The Second Question
Whether it be lawful to resist a prince who doth infringe the law of God, or ruin His Church: by whom, how, and how far it is lawful.
This question seems at the first view to be of a high and difficult nature, for so much as there being small occasion to speak to princes that fear God. On the contrary, there will be much danger to trouble the ears of those who acknowledge no other sovereign but themselves, for which reason few or none have meddled with it, and if any have at all touched it, it has been but as it were in passing by. The question is, If it be lawful to resist a prince violating the law of God, or ruinating the church, or hindering the restoring of it? If we hold ourselves to the tenure of the Holy Scripture, it will resolve us. For, if in this case it had been lawful to the Jewish people (the which may be easily gathered from the books of the Old Testament), yea, if it had been enjoined them, I believe it will not be denied, that the same must be allowed to the whole people of any Christian kingdom or country whatsoever. In the first place it must be considered, that God having chosen Israel from amongst all the nations of the earth, to be a peculiar people to Him, covenanted with them, that they should be the people of God. This is written in divers places of Deuteronomy; the substance and tenor of this alliance was, “That all should be careful in their several lines, tribes, and families in the land of Canaan, to serve God purely, who would have a church established amongst them for ever,” which may be drawn from the testimony of divers places, namely, that which is contained in the twenty-seventh chapter of Deuteronomy. There Moses and the Levites, covenanting as in the name of God, assembled all the people and said unto them, “This day, O Israel, art thou become the people of God, obey you therefore His voice,” etc. And Moses said, “When thou hast passed the River of Jordan, thou shalt set six tribes on the mountain of Gerizzim on the one side, and the six others on the mountain of Eball, and then the Levites shall read the law of God, promising the observers all felicity, and threatening woe and destruction to the breakers thereof, and all the people shall answer, Amen.” The which was afterwards performed by Joshua, at his entering into the land of Canaan, and some few days before his death. We see by this that all the people is bound to maintain the law of God to perfect His church, and on the contrary to exterminate the idols of the land of Canaan—a covenant which can no ways appertain to particulars, but only to the whole body of the people. To which it also seems the encamping of all the tribes round about the ark of the Lord to have reference, to the end that all should look to the preservation of that which was committed to the custody of all.
Now for the use and practice of this covenant we may produce examples; the inhabitants of Gabaa of the Tribe of Benjamin ravished the wife of a Levite, who died through their violence. The Levite divided his wife into twelve pieces, and sent them to the twelve tribes, to the end that all the people together might wipe away this so horrible a crime committed in Israel. All the people met together at Mizpah and required the Benjamites to deliver to be punished those who were culpable of this enormous crime, which they refused to perform. Wherefore, with the allowance of God Himself, the states of the people with a universal consent renounce and make war against the Benjamites, and by this means the authority of the second Table of the Law was maintained by the detriment and ruin of one entire tribe who had broken it in one of the precepts.
For the first we have an example sufficiently manifest in Joshua. After that the Reubenites, Gadites, and Manassites were returned into their dwellings beyond Jordan, they incontinently built a goodly altar near unto the river; this seems contrary to the commandment of the Lord, who expressly forbids to sacrifice anywhere but in the land of Canaan only, where it was to be feared lest these men intended to serve idols. This business being communicated to the people, inhabiting on this side Jordan, the place assigned for the meetings of the states was at Silo where the Ark of the Lord was. They all accordingly met, and Phineas the High Priest, the son of Eleazar, was sent to the other to treat with them concerning this offense committed against the law. And to the end they might know all the people had a hand in this business, they sent also the principal men of every tribe to complain that the service of God is corrupted by this device, that God would be provoked by this rebellion, and become an enemy, not only to the guilty, but also to all Israel, as heretofore in Beelphegor. Briefly, that they should denounce open war against them, if they desisted not from this their manner of doing. There must of necessity have followed much mischief, if those tribes beyond Jordan had not protested that they erected that altar only for a memorial that the Israelites both on the one and the other side of Jordan, both did and do profess one and the same religion, and at all times whensoever they have showed themselves negligent in the maintenance of the service of God, we have seen that they have ever been punished; this is the true cause wherefore they lost two battles against the Benjamites according as it appears in the end of the book of Judges; for in so carefully undertaking to punish the rape and outrage done to a particular person, they clearly convinced themselves of much negligent profaneness in the maintenance of God’s right, by their continual negligence, omission to punish both corporal and spiritual whoredoms; there was then in these first times such a covenant between God and the people.
