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evils, not always immediate perhaps, but always near, certain, and dreadful.

2. Subjects are bound faithfully to obey their rulers.

Concerning this truth, in the abstract, there will probably be no debate, except what is excited either by passion or by frenzy. The only serious questions which can rationally be made here, are, How far is this obedience to extend? and, What are the cases in which it may be lawfully refused? The importance of these questions must be deeply felt by every man. By St. Paul' every soul is required to be subject to the higher powers;' because, as he informs us, 'the powers that be are ordained of God. By the same apostle we are further told, that 'whosoever resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God, and shall receive to himself damnation;' that is, not damnation in the proper sense, or as the word is now understood, but the condemnation denounced by the law of God against all sin. By St. Peter we are directed to submit to every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors ; that is, generally, to all persons possessing lawful authority; *for such,' he declares,' is the will of God. With these precepts in his hand, no Christian can fail to believe the questions mentioned above to be of incalculable importance to him, and his fellow-men. It is as really the duty of a minister to explain this part of the Gospel to his congregation, and to enforce upon them these precepts, as any other. Nor can he be at all excused in passing them by. I shall therefore exhibit to yon, on the present occasion, my own views conceruing this long and vehemently disputed topic.

(I.) Subjects are not bound to obey the commands of magistrates, as such, when they are not warranted by law.

The law creates magistrates, and defines all their powers and rights. Whenever they require that which is not warranted by law, they cease to act as magistrates, and return to the character of mere citizens. In this character they have plainly no authority over their fellow-citizens. It is not the man, but the magistrate, whom God requires us to obey.

(2.) Subjects are bound to obey magistrates, when acting agreeably to the laws, in all cases not contrary to the will of God, as unfolded in the Scriptures.

This I take to be the true import of the directions given by

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St. Peter and St. Paul. These apostles cannot, I think, be rationally supposed to enjoin upon subjects obedience to those commands of a ruler, which contravene the laws of the land ; or which lie beyond the limits of his lawful authority. They require our obedience to the magistrate, acting as a magistrate, or within the limits of his lawful authority, and not to the magistrate, transgressing the bounds of law, and acting merely as a private individual, according to the dictates of his own discretion, caprice, or whim. Much less can they be supposed to require our obedience to those commands of a ruler, which are opposed to the law of God. Whether we should

obey God rather than men,' can never be seriously made a question by common sense, any more than by piety.

There may be, there often are, cases in which, from motives of prudence and expediency, we inay feel ourselves bound to obey magistrates, for the time at least, when acting beyond their authority, and aside from law. This subject is too extensive to be particularly considered on the present occasion. I shall only observe therefore, that we are bound to fix in our minds a high sense of the duty and importance of obeying rulers; and of the danger always threatening the public peace and prosperity from unnecessary disobedience. Such a sense will, it is believed, prevent most of the real difficulties to be apprehended in cases of this nature.

The observations, already made concerning this general subject, will prepare the way for settling our opinions concerning a particular question involved in it, which is of high importance to mankind. It is this ; Whether a nation is warranted to resist rulers, when seriously encroaching on its liberties? It is my intention to confine the answer which will now be given to this question, to the lawfulness of such resistance. The expediency of it, I shall suppose to be granted, so far as the safety and success of the resistance is concerned. In other words, I shall suppose the people immediately interested in the question, to have as fair an opportunity as can be reasonably expected, of preserving or acquiring political liberty; and of establishing, after the contest is ended, a free and happy government. In this case, the resistence in question is, in my own view, warranted by the law of God. It is well known, that this opinion has been adopted by some wise and good men, and denied by others. But the reasons alleged

by both classes for their respective doctrines, have, so far as they have fallen under my observations, been less satisfactory than I wished.

A nation, already free; ought, whenever encroachments upon its freedom are begun, to reason in some such manner as the following:

Despotism, according to the universal and uniform experience of man, has regularly been fatal to every human interest. It has attacked private happiness, and invaded public prosperity. It has multiplied sufferings without number, and beyond degree. It bas visited regularly the nation, the neighbourhood, and the fire-side ; and carried with it public sorrow, and private anguish. Personal liberty has withered at its touch ; and national safety, peace, and prosperity have faded at its approach. Enjoyment has fled before it; life expired, and hope vanished. Evils of this magnitude have all been suffered also merely to gratify the caprice, the pride, the ambition, the avarice, the resentment, or the voluptuousness of one, or a few individuals ; each of whose interests is of the same value in the sight of God, and no more, than those of every other individual belonging to the nation. Can there be a reason, do the Scriptures furnish one, why the millions of the present generation, and the more numerous millions of succeeding generations, should suffer these evils, merely to gratify the lusts of ten, twenty, or one hundred of their fellow-men?"

