had to tyrants. 2. It cannot be proven, that the supreme power then in being was usurped, there being then a supreme Senate, which was a lawful power; nor that Nero was then an usurper, who came in by choice and consent, and with the good liking of the people. 3. The text means of lawful powers, not unlawful force, that are ordained of God by his preceptive will, not merely by his providential disposal, and of conscientious subjection to magistracy, not to tyranny, describing and characterizing the powers there, by such qualifications as tyrants and usurpers are not capable of. But I mind to improve this text more fully hereafter, to prove the quite contrary to what is here objected.


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