Now after that kings were given unto the people, there was so little purpose of disannulling or disbanding the former contract, that it was renewed and confirmed forever. We have formerly said at the inaugurating of kings, there was a double covenant treated of, to wit, “between God and the king” and “between God and the people.” The agreement was first passed between “God, the king, and the people.” Or between the “high priest, the people” (which is named in the first place in the twenty-third chapter of the second book of the Chronicles) “and the king.” The intention of this was that the “people should be the people of God” (which is as much as to say) “that the people should be the church of God.” We have showed before to what end God contracted covenants with the king.
Let us now consider wherefore also He allies Himself with the people. It is a most certain thing that God has not done this in vain, and if the people had not “authority to promise, and to keep promise,” it were vainly lost time to contract or covenant with them. It may seem then that God has done like those creditors, which having to deal with not very sufficient borrowers, take divers jointly bound for one and the same sum, insomuch as two or more being bound one for another and each of them apart, for the entire payment of the total sum, he may demand his whole debt of which of them he pleases. There was much danger to commit the custody of the church to one man alone, and therefore God did recommend, and put it in trust “to all the people.” The king being raised to so slippery a place might easily be corrupted; for fear lest the church should stumble with him, God would have the people also to be respondents for it. In the covenant of which we speak, God, or (in His place) the High Priest are stipulators, the king and all the people, to wit, Israel, do jointly and voluntarily assume, promise, and oblige themselves for one and the same thing.
The High Priest demands if they promise, that the people shall be the people of God, that God shall always have His temple, His church amongst them, where He shall be purely served. The king is respondent, so also are the people (the whole body of the people representing, as it were, the office and place of one man), not severally, but jointly, as the words themselves make clear, being incontinent, and not by intermission or distance of time, the one after the other.
We see here then two undertakers, the king and Israel, who by consequence are bound one for another and each for the whole. For as when Caius and Titus have promised jointly to pay to their creditor Seius a certain sum, each of them is bound for himself and his companion, and the creditor may demand the sum of which of them he pleases. In the like manner the king for himself, and Israel for itself are bound with all circumspection to see that the church be not damnified; if either of them be negligent of their covenant, God may justly demand the whole of which of the two He pleases, and the more probably of the people than of the king, and for that many cannot so easily slip away as one, and have better means to discharge the debts than one alone. In like manner, as when two men that are indebted, especially to the public exchequer, the one is in such manner bound for the other, that he can take no benefit of the division granted by the new constitutions of Justinian. So likewise the king and Israel, promising to pay tribute to God, who is the King of kings, for accomplishment whereof, the one is obliged for the other. And as two covenanters by promise, especially in contracts, the obligation whereof exposes the obligees to forfeitures and hazards, such as this is here, the failings of the one endamages the other—so that if Israel forsake their God, and the king makes no account of it, he is justly guilty of Israel’s delinquency. In like manner, if the king follow after strange gods, and not content to be seduced himself, seek also to attract his subjects, endeavoring by all means to ruin the church, if Israel seek not to withdraw him from his rebellion, and contain him within the limits of obedience, they make the fault of their king their own transgression.
