Stephen Case (1746–1794). Neither the author nor the place of publication of Defensive Arms Vindicated (1783) has been determined with certainty. It is signed “A Moderate Whig,” dated June 17, 1782 at New-Marlborough, and dedicated to George Washington. In the text the author indicates that the piece was actually written in 1779. Scholars believe that a Stephen Case was the author because his name is written in manuscript on some extant copies of the pamphlet. This may be the Captain Stephen Case born in Orange County, New York, in 1746, who served in Colonel Jonathan Hasbrouck’s regiment of the Ulster County militia during the Revolution, and who died in Marlborough, Ulster County, New York, in 1794. In the Preface to the Reader the author addresses “my dear brother soldiers,” which bears out the identification to some extent.
Defensive Arms Vindicated is a learned and brilliant, if unpolished, discourse intended to prove that resistance against the abuse of a lawful power is not only justified but is a positive duty of the people. In the manner of a sermon, this condemnation of tyranny ranges through biblical texts and historical examples, and it draws from the writings of learned authors as well, including Jean Bodin and Hugo Grotius. It ends with a homely postscript on the war debt and other economic disorders that the Golden Rule would solve, if rightly applied.
Concerning the identification of Stephen Case, see the letters of R.W.G. Vail to Willard O. Waters, July 4 and 5, 1950; and the letter of Ruth A. (Mrs. L.G.) Duncan to Leslie E. Bliss, April 10, 1954, in the Henry E. Huntington Library, pamphlet folder 121761.
To His Excellency George Washington, Esq. Generalissimo of the army of the United States in America, Lieutenant General in the army of France, and Commander in Chief of all the French forces by sea and land in America.
Much might be said, were it necessary, for the dedication of books unto persons of worth, interest, service, and honour, by reason it has been the almost constant practice of the best and wisest men, in all the ages of the world. Besides, sir, a performance of this nature could not possibly be dedicated to any person more suitable than yourself, as being the great patron of the American cause; and one who has shewn to the world that he was sent into it to perform wonders, under God. It is needless to relate your great talents in bearing both with prosperity and adversity, therefore I need not make no other apology for my present practice. What is written is permanent litera scripta manet, and spreads itself farther by far, for time, place, and persons, than the voice can reach. Augustine writing to Volusian saith, “That which is written is always at hand to be read when the reader is at leisure.” Great sir, pray let it be the top of your ambition, and the heighth of all your designs, to glorify God, to secure your interest in Christ, to serve your generation, to provide for eternity, to walk with God, to be tender of all that have, aliquid Christi, any thing of Christ shining in them, and so to steer your course in this world as that you may give up your account at last with joy. Matt. xxx. 21. For, dear sir, all other ambition is base and low ambition (saith one), a gilded misery, a secret poison, a hidden plague, the engineer of deceit, the mother of hypocrisy, the parent of envy, the original of vices, the moth of holiness, the blinder of hearts. It is said that it so blinded Cardinal Bourbon, that he said he would not lose his part in Paris for his part in paradise. But, alas! what is all the glory of this world but a mere blaze. It is said that at the enthronization of the pope before he is set in his chair, and puts on his tripple crown, a piece of tow, or a wad of straw, is set on fire before him, and one appointed to say, sic transit gloria mundi, the glory of this world is but a blaze. High seats are always uneasy, and crowns themselves are always stuffed with thorns, which made one say of his crown[:] O crown! More noble than happy! May the spirit of God, the grace of God, the power of God, the presence of God, arm you against all other sins, evils, snares, and temptations, as you are by a good hand of heaven armed against worldly ambition and worldly glory.
Sir, you know he was a Saul that said honour me before the people, and he was a Jehu that said come see my zeal for the Lord of hosts. Sir, men of great honour and worldly glory stand but in slippery places. Adonibezek, a mighty prince, was made fellow commoner with the dogs. Judges i. 7. Henry IV emperor, in sixty-two battles for the most part became victorious, yet he was deposed and driven to that misery that he desired only a clerk’s place in a house at Spire, of his own building, which the bishop of that place denied him, whereupon he broke forth into that speech of Job, chap. xix. 21. miseremini mei amica quia manus dei tetigit me, have pity upon me, O my friends, for the hand of God hath touched me. He at last died of grief and want. By which instances, and many more that might be brought, it is most evident that worldly glory is but a breath, a vapour, a froth, a phantom, a shadow, a reflection, an apparition, a very nothing.
Sir, if there be any thing glorious in the world, ’tis a mind that wisely contemns that glory; and such a mind I judge and hope God hath given unto you. I have given this small hint of worldly glory, and the vanity thereof, because happily this little piece passing up and down this continent, may chance to fall into the hands of such as may in fact be troubled with that itch; and if so, who can tell but what that little which I have said may prove a sovereign salve to cure that Egyptian botch; and if so, I have my end. And now, sir, to conclude, I pray the day may shortly commence, when you can, with honour and safety, withdraw from the noise of war and clashing of arms to your seat, from which you have been so long absent, in the service of your country, and in the cause of religion and virtue; and may your lady live to be an honour to God, to be truly wise for eternity, to be a pattern of piety, humility, modesty, &c to others.
O may you both be blessed, with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus! And may you all around be crowned with the highest glory, happiness, and blessedness in the world to come; may you long live in the sense of divine love; and, at last, die in the sense of divine favour. Now, to the everlasting arms of divine protection, and to the constant influences of free, rich, and sovereign grace and mercy he commends you and your’s, who is, sir, your unknown friend and most obedient humble servant,
A Moderate Whig
June 17, 1782
preface to the reader
It is now going on three years since I first wrote this piece. Great and glorious events have since taken place in our political affairs; and, I hope, the day is not far distant when peace, on the most honourable and advantageous terms, for America, shall be proclaimed throughout these United States. However, not knowing how much longer the war, by reason of our sins, might be continued, I concluded it might not be amiss to cast my mite into the treasury, in order to vindicate the conduct of all those brave officers and men who have already and may yet fall in the American war, in defence of our rights and liberties, civil and religious; and also to clear up the doubts and scruples of tender consciences, as to the lawfulness of taking up arms in any case whatsoever. I acknowledge that there have already been many able pens employed in stating the justice of our cause, and none, in my opinion, merits more our thanks than the author of Common Sense; but none, that I have seen, has, to my satisfaction, cleared up the lawfulness of the use of defensive arms against tyrants and tyranny, whenever they shall endeavour to deprive a people of their liberty and property. It is, surely, a pity that some abler hand had not undertaken the task, who might have done greater justice to the cause. All that I have, or chuse, to say, in praise of the performance, is, that the author means honestly, and shall ever pray for the success of the American arms, and those of her allies, in the present just defensive war; and that he never has, nor never means to spare himself, whenever he may be called upon to face the enemies of his country, if even it should as it may, cost him his life; for where could he offer it better than on the altar of religion and liberty, fighting in defence of both?
And now for a word of advice to the brave officers and soldiers composing the American army. Gentlemen officers, let me entreat you to desist from all vice, and practice virtue; fear God and obey your superiors; set good examples before your men; be tender and careful of their lives and health; discountenance vice and encourage virtue in them; do not correct nor abuse them but according to martial law. I once read of a good old general that was walking through his army, when, at length, he saw a young prodigal officer beating an old soldier unmercifully: O! says the general, lay on, for you know that he dare not strike you again! Which reproof, though very modest, covered the officer with blushes, and caused him to desist—and, in fact, it is a sure sign of a coward, to be beating a man that we know dare not, for his life, resist.
Some time past I was at West-Point, and saw an officer, with an unmerciful club, beating a poor drunken soldier; and, after he was tired, ordered some underling to continue the chastisement, which he did in a most horrid manner, knocking him down, and beating him over head and face, until the blood gushed out of almost every part of his body; many officers gathering round, said lay on, and damning him that dare say otherways, until I thought he would have been killed right out; but at length one humane, good officer spoke, and said, stop! if he has done amiss, confine him; and if, upon trial, he is found guilty, let him be punished accordingly. He was confined, and, I suppose, punished again for the same offence; which is contrary to all justice, to punish a man twice for the same crime.
And you, my dear brother soldiers, let me beg of you to consider you have souls to be saved or lost; therefore cease from the practise of sin, and practise holiness in the fear of God; honour and obey your officers; and see that you become the true soldiers of Jesus Christ; and not only be fighting soldiers, but praying ones also. But to conclude I would inform both gentlemen officers and soldiers, that you shall have my prayers for your present and eternal welfare, &c. . . .
A Moderate Whig
June 17, 1782
I do freely confess, that this truth is of such a nature, that it can scarcely be illustrated by demonstration; not for the darkness thereof, but for its self-evidencing clearness, being scarcely capable of any farther elucidation than what is offered to the rational understanding by its simple proposition, as first principles can hardly be proven, because they need no probation, and cannot be made any clearer than they really are; and such persons as cannot, or will not, consent to them, are, in my opinion, incapable of conceiving any probation. And I do affirm, that self preservation and defence is right and lawful, because it is congenite with, and irradicated in every nature that hath a self which it can preserve, can scarcely be more illustrated that it may do so, than that it can do so; and therefore, all that have a true respect to their own, as well as a due concern in the interest of mankind, and their country’s rights and liberties; I say, to such worthy characters it might seem superfluous to make a doubt or a debate of this self-evident truth. And was it not that there have been, and still are, a generation of mortals (shall I call them men) in our land that are as great monsters in nature as they are malignant in religion; and as great perverters of the law of nature as they are subverters of municipal laws, and everters of the laws of God, I have reason to believe this present war would not have been spun out to such a length. I have not undertaken to write this small piece with any great prospect of convincing such characters; but my chief view was to comfort the minds of such persons whose near and dear connections have fallen, or may yet fall, in the glorious cause of liberty and virtue; and to clear up the doubts that tender consciences may entertain, as to the lawfulness of a defensive war. It does appear clear, that it has been the practice of all nations in the world, and the greatest and best of men have, in all ages, maintained this principle; and many, for adhering to it, have suffered death, and sealed the truth thereof with their blood. Read Woodrow’s and Cruckshank’s history of the two brothers bloody reign, from 1660, to the glorious revolution in 1688, containing twenty-eight years; which, by the godly, was justly called the killing time. Also let us read our own history of the American war from April 19, 1775, to June 17, 1779, and we shall not be wanting of instances of many suffering by the hands of British tyranny, for maintaining this principle of self defence, in defence of our lives and liberties. It is well known that the Americans did not hastily, nor violently, rush in to the present war. They did petition, remonstrate, and restrained trade; nay, took every reasonable method that reasonable creatures could invent, in order to prevent the effusion of human blood. But when they found all their humble petitions rejected, and treated with the greatest scorn and contempt; and that nothing would go down with proud, haughty North and his silly tool George the III, and their associates in wickedness, but a total surrender of all our rights and liberties, and an unconditional submission, they did take up arms to defend themselves from the unjust and wicked encroachments of haughty Britain; and, if we may judge from the success of our arms, we may rationally conclude that heaven approves of our undertaking, and that the God of battle has gone forth with our armies. But not to enlarge upon a subject so manifest, I now proceed to prove the lawfulness of taking up arms to oppose all tyranny, oppression, and those who abuse and misuse their authority. This great truth is sufficiently made manifest by the most famous and learned patrons and champions for this excellent privilege of mankind, the unanswerable authors of Lex Rex, the apologetical relation Naphtali and Jus Populi Vindicatum. But because it is easy to add to what is found, I shall subjoin my mite; and their arguments being various and scattered at large through their books, I shall endeavour to collect a compend of them in some order.
The two first of these authors do treat of a defensive war, under the direction of a parliament, like that in England about the year 1645; and the two last of resistance against the abuse of a lawful power, when there is no access to maintain our rights and liberties in any other way; which seems to come the nearest to our case, for we had no British parliament to be conducted by; but, in the lieu thereof, had recourse to a congress; nor did we ever dispute the lawfulness of the king of England’s right to the crown, and to govern according to the laws and constitution thereof; but when he and his creatures undertook to govern us contrary to law, then did we most justly undertake to defend ourselves from the unjust encroachments of a tyrant. But, says the enemies of our country, it is no ways lawful, in any case, or upon any pretence whatsoever, to resist kingly authority, in whomsoever it be resident, or which way soever it be erected or conducted. O! poor passive slaves!
I shall now endeavour to consider it more complexly and extensively, and plead both for resistance against the abuse of a lawful power, and against the use and usurpation of a tyrannical power, and infer not only the lawfulness of resisting kings, when they abuse their power, as is made manifest by the above named authors, but also the expediency and necessity of the duty of resisting this tyrannical power, whenever we are, by a good providence of God, called thereunto; and this we must do, if we would not be found betrayers of the liberties of our country and brethren, together with the ruin of our poor posterity, which, if we should neglect to do, we shall be instruments of delivering up these inestimable blessings into the devouring jaws of tyranny; which if we should be tame enough to do, shall we not bring on us the curse of Meroz and the curse of our brethren’s blood, crying for vengeance on the heads of the shedders thereof, and upon all who being in a capacity came not to their rescue; and the curse of posterity would have been upon us for not transmiting that liberty whereof we were, by the valour of our worthy forefathers, put and left in possession of. I shall not, therefore, restrict myself to the question propounded ordinarily, to wit, whether or not, when a limited king doth really injure, oppress, and invade his subjects civil rights and liberties, and sends out his bloody emissaries, with armed violence against them; and when all redress, or hope, by any address or petition, is rendered void; then, and in that case, may a community of such subjects defend themselves and their liberties by arms, in resisting his bloody emissaries. But to bring it home to our present case, and answer the laxness of the adversaries position of the uncontroulableness of every one that wears a crown, I shall state it thus, whether or not it is a duty for a community to endeavour, in the defence of their lives, laws, and liberties, to resist the tyranny of prevailing dominators, using and abusing their power, to the subverting and invading the liberties and overturning the fundamental laws of the country? I hold to the affirmative, and shall attempt to prove it; and, in prosecuting this subject, I shall first permit some concessory considerations to clear it, and then bring reasons to prove it.
