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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

And those that are rulers of Belial


this I may add that part of that prophetical king's testament; who, being about to leave the world, under some challenges of maladministration in his own government, (for which he took himself to the well ordered everlasting covenant, for pardon and encouragement,) after he had shewn what rulers should be, he threatens, by antithesis, tyrannical pretenders, in these severe words, which do also imply a precept, and a direction how to deal with them, 2 Sam. xxiii. 6, 7. "But they of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands, but the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron, and the staff of a spear, and they shall be utterly burnt with fire in the same place." Let these words be understood as a threatning against all the wicked in general, who are to be quenched as the fire of thorns; or particularly of the promoters of antichrist's kingdom, in opposition to Christ's, as some interpreters judge; it will not weaken, but confirm my argument, if kings who are ringleaders of that gang be not excepted.

I know some do understand this of rebels against righteous rulers: which though indeed it be a truth, that they that are such should be so served, and roughly handled with iron, and the staff of a spear; yet it is not so consonant to the scope and connexion of this place, shewing the characters of righteous rulers, and of usurping tyrants, making an opposition between rulers that are just, ruling

in the fear of God, and those that are rulers of Belial, promising blessing upon the government of the one, and contempt and rejection to the other, and shewing how both should be carried towards: neither does it agree with the words themselves, where the supplement in our translation is redundant; for it is not in the Hebrew. The sons of Belial, only they of Belial, clearly relative to the rulers of whom he was speaking before. And indeed the word Belial, in its etymology is not more applicable to any than to tyrants; for it comes from beli not, and Hhall above, because they will have none above them, or from beli not, and Hhol a yoke, because they cannot suffer a yoke, but cast away the yoke of laws and the yoke of Christ, saying, Let us burst his bands, &c. Nor is it always agreeable to truth, to understand it only of rebels against righteous rulers, that they can never be taken with hands: For as very rarely righteous rulers have any rebels to be the objects of their rigour and rage; so when there are any, discreet and wise rulers will find many ways to take and touch them, and quath or quiet them. But it is always true of tyrants, for they can never be taken with hands, neither in a friendly manner, taken by the hand and transacted within any bargain as other men, for they that would do so, will find them like pricking and jagging briers, which a man cannot handle without hurt to himself: nor can they be any other way repressed or restrained, or touched, but by hands fenced with iron, that is, with the sword of necessity, or axe of justice. And this is insinuated as duty, so to endeavour to extirpate and eradicate such thorns, as pester the commonwealth; but if it cannot be done, it must be duty and wisdom both not to meddle with them, nor own them, no more than Jotham, who would not subject himself, nor come under the shadow of the bastard bramble. I confess it is commonly taken as a threatning of the Lord's judgment against these sons of Belial: And so it is. But it teacheth also what men are called to, when they have to do with such, to wit, to take the same course with them as they would to clear the ground of thorns and briers. And that it is

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