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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

Than magistrates retaliating private persons


We condemn rising to revenge private injuries; whereby the land may be involved in blood for some petty wrongs done to some persons, great or small; and abhor revengeful usurping of the magistrate's sword, to avenge ourselves for personal injuries. As David's killing of Saul would have been, 1 Sam. xxiv. 10. 12. 13, 1 Sam. xxvi. 9, 10. To object which, in this case, were very impertinent: for it would have been an act of offence in a remote defence: if Saul had been immediately assaulting him, it could not be denied to be lawful: and it would have been an act of private revenge for a personal injury, and a sinful preventing of God's promise of David's succession, by a scandalous assassination. But it is clear, then David was resisting him, and that is enough for us; and he supposes he might descend into battle, and perish, 1 Sam. xxvi. 10. not excluding, but that he might perish in battle against himself resisting him. We are commanded indeed not to resist evil, but whosoever shall smite us on the one cheek, to turn to him the other also, Matth. v. 39. and to recompence to no man evil for evil, Rom. xii. 17. But this doth not condemn self defence, or resisting tyrants violently, endangering our lives, laws, religion, and liberties, but only resistance by way of private revenge and retaliation, and enjoin patience, when the clear call and dispensation do inevitably call unto suffering; but not to give way to all violence and sacrilege, to the subverting of religion and righteousness.
These texts do no more condemn private persons retaliating the magistrate, than magistrates retaliating private persons, unless magistrates be exempted from this precept, and consequently be not among Christ's followers: yea, they do no more forbid private persons, to resist the unjust violence of magistrates, than to resist the unjust violence of private persons. That objection from our Lord's reproving Peter, Matth. xxvi. 52. Put up thy sword, for all they that take the sword, shall perish by the sword, hath no weight here: for this condemns only making use of the sword, either by way of private revenge, or usurping the use of it without authority, (and so condemns all tyrants) which private subjects do not want to defend themselves, their religion and liberty; or using it without necessity, which was not in Peter's case, both because Christ was able to defend himself, and because he was willing to deliver up himself. Pool's Synops. Critic. in Locum. Christ could easily have defended himself, but he would not; and therefore there was no necessity for Peter's rashness; it condemns also a rash precipitating and preventing the call of God to acts of resistance; but otherwise it is plain, it was not Peter's fault to defend his master, but a necessary duty. The reason, our Lord gives for that inhibition at that time, was twofold; one expressed Matth. xixvi. 52. For they that take the sword, &c. Which do not belong to Peter, as if Peter were hereby threatened; but to those that were coming to take Christ, they usurped the sword of tyranical violence, and therefore are threatened with destruction, by the sword of the Romans: so is that commination to be understood of antichrist, and the tyrants that serve him, Rev. xiii. 13. He that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword, which is a terrible word against persecutors. The reason is, John xviii. 11.----The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink? Which clearly refels that objection of Christ's non-resistance. To which it is answered, That suffering was the end of his voluntary suscepted humiliation, and his errand to the world, appointed by the Father, and undertaken by himself, which is not our practice: though it be true, that even in his sufferings he left us an ensample that we should follow his steps, 1 Pet. ii. 21. In many things, as he was a martyr, his sufferings were the purest rule and example for us to follow, both for the matter, and frame of spirit, submission, patience, constancy, meekness, &c. but not as he was our sponsor, and after the same manner, for then it were unlawful for us to flee, as well as to resist, because he would not flee at that time.

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