HOMILY ON OBEDIENCE
concerning good Order, and obedience
to Rulers and Magistrates.
ALmighty GOD hath created and appointed all things in heauen, earth, and waters, in a most excellent and perfect order. In Heauen, hee hath appointed distinct and seuerall orders and states of Archangels and Angels. In earth hee hath assigned and appointed Kings, Princes, with other gouernours vnder them, in all good and necessary order. The water aboue is kept, and rayneth downe in due time and season. The Sun, Moone, Starres, Rainebow, Thunder, Lightning, Clouds, and all Birdes of the ayre, doe keepe their order. The Earth, Trees, Seedes, Plants, Hearbes, Corne, Grasse, and all maner of Beasts keepe themselues in order: all the parts of the whole yeare, as Winter, Summer, Moneths, Nights and Dayes, continue in their order: all kindes of Fishes in the Sea, Riuers, and Waters, with all Fountaines, Springs, yea, the Seas themselues keepe their comely course and order: and man himselfe also hath all his parts both within and without, as soule, heart, minde, memory, vnderstanding, reason, speech, with all and singular corporall members of his body in a profitable, necessarie, and pleasant order: euery degree of people in their vocation, calling and office, hath appointed to them their duty and order: some are in high degree, some in low, some Kings and Princes, some inferiours and subiects, Priests, and lay men, masters and seruants, fathers, and children, husbands and wiues, rich and poore, and euery one haue neede of other, so that in all things is to bee lauded and praised the goodly order of GOD, without the which no house, no Citie, no Commonwealth can continue and endure, or last. For where there is no right order, there reigneth all abuse, carnall liberty, enormitie, sinne, and Babylonicall confusion.
Take away Kings Princes, Rulers, Magistrates, Iudges, and such estates of GODS order, no man shall ride or goe by the high way vnrobbed, no man shall sleepe in his owne house or bedde vnkilled, no man shall keepe his wife, children, and possession in quietnesse, all things shall bee common, and there must needes follow all mischiefe, and vtter destruction both of soules, bodies, goodes, and common wealthes. But blessed bee GOD, that wee in this Realme of England, feele not the horrible calamities, miseries, and wretchednesse, which all they vndoubtedly feele and suffer, that lacke this godly order: and praysed bee GOD, that wee know the great excellent benefit of GOD shewed towards vs in this behalfe, GOD hath sent vs his high gift, our most deare Soueraigne Lord King IAMES, with a godly, wise, and honourable Counsell, with other superiours and inferiours, in a beautifull order, and godly.
Wherefore, let vs subiectes doe our bounden dueties, giuing hearty thankes to GOD, and praying for the preseruation of this godly order. Let vs all obey euen from the bottome of our heartes, all their godly proceedings, lawes, statutes, proclamations, and iniunctions, with all other godly orders. Let vs consider the Scriptures of the holy Ghost, which perswade and command vs all obediently to bee subiect, first and chiefely to the Kings Maiestie, supreme gouernour ouer all, and the next to his honourable counsell, and to all other noble men, Magistrates, and officers, which by GODS goodnesse, be placed and ordered.
For Almighty GOD is the onely authour and prouider for this forenamed state and order, as it is written of GOD, in the booke of the Prouerbs: Thorow mee kings doe raigne, thorow mee counsellers make iust lawes, thorow mee doe princes beare rule, and all iudges of the earth execute iudgement, I am louing to them that loue mee (Proverbs 8.15, 17).
Here let vs marke well, and remember that the high power and authoritie of Kinges, with their making of lawes, iudgements and offices, are the ordinances not of man, but of GOD: and therefore is this word (through mee) so many times repeated. Here is also well to bee considered and remembred, that this good order is appointed by GODS wisedome, fauour, and loue, especially for them that loue GOD, and therefore hee sayth, I loue them that loue mee. Also in the booke of wisedome wee may euidently learne, that a kinges power, authoritie, and strength, is a great benefite of GOD, giuen of his great mercie, to the comfort of our great miserie. For thus wee reade there spoken to kinges, Heare O yee Kinges, and vnderstand, learne yee that bee Iudges of the endes of the earth, giue eare yee that rule the multitudes: for the power giuen you of the Lord, and the strength, from the highest (Wisdom 6.1-3). Let vs learne also here by the infallible and vndeceiueable word of GOD, that kinges and other supreme and higher officers, are ordeined of GOD, who is most highest: and therefore they are here taught diligently to apply and giue themselues to knowledge and wisedome, necessary for the ordering of GODS people to their gouernance committed, or whom to gouerne they are charged of GOD.