In the first place for clearing of this truth, and taking of mistakes, then concessions may be considered.
First. I do allow that the ordinance of majestracy, which is of God, is not to be resisted; no, not so much as by disobedience or non-obedience; nay, not so much as mentally, by cursing in the heart, Eccles. x. 20. But a person clothed therewith, abusing his power, may be so far resisted; but tyrants, or magistrates turning tyrants, are not God’s ordinances; and there is no hazard of damnation for refusing to obey their unjust commands; but rather, the hazard of that is in walking willingly after the commandment, when the statutes of Omri are kept; so that what is objected from Eccles. viii. 2. 4. I counsel thee to keep the king’s commandments, &c. Is to be understood only of the lawful commands of lawful things.
Second. I do allow that rebellion is a damnable sin, except where the word is taken in a lax sense, as Israel of old is said to have rebelled against Rehoboam, and good Hezekiah against Senacherib, which was a good rebellion and a clear duty. Being taken there for resistance and revolt, in this sense, the Americans rising in arms may be called rebellion, for it is right and lawful, to all intents and purposes, to rebel against tyrants, as all are who offer, or attempt, to govern contrary to the laws of the land; for where law ceases, tyranny begins. But because the word is generally taken in an evil sense, many do not make the proper distinction between a lawful rebellion against tyrants, and an unlawful one against lawful authority. As I said before, I do allow that rebellion against lawful magistrates is a most damnable sin, which was of old most exemplarily punished in Korah and his company, who rebelled against Moses; and in Sheba and Absalom, who rebelled against David. For to punish the just is not good, nor to strike princes for equity. Prov. xvii. 26. And they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. Rom. xiii. 2. So that this objection, brought from this place, as if the apostle was commanding their subjection, without resistance, to Nero and such like tyrants as he, is very impertinent; and to explain this a little, I shall shew that the apostle was here vindicating christianity from that reproach of casting off, or refusing subjection to all magistrates, as if christian liberty had destroyed that relation, or that they were not to be subject to heathen magistrates; whereupon, to undeceive them in this point, he binds this duty of subjection to magistrates for conscience sake in general; and it is very considerable what Buchanan says in his book (De Jure regai:) that Paul did not write to the kings themselves, because they were not christians, and therefore the more might be borne with from them, though they should not understand the duty of magistrates. But upon supposition there had been some christian king who had turned tyrant, and a limited one also who, by his tyrannical proceedings, was endeavouring to overturn the laws, charters, and liberties of his subjects, what would he have written then? Surely if he had been like himself he would have denied that he should be owned for a king; and would have interdicted all christian communion with him; and that they should account him no king, but such as they were to have no fellowship with according to the law of the gospel.
Second. The apostle here was, no doubt, speaking of lawful rulers, not tyrants; but of all such as are defined and qualified here, being powers ordained of God, terrors to evil works, ministers of God for good. Yea, but say tories and their adherents, these are only motives of subjection to all powers, not qualifications of the powers. To which I answer, they are indeed motives, but such as can be extended to none but to those powers that are so qualified.
Third. He speaks of lawful powers indefinitely in the plural number, not specifying any kind or degree of them, as if only kings and emperors were here meant. It cannot be proved that the power of the sword is only in them, neither was there, at that time, at Rome a plurality of kings and emperors to be subject to. It is clear to me, that if he had meant the Roman emperor, he would have designed him in the singular number; for all the reasons of the text agree to inferior judges. Also, for they are ordained of God; they are called rulers in scripture, and God’s ministers, revengers by office, who judge not for man but for the Lord. And inferior magistrates also are not to be resisted when doing their duty, 1 Peter, ii. 13. Yet all will allow, when they go beyond their bounds, and turn little tyrants, they may be withstood.
Fourth. He does not speak of Nero, concerning whom it cannot be proved, that at this time he had the sovereign power, as the famous and learned Mr. Prin shews; or if he had, that he was a tyrant at this time; and if he meant him at all, it was only as he was obliged to be by right, not as he was indeed: all men know, and none condemns the fact of the senate that resisted Nero at length, without transgressing this precept. Yea, I should rather think the senate is the power that the apostle applies this text to, if he applied it to any in particular.
Fifth. The subjection here required is the same with the honour in the fifth command, whereof this is an exposition, and is opposite to the contraordinateness here condemned. Now subjection takes in all the duties we owe to magistrates, and resistance all the contraries forbidden; but unlimited obedience is not here required, so neither unlimited subjection.
Third. I do allow passive subjection, in some cases, even to tyrants, when the Lord lays on that yoke; and, in effect, says he will have us lie under it awhile, as he of old commanded the Jews to be subject to Nebuchadnezzar. Of which passage, adduced to prove subjection to tyrants universally, Buchanan as above infers, that if all tyrants are to be subjected to because God by his prophet commanded his people to be subject to one tyrant, then it must be likewise concluded that all tyrants ought to be killed, because Ahab’s house was commanded to be destroyed by Jehu. But passive subjection, when people are not in a capacity to resist, is necessary; but I do not say passive obedience, which is a mere chimera, invented in the brains of such sycophants and jack asses as would make the world slaves to tyrants. Whosoever suffereth, if he can shun it, is an enemy to his own being, and is a first cousin to a self-murderer; for every natural thing must strive to preserve itself against what annoyeth it; and also, he sins against the order of God who, in vain, hath ordained so many lawful means for the preservation of our being, if we suffer it to be destroyed, having power to help it.
Fourth. I do abhor all war of subjects, professedly declared against a lawful king, who governs and rules according to law; as also all war against lawful authority, founded upon, or designed for maintaining principles inconsistent with government, or against policy and piety; yea all war without authority; yet when all authority of magistrates supreme and subordinate is perverted and abused, contrary to the ends thereof, to the oppressing of the people and overturning their laws and liberties, people must not, in such cases which was exactly ours, suspend or delay their resistance, waiting for the concurrence of men of authority, and neglect the duty in case of necessity, because they have not men of authority to lead them; for if the ground be lawful, the call clear, the necessity cogent, the capacity probable, they that have the law of nature, the law of God, and the fundamental laws of the land on their side, cannot want authority, although they may be destitute of a king to lead them. Also, it is proper here to observe, that people have this privilege of nature to defend themselves, and their rights and liberties, as well as kings; and had it before they erected and constituted kings; for I affirm, that there is no distinction of quality in interests of nature, though there be in civil order; but self defence is not an act of civil order, in such interest people must not depend upon the priority of their superiors, nor suspend the duties they owe to themselves and their neighbours, upon the manuduction of other mens greatness, the law of nature allowing self defence, and the defence of our brethren, against all unjust violence, which fully justifies the conduct of the different states appearing in and flying to arms in defence of our distressed and injured brethren of the Massachusetts Bay state, in the year 1775, when Britain laid her iron hand of tyranny and oppression upon them. It is a great and incumbent duty on all people to defend their religion and liberties, and those of their countrymen, against king or parliament who shall attempt to destroy the rights and liberties of the subjects; for all the power of a king or ruler is surely cumulative, not privative, for the worse condition of a ruler ought not to be by procuring. Why then shall the king, betraying his trust, wrong the cause of the people whose trustee he is? Nay if it were not lawful for people to defend their religion, lives, and liberties against the unjust encroachments of a tyrannical king, then I say the people would be in a worse situation with a king than without him, for they have done it before they had them, and so had better be without them still. But it is as clear as the sun at noon day in the firmament, that it is lawful to resist kings when they, by their mal administration, forfeit their subjects allegiance, as the king of England, by his has surely done. Poor soul, I believe he repents, but it is like poor Esau’s all too late.
Fifth. I do disallow all war, without real necessity and great wrongs sustained; and that it ought not to be declared or undertaken upon supposed grounds, or pretended causes; and so the question is impertinently stated by the tories, whether or not it be lawful for subjects, or a party of them, when they think themselves injured, or to be in a capacity, to resist or oppose the supreme power of a nation? For the question is not if, when they think themselves injured, they may resist; but when the injuries are real. Neither is it every reality of injuries will justify a people’s resistance; but when their dearest and nearest liberties are invaded, especially when such an invasion is made as threatens the total subversion of them. Nor do I say that a people, esteeming themselves in a capacity, or their being really in a capacity, doth make resistance a duty, except all alike they have a call, as well as a capacity, which requires real necessity, and a right to the action; and the things contended for to be real and legal. Rights really and illegally encroached upon their capacity, gives them only a conveniency to go about the duty that is previously lawful upon a moral ground. No man need to say who shall be judge the king or people.
For first. All who have eyes in their head may, I think, judge whether the sun shines or not; and all who have common sense may judge in this case; for when it comes to a necessity of resistance, it is to be supposed that the grievances complained of, and sought to be redressed by arms, are not hid, but manifest. Now it cannot be so with a people only pretending their suffering wrong. As to the grievances of the good people of America, it is so manifest to the world, that some of the nations thereof have espoused our righteous cause, and the rest seems to be silent.
Second. There is no need of the formality of a judge in things evident to nature’s eye, a grass is not tyranny. Undermining and overturning religion and liberty, must be nature in the acts of necessitated resistance. In such a case is judge, party, accuser, witness, and all. Neither is it an act of judgment for people to defend their own. Defence is no act of jurisdiction, but a privilege of nature. Hence arises these common sayings, all laws permits force to be repelled by force; and the great and first law of nature allows self-defence. I say, that the defence of life is necessary, and flows from the law of nature.
Third. Be judge who will, the tyrant cannot be judge in the case; for in those tyrannical acts that forces people to resistance, he cannot be acknowledged as king, and of course no judge; for it is always supposed that the judge is absent when he is the party that does the wrong; as such, is inferior to the innocent.
Fourth and lastly. Let God be judge, and all the world take cognizance of the justness of our cause.
Sixth. I condemn all rising to revenge private injuries, whereby a country may be covered with blood, for some petty wrongs done to some persons great or small. I also abhor all revengeful usurping of the magistrates sword, to avenge ourselves for personal injuries, as David’s killing of Saul would have been. 1 Sam. xxiv. 10, 12, 13. Ibid xxvi 9, 10. To object this, in this case, were very impertinent; for it would have been an act of offence, in a remote defence, if Saul had been immediately assaulting of him, it could, by no means, be deemed to have been lawful; and it would have been an act of private revenge, for a personal injury, and a sinful preventing of God’s promise of David’s succession, by a scandalous assassination; but it is clear then, David was resisting him and that is enough for my argument; and he supposes he might descend into battle and perish. 1 Sam. xxvi. 10. Not excluding but that he might perish in battle against himself resisting. I do allow, indeed, that we are commanded, in scripture, not to resist evil, but whosoever shall smite us on the one cheek, to turn to him the other also. Mat. v. 39. And to recompence to no man evil for evil. Rom. xii. 17. But this doth not condemn self-defence, and resisting of tyrants, violently endangering our lives, laws, religion, and liberties; but only resistance by way of private revenge and retaliation; and enjoins patience, when the clear call and dispensation do inevitably call unto suffering, but not to give way to all violence, to the subverting of religion and liberty. These texts do no more condemn private persons retaliating the magistrates than magistrates retaliating private persons; unless magistrates be exempted from this precept, and consequently be not among Christ’s followers; yea, they do no more forbid private persons to resist the unjust violence of a king than to resist the unjust violence of any private person. That objection from our Lord’s reproving Peter[—]Matt. xxvi. 52. Put up thy sword, for all they that take the sword shall perish by the sword[—]hath no weight here, for this condemns only making use of the sword either by way of private revenge, or usurping the use of it without authority, and so condemns all tyrants, which private subjects do not want to defend themselves, their religion, and liberty, or using it without necessity, which was not Peter’s case, both because Christ was able to defend himself, and because he was willing to deliver up himself. Pool’s synops critic in locum. Christ could easily have defended himself, but he would not, and, therefore, in course there was not the least necessity for Peter’s rashness. It condemns, also, a rash precipitating, and preventing the call of God, to acts of resistance. But otherwise it is plain it was not Peter’s fault to defend his master, but a necessary duty. The reason our blessed Lord gives for that inhibition at that time was twofold, one expressed Matt. xxvi. 52. For they that take the sword, &c. Which do not belong to Peter, as if he was hereby threatened, but to those that were coming to take Christ. They it were that, indeed, usurped the sword of tyrannical violence, and therefore are threatened with destruction by the bloody sword of the Romans. So is that commination to be understood of antichrist and the tyrants that serve him. Rev. xiii. 10. He that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Which really is a most terrible word against persecutors and tyrants. The reason is, John xviii. 11. The cup which my father hath given me shall I not drink [it?] Which clearly repels that objection of Christ’s non-resistance. To which it is answered, that suffering was the end of his voluntary suscepted humiliation, and his grand errand to the world, appointed by the father, and freely undertaken by himself, which is not the rule of our practice; though it be true that, even in his suffering, he left us an example, that we should follow his steps. 1 Pet. ii. 21. In many things, as he was a martyr, his sufferings were the purest rule and example for us to follow, both for the matter and frame of spirit, submission, patience, constancy, meekness, &c. But not as he was our sponsor, and after the same manner, for then it would be unlawful for us to flee, as well as to resist, because he would not flee at that time.