Briefly, as when there is danger that one of the debtors by consuming his goods may be disabled to give satisfaction, the other must satisfy the creditors who ought not to be endamaged; though one of his debtors have ill husbanded his estate, this ought not to be doubted in regard of Israel toward their king, and of the king towards Israel in case one of them apply himself to the service of idols, or break their covenant in any other sort, the one of them must pay the forfeiture and be punished for the other. Now that the covenant of which we at this time treat is of this nature, it appears also by earlier testimonies of Holy Scripture. Saul being established king of Israel, Samuel, priest and prophet of the Lord, speaks in this manner to the people: “Both you and your king which is over you serve the Lord your God, but if you persevere in malice” (he taxes them of malice for that they preferred the government of a man before that of God) “you and your king shall perish.” He adds after the reason, “for it has pleased God to choose you for His people.” You see here both the parties evidently conjoined in the condition and the punishment. In like manner Asa, King of Judah, by the council of the prophet Assary, assembles all the people at Jerusalem, to wit, Judah and Benjamin, to enter into covenant with God. Thither came also divers of the tribes of Ephraim, Manasses, and Simeon, who were come thither to serve the Lord according to his own ordinance. After the sacrifices were performed according to the law, the covenant was contracted in these terms: “Whosoever shall not call upon the Lord God of Israel, be he the least or the greatest, let him die the death.” In making mention of the greatest, you see that the king himself is not excepted from the designed punishment.
But who may punish the king (for here is question of corporal and temporal punishment) if it be not the whole body of the people to whom the king swears and obliges himself, no more nor less, than the people do to the king? We read also that King Josias, being of the age of twenty-and-five years, together with the whole people, makes a covenant with the Lord, the king and the people promising to keep the laws and ordinances of God, and even then for the better accomplishing of the tenure of this agreement, the idolatry of Baal was presently destroyed. If any will more exactly turn over the Holy Bible, he may well find other testimonies to this purpose.
But to what purpose should the consent of the people be required—wherefore should Israel or Judah be expressly bound to observe the law of God? For what reason should they promise so solemnly to be forever the people of God? If it be denied, by the same reason that they had any authority from God, or power to free themselves from perjury, or to hinder the ruin of the church. For to what end should it serve to cause the people to promise to be the people of God, if they must and are bound to endure and suffer the king to draw them after strange gods? If the people be absolutely in bondage, wherefore is it commanded then, to take order that God be purely served? If it be so that they cannot properly oblige themselves to God, and if it be not lawful for them by all to endeavor the accomplishment of their promise, shall we say that God has made an agreement with them, which had no right neither to promise, nor to keep promise? But on the contrary, in this business of making a covenant with the people, God would openly and plainly show that the people have right to make, hold, and accomplish their promises and contracts. For, if he be not worthy to be heard in public court that will bargain or contract with a slave, or one that is under tutelage, shall it not be much more shameful to lay this imputation upon the Almighty, that he should contract with those who had no power to perform the conditions covenanted?
But for this occasion it was, that when the kings had broken their covenants, the prophets always addressed themselves to the House of Judah and Jacob, and to Samaria, to advertise them of their duties. Furthermore, they required the people that they not only withdraw themselves from sacrificing to Baal, but also that they call down his idol, and destroy his priests and service, yea, even maugre the king himself. For example, Ahab having killed the prophets of God, the prophet Elias assembles the people, and as it were convented the estates, and does there tax, reprehend, and reprove every one of them; the people at his exhortation take and put to death the priests of Baal. And for so much as the king neglected his duty, it behooved Israel more carefully to discharge theirs without tumult, not rashly, but by public authority; the estates being assembled, and the equity of the cause orderly debated, and sufficiently cleared before they came to the execution of justice. On the contrary, so often, and always when Israel has failed to oppose their king, which would overthrow the service of God, that which has been formerly said of the two debtors, the inability and ill husbandry of the one does ever prejudice the other, the same happened to them. For as the king has been punished for his idolatry and disloyalty, the people have also been chastised for their negligence, connivency, and stupidity, and it has commonly happened that the kings have been much more often swayed, and drawn others with them, than the people. For so much as ordinarily the great ones mold themselves into the fashion of the king, and the people conform themselves in humors to those who govern them, to be brief, all more usually offend after the example of one, than that one will reform himself as he sees all the rest.