And they bee here also taught by Almighty GOD, that they should acknowledge themselues to haue all their power and strength not from Rome, but immediatly of GOD most Highest. Wee reade in the booke of Deuteronomie, that all punishment pertaineth to GOD, by this sentence, Vengeance is mine, and I will reward (Deuteronomy 32.35). But this sentence wee must vnderstand to pertaine also vnto the Magistrates which doe exercise GODS roome in iudgement, and punishing by good and godly lawes, here in earth. And the places of Scripture, which seeme to remooue from among all christian men, iudgement, punishment, or killing, ought to be vnderstood, that no man (of his owne priuate authority) may bee iudge ouer other, may punish, or may kill. But we must referre all iudgement to GOD, to Kings, and Rulers, Iudges vnder them, which be GODS officers to execute iustice, and by plaine wordes of Scripture, haue their authoritie and vse of the sword graunted from GOD, as we are taught by Saint Paul, that deare and chosen Apostle of our Sauiour Christ, whom wee ought diligently to obey, euen as we would obey our Sauiour Christ if hee were present.
Thus Saint Paul writeth to the Romanes, Let euery soule submit himselfe vnto the authority of the higher powers, for there is no power but of GOD. The powers that bee, be ordained of GOD. Whosoeuer therefore withstandeth the power, withstandeth the ordinance of GOD: but they that resist, or are against it, shall receiue to themselues damnation. For rulers are not fearefull to them that doe good, but to them that doe euill. Wilt thou bee without feare of that power? Doe well them, and so shalt thou bee praysed of the same, for he is the minister of GOD, for thy wealth. But and if thou doe that which is euil, then feare, for he beareth not the sword for nought, for he is the minister of GOD, to take vengeance on him that doeth euill. Wherefore ye must needes obey, not onely for feare of vengeance, but also, because of conscience, and euen for this cause pay yee tribute, for they are GODS ministers seruing for the same purpose (Romans 13.1-6).
Here let vs learne of Saint Paul the chosen vessell of GOD, that all persons hauing soules (hee excepteth none, nor exempteth none, neither Priest, Apostle, nor Prophet, saith S. Chrysostome) do owe of bounden duty, and euen in conscience, obedience, submission, and subiection to the high powers, which bee set in authority by GOD, for as much as they bee GODS Lieuetenants, GODS Presidentes, GODS Officers, GODS Commissioners, GODS Iudges, ordained of GOD himselfe, of whom onely they haue all their power, and all their authority. And the same Saint Paul threatneth no lesse paine, then euerlasting damnation to all disobedient persons, to all resisters against this generall, and common authority, for as much as they resist not man, but GOD.
THE SECOND PART OF THE SERMON OF OBEDIENCE.
