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SERMON L.

Before the COURT of TINWALD, 1796.

THE DUTY OF MAGISTRATES..

DEUT. i. 17.

YE SHALL NOT BE AFRAID OF THE FACE OF MAN; FOR

THE JUDGMENT IS GOD's*

"HIS is part of that solemn charge which
Moses

gave to the judges of Israel.-
The same in effect did good king Jehosaphat
give to his judges;" Take heed what ye do; for
ye judge not for man, but for the Lord, who is
with

you in the judgment; wherefore, let the fear
of the Lord be upon you.

If this charge were necessary then, it cer-
tainly is so now, and will ever be so, as long
as men are subject to weakness, to negligence,
to corruption, or to passion; that is, as long
as this world lasts.

The words of the text suppose this: Ye fall
not be afraid of the face of man; and proposes
the only effectual antidote against such an evil,
for the judgment is God's.

• See Exod. xviii. 21. xxiii. 3. Deut. i. 16. Prov. xvi. 12. xviii.
xxix. 4, 12, 14, 25. xxi. 30. XXX.4, 5. Isaiah xxix. 21. XXX. I. Amos
V. 10. Eccl. vii. 6. Rom. xiii. 1, 2, 6. Gal. i. 10.
& Chron. xix. 6,

The

I Tim. ï. 2.

FACE OF MAN.

The words are few, but imply a great deal of instruction..

Ist. THE JUDGMENT IS God's. Why then the magistrate's power and authority is from God. c. zdly. YE SHALL NOT BE AFRAID OF THE

This teaches the magistrate bis duty; namely, that he is not to pervert justice for any worldly consideration; no, not for the fear of death.

* 3dly. The subject may here see the sin and danger of opposing, of disobeying, of vilifying the magistrate in the due execution of his office: "He is God's minister; his judgment, if just, is the very judgment which God would give, God is with him in the judgment, and will certainly avenge him if he is despised,

And these are the things that I would, at this time, recommend to your confideration, in as few words as I can possibly express my meaning..

And first, for the authority of the magistrate, St. Paul tells us plainly, The powers that be dre ordained of God. They are, it is true, men of like passions with ourselves; but that does not hinder them from being God's representatives.

They are expressly called in holy scripture, God's MINISTERS. By me, faith Solomon, by me kings reign, and all the judges of the earth; that is; from God they have their power: *tberefore that resisteth, resisteth not man, but God.

e

power. He

* Rom. xiii. I.

Rom. xüi. 6.

e Prov. viii. 15.

And

And this is the magistrate's great security, especially among Christians, who all know, or Thould know, that disobedience to the lawful commands of a lawful magistrate will be attended with the severest punishment. For they that refijt, faith the apostle,' shall receive to themselves damnation.

In short; God, the author of life and death, the great proprietor of all things, has given to certain persons power over the bodies, soods, estates, and even lives, of their fellow'reatures; but then left these magistrates, finding themselves vested with so much power, should be tempted to abuse it, all nations, after the example of God's people, and by his will, have agreed upon laws to restrain and direct them.

And most nations, particularly this of our's, have made the law of God, by Moses to the Ifraelites, their pattern.

Now, if the magistrate judge and govern according to these laws, that is God's will -and judgment; so that both the magistrate and people are answerable to God; the one, if he make not the law his rule; and the other, if they live not in all dutiful obedience to those whom the providence of God has set over them.

And therefore the apostle adds, that we must obey authority-not only for wrath, *that is, for fear of temporal punishment; but

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f Rom. xiii. 2.

also

also for conscience sake; that is, out of regard to the law and will of God.

And happy it is both for the magistrate and the people, that there are such laws in every society, that both the one and the other may have a rule to go by, a rule which does or should always speak the same language-to the poor and to the rich; to friends and enemies; to those that are wise, and to them that are simple and see not their interest.

It was for this reason, that the heathens represented Justice with a veil over her face, intimating that a righteous judge ought never to consider the person, but the cause, that is before him.

And certainly there is no better way for a magistrate to secure the obedience and regard of the people, than to let them see, that they who are appointed to give the law, are themfelves governed by law, and not by their own inclinations or wills. For the laws of all nations do suppose, that magistrates may be mistaken in their judgment, either through fear, or favour, or negligence, or ignorance, or through weakness or corruption; and therefore all laws have, as far as it is in the power of man, provided a remedy against such evils, by allowing an appeal from every inferior to a fuperior court.

St. Paul himself, than whom no inspired writer ever pressed obedience to government more earnestly, when he was most unjustly

profecuted prosecuted for a faithful discharge of his duty to God, he appealed unto Cæfar, as to the last power, and next under God, from whom he might expect a more equitable sentence.

Let us now consider the ends for which mogistrates have this great power given them by God. And these are, in short, the glory of God, and the good of their fellow-creatures.

It is for this reason, that in our daily prayers we beseech God, fo to dispose and govern the hearts of such as are in authority, that they, knowing whose ministers they are, may above all things, and in the first place, seek God's honour and glory; and in the next place, ftudy to preserve the people under them in wealth, peace, and godliness. And every ma, gistrate, who has not these things in his view, will have but a fad account to make to God, whose minister he is.

It is certain, all our laws were intended to secure these two ends; THE HONOUR OF GOD, by punishing the breach of his laws, by penalties suitable to the nature of the offence; and THE GOOD OF EVERY MAN, by securing every man in the possession of his rights, till a better right appeared.

I wish one could say the fame of all our precedents; but the reason of the difference is very plain;----laws are generally made with good advice, and with a view to the publick goods but precedents are too often made with a view to particular interests, and sometimes

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