This which we say will, perhaps, appear more plainly by examples. What do we suppose to have been the cause of the defeat and overthrow of the army of Israel with their king Saul? Does God correct the people for the sins of the prince? Is the child beaten instead of the father? It is a discourse not easily to be digested, say the civilians, to maintain that the children should bear the punishments due for the offenses of their fathers; the laws do not permit that anyone shall suffer for the wickedness of another. Now God forbid that the judge of all the world (said Abraham) should destroy the innocent with the guilty. On the contrary (saith the Lord) as the life of the father, so the life of the son is in my hands; the fathers shall not be but to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers; every man shall be put to death for his own sin. That overthrow, then, did it not proceed for that the people opposed not Saul when he violated the law of God, but applauded that miserable prince when he wickedly persecuted the best men, as David and the priests of the Lord?
Amongst many other examples let us only produce some few. The same Saul, to enlarge the possessions of the tribe of Judah, broke the public faith granted to the Gibeonites, at the first entry of the people into the land of Canaan, and put to death as many of the Gibeonites as he could come by. By this execution Saul broke the third commandment, for God had been called to witness this agreement, and the sixth also, insomuch as he murdered the innocent; he ought to have maintained the authority of the two Tables of the Law, and thereupon it is said that Saul and his house have committed this wickedness. In the meantime, after the death of Saul, and David being established king, the Lord being demanded, made answer that it was already the third year that the whole country of Israel was afflicted with famine because of this cruelty, and the hand of the Lord ceased not to strike, until that seven men of the house of Saul were given to the Gibeonites, who put them to death—seeing that everyone ought to bear his own burden, and that no man is esteemed the inheritor of another’s crime—wherefore they say that all the whole people of Israel deserved to be punished for Saul, who was already dead, and had (as it might seem) that controversy buried in the same grave with him, but only in regard that the people neglected to oppose a mischief so public and apparent, although they ought and might have done it. Think you it reason, that any should be punished unless they deserve it? And in what have the people here failed, but in suffering the offense of their king.
In like manner when David commanded Joab and the governors of Israel to number the people, he is taxed to have committed a great fault; for even as Israel provoked the anger of God in demanding a king, one in whose wisdom they seemed to repose their safety, even so David did much forget himself, in hoping for victory through the multitude of his subjects. For so much as that is properly (according to the saying of the prophet) to sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag, a kind of abominable idolatry; for the governors, they seeing that it would draw evil on the people, drew back a little at the first; afterwards, as it were, to be rid of the importunity they made the enrollment. In the mean season all the people are punished, and not David alone, but also the ancients of Israel, who represented the whole body of the people, put on sack-cloth and ashes, the which, notwithstanding, was not done nor practiced when David committed those horrible sins of murder and adultery. Who sees not in this last act, that all had sinned, and that all should repent, and finally that all were chastised, to wit, David, who had provoked God by so wicked a commandment, the governors (as peers and assessors of the kingdom, ought in the name of all Israel to have opposed the king) by their connivency and over-weak resistance, and all the people also who made their appearance to be enrolled? God, in this respect, did like a chief commander or general of an army; he chastised the offense of the whole camp by a sudden alarm given to all, and by the exemplary punishments of some particulars to keep all the rest in better awe and order.
But tell me wherefore after that the king Manasses had polluted the Temple at Jerusalem, do we read that God not only taxed Manasses, but all the people also? Was it not to advertise Israel, one of the sureties, that if they keep not the king within the limits of his duty, they should all smart for it—for what meant the prophet Jeremy to say, the house of Judah is impiety and in subjection to the Assyrians, because of the cruelty of Manasses? But that they were guilty of all his offenses, because they made no resistance; wherefore Saint Austin and Saint Ambrose said Herod and Pilate condemned Jesus Christ, the priests delivered Him to be crucified, the people seem to have some compassion, notwithstanding all are punished. And wherefore so? For so much as they are all guilty of His death, in that they did not deliver Him out of the hands of those wicked judges and governors. There must also be added to this many other proofs drawn from divers authors for the further explication of this point, were it not that the testimonies of holy scripture ought to suffice Christians.
