Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Calvin on Civil Government

Calvin ends his Institutes with a chapter on civil government. The world has changed since the 16th century but has the obedience required of a Christian changed and if so, how? In the 18th century American Presbyterian amended the Westminster Confession removing sections on the power of the magistrate. Give the time and historical context it was no surprise but IMO they were sawing off the bough on which the WCF sat for it was the magistrate who had called the Assembly in the first place. The Confession originated from Parliament, the state, not the church. But to Calvin.

First to show there is a separate civil power demanding of obedience.

1. But he who knows to
   distinguish between the body and the soul, between the present fleeting
   life and that which is future and eternal, will have no difficulty in
   understanding that the spiritual kingdom of Christ and civil government
   are things very widely separated....Scripture clearly teaches, that the
   blessings which we derive from Christ are spiritual, remember to
   confine the liberty which is promised and offered to us in him within
   its proper limits. For why is it that the very same apostle who bids us
   "stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be
   not again entangled with the yoke of bondage" (Gal. 5:1), in another
   passage forbids slaves to be solicitous about their state (1 Cor.

Civil government is matter of to foster and
   maintain the external worship of God, to defend sound doctrine and the
   condition of the Church, to adapt our conduct to human society, to form
   our manners to civil justice, to conciliate us to each other, to
   cherish common peace and tranquillity.

But now, separating church and state we dissent from,' to foster and
   maintain the external worship of God, to defend sound doctrine and the
   condition of the Church'. 

3. ...the use of civil idolatry, no
   blasphemy against the name of God, no calumnies against his truth, nor
   other offences to religion, break out and be disseminated among the
   people; that the public quiet be not disturbed, that every man's
   property be kept secure, that men may carry on innocent commerce with
   each other, that honesty and modesty be cultivated; in short, that a
   public form of religion may exist among Christians, and humanity among
   men. Let no one be surprised that I now attribute the task of
   constituting religion aright to human polity, though I seem above to
   have placed it beyond the will of man, since I no more than formerly
   allow men at pleasure to enact laws concerning religion and the worship
   of God, when I approve of civil order which is directed to this
   end--viz. to prevent the true religion, which is contained in the law
   of God, from being with impunity openly violated and polluted by public
   blasphemy.... we treat of each of its parts separately. Now
   these are three: The Magistrate, who is president and guardian of the
   laws; the Laws, according to which he governs; and the People, who are
   governed by the laws, and obey the magistrate. Let us consider, then,
   first, What is the function of the magistrate? 
4. With regard to the function of magistrates, the Lord has not only
   declared that he approves and is pleased with it, but, moreover, has
   strongly recommended it to us by the very honourable titles which he
   has conferred upon it. To mention a, few. [682] When those who bear the
   office of magistrate are called gods, let no one suppose that there is
   little weight in that appellation. It is thereby intimated that they
   have a commission from God, that they are invested with divine
   authority, and, in fact, represent the person of God, as whose
   substitutes they in a manner act. ... For he says that "there is no power but of
   God: the powers that be are ordained of God;" that rulers are the
   ministers of God, "not a terror to good works, but to the evil" (Rom.
   13:1, 3). To this we may add the examples of saints, some of whom held
   the offices of kings, as David, Josiah, and Hezekiah; others of
   governors, as Joseph and Daniel; others of civil magistrates among a
   free people, as Moses, Joshua, and the Judges. Their functions were
   expressly approved by the Lord. Wherefore no man can doubt that civil
   authority is, in the sight of God, not only sacred and lawful, but the
   most sacred, and by far the most honourable, of all stations in mortal
5. The magistrates power subject to Christ.For when David says, "Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be