If an affirmative answer should be given to this question, let it be remembered, that the same despotic power has, with equal regularity, cut off from subjects the means of usefulness and duty. Mankind are sent into the world to serve God, and do good to each other. If these things are not done, we live in vain, and worse than in vain. If the ineans of doing them are taken away, we are prevented, just so far, from answering the end of our creation. In vain is mental and bodily energy, in vain are talents, opportunities, and privileges, bestowed by our Creator, if they are to be wrested from us by our fellow-men, or the means of exerting them taken away. In vain are we constituted parents, if we are precluded from procuring the comfortable sustenance, providing for the education, and promoting the piety and salvation of our offspring. In vain are we made children, if we are forbidden to perform the filial duties. In vain are we placed in the other relations of life, if we are prohibited from performing the duties to which they give birth. Take away usefulness from man, and there is nothing left which is good, but every thing which is bad. This usefulness, however, despots have in a dreadful manner either prevented, or destroyed. They have shrunk the talents, and palsied the energy of the mind; have shut the door of knowledge, and blocked up

the path of virtue ; have wilted the human race into sloth and imbecility, and lowered the powers of man almost to the level of brutism. The little spot of Greece exhibited more energy, and more specimens of mental greatness, in one hundred and fifty years, than the Chinesian world has exhibited in two thousand.

“ But this is not all. Despotic rulers have exercised a most malignant influence upon the virtue of mankind. They have assumed 'the prerogatives of heaven; and prescribed, as the will of God, a system of religious doctrines and duties to their subjects. This system has invariably been absurd, gross, and monstrous. The morality which it has enjoined has been chiefly a code of crimes fitter for the regulation of banditti, than of sober men. The religion which it has taught has been a scheme of impiety. Yet this system they have enforced by the most terrible penalties; by the loss of property, liberty, and life ; by the gaol and the gibbet, the wheel and the rack, the faggot and the cross. Blood has stained the sceptre—martyrs have surrounded the throne.”

“ Even this is not all. Despots, bad men themselves, must be served by bad men. The baleful and deleterious influence of the head and the members united has extended everywhere, even to the corner and the cottage; and, like the deadly damp of the cavern, has imperceptibly and silently extinguished light and life, wherever it has spread. Virtue has fallen amid the exhalation, unobserved and unknown. In its place has arisen and flourished a train of monstrous corruptions, which, with continually increasing strength, have finally gained an entire possession of the land. Degenerated beyond recal, and polluted beyond hope, a people under this influence has sunk into remediless ruin ; and only continued to exist, until mercy was wearied out by their profligacy, and reluctantly gave the sign for vengeance to sweep them away. Onę regular and complete example of all these evils is given us by the voice of God himself in the kingdom of Israel. Profane history records a multitude. Is there any principle, either scriptural or rational, which demands of any nation such a sacrifice?"

“ But were we to admit, that such a sacrifice might lawfully be made by us, so far as ourselves only are concerned, it is further to be remembered, that we are entrusted with all the possessions, privileges, blessings, and hopes of our offspring, through every succeeding generation. Guardians appointed by God himself, how can we fail of discharging punctiliously this sacred trust ? The deposit is of value literally immense. It involves the education, the comfort, the safety, the usefulness, the religious system, the morals, the piety, and the eternal life of millions, which can neither be known nor calculated. This is a trust which cannot lawfully be given up, unless in obedience to a known and unquestionable command of God; and no such command can be pleaded. Equally important is it, that we prevent (for, under God, none but we can prevent) the contrary innumerable and immeasurable evils.”

“ At the same time, it is ever to be remembered, that under a free government, all the blessings which I have mentioned, so far as they are found in the present world, live and prosper. Such a government is the soil and the climate, the rain and the sunshine, of human good. Despotism, on the contrary, is the combined drought and sterility of Nubia, the frost and darkness of Zembla ; amid which, virtue, comfort, and safety can never spring.”

With these considerations in view, it is unquestionably evident to me, that nations are bound, so far as it is possible, to maintain their freedom, and to resist every serious encroachment upon it, with such efforts as are necessary for its preservation.

(3.) Subjects are bound to obey every magistrate, acting lawfully, in the same manner.

The constable and tithingman are, in their own sphere, as truly armed with the authority of the state, as the governor and the prince: and the divine command is, ' Submit to every ordinance of man,' that is, to governmental authority in every department, ' for the Lord's sake.' To resist rulers in high

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