Furthermore, insomuch as it is the duty of a good magistrate rather to endeavor to hinder and prevent a mischief than to chastise the delinquents after the offense is committed, as good physicians who prescribe a diet to allay and prevent diseases, as well as medicines to cure them, in like manner a people truly affected to true religion, will not simply consent themselves to reprove and repress a prince who would abolish the law of God, but also will have special regard, that through malice and wickedness he innovate nothing that may hurt the same, or that in tract of time may corrupt the pure service of God; and instead of supporting public offenses committed against the Divine Majesty, they will take away all occasions wherewith the offenders might cover their faults. We read that to have been practiced by all Israel by a decree of Parliament in the assembly of the whole people, to remonstrate to those beyond Jordan, touching the altar they had built, and by the King Ezekias, who caused the brazen serpent to be broken.
It is then lawful for Israel to resist the king, who would overthrow the law of God and abolish His church? And not only so, but also they ought to know that in neglecting to perform this duty, they make themselves culpable of the same crime, and shall bear the like punishment with their king.
If their assaults be verbal, their defense must be likewise verbal; if the sword be drawn against them, they may also take arms, and fight either with tongue or hand, as occasion is; yea, if they be assailed by surprisals, they may make both of ambuscades and countermines, there being no to lawful war that directs them for the manner, whether advantageous stratagems, and perfidious treason, which is always unlawful.
But I see well, here will he an objection made. What will you say? That a whole people, that beast of many heads, must they run in a mutinous disorder, to order the business of the commonwealth? What address or direction is there in an unruly and unbridled multitude? What counsel or wisdom to manage the affairs of state?
When we speak of all the people, we understand by that, only those who hold their authority from the people, to wit, the magistrates, who are inferior to the king, and whom the people have substituted, or established, as it were, consorts in the empire, and with a kind of tribunitial authority, to restrain the encroachments of sovereignty, and to represent the whole body of the people. We understand also, the assembly of the estates, which is nothing else but an epitome, or brief collection of the kingdom, to whom all public affairs have special and absolute reference. Such were the seventy ancients in the kingdom of Israel, amongst whom the high priest was as it were president, and they judged all matters of greatest importance, those seventy being first chosen by six out of each tribe, which came out of the land of Egypt, then the heads or governors of provinces. In like manner the judges and provosts of towns, the captains of thousands, the centurions and others who commanded over families, the most valiant, noble, and otherwise notable personages, of whom was composed the body of the states, assembled divers times as it plainly appears by the word of the Holy Scripture. At the election of the first king, who was Saul, all the ancients of Israel assembled together at Kama. In like manner all Israel was assembled, or all Judah and Benjamin, etc. Now, it is no way probable, that all the people, one by one, met together there. Of this rank there are in every well-governed kingdom, the princes, the officers of the crown, the peers, the greatest and most notable lords, the deputies of provinces, of whom the ordinary body of the estate is composed, or the parliament or the diet, or other assembly, according to the different names used in divers countries of the world; in which assemblies, the principal care is had both for the preventing and reforming either of disorder or detriment in church or commonwealth.
For as the councils of Basil and Constance have decreed (and well decreed) that the universal council is in authority above the bishop of Rome, so in like manner, the whole chapter may overrule the bishop, the university the rector, the court the president. Briefly, he, whosoever he is, who has received authority from a company, is inferior to that whole company, although he be superior to any of the particular members of it. Also is it without any scruple or doubt, that Israel, who demanded and established a king as governor of the public, must needs be above Saul, established at their request and for Israel’s sake, as it shall be more fully proved hereafter. And for so much as an orderly proceeding is necessarily required in all affairs discreetly addressed, and that it is not so probably hopeful that order shall be observed amongst so great a number of people; yea, and that there oftentimes occur occasions which may not be communicated to a multitude, without manifest danger of the commonwealth; we say, that all that which has been spoken of privileges granted, and right committed to the people, ought to be referred to the officers and deputies of the kingdom, and all that which has been said of Israel, is to be understood of the princes and elders of Israel, to whom these things were granted and committed, as the practice also has verified.