Seven. I do also disclaim all rising in arms for trifles of our own things, or small injuries done to ourselves, but in a case of pure necessity, for the preservation of our lives, religion, laws, and liberties, when all that is dear to us as men and christians, are in hazard. So I am not for rising in arms to force any people to be of any particular religion, but to defend my own, and my country’s religion and liberties, from unjust force and violence, against kings and tyrants, that may encroach thereon. I do not believe that it is the way that Christ hath appointed to propagate religion by arms. Let persecutors and limbs of antichrist take that to them. But I am convinced that it is a privilege that Christ hath allowed to mankind, to defend and preserve their religion and liberties by arms, especially when they have been established by solemn charters, and the laws and constitution of the land, and thereby become a land right, and the dearest and most precious of all rights and interest we have to contend for. It is true, saith Christ, John xviii. 36. My kingdom is not of this world; if it was of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews. But this objection, which is so much relied on by Quakers, and those who disown all use of war and arms, in any case whatsoever, will not conclude that Christ’s kingdom is not to be defended and preserved by resistance of all such who would impiously and sacrilegiously spoil us of it in this world, because it is not of this world, for then all would be obliged to suffer it to be run down by slaves of hell and satan, and antichrists vassals; yea, kings themselves, in such a case, must not fight for it, for they are among his servants. But the good confession he witnesses here before Pilate, is, that he hath a kingdom which, as it is not in opposition to any Cesarean majesty, must not be usurped by any king of clay; but is specially distinct from all the kingdoms of the world, and subordinate to no earthly power, being of a spiritual nature, whereof this is a demonstration, and sufficient security for earthly kingdoms, that his servants, as such, that is as christians and as ministers, were not appointed by him to propagate it by arms, nor to deliver him their king, at that time, because he would not suffer his glorious design of redemption to be any longer retarded. But this doth not say that though they are not to propagate it as christians and as ministers, by carnal weapons, yet they may preserve it with such weapons as men. Hence that old saying may be vindicated, prayers and tears are the arms of the church. I grant they are so, the only best prevailing arms, and without which all others would be ineffectual, and that they, together with preaching and church discipline, are the only ecclesiastical or spiritual arms of a church as a church; but the members thereof are also men, and as men they may use the same weapons as others do. And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, saith the Lord, Ezek. xxxiii. 31. And from this I shall take an argument, that if it be lawful for private subjects to resist a tyrant by prayers and tears, than it is lawful also to resist them by violence; but the former is true, therefore the latter. This personal resistance by violence is as consistent with that command, Rom. xiii. 1, 2. Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; as resistance by prayer is with that 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2 I exhort that supplication be made for kings and for all that are in authority. If the king be good, the one resistance is as unlawful as the other; and is a sinful resistance of the ordinance of God, to pray against him no less than the other to fight against him. Therefore, when a king turns a tyrant, and a destroyer of the religion and liberties of the people, I may not pray for him, except conditionally, but against him as an enemy, so I may also fight against him. As such the tyrant of Britain, I mean George the III, and his burning bloody emissaries, who do, at least, by their actions, acknowledge that the resistance made against them, by the prayers and tears of the faithful, is more powerful and effectual than that made by arms. Witness the spite and enmity they have shewn in all their tours of plunder and burnings, against the houses dedicated and set apart for prayers and praises to Almighty God. What has become of one or two near Springfield, in the state of New-Jersey, when they murdered the minister’s wife there? How have they destroyed two at Somerset, in said state? Also, at Crumpond, and Bedford, in the state of New-York? And no doubt many more that at present does not occur to my mind. And farther, the law used to make the one resistance as treasonable as the other, and that very deservedly too, when the king was doing his duty. But when he turns tyrant, neither of those methods of resistance can justly be condemned.
These things being admitted, I shall now come to the thing in hand, and endeavour to prove this truth, that it is a necessary duty for a people to endeavour, in the defence of their religion, lives, laws, and liberties; to resist and repress the tyranny of a king, using and abusing his power for subverting religion, invading the liberties, and overturning the fundamental laws of the country. I propose to be as short as possible, because I think this truth is sufficiently confirmed already, to convince any but those who are determined not to be convinced; yet I propose to hint at some others, and prosecute them in the following order. First, I shall produce some arguments from the law of nature and nations. Secondly, From the common practices of all christian people. Thirdly, From express scriptures.
First, The arguments of the first class are very multifarious. I shall endeavour to reduce them to a few as compendiously as may be, and only give the strength of them in a syllogistical form, without expatiating, save where the matter requires.
First, The great antagonists of this truth, through the clearness thereof, are forced to assert and grant such particulars as will, by consequence, justify this plea. First, Barclay, contra monarchum, is cited by the Apal Relat, and Jus Populi, asserting, “That if a king will alienate, and subject his kingdom, without his subjects consent, or be carried with a hostile mind to the destruction of his people, his kingdom is actually lost, and the people may not only lawfully resist, but also depose him.” Grotius de jure Belli, lib. 1, cap. 4, asserts the same, and adds, “If he but attempt to do so, he may be resisted.” The Surveyor of Naphtali grants the same, p. 23, 24. Yea, this has been granted in many of the councils and open courts of christian nations, that in case of the king’s alienating his kingdom, he may be resisted; which will fully justify the American resistance; for surely Britain, by her conduct, was about to sell or destroy her liberties and property; and has effectually estranged and drawn off our affections from her, even to the world’s wonder. I need say no more than this, that a king’s carrying a hostile mind, to the destruction of his people and kingdom, does give the people a right to resist him. Doctor Ferne acknowledgeth, “That personal defence is lawful against the sudden, illegal, and inevitable assaults of the kings messengers, or of himself, so far as to ward off his blows, or hold his hands; as also he alloweth private persons liberty to deny subsidies and tribute to the prince, when he employeth it to the destruction of the commonwealth.” From hence I argue, if one may defend himself against the sudden, illegal, and inevitable assaults of the king or his messenger, then may many men, in defence of their lives and liberties, defend themselves against the surprizing massacres, and sudden assaults of the king of England and his bloody emissaries, which were all illegal; but the former is true, therefore the latter.
Thirdly, Bodin de Repub. lib. 2. chap. 5, granteth, “If a king turn tyrant, he may lawfully, at his subjects request, be invaded, resisted, condemned, or slain by a foreign prince”—hence, if a foreign prince may lawfully help a people, oppressed by their own sovereign, then people may resist themselves, if they be able; but the former is true, therefore the latter. The consequence cannot be denied, for foreigners have no more power or authority over another sovereign, than the people have themselves.
Fourth, Arnisaeus de author Prici. chap. 2. 10, granteth, “That if the king proceed extrajudically, without order of law, by violence, every private man hath power to resist.” So the Surveyor of Naphtali, as above, grants, “So much of a womans violently resisting attempts against the honour of her chastity, and tending to ensnare her in sin, whereof her non-resistance makes her guilty.” Hence, if every extrajudical violence of a prince may be resisted, then also all contrajudical violence against law or reason, must be opposed, for that is more grievous, and all their violences, wherein they do not act as judges, must be resisted and that is altogether, for in none of them they can act as judges; but the former is true, therefore the latter. If a woman may defend her chastity against the king, lest her non-resistance make her guilty, then may a nation, or any part of it, resist a king’s attempt upon their religion and liberties, enticing them to fornication, lest their non-resistance make them guilty; but the former is true, therefore the latter.
Five, That same Arnisaeus, cap. 4, saith of the former, to wit,
He who is called a tyrant in title, it is determined by all, without any difficulty, that he may be lawfully repulsed, or if by force he be gotten into the throne, he may warrantably be thence removed, because he hath not any jot of power which is not illegitimate, and unto which resistance is forbidden, for the fear of God and for conscience sake; and therefore he is no further to be looked at than as an enemy.
Sixth. Grotious de jure belli, lib. i, cap. 4, granteth, “the law of not resisting does not bind, when the danger is most weighty and certain”; and I do not plead for it in any other case. And further, he saith,
the law of non-resistance seemeth to have flowed from them who first combined together into society, and from whom such as did command, did derive their power. Now if it had been asked of such whether they would chuse to die, rather than in any case to resist the superior with arms, I know not if they would have yielded thereto, unless with this addition, if they could not be resisted but with the greatest perturbation of the common wealth, and destruction of many innocents.
And afterwards he hath the words, “Nevertheless I scarce dare condemn every one, or the lesser part, which may only be done, at utmost extremity; notwithstanding respect is to be had to the common good.” From all which I need not make the least inference, the concession is so large, that it does to all intents and purposes confirm my arguments.
Seventh. The surveyor of Naphtali, in the place above cited, “grants legal self-defence, against the sovereign, by way of plea in court, for safety of a man’s person or estate; as also is the case of most habited, not our and compleat tyranny, against law to the destruction of the body of a people; and of all known legal liberties, and the being of religion, according to law, and in case of his not being in his right wits.”
Hence I argue, that if it be lawful to resist the king by a plea in law, for an estate, yea the law will allow, by actual force, if he come to take possession of it illegally; then it must be law for their lives and estates, liberties and religion, to resist him by force, when the legal resistance is not admitted; but the former is true, therefore the latter. The reason of the connexion is, the municipal law permits the one, and the law of nature and nations, which no municipal law can infringe, will warrant the other. He hath no more right to be both judge and party, in this case, than in the other. Second. If it be lawful to resist tyranny against law, to the destruction of the rights of the people, their religion and liberties, then I want no more to prove the lawfulness of the American resistance against the tyranny of Britain, exercised for years past against us, which has proven the desolation and ruin of many hundreds of families, besides all the rivers of blood that have been drawn from the veins of our dear countrymen; and all this perpetrated for the profest purpose of subverting our religion and liberties, and to establish an arbitrary government. And here I think it proper to answer an objection that some may make, viz. That I have blended religious liberty with civil, as a cause of the American resistance, when the former was not in the least invaded by any British act of parliament that was complained of; but all freedom left to the conscience in that respect, and therefore I ought not to have made use of the word in this piece. In answer whereof, I offer the following as my reason for so doing: I do freely acknowledge that I have not seen or heard of any British act of parliament that did, in direct terms, and in so many words, declare that the people of America should all be of one uniform religion, upon pain of death and confiscation of goods; but I have seen and read one that carried all that in it’s bowels, to wit. The declaratory act, wherein they declare they had a right to bind the Americans in all cases whatsoever; which if once they could have put into full execution, what would there be left we could call our own any longer than at the will and pleasure of a tyrannical king and parliament, for there is no exception in the word whatsoever? Besides, whoever knew or heard of a people’s enjoying their religious liberties when their civil was taken from them? They were born twins, knit together, therefore if one of them dies, the other cannot live; at least this is my opinion, and every one has a right to judge for themselves. Now under the full conviction of this, and that had our civil liberties been taken from us, our religious ones would not long survived. I was led to blend them together, and shall throughout this piece.
Third. Suppose the king should run mad, and out of his wits, and then should run upon an innocent man to kill him, or make an attempt to cut his own throat, would it then, and in that case, be lawful to resist him? Yea, it would be a great sin not to do it. Then surely, when in a mad rage, he is seeking to destroy many hundred of the good people of America, he may and ought to be resisted. But the former is true therefore the latter. It is easily to be seen by the above concessions of adversaries to my principles, that the absolute subjection they talk of will not hold good, nor the prerogative be so uncontroulable in every case as they would pretend; and that in many cases the safety of the people hath the supremacy above it, and that also in these cases the people must be judges whether they may resist or not.
Second. From the law of nature I may argue. First. If God the fountain of all power, and author of all right, hath given unto man both the power, and the right of, and reason to manage self-defence, and hath no ways interdicted it in his word, to be put forth against tyrants, then it is duty to use it against him upon occasion; but the former is true, therefore the latter. Second. If this power and right were restrained in man against the unjust violence of any, it would either be by policy or grace, or some express prohibition in the word of God; but none of these can be said, therefore policy cannot destroy nature, but is rather cumulative to it. A man entering into a politic incorporation, does not lose the privilege of nature. If one particular nature may defend itself against destroying violence out of society, then must many of these natures, combined in society, have the same right; and so much the more that their relative duties superadd an obligation of mutual assistance. Grace does not restrain the right of sinless nature, though it restrains corruption. But self-defence is no corruption. Grace makes a man more a man than he was, and nothing can be more dishonourable to the gospel than that, by the law of nature, it is lawful to resist tyrants. But we are bound by religion from withstanding their cruelty. The laws of God do not interfere one with another. Third. That law which alloweth comparative re-offending, so as to kill rather than be killed, teacheth resistance. But so the law of nature alloweth, except we be guilty of murder, in the culpable omission of self defence. The reason is because the love of self is nearer and greater, as to temporal life, than the love of our neighbour; that being the measure of this, therefore it obliges rather to kill than be killed, the exigence of necessity so requiring. Fourth. If nature put no other difference between the violence of a tyrant than of another man, then it teaches to resist both alike; but it putteth no difference, but rather aggravates that of a tyrant, being the violence of a man, the injustice of a member of the common wealth, and the cruelty of a tyrant; and it is most absurd to say, that we might defend ourselves from the lesser violence, and not from the greater. Fifth. If particular nature must yield to the good of universal nature, then must one man, though in greatest power, be resisted rather than the universal common wealth suffer hurt. But the former is true therefore the latter; for that dictates the necessity of the distracted father to be bound by his own sons, lest all the family be hurt; therefore the greatest of men, or kings, when destructive to the common wealth, must be resisted, for he is but one man, and so but particular nature. Sixth. That which is irrational, and reflects upon providence, as putting men in a worse condition than brutes, is absurd and contrary to the law of nature; but to say that the brutes have power to defend themselves, by resisting what annoys them, and deny this power to men, is irrational, and reflects upon providence as putting men in a worse condition than brutes; therefore it is absurd and contrary to the law of nature.
