I. Mankind, from conscience of its own weaknesse, and admiration of naturall events, hath this, that most men beleeve God to be the invisible Maker of all visible things, whom they also fear, conceiving that they have not a sufficient protection in themselves; but the imperfect use they had of their Reason, the violence of their Passions did so clowd them, that they could not rightly worship him. Now the fear of invisible things, when it is sever'd from right reason is superstition. It was therefore almost impossible for men without the speciall assistance of God to avoyd both Rocks of Atheisme and Superstition: for this proceeds from fear without right reason, that, from an opinion of right reason, without feare. Idolatry therefore did easily fasten upon the greatest part of men, and almost all nations did worship God in Images, and resemblances of finite things; and they worshipt spirits, or vain visions, perhaps out of fear calling them Devills. But it pleased the Divine Majesty (as we read it written in the sacred history) out of all mankind to call forth Abraham, by whose means he might bring men to the true worship of him, and to reveal himselfe supernaturally to him, and to make that most famous Covenant with him and his seed, which is called the old Covenant, or Testament. He therefore is the head of true Religion; he was the first that after the Deluge taught, that there was one God, the Creatour of the Universe; And from him the Kingdome of God by way of Covenants, takes its beginning. Joseph. Antiq. Jewes. lib. I. cap. 7.
II. In the beginning of the world God reigned indeed, not onely naturally, but also by way of Covenant, over Adam, and Eve; so as it seems he would have no obedience yeelded to him, beside that which naturall Reason should dictate, but by the way of Covenant, that is to say, by the consent of men themselves. Now because this Covenant was presently made void, nor ever after renewed, the originall of Gods Kingdom (which we treat of in this place) is not to be taken thence. Yet this is to be noted by the way, that by that precept of not eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evill (whether the judicature of good and evill, or the eating of the fruit of some tree were forbidden) God did require a most simple obedience to his commands, without dispute whether that were good, or evill, which was commanded; for the fruit of the tree, if the Command be wanting, hath nothing in its own nature, whereby the eating of it could be morally evill, that is to say, a sinne.
III. Now the Covenant between God and Abraham, was made in this manner. Gen. 17. v. 7, 8. I will establish my Covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting Covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the Land wherein thou art a stranger, all the Land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God. Now it was necessary to institute some sign whereby Abraham and his seed should retain the memory of this Covenant; wherefore Circumcision was added to the Covenant, but yet as a sign onely. vers 10: This is my Covenant which yee shall keep between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, every man-child among you shall be circumcised, and ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be a token of the Covenant between me and you. It is therefore Covenanted, that Abraham shall acknowledge God to be his God, and the God of his seed; that is to say, that he shall submit himselfe to be governed by him, and that God shall give unto Abraham the inheritance of that Land wherein he then dwelt, but as a Pilgrim, and that Abraham for a memoriall sign of this Covenant, should take care to see himselfe, and his male seed circumcised.
IV. But seeing that Abraham even before the Covenant acknowledged God to be the Creatour and King of the world, (for he never doubted either of the being, or the Providence of God) how comes it not to be superfluous, that God would purchase to himself with a price, and by contract, an obedience which was due to him by nature; namely by promising Abraham the Land of Canaan, upon condition that he would receive him for his God, when by the Right of nature he was already so? By those words therefore, To be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee, wee understand not that Abraham satisfied this Covenant by a bare acknowledgement of the power, and Dominion which God had naturally over men, that is to say, by acknowledging God indefinitely, which belongs to naturall reason; but he must definitely acknowledge him, who said unto him, Gen. 12. v. 1. Get thee out of thy Country, &c. Gen. 13. v. 14. Lift up thine eyes. &c. who appear'd unto him, Gen. 18. v. 1. in the shape of three celestiall men, and Gen. 15. v. 1. In a vision; and vers. 13. In a dream, which is matter of faith. In what shape God appeared unto Abraham, by what kinde of sound he spake to him, is not exprest, yet it is plain that Abraham beleeved that voyce to be the voyce of God, and a true Revelation; and would have all his to worship him, who had so spoken unto him, for God the Creatour of the world; and that his faith was grounded on this, not that he beleeved God to have a being, or that he was true in his promises, that which all men beleeve, but that he doubted not him to be God, whose voice, and promises he had heard; and that the God of Abraham signified not simply God, but that God which appeared unto him, even as the worship which Abraham owed unto God in that notion, was not the worship of reason, but of Religion, and Faith, and that, which not reason, but God had supernaturally revealed.
