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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

Because the assassins did transgress their vocation


Though the motive or cause were upon a public account, yet it may be murder to have a wrong end in it; as either to intend simply the destruction of the person on whom they execute judgment, as the end to which all their action is directed, or to make their own advantage or honour the end of the action. Thus David would not kill Saul, because it might have been thought he did it to obtain the kingdom, of which he was rightful successor: and deservedly he punished the Amalekite, that brought news of his killing Saul; and Baanah and Rechab, for their killing Ishbosheth, thinking thereby to advance themselves at David's court. So also Joab murdered Amasa to secure himself in the general's place. And Jehu, though upon the matter he executed righteous judgment, his end was only himself, it is condemned as murder. But when the execution of righteous judgment is both formally intended by the actors, and natively and really doth conduce to the glory of God, the preservation of the remnant threatened to be destroyed by these murderers, the suppressing of impiety, doing of justice, turning away wrath and removing of present, and preventing of future judgments, then it may be duty, Napthtali, pag. 23. first edition.

10. Though the end also were not culpable; yet it may be murder to kill criminals by transgressing the sphere of our vocation, and usurping upon the magistrate's sword: for he, by office, is a revenger, to execute wrath upon him that doth evil,

Rom. xiii. 4. none must make use of the sword of vindictive justice, but he to whom the Lord giveth it; therefore they that came to take Christ are condemned and threatened for this, Matth. xxvi. 52. "All they that take the sword, shall perish with the sword." The God of order hath assigned to every man his station and calling, within the bounds whereof he should keep, without transgressing by defect or excess, let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called, 1 Cor. vii. 20. and study to be quiet, and do his own business, 1 Thess. iv. 11. Therefore David would not kill Saul, because he would have done it beside his calling. And therefore the killing of Joash and Amon was murder, because the assassins did transgress their vocation. But when notorious incendiaries do not only transgress their vocation, but the limits of human society, and turn open enemies to God and man, destroying the innocent, making havoc of the Lord's heritage, and vaunting of their villanies, and boasting of their wickedness, and thereby bringing wrath upon the land if such effrontries of insolence should pass unpunished, and when there is no magistrate to do that work of justice, but all in that place are art and part with them, patrons and defenders of them; yea, no magistrate that can be acknowledged as a minister of God to be applied unto; in that case, it is not a transgression of our vocation, nor an usurpation upon the magistrates, where there is none, to endeavour to avert wrath, by executing righteous judgment. Otherwise, if for fear, or suspicion of the accidental hazard of private men's usurping the office, or doing of the duty of public persons, every virtuous action which may be abused, shall be utterly neglected, impiety shall quickly gain universal empire, to the extermination or all goodness, Naphtali, pag. 24. first edition. To clear this, it must be considered, that a man's calling is twofold; his particular calling, whereunto in the ordinary course of things he is regularly confined: and his general calling, not circumscribed by particular rules, which from the common obligation of the end for which all callings are institute, in the clear exigence of an extraordinary emergent, according to the general rules of righteousness, bind to an agreeable practice; therefore circumstances may sometimes so diversify actions, that what in the ordinary and undisturbed state of things would be accounted an excess of our particular calling, and an usurpation, in an extraordinary occurrence may become a necessary duty of our general calling.

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