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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

Because if the magistrate would not excute judgment


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'All that heard were to lay

their hands upon his head, and all the congregation was to stone him,' Lev. xxiv. 14, 16. 'The man-slayer was to stand before the congregation in judgment. Then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and avenger of blood,' Numb. xxxv. 12, 24. The people claimed the power of life and death, in seeking to execute judgment upon those that had spoken treason against Saul, Bring the men (say they) that we may put them to death, 1. Sam. xi. 12. Especially in the case of punishing tyrants, as they did with Amaziah. Certainly this is not so judicial or judaical, as that in no case it may be imitated; for that can never be abrogated altogether, which in many cases is absolutely necessary; but that the people, without public authority, should take the power of life and death, and of putting a stop to the insolency of destroyers, by putting them to death, is in many cases absolutely necessary; for without this they cannot preserve themselves against grassant tyrants, nor the fury of public enemies or firebrands within themselves, in case they have no public authority, or none but such as are on their destroyers side. (4.) Not only the power of purging the land, by divine precept, is incumbent on the people, that it may not ly under blood guiltiness; but also the power of reforming the courts of kings, by taking course with their wicked abetters and evil instruments, is committed to him, with a promise that if this be done, it shall tend to the establishment of their throne; which
is not only a supposition in case it be done, but a supposed precept to do it, with an insinuation of the necessity and expediency of it, that it is as suitable as the taking away of the dross from silver, in order to the production of a vessel, Prov. xxv. 4, 5. 'Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness;' which is not only there given to kings, for then it would be in the second person spoken to them, but to the people to do it before them, as the people did with Baal's prophets from before Ahab. And our progenitors many times have done with wicked counsellors, as may be seen in the foregoing representation, and more fully in the history of the Douglasses, and in Knox's and Calderwood's histories. Hence, if it be duty to reform the court, and to take away a king's wicked sycophants, counsellors, agents, and instigators to tyranny; then it must be lawful, in some cases of necessity, to restrain their insolency, and repress their tyranny, in executing judgment upon such of them as are most insupportable, who are made drunk with the blood of innocents; but the former is true: therefore----(5.) For the omission of the executing of this judgment on oppressors and murderers, involving the whole land in blood guiltiness, which cannot be expiated but by the blood of them that are so criminal; not only magistrates, but the whole people have been plagued. As for Saul's murdering the Gibeonites, the whole land was plagued, until the man that consumed them, and devised against them to destroy them, seven of his sons were delivered unto them, to be hanged up before the Lord, 2 Sam. xxi. 5, 6. So also for the sins of Manasseh. The reason was, because if the magistrate would not excute judgment, the people should have done it: for not only to the king, but also to his servants, and to the people that entered in by the gates, the command is, excute ye judgment, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, Jer. xxii. 2, 3. though it be true, this is to be done by every one in their station, justice and order being preserved, and according to the measure of their office, and it chiefly belongs to judges and magistrates: yet this is no wrong to justice, nor breach of order, nor sinful transgression of people's vocation, not only to hinder the shedding of innocent blood, to prevent God's executing of what he there threatens, but also to execute judgment on the shedders, to prevent their progress in murdering villany, when inferior as well as superior magistrates are oppressing and tyrannizing: therefore this seeking, and doing, and executing judgment, is so often required of the people, in such a case, when princes are rebellious and companions of thieves, and in the city where judgment used to be, now murderers bear sway, Isa. i. 17. 21. the Lord is displeased where there is none, Isa. lix. 15, 16. Jer. v. 1. See this vindicated in Lex Rex, quest. 34. p. 367. and in Jus popul. cap. 10. p. 237.


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