   instructed, ye judges of the earth;" "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry"
   (Psalm 2:10, 12), he does not order them to lay aside their authority
   and return to private life, but to make the power with which they are
   invested subject to Christ, that he may rule over all. In like manner,
   when Isaiah predicts of the Church, "Kings shall be thy
   nursing-fathers, and their queens thy nursing-mothers" (Isaiah 49:23),
   he does not bid them abdicate their authority; he rather gives them the
   honourable appellation of patrons of the pious worshippers of God; for
   the prophecy refers to the advent of Christ. I intentionally omit very
   many passages which occur throughout Scripture, and especially in the
   Psalms, in which the due authority of all rulers is asserted. The most
   celebrated passage of all is that in which Paul, admonishing Timothy,
   that prayers are to be offered up in the public assembly for kings,
   subjoins the reason, "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in
   all godliness and honesty" (1 Tim. 2:2). In these words, he recommends
   the condition of the Church to their protection and guardianship.
6. They are not engaged in profane occupations, unbefitting a servant of God, but in a most sacred office, inasmuch as they are the ambassadors of God.
7. ...though among magisterial offices
   themselves there are different forms, there is no difference in this
   respect, that they are all to be received by us as ordinances of God.
   For Paul includes all together when he says that "there is no power but
   of God," ... But Scripture, to obviate these
   unjust judgments, affirms expressly that it is by divine wisdom that
   "kings reign," and gives special command "to honour the king" (1 Peter
8. And if you compare the different states with
   each other, without regard to circumstances, it is not easy to
   determine which of these has the advantage in point of utility, so
   equal are the terms on which they meet. Monarchy is prone to tyranny.
   In an aristocracy, again, the tendency is not less to the faction of a
   few, while in popular ascendancy there is the strongest tendency to
   sedition. [684] When these three forms of government, of which
   philosophers treat, are considered in themselves, I, for my part, am
   far from denying that the form which greatly surpasses the others is
   aristocracy, either pure or modified by popular government, not indeed
   in itself, but because it very rarely happens that kings so rule
   themselves as never to dissent from what is just and right, or are
   possessed of so much acuteness and prudence as always to see correctly.
   Owing, therefore, to the vices or defects of men, it is safer and more
   tolerable when several bear rule, that they may thus mutually assist,
   instruct, and admonish each other, and should any one be disposed to go
   too far, the others are censors and masters to curb his excess. This
   has already been proved by experience, and confirmed also by the
   authority of the Lord himself, when he established an aristocracy
   bordering on popular government among the Israelites, keeping them
   under that as the best form, until he exhibited an image of the Messiah
   in David. And as I willingly admit that there is no kind of government
   happier than where liberty is framed with becoming moderation, and duly
   constituted so as to be durable, so I deem those very happy who are
   permitted to enjoy that form, and I admit that they do nothing at
   variance with their duty ... But should those to whom the Lord has
   assigned one form of government, take it upon them anxiously to long
   for a change, the wish would not only be foolish and superfluous, but
   very pernicious. If you fix your eyes not on one state merely, but look
   around the world, or at least direct your view to regions widely
   separated from each other, you will perceive that Divine Providence has
   not, without good cause, arranged that different countries should be
   governed by different forms of polity. For as only elements of unequal
   temperature adhere together, so in different regions a similar
   inequality in the form of government is best. All this, however, is
   said unnecessarily to those to whom the will of God is a sufficient
   reason. For if it has pleased him to appoint kings over kingdoms, and
   senates or burgomasters over free states, whatever be the form which he
   has appointed in the places in which we live, our duty is to obey and