Not Mans Deuice and Inuention, but Gods Wisedome, Gods Order, Power, and Authority. Or as much as GOD hath created and disposed all things in a comely order, we haue beene taught in the first part of the Sermon, concerning good order and obedience, that we also ought in all common weales, to obserue and keepe a due order, and to bee obedient to the powers, their ordinances, and lawes, and that all rulers are appointed of GOD, for a goodly order to bee kept in the world: and also how the Magistrates ought to learne how to rule and gouerne according to GODS Lawes: and that all Subiects are bound to obey them as GODS ministers, yea, although they be euill, not onely for feare, but also for conscience sake. And here (good people) let vs all marke diligently, that it is not lawfull for inferiors and Subiects, in any case to resist and stand against the superiour powers: for Saint Pauls wordes be plaine, that whosoeuer withstandeth, shall get to themselues damnation: for whosoeuer withstandeth, withstandeth the ordinance of GOD. Our Sauiour Christ himselfe, and his Apostles, receiued many and diuers iniuries of the vnfaithfull and wicked men in authoritie: yet wee neuer reade, that they, or any of them, caused any sedition or rebellion against authoritie. We reade oft, that they patiently suffered all troubles, vexations, slaunders, pangs, and paines, and death it selfe obediently without tumult or resistance. They committed their cause to him that iudgeth righteously, and prayed for their enemies heartily and earnestly. They knew that the authoritie of the powers, was GODS ordinance, and therefore both in their words and deedes, they taught euer obedience to it, and neuer taught nor did the contrary.
The wicked Iudge Pilate, sayd to Christ, Knowest thou not that I haue power to crucifie thee, and haue power also to loose thee? Iesus answered, Thou couldest haue no power at all against me, except it were giuen thee from aboue. Whereby Christ taught vs plainely, that euen the wicked rulers haue their power and authoritie from GOD, and therefore it is not lawfull for their Subiects to withstand them, although they abuse their power: much lesse then it is lawfull for subiects, to withstand their godly and Christian Princes, which doe not abuse their authoritie, but vse the same to GODS glory, and to the profite and commoditie of GODS people. The holy Apostle Peter commandeth seruants to be obedient to their masters, not onely if they be good and gentle, but also if they be euill and froward: affirming that the vocation and calling of GODS people is to bee patient, and of the suffering sides. And there he bringeth in the patience of our Sauiour Christ, to perswade obedience to gouernours, yea, although they bee wicked and wrong doers.
But let vs now heare S. Peter himselfe speake, for his wordes certifie best our conscience. Thus he vttereth them in his first Epistle, Seruants, obey your masters with feare, not onely if they bee good and gentle, but also if they be froward. For it is thanke worthy, if a man for conscience toward GOD, endureth griefe, and suffer wrong vndeserued: for what prayse is it, when ye be beaten for your faults, if ye take it patiently? but when ye doe well, if you then suffer wrong, and take it patiently, then is there cause to haue thanke of GOD, for hereunto verily were yee called: for so did Christ suffer for vs, leauing vs an example, that we should follow his steps (1 Peter 2.18-21). All these bee the very wordes of S. Peter.
Holy Dauid also teacheth vs a good lesson in this behalfe, who was many times most cruelly and wrongfully persecuted of king Saul, and many times also put in ieopardie and danger of his life by king Saul and his people, yet hee neither withstood, neither vsed any force or violence against king Saul his mortall and deadly enemie, but did euer to his liege Lord and Master king Saul, most true, most diligent, and most faithfull seruice (1 Samuel 18.11, 14, 30, 19.10-11; 20.31; 24.2-7). Insomuch that when the Lord GOD had giuen king Saul into Dauids handes in his owne Caue, hee would not hurt him, when hee might without all bodily perill easily haue slaine him, no he would not suffer any of his seruants once to lay their hand vpon king Saul, but prayed to GOD in this wise, Lord keepe me from doing that thing vnto my Master, the Lords anoynted, keepe me that I lay not my hand vpon him, seeing he is the anoynted of the Lord: for as truely as the Lord liueth (except the Lord smite him, or except his day come, or that he goe downe to warre, and perish in battaile) the Lord be mercifull vnto me, that I lay not my hand vpon the Lords anoynted.
