Page images
PDF
EPUB

39.

A Christian

all one.

PART II. And because in all commonwealths, that assembly,

which is without warrant from the civil sovereign, is unlawful ; that Church also, which is assembled in any commonwealth that hath forbidden them to assemble, is an unlawful assembly.

It followeth also, that there is on earth, no such commonwealth and a church universal Church, as all Christians are bound to

obey; because there is no power on earth, to which all other commonwealths are subject. There are Christians, in the dominions of several princes and states; but every one of them is subject to that commonwealth, whereof he is himself a member; and consequently, cannot be subject to the commands of any other person. And therefore a Church, such a one as is capable to command, to judge, absolve, condemn, or do any other act, is the same thing with a civil commonwealth, consisting of Christian men; and is called a civil state, for that the subjects of it are men: and a Church, for that the subjects thereof are Christians. Temporal and spiritual government, are but two words brought into the world, to make men see double, and mistake their lawful sovereign. It is true, that the bodies of the faithful, after the resurrection, shall be not only spiritual, but eternal ; but in this life they are gross, and corruptible. There is therefore no other government in this life, neither of state, nor religion, but temporal; nor teaching of any doctrine, lawful to any subject, which the governor both of the state, and of the religion forbiddeth to be taught. And that governor must be one; or else there must needs follow faction and civil war in the commonwealth, between the Church

! State ; between spiritualists and temporal

39.

min.

ists ; between the sword of justice, and the shield Part III. of faith: and, which is more, in every Christian man's own breast, between the Christian, and the

The doctors of the Church, are called pastors; so also are civil sovereigns. But if pastors be not subordinate one to another, so as that there may be one chief pastor, men will be taught contrary doctrines; whereof both may be, and one must be false. Who that one chief pastor is, according to the law of nature, hath been already shown; namely, that it is the civil sovereign : and to whom the Scripture hath assigned that office, we shall see in the chapters following.

CHAPTER XL.

For with him reign right

OF THE RIGHTS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD, IN
ABRAHAM, MOSES, THE HIGH-PRIESTS, AND

THE KINGS OF JUDAH. The father of the faithful, and first in the kingdom The soveof God by covenant, was Abraham.

of Abraham. was the covenant first made ; wherein he obliged himself, and his seed after him, to acknowledge and obey the commands of God; not only such, as he could take notice of, (as moral laws,) by the light of nature; but also such, as God should in special manner deliver to him by dreams and visions. For as to the moral law, they were already obliged, and needed not have been contracted withal, by promise of the land of Canaan. Nor was there any contract, that could add to, or strengthen the obligation, by which both they, and all men else were bound naturally to obey God Almighty: and therefore the covenant which Abraham made with God,

40.

PART III. was to take for the commandment of God, that

which in the name of God was commanded him in a dream, or vision; and to deliver it to his family, and cause them to observe the same.

In this contract of God with Abraham, we may observe three points of important consequence in the government of God's people. First, that at the making of this covenant, God spake only to Abraham; and therefore contracted not with any of his family, or seed, otherwise than as their wills, which make the essence of all covenants, were before the contract involved in the will of Abraham ; who was therefore supposed to have had a lawful power, to make them perform all that he covenanted for them. According whereunto (Gen. xviii. 18, 19) God saith, All the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him; for I know him that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord. From whence may be concluded this first point, that they to whom God hath not spoken immediately, are to receive the positive commandments of God,

from their sovereign; as the family and seed of Abraham had Abraham did from Abraham their father, and Lord, of ordering the and civil sovereign. And consequently in every religion of his own people.

commonwealth, they who have no supernatural revelation to the contrary, ought to obey the laws of their own sovereign, in the external acts and profession of religion. As for the inward thought, and belief of men, which human governors can take no notice of, (for God only knoweth the heart), they are not voluntary, nor the effect of the laws, but of the unrevealed will and of the power of God; and consequently fall not under obligation.

40.

bam.

From whence proceedeth another point, that it Part III. was not unlawful for Abraham, when any of his subjects should pretend private vision or spirit, or No pretence of other revelation from God, for the countenancing against the reof any doctrine which Abraham should forbid, or igion of Abrawhen they followed or adhered to any such pretender, to punish them ; and consequently that it is lawful now for the sovereign to punish any man that shall oppose his private spirit against the laws: for he hath the same place in the commonwealth, that Abraham had in his own family.

There ariseth also from the same, a third point ; Abraham sole that as none but Abraham in his family, so none preter of what

Gud spake. but the sovereign in a Christian commonwealth, can take notice what is, or what is not the word of God. For God spake only to Abraham ; and it was he only, that was able to know what God said, and to interpret the same to his family : and therefore also, they that have the place of Abraham in a commonwealth, are the only interpreters of what God hath spoken.

The same covenant was renewed with Isaac ; The authority and afterwards with Jacob; but afterwards no on grounded. more, till the Israelites were freed from the Egyptians, and arrived at the foot of Mount Sinai : and then it was renewed by Moses, (as I have said before, chap. xxxv.) in such manner, as they became from that time forward the peculiar kingdom of God; whose lieutenant was Moses, for his own time : and the succession to that office was settled upon Aaron, and his heirs after him, to be to God a a sacerdotal kingdom for ever.

By this constitution, a kingdom is acquired to God. But seeing Moses had no authority to go

of Moses where

40.

PART II. vern the Israelites, as a successor to the right of

Abraham, because he could not claim it by inheriAuthority of tance; it appeareth not as yet, that the people on grounded. were obliged to take him for God's lieutenant,

longer than they believed that God spake unto him. And therefore his authority, notwithstanding the covenant they made with God, depended yet merely upon the opinion they had of his sanctity, and of the reality of his conferences with God, and the verity of his miracles ; which opinion coming to change, they were no more obliged to take anything for the law of God, which he propounded to them in God's name. We are therefore to consider, what other ground there was, of their obligation to obey him. For it could not be the commandment of God that could oblige them; because God spake not to them immediately, but by the mediation of Moses himself: and our Saviour saith of himself, (John v. 31) If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true ; much less if Moses bear witness of himself, especially in a claim of kingly power over God's people, ought his testimony to be received. His authority therefore, as the authority of all other princes, must be grounded on the consent of the people, and their promise to obey him. And so it was : for the people (Exod. xx. 18, 19) when they saw the thunderings, and the lightenings, and the noise of the trumpets, and the mountain smoking, removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, speak thou with us, and we will hear, but let not God speak with us lest we die Here was their promise of obedience ; and by this it was they obliged themselves to obey whatsoever he should deliver unto them for the commandment of God.

« PreviousContinue »