Third. From the institution of government, I may argue thus, that power and government, which is not of God, may be resisted. The tyrant’s power and government in breaking charters, overturning laws, subverting religion, oppressing subjects, is not of God, therefore it may be resisted. This is clear, because that is only the reason why he is not to be resisted, because the ordinance of God is not to be resisted. Rom. xiii. 2. But they resisting a man, destroying all the interests of mankind, do not in this resist the ordinance of God. And if it were not so, this would tend irremediablessly to overthrow all politics, and open a gap to all disorder. Injustice and cruelty would give as great encouragement to tyrants to do what they list, as thieves would be encouraged, if they knew that nobody would resist them, or bring them to punishment.
Fourth. From the original constitution of government by men, it may be argued thus, if people, at the first erection of government, acted rationally and did not put themselves in a worse case than before wherein it was lawful to defend themselves against all injuries, but devolved their rights upon the fiduciary tutory of such as should remain still in the rank of men, that can do wrong, who had no power but by their gift, consent, and choice, with whom they associated, not to their detriment, but for their advantage; and determined the form of their government, and time of its continuance, and in what cases they might recur to their primeval liberty, and settled a succession to have course, not by hereditary right, but by right and force of law for good ends; then they did not give away their birth right of self defence and power of resistance, which they had before, to withstand the violence, injuries, and oppressions of men they set over them, when they pervert the form, and convert it to tyranny; but did retain a power and privilege to resist and revolt from them, and repel their violence when they should do violence to the constitution, and pervert the ends thereof. But the former is true, ergo, the connexion is confirmed from this. If the estates of a kingdom give the power to a king, it is their own power in the fountain; and if they give it for their own good, they have power to judge when it is used against themselves and for their evil; and so power to limit and to resist the power that they gave.
Fifth. From the way and manner of erecting governors, by compact, the necessity whereof is clear, many arguments might be deduced. I shall reduce them to this form, if people must propose conditions unto kings to be by them acquiesced in, and submitted unto, at their admission to the government, which thereupon becomes the fundamental laws of the government, and security for the peoples rights and liberties, giving a law claim to the people to pursue the king, in case of failing in the main and principle thing covenanted, as their own covenanted mandatarius, who hath no right or authority of his own, but what he hath from them, and no more power but what is contained in the conditions upon which he undertaketh the government. Then whenever a tyrant doth break all these conditions, which he once accepted, and so become, in strict law, no king and the people be, in strict law, liberated from subjection to him, they may and must defend themselves, and their fundamental rights and privileges, religion and laws, and resist the tyranny overturning them. But the former is true, therefore, &c.
Sixth. From the nature of magistracy, it may be argued thus: That power which is properly neither parental nor marital, nor masterly and despotick over the subjects and goods, but only fiduciary, and by way of trust, is more to be resisted than that which is properly so. But that power which is properly so, that is parental power and marital and masterly, may be resisted in many cases. Therefore that power which is not so properly, but only fiduciary, is more to be resisted than a king’s power over his subjects, is neither parental nor marital, &c. is most clear. The minor is clear, by instances. First. If children may, in case of necessity, resist the fury and mad rage of their father, seeking to destroy them, then must private subjects resist the rage and tyranny of kings, seeking to destroy them, and what is dearest to them; for there is no stricter obligation moral between king and people, than between parents and children, nor so strict; and between tyrants and people there is none at all, therefore the former cannot be denied. Second. If wives may lawfully defend themselves against the unjust violence of enraged husbands, then must private subjects have power to resist the furious assaults of enraged tyrants, for there is not so great a tie betwixt them and people as between man and wife; yea there is none at all; but the former is true. Ergo, Three. If servants may defend themselves against their masters, then must private subjects against a tyrant or his emissaries; but the former is true. Ergo, Four. If the king’s power is only fiduciary, and by way of pawn, which he hath got to keep, then when that power is manifestly abused, to the hurt of them that entrusted him with it, he ought, by all means, to be resisted by all those which he undertook to protect; but the former is true, therefore the latter.
Seventh. From the limited power of kings it may be thus argued: If kings be limited by laws and contracts, and may be resisted by pleas in law, and have no absolute power to do and command what they will, but must be limited both by the laws of God and man, and cannot make what laws they will, in prejudice of the people’s rights, nor execute the laws made according to their pleasure, nor confer on others a lawless license to oppress whom they please; then when they turn tyrants, and arrogate a lawless absoluteness, and cross the rules and transgress the bounds prescribed by God’s laws and man’s laws, and made their own lusts a law, and execute the same arbitrarily, they must be resisted by force when a legal resistance cannot be had, in defence of religion and liberty. But all kings are limited, &c and the connexion may be thus confirmed in short: That power which is not the ordinance of God, may be resisted; but an absolute illimited power, crossing the rules and transgressing the bounds prescribed by God’s law and man’s, is not the ordinance of God, therefore it may be resisted.
Eighth. Further from the rules of government it may be argued several ways. First. That power which is contrary to law, evil and tyrannical, can tie none to subjection; but if it oblige to any thing, it ties to resistance. But the power of a king against law, religion, and liberty, is a power contrary to law, evil and tyrannical, therefore, &c.
The major is plain, for wickedness can tie no man but to resist it. That power which is contrary to law, evil and tyrannical is wickedness. Second. That power and those acts, which neither king can exercise nor command, nor others execute, nor any obey, must certainly be resisted; but such is the power and acts that oppress the subjects, and overturn religion and liberty, therefore, &c.
The minor is evident from scripture, condemning oppression and violence, both in them that command and in them that execute the same, and also them that obey such wicked commands. The major is very clear from reason, both because such power and such acts as cannot be commanded cannot be executed, cannot be obeyed lawfully, are sinful and wicked; and because it cannot be a magistratical power, for that may always be exercised and executed lawfully; and what a man cannot command, the resisting of that he cannot punish; but acts of oppression against law, religion, and liberty, a man cannot command, ergo the resisting of these he cannot punish. Third. That government and administration which is not subordinate to the law and will of God, who hath appointed it, must be resisted. But that government, or administration, which undermines or overturns religion and liberty, is not subordinate to the law and will of God, therefore, &c. The major is clear, for nothing but what is the ordinance of God, subordinate to his law and will, is irresistable. Rom. xiii. 2. The assumption is undeniable.
Ninth. From the very end and true design of government, which must be acknowleged by all to be the glory of God and the good of mankind; yea all that have been either wise or honest have always held that the safety of the people is the supreme law. The argument may run thus in short. First. That doctrine which makes the holy one to cross his own ends, in giving governors, must be absurd and unchristian, as well as irrational; but such is the doctrine that makes all kings, and tyrants irresistable upon any pretence whatever; which, by the bye, is the ancient and modern tory doctrine, ergo the minor. I prove that doctrine which makes God, intending his own glory, and the peoples good, to give governors both as fathers to preserve and as murderers to destroy them, must make the holy one to cross his own ends, for these are contradictory; but the doctrine that makes all kings and tyrants irresistable, &c. is such, for by office they are fathers to preserve, and by office also they must be murderers, vested with such a power from God by the first act. If they be irresistable when they do so, seeing every power that is irresistable is the ordinance of God. Hence also when a blessing turns a curse it is no more the ordinance of God, but to be resisted with all our might and strength; but when a king turns a tyrant, overturning religion and liberty, then a blessing turns a curse, therefore, &c.
Second. Means are to be resisted when they are not useful for, but destructive to the ends for which they were appointed; but kings overturning religion and liberty, are means not useful for, but destructive to the ends for which they were appointed. Seeing then they are neither for the glory of God nor the good of mankind, therefore, &c.
Third. If all powers and prerogatives of men are only means appointed for, and should vail unto the supreme law of the peoples safety, and all laws be subordinate to and corroborative of this law; and when cross to it, are in so far null, and no laws; and all law formalities in competition with it are to be laid aside, and all parliamentary priviledges must yield to this, and king and parliament, both conspiring, have no power against it; and no sovereign power, by virtue of any resignation from the people can comprize any authority to act against it; then it is duty to obey the supreme law, in resisting all powers and prerogatives, all laws and law formalities, and all conspiracies whatsoever against this supreme law, the safety of the people; but the former is true, therefore, &c.
Fourth. That power which is obliged and appointed to command and rule justly and religiously, for the good of the people, and is only set over them on these conditions, and for that end, cannot tie them to subjection, without resistance, when the power is abused to the destruction of laws, religion, liberty, and people; but all power is so appointed and obliged, therefore whensoever it is so abused it cannot tie people to subjection, but rather oblige them to the rejection of it.
Tenth. From the obedience required to government it may be argued thus: First. If we may flee from tyrants then we may resist them; but we may flee from tyrants therefore we may resist them. The connexion I prove, First. If all grounds of justice will warrant the one as well as the other, then, if the one be duty so is the other; but the former is true; for the same justice and equity that warrants declining a tyrants unjust violence by flight, will warrant resistance when flight will not do it; the same principle of self defence that makes flight duty, when resistance is not possible, will also make resistance duty when flight is not possible: the same principle of charity to wives and children, that makes flight lawful when, by resistance, they cannot avoid tyranny, will make resistance duty when by flight they cannot evitate it; the same principle of conscience to keep religion free, that prompts to flight when resistance will not save it, will also prompt to resist it when flight is not practicable. Second. If to flee from a just power when, in justice we are obnoxious to its sword, be to resist the ordinance of God, and so sin, then to flee from an unjust power must be also a resisting of the abusing of it, and so duty, for the one is resistance as well as the other; but the difference of the power resisted makes the one lawful, the other not. Again, if kingly power may be resisted, by interposing seas, and miles, why not by the same rule by interposing walls and arms? Both is resistance, for against a lawful king or magistrate that would be resistance. Third. If a tyrant hath irresistable power to kill and destroy the people, he hath also irresistable power to cite and summon them before him; and if it be unlawful to resist his murders, it must be as unlawful to resist his summons. Fourth. For a community of people to flee with wives and children, strong and weak, young and old, to escape tyrannical violence, and leave the land, were more unlawful than to resist, Alas! where should or could we of America have fled to have escaped the power of tyranny? Therefore it was our duty to resist, for what is not possible as a natural means of preservation, is not a lawful mean; but this was not a possible mean, neither is it warranted in nature’s law, or God’s word, for a people that have God’s right, and man’s law, to the land, and the rights and liberties thereof, to leave the country and its liberties all into the hands of a tyrant, and his crew. And farther, if it is duty to disobey, ’tis also duty to resist tyrants in defence of religion and liberty. But it is duty to disobey them, therefore, &c. The connection only will be stuck at, which is thus strengthened, if subjection be no more pressed in scripture than obedience. Then, if non-obedience be duty, non subjection must be so also, and consequently resistance; but subjection is no more pressed in scripture than obedience, for all commands of subjection, to the higher powers, as God’s ministers, under pain of damnation, do only respect lawful magistrates, and in lawful things, and do include obedience; and non-obedience to the power so qualified is a resisting of the ordinance of God, as well as non subjection. If then obedience to magistrates be duty, and non-obedience sin, and obedience to tyrants sin, and non-obedience duty, then, by parity of reason, subjection to magistrates is duty, and non-subjection is sin; and also subjection to tyrants is sin, and non-subjection duty.
Eleventh. From the resistance allowed in all governments, it may be argued thus: If it be duty to defend our religion, lives and liberties, against an invading army of cut throats, Turks, Tartars, &c. without or against the king’s warrant, then of course, it is and must be duty to defend the same against home bred tyrants, except we would subscribe ourselves home born slaves; but the former is true, therefore, &c. The minor cannot be doubted, because the king’s power cannot be privative and destructive to defence of our religion, lives, and liberties; nor neither can it take away nature’s birth right, to defend these or make it fare the worse than if we had no king at all. Now if we had no king at all, we might defend these against invaders; and whether we have king’s or not, we are under moral obligations of the law of God to endeavour the defence of these. But this need not be insisted on; the connexion of the proposition is clear, if king’s be more tyrannical, in invading religion and liberty themselves, than in suffering others to do it, or hindering them to be opposed; and if their invasion be more tyrannical, hurtful, and dangerous, than the invasion of strangers, then, if it be duty to resist strangers, invading these interests, it is more duty to resist home bred tyrants invading the same; but the former is true, therefore the latter. Resistance in the one case is no more resisting the ordinance of God than in the other.