And that Dauid might haue killed his enemie king Saul, it is euidently prooued in the first booke of the Kings, both by the cutting off the lap of Sauls garment, and also by plaine confession of king Saul. Also another time, as is mentioned in the same booke, when the most vnmercifull and most vnkinde King Saul did persecute poore Dauid, GOD did againe giue king Saul into Dauids handes, by casting of king Saul and his whole armie into a dead sleepe, so that Dauid, and one Abisai with him, came in the night into Sauls host, where Saul lay sleeping, and his speare stacke in the ground at his head: then said Abisai vnto Dauid, GOD hath deliuered thine enemie into thy hands at this time, now therefore let me smite him once with my speare to the earth, and I will not smite him againe the second time: meaning thereby to haue killed him with one stroke, and to haue made him sure for euer. And Dauid answered and said to Abisai, Destroy him not, for who can lay his hands on the Lords anointed, and be guiltlesse? And Dauid sayd furthermore, As sure as the Lord liueth, the Lord shall smite him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall descend or goe downe into battaile, and there perish, the Lord keepe me from laying my handes vpon the Lords anoynted. But take thou now the speare that is at his head, and the cruse of water, and let vs goe: and so he did. Here is euidently prooued that we may not withstand, nor in any wise hurt an anointed King, which is GODS lieftenant, vice-gerent, and highest minister in that countrey where he is King.
An obiection. But peraduenture some heere would say, that Dauid in his owne defence might haue killed King Saul lawfully, and with a safe conscience.
An answere. But holy Dauid did knowe that hee might in no wise withstand, hurt, or kill his Soueraigne lord and King: hee did know that hee was but king Sauls subiect, though he were in great fauour with GOD, and his enemy king Saul out of Gods fauour. Therefore though he were neuer so much prouoked, yet he refused vtterly to hurt the Lords anoynted. He durst not for offending GOD & his own conscience (although he had occasion and opportunity) once lay his hands vpon Gods high officer the king, whom he did know to be a person reserued & kept (for his office sake) onely to GODS punishment and iudgement.
Therefore hee prayeth so oft, and so earnestly, that hee lay not his handes vpon the Lords annointed. And by these two examples, Saint Dauid (being named in Scripture a man after GODS owne heart) giueth a generall rule and lesson to all subiectes in the world, not to withstand their liege lord and king, not to take a sword by their priuate authority against their king, GODS annointed (1 Samuel 26.11; Psal.88.), who onely beareth the sword by GODS authority for the maintenance of the good, and for the punishment of the euill, who only by GODS Law hath the vse of the sword at his command, and also hath all power, iurisdiction, regiment, correction and punishment, as supreme gouernour of all his Realmes & Dominions, and that euen by the authority of GOD, and by GODS ordinances.
Yet another notable story and doctrine is in the second booke of the kinges, that maketh also for this purpose. When an Amalekite, by king Saules owne consent and commandement, had killed king Saul (2 Samuel 1.8-10), hee went to Dauid, supposing to haue had great thankes for his message that hee had killed Dauids deadly enemy, and therefore hee made great haste to tell to Dauid the chaunce, bringing with him king Saules crowne that was vpon his head, and his bracelet that was vpon his arme, to perswade his tidings to bee true. But godly Dauid was so farre from reioycing at this newes, that immediatly and foorthwith hee rent his clothes off his backe, hee mourned and wept, and said to the messenger, How is it that thou wast not afraid to lay thy hands on the Lords annointed to destroy him? And by and by Dauid made one of his seruants to kill the messenger, saying, Thy blood bee on thine owne head, for thine owne mouth hath testified and witnessed against thee, granting that thou hast slaine the Lords annointed.
These examples being so manifest and euident, it is an intolerable ignorance, madnesse, and wickednesse for subiects to make any murmuring, rebellion, resistance, or withstanding, commotion, or insurrection against their most deare and most dread Soueraigne Lord and King, ordeined and appointed of GODS goodnes for their commodity, peace, and quietnesse.
