Of the Civil Magistrate.

  1. GOD, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates to be under him over the people, for his own glory, and the public good; and, to this end, hath armed them with the power of the sword, for the defence and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evildoers. [1]


  2. It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate, when called thereunto; [2] in the managing whereof, as they ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth; [3] so, for that end, they may lawfully now under the New Testament, wage war upon just and necessary occasions. [4]


  3. The civil magistrate may not assume to himself administration of the word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven; [5] yet, as the gospel revelation lays indispensable obligations upon all classes of people who are favoured with it, magistrates as such, are bound to execute their respective offices in a subserviency thereunto, administering government on Christian principles, and ruling in the fear of God, according to the directions of his word; as those who shall give an account to the Lord Jesus, whom God hath appointed to be the judge of the world. [6] Hence, magistrates, as such, in a Christian country, are bound to promote the Christian religion, as the most valuable interest of their subjects, by all such means as are not inconsistent with civil rights; and do not imply an interference with the policy of the church, which is the free and independent kingdom of the Redeemer; nor an assumption of dominion over conscience. [7]


  4. It is the duty of people to pray for magistrates, [8] to honour their persons, [9] to pay them tribute and other dues, [10] to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority for conscience' sake. [11] Infidelity, or difference in religion, doth not make void the magistrate's just and legal authority, nor free the people from their due obedience to him: [12] from which ecclesiastical persons are not exempted; [13] much less hath the Pope any power or jurisdiction over them in their dominions, or over any of their people and least of all to deprive them of their dominions or lives, if he shall judge them to be heretics, or upon any other pretence whatsoever. [14]

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