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I am resolved, by the grace of God, to honour and obey the king, or prince, whom God is pleased to set over me, as well as to expect that he should safeguard and protect me, whom God is pleased to set under him.
THE King of kings, and Lord of lords, the great and glorious Monarch of all the world, having enacted many gracious laws, is pleased to set over every kingdom and nation such persons as may put them in execution. So that I cannot but look upon a lawful king, as truly a representative of the most high God, as a parliament is of the people; and am therefore persuaded, that whoever rebels against him, rebels against God himself; not only in that he rebels against the ordinance of God, and so, against the God of that ordinance, but because he rebels against him, whom God hath set up as his vicegerent, to represent his person, and execute his laws in such a part of his dominions.
Hence it is, that these two precepts, ‘Fear God, and honour the king,’ are so often joined together in holy writ; for he that fears God’s power cannot but honour his authority; and he that honours not the king, that represents God, cannot be said to fear God, who is represented by him. And hence, likewise, 185it is, that God has been as strict and express in enjoining us obedience to our governors as to himself; for, thus saith the Lord of hosts, ‘Let every soul be subject to the higher powers.’195195 Rom. xiii. 1. Why? because ‘there is no power but of God; the powers that be, are ordained of God.’
And he hath denounced as great a judgment against such as rebel against the magistrate he hath ordained, as against those that rebel against himself; ‘For whosoever resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist, shall receive to themselves damnation.’196196 Ib. xiii. 2. So that the wrath of God shall as certainly fall upon those that rise up against the king, as upon those that fight against God. And no wonder that the punishment should be the same, when the fault is the same: for he that fights against his king, fights against God himself, who hath invested him with that power and authority to govern his people, representing his own glorious majesty before them.
Upon this ground it is, that I believe the wickedness of a prince cannot be a sufficient plea for the disobedience of his subjects; for it is not the holiness, but the authority of God that he represents, which the most wicked, as well as the most holy person, may be endowed with; and therefore, when the gospel first began to spread itself over the earth, though there was no Christian king, or supreme magistrate, of what title soever, to cherish and protect it; nay, though the civil powers were then the greatest enemies to it; yet, even then were the disciples of Christ enjoined to ‘submit themselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lord’s sake.’186
Insomuch, that did I live among the Turks, I should look upon it as my duty to obey the Grand Seignior, in all his lawful edicts, as well as the most Christian and pious king in the world. For, suppose a prince be never so wicked, and never so negligent in his duty of protecting me, it doth not follow, that I must neglect mine of obeying him. In such a case, I have another duty added to this: and that is to pray for him, and intercede with God for his conversion: for thus hath the King of kings commanded, that ‘prayers, supplications, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men,’ so more especially, ‘for kings and those that are in authority, that we may live a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.’197197 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2. So that whensoever I address myself to the court of heaven, I must be sure to remember my sovereign upon earth, that God would be pleased to enable his servant to reign on earth as himself doth in heaven, in righteousness and mercy. But especially, in case of any seeming or real default or defect, though I do not think it a subject’s duty to judge or censure their sovereign’s actions, I am to be the more earnest in my prayers and intercessions for him; but, upon no account to fight or rebel against him.
And, if I am thus strictly obliged to honour, obey, and pray for a bad prince, how much more should 1 pay those duties to one, who represents God, not only in his authority, but in his holiness too? In this case, sure, as there is a double engagement to reverence and obedience, so I am doubly punishable, if I neglect to show it, either to the prince himself, or those that are set under him; 187for the same obligations that lie upon me, for my obedience to the king, bind me likewise to obey his inferior officers and magistrates, that act under him; and that for this reason, because, as he represents God, so they represent him; and, therefore, whatever they command, in his name, I look upon it as much my duty to obey, as if it was commanded by his own mouth; and, accordingly, do, from this moment, by the grace of God, resolve to put this duty in practice.
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