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.: DISCOURSE I.
Prov. xxiv. 21.. My Son, Fear thou the Lord and the King ;
and meddle not with them that are given to change.
THE Fear of God, and of the King,
I are joined together in Scripture, to Mew the Dependence one has upon the other. The only lasting Foundation of civil Obedience, is the Fear of God; and the truest Interest of Princes, is to maintain the Honour of Religion, by which they secure their own. The Advantage of Religion to all public Societies and civil Governments, is so plain and visible, that some have sufpected it to be the only End of Religion ; which they allow to be an excellent Contrivance of State, a proper Remedy for the
turbulent Humours and Passions of Men. And though we acknowledge nobler and better Ends of Religion, which respect another world; yet we must, with Thankfulness to its Divine Author, own it to be excellently adapted to the temporal Felicity of private Men, and public Societies; Righteousness exalteth a Nation, but Sin is the Reproach of any people,
If we look into the History of former Times, we shall find the first Symptoms of Ruin and Destruction have appeared in the dissolute Lives of the People, and a general Contempt of facred Things. Irreligion naturally tends to Disorder and Confusion; for all civil and moral Duties are founded in the Principles of Religion; which once overthrown, nothing remains but pure Force and Power, to restrain the unruly Appetites of Men: a Way of governing neither safe to the Prince, nor easy to the People ; and therefore can never last long. Duties, which flow from fixed and settled Principles, must always be the fame; the Obligation arising from them unalterable ; from the Practice of which, will follow Order and Regularity. But Interest and · Passion are in continual Motion, and liable
to infinite Changes; and Men who steer by them, can hold no steady Course of Action, but must be given to change, as often as they are out of Humour, or think the present State of Things not proper to serve their Turn. Therefore nothing but a religious Sense of our Duty to God, and to our Governors, his Ministers on Earth, can keep us constant and upright in our Obedience. Fear God and the King, and meddle not with them that are given to change.
I shall not consider the Duty of fearing God, any farther than as the Obedience due to our Superiors on Earth is included in it; and shall therefore confine myself to the following Particulars; To consider,
First, What Obedience to our Governors is enjoined by the Law of God. · Secondly, How inconsistent with this Obedience the Practice of those men is, who are given to change.
First, What Obedience to our Governors is enjoined by the Law of God.
Obedience is seen chiefly in three Things:
ift, In Submission to the Laws and Commands of our Princes.
2dly, In Honour and Reverence to their Persons and Government.
3dly, In defending them, when any Dane ger threatens them or the Public.
The first and principal Instance of Obedience, is Submission to the Laws and Commands of our Princes. To determine the Original of civil Power, or how the Prince's Right to the Obedience of the Subject first began, is neither easy, nor at this Time necessary. But whatever the Original of Government has been, or upon what Account soever lawful Authority has been gained; upon the same, Obedience becomes due. At the Time our Saviour appeared in the World, various were the Forms of Government in it, and different the Degrees of Power that were exercised by Rulers over different countries; none of which were either lefsened or increased by the divine Law, but all pronounced to be the Ordinance of God; and Obedience to all exacted under the Penalty of disobeying God, the Original of all Power and Authority. For he that resisteth, rehsteth the Ordinance of God; and they that refijt, shall receive to themselves Damnation.
But since the Nature of Obedience is no where determined by the Law of God, but only the Practice of it commanded; some
other Rule there must be, to judge of the Extent of our Duty. As in moral Virtues, the Light of Nature and right Reason inform us what is Temperance, Sobriety, and the like; and therefore these Virtues are commanded in Scripture, and, in most cases, Men left to their natural Notions of Good and Evil, to distinguish between the Virtue and the Vice; so likewise must the Acts of Obedience, which the Law of God commands, be explained and defined by some other Rule. When the Jews put that captious Question to our Saviour, Whether it were lawful to pay tribute to Cæsar, or no; he gave no new Directions, but judged them out of their own Mouths by the known Rules of Government: for they having owned the Coin of the Country to bear Cæfar's Image and Superscription, a manifeft Token of their Subjection and his Sovereignty; he determined, Render therefore unto Cæfar the Things which are Calar's. Agreeable to which is the Apostle's Rule, Tribute to whom Tribute is due. Our Saviour took it not upon him to determine the civil Right of Cæfar; but the Right appearing, Obedience and Compliance he commanded. The Rights of Princes are not determined