« PreviousContinue »
"We cannot but remark the spirit, the invincible resolution with which the prophets, (particularly Isaiah and Jeremiah,) testified to Judah of their transgressions, and to Jerusalem of their sins. Happy had it been for that people, could we have quoted them as examples of attention and obedience."
"The great Apostle Paul gives a noble pattern of administering reproofs. When censuring the church of Corinth on account of the disorders that prevailed amongst them, he discovers the greatest tenderness and delicacy; and by expressions of his love, and peculiar concern for them, makes the reproof at once less distasteful, and more prevalent."
"Samuel the prophet may be justly considered as one of the boldest reprovers. The royal dignity of Saul could not dismay him. See his rebuke to that prince, when he had presumed to act as a priest, 1 Sam. xiii. 13, 14. In like manner when he brought home the spoil of Amalek, 1 Sam. xv. 16—19, 22, 23. The prophet Elijah, fearless of the pride and cruelty of Ahab, roundly rebuked that monarch for his own great sins, and reminded him of those of his father's house. The spirit of Elijah rested on Elisha; who with the same intrepid boldness reproved that wicked prince for the murder of Naboth; and foretold the impending judgments that were to fall on him and his family, 1 Kings, xxi. 18-24. The reproof, and advice given by the prophet Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar, that proud and despotic monarch, is expressive both of courage and compassion. After giving a faithful explication of his dream, and mentioning the purpose of God to punish him for his haughtiness, he concludes, by saying," Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities, by showing mercy to the poor, if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity. "That same prophet,
c Dan. iv. 27.
when called to read the writing of the hand that had appeared unto Belshazzar the king, expresses a temper superior to his flatteries or frowns.' Let thy gifts (said he) be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known unto him the interpretation". "He then puts him in mind of the iniquities of his father, and the punishment inflicted on him; reproves the king for not taking warning from that example, but continuing with his heart lifted up against God, in the practice of wickedness and impiety; and he lets him know that his kingdom was come to an end, and that destruction was at hand. Dan. v. 18-28."
"I conclude this article by observing, that candour and freedom in reproving, mingled with prudence, is expressly required of all the ministers of religion in every age; whose lives indeed should be so regulated as to be a standing reproof to the vicious and ungodly."
OF RELATIVE DUTIES.
OF MAGISTRATES AND SUBJECTS, AND THEIR
SECT. 1. All power and authority is derived from God, and is dependent on him.-2. The duty of magistrates and judges.-3. Of kings.-4. He has shown them what is unbecoming their dignity.-5. A tyrant described by Samuel.-6. Seen in the characters of Rehoboam, Nebuchadnezzar, and Belshazzar. — 7. The wrath of God is denounced against unjust judges
4 Dan. v. 17.
and tyrants.-8. Motives to reclaim oppressors — and the purposes of a wise and pious prince.-9. Subjects are obliged to honour their rulers. 10. To abstain from every thing injurious to them.-11. To obey all their lawful commands.-12. To submit to their decisions. 1S. To pay tribute. 14. To pray for them.-15. The lamentations and prayers of the Saints on this head.
SECT. 1. All power and authority is derived from God, and is dependent on him.
§ 1. a Deut. x. 17. d Dan. iv. 17. Prov. xxi. 1.
THE Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty and a terrible, who regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward. For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south; but God is judge; he putteth down one and setteth up another. He removeth kings, and setteth up kings. The Most High ruleth in the kingdom. of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he doth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, nor say unto him, What dost thou? It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity'. The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord; as the rivers of water, he turneth it whithersoever he will". He leadeth counsellors away spoiled, and maketh the judges fools. He looseth the bond of kings, and girdeth their loins with a girdle. He leadeth princes away spoiled, overthroweth the mighty. He removeth away the speech of the trusty, and taketh away the understanding of the aged. He poureth contempt upon princes, and weakeneth the strength of the mighty".
He taketh away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth, and causeth them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way'. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory, that he may set them with princes, even with the princes of his people'. If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter; for he that is higher than the highest regardeth, and there be higher than they". He shall cut off the spirits of princes; he is terrible to the kings of the earth",
Thus saith the Lord God unto the prince of Tyrus, Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a god, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God. By thy great wisdom, and by thy traffic hast thou increased thy riches, and thine heart is lifted up; therefore thus saith the Lord God, Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God; behold, therefore, I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations; they shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas. Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am a God? but thou shalt be a man, and no God in the hand of him that slayeth thee. Thou shalt die the deaths of the uncircumcised, by the hands of strangers; for I have spoken it, saith the Lord God'. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling". Pride and arrogancy do I hate. Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom. By me kings reign, and princes decree justice, By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth'. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God'.
¡ Job, xii. 24.
m Eccl. v. 8.
P Ezek. xxviii. 5-10.
k 1 Sam. ii. 8.
" Psal. lxxvi. 12.
Psal. ii. 10, 11.
1 Psal. cxiii. 8.
Ezek. xxviii. 2.
Prov. viii. 13-16.
The duty of magistrates and judges. Thou shalt provide out of the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all seasons. And I spake unto you at that time, saying, Take ye wise men and understanding, and known among your tribes, and make them rulers over you. And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's". Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment; thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty; but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour. Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee throughout thy tribes; and they shall judge the people with just judgment. Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift; for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous. That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live'. If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked. Take heed what ye do; for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord, who is with you in judgment. Wherefore now let the fear of the Lord be upon you, take heed and do it ; for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts". Thus shall you do in the fear of the Lord, faithfully, and with a perfect heart. And whatsoever cause shall come to you, of
c Deut. i. 16.
Deut. xvi. 18, 19, 20,