The queen Athalia, after the death of her son Ahazia king of Judah, put to death all those of the royal blood, except little Joas, who, being yet in the cradle, was preserved by the piety and wisdom of his aunt Jehoshabeah. Athalia possesses herself of the government, and reigned six years over Judah. It may well be the people murmured between their teeth and dare not by reason of danger express what they thought in their minds.
Finally, Jehoiada, the high priest, the husband of Jehoshabeah, having secretly made a league and combination with the chief men of the kingdom, did anoint and crown king his nephew Joas, being but seven years old. And he did not content himself to drive the queen-mother from the royal throne, but he also put her to death, and presently overthrew the idolatry of Baal. This deed of Jehoiada is approved, and by good reason, for he took on him the defense of a good cause, for he assailed the tyranny, and not the king. The tyranny (I say) which had no title, as our modern civilians speak. For by no law were women admitted to the government of the kingdom of Judah. Furthermore, that tyranny was in vigor and practice. For Athalia had with unbounded mischief and cruelty invaded the realm of her nephews, and in the administration of that government committed infinite wickedness, and what was the worst of all, had cast off the service of the living God to adore and compel others with her, to worship the idol of Baal. Therefore then was she justly punished, and by him who had a lawful calling and authority to do it. For Jehoiada was not a private and particular person, but the high priest, to whom the knowledge of civil causes did then belong. And besides, he had for his associates, the principal men of the kingdom, the Levites, and being himself the king’s kinsman and ally. Now for so much as he assembled not the estates at Mizpah, according to the accustomed manner, he is not reproved for it, neither for that he consulted and contrived the matter secretly, for that if he had held any other manner of proceeding, the business must probably have failed in the execution and success.
A combination or conjuration is good or ill, according as the end whereunto it is addressed is good or ill; and perhaps also according as they are affected who are the managers of it. We say then, that the princes of Judah have done well, and that in following any other course they had failed of the right way. For even as the guardian ought to take charge and care that the goods of his pupil fall not into loss and detriment, and if he omit his duty therein, he may be compelled to give an account thereof, in like manner, those to whose custody and tuition the people have committed themselves, and whom they have constituted their tutors and defenders ought to maintain them safe and entire in all their rights and privileges. To be short, as it is lawful for a whole people to resist and oppose tyranny, so likewise the principal persons of the kingdom may as heads, and for the good of the whole body, confederate and associate themselves together; and as in a public state, that which is done by the greatest part is esteemed and taken as the act of all, so in like manner must it be said to be done, which the better part of the most principal have acted, briefly, that all the people had their hand in it.
But here presents itself another question, the which deserves to be considered, and amply debated in regard of the circumstance of time. Let us put the case that a king seeking to abolish the law of God, or ruin the church, that all the people or the greatest part yield their consent, that all the princes or the greatest number of them make no reckoning; and, notwithstanding, a small handful of people, to wit, some of the princes and magistrates desire to preserve the law of God entirely and inviolably, and to serve the Lord purely. What may it be lawful for them to do if the king seek to compel those men to be idolaters, or will take from them the exercise of true religion? We speak not here of private and particular persons considered one by one, and who in that manner are not held as parts of the entire body, as the planks, the nails, the pegs, are no part of the ship, neither the stones, the rafters, nor the rubbish, are any part of the house. But we speak of some town or province, which makes a portion of a kingdom, as the prow, the poop, the keel, and other parts make a ship, the foundation, the roof, and the walls make a house. We speak also of the magistrate who governs such a city or province.
