« AnteriorContinuar »
THESE FILTHY DREAMERS DEFILE THE FLESH, DESPISE DOMINION, AND SPEAK EVIL OF DIGNITIES. ST. JUDE, VERSE 8.
1 HE people here described are every way reprehensible. They are compared to the men of Sodom for their wickedness; and to dreamers, for their absurdity and foolishness; their thoughts, principles, and reasonings, having no more foundation in sense, than those of men in a dream. There always were such people in existence; but of late, a new and abundant generation of them has appeared in the world; as if a swarm of locusts had lately issued out of the bottomless pit, with fire and smoke, to destroy all things. They are very busy in the work of turning the world upside down; and a considerable part of their work (the beginning on which all depends) consists in cheating the senses, and inflaming the passions of ignorant people. They are said to despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. Dominion is the same with Government: these people despise the thing, and speak evil of those that exercise it: but their argumentation signifies no more than if they were talking in their sleep, according to the visions or the fancies with which the brain is then occupied.
This is as exact a description of some persons who now make a great noise in the world, as if the Apostle had seen them. But that is Bo wonder; folly and wickedness may find some new words; but they are no new things. What Satan does now in the children of disobedience, is so like what he did formerly, that we are not ignorant of his devices: and the delusions of men are after the old fashion, though they may find some new expressions.
The text requires us to examine, first, what the thing is which these people despise: secondly, how they proceed, when they would make others despise it.
The thing which they despise is Dominion. The word here used signifies lordship over others; and such lordship there must be in some persons or other, because the world cannot go on without it: there must be rulers below, as there are rulers above. The sun is said to rule over the day; and the moon and stars to govern the night: without them, nature would be all in confusion. The elements of the world are contrary tempers, and must be regulated by the powers of heaven, which keep them to their appointed course. The state of the natural world is, and will ever be, so long as it continues, a stale of government. The sun will be the lord and ruler of the day: and if any man should talk of improving the world, by setting the elements to rule themselves better without the sun, we should immediately pronounce that man to be in a dream. And the case is as clear with respect to human societ}7. For no man comes into this world to have his own will; but to have somebody set over him, that he may not have it. And the reason is this; that if one man be born to have his own will, another will be born to have his; but this is not possible: for different men will very different things: two men want tlie same thing, where but one of them can have it. Their wills interfere in such a manner, that if every man were to have his will, human society would be like the waves of the sea in a storm, dashing and breaking one another to pieces. They must therefore be under some law, some rule; and consequently there must be some Ruler to enforce'it: for a law considered in itself is a speculation, and can effect nothing. Unless confusion is to prevail, the authority of some over others is as necessary to the world, as that God should govern the universe, and keep the elements in order. For this purpose He that certainly rules the natural world hath as certainly placed himself at the head of the active world: he hath made laws, to restrain the will of man, and keep it in subjection to himself. His ten commandments are an absolute check upon the unlawful will of one man, that it may not interfere with the lawful will of another, but may leave him in the quiet possession of every thing that is his; and in so doing God hath established the right of possession. And if there be a right of possession, and laws cannot execute themselves (for what can letters and papers and books do r) there must be persons to see that they are executed: in order to which, they must have power over those who wish to see them not executed. And who are they? Who, but the men that cry out for liberty? Honest men want no liberty, but that of being secure and unmolested in their possessions; for which end law and government were established in the world. Liberty and government, in the mouths of some men, are two opposite things, but they are in their nature the same.' Laws may be mild and favourable to the people: but government must be government: there may be liberty under it, but there can be no liberty against it. For as the total absence of government would be absolute confusion; so every relaxation of government is a weakness which partakes of anarchy, and must be attended with many of its effects. If you would know what a nation is with government, and what without it, look at a man of sense, and a madman. The man of sense walks by rule: he has a regard to the happiness of others as well as his own, knowing that they have an equal right to it; and he lives in subjection to the laws of God and man. In the madman, the governing principle is gone: he has no rule, but his inclination to folly and mischief: it is dangerous to meet him abroad; therefore he is shut up, and his liberty is taken away for the safety of all honest sober people, who go regularly about their business. If there should be a majority of lunatics, they would vote themselves to be the only people of sense, and pronounce the sober part of the world to be mad. If in such a case there should not be power enough to restrain them, in what a fearful condition should we be! God Almighty deliver us from it! And it is certainly his will that we should be delivered from it, by his appointed law and government amongst us.
Let us then ask what this government is? When men are gathered into an orderly society, they are called a body; because, like a body, they are under some head, which rules and directs all the rest of the members. If the head is stricken off from a body, that body falls into convulsions, and becomes a shocking spectacle. If the head is of no effect, the body is like that of a madman, acting extravagantly and doing mischief. Every body therefore must have some effective head to rule and direct, and a people under a government of
due authority, and who are themselves in due subordination, are like the body of man when in a rational and healthy state, and in a fair way to continue so. The two cases of an army by land, arid a ship at sea, are plain cases, which shew that whatever the constitution of a government may be in theory, it must be, in practice, under some one leader, as a natural body has one head. The ship then keeps her destined course; but if the crew are mutinous, and rise upon the commander,, then the ship turns pirate and plunders the world, or changes her course, and sets sail for some paradise of fools in a remote part of the universe. The*histor of such a crew would be something like the history of a certain nation, now in a state of piracy against the world, whose directors are nothing but criminals, and, as such, merit the fate of robbers and ruffians, which by the just judgment of God many of them have met with.
The sum of the matter is this. Man is not under his own will, but under the will of God: and as man doth not know the will of God, nor can know it; the laws of society must originally come from God; and the authority to execute those laws must be from the same. He that kills a man for his own will and pleasure without law is a murderer: he that kills him with law is a judge or ruler; one into whose hand God, for the maintaining of his own laws, and the safety of the people, puts a sword: and if he holds that sword in vain, evil prevails, and the hand is turned against himself. This was the case of the poor unfortunate King of France; of whom it is said, that by permitting the law to take its course against a few worthless wretches, not fit to live, (as he was intreated to do at a critical moment, when the sword was in his hand); he might