Whether royal power and definite forms of government be
The king may be said to be from God and his word in these several
1. By way of permission, Jer. xliii. 10, “Say to them, Thus saith
the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Behold I will send and take
Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will set his throne upon
these stones that I have hid, and he shall spread his royal pavilion over
them.” And thus God made him a catholic king, and gave him all nations to
serve him, Jer. xxvii. 6-8, though he was but an unjust tyrant, and his sword
the best title to those crowns.
2. The king is said to be from God by way of naked approbation; God
giving to a people power to appoint what government they shall think good, but
institutiong none in special in his word. This way some make kingly power to be
from God in the general, but in the particular to be an invention of men,
negatively lawful, and not repugnant to the word, as the wretched popish
ceremonies are from God. But we teach no such thing: let Maxwell free his master Bellarmine, and other Jesuites with whom he sideth in Romish
doctrine: we are free of this. Bellarmine saith that politic power in general
is warranted by a divine law; but the particular forms of politic power, (he
meaneth monarchy, with the first,) is not by divine right, but de jure
gentium, by the law of nations, and floweth immediately from human
election, as all things, saith he, that appertain to the law of nations. So
monarchy to Bellarmine is but an human invention, as Mr. Maxwell's surplice is;
and Dr. Ferne, sect 3, p. 13, saith with Bellarmine.
3. A king is said to be from God, by particular designation, as he
appointed Saul by name for the crown of Israel. Of this, hereafter.
4. The kingly or royal office is from God by divine institution, and not
by naked approbation; for, 1st, we may well prove Aaron's priesthood to be of
divine institution, because God doth appoint the priest's qualification from
his family, bodily perfections, and his charge. 2nd, We take the pastor to be
by divine law and God's institution, because the Holy Ghost (1 Tim iii.
1-4) describeth his qualifications; so may we say that the royal power is by
divine institution, because God mouldeth him: Deut. xvii. 15, “Thou shalt
in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose, one
from amongst thy brethren,” &c; Rom xiii. 1, “There is no power
but of God, the powers that be are ordained of God.”3rd, That power must
be ordained of God as his own ordinance, to which we owe subjection for
conscience, and not for fear of punishment; but every power is such, Rom. xiii.
4th, To resist the kingly power is to resist God. 5th, He is the minister of
God for our good. 6th, He beareth the sword of God to take vengeance upon
evildoers. 7th, The Lord expressly saith, 1 Pet. ii. 17, “Fear God,
honour the king;” ver. 13, 14, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance
of man for the Lord's sake, whether it be to the king as supreme, or unto
governors, as those that are sent by him,” &c.; Tit. iii. 1, “Put
them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers;” and so the fifth
commandment layeth obedience to the king on us no less than to our parents;
whence, I conceive that power to be of God, to which, by the moral law of God,
we owe perpetual subjection and obedience. 8th, Kings and magistrates are
God's, and God's deputies and lieutenants upon earth, (Psalm lxxxii. 1, 6, 7;
Exod. xxii. 8; iv. 16,) and therefore their office must be a lawful ordinance
of God. 9th, By their office they are feeders of the Lord's people, 1 Sam.
ix. 19. 10th, It is a great judgment of God when a land wanteth the benefit of
such ordinances of God, Isa. iii. 1-3, 6, 7, 11. The execution of their office
is an act of the just Lord of heaven and earth, not only by permission, but
according to God's revealed will in his word; their judgment is not the
judgment of men, but of the Lord, 2 Chron. xix. 6, and their throne is the
throne of God. 1 Chron. xxii. 10. Jerome saith, to punish murderers and sacrilegious persons is
not bloodshed, but the ministry and service of good laws. So, if the king be a
living law by office, and the law put in execution which God hath commanded,
then, as the moral law is by divine institution, so must the officer of God be,
who is custos et vindex legis divine, the keeper, preserver, and avenger
of God's law. Basilius saith, this is the
prince's office, Ut opem ferat virtuti, malitiam vero impugnet. When
Paulinus Treverensis, Lucifer Metropolitane of Sardinia, Dionysius
Mediolanensis, and other bishops, were commanded by Constantine to write
against Athanasius, they answered, Regnum non ipsius esse, sed dei, a quo
acceperit, — the kingdom was God's not his; as Athanasius saith, Optatus Milevitanus helpeth us in the cause, where he saith with Paul
“We are to pray for heathen kings.” The genuine end of the
magistrate, saith Epiphanius, is ut ad bonum
ordinem universitatis mundi omnia ex deo bene disponantur atque
administrenter. But some object, If the kingly power be of divine
institution, then shall any other government be unlawful, and contrary to a
divine institution, and so we condemn aristocracy and democracy as unlawful.