V. But we read of no Lawes given by God to Abraham, or by Abraham to his family, either then, or after, secular, or sacred (excepting the Commandement of Circumcision, which is contained in the Covenant it selfe); whence it is manifest, that there were no other Lawes, or worship, which Abraham was obliged to, but the Lawes of nature, rationall worship, and circumcision.
VI. Now Abraham was the Interpreter of all Lawes, as well sacred as secular, among those that belonged to him, not meerly naturally, as using the Lawes of nature onely, but even by the form of the Covenant it selfe, in which obedience is promised by Abraham not for himselfe onely, but for his seed also; which had been in vain, except his children had been tyed to obey his Commands: And how can that be understood, which God sayes Gen. 18. vers. 18, 19. (All the Nations of the earth shall be blessed in him; for I know him, that he will command his children, and his houshold after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord to doe justice, and judgement) unlesse his children and his houshold were supposed to be obliged to yeeld obedience unto his Commands.
VII. Hence it followes, that Abrahams subjects could not sinne in obeying him, provided that Abraham commanded them not, to deny Gods Existence, or Providence, or to doe somewhat expresly contrary to the honour of God. In all other things, the word of God was to be fetcht from his lips only, as being the Interpreter of all the Lawes, and words of God. For Abraham alone could teach them who was the God of Abraham, and in what manner he was to be worshipped. And they who after Abrahams death were subject to the Soveraignty of Isaac or Jacob, did by the same reason obey them in all things without sin, as long as they acknowledged, and profest the God of Abraham to be their God. For they had submitted themselves to God simply, before they did it to Abraham; and to Abraham before they did it to the God of Abraham; againe, to the God of Abraham before they did it to Isaac. In Abrahams subjects therefore, To deny God was the only Treason against the Divine Majesty; but in their posterity it was also Treason to deny the God of Abraham, that is to say, to worship God otherwise than was instituted by Abraham, to wit, in Images made with hands, 1 as other Nations did, which for that reason were called Idolators. And hitherto subjects might easily enough discern what was to be observed, what avoyded in the Commands of their Princes.
VIII. To goe on now, following the guidance of the holy Scripture, The same Covenant was renewed, Gen. 26. vers. 3, 4. with Isaac, and Gen. 28. vers. 14. with Jacob, where God stiles himselfe not simply God, whom nature doth dictate him to be, but distinctly the God of Abraham and Isaac; afterward being about to renew the same Covenant, by Moyses, with the whole People of Israel, Exod. 3. v. 6. I am saith he the God of thy Father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Afterward when that People, not only the freest, but also the greatest enemy to humane subjection, by reason of the fresh memory of their AEgyptian bondage, abode in the wildernesse near mount Sinai, that antient Covenant was propounded to them all to be renewed in this manner, Exod. 19. ver. 5. Therefore if yee will obey my voice indeed, and keep my Covenant, (to wit, that Covenant which was made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) then shall yee be a peculiar Treasure unto me, above all People; for all the earth is mine, and yee shall be to me a Kingdome of Priests, and an holy Nation. And all the People answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken, will we doe, vers. 8.
IX. In this Covenant, among other things, we must consider well the appellation of Kingdom not used before. For although God both by nature & by Covenant made with Abraham, was their King, yet owed they him an obedience and worship only naturall, as being his subjects; & religious such as Abraham instituted, as being the Subjects of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob, their naturall Princes; For they had received no word of God beside the naturall word of right reason, neither had any Covenant past between God and them, otherwise than as their wils were included in the will of Abraham, as their Prince. But now by the Covenant made at mount Sinai, the consent of each man being had, there becomes an institutive Kingdome of God over them. That Kingdom of God so renowned in Scriptures and writings of Divines, took its beginning from this time, and hither tends that which God said to Samuel, when the Israelites asked a King, 1. Sam. 8:7. They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them; and that which Samuel told the Israelites, 1. Sam. 12:12. Yee said unto me, nay, but a King shall reign over us, when the Lord your God was your King; and that which is said, Jer. 31. vers. 31. I will make a new Covenant, &c. Although I was an Husband unto them; And the doctrine also of Judas Galilaeus, where mention is made in Joseph. Antiq. of the Jewes, 18. Book, 2. Chap. in these words: But Judas Galilaeus was the first authour of this fourth way of those who followed the study of wisdome. These agree in all the rest with the Pharisees, excepting that they burn with a most constant desire of liberty, beleeving God alone to be held for their Lord and Prince, and will sooner endure even the most exquisite kinds of torments, together with their kinsfolks, and dearest friends, than call any mortall man their Lord.
