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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

That the father may be stricken with a phrensy


III.

For the head of resistance of superior powers, we have no clearer instances in any period than in this, whereof the above-mentioned hints give some account, to which their sentiments and arguments may be here subjoined. They prized and improved this principle so much, that they put it in their Confession of Faith, Art. 14. To save the lives of innocents, to repress tyranny, to defend the oppressed, are among the good works of the second table, which are most pleasing and acceptable to God, as these works are commanded by himself; and to suffer innocent blood to be shed, if we may withstand it, is affirmed to be sin, by which God's hot displeasure is kindled against the proud and unthankful world. And if there were no more to render the late test of Scotland detestable, that condemns all resistance of kings upon any pretence whatsoever, this may make all Christians, and all men, abhor the contrivance of it; that that same test that confirms this thesis, doth also impose the antithesis upon conscience. It obliges to this confession in the first part of it, and to deny it in the latter. But no wonder, that men of feared consciences can receive any thing, though never so contradictory to itself, and that men who deny sense, and that principle radicated in human nature, may also deny conscience, and make a tool of it in soldering contradictories. But not only did our reformers assert this truth, for which now their children adhering to their testimony, suffer both rage and reproach;
but also gave their reasons for it. As (1.) Mr. Knox, in his first conference with the Queen, argues thus, 'There is neither greater honour nor obedience to be given to princes than parents; but so it is, that the father may be stricken with a phrensy, in the which he would slay his own children; now if the children arise, take his weapon from him, bind his hands, do the children any wrong? It is even so with princes, that would murder the children of God subject to them, their blind zeal is nothing but a very mad phrensy; and therefore to take the sword from them, and cast them into prison till they be brought to a more sober mind, is no disobedience against princes.' (2.) In his conference with Lethingtoun, he proves the same point, from the consideration of the justice of God, punishing the people for not resisting the prince. The scripture of God teacheth me (saith he) 'Jerusalem and Judah were punished for the sins of Manasseh; if you alledge they were punished, because they were wicked, and not because the king was wicked; the scripture says expressly, for the sins of Manasseh; yet will I not absolve the people, I will grant the whole people offended with their king, but how? To affirm that all Judah committed the acts of his impiety, hath no certainty; who can think, that all Jerusalem should turn idolaters immediately after Hezekiah's notable reformation? One part therefore willingly followed him in his idolatry, the other suffered him, and so were criminal of his sin; even as Scotland is guilty of the Queen's idolatry this day.' In the same discourse he makes it plain, that all are guilty of innocents murder who do not oppose it, from Jeremiah's words in his defence before the princes.----"Know ye for certain, if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon the city, and upon the inhabitants thereof:" Now, if the princes, and the whole people should have been guilty of the prophet's blood; how shall others be judged innocent before God, if they suffer the blood of innocents to be shed, when they may save it? (3.) _Ibid._ He argues from the distinction between the person placed in authority, and the ordinance of God, the one may be resisted, the other cannot. The plain words of the apostle makes the difference, 'The ordinance is of God, for preservation of mankind, punishment of vice, which is holy and constant: persons commonly are profane and unjust: he that resisteth


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