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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

After the institution of magistrates


There are some precepts from which the same may be concluded.

1. There is a command, and the first penal statute against murderers, we read, Gen. ix. 6. 'Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed.' Here the command is given in general to punish capitally all murderers; but there may be some that no magistrate can punish, who are not here exempted, to wit, they that are in supreme authority, and turn murderers, as was said above. Again, the command is given in general to man involving all the community (where the murderer is) in guilt, if his blood be not shed; as we find in the scripture, all the people were threatned and punished because judgment was not executed; and when it was executed even by these who were no magistrates, the wrath of God was turned away, whereof there are many examples above. Further, if the command to shed the blood of murderers be given before the institution of magistracy, then, in case of necessity, to stop the course of murderers, it may be obeyed, when there is no magistrate to execute it: but here it is given before the first institution of magistracy, when now there was no government in the world, but family government, as Grotius on the place saith, 'When this law was given, public judgment was not yet constitute, therefore the natural right and law of taliation is here held forth, which when mankind was increased and divided into several nations, was justly permitted only to judges, some cases

excepted, in which that primeve right did remain.' And if in any, then in this case in question. Hence, Lex Rex answereth the p. prelate, essaying to prove, that a magistracy is established in the text denies that Ba Adam, by man, must signify a magistrate, for then there was but family government, and cites Calvin, of the same mind, that the magistrate is not spoken of here. Though this command afterwards was given to the magistrate, Numb. xxxv. 30. yet in a case of necessity, we must recur to the original command.

2. This same command of punishing murdering enemies, is even, after the institution of magistrates, in several cases not astricted to them, but permitted to the people, yea enjoined to them. As, (1.) Not only magistrates, but the people, are commanded to avenge themselves on their public enemies, as the Israelites, after their being ensnared in the matter of Peor, are commanded to vex the Midianites, and smite them, because they beguiled them, and brought a plague upon them, Numb. xxv. 17, 18. and Numb. xxxi. 2. to avenge themselves on them, and for this end to arm themselves, and go against them, and avenge the Lord of Midian: which they executed with the slaughter of all the males. So likewise are they commanded to destroy Amalek. It is true these commands are given primarily and principally to magistrates, as there to Moses, and afterwards to Saul: yet afterwards we find others than magistrates, upon this moral ground, having the call of God, did execute judgment upon them, as Gideon

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