X. The Right of the Kingdome being thus constituted by way of Covenant, let us see in the next place, what lawes God propounded to them; now those are knowne to all, to wit, the Decalogue, and those other, as well judiciall as ceremoniall lawes, which we find from the 20. Chap. of Exodus to the end of Deuteronomie, and the death of Moyses. Now of those lawes deliver'd in generall by the hand of Moyses, some there are which oblige naturally, being made by God, as the God of nature, and had their force even before Abrahams time; others there are which oblige by vertue of the Covenant made with Abraham, being made by God as the God of Abraham, which had their force even before Moyses his time, by reason of the former Covenant; but there are others which oblige by vertue of that Covenant onely which was made last with the people themselves, being made by God, as being the Peculiar King of the Israelites. Of the first sort are all the Precepts of the Decalogue which pertaine unto manners, such as, Honour thy Parents, thou shalt not Kill, thou shalt not commit Adultery, thou shalt not Steale, thou shalt not beare false witnesse, thou shalt not Covet; For they are the Lawes of nature; Also the precept of not taking Gods name in vaine, for it is a part of naturall worship, as hath beene declar'd in the foregoing Chap. Art. 15. In like manner the second Commandement of not worshipping by way of any Image made by themselves; for this also is a part of naturall Religion, as hath beene shewed in the same Article. Of the second sort is the first Commandment of the Decalogue, of not having any other Gods; for in that consists the essence of the Covenant made with Abraham, by which God requires nothing else, but that he should be his God, and the God of his seede: Also the Precept of keeping holy the Sabbath; for the Sanctification of the seventh day is instituted in memoriall of the six dayes Creation, as appeares out of these words, Exod. 31. ver. 16, 17. It is a perpetuall Covenant, (meaning the Sabbath) and a signe betweene me, and the Children of Israel for ever, for in sixe dayes the Lord made Heaven, and Earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. Of the third kind are the Politique, judiciall and Ceremoniall lawes, which onely belong'd to the Jewes. The lawes of the first and second sort written in Tables of stone, to wit the Decalogue, was kept in the Ark it selfe. The rest written in the volume of the whole Law, were laid up in the side of the Arke. Deut. 31. ver. 26. For these retaining the faith of Abraham might be chang'd, those could not.
XI. All Gods Lawes are Gods Word; but all Gods Word is not his Law. I am the Lord thy God which brought thee out of the Land of AEgypt, is the word of God, it is no Law: Neither is all that which for the better declaring of Gods Word is pronounc't, or written together with it, instantly to be taken for Gods Word: For, Thus saith the Lord, is not the voice of God, but of the Preacher or Prophet. All that, and onely that, is the word of God which a true Prophet hath declar'd God to have spoken. Now the writings of the Prophets comprehending as well those things which God, as which the Prophet himselfe speaks, are therefore called the word of God, because they containe the word of God. Now because all that, and that alone, is the Word of God which is recommended to us for such, by a true Prophet, it cannot be knowne what Gods Word is, before we know who is the true Prophet; nor can we beleeve Gods Word, before we beleeve the Prophet. Moyses was beleev'd by the People of Israel for two things, His Miracles, and his Faith; for how great, and most evident Miracles soever he had wrought, yet would they not have trusted him, at least he was not to have beene trusted, if he had call'd them out of AEgypt to any other worship than the worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob their Fathers. For it had beene contrary to the Covenant made by themselves with God. In like manner two things there are, to wit, supernaturall Prediction of things to come, which is a mighty miracle; and Faith in the God of Abraham their deliverer out of AEgypt, which God propos'd to all the Jews to be kept for marks of a true Prophet. He that wants either of these is no Prophet, nor is it to be receiv'd for Gods word which he obtrudes for such. If Faith be wanting, he is rejected in these words, Deut. 13. ver. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. If there arise among you a Prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a signe, or a wonder, and the signe or the wonder come to Passe, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us goe after other Gods, &c. That Prophet, or that dreamer of dreames shall be put to death. If Praediction of events be wanting, he is condemn'd by these, Deut. 18. ver. 21, 22. And if thou say in thine heart, how shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a Prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to Passe, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the Prophet hath spoken it presumptuously. Now, that that is the word of God which is publisht for such by a true Prophet, and that he was held to be a true Prophet among the Jewes, whose faith was true, and to whose praedictions the events answer'd, is without controversie. But what it is to follow other Gods, and whether the events which are affirm'd to answer their praedictions, doe truly answer them, or not, may admit many controversies, specially in praedictions which obscurely, & aenigmatically foretell the Event, such as the praedictions of almost all the Prophets are, as who saw not God apparently like unto Moyses, but in darke speeches, and in figures. Numb. 12. ver. 8. But of these we cannot judge otherwise than by the way of naturall reason; because that Judgment depends on the Prophets interpretation, and on its proportion with the Event.