Twelfth. From the motives of resistance we may draw this argument, which might indeed be branched out into several; but for brevities sake, I propose to reduce it to this complex one: If when we are in a capacity we cannot acquit ourselves in the duty that we do owe to our country, ourselves, and posterity, and absolve ourselves from the sin and judgment of tyrants, who overturn religion and liberty, oppress our countrymen, impose slavery on ourselves, and intail it upon posterity, by a passive subjection, submission to, and not opposing these mischiefs, then this instance is necessary; but the former is true, therefore, &c. The connexion is clear, for there cannot be a medium, if we cannot discharge these duties by subjection, submission, and not opposing; then, we must do them by non-subjection, non submission and opposing, since they must be done some way. The assumption is thus confirmed. Second. The duties we owe to religion, when it is like to be overturned, which no doubt would have been the case had our civil liberties been taken from us, it is, I say, in this case, our duty to resist tyranny, by making use of defensive arms. This must surely be as necessary as that of our civil liberties, which is an interest of our bodies, which is, indeed far inferior, and as necessary a duty as to defend our civil liberties from perpetual slavery, and as preferable thereunto as Christ’s interests is to man’s; and as the true end of all self preservation is to the means of it, the preservation of religion being the end of all self preservation. But this duty cannot be discharged without resistance in a mere passive subjection and submission, otherwise the same might be discharged in our universal submission to Turks or Indians, coming to destroy our religion. Surely this passive way of conducting ourselves cannot answer the duty of pleading for truth. Isa. ix. 4. Seeking the truth. Jer. v. 1. Being valliant for it. Jer. lix. 3. Making up the hedge, standing in the gap, &c. Ezek. xxii. 30. Which yet are really necessary and incumbent duties according to our capacity; therefore we cannot answer the duties we owe to religion, in a mere passive way. I say farther, the duty we owe to our countrymen, and to those of each state, is to assist and defend them, and relieve them when oppressed, which fully and compleatly justifies the conduct of all those brave officers and men who so chearfully flew from their ploughs to the sword, to the relief of our brave, but oppressed brethren at Boston, in the year 1775, as truly we were bound, by all laws of humanity, and of God, to do; and by the royal law of Christ, the foundation of all righteousness among men, towards each other. Matt. vii. 12. All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them. Reader, never let this direction slip your memory, for surely as we would wish to have others help us, when we are oppressed, so should we do to them when it is in the power of our hands to do it, and not forbear to deliver them, for the Lord will require their blood at our hand. Prov. xxiv, 11, 12. But this cannot, by any means, be done by a mere subjection without resistance. Third. There is no way to free ourselves of the sin and judgment of tyrants, by mere passive subjection. We find in the sacred scriptures, how that the people of old have been involved and punished for the sins of tyrants, as the people of Judah for Manasseh. 2 Kings xxi. 11, &c. Jer. xv. 4. Whose sins, if they had not been committed, the judgment for them had been prevented; and if the people had hindred them, they had not smarted, but being jointly included with their rulers in the same bond of fidelity to God, and made accountable as joint principles with their kings for that debt, by their mutual as well as several engagements, to walk in his ways, they were liable to be punished for their rebellion and apostacy, because they did not hinder it. Hence I say, resistance against tyrants and tyranny is right and lawful, &c.
Secondly. This truth is confirmed from the common practice of the people of God, even under persecution, from whence I propose to draw an argument from some notable examples which, to condemn, were impious, and to deny were most impudent; and, for forms sake, it may run thus: What the people of God under both testaments have frequently done, in time of persecution, for defending, vindicating, or recovering their religion and liberties, may and ought to be done again in the like circumstances, when these are in the like hazard; but under both testaments, the people of God frequently, in times of persecution, have defended, vindicated, and recovered their religion and liberties by defensive arms, resisting the sovereign powers that sought to destroy them; therefore this may, and ought to be done again when these religious, civil and natural privileges are in the like hazard to be destroyed by the violent encroachments of the sovereign powers. The proposition cannot be denied, except by all such as are open professed enemies to the people of God, as I take all the enemies to their country really to be. And I am ready to believe that, by an impartial and strict scrutiny, it will be found that the examples of their endeavoured resistance will be little inferior, if not superior, in number and importance to the examples of their submissive sufferings in all ages of the world, which will appear in the probation of the assumption by adduction of many instances which I shall only cursorily glean out of that plentiful harvest that histories do afford us, both of ancient and modern date.
First. I need only just touch on that most well known and famous history of the Maccabees, of undoubted verity, though not of cannonical authority, in which, according to scripture predictions, we have a most notable account of many heroick enterprises, atchievements, and exploits performed by them that knew their God, and tendered his glory and their religion and country’s liberties, above the common catechrestick notions of uncontroulable, irresistable royalty and absolute, implicit, loyalty, that have abused the world in all ages. There we have an account of the noble and successful resistance of a party of a few godly and zealous patriots, without the concurrence of civil authority, or countenance of the ephori or nobles of the kingdom, against a king universally acknowledged and subjected unto, that came in peaceably and obtained the kingdom by flatteries, with whom the greatest part, and those of the greatest note, took part and did wickedly against the covenant and nation’s interest, and were corrupted by flatteries; yet a few priests, with the assistance of some common countrymen, did fly to arms against him and them, and the Lord did wonderfully assist them for a considerable time, as was foretold by Daniel xi. And all this did fall out under the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes, and was happily begun by Matthias, a godly priest and his five sons, who being commanded, under severe certifications, to worship according to the law then and at that time in force, and according to the king’s wicked lusts. However they refused, and did most valiantly resist that most horrible abomination, and flew to defensive arms, which, while living, he patronized, and when dying did encourage his sons to it by a notable oration, shewing them what a deplorable case his country was in, and what a duty and dignity it was to redeem and deliver it; and this was vigorously prosecuted by Judas Maccabeus, expressly for the quarrel of religion and liberty, against the mighty tyrant and all his emissaries. A great undertaking indeed. And have not we of America great reason to bless God, and to stand amazed at the great goodness and providence of God, that when the king of Great-Britain, and his venal parliament, was about to destroy our civil, and of course, our religious liberties, that he raised us up a second Matthias, even the great Washington, as an instrument in his hands to save this land from ruin and slavery; who has, by his great generalship, rendered himself a world’s wonder and a wonder to the world. But nothing is too hard or impossible with God, who always fits and furnishes instruments suitable to the work he has to do.
Second. To come down to the history of the gospel dispensation, I allow indeed that in the time of the primitive persecutions, under the heathen emperors, this great and well approved privilege of self defence was not much improved or made use of by christians, who studied more to play the martyrs than to play the men as christian soldiers; because, at that time, the Lord was pleased, in his good providence, to spirit them up, and call them unto, and accept of their hands passive testimonies, while they were incorporate under a civil relation with the heathens, in subjection to governors, who did not, by open tyranny overturn their civil liberties; but did only endeavour to eradicate religion, which, at that time, had never become their right by law, while they were scattered, and out of capacity, and never could come to a separate, formed community, by joint concurrence and correspondence, to undertake a declared resistance, while religion was only propagating through the nations, and the Lord did providentially preclude the least appearance that might be of propagating of it by any armed and formed force, being the gospel of peace, designed to save and not to destroy; yet even then, and in that case, there were instances of christians resisting their enemies, and rescuing of their ministers, &c. as they are found on record. First. How some inhabiting Marcota with force rescued Dionysius of Alexandria out of the hands of such as were carrying him away, about the year of our Lord 255. Second. How about the year 310 the Armenians waged war against Maximus, who was come against them with an army, because of their religion. Third. About the year 342 the citizens of Athanasius their minister, against Gugorious, and Syrianus the emperor’s captain, who came with strong force to put him in. Fourth. How about the year 356 the people of Constantinople did, in like manner, stand to the defence of Paulus against Constantius the emperor, and killed his Captain Hermogenes; and afterwards, in great multitudes, they opposed the intrusion of the heretick Macedonius. Fifth. How when a wicked edict was sent forth to pull down the churches of such as were for the clause of one substance, the christians that maintained that testimony resisted the bands of soldiers that were procured at the emperors command, by Macedonius, to force the Mantinians to embrace the Arian heresy, but the christians at Mantinium kindled with an earnest zeal towards the christian religion, went against the soldiers with chearful minds, and valliant courage, and made a great slaughter of them. Sixth. How about the year 387 the people of Cesarea did defend Basil their minister. Seventh. How for fear of the people, the lieutenant of the emperor Vallens durst not execute those eighty priests who had come to supplicate the emperor, and was commanded to be all killed by him. Eighth. How the inhabitants of Mount Nitria espoused Byril’s quarrel, and assaulted the lieutenant, and forced his guards to flee. Ninth. How about the year 404, when the emperor had banished Chrysostom, the people flocked together, so that the emperor was necessitated to call him back again from his exile. Tenth. How the people resisted also the transportation of Ambrose by the command of Valentinian the emperor, and chused rather to lose their lives than to suffer their pastor to be taken away by the soldiers. Eleventh. How the christians, oppressed by Baratanes king of Persia, did flee to the Romans to seek their help, and Theodosius the emperor is much praised for the war; (which, by the bye, fully justifies the Americans seeking relief from France, from the cruel tyranny of Britain, and of Louis XVI for granting of it, by which conduct of his he has endeared himself to every good whig, and to all who has a true regard for the rights of mankind; and to add still more to his greatness and goodness, if I am rightly informed, he tolerates the free exercise of the protestant religion throughout his dominion. Who can say but what God, in his providence, is about by this great revolution to pull down one of the ten horns which has long supported the beast?). But not to add here, pardon the digression, I now return; which he had commenced against Chrasroes king of Persia upon this inducement that the king sought to ruin and extirpate those christians in his dominions that would not renounce the gospel.
Third. But when religion was once embraced in imbodied corporations, and established by law, and became a people’s common interest and liberty, in a capacity to defend it with their lives and other liberties, and when it was propagated thro’ the nations, then the Lord did call for other more active testimonies in the preservation and defence of it, of which we have many instances in histories. About the year 894 the Bohemian christians resisted Drahomica their queen, who thought to have destroyed them, and to have re-introduced paganism. About the year 1420 they maintained a long defensive war against the government, and the popes legates, under the management of their brave Captain Zizca, which was further prosecuted after him by the remaining Thaborites; and again in the year 1618, they maintained a defensive war against the emperor Ferdinand. Eleventh. Electing and erecting a new king in opposition to him Frederick Palitine of the Rhine in which cause many received a crown of martyrdom; and this was also espoused by king James the First of England, who aided his son in law against the emperor; but it is generally allowed not so effectually as he ought, and might have done, for indeed he was a poor weak prince, and the father of tyrants.
Fourth. If we look into the history of the Waldenses, alias, Walloons, these constant opposers of antichrist, we will find many instances of their resistance about the year 1194. Very early, while Waldo, from whom they had their name, was alive, they began to defend themselves by arms, after the bloody edict of Alphonsus, king of Arragon; and in the year 1488, they resist by arms Albert de Capitaneis, sent by Pope Innocent VIII, in Pragola and Frassaniere, and throughout Pied Mont, wherefor the most part the offspring of the old Waldenses had their residence, where, very evidently, through many successions of ages, they shewed themselves to be the true successors of their worthy progenitors, valliant for the truth; that is a most famous instance of their resistance in opposing vigorously the Lord of Trinity, in that same Pied Mont, at which time they so solemnly asked their ministers whether it was lawful or not to defend themselves against his violence, who did answer them in the affirmative, and accordingly they did it with wonderful success at that time, and many times afterwards; especially it is most remarkable how, in the year 1655, a most vigorous defensive war was prosecuted against the duke of Savoy, by their captains Ginavel, Jahiers, &c. which was espoused by many protestant princes.
Fifth. If we take a survey of the histories of the Albigenses, we find many instances of their defensive resisting their oppressing superiors. About the year 1200 they defended themselves against the popes legate, and his crossed soldiers, under the conduct first of the Earl of Beziers, and then of the Earl of Foise, and Earl of Remand, of Thoulouse, and where helped by the English, who then possessed Guienne, bordering upon Thoulouse, which resistance continued many years.
Sixth. In Spain we find the people of Arragon contesting with Alphonsus III, and associating themselves together against him; and they tell Pedro III, their king, that if he would not govern by, and according to law, they would pursue him by arms, about the year 1283, as also other Spaniards who rose in arms several times against Pedro, the first king of Castile.
Seventh. It was this that brought the cantons of Helvetia into this state of freedom, wherein they have continued many years; for about the year 1260, they levied war against their oppressing nobles; and in the year 1308, they joined in covenant to defend themselves against the house of Austria; and in the year 1315, they renewed it at Brenna, in which, at length, the rest of the cantons joined and formed themselves into a common wealth.
Eighth. If we take a view of the Germans, we will find, at the very commencement of the reformation, as soon as they got the name of protestants, they resisted the emperor Charles V, the Duke of Saxon[y], the Landgrave of Hesse, and the city of Magdeburgh, with the advice of lawyers concluded, “that the laws of empire permitted resistance of the emperor, in some cases; that the times were then, so dangerous, that the very force of conscience did leave them to arms, and to make a league to defend themselves, though Cæsar, or any in his name, should make war against them; for since he attempteth to root out religion, and subvert our liberties, he giveth us cause enough to resist him with a good conscience.” The matter standing as it doth, we may say they resist, as may be shewed, both by sacred and profane histories, and so on, the whole they undertook, and stated the war upon the account of religion and liberty.
Ninth. If we but cast an eye over the history of Holland, we will find how much they are indebted to this practice of defensive arms, having thereby recovered both religion and liberty, and established themselves into a most flourishing state; we find even in the time of D. de Alvas’s persecution, they began to defend Haerlem, and Valenciennes in Hainault, and went on till under the conduct of William of Nassau, Prince of Orange, they declared the king of Spain to have fallen from the government of those countries, and so effectually shook off the yoke of tyranny.
Tenth. If we turn to the French Hugenots, we will find many instances among them, and many brave heroes raised up to maintain the principles, and prosecute the practices thereof, of older and later date. The history of the civil wars of France is stored with their trophies, and the memories of Conde and Coligni will ever be fragrant. There were many instances of resistance in those times, &c.
Eleventh. The many practices of the Hungarians, resisting the encroachments of the house of Austria, prove the same; and when Matthias denied the free exercise of religion unto the protestants of Austria, they took up arms in their own defence, and sent a protestation unto the states of Hungary, requiring their assistance agreeable to their league.