Ans. This consequence were good, if aristocracy and democracy were not
also of divine institution, as all my arguments prove; for I judge they are not
governments different in nature, if we speak morally and theologically, only
they differ politically and positively; one is aristocracy any thing but
diffused and enlarged monarchy, and monarchy is nothing but contracted
aristocracy, even as it is the same hand when the thumb and the four fingers
are folded together and when all the five fingers are dilated and stretched
out; and wherever God appointed a king he never appointed him absolute, and a
sole independent angel, but joined always with him judges, who were no less to
judge according to the law of God (2 Chron. xix. 6,) than the king, Deut.
xvii. 15. And in a moral obligation of judging righteously, the conscience of
the monarch and the conscience of the inferior judges are equally under
immediate subjection to the King of kings; for there is here a co-ordination of
consciences, and no subordination, for it is not in the power of the inferior
judge to judge, quoad specificationem, as the king commandeth him,
because the judgment is neither the king's, nor any mortal man's, but the
Lord's, 2 Chron. xix. 6, 7.
Hence all the three forms are from God; but let no man say, if they be
all indifferent, and equally of God, societies and kingdoms are left in the
dark, and know not which of the three they shall pitch upon, because God hath
given to them no special direction for one rather than for another. But this is
easily answered. 1st, That a republic appoint rulers to govern them is not an
indifferent, but a moral action, because to set no rulers over themselves I
conceive were a breach of the fifth commandment, which commandeth government to
be one or other. 2nd, It is not in men's free will that they have government or
no government, because it is not in their free will to obey or not to obey the
acts of the court of nature, which is God's court; and this court enacteth that
societies suffer not mankind to perish, which must necessarily follow if they
appoint no government; also it is proved elsewhere, that no moral acts, in
their exercises and use, are left indifferent to us; so then, the aptitude and
temper of every commonwealth to monarchy, rather than to democracy or
aristocracy, is God's warrant and nearest call to determine the wills and
liberty of people to pitch upon a monarchy, hic et nunc, rather than any
other form of government, though all the three be from God, even as single life
and marriage are both the lawful ordinances of God, and the constitution and
temper of the body is a calling to either of the two; nor are we to think that
aristocracy and democracy are either unlawful ordinances, or men's inventions,
or that those societies which want monarchy do therefore live in sins.
But some say that Peter calleth any form of government an human
ordinance, 1 Pet. ii. 13, a0nqrwpi/nh kti/sij,
therefore monarchy can be no ordination of God. Ans. Rivetus saith, — “It is called an ordinance of man,
not because it is an invention of man, and not an ordinance of God, but
respectu subjecti,” Piscator, 
— “Not because man is the efficient cause of magistracy, but because
they are men who are magistrates;” Diodatus, — “Obey princes and magistrates, or
governors made by men, or amongst men;” Oecumenius, — “An human constitution, because it
is made by an human disposition, and created by human suffrages;” Dydimus,
— Because over it “presides presidents made by men;”
Cajetanus, Estius, — “Every creature of God (as, preach
the gospel to every creature) in authority.” But I take the word,
“every creature of man,” to be put emphatically, to commend the worth
of obedience to magistrates, though but men, when we do it for the Lord's sake;
therefore Betrandus Cardinalis Ednensis saith,
“He speaketh so for the more necessity of merit;” and Glossa
Ordinaria saith, “Be subject to all powers, etiam ex infidelibus et
incredulis, even of infidels and unbelievers.” Lyranus, —
“For though they be men, the image of God shineth in them;” and the
Syriac, as Lorinus saith, leadeth us
thereunto, )#OfnF) yn'b@; NwOhl;k@ul;
 Lechullechum benai anasa: Obey all the
children of men that are in authority. It is an ordinance of men, not
effectively, as if it were an invention and a dream of men; but
subjectively, because exercised by man. Objectively, and
pelekwj, for the good of men, and for the
external man's peace and safety especially; whereas church-officers are for the
spiritual good of men's souls. And Durandus saith well, “Civil power according to its institution
is of God, and according to its acquisition and way of use is of man.” And
we may thus far call the forms of magistrates a human ordinance, — that
some magistrates are ordained to care for men's lives and matters criminal, of
life and death, and some for men's lands and estates; some for commodities by
sea, and some by land; and are thus called magistrates according to these
determinations or human ordinances.
 Sacrosan. Reg. Maj. the Sacred and Royal
Pre[ro]gative of Christian kings, c. 1, q. 1, p. 6, 7.
 Bellarm. de locis, lib. 5, c.6, not. 5.
Politica universe considerata est de jure divino, in particulari considerata
est de jure gentium
 Jerome in 1. 4, Comment. in Jerem.
 Basilius. epist. 125.
 Athanasius, epist. ad solita
 Optat. Melevitanus, lib. 3.
 Epiphanius, lib. 1, tom. 3, Heres.
 Rivetus in decal. Mand. 5, p. 124
 Piscator in loc.
 Diodatus, annot.
Oecumenius quod hominum dispositione
consistit, et humanis suffragiis creatur.
Cajetanus, officium regiminis, quia
humanis suffragiis creatur.
 Estius in loc.
 Betrandus, tom. 4, Bib.
 Lorin. in. lo.
 Durandus lib. de orig. juris.
 Original in Estrangela Syriac,
)$N) yNB n whlKL, transliterated by
Rutherford into Hebrew.
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