XII. The Jewes did hold the booke of the whole Law which was called Deuteronomie, for the written word of God, and that onely, (forasmuch as can be collected out of sacred history) untill the Captivity; for this booke was deliver'd by Moyses himselfe to the Priests to be kept, and layd up in the side of the Ark of the Covenant, and to be copyed out by the Kings; and the same a long time after by the authority of King Josiah acknowledg'd againe for the Word of God. Kings 23. ver. 2. But it is not manifest when the rest of the books of the Old Testament were first receiv'd into Canon. But what concernes the Prophets, Isaiah and the rest, since they foretold no other things than what were to come to passe, either in or after the Captivity, their writings could not at that time be held for Prophetique, by reason of the Law cited above. Deut. 18. ver. 21, 22. Whereby the Israelites were commanded not to account any man for a true Prophet but him whose Prophecies were answer'd by the events; And hence peradventure it is that the Jews esteem'd the writings of those whom they slew when they Prophesied, for Prophetique afterward, that is to say, for the word of God.
XIII. It being known what Lawes there were under the old Covenant, and that Word of God receiv'd from the beginning; we must farthermore consider with whom the authority of judging, whether the writings of the Prophets arising afterward, were to be receiv'd for the Word of God, that is to say, whether the Events did answer their praedictions or not, and with whom also the authority of interpreting the Lawes already receiv'd, and the written Word of God, did reside; which thing is to be trac't through all the times, and severall changes of the Commonwealth of Israel. But it is manifest that this power during the life of Moyses, was intirely in himselfe; for if he had not been the Interpreter of the Lawes and Word, that office must have belong'd either to every private Person, or to a congregation, or Synagogue of many, or to the High-Priest, or to other Prophets. First, that that office belong'd not to private men, or any Congregation made of them, appeares hence, that they were not admitted, nay they were prohibited, with most heavy threats, to heare God speake, otherwise than by the means of Moyses; for it is written, Let not the Priests and the people break through to come up unto the Lord, lest he break forth upon them. So Moyses went downe unto the people, and spake unto them. Exod. 19:24,25. It is farther manifestly, and expresly declar'd, upon occasion given by the Rebellion of Core, Dathan and Abiram, and the two hundred and fifty Princes of the Assembly, that neither private men, nor the Congregation should pretend that God had spoken by them, and by Consequence that they had the right of interpreting Gods Word; for they contending, that God spake no lesse by them than by Moyses, argue thus, Yee take too much upon you, seeing all the Congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them; wherefore then lift yee up your selves above the Congregation of the Lord? Numb. 16. ver. 3. But how God determin'd this controversie is easily understood by the 33. and 35. verses of the same Chapter, where Corah, Dathan, and Abiram went downe alive into the Pit, and there came out fire from the Lord, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offer'd Incense: Secondly, that Aaron the high Priest had not this authority, is manifest by the like controversie betweene him (together with his Sister Miriam) and Moyses; For the question was, whether God spake by Moyses only, or by them also, that is to say, whether Moyses alone, or whether they also were interpreters of the Word of God. For thus they said, Hath the Lord indeed spoken onely by Moyses? Hath he not also spoken by us? Numb. 12. ver. 2. But God reprov'd them, and made a distinction betweene Moyses and other Prophets, saying, If there be a Prophet among you, I the Lord will make my selfe knowne unto him in a vision, and will speake unto him in a dreame: My Servant Moyses is not so, &c. For with him will I speake mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in darke speeches, and the Similitude of the Lord shall he behold; wherefore then were yee not afraid to speake against my Servant Moyses? Ibid. ver. 6, 7, 8. Lastly, that the interpretation of the Word of God as long as Moses liv'd, belong'd not to any other Prophets whatsoever, is collected out of that place which we now cited concerning his eminency above all others, and out of naturall reason, for as much as it belongs to the same Prophet who brings the Commands of God to unfold them too; but there was then no other Word of God, beside that which was declar'd by Moyses. And out of this also, that there was no other Prophet extant at that time, who Prophesied to the people, excepting the 70 Elders who Prophesied by the Spirit of Moyses; and even that Joshuah, who was then Moyses his Servant, his successour afterward, beleev'd to be injuriously done, till he knew it was by Moyses his Consent; which thing is manifest by Text of Scripture, And the Lord came downe in a clowd, &c. and tooke of the spirit that was upon Moyses, and gave it unto the 70 Elders. Numb. 11. ver. 25. Now after it was told that they Prophesied, Joshuah said unto Moyses, Forbid them my Lord. But Moyses answered, Why enviest thou for my sake? Seeing therefore Moyses alone was the Messenger of Gods Word, and that the authority of interpreting it pertain'd neither to private men, nor to the Synagogue, nor to the High Priest, nor to other Prophets; it remaines, that Moyses alone was the Interpreter of Gods Word, who also had the supreme power in civill matters; And that the conventions of Corah with the rest of his complices against Moses and Aaron; and of Aaron with his Sister against Moyses, were rais'd, not for the salvation of their soules, but by reason of their ambition, and desire of Dominion over the People.
XIV. In Joshuahs time the interpretation of the Lawes, and of the Word of God, belong'd to Eleazar the High Priest, who was also under God, their absolute King. Which is collected first of all out of the Covenant it selfe, in which the Common-wealth of Israel is called a Priestly Kingdome, or as it is recited in the 1 Pet. 2:9. A Royall Priesthood; which could in no wise be sayd, unlesse by the institution and Covenant of the People, the regall power were understood to belong to the High Priest. Neither doth this repugne what hath beene said before, where Moyses, and not Aaron, had the Kingdome under God; since it is necessary that when one man institutes the forme of a future Common-wealth, that one should governe the Kingdome which he institutes, during his life, (whether it be Monarchie, Aristocraty, or Democraty) and have all that power for the present, which he is bestowing on others for the future. Now, that Eleazar the Priest, had not onely the Priesthood, but also the Soveraignty, is expressely set downe in Joshuahs call to the administration; for thus it is written. Take thee Joshuah the Son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay thine hand upon him, and set him before Eleazer the Priest, and before all the Congregation, and give him a charge in their sight, and thou shalt put some of thine honour uPon him, that all the Congregation of the Children of Israel may be obedient, and he shall stand before Eleazar the Priest, who shall aske Counsell for him after the judgment of Urim, before the Lord: at his word shall they goe out, and at his word shall they come in, and all the Children of Israel with him, even all the Congregation. Num. 27. ver. 18, 19, 20, 21. where to aske Counsell of God for whatsoever is to be done, (that is) to interpret Gods word, and in the name of God to Command in all matters, belongs to Eleazar; and to goe out, and, to come in at his word, that is to say, to obey, belongs both to Joshuah, and to all the People. Its to be observ'd also, that that speech, Part of thy glory; clearely denotes that Joshuah had not a power equall with that which Moyses had. In the meane time it is manifest, that even in Joshuahs time, the Supreme power and authority of interpreting the word of God, were both in one Person.