Twelfth. The Polonians have oftentimes levied war against their kings, and we are furnished by Clark in his Martyrol. with a late instance of their resistance against the sovereign powers at Lesna, in Poland, as late as the year 1655.
Thirteenth. The Deans and Swedes have not been slack on their parts, in taking course with their Christierns, kings of that name, whom they resisted and punished, and generally, wherever the reformation was received, we find this principle espoused, and the practice of it prosecuted; nay there hath been no nation in the world but it will be found they have either resisted or killed tyrants.
Fourteenth. The most deserving and celebrated monarchs in the world, have espoused the quarrel of oppressed subjects not only such as Tamerlane, whose observable saying is noted when he advanced against Bajazet, I go (says he), to chastise his tyranny, and to deliver the afflicted people; and Philip and Lewis of France, who assisted the barons of England, against king John; and Charles the great, who upon this ground undertook a war against the Lombards, in Italy. But even Constantine the Great hath it recorded, to his great honour, that he employed his power and force against Licinius, upon no other motive but because he banished, tortured, and destroyed those christians in his dominions that would not renounce their religion. And queen Elizabeth, of glorious memory, is to be highly commended for assisting the Dutch to maintain their religion by force, when they could not enjoy it by favour. And king James First did give public aid to the Protestants in Germany and Bohemia, against the emperor; against whom also Gustavas Adolphus marched, that he might deliver the oppressed cities from the bondage that Ferdinand had brought them into. Yea poor silly Charles First pretended, at least, to assist the protestants in France at Ree and Rochel; and though he himself was resisted by the parliaments of both kingdoms, yet he did declare in his acts of oblivion and pacification, the Scots taking up arms against him, in defence of their religion and liberties, to be no treason or rebellion. See Apol. Relat. Sect. II. page 149; and although the late tyrant Charles Second condemned all the risings of the people of Scotland for defence of religion and liberty, which his own tyranny forced them into; yet he justified the revolt of heathen and Mahometan subjects, as in the instance of the young king of Bantam, when by reason of his tyranny his subjects revolting and resisting of him, he the said Charles Second, furnished the revolters with ammunition, &c. Indeed many instances might be adduced which shews the righteousness of such resistances, when the greatest of kings and queens have undertaken the patronising of them.
Third. From scripture proofs, the best of all proofs, I shall endeavour briefly to gather some of the many that might be pressed, which being put together to me, seem impregnable. I shall reduce them to these heads. First. I shall adduce some practices of the Lord’s people, frequently reiterated, never condemned, always approved, confirming this point. Second. Some severe reprehensions for their omission of this duty in the season thereof. Third. Some promises both of spiriting for the duty and of countenancing of it when undertaken. Fourth. Some precepts commanding such atchievements. Fifth. Some prayers, supplicating for them, all which, put together, I think will make a strong argument, for practices of this kind is common in scripture history.
First. I shall begin at the first war, which we find recorded in the world, wherein it seems the godly at first suffered some, but afterwards, by the virtue and valour of their brethren, they were vindicated, and the victory recovered with great honour. Lot and his family, living in Sodom, were taken prisoner by Chedarlaomer and his confederates. Gen. xiv. 12. But Abraham soon hearing of it armed his trained servants, and pursued them hot foot to Dan, and rescued him. Verse 14, 19. Thereby justifying that rebellion of the cities of the plain by taking part and vindicating the rebels. Hence he that may rescue subjects from the arms of tyrants, by arms, may also rise with these subjects to oppose that violence; but here is a clear example of that in Abraham, therefore, &c.
Second. When the Lord’s people were possessed of Canaan, and forgetting the Lord, did enter into affinity with these interdicted nations, some of them were left to prove Israel, that the generations of the children of Israel might know to teach them war. Judges iii. 1. 2. And when they did evil in the sight of the Lord, he sold them into the hand of Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia, whom they served and were subject to full eight years. Verse 8. But when they humbled themselves, and cried unto the Lord, their rebellion, in shaking off that yoke, was successful under the conduct of Othniel. Verse 10. And after a relapse, unto the like defection, they became subject to Eglon, king of Moab, whom they served eighteen years. Verse 14. But attempting the same remedy by arms, under the conduct of Ehud, they recovered their liberty; and after his death, falling into that sin again, which procured the like misery, they became subject to Jabin king of Canaan, who twenty years mightily oppressed them. Judg. iv. 1, 3. But by the Lord’s commandment, under the conduct of Deborah and Barak, they rebelled and prevailed. Whence I infer, if the Lord’s people, serving a haughty tyrant, may shake off the yoke of their subjection, then it is duty to defend themselves, and resist them, for there is no other way of shaking it off; but these examples prove the former, therefore, &c. Obj. if any should reply, and cavil, and declare these were not their own kings, to whom they owed allegiance, but only invading conquerors, whom they might resist, I answer, First, Yet they were the sovereign powers, for the time being, and therefore if the doctrines and principles of both antient and modern tories be true and good, they ought, upon no pretence whatsoever, to be resisted (O! poor slaves, that believes such doctrines!) and perhaps by compact, they were not their kings, yet by conquest they were, as much as that would make them, and by their own consent, when they paid them kings due, (viz) tribute. Second, No more are they our kings who attempts to destroy charters, overturn religion, liberty, and law, as the king of Britain and his venal parliament lately did. Witness the Boston charter, &c. I say to such we owe no allegiance, no more than Israel of old did to those tyrants, for tyranny is the same in all ages. Third, I retort that old colewort, twice boiled, who should be judge whether they were their own lawful kings or not, for they acted as kings, and thought themselves their absolute lords, and gave themselves out to be such; and yet we find an approved rebellion against them. Mr. Gee, in his magistrates original, Chap. 8. Sect. 4. Page 268, improves these instances to the same purpose, and adds, “Neither as far as my observation goes, can any immediate or extraordinary command of word, for what they so did, be pretended to or pleaded from the text, for many of them, or for any, save Barak or Gideon.”
Third. Yet Gideon’s example, though he had an extraordinary call, cannot be pretended as unimotable on the matter, for that was ordinary, though the call and manner was extraordinary; he, with the aid of a few men, did break the yoke of subjection to Midian. Judg. vi. 7. And having called his brethren out of all Mount Ephraim, into a conjunction with him, in the pursuit of his victory, when he demanded supply of the princes of Succoth, and of the men of Penuel, and they denied it, he served them as enemies. Whence I conclude, if a small party may, with God’s approbation, deliver themselves and the whole of their community from the bondage of their oppressing masters, whom they had served several years, and may punish their kings that do not turn out to their assistance, and encourage them in that attempt, then must it be duty to defend themselves against their oppressors, that rule over them, and all ought to concur in it, or else there would not be justice in punishing them that were defective in this work; but we see the former by this example, therefore, &c. Obj. If it be said that Gideon, and the rest of the extraordinary raised judges, were magistrates, therefore they might defend and deliver their country, which a private people, that are only subjects, may not do. I answer, First, They were subject to those tyrants that oppressed them, who were then the sovereign powers of that time; and yet they shook off that yoke by defensive arms. Second, They were not then magistrates when they first appeared for their countries defence, and deliverance; neither in that did they act as such, but only as captains of rebels in the esteem of them that had power over them. Just so has our modern oppressors and tories looked upon all our generals and officers in this grand struggle for American liberty. It is clear, Gideon was no ruler, until that authority was conferred on him after the deliverance. See Judg. viii. 22, &c. Yet he did all this before.
Fourth. When his bastard Abimelech usurped the government, and was made king by the men of Shechem, at length, God sending an evil spirit between him and his complices, that set him up not only was he resisted by the treacherous Shechemites, which was their brand and bane, in the righteous judgment of God, for their aiding at first in killing his brethren. Judg. ix. 23, 24. &c. But also he was opposed by others of the men of Israel, as at Thebez, where he was slain by a woman. Verse 50, at the end. Whence, if an usurping tyrant acknowleged as king by the generality, may be disowned by the godly and threatened with God’s vengeance to consume both him and his complices, that comply with him; and if he may be opposed and resisted, not only by those that set him up, but also by others that were in subjection to him, and at length be killed by them, without resentment of the rest of the nation, then must it certainly be duty for a people who had no hand in the setting up such a tyrant to defend themselves against his force; but the former is true by this example, therefore, &c.
Fifth. When Israel of old, fell under the tyranny of a Ammon, oppressing them eighteen years, they did, by resisting these supreme powers, shake off their yoke, under the conduct of Jephthah; and being challenged sharply by the men of Ephraim, who, it seems, claimed the prerogative of making war, and therefore came to revenge and reduce Jephthah and his company to order, just like tories, who are very tenacious of this plea of the Ephraimites, that at least, without the nobles of the kingdom, no war is to be made; yet we find Jephthah did not much regard it, but stoutly defended himself, and slew of them 42,000 men, by their Shibboleth. Judg. xii. If people then, when questioned for defending themselves by them that claim a superiority over them, and should deliver them, may defend themselves both without them, and against them, then I say, it is a people’s duty and privilege; but the former is true by this example, therefore, &c.
Sixth. They were then made subject to the Philistines forty years, whom the men of Judah acknowledged for their rulers, yet Samson, that rough-handed saint, never ceased from pelting them upon all occasions; and when challenged for it by the men of Judah saying, knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us, what is that thou hast done? Samson objects nothing against their being rulers, but notwithstanding prosecutes his purpose of vindicating himself in defence of his country. As they did unto me says he, so have I done unto them. Judg. xv. 11. Hence, if saints may avenge themselves upon them whom the country calls rulers, and when enabled by God, may do to them as they did to them, then must it be a duty for them to defend themselves against them; but the antecedent is true by this example, therefore, &c.
Seventh. When Saul, in the pursuit of the Philistines, had charged the people with a foolish oath not to eat any food until the evening, Jonathan his own son tasted but a little honey, and so he must die! which Saul confirmed with another peremptory oath, God do so to him, and more also, if he should not die. Whereupon the people, as resolute on the other hand to save him, resisted the rage of Saul, and swore as peremptorily that not one hair of his head should fall to the ground, so the people rescued Jonathan that he died not. 1 Sam. xiv. 44, 45. Hence if people may covenant, by oath, to resist the commands and rescue a man from a tyrant’s cruelty, then it is duty to defend themselves against him. The antecedent is true here.
Eighth. Afterwards, when the manner of the king presaged by Samuel, was verified in Saul’s degeneration, into many abuses of government, this privilege of resistance was not wholly mancipated, but maintained by David’s defensive appearance; with his little army, he took Goliath’s sword, not for ornament or only to fright Saul, but to defend himself with it, and was captain first to 400 men. 1 Sam. xxii. 2. Had a mind to keep out Keilah against him with 600 men. 1 Sam. xxiii. 13. And afterwards a great host came to him to Ziklag, while he kept himself close because of Saul, the son of Kish. 1 Chron. xii. 1. Throughout where they left Saul, and came and helped David against him. This is proved at large by Lex Rex, Quest. 22. page 340.
Ninth. The city Abel, whether Sheba the traitor had fled, did well to resist Joel the king’s general coming to destroy a whole city for one traitor’s sake, and not offering peace to it according to law. Deut. xx. 10. And defended themselves by gates and walls, notwithstanding he had a commission, from the king. 2 Sam. xx. And after the capitulating, they are never challenged for rebellion.
Tenth. The ten tribes revolted from the house of David, when Rehoboam claimed an absolute power and would not acquiesce to the people’s just conditions. 1 King’s xii. 2 Chron. x. Hence if it be lawful for a part of the people to shake off the king, refuse subjection to him, and set up a new one, when he but resolves to play the tyrant, then it must be duty to resist his violence when he is tyrannizing; but the antecedent is clear, by this example, and is fully vindicated by Jus. Pop. Ch. 3. p. 52.
Eleventh. The example of Elisha the prophet is considerable. 2 Kings vi. 32. Elisha sat in his house, and the elders sat with him, and the king sent a man before him, but ere the messenger came to him, he said to the elders see how this son of a murderer hath sent to take away mine head. Look when the messenger cometh, shut the door: is not the sound of his masters feet behind him? Here is a violent resistance resolved both against the man and his master, though the king of the land for the time; and this calling him the son of a murderer, and resisting of him is no more extraordinary, though it was an extraordinary man’s act, than it is for a plaintiff to libel a true crime against a wicked person, and for an oppressed man to close the door upon a murderer. Lex Rex, Quest. 32 p. 346. Hence I argue, if a king or his messenger coming to use unjust violence, against an innocent subject, be no more to be regarded than a murderer’s emissary, but may be resisted by that innocent subject, then must a community of such innocent subjects defend themselves against a tyrant, or his bloody emissaries, coming against them on such a wicked errand. The antecedent is here clear, which to all intents and purposes, justifies the justness of the American defence, as Gage, George’s tool and bloody emissary, was sent for the express purpose to murder the Bostonians, if they should not tamely surrender up all their rights and privileges without resistance.
Twelfth. The city Libnah revolted from under Jehoram’s tyranny. 2 Chron. xxi. 10. P. Martyr on the place saith, they revolted because he endeavoured to compel them to idolatry. Hence if it be lawful for a part of the people to revolt from a tyrant, then it is duty to defend themselves against his force. The former is true therefore, &c.
Thirteenth. When Athaliah usurped the monarchy, Jehoiada the priest strengthened himself and made a covenant with the captains, &c to put her down and set up Joash, 2 Kings xi. 2. 2 Chron. xxiii. and when she came and cried out treason! treason! they regarded it not, but commanded to kill her and all that help her. Whence I argue, if those that are not kings, may lawfully kill an usurpress, and all that help her, then may a people resist them. But Jehoiada, though no magistrate, did it; therefore, &c.