9. The duty of magistrates, its nature, as described by the word of
   God, and the things in which it consists, I will here indicate in
   passing. That it extends to both tables of the law, did Scripture not
   teach, we might learn from profane writers; for no man has discoursed
   of the duty of magistrates, the enacting of laws, and the common weal,
   without beginning with religion and divine worship. Thus all have
   confessed that no polity can be successfully established unless piety
   be its first care, and that those laws are absurd which disregard the
   rights of God, and consult only for men... Hence in Scripture
   holy kings are especially praised for restoring the worship of God when
   corrupted or overthrown, or for taking care that religion flourished
   under them in purity and safety. On the other hand, the sacred history
   sets down anarchy among the vices, when it states that there was no
   king in Israel, and, therefore, every one did as he pleased (Judges
   21:25). This rebukes the folly of those who would neglect the care of
   divine things, and devote themselves merely to the administration of
   justice among men; as if God had appointed rulers in his own name to
   decide earthly controversies, and omitted what was of far greater
   moment, his own pure worship as prescribed by his law. 

10.  the magistrate, in inflicting punishment, acts not of himself, but executes
   the very judgments of God, we shall be disencumbered of every doubt.
   The law of the Lord forbids to kill; but, that murder may not go
   unpunished, the Lawgiver himself puts the sword into the hands of his
   ministers, that they may employ it against all murderers. It belongs
   not to the pious to afflict and hurt; but to avenge the afflictions of
   the pious, at the command of God, is neither to afflict nor hurt. [686]
   I wish it could always be present to our mind, that nothing is done
   here by the rashness of man, but all in obedience to the authority of
   God. ... I am not one of those who would either
   favour an unseasonable severity, or think that any tribunal could be
   accounted just that is not presided over by mercy, ...The magistrate must guard against both
   extremes; he must neither, by excessive severity, rather wound than
   cure, nor by a superstitious affectation of clemency, fall into the
   most cruel inhumanity, by giving way to soft and dissolute indulgence
   to the destruction of many. It was well said by one under the empire of
   Nerva, It is indeed a bad thing to live under a prince with whom
   nothing is lawful, but a much worse to live under one with whom all
   things are lawful.

11. As it is sometimes necessary for kings and states to take up arms
   in order to execute public vengeance, the reason assigned furnishes us
   with the means of estimating how far the wars which are thus undertaken
   are lawful. For if power has been given them to maintain the
   tranquillity of their subjects, repress the seditious movements of the
   turbulent, assist those who are violently oppressed, and animadvert on
   crimes, can they use it more opportunely than in repressing the fury of
   him who disturbs both the ease of individuals and the common
   tranquillity of all; who excites seditious tumult, and perpetrates acts
   of violent oppression and gross wrongs? ...
   Natural equity and duty, therefore, demand that princes be armed not
   only to repress private crimes by judicial inflictions, but to defend
   the subjects committed to their guardianship whenever they are
   hostilely assailed. 

12. But if it is objected, that in the New Testament there is no
   passage or example teaching that war is lawful for Christians, I
   answer, first, that the reason for carrying on war, which anciently
   existed, still exists in the present day, and that, on the other hand,
   there is no ground for debarring magistrates from the defence of those
   under them; and, secondly, that in the Apostolical writings we are not
   to look for a distinct exposition of those matters, their object being
   not to form a civil polity, but to establish the spiritual kingdom of
   Christ; lastly, that there also it is indicated, in passing, that our
   Saviour, by his advent, made no change in this respect. For (to use the
   words of Augustine) "if Christian discipline condemned all wars, when
   the soldiers ask counsel as to the way of salvation, they would have
   been told to cast away their arms, and withdraw altogether from
   military service. Whereas it was said (Luke 3:14), Concuss no one, do
   injury to no one, be contented with your pay. Those whom he orders to
   be contented with their pay he certainly does not forbid to serve"
   (August. Ep. 5 ad Marcell.) But all magistrates must here be
   particularly cautious not to give way, in the slightest degree, to
   their passions. ...
   assuredly all other means must be tried before having recourse to arms.
   In fine, in both cases, they must not allow themselves to be carried
   away by any private feeling, but be guided solely by regard for the
   public. Acting otherwise, they wickedly abuse their power which was
   given them, not for their own advantage, but for the good and service
   of others. 

 13. Lastly, we think it proper to add, that taxes and imposts are the
   legitimate revenues of princes, which they are chiefly to employ in
   sustaining the public burdens of their office. These, however, they may
   use for the maintenance of their domestic state, which is in a manner
   combined with the dignity of the authority which they exercise. Princes, however, must remember, in their turn, that their revenues are not so much private
   chests as treasuries of the whole people (this Paul testifies, Rom.
   13:6), which they cannot, without manifest injustice, squander or
   dilapidate; or rather, that they are almost the blood of the people,
   which it were the harshest inhumanity not to spare. They should also
   consider that their levies and contributions, and other kinds of taxes,
   are merely subsidies of the public necessity, and that it is tyrannical
   rapacity to harass the poor people with them without cause. These
   things do not stimulate princes to profusion and luxurious expenditure
   (there is certainly no need to inflame the passions, when they are
   already, of their own accord, inflamed more than enough), but seeing it
   is of the greatest consequence that, whatever they venture to do, they
   should do with a pure conscience, it is necessary to teach them how far
   they can lawfully go, lest, by impious confidence, they incur the
   divine displeasure. Nor is this doctrine superfluous to private
   individuals, that they may not rashly and petulantly stigmatise the
   expenditure of princes, though it should exceed the ordinary limits.
 14. In states, the thing next in importance to the magistrates is laws,
   the strongest sinews of government, or, as Cicero calls them after
   Plato, the soul, without which, the office of the magistrate cannot
   exist; just as, on the other hand, laws have no vigour without the
   magistrate. Hence nothing could be said more truly than that the law is
   a dumb magistrate, the magistrate a living law. As I have undertaken to
   describe the laws by which Christian polity is to be governed, there is
   no reason to expect from me a long discussion on the best kind of laws.
   The subject is of vast extent, and belongs not to this place. I will
   only briefly observe, in passing, what the laws are which may be
   piously used with reference to God, and duly administered among men.
   This I would rather have passed in silence, were I not aware that many
   dangerous errors are here committed. For there are some who deny that
   any commonwealth is rightly framed which neglects the law of Moses, and
   is ruled by the common law of nations. How perilous and seditious these
   views are, let others see: for me it is enough to demonstrate that they
   are stupid and false. We must attend to the well known division which
   distributes the whole law of God, as promulgated by Moses, into the
   moral, the ceremonial, and the judicial law, and we must attend to each
   of these parts, in order to understand how far they do, or do not,
   pertain to us. Meanwhile, let no one be moved by the thought that the
   judicial and ceremonial laws relate to morals. For the ancients who
   adopted this division, though they were not unaware that the two latter
   classes had to do with morals, did not give them the name of moral,
   because they might be changed and abrogated without affecting morals.
   They give this name specially to the first class, without which, true
   holiness of life and an immutable rule of conduct cannot exist.

