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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

Where the king himself was an idolater


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Judg. xx. 13. When there was

no king nor judge, and also when there were kings that turned idolaters and tyrants, they served them so, as here is commanded: witness Amaziah, as is shewed above. Hence not only Moses, upon the people's defection into idolatry in the wilderness, commanded all on the Lord's side, every man to put his sword by his side,--and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour, whereby three thousand fell at that time by the sword of the Levites, Exod. xxxii. 27, 28. But also Joash, Gideon's father, upon the same moral ground, though he was no magistrate, could say to the Abiezrites, will ye plead for Baal--he that will plead for him, let him be put to death while it is yet morning.--Judg. vi. 31. Moreover, (as Mr. Mitchel adduces the example very pertinently), we see that the people of Israel destroyed idolatry, not only in Judah wherein the king concurred, but in Ephraim, and in Manasseh, where the king himself was an idolater; and albeit, they were but private persons, without public authority: for what all the people was bound to do by the law of God, every one was bound to do it to the uttermost of his power and capacity. Mr. Mitchel offers this place to vindicate his fact of shooting at the prelate, Deut. xiii. 9. 'Wherein, (says he) it is manifest, That the idolater or enticer to worship a false god, is to be put to death by the hand of those whom he seeks to turn away from the Lord: which precept I humbly take to be moral, and not merely
judicial, and that it is not at all ceremonial or levitical. And as every moral precept is universal, as to the extent of place, so also as to the extent of time, and persons.' The chief thing objected here is, that this is judicial precept, peculiarly suited to the old dispensation; which to plead for as a rule under the New Testament, would favour of Jewish rigidity inconsistent with a gospel Spirit. Ans. How Mr. Knox refels this, and clears that the command here is given to all the people, needs not be here repeated; but it were sufficient to read it in the foregoing representation, Period 3. Pag. 24. As it is also cited by Jus Pop. pag. 212. &c. But these general truths may be added, concerning the judicial laws, 1. None can say, that none of the judicial laws, concerning political constitutions, is to be observed in the New Testament: for then many special rules of natural and necessary equity would be rejected, which are contained in the judicial laws of God: yea, all the laws of equity in the world would be so cast: for none can be instanced, which may not be reduced to some of the judicial laws: and if any of them are to be observed, certainly these penal statutes, so necessary for the preservation of policies, must be binding. 2. If we take not our measures from the judicial laws of God, we shall have no laws for punishment of any malefactors by death, of divine right, in the New Testament. And so all capital punishments must be only human constitutions; and consequently they must be all murders: for to take away the life of man, except for such causes as the Lord of our life


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