Fourteenth. The repressing and punishing Amaziah, the son of Joash, is an undeniable instance, vindicated by the great and learned Mr. Knox. After the time that he turned away from following the Lord, the people made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish; but they sent and slew him there. 2 Kings xiv. 19. 2 Chron. xxv. 27. Hence a fortiori if people may conspire and concur in executing judgment upon their king, turning tyrant, then much more must they defend themselves against his violence.
Fifteenth. The same power of people’s resisting kings was exemplified in Uzzah, or Azariah, when he would needs be supreme in things sacred as well as civil. 2 Kings xv. 2 Chronicles xxvi. Fourscore priests that were valliant men withstood him and thrust him out of the temple; they troubled him, saith Natablus; they expelled him saith Armon. Vid. Pool Synopsis &c. See this vindicated by Mr. Knox, page 48, 49. Hence if private subjects may by force resist and hinder the king from transgressing the law, then must they resist him when forcing them to transgress the law.
Sixteenth. After the return from the Babylonish captivity, when the Jews set about building the Temple, which they chose to do themselves, and not admit of any association with enemies upon their misinformation and false accusation, that they were building the rebellious and bad city, and would refuse to pay the king his custom, they were straightly discharged by Artaxerxes to proceed in their work, and the inhibition was executed by force and power. Ezra iv. But by the encouragement of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, countermanding the king’s decree they should not be hindred, the eye of their God being upon them, though Tatnai the governor of those parts Shetharboznnai and their companions would have boasted them from it, with the usual arguments of tories. Who hath commanded you to do so and so? Ezra v. 3, 5. And yet all this was before the decree of Darius was obtained in their favour. Ezra vi. Hence I argue if a people may prosecute without and against a king’s command and before all allowance by law can be obtained, then may a people resist these commands, and force used to execute them.
Seventeenth. When Nehemiah came to Jerusalem, and invited the Jews to build up the walls of the city, they strengthened their hands for that very good work against great opposition; and when challenged by Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, great king’s men all of them, who despised and boasted them, what is this that you do? Will ye rebel against the king? Say they he would not plead authority, though in the general he had the king’s authority for it; yet he would not give them any other satisfaction than to intimate whether they had that or not, having the call of God to the work, they would go on in their duty, and God would prosper them against their opposition. Nehemiah ii 19, 20. And they went on, and were directed to remember the Lord and fight for their brethren, &c. and to build, with weapons in their hands. Neh. iv. And brought it to an end, notwithstanding of all their practices to fright them from it. Chap. vi. Hence I argue, if neither challenges of rebellion, nor practices of enemies, who pretend authority, nor any discouragements whatsoever, should deter people from a duty which they have a call and capacity from God to prosecute, and if they may remove it against all opposition, by defensive arms, then when a people are oppressed and treated as rebels for a necessary duty, they can and must defend themselves and maintain their duty, notwithstanding of all pretentions of authority against them.
Eighteenth. I shall now conclude with one instance more, which is vindicated by Jus. Populi, from the history of Esther, because Mordecai refused to do homage to a hangman, Haman I would say, at that day, now a proud North, a cruel edict was secured from Ahasuerus to destroy all the Jews at that time; now from George III. to destroy all the Bostonians by starving them &c. which was written and sealed with the king’s ring, according to the laws of the Medes and Persians, becoming a [decree] irrevocable and irreversable. Esther iii. 12, 13. Yet the Lord’s providence, always propitious to his people, brought it about so that Haman being hanged, and Mordecai advanced, the Jews were called and capacitated as well as necessitated to re[ject] that armed authority that decreed to massacre them, and that [by] the king’s own allowance. Esther ix. When his former decree drew near to be put in execution, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them, it was turned to the contrary, that no man could withstand them. Here they had the allowance of authority to resist authority, and this was not a [gift] of a new right by that grant, which they had not before, [merely] it was corroborative of the irradical right to defend themselves; which is not the donative of kings, and which they had power to exercise and use without this, though may be not the same capacity, for the king’s warrant could not make it lawful in point of conscience, if it had not been so before. Hence I argue, if people may have the allowance of well advised authority to resist the decree and force of unlawful authority, then may people maintain right authority; but by the very instance we plainly see, that the Jews had Ahasuerus’s allowance to fulfill the decree and force of his own ill-advised authority, though irreversable, and hence we learn that distinction in this point is not groundless between resisting the authority of supreme power and the abuses of the same.
Secondly. We have in scripture both tacit and express reproofs for neglecting this duty in the right season thereof.
First. In Jacob’s swan song, or prophetical testament, wherein he foretels what should be the fate and future condition of each of the tribes, and what should be remarked in their carriage influencing their after lot in their generations, for which they should be commended or discommended, approved or reproved: coming to Issachar he prophetically exprobates his future ass-like stupidity, and that indulging himself in his lazy ease and lukewarm security, he should emancipate himself and his interests into a servile subjection unto his oppressors impositions; even when he should be in a capacity to shake them off, and free himself by resistance. Gen. xlix. 14,15. Issachar is a strong ass, couching down between two burthens. A true picture this of toryism. This is set down by the Holy Ghost as the brand and bane, not of the person of Issachar, Jacob’s son, but of the tribe to be innured upon them, when they should be in such a condition, by their own silliness. Hence I argue, if the Holy Ghost exprobate a people for their stupid subjection to prevailing tyranny, when they do not approve their ability, capacity, and right to maintain and defend their liberties and privileges, then this implies a commanded duty to defend them according to their capacity from all unjust invasion. But the former is true here, also the latter.
Second. In Deborah’s song, after their victorious resistance, the people are severely upbraided for not assisting in that expedition. Judges v. 16, 17, 23. And Meroz is particularly cursed for not coming to the help of the Lord, against the mighty. This is recorded as a resting reproof against all that will withdraw their helping hand from the Lord’s people, when necessitated to appear in defensive arms for the preservation of their lives and liberties. On the other hand, Zebulun and Naphtali are commended for jeoparding their lives in the high places of the fields, and are approved for that practice of fighting against the king of Canaan, that then ruled over them. Verse 18, 19. Hence I argue, if people be reproved and cursed for staying at home to look to their own interests, when others jeopard their lives for their country’s defence and freedom, then this implies it is duty to concur in so venturing. But here Reuben, Dan, Asher, and Meroz, are reproved and cursed for staying at home, when Zebulun and Naphtali jeoparded their lives. Ergo.
Third. We have in scripture many promises of the Lord’s approving and countenancing the duty of defensive arms, even against their oppressing rulers.
First. In that foresighted testament of the patriarch Jacob, in that part of it which concerns God, he prophecies that tribe shall have a lot in the world, answering his name, and be engaged in many conflicts with oppressing dominators, who at first should prevail over him, but at length God should so bless his endeavours to free himself from their oppressions, that he should overcome. There is an excellent elegancy in the original, answering to the etymology of the name of Gad, which signifies a troop, reading thus in the Hebrew: Gad a troop, shall over-troop him, but he shall over-troop them at the last. Gen. xlix. 19. And Moses, homologating the same testimony in his blessing the tribes before his death, shews that he should make a very forcible and successful resistance, and should execute the justice of the Lord over his oppressors. Deut. xxxiii. 20, 21. Wherein is implied a promise of resistance to be made against oppressing tyrants, who should acquire the supreme rule over them for a time, and the success of that resistance for overcoming necessarily supposes resistance to be made against oppressing conquerors and tyrants. Hence I argue, where there is a promise of success at last, to a people’s conflicts against tyranny, there is implied an approbation of the duty, and, also a promise of its performance wrapped up in that promise. But here is a promise, &c.
Second. In that threatening against tyrants, shewing how they shall be thrust away and burnt up with fire, there is couched a promise, and also an implied precept of resisting them. 2. Sam. xxiii. 6. The sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away with hands fenced with iron, &c. Which clearly implies resistance, and even more than that, rejection and repression. Hence I farther argue, if it be threatened as a curse against rulers of Belial, and promised as a blessing that they shall be so roughly handled, then this implies a duty to resist them, who cannot be otherwise taken; but here this is threatened, therefore, &c.
Third. When the Lord shall have mercy on Jacob and chuse Israel, it is promised, Isaiah xiv. 2, 3. That they shall take them captives whose captives they were, and they shall rule over their oppressors. This necessarily implies and infers a promise of resistance against these oppressing rulers, in the time of their domineering, as well as revenge, after their yoke should be broken, and something of men’s actions, as well as God’s judgment, in breaking that yoke for they could not take them captives, nor rule over them, except first they had resisted them whose captives they were. There is resisting the supreme power, subjection whereunto was the bondage wherein they were made to serve. Hence I argue, that if it be promised that a captivated, subjugated people, shall break the yoke, and free themselves of the bondage of them that had them in subjection, then it is promised, in that case, they must resist the supreme powers for such were they whose captives they were. The antecedent is here express.
Fourth. There are promises that the Lord’s people, when those that rule over them are incensed against them on account of their holy lives, and when many shall be frighted from their duty by fear, or corrupted with flattery, shall be made strong to exploits, though in such enterprizes they may want success for some time, and fall by the sword and flame and by captivity and spoil many days. Dan. xi. 30, 34. This was very eminently fulfilled in the history of the Maccabees before rehearsed. Hence I argue, if it be promised that a people shall be strong to do exploits in resisting the arms of their rulers opposing their religion and liberties, then it is clear such resistance is lawful even though it should fail of success for a time. But this is here promised to the same purpose. It is promised that after the Lord’s people have been long kept as prisoners under the bondage of tyrants they shall, by a vigorous resistance, be saved from their tyranny. Zech. ix. 13, 17. When the Lord shall bend Judah for him, and raise up Zion’s sons against the sons of Greece.
So it was in their resistances and victories against the successors of Alexander, who had the rule over them for a time. And so it may be again, when the Lord shall so bend his people for him. Hence I argue, that if the Lord promises to fit and spirit his people for action against their oppressing rulers, and to crown their attempts, when so fitted and spirited, with glorious success, then it is their duty, and also their honour, to resist them; but here that is plainly promised, therefore, &c.
Fifth. There are promises of the Lord’s making use of his people, and strengthening them to break in pieces the power of his and their enemies, and his defending and maintaining them against all their power and projects when they think most to prevail over them, as is promised in the threatened catastrophe of the Babylonian usurpation. Jer. ii. 20, 25. Thou art, says he to Israel (of whom he speaks), as the rod of his inheritance. In the preceding verse. My battle-axe and weapons of war, and with thee will I break in pieces powers that were supreme over them. Hence I argue, that if the Lord will make use of his people’s vindictive arms against Babylon, ruling over them, then he will justify their defensive arms against Babylon oppressing them. Here it is promised therefore, &c. So Micah, iv. 11. To the end many nations shall be gathered to defile and look upon Zion, and then the Lord shall give allowance and commission to his people to arise and thresh, &c. What time the full accomplishment is refered to is not my concern at present to enquire into. It seems to look towards the New Testament times, wherein the Lord’s people shall be first in great straits and then enlarged. But to restrict it to the spiritual conquest over the nations, by the ministry of the word (though I will not deny but that may be included) seems too great a straitning of the scope, and not so opposite to the expressions, which certainly seem to import some forcible action of men, and more than the peaceable propogation of the gospel. It is usually referred to the latter days of that dispensation, when both the Jewish and gentile Zion shall be totally and finally delivered from Babylonian or anti-christian tyranny, before or about which period the enemies of Christ and of his people shall attempt their utmost power to destroy the church, groaning under their bondage. But when they are all well mustered in a general rendezvous, the Lord’s people shall have a gallant game at the chase. But whensoever the time be of fulfilling the promise it ensures to the people of God, the success of their defensive arms against them that pretended a domination over them. And it looks to a time when they should have no rulers of their own, but them under whose subjection they had been long groaning, and now brought to a very low pass; yet here they should not only resist but thresh them. Hence I argue, that if in the latter days the people of God are to be honoured and acted forth with such a spirit and capacity to thresh and beat down these powers under which they have been long groaning, then, when the Lord puts them in such capacity to attempt it, they should be ambitious of such an honour. But here it is promised, therefore, &c.
The same may be infered from the prophets vision. Zach. i. 19, 20. He sees four carpenters resisting the four horns; the horns scattered Judah, so that no man did lift up his head; but the carpenters came to pray them to cast out the horns of the gentiles which lifted up their horn over the land of Judah. These horns had the supreme power over Judah for a time, while they were in no capacity to resist them; but as soon as the Lord furnishes them with capacity and instruments, impowered to resist them, they do it effectually. The carpenters are certainly the Lord’s people themselves, for here they are opposite to the gentiles, which all were except the Lord’s people. Hence I argue, that if the Lord promises, when reconciled to his people, to furnish them with instruments to fray and scatter the power of tyrants, who have long bore down their head, then, when they are so furnished, they may resist them; but the Lord here promises that; therefore, &c. This is more plainly promised, also. Zech. x. 5. &c. Then they shall be as mighty men, which shall tread down their enemies and the pride of Assyria shall be brought down. Hence I further argue, that if the Lord shall have mercy on his people, will bless their resistance against their enemies, then defensive arms is lawful and duty to use, when the call is clear, &c.
Fourth. We have also precepts from whence we may consequently conclude the approven duty of defensive arms against oppressing rulers.