15. The moral law, then (to begin with it), being contained under two
   heads, the one of which simply enjoins us to worship God with pure
   faith and piety, the other to embrace men with sincere affection, is
   the true and eternal rule of righteousness prescribed to the men of all
   nations and of all times, who would frame their life agreeably to the
   will of God. For his eternal and immutable will is, that we are all to
   worship him and mutually love one another. The ceremonial law of the
   Jews was a tutelage by which the Lord was pleased to exercise, as it
   were, the childhood of that people, until the fulness of the time
   should come when he was fully to manifest his wisdom to the world, and
   exhibit the reality of those things which were then adumbrated by
   figures (Gal. 3:24; 4:4). The judicial law, given them as a kind of
   polity, delivered certain forms of equity and justice, by which they
   might live together innocently and quietly. And as that exercise in
   ceremonies properly pertained to the doctrine of piety, inasmuch as it
   kept the Jewish Church in the worship and religion of God, yet was
   still distinguishable from piety itself, so the judicial form, though
   it looked only to the best method of preserving that charity which is
   enjoined by the eternal law of God, was still something distinct from
   the precept of love itself. Therefore, as ceremonies might be abrogated
   without at all interfering with piety, so, also, when these judicial
   arrangements are removed, the duties and precepts of charity can still
   remain perpetual. But if it is true that each nation has been left at
   liberty to enact the laws which it judges to be beneficial, still these
   are always to be tested by the rule of charity, so that while they vary
   in form, they must proceed on the same principle. Those barbarous and
   savage laws, for instance, which conferred honour on thieves, allowed
   the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, and other things even fouler
   and more absurd, I do not think entitled to be considered as laws,
   since they are not only altogether abhorrent to justice, but to
   humanity and civilised life.

16. What I have said will become plain if we attend, as we ought, to
   two things connected with all laws--viz. the enactment of the law, and
   the equity on which the enactment is founded and rests. Equity, as it
   is natural, cannot be the same in all, and therefore ought to be
   proposed by all laws, according to the nature of the thing enacted. As
   constitutions have some circumstances on which they partly depend,
   there is nothing to prevent their diversity, provided they all alike
   aim at equity as their end. Now, as it is evident that the law of God
   which we call moral, is nothing else than the testimony of natural law,
   and of that conscience which God has engraven on the minds of men, the
   whole of this equity of which we now speak is prescribed in it. Hence
   it alone ought to be the aim, the rule, and the end of all laws.
   Wherever laws are formed after this rule, directed to this aim, and
   restricted to this end, there is no reason why they should be
   disapproved by us, however much they may differ from the Jewish law, or
   from each other 
   17. It now remains to see, as was proposed in the last place, what use
   the common society of Christians derive from laws, judicial
   proceedings, and magistrates. With this is connected another question
   --viz. What difference ought private ind... But if
   it is lawful for brother to litigate with brother, it does not follow
   that it is lawful to hate him, and obstinately pursue him with a
   furious desire to do him harm.

