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fence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding ba very way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached, aril I therein do rejoice, yea and will rejoice.
To conclude, The sum of the forgoingobserva. tions is this, viz. that Christ, and be only, is the head or governour, properly so called, of the christian church, and all the members of that body stand upon a level in point of authority, they being all fellow-fervants of the same master, and fellow subjects to the same prince. That tho' the Apof. tles were intrusted with that valuable treasure the gospel, which they were faithful to dispense to both Jews and Gentiles, yet they had no autho. rity, properly so called, lodged in them, over the consciences of men, either in point of faith or practice. That they never exercised such authority themfelves, nor pretended to confer it upon others. That the relation which christians, as christians, Itand in to Christ, and to one another, is wholly founded in their union by faith and sub. jection to Christ, and not in any external profession, privilege, or enjoyment. That tho' the Apostles were commissioned to preach Christ to unbelievers, yet that preaching was not confined to the apostolick office, but might be performed by others, to whom God had given ability and opportunity for such a work. And consequently, that christian unity, or the unity of Christ's church, does not consist in the members union with, and subjection to the unjust and groundless authority of their fellow-members, but only in their union, by faith and subjection, to the kead, Christ,
. : AN ENQUIRY
INTO That important question, Whether
Christ is sole King in his own kingdom? or, whether the civil magiftratę, or the pastors in Christ's church are invested with authority to rule Christ's subjects, by making laws to direct their behaviour and conduct in Chrst's service? which laws they (viz. Christ's subjects) are obliged in conscience to pay active obedience to. In a Letter to a Gentleman, ŞIR, pa HE state of christianity at this time, in
this part of the world, is very remarkable, For as christians are here divided into two
more general parts, viz. Papists and Pretestants; so soine of these seem to change hands : some Protesianis seemingly avowing those princia ples, upon which popery is founded, and some Papists seemingly afferting those which are the foundation of protestantism. This seems evident from what has been objected to, and offer'd against the Bihop of Bengor's fesmom lately preach'd be
fore the King; and from that noble speech made by the representative of the Sorbone in France, when in their name, he presented their book to the Earı of Stairs. What will be the event is not easy to foresee.
The present dabate among us seems to be, Whether Christ is fole King in bis own kingdom? or, Whether the civil magistrates, or, the pastors in Christ's church, are invested with authority to rule Christ's subjects, by making laws to direct their behaviour and conduct in Christ's service? which laws, they (viz. Christ's subjects) are obliged in conscience to pay active obedience to. Thisquestion seems to be of greatimportance; for if Christ is fole King in his own kingdom, then christians have no other laws but those of Christ, for the directing of their behaviour and conduct in his service, which they are, in duty bound, to pay active obe: dience to ; bur if the civil magistrates, or the pastors in Christ's church, are invested with authority to rule Christ's subjects, by making laws to direct their behaviour in Christ's service, then the freedom of the gospel may be a much greater bondage than the bondage of the Mofaick law, if those who are invested with such authority are difposed to niake it so. And as this question is of great importance, fo christians, even protestants, seem to be very much divided in their opinions concerning it. This being the case, Sir, I presune you will not take it amiss if I make one or two, observations relating to this question, and Jubmit thein to your consideration and judgment. I observe,
Först, As magistracy, or the exercise of a regular government in human fociety, is the ordinance of God, and as the greaţ and main erd of govern Inent is the good and happiness of the society in Yhich it is exerciled; and as magistrates are the
guardians of human society, by being a security to every one's property, and keeping every one in the quiet poffeffion of his own; and as they can have no right to invade that which the nature and end of their office obliges them to secure ; fo their authority, or right to command, can extend no farther, than to those things wherein the advantage or disadvantage of human society is concern'd, the happiness and well-being of that fociety being their only and peculiar province; and confequenta ly, if they should, at any time, take upon them co command, or forbid, that which no way concerns the interest of human society, and should add fanctions to such laws; as this would be acting out of their sphere, and doing that which they had no right or authority to do; so consequently their people would not be obliged, in conscience, to pay active obedience to such laws, any otherways than as when two natural evils present themselves, so that one or other of them must of neceflity be submitted to, it is our duty to chuse the less. The truth of this observation will more plainly appear, when I have premised, that as magistrates are the guardians of human society, so their authority is annexed to, and founded on, and confined to that relation. King George had no authority over the people of Great Britain, 'till he became the King or Guardian of that people, and consequently his authority in Great Britain is annexed to, and Founded on, the relation in which he stands to the people of this nation. And as the authority of magistrates is annexed to, and founded on such their relation ; so it is wholly confined to it. King George hath no authority out of his domini. ' ons, over the subjects of another Prince. And the reason of this is evident, because he does not stand in the relation of a guardian to them; and confequently his authority is wholly confined to his re
tion. This being premised, I lay down the two following propositions. • First, That the ground of our obligation to obedience,
is wholly founded on the authority or right of coni manding in the law-giver. And, · Secondly, That the province or relation of the go
governor, is the rule or measure of his authority,
both with respect to persons and things. First, The ground of our obligation to obedis ence, is wholly founded on the authority or right of commanding in the law-giver. Hath God commanded us to obey others ? that obedience can be due only to such persons, and in such things, as they, by virtue of their relation, are invested with authority to command ; seeing God hath not commanded us (either in his written word, or from the nature and reason of things) to obey any particular command, or any particular person commanding, considered distinct from his relation. And as the authority of the magistrate is founded on, and confined to his relation; fo our obligation to obedience, must be founded on, and confined to his authority: and consequently where there is no authority to command, there can be no obligation to obey, 6ither with respect to persons or things. Besides if the ground of our obligation to obedience, considered as obedience, be any thing besides the authority of the law-giver (which properly speaking is the authority of God, because it is he that gives that authority to command, and requires 0bedience to it, by requiring every thing to be done which the nature and reason of things makes necessary) then we are utterly at a loss to know whom we ought to obey, and whom not: and consequently, for ought I know, I may be oblig. ed, in conscience, to obey eve: y one that shall take a liberty to coinmand me, whether he hath