XV. After Joshuahs death follow the times of the Judges untill King Saul, in which it is manifest that the right of the Kingdome instituted by God, remained with the High Priest. For the Kingdome was by Covenant Priestly, that is to say, Gods government by Priests; and such ought it to have been untill that form with Gods consent were changed by the people themselves: which was not done, before that requiring a King God consented unto them, and said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voyce of the people in all that they say unto thee; for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me that I should not reign over them. 1. Sam. 8:7. The supreme civill power was therefore Rightly due by Gods own institution to the High-Priest; but actually that power was in the Prophets, to whom (being raysed by God in an extraordinary manner) the Israelites (a people greedy of the Prophets) submitted themselves to be protected, and judged, by reason of the great esteem they had of Prophecies. The Reason of this thing, was, because that though penalties were set, and Judges appointed in the institution of Gods priestly Kingdome, yet, the Right of inflicting punishment, depended wholly on private judgement; and it belonged to a dissolute multitude, and each single Person, to punish or not to punish according as their private zeale should stirre them up. And therefore Moyses by his own command punisht no man with death; but when any man was to be put to death, one or many stirred up the multitude against him or them, by divine authority, and saying, Thus saith the Lord. Now this was conformable to the nature of Gods peculiar Kingdome. For there God reignes indeed where his Lawes are obeyed, not for fear of men, but for fear of himselfe. And truly, if men were such as they should be, this were an excellent state of civill government; but as men are, there is a coercive power (in which I comprehend both right and might) necessary to rule them. And therefore also God from the beginning prescribed Lawes by Moyses for the future Kings. Deut. 17. vers. 14. and Moyses foretold this in bis last words to the people, saying, I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt your selves, and turn aside from the way that I have commanded you, &c. Deut. 31:29. When therefore according to this prediction there arose another generation who knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel, the children of Israel did evill in the sight of the Lord, and served Balaam, Jud. 2:10,11. to wit, they cast off Gods government, that is to say, that of the Priest, by whom God ruled, and afterward, when they were overcome by their enemies, and opprest with bondage, they looked for Gods will, not at the hands of the Priest any more, but of the Prophets. These therefore actually judged Israel, but their obedience was rightly due to the High Priest; Although therefore the Priestly Kingdome after the death of Moyses, & Joshuah, was without power, yet was it not without Right. Now that the interpretation of Gods word did belong to the same High Priest, is manifest by this, That God, after the Tabernacle, & the Ark of the Covenant was consecrated, spake no more in mount Sinai, but in the Tabernacle of the Covenant, from the propitiatory which was between the Cherubims, whether it was not lawfull for any to aproach except the High Priest. If therefore regard be had to the Right of the Kingdome, the supreme civill Power, and the authority of interpreting Gods word, were joyned in the High Priest; If we consider the fact, they were united in the Prophets who judged Israel. For as Judges, they had the civill authority, as Prophets, they interpreted Gods word, and thus every way hitherto these two powers continued inseparable.
XVI. Kings being once constituted, its no doubt but the civill authority belonged to them, for the Kingdome of God by the way of Priesthood, (God consenting to the request of the Israelites) was ended; which Hierom also marks speaking of the books of Samuel: Samuel (sayes he) Eli being dead, and Saul slain, declares the old Law abolisht; Furthermore the Oaths of the new Priesthood, and new Soveraignty in Zadok, and David, do testifie, that the Right whereby the Kings did rule, was founded in the very concession of the People. The Priest could rightfully do only what God had commanded, but the King had by right whatsoever power over every man that each man by right had over himself; for the Israelites granted him a Right to judge of all things, and to wage warre for all men; in which two are contained all Right whatsoever can be conceived from man to man. Our King (say they) shall judge us, and goe out before us, and fight our battails, 1. Sam. 8:20. Judicature therefore belonged to the Kings; but to judge is nothing else than by interpreting to apply the facts to the Lawes; to them therefore belonged the interpretation of Lawes too. And because there was no other written word of God acknowledged beside the Law of Moyses, untill the Captivity, the authority of interpreting Gods word, did also belong to the Kings; Nay, forasmuch as the word of God must be taken for a Law, if there had been another written word beside the Mosaicall Law, seeing the interpretation of Lawes belonged to the Kings, the interpretation of it must also have belonged to them. When the book of Deuteronomie (in which the whole Mosaicall Law was contained) being a long time lost, was found again, the Priests indeed asked Counsell of God concerning that book; but not by their own authority, but by the Commandement of Josiah, and not immediately neither, but by the meanes of Holda the Prophetesse. Whence it appears that the authority of admitting books for the word of God, belonged not to the Priest; neither yet followes it that that authority belonged to the Prophetesse, because others did judge of the Prophets whether they were to be held for true, or not. For to what end did God give signes, and tokens to all the People, whereby the true Prophets might be discerned from the false, namely, the event of predictions, and conformity with the Religion establisht by Moyses, if they might not use