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I am resolved by the grace of God, to improve the authority God gives me over others, to the suppression of vice, and the encouragement of virtue; and so for the exaltation of God’s name on earth, and their souls in heaven.
THAT all power and authority hath its original from God, and that one creature is not over another, but by the providence and will of Him, who is over all; and so, by consequence, that all the authority we have over men is to be improved for God, is clear, not only from that question, ‘Who made thee to differ from another; and what hast thou, which thou didst not receive?’204204 1 Cor. iv. 7. but likewise, and that more clearly, from that positive assertion, ‘the powers that be are ordained of God.’205205 Rom. xiii. 1. That, therefore, I may follow my commission, I must stick close to my present resolution, even in all the 210power God gives me to behave myself as one invested with that power from above, to restrain vice and encourage virtue, as oft as I have an opportunity so to do, always looking upon myself as one commissioned by him, and acting under him. For this reason, I must still endeavour to exercise my authority, as if the most high God was in my place in person as well as power. I must not follow the dictates of my own carnal reason, much less the humours of my own biased passion, but still keep to the acts which God himself hath made, either in the general statute book for all the world, the holy Scriptures, or in the particular laws and statutes of the nation wherein I live.
And questionless, if I discharge this duty as I ought, whatever sphere of authority I move in, I am capable of doing a great deal of good, not only by my power, but by my influence and example. For common experience teaches us, that even the inclinations and desires of those that are eminent for their quality or station, are more powerful than the very commands of God himself; especially among persons of an inferior rank, and more servile disposition, who are apt to be more wrought upon by the fear of present punishment, or the loss of some temporal advantage, than any thing that is future or spiritual. Hence it is, that all those whom God entrusteth with this precious talent, have a great advantage and opportunity in their hand, for the suppressing sin, and the exalting holiness in the world: a word from their mouths against whoredom, drunkenness, and the profanation of the Sabbath, or the like; yea, their very example and silent gestures being able to do more 211than the threatenings of almighty God, either pronounced by himself in his word, or by his ministers in his holy ordinances.
This, therefore, is my resolution, that whatsoever authority the most high God shall be pleased to put upon me, I will look upon it as my duty and always make it my endeavour, to demolish the kingdom of sin and Satan, and establish that of Christ and holiness in the hearts of all those to whom my commission extends; looking more at the duty God expects from me, than at the dignity he confers upon me. In a word, I will so exercise the power and authority God puts into my hands here, that when the particular circuit of my life is ended, and I shall be brought to the general assize to give an account of this among my other talents, I may give it up with joy; and so exchange my temporal authority upon earth, for an eternal crown of glory in heaven.
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