   18. Let such persons then understand that judicial proceedings are
   lawful to him who makes a right use of them; and the right use, both
   for the pursuer and for the defender, is for the latter to sist himself
   on the day appointed, and, without bitterness, urge what he can in his
   defence, but only with the desire of justly maintaining his right; and
   for the pursuer, when undeservedly attacked in his life or fortunes, to
   throw himself upon the protection of the magistrate, state his
   complaint, and demand what is just and good; while, far from any wish
   to hurt or take vengeance--far from bitterness or hatred --far from the
   ardour of strife, he is rather disposed to yield and suffer somewhat
   than to cherish hostile feelings towards his opponent.  When we hear that the assistance of the magistrate is a sacred gift from God, we ought the more carefully to beware of polluting it by our fault.

   19. Let those who distinctly condemn all judicial distinction know,
   that they repudiate the holy ordinance of God, and one of those gifts
   which to the pure are pure, unless, indeed, they would charge Paul with
   a crime, ...for we are
   to consider that the vengeance of the magistrate is the vengeance not
   of man, but of God, which, as Paul says, he exercises by the ministry
   of man for our good (Rom. 13:8).

   20. No more are we at variance with the words of Christ, who forbids us
   to resist evil, and adds, "Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right
   cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the
   law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also" (Mt. 5:39,
   40). He would have the minds of his followers to be so abhorrent to
   everything like retaliation, that they would sooner allow the injury to
   be doubled than desire to repay it. From this patience we do not
   dissuade them. For verily Christians were to be a class of men born to
   endure affronts and injuries, and be exposed to the iniquity,
   imposture, and derision of abandoned men, and not only so, but were to
   be tolerant of all these evils; that is, so composed in the whole frame
   of their minds, that, on receiving one offence, they were to prepare
   themselves for another, promising themselves nothing during the whole
   of life but the endurance of a perpetual cross. Meanwhile, they must do
   good to those who injure them, and pray for those who curse them, and
   (this is their only victory) strive to overcome evil with good (Rom.
   12:20, 21). Thus affected, they will not seek eye for eye, and tooth
   for tooth (as the Pharisees taught their disciples to long for
   vengeance), but (as we are instructed by Christ), they will allow their
   body to be mutilated, and their goods to be maliciously taken from
   them, prepared to remit and spontaneously pardon those injuries the
   moment they have been inflicted. This equity and moderation, however,
   will not prevent them, with entire friendship for their enemies, from
   using the aid of the magistrate for the preservation of their goods,
   or, from zeal for the public interest, to call for the punishment of
   the wicked and pestilential man, whom they know nothing will reform but

   21. .. a rage for litigation prevailed in the Church of Corinth to
   such a degree, that they exposed the gospel of Christ, and the whole
   religion which they professed, to the calumnies and cavils of the
   ungodly....In short, as we
   said at first, every man's best adviser is charity. Everything in which
   we engage without charity, and all the disputes which carry us beyond
   it, are unquestionably unjust and impious.

   22. The first duty of subjects towards their rulers, is to entertain
   the most honourable views of their office, recognising it as a
   delegated jurisdiction from God, and on that account receiving and
   reverencing them as the ministers and ambassadors of God. ..subjects, in submitting to princes and governors, are not to be influenced merely by fear... but because the obedience which they yield is rendered to God himself, inasmuch as their power is from God. ...the station itself is deserving of honour and
   reverence, and that those who rule should, in respect of their office,
   be held by us in esteem and veneration.

   23. From this, a second consequence is, that we must with ready minds
   prove our obedience to them, whether in complying with edicts, or in
   paying tribute, or in undertaking public offices and burdens, which
   relate to the common defence, or in executing any other orders. "Let
   every soul," says Paul, "be subject unto the higher powers."
   "Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of
   God" (Rom. 13:1, 2).

   24. But as we have hitherto described the magistrate who truly is what
   he is called--viz. the father of his country, and (as the Poet speaks)
   the pastor of the people, the guardian of peace, the president of
   justice, the vindicator of innocence, he is justly to be deemed a
   madman who disapproves of such authority. ...And, undoubtedly, the natural
   feeling of the human mind has always been not less to assail tyrants
   with hatred and execration, than to look up to just kings with love and

   25. But if we have respect to the word of God, it will lead us farther,
   and make us subject not only to the authority of those princes who
   honestly and faithfully perform their duty toward us, but all princes,
   by whatever means they have so become, although there is nothing they
   less perform than the duty of princes. For though the Lord declares
   that a ruler to maintain our safety is the highest gift of his
   beneficence, and prescribes to rulers themselves their proper sphere,
   he at the same time declares, that of whatever description they may be,
   they derive their power from none but him. Those, indeed, who rule for
   the public good, are true examples and specimens of his beneficence,
   while those who domineer unjustly and tyrannically are raised up by him
   to punish the people for their iniquity. Still all alike possess that
   sacred majesty with which he has invested lawful power. ... in so far as public obedience is concerned, he is to be held in the same honour and reverence as the best of kings.

