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authority over me or not; but this is too great an absurdity to be true..
Secondly, The province or relation of the go: vernour, is the rule or measure of his authority, both with respect to persons and things. For; as authority admits of degrees, both with respect to persons and things, one man having a greater authority with respect to things, and more extenfive with respect to persons, than another; as the King of Great Britain hath a greater and inore extenfive authority than the Lord Mayor of London; fo this difference is wholly founded in the different relations, in which they stand to those they have that authority over ; for otherways, every petty-constable would have as much author nity as the King. Every petty-constable hath a measure of authority; but that authority, as it is founded on, so it is confined to his relation, and when his relation ceases, his authority ceases with it. And if he should assume a power beyond his relation, either with respect to perfons or things, as this would be acting out of his province, and doing that which he hath no authority to do ; so the persons, to whom that power was directed, would not be obliged, in conscience, to pay active obedience to it. The case is the same, with respect to all governours; for as their authority is annexed to, and founded in their relation, so it is wholly confined to it, both with respect to persons and things. And as all magistrates are the guardians of human so. ciety, fome in a greater, and some in a less de grce; so their authority can extend only to such things wherein the good or hurt, the safety or danger, of that fociety doth confift; for as this is their only and peculiar province, fo their aythority is confined to it, and cannot be extended to those things which are forcign to that relation.
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Befides, if the province or relation, in which governours are placed, is not the rule and measure of their authority, then we are utterly at a loss to know in what cases we are obliged, in conscience, to pay active obedience to their commands, and in what not ; and consequently, for ought I know, it may be my duty to obey every command which is laid upon me by my governours, tho' they command me to practise the greatest sin, because wheresoever, and in whatfoever, there is authority to command, there must be an obligation to obey; but this likewise is too absurd to be true. • If it should be here replied, that it is our duty to obey all the commands of our governours, except those which contradict the commands of God, and that in such cases our obligation to obey our governours ceases, because we are under a superiour obligation, and consequently cannot be obliged to practise any thing that is sinful, tho' our governours should lay such commands upon us. I answer, the authority of the magistrate is the authority of God, because it is originally derived from him; and consequently there can be no authority superiour to it." - And therefore if, in these cases, the magistrate hath any authority to command, we are under an obli. gation to obey, because our obligation to obez dience is founded on that authority; and confc. quently must be as extensive and universal, as that authority upon which it is founded; and such commands, in this case, would not contradict, buc superfede or make void the commands of God; like as the gospel of Christ did not contradict, but supersede or make void the Mofaick Jaw. But the magiftrates commands do not lua perfede or make void the commands of Gadi consequently our non-obligation to obedience, in fish sales is not founded upon pas obligation to a fuperiour authority (there being in fact no such thing) but only upon the magistrate's laying such commands upon us, as they have no authority to do. : From the foregoing observation, I infer,
First, That the principle so often laid down, viz. that it is the duty of subjects to pay active obedience to all the commands of their governours, except those which run counter to the commands of God, is an erroneous principle; for if our obligation to obedience, be founded in the authority or right of commanding in the lawgiver; and if the rule or measure of the authority of governours, be the relation in which they stand; and if governours are the guardians of human society, by securing every one's property, and keeping every one in the quiet possession of their own, and if this is their only and peculiar province; from hence it will unavoidably follow, that if governours command or forbid that wherein the advantage or disadvantage of human fociety is not at all concerned, as this is acting out of their province, and doing what they have no authority to do; so their subjects can be under no obligation to pay active obedience to such commands, .whether those commands run counter to the commands of God or not. I infer, - Secondly, That if the civil magiftrates, such, should take upon them to rule Christ's subjects, by making laws to direct their behaviour and conduct in Christ's service, as this would not be only an acting out of their own province, by dor ing that which they have no authority to do, but also taking upon them to govern the servants of another master; fo the subjects of Christ's kingdom would be under no obligation (any other than that prudential one before-mentioned of chusing the less evil) to pay active obedience to such laws; because, where there is no authority to command, there can be no obligation to obey: I observe, ..
20. Christ's femrect their bebos lubjects,
. Secondly, That as the body of christians have but one common head, viz. Christ Jesus, so all the members of that body, as such, stand upon a level in point of authority; all of them being brethren in the same family, fellow-members of the same body, and fellow-fervants to the same - master. And Christ, the Lord and head of this house, hath been so far from taking in any of the members of this family to be sharers with himself in the government of it, or from giving a right of dominion to one member over another, in his kingdom, that on the contrary, he hathi strictly forbid any such authority to be exercised in his church, Luke xxiii. 25, 26. The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and they that exercise autbority upon themi, are called benefactors ; but ye shall not be fo. But be tbat is greatest among you, let him be as the younger ; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. Christians, considered as men, united in human society, may be invested with civil authority, or with authority in civil things, for the good and benefit of such societies; but christians, considered as christians, or as members of the body of Christ, can have no authority, properly so called, over one another, in religious things, or in things relating to christianity; and consequently, where there is no authority to command, there can be no obligation to obedience.
As to the pastors in Christ's church, they stand in the relation of ministers or servants, and nor in the relation of masters or governours of Chriit's people, and consequently there is no authority lodg'd in them, from that relation, to rule Christ's subjects, by making laws to direct their behaviour and conduct in Chrill's service; and therefore, if they should, at any time, take upon them to make laws, as aforesaid, Christ's people are not obliged, in conscience, to pay active obedience to them ; because, where there is no authority to com
mand, mand, there can be no obligation to obedience, as I observed before. : If it should be here objected, firt, that the pastors in Christ's church have an authority over the people committed to their care, and that their people are bound in conscience to yield obedience to such laws, as they, by virtue of that authority, have a right to lay upon them ; according to the testimony of St. Paul, Heb. xiii. 17. Obey them that bave the rule over yoll, and submit yourselves ; for they watch for your. fouls, as they that must give an account, that they indy do it with joy, and not with grief, &c. I answer, It is a piece of justice due to the Apostle, to interpret his words in such a sense, as is agreeable with, and not contradictory to the precepts of Christ. And therefore when he charged the believing Hebreros, To obey tbem that had the rule over them, and to submit themselves, he cannot, in reason, be supposed to intend any more than this, qiz. that they should submit to, and follow the instructions and admonitions of their pastors, in all those things which they, from the gospel, should make appear to be their duty ; that they Thould obey, not the commands of their pastors, but the commands of Christ, which these pastors, according to their office, acquainted them with, and pressed upon them. As to the term ruler (as it is expresled in our translation) which in this, and other places of the New Testament, is applied to the pastors in Christ's church; the * Bishop of Borgor hath shewn, that the word, in the original, doth not signify a ruler in the most proper fenfe, which implies a laso-giver, but only a teacher or guide ; as may be seen in his answer to the representation of the committee of the lower house of convocation, page 60, 61.