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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

Concerning whom it cannot be proven


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said to have rebelled against

Rehoboam, and Hezekiah against Sennacherib, which was a good rebellion, and clear duty, being taken there for resistance and revolt. In that sense indeed some of our risings in arms might be called rebellion; for it is lawful to rebel against tyrants. But because the word is usually taken in an evil sense, therefore it would have been offensive to acknowledge that before the inquisitors, except it had been explained. But rebellion against lawful magistrates, is a damnable sin, exemplarily punished in Korah and his company, who rebelled against Moses; and in Sheba and Absalom, who rebelled against David. For to punish the just is not good, nor to strike princes for equity, Prov. xvii. 26. and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation, Rom. xiii. 2. So that this objection brought from this place, as if the apostle were commanding their subjection without resistance to Nero, and such tyrants; as it is very impertinent, it is fully answered above, Head II. Here it will be sufficient to reply, 1. He is hereby vindicating Christianity from that reproach, of casting off or refusing subjection to magistrates for conscience sake in general. And it is very considerable, what Buchanan says in his book de juri regni, that Paul did not write to the kings themselves, because they were not Christians, and therefore the more might be born with from them, though they should not understand the duty of magistrates; but imagine, that there had been some Christian king who had turned
tyrant and apostate, 'to the scandal of religion: what would he have written then? Sure if he had been like himself, he would have denied that he should be owned for a king, and would have interdicted all Christians communion with him, and that they should account him no king, but such as they were to have no fellowship with, according to the law of the gospel.' 2. He speaks of lawful rulers here, not tyrants, but of all such as are defined and qualified here, being powers ordained of God, terrors to evil works, ministers of God for good. Yea, but say prelates, and their malignant adherents, these are only motives of subjection to all powers, not qualifications of the powers. I answer, they are indeed motives, but such as can be extended to none but to these powers that are so qualified. 3. He speaks of lawful powers indefinitely in the plural number, not specifying any kind or degree of them, as if only kings and emperors were here meant. It cannot be proven, that the power of the sword is only in them. Neither was there a plurality of kings or emperors at Rome to be subject to: if he meant the Roman emperor, he would have designed him in the singular number. All the reasons of the text agree to inferior judges also, for they are ordained of God, they are called rulers in scripture, and God's ministers, revengers by office, who judge not for man, but for the Lord: and inferior magistrates also are not to be resisted, when doing their duty, 1 Pet. ii. 13. yet all will grant, when they go beyond their bounds, and turn little tyrants, they may be withstood. 4. He does not speak of Nero, concerning whom it cannot be proven, that at this time he had the soverereign power as the learned Mr. Prin shews: or if he had, that he was a tyrant at this time; and if he meant him at all, it was only as he was obliged to be by right, nor as he was in deed. All men know, and none condemns the fact of the senate, that resisted Nero at length, without transgressing this precept. Yea I should rather think, the senate is the power that the apostle applies this text to, if he applied it to any in particular. 5. The subjection here required, is the same with the honour in the fifth command, whereof this is an exposition, and is opposite to the contraordinateness here condemned. Now, subjection takes in all the duties we owe to magistrates, and resistance all the contraries forbidden; but unlimited obedience is not here required: so neither unlimited subjection.


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