   26. And, first, I would have the reader carefully to attend to that
   Divine Providence which, not without cause, is so often set before us
   in Scripture, and that special act of distributing kingdoms, and
   setting up as kings whomsoever he pleases. In Daniel it is said, "He
   changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up
   kings" (Dan. 2:21, 37).He bound to obey, and
   could not lawfully resist: as if Samuel had said, To such a degree will
   kings indulge in tyranny, which it will not be for you to restrain. The
   only thing remaining for you will be to receive their commands, and be
   obedient to their words.

   27.  If we constantly keep before our eyes and minds the fact, that even the most iniquitous kings are appointed by the same decree which establishes all
   regal authority, we will never entertain the seditious thought, that a
   king is to be treated according to his deserts, and that we are not
   bound to act the part of good subjects to him who does not in his turn
   act the part of a king to us.

   28. Let us doubt not that on whomsoever the kingdom has been
   conferred, him we are bound to serve. Whenever God raises any one to
   royal honour, he declares it to be his pleasure that he should reign.
   29. This feeling of reverence, and even of piety, we owe to the utmost
   to all our rulers, be their characters what they may. This I repeat the
   oftener, that we may learn not to consider the individuals themselves,
   but hold it to be enough that by the will of the Lord they sustain a
   character on which he has impressed and engraven inviolable majesty.
   But rulers, you will say, owe mutual duties to those under them. This I
   have already confessed. But if from this you conclude that obedience is
   to be returned to none but just governors, you reason absurdly.
   Husbands are bound by mutual duties to their wives, and parents to
   their children.

   30. Herein is the goodness, power, and providence of God wondrously
   displayed. At one time he raises up manifest avengers from among his
   own servants, and gives them his command to punish accursed tyranny,
   and deliver his people from calamity when they are unjustly oppressed;
   at another time he employs, for this purpose, the fury of men who have
   other thoughts and other aims. 

   31. But whatever may be thought of the acts of the men themselves,
   [692] the Lord by their means equally executed his own work, when he
   broke the bloody sceptres of insolent kings, and overthrew their
   intolerable dominations. Let princes hear and be afraid; but let us at
   the same time guard most carefully against spurning or violating the
   venerable and majestic authority of rulers, an authority which God has
   sanctioned by the surest edicts, although those invested with it should
   be most unworthy of it, and, as far as in them lies, pollute it by
   their iniquity. Although the Lord takes vengeance on unbridled
   domination, let us not therefore suppose that that vengeance is
   committed to us, to whom no command has been given but to obey and
   suffer. I speak only of private men. For when popular magistrates have
   been appointed to curb the tyranny of kings ... So far am I from forbidding these officially to check the undue license of kings, that if they connive at kings when they tyrannise and insult over the humbler of the people, I affirm that
   their dissimulation is not free from nefarious perfidy, because they
   fradulently betray the liberty of the people, while knowing that, by
   the ordinance of God, they are its appointed guardians.

   32. But in that obedience which we hold to be due to the commands of
   rulers, we must always make the exception, nay, must be particularly
   careful that it is not incompatible with obedience to Him to whose will
   the wishes of all kings should be subject, to whose decrees their
   commands must yield, to whose majesty their sceptres must bow. And,
   indeed, how preposterous were it, in pleasing men, to incur the offence
   of Him for whose sake you obey men! The Lord, therefore, is King of
   kings. When he opens his sacred mouth, he alone is to be heard, instead
   of all and above all. We are subject to the men who rule over us, but
   subject only in the Lord. If they command anything against Him let us
   not pay the least regard to it, nor be moved by all the dignity which
   they possess as magistrates--a dignity to which no injury is done when
   it is subordinated to the special and truly supreme power of God.... "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29), let us console ourselves with the thought, that we are rendering the obedience which the Lord requires, when we endure anything rather than turn aside from piety. And that our courage may
   not fail, Paul stimulates us by the additional consideration (1 Cor.
   7:23), that we were redeemed by Christ at the great price which our
   redemption cost him, in order that we might not yield a slavish
   obedience to the depraved wishes of men, far less do homage to their

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