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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

Appointed to defend the poor and fatherless


First,

They cannot depend upon the king, because they are more necessary than the king; and it is not left to the king's pleasure whether there be judges or not. There may be judges without a king, but there can be no king without judges, nor no justice, but confusion; no man can bear the people's burden alone, Numb. xi. 14, 17. If they depended on the king, their power would die with the king; the streams must dry up the fountain; but that cannot be, for they are not the ministers of the king, but of the kingdom, whose honour and promotion, though by the king's external call, yet comes from God, as all honour and promotion does, Psal. lxxv. 7. The king cannot make judges whom he will, by his absolute power, he must be tied to that law, Deut. i. 13. To take wise men and understanding, and known: neither can he make them during pleasure; for if these qualifications remain, there is no allowance given for their removal. They are gods, and the children of the most high, appointed to defend the poor and fatherless, as well as he, Psal. lxxxii. 3, 6. They are ordained of God for the punishment of evil doers, in which they must not be resisted, as well as he, Rom. xiii. 1, 2. By me (saith the Lord) rule--all the judges of the earth, Prov. viii. 16. To them we must be subject for conscience sake, as being the ministers of God for good; they must be obeyed for the Lord's sake, as well as the king; though they are sent of him, yet they judge not for man, but for the Lord, 2 Chron. xix. 6. hence
they sit in his room, and are to act as if he were on the bench; the king cannot say, the judgment is mine, because it is the Lord's; neither can he limit their sentence (as he might, if they were nothing but his deputies) because the judgment is not his: nor are their consciences subordinate to him, but to the Lord immediately; otherwise if they were his deputies, depending on him, then they could neither be admonished, nor condemned for unjust judgment, because their sentence should neither be righteous nor unrighteous, but as the king makes it; and all directions to them were capable of this exception, do not so or so, except the king command you; crush not the poor, oppress not the fatherless, except the king command you; yea, then they could not execute any judgment, but with the king's licence, and so could not be rebuked for their not executing judgment.

Now all this is contrary to scripture, which makes the sentence of the judges undeclinable, when just, Deut. xvii. 11. The Lord's indignation is kindled, when he "looks for judgment, and behold oppression, for righteousness, and behold a cry," Isa. v. 7. Neither will it excuse the judges to say, the king would have it so; for even they that are subservient to "write grievousness, to turn aside the needy from judgment," &c. are under the wo, as well as they that prescribe it, Isa. x. 1, 2. The Lord is displeased when "judgment is turned away backward, and judgment stands afar off,"----and when there is no judgment, whatever be the cause of it, Isa. lix. 14, 15. The Lord threatens he will be "avenged on the nation," when a man is "not found to execute judgment," Jer. v. 1, 9. And promises, if they "will execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor," he will give them righteous magistrates, Jer. xxii. 3, 4. but if they do not, he will send desolation, ibid. He rebukes those that "turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth," Amos v. 7. He resents it, when "the law is slacked, and judgment doth not go forth" freely, without overawing or over-ruling restraint, Hab. i. 4.


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