Yet let vs beleeue vndoubtedly, (good Christian people) that we may not obey Kings, Magistrates, or any other, (though they bee our owne fathers) if they would command vs to doe any thing contrary to GODS commandements. In such a case wee ought to say with the Apostle, Wee must rather obey GOD then man (Acts 5.29). But neuerthelesse in that case wee may not in any wise withstand (violenly) violently, or rebell against rulers, or make any insurrection sedition, or tumults, either by force of armes (or otherwise) against the annointed of the Lord, or any of his officers: But wee must in such case patiently suffer all wrongs, and iniuries, referring the iudgement of our cause onely to GOD (Acts 7). Let vs feare the terrible punishment of Almighty GOD against traytors and rebellious persons, by the example of Chore, Dathan, and Abiron, which hee repugned and grudged against GODS Magistrates and officers, and therefore the earth opened and swallowed them vp aliue. Other for their wicked murmuring and rebellion, were by a sudden fire sent of GOD, vtterly consumed. Other for their froward behauiour to their rulers and gouernours, GODS ministers, were suddenly stricken with a foule leprosie. Other were stinged to death, with wonderfull strange fiery serpents. Other were sore plagued, so that there was killed in one day, the number of foureteene thousand and seuen hundred, for rebellion against them whom GOD had appointed to bee in authority.
Absalon also rebelling against his father King Dauid, was punished with a strange and notable death (2 Samuel 18.9-10).
THE THIRD PART OF THE SERMON OF OBEDIENCE.
YEe haue heard before in this Sermon of good order and obedience, manifestly proued both by the Scriptures and examples, that all subiects are boden to obey their Magistrates, and for no cause to resist, or withstand, or rebell, or make any sedition against them, yea, although they bee wicked men. And let no man thinke that hee can escape vnpunished, that committeth treason, conspiracy, or rebellion against his soueraigne Lord the King, though hee commit the same neuer so secretly, either in thought, word, or deede, neuer so priuily, in his priuie chamber by himselfe, or openly communicating, and consulting with others. For treason will not bee hid, treason will out at length. GOD will haue that most detestable vice both opened and punished, for that it is so directly against his ordinance, and against his high principall iudge, and anoynted in earth. The violence and iniury that is committed against authoritie, is committed against GOD, the common weale, and the whole Realme, which GOD will haue knowen, and condignly or worthily punished one way or other. For it is notably written of the wise man in Scripture, in the booke called Ecclesiastes: With the King no euill in thy thought, nor speake no hurt of him in thy priuie chamber: for the bird of the ayre shall betray thy voyce, and with her fethers shall bewray thy words (Ecclesiastes 10.20). These lessons and examples are written for our learning.
Therefore let vs all feare the most detestable vice of rebellion, euer knowing and remembring, that he that resisteth or withstandeth common authority, resisteth or withstandeth GOD and his ordenance, as it may bee proued by many other moe places of holy Scripture. And here let vs take heede that we vnderstand not these or such other like places (which so straitly command obedience to superiours, and so straitly punished rebellion, and disobedience to the same) to bee meant in any condition of the pretensed or coloured power of the Bishop of Rome. For truely the Scripture of GOD alloweth no such vsurped power, full of enormities, abusions, and blasphemies. But the true meaning of these and such places, bee to extoll and set forth GODS true ordinance, and the authoritie of GODS anoynted Kings, and of their officers appoynted vnder them. And concerning the vsurped power of the Bishop of Rome, which he most wrongfully challengeth, as the successor of Christ and Peter: we may easily perceiue how false, fained, and forged it is, not onely in that it hath no sufficient ground in holy Scripture, but also by the fruites and doctrine thereof.
For our Sauiour Christ, and S. Peter, teacheth most earnestly and agreeably obedience to Kings, as to the chiefe and supreme rulers in this world, next vnder GOD: but the Bishop of Rome teacheth, that they that are vnder him, are free from all burdens and charges of the common wealth, and obedience toward their Prince, most clearely against Christs doctrine and S. Peters. He ought therefore rather to be called Antichrist, and the successour of the Scribes and Pharises, then Christs vicar, or S. Peters successour: seeing that not onely in this point, but also in other weighty matters of Christian religion, in matters of remission and forgiuenesse of sinnes, and of saluation, hee heacheth so directly against both S. Peter, and against our Sauiour Christ, who not onely taught obedience to Kings, but also practised obedience in their conuersation and liuing: For we reade that they both payd tribute to the king (Matthew 17.27): And also we reade that the holy virgin Mary, mother to our Sauiour Christ, and Ioseph, who was taken for his father, at the Emperours commandement, went to the citie of Dauid, named Bethlehem, to be taxed among other, and to declare their obedience to the Magistrates, for GODS ordinances sake (Luke 2.4-5). And heere let vs not forget the blessed virgin Maries obedience: for although she was highly in GODS fauour, and Christs naturall mother, and was also great with childe at the same time, and so nigh her trauaile, that shee was deliuered in her iourney, yet shee gladly without any excuse or grudging (for conscience sake) did take that cold and foule winter iourney, being in the meane season so poore, that she lay in a stable, and there shee was deliuered of Christ.