those marks? The authority therefore of admitting books for the word of God belonged to the King, & thus that book of the Law was approved, and received again by the authority of King Josiah, as appears by the fourth book of the Kings, Chap. 22, 23. where it is reported that he gathered together all the severall degrees of his Kingdome, the Elders, Priests, Prophets, and all the people, and he read in their eares all the words of the Covenant, that is to say, he caused that Covenant to be acknowledged for the Mosaicall Covenant, that is to say, for the word of God, and to be again received, and confirmed by the Israelites. The civill power therefore, and the power of discerning Gods word from the word of men, and of interpreting Gods word even in the dayes of the Kings was wholly belonging to themselves. Prophets were sent not with authority, but in the form, and by the Right of Proclaimers, and Preachers, of whom the hearers did judge; and if perhaps these were punisht who did not listen to them plainly, teaching easie things, it doth not thence follow, that the Kings were obliged to follow all things which they in Gods name did declare, were to be followed. For though Josiah the good King of Judah were slain because he obeyed not the word of the Lord from the mouth of Necho King of AEgypt, that is to say, because he rejected good Counsell though it seemed to come from an enemy, yet no man I hope will say that Josiah was by any bond either of divine, or humane Lawes obliged to beleeve Pharoah Necho King of AEgypt, because he said that God had spoken to him. But what some man may object against Kings, that for want of learning, they are seldome able enough to interpret those books of antiquity in the which Gods word is contained, and that for this cause it is not reasonable that this office should depend on their authority, he may object as much against the Priests, and all mortall men, for they may erre; and although Priests were better instructed in nature, and arts than other men, yet Kings are able enough to appoint such interpreters under them; and so, though Kings did not themselves interpret the word of God, yet the office of interpreting them might depend on their authority; and they who therefore refuse to yeeld up this authority to Kings, because they cannot practise the office it selfe, doe as much as if they should say that the authority of teaching Geometry must not depend upon Kings, except they themselves were Geometricians. We read that Kings have prayed for the People, that they have blest the people, that they have consecrated the Temple, that they have commanded the Priests, that they have removed Priests from their office, that they have constituted others. Sacrifices indeed they have not offered, for that was hereditary to Aaron, and his sonnes; but it is manifest, as in Moyses his life time, so throughout all ages from King Saul to the captivity of Babylon, that the Priesthood was not a Maistry, but a Ministry.
XVII. After their returne from Babylonian bondage, the Covenant being renewed, and sign'd, the Priestly Kingdome was restor'd to the same manner it was in from the death of Joshuah to the beginning of the Kings; excepting that it is not expresly set downe that the return'd Jewes did give up the Right of Soveraignty either to Esdras (by whose directions they ordred their State) or to any other, beside God himselfe. That reformation seemes rather to be nothing else than the bare promises, and vowes of every man to observe those things which were written in the booke of the Law. Notwithstanding, (perhaps not by the Peoples intention) by virtue of the Covenant which they then renewed, (for the Covenant was the same with that which was made at Mount Sinai) that same state was a Priestly Kingdome, that is to say, the supreme civill authority, and the sacred were united in the Priests. Now, howsoever through the ambition of those who strove for the Priesthood, and by the interposition of forraigne Princes, it was so troubled till our Saviour Jesus Christs time, that it cannot be understood out of the histories of those times, where that authority resided; yet it's plaine, that in those times, the power of interpreting Gods Word was not severed from the supreme civill power.
XVIII. Out of all this, we may easily know how the Jewes in all times from Abraham unto Christ were to behave themselves in the Commands of their Princes. For as in Kingdomes meerly humane men must obey a subordinate Magistrate in all things, excepting when his Commands containe in them some Treason; so in the Kingdome of God, the Jewes were bound to obey their Princes, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moyses, the Priest, the King, every one during their time in all things, except when their commands did containe some treason against the Divine Majesty. Now treason against the Divine Majesty was, first, the deniall of his divine providence, for this was to deny God to be a King by nature; next, Idolatry, or the worship not of other (for there is but one God) but of strange Gods, that is to say, a worship though of one God, yet under other Titles, Attributes, and Rites, than what were establisht by Abraham, and Moyses. For this was to deny the God of Abraham to be their King by Covenant made with Abraham, and themselves. In all other things they were to obey; and if a King or Priest having the Soveraign authority, had commanded somewhat else to be done which was against the Lawes, that had been his sinne, and not his subjects, whose duty it is, not to dispute, but to obey the Commands of his superiours.
1. In Images made with hands. In the 15. Chap. 14. Article, There wee have shewed such a kinde of worship to be irrationall; but if it be done by the command of a City to whom the written word of God is not known, nor received, we have then shewed this worship in the 15. Chap. art. 18. to be rationall. But where God reigns by way of Covenant, in which it is expresly warned not to worship thus, as in the Covenant made with Abraham, there, whether it be with, or without the Command of the City, it is ill done.
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