There was no shadow of a paternal Kingdom amongst the Hebrews, nor precept for it.
OUR author is so modest to confess, that Jacob's kingdom consisting of seventy two persons, was swallowed up by the power of the greater monarch Pharaoh: But if this was an act of tyranny, 'tis strange that the sacred and eternal right, grounded upon the immutable laws of God and nature, should not be restored to God's chosen people, when he delivered them from that tyranny. Why was not Jacob's monarchy conferred upon his right heir? How came the people to neglect a point of such importance? Or if they did forget it, why did not Moses put them in mind of it? Why did not Jacob declare to whom it did belong? Or if he is understood to have declared it, in saying the scepter should not depart from Judah, why was it not delivered into his hands, or into his heirs'? If he was hard to be found in a people of one kindred, but four degrees removed from Jacob their head, who were exact in observing genealogies, how can we hope to find him after so many thousand years, when we do not so much as know from whom we are derived? Or rather how comes that right, which is eternal and universal, to have been nipp'd in the bud, and so abolished before it could take any effect in the world, as never to have been heard of amongst the gentiles, nor the people of God, either before or after the Captivity, from the death of Jacob to this day? This I assert, and I give up the cause if I do not prove it. To this end I begin with Moses and Aaron the first rulers of the people, who were neither of the eldest tribe according to birth, nor the disposition of Jacob, if he did, or could give it to any; nor were they of the eldest line of their own tribe; and even between them the superiority was given to Moses, who was the younger, as 'tis said, I have made thee a God to Pharaoh, and Aaron thy brother shall be thy Prophet. If Moses was a king, as our author says, but I deny, and shall hereafter prove, the matter is worse:
He must have been an usurper of a most unjust dominion over his brethren; and this patriarchical power, which by the law of God was to be perpetually fixed in his descendants, perished with him, and his sons continued in an obscure rank amongst the Levites. Joshua of the tribe of Ephraim succeeded him; Othniel was of Judah, Ehud of Benjamin, Barak of Naphtali, and Gideon of Manasseh. The other judges were of several tribes; and they being dead, their children lay hid amongst the common people, and we hear no more of them. The first king was taken out of the least family of the least and youngest tribe. The second, whilst the children of the first king were yet alive, was the youngest of eight sons of an obscure man in the tribe of Judah: Solomon one of his youngest sons succeeded him: Ten tribes deserted Rehoboam, and by the command of God set up Jeroboam to be their king. The kingdom of Israel by the destruction of one family passed into another: That of Judah by God's peculiar promise continued in David's race till the Captivity; but we know not that the eldest son was ever preferred, and have no reason to presume it. David their most reverenced king left no precept for it, and gave an example to the contrary: he did not set up the eldest, but the wisest. After the Captivity they who had most wisdom or valour to defend the people, were thought most fit to command; and the kingdom at the last came to the Hasmonean race, whilst the posterity of David was buried in the mass of the common people, and utterly deprived of all worldly rule or glory. If the judges had not a regal power, or the regal were only just, as instituted by God, and eternally annexed to paternity, all that they did was evil: There could be nothing of justice in the powers exercised by Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, and the rest of the judges. If the power was regal and just, it must have continued in the descendants of the first: Saul, David, and Solomon could never have been kings: The right failing in them, their descendants could inherit none from them; and the others after the Captivity were guilty of the like injustice.
Now as the rule is not general, to which there is any one just exception, there is not one of these examples that would not overthrow our author's doctrine: If one deviation from it were lawful, another might be, and so to infinity. But the utmost degree of impudent madness to which perhaps any man in the world hath ever arrived, is to assert that to be universal and perpetual, which cannot be verified by any one example to have been in any place of the world, nor justified by any precept.
If it be objected, that all these things were done by God's immediate disposition: I answer, that it were an impious madness to believe that God did perpetually send his prophets to overthrow what he had ordained from the beginning, and as it were in spite to bring the minds of men into inextricable confusion and darkness; and by particular commands to overthrow his universal and eternal law. But to render this point more clear, I desire it may be considered, that we have but three ways of distinguishing between good and evil.
1. When God by his word reveals it to us.
2. When by his deeds he declareth it; because that which he does is good, as that which he says is true.
3. By the light of reason, which is good, in as much as it is from God.
And first; It cannot be said we have an explicit word for that continuance of the power in the eldest; for it appears not, and having none, we might conclude it to be left to our liberty: For it agrees not with the goodness of God to leave us in a perpetual ignorance of his will in a matter of so great importance, nor to have suffered his own people, or any other to persist, without the least reproof or admonition, in a perpetual opposition to it, if it had displeased him.
To the 2d. The dispensations of his providence, which are the emanations of his will, have gone contrary to this pretended law: There can therefore be no such thing; for God is constant to himself: his works do not contradict his word, and both of them do equally declare to us that which is good.
Thirdly; If there be any precept that by the light of nature we can in matters of this kind look upon as certain, 'tis that the government of a people should be given to him that can best perform the duties of it: No man has it for himself, or from himself; but for and from those who before he had it were his equals, that he may do good to them. If there were a man, who in wisdom, valour, justice and purity, surpassed all others, he might be called a king by nature, because he is best able to bear the weight of so great a charge; and like a good shepherd to lead the people to good. Detur digniori is the voice of reason; and that we may be sure detur seniori is not so, Solomon tells us, That a wise child is better than an old and foolish king. But if this pretended right do not belong to him that is truly the eldest, nothing can be more absurd than a fantastical pretence to a right deduced from him that is not so. Now lest I should be thought to follow my own inventions, and call them reason, or the light of God in us, I desire it may be observed that God himself has ever taken this method. When he raised up Moses to be the leader of his people, he endowed him with the most admirable gifts of his spirit that ever he bestowed upon a man: When he chose seventy men to assist him, he endowed them with the same spirit. Joshua had no other title to succeed him than the like evidence of God's presence with him. When the people through sin fell into misery, he did not seek out their descendants, nor such as boasted in a prerogative of birth; but shewed whom he designed for their deliverer, by bestowing such gifts upon him as were required for the performance of his work; and never fail'd of doing this, till that miserable sinful people rejecting God and his government, desired that which was in use among their accursed neighbours, that they might be as like to them in the most shameful slavery to man, as in the worship of idols set up against God.
But if this pretended right be grounded upon no word or work of God, nor the reason of man, 'tis to be accounted a mere figment, that hath nothing of truth in it.
 [Patriarcha, ch. 4.]
 [Exodus 7:1.]
 [Ecclesiastes 4:13.]