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may be liberty under it, but there can be no liberty against it. For as the total absence of government would be absolute confusion; so every relaxation of government is a weakness which partakes of anarchy, and must be attended with many of its effects. If you would know what a nation is with government, and what without it, look at a man of sense, and a madman. The man of sense walks by rule : he has a regard to the happiness of others as well as his own, knowing that they have an equal right to it; and he lives in subjection to the laws of God and man. In the madman, the governing principle is gone: he has no rule, but his inclination to folly and mischief: it is
dangerous to meet him abroad; therefore he is shut | up, and his liberty is taken away for the safety of all
honest sober people, who go regularly about their business. If there should be a majority of lunatics, they would vote themselves to be the only people of sense, and pronounce the sober part of the world to be mad. If in such a case there should not be power enough to restrain them, in what a fearful condition should we be! God Almighty deliver us from it! And it is certainly his will that we should be delivered from it, by his appointed law and government amongst us.
Let us ther ask what this government is? When men are gathered into an orderly society, they are called a body; because, like a body, they are under some head, which rules and directs all the rest of the members. If the head is stricken off from a body, that body falls into convulsions, and becomes a shocking spectacle. If the head is of no effect, the body is like that of a madman, acting extravagantly and doing mischief. Every body therefore must have some effective head to rule and direct, and a people under a government of
. XXI. lareful Authority. due authority, and who are themselves in due subordination, are like the body of man when in a rational and healthy state, and in a fair way to continue so. The two cases of an army by land, and a ship at sea, are plain cases, which shew that whatever the constitution of a government may be in theory, it must be, in practice, under some one leader, as a natural body has one head. The ship then keeps her destined course; but if the crew are mutinous, and rise upon the commander, then the ship turns pirate and plunders the world, or changes her course, and sets sail for some paradise of fools in a remote part of the uni. verse. The histor of such a crew would be something like the history of a certain nation, now in a state of piracy against the world, whose directors are nothing but criminals, and, as such, merit the fate of robbers, and ruffians, which by the just judgment of God many of them have met with.
The sum of the matter is this. Man is not under his own will, but under the will of God: and as man doth not know the will of God, nor can know it; the laws of society must originally come from God; and the authority to execute those laws must be from the same. He that kills a man for his own will and pleasure without law is a murderer: he that kills hiin with law is a judge or ruler; one into whose hand God, for the maintaining of his own laws, and the safety of the people, puts a sword : and if he holds that sword in vain, evil prevails, and the hand is turned against himself. This was the case of the poor unfortunate King of France; of whom it is said, that by permitting the law to take its course against a few worthless wretches, not fit to live, (as he was intreated to do at a critical moment, when the sword was in his hand); he might
have saved the lives of a million of innocent people. How many more we know not: for the confusion being once begun, and among the people who have always given fashions to Europe, may last to the world's end, and be the immediate cause of its end.
Look upon the natural world, and see how quiet and orderly it is under the Government of God. There his laws are never broken. The sun shines ; the moon rises; the stars are in their prescribed size tions; the tides ebb and flow at their time; the spring gives ber tiowers; the summer ripens the corn; and the autumn gathers it. Thus tranquil and orderly would kuman society be, if it would but be as obedieat to the laws of God. Oh how devoutly is it to be wished, that the moral world were under an authority as wise and as irresistible! But God has left man, as a free agent, to his own counsel; that, if he sees fit, he may break the divine laws, overturn the whole order of things, and terrify the nations of the earth with “ blood and fire and pillars of smoke;" which words do well describe the present state of war in this last age of the world.
The reason being now plain, why God hath appointed the rule of some over others; and it being fully shewn what a blessing it is, when this order is duly observed, and what misery follow's when it is broken, we are now to examine what sort of people they are who despise dominion. Evil men you may be sure they must be; and in one respect they act wisely; they do well to hate government; for it is pointed against themselves. A great pbilosopher of ancient Greece pronounced it impossible for man to be wise if he were not good; and he spoke the truth: for if you watch evil men closely, you will always discover that they are fools, and that their own tongues will make them fall; insomuch that he who seeth them shall laugh them to scorn. Our text therefore calls them dreamers; their opinions being as monstrous, as incoherent, as unprofitable, as ridiculous, and as unaccountable, as those of men that are asleep. One of their first devices is this : when they cannot openly deny the necessity of Government to the good of man; they speak evil of dignities; they rail at the persons that exercise it: either as persons weak in their understandings; or ill-intentioned; or insufficiently informed; or oppressive and tyrannical. If the laws cannot be spoken against (though they do this as often as they dare) they fall foul upon them that administer them, in order to make the laws themselves odious. The children of disobedience, who reject all authority, are particularly denominated as children of Belial; in whom he is said to work. Now if the Scripture tells us truly, that the spirit that is in us, our own human spirit, lusteth to envy, and that envy, and hatred which always attends it, are natural lusts of the mind; what must men become, when there is an Evil Spirit working within, to impel them, and inflame them, till their tongues (as the Apostle speaks) are set on fire of hell ? Then does all manner of seditious language break forth and abound, with such vain boasting and vile abuse as honest men cannot account for : but the Evil Spirit knows what he intends by it: he knows, that as the fiery tongues of the Gospel gave light and peace to the world, so his fiery tongues will spread discord and confusion, to the ends of the earth. All this is done directly, to raise discontents, and make govern. ment itself an odious thing. Their next step is to overturn it, by propagating false principles among the people. I called them principles; but having no foun. dation, they really are dreams. The first is this, that VOL. IV.
. XXIII, every man has rights; which is said with this design, that every man may be discontented, and may turn the world upside down by contending for them.
There is no such thing in the world as the absolute right these persons talk about. - There is no right without reason; and right will follow reason, so long as men speak sense. But in a dream, reason has no share ; so we find little of it here. We must ask, in what state of man is this riglt to be found? Man can have no right before he is born. To his birth he has no right; for it is the gift of God that he comes into the world at all. In his infancy he may have a right to be fed and nursed, because he cannot feed himself; but then his parents also, so long as he is dependent upon them, have a right to his obedience and service. If as he grows up, he refuses to work, he has no right to eat. If as he grows up he cheats and steals, he has no right to be exempted from suffering punishment as a felon: if he commits murder, he has no right to escape the righteous sentence of death. I say these things to shew that rights are in every case, the rights of justice ; that every right must have its reason; and where there is no reason there can be no right. The rights of man must be the rights of man in society, and where there is society, there must be government: all the rest is either a vision, which is nothing; or it is the direct contrary to all right and justice; the assumed right of the wild beast beast in the desert, or the law. less murderer. If it were true that one man comes into the world with a right against another, it must be equally true, that the other comes into the world with an equal right against him; and opposite rigtits amount to nothing: they can be no rights till there be some third preponderant power to decide between them; which third power is what we call government; and