First. The children of Israel are commanded to vex the Midianites and smite them, for, saith the Lord, they vex you with their wiles. Numb. xxv. 17, 18. And to avenge themselves. Numb. xxx. 2. Which did not only oblige the people when they had Moses for their magistrate to lead them forth, but, in the days of Gideon, when they were under their rule, whom they were to avenge themselves upon. Hence I argue, if people must vex their enemies, and avenge themselves of them by a war offensive, much more may they resist them by a war defensive, when invaded by their cruelty.
Second. There is a command to punish every city or party, making apostacy unto idolatry. Deut. xiii. 12, 15. upon this moral ground was Israel’s war against Benjamin. Judges xx. and their bringing Amaziah unto condign punishment, which is vindicated by Mr. Knox. Hence I argue, if people are to bring to condign punishment idolatrous apostates, much more ought they to resist all tyrants, seeking to destroy all religion and liberty, for they are twins. Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. As I said before, destroy the one and the other cannot live.
Third. There is a precept not only to defend, but also, to rescue and deliver our brethren when in hazard. Prov. xxiv. 11, 12. we must not forbear to deliver them when drawn to death; which will at least infer the duty of assisting them when forced to defend themselves; for if it be a duty to rescue them from any prevailing power that would take their lives and liberties unjustly much more is it duty to rescue them by defensive arms, and ourselves both from and against their murdering violence. But it is duty to rescue them, therefore, &c.
Fourth. All those that would learn to do well are commanded, Isa. i. 17. to relieve the oppressed; which is not spoken to kings only, many of whom were the oppressors. The princes were rebellious and companions of thieves. Verse 23. So also, Isa. lviii. 6. It is required of a people that would be accepted of God in their humiliations, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke. Hence I argue, if it be duty to relieve the oppressed, by breaking the yoke of them that oppress them, then it is duty to defend them and ourselves, both against them that would oppress us more. But the former is here commanded, therefore, &c.
Fifth. There is a command for a spoiled oppressed people, when the Lord is reconciled to them, and sympathizes with them, to deliver themselves from their rulers servitude. Zech. ii. 7. Deliver thy self O Zion, which dwelleth with the daughter of Babylon. Which comprehends all the ordinary active means of people’s delivering themselves from oppressing powers that rule over them; and consequently defensive resistance, for it cannot only be restricted to flight, included verse 6, the promise annexed verse 9, imports more, when they that spoiled them, shall be a spoil to their servants. Whereby it is insinuated they were so to deliver themselves as not only to free themselves from their servitude, but to bring their masters under subjection. Hence I argue, if the Lord’s people being subject to tyrants ruling over them for the time, may deliver themselves from their oppressing masters, then may they resist them, and defend themselves, therefore, &c.
Sixth. There is a command given by the blessed Jesus to his disciples, to provide themselves with weapons for their defence against them that should attempt their lives, as well as with other things necessary for their sustenance. Luke xxii. 36. Now he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. Before, when he had sent them out upon an extraordinary commission, as it were to serve their apprenticeship in the work of the gospel, he did not allow them such solicitous care to provide themselves, because he would give them a proof of his sufficiency to sustain and protect them without the ordinary means of their own diligence; but now, when he was about to withdraw his bodily presence from them, and would warn them of the many discouragements they were to look for in the prosecution of their more continued work, which they had a commission for, not to be retracted, he would not have them expect provision and protection by a course of miracles, but to provide themselves with means for their sustenance, and also for their defence against the violence of men, which chiefly was to be expected from their rulers, who would persecute them under the notion of transgressors of the laws of the kingdoms and countries. He was not, indeed, to make much use of them at that time for himself, who was then to finish the work of redemption by suffering, only that what was written might be accomplished in him, he would make so much use of them as voluntarily to be involved under the censure and reproach of rebellion, being taken among men in arms, that he might be reckoned among transgressors. Verse 37. Therefore when they told him they had two swords, he said it is enough. Verse 38. I think I need not stand long here to confute that impertinency of a conceit that these were spiritual swords, which indeed deserves no confutation, being fitter to be put among the many delirious destractions, and other errors of Quakers, than to be numbered among the notions of men of common understanding. Indeed I could hardly be brought to believe they did hold such an error, if I had not been informed by a person of credit, who assured me he had it from the mouth of one of their speakers or teachers. O horrid blasphemy! Purchase the spirit of God, or the sword of the spirit, or a spiritual sword, with the price of an old garment. Surely if this was true, then the purse and scrip must be spiritual too, and these bought by selling of old garments; and yet they would be such spiritual swords as would cut off carnal ears, and such as would be both visible and sensible, and two of them would be enough. But it does not admit of a doubt, but what they were ordinary and material swords, which the Lord did command his followers to provide themselves with for their defence as men, in cases of necessity, and when they should be in a capacity to improve them against their murdering persecutors, against whom he gives his royal grant of resistance, that the world may know his subjects, though they have more privileges spiritual, yet they have no less human privileges than other men, although at that period of his determined suffering, he would not allow the present use of them. From hence I argue, that if the Lord’s people should provide themselves with arms of defence, though they should, by a wicked world, be reputed sinners and the greatest of transgressors for so doing, then surely they may use these arms of defence against them that persecute them; therefore, &c.
Fifth. We may infer the same truth from some of the prayers of the saints, wherein they glory in the constant expectation of the Lord’s strengthening them, and favouring and approving their helpers, and in the experience of the Lord’s assisting them, while in the mean time constitute in a formed appearance of resistance. I shall only hint these.
First. In that prayer, Psal. xliv. 5. They glory in hope, that through the Lord they will push down their enemies, &c. Yet then at that time they were under the power of tyrants, which they were resisting, for Verse 9. They complain they were put to shame, because the Lord went not forth with their armies, and they which hated them spoiled them; and for his sake were killed all day long. Hence they plead, that the Lord would awake and not forget their affliction and oppression; whereby it is evident, they were under the yoke of tyrants, and resisting according to their mights which, by whomsoever or upon what occasion soever, the psalm was compiled, shews that no want of success in resisting tyrants can mar the saints faith in pleading for the Lord’s assistance and approbation of the duty. Hence I argue, that if they that in faith may pray for and boast of their treading down their enemies, that rise like tyrants up against them, they may also in faith attempt the resisting them in their own defence. But here the Lord’s people did the former; therefore, &c.
Second. We find David, under Saul’s persecution, while he had a party of 600 men to defend himself against his rage, in the psalms which he composed upon that occasion, not only complaining of oppressors, but encouraging himself in the faith that God would be with them that assisted him in his attempt to defend himself, and imprecating destruction to Saul and his complices. That the Lord would cut them off in his truth and let him see his desire upon them. Psal. liv. 4, 5. last verse, and Psal. lvii. 4. and Psal. lvii throughout, and Psal. cxl. 7, 9. He imprecates against the head of them that compassed him about, and of course against Saul. Whence I argue, First. If the Lord’s people, conflicting with and encompassed with oppressing rulers, as so many lions and dogs, may pray and praise for the help of those that assist them in their endeavours of self-preservation from them, then may they make use of their help for their defence for which they pray and praise. But here we see the Lord’s people did the former; therefore they may and ought to do the latter.
Second. If we may pray against kings, and for preservation from them, then may we defend ourselves against them, and endeavour the means of that preservation for which we pray? The connection is before cleared, yet here I add, that which will give a dispensation from our duty of praying for them, will also dispense from the duty of being passively subject to their will, and consequently will allow the defending ourselves from their violence. And here we see tyranny and treachery, and designed mischief, will give a dispensation from our duty of praying for them, altho’ that be duty as indispensible as subjection. Again if any thing deter us from resisting of kings, it must be respect to their majesty and the character of the Lord’s anointing upon them. But we see no respect to that will deter a believer from praying in faith against them, therefore no such respect will hinder, but that he may defend himself against his violence; and indeed, if we do but consider it right, if the impression of any majesty God hath put upon kings, should tie up our hands from any resistance, it will also restrain from prayer resistance; for if that impression have any force at any time, it must be when a man is most solemnly stated before God, and speaking to God as a christian, rather than when he is acting as a man with a man like himself; and as prayer resistance is the most formidable and forceable resistance of any in the world, as this Saul, and our late George, and many other tyrants have found, by their woful experience, so it is more restricted than other resistance, for we may defend ourselves against many whom we must not pray against, to wit, our private enemies, for whom we are commanded to pray; yet no body will deny but we may resist their violence; and likewise, we are commanded to pray for kings, when invested with God’s authority; but when, by their degeneration, we are loosed from that obligation to pray for them, and allows us to pray against them, when they turn enemies to God, and oppressors of his people, as we see in the prayer of the psalmist, then may we most warrantably resist them by defensive arms.
Third and lastly. Among the hallelujahs in the end of Psalms, there is one calculated for the prevailing time of the church, when the Lord shall take pleasure in his people. In that time of the saints being joyful in glory, when they may glory in the rest and security the Lord will vouchsafe upon them, they are prophetically, and very pathetically, excited to praise prayer wise. Psal. cxlix. 6. To the end let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two edged sword in their hand to bind their kings with chains, to execute upon them the judgment written. This honour have all the saints, hallelujah. This was their praise and honour when they were brought on to execute vengeance on their kings and nobles of Canaan; this also in David’s time was the ambition and also the attainment of the saints in their triumphant victories over many of their oppressors round about them. But it looks to a further and more famous execution of vengeance upon the tyrants of the world, when they have long kept under the church of God, and at length, the Lord shall give his people a capacity to break their yoke, which, whenever it shall be, shall be their great honour. Hence I argue lastly, if it will be the honour of the saints, when the Lord puts them in capacity to execute vengeance upon their enemies, though they be kings, nobles, &c. that oppress them, then it may be their ambition to seek it; at least they may resist them. Thus I think I have fully shewn from the law of God, the law of nature, the custom of nations, the lawfulness of the use of defensive arms, in order to defend our rights, liberties civil and religious, when attacked by tyrants; at least I think it will convince all but such as are determined not to be convinced. Especially, I think it appears clear from scripture practices, reproofs, promises, precepts, and prayers, this truth has been proven; although I allow that other precious truths are more natively deduced, yet this great truth by unstrained and unconstrained consequence, may, and is also, clearly inferred.
a short receipt for a continental disease
The name whereof is the love of Money.
The holy scriptures informs us, that the love of money is the root of all evil. And this our daily experience doth also make manifest. It drives people into the commission of all evil, to the ruin of themselves and others. How are people daily distressing each other in sueing and tearing each other limb from limb, in order to handle a little of this trash, a world of which will not purchase a spark of grace, nor one inch of time, when on a death bed. Paying no regard to the distress of the times, nor to the cries of the poor, the needy, widow, and fatherless children. Perhaps such whose fathers have fought, bled, and died by our sides, nobly fighting in our glorious cause. How doleful the thought, that we who have so nobly joined hand in hand to defeat British cruelty and oppression, should now devour one another? Which is daily practicing. I shall now give a word of advice to creditors and debtors, which I shall divide into two classes. First publick creditors and debtors. Secondly private ditto. Publick creditors is our rulers and governors, who have a right, for our good and safety, to demand taxes from us. Gentlemen, let me beg of you to be as sparing in your demands as possible. You are not unsensible that the times are hard, and cash scarce. Endeavour to give satisfaction to the commonalty, that what they pay in taxes is faithfully applied to the uses it were paid for. The money is the people’s to pay and yours to apply, which ought to be done with the greatest œconomy. Let no one get rich that handles publick money. I think I have once read of a great general that had served his country long and faithfully, when he came to die all he could call his own was his dish and spoon, and was buried by charity. A rare instance indeed, but a noble one. He prefered the publick’s interest to his own.
You, my countrymen, publick debtors. Gentlemen, please to consider that no war can be carried on, no government kept up, without taxes, and heavy ones too; and consider what a situation you would soon be in, if there was no government. Could you sleep one night in peace? Could you call any thing your own one day? Therefore if you are wise you will most chearfully part with some of your wealth to secure the rest; for I am confident he is an enemy to himself and country too, that is backward in paying his taxes. Consider that it is not for us common people to be led into all the secrets of government. Surely we must believe that those which we have trusted at the helm of affairs does know best what sums is necessary to be raised from us for our good and protection; and I think we may rest assured that our legislature will not lay any needless burthens upon us; for my own part, I have that confidence in them that I am determined to pay my taxes as long as I have a copper left, or can raise it; for I am sure if the enemy should overcome, or government fails, I am gone finally.
You gentlemen that may be called private creditors, let me intreat of you to make use of every method to come at your rights and money, besides law. If it is a matter of dispute submit it to reference. If it is clear debt, exercise patience, bear and forbear with your poor debtors. Let nothing but the utmost necessity, let me say extremity, drive you to distress mankind at this doleful day. Cause not the cries of the poor and needy widow, fatherless and orphan children, to ascend up to heaven against you for distressing them in order to obtain cash to lay out in toys, to adorn your and families bodies with. Remember, O remember, a judgment day to come.
And now to you gentlemen debtors. I would have you remember those scripture sayings owe no man any thing, pay to all their dues. See that you pay to all their just dues, as fast as possible. If you have not cash turn out any thing you can possibly spare; yea, offer all you have to your creditors; and surely, if they are christians, and endowed with humane hearts, if they see you thus willing to distress yourselves to pay them, they will nobly refuse it and grant you longer day. Use them well, give them good language, and if possible deceive them not. Practice industry and good œconomy, for a creditor has hawk’s eyes; and do not love to see their debtors struting about in fine rigging at their expence. Above all, remember the golden rule, do to all men as you would have them do to you again.
June 17, 1782.
A Moderate Whig
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