And according to the same, loe how S. Peter agreeth, writing by expresse words in his first Epistle: Submit your selues, and bee subiect (saith hee) vnto kings, as vnto the chiefe heads, and vnto rulers, as vnto them that are sent of him for the punishment of euill doers, and for the prayse of them that doe well, for so is the will of GOD (1 Peter 2.13-15). I neede not to expound these wordes, they be so plaine of themselues. S. Peter doth not say, Submit your selues vnto mee, as supreme head of the Church: neither sayth hee, Submit your selues from time to time to my successours in Rome: but he saith, Submit your selues vnto your King, your supreme head, and vnto those that he appointeth in authoritie vnder him, for that you shall so shew your obedience, it is the will of GOD. GOD will that you be in subiection to your head and king.
This is GODS ordinance, GODS commandement, and GODS holy will, that the whole body of euery Realme, and all the members and parts of the same, shall be subiect to their head, their king, and that (as S. Peter writeth) for the Lords sake (1 Peter 2.13): and (as S. Paul writeth) for conscience sake, and not for feare onely (Romans 13.5). Thus we learne by the word of GOD, to yeeld to our king, that is due to our king: that is, honour, obedience, payments of due taxes, customes, tributes, subsidies, loue and feare (Matthew 22.21, Romans 13). Thus wee know partly our bounden duties to common authority, now let vs learne to accomplish the same. And let vs most instantly and heartily pray to GOD, the onely authour of all authority, for all them that be in authority, according as S. Paul willeth, writing thus to Timothie in his first Epistle: I exhort therefore, that aboue all things, prayers, supplications, intercessions, and giuing of thankes be done for all men: for kings, and for all that be in authority, that wee may liue a quiet and a peaceable life, with all godlinesse and honesty: for that is good and accepted or allowable in the sight of GOD our Sauiour ( 1 Timothy 2.1-3). Heere S. Paul maketh an earnest and an especiall exhortation, concerning giuing of thankes, and prayer for kings and rulers, saying, Aboue all things, as he might say, in any wise principally and chiefly, let prayer bee made for kings.
Let vs heartily thanke GOD for his great and excellent benefit and prouidence concerning the state of kings. Let vs pray for them, that they may haue GODS fauour and GODS protection. Let vs pray that they may euer in all things haue GOD before their eyes. Let vs pray, that they may haue wisedome, strength, iustice, clemency, & zeale to GODS glory, to GODS verity, to Christian soules, and to the common wealth. Let vs pray, that they may rightly vse their sword and authority, for the maintenance and defence of the Catholike fayth conteyned in holy Scripture, and of their good and honest subiects, for the feare and punishment of the euill and vicious people. Let vs pray, that they may most faythfully follow the Kings and Captaines in the Bible, Dauid, Ezekias, Iosias, and Moses, with such other. And let vs pray for our selues, that we may liue godly in holy and Christian conuersation: so shall wee haue GOD on our side, and then let vs not feare what man can doe against vs: so we shall liue in true obedience, both to our most mercifull King in Heauen, and to our most Christian King in Earth: so shall wee please GOD and haue the exceeding benefit, peace of conscience, rest and quietnesse heere in this world, and after this life, wee shall enioy a better life, rest, peace, and the euerlasting blisse of heauen, which hee grant vs all, that was obedient for vs all, euen to the death of the crosse, Iesus Christ: to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, both now and euer. Amen.
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