If we must make our defense with producing of examples, although we have not many ready by reason of the backwardness and carelessness of men when there is question to maintain the service of God, notwithstanding, we have some few to be examined and received according as they deserve. Libna, a town of the priests, withdrew itself from the obedience of Joram, King of Judah, and left that prince, because he had abandoned the God of his fathers, whom those of the town would serve, and it may be they feared also lest in the end they should be compelled to sacrifice to Baal. In like manner when that the king Antiochus commanded that all the Jews should embrace his religion, and should forsake that which the God Almighty had taught them, Mattathias answered, we will not obey, nor will we do anything contrary to our religion; neither did he only speak, but also, being transported with the zeal of Phineas, he killed with his own hands a Jew who constrained his fellow citizens to sacrifice to idols. Then he took arms and retired into the mountain, gathered troops, and made war against Antiochus, for religion, and for his country, with such success, that he regained Jerusalem, broke and brought to nothing the power of the pagans whom they had gathered to ruin the church, and then re-established the pure service of God. If we will know who this Mattathias was, he was the father of the Maccabees of the tribe of Levi, insomuch as it was not lawful for him, according to the received custom and right of his race, to restore the kingdom by arms from the tyranny of Antiochus. His followers were such as fled to the mountains together with the inhabitants of Modin, to whom had adjoined themselves divers neighboring Jews, and other fugitives from sundry quarters of Judaea, all who solicitously desired the re-establishment of the church. Almost all the rest, yea, the principals, obeyed Antiochus, and that after the rout of his army, and his own miserable death. Although there was then a fair occasion to shake off his yoke, yet the Jews sought to the son of Antiochus, and entreated him to take on him the kingdom, promising him fidelity and obedience.
I might here produce the example of Deborah. The Lord God had subjected Israel to Jabin, King of Canaan, and they had remained in this servitude the space of twenty years, who might seem in some sort to have gained a right by prescription over the kingdom, and together also, that almost all Israel followed after strange gods. The principal and most powerful tribes, to wit, Reuben, Ephraim, Benjamin, Dan, Asher, and some others, adhered wholly to Jabin. Yet, notwithstanding, the prophetess Deborah who judged Israel, caused the tribes of Zebulon, Nephthalie, and Issachar, or at the least some of all those tribes, to take arms under the conduct of Barak, and they overthrew Sisera, the lieutenant of Jabin, and delivered Israel, who had no thought of liberty, and was content to remain in bondage; and having shaken off the yoke of the Canaanites they re-established the pure service of the living God. But for so much as Deborah seems to have an extraordinary vocation, and that the scripture does not approve in express terms the doings of them of Libna, although that in not disallowing of their proceedings, it may seem in some sort to allow them; and for that the history of the Maccabees has had no great authority in the ancient church; and for that it is commonly held that an assertion must be proved by laws and testimonies, not by examples—let us examine by the effect, what we ought to judge, according to the right of the matter now in question.
We have formerly said that the king did swear to keep the law of God, and promised to the uttermost of his power to maintain the church; that the people of Israel considered in one body, covenanting by the high priest, made the same promise to God. Now, at this present, we say that all the towns and all the magistrates of these towns, which are parts and portions of the kingdom, promise each of them on his own behalf, and in express terms, the which all towns and Christian communalties have also done, although it has been but with a tacit consent. Joshua, being very old and near to his death, assembled all Israel at Sichem in the presence of God, to wit, before the Ark of the Covenant, which was there. It is said that the ancients of the people, the heads of the tribe, the judges and governors, and all who had any public command in the town of Israel, met together there, where they swore to observe and keep the law of the Lord, and did willingly put on the yoke of the Almighty God—whereby, it appears, that these magistrates did oblige themselves in the names of their towns and commonalties, who did send them to take order, that God should be served throughout the whole country, according as He had revealed in His law. And Joshua, for his part, having passed this contract of agreement between God and the people, and enregistered the whole, according as it was done, for a perpetual memorial of the matter, he incontinently set up a stone.
If there were occasion to remove the ark of the Lord, the principals of the country and towns, the captains, the centurions, the provosts, and others, were summoned by the decree and commandment of David; and of the synagogue of Israel, if there be a purpose of building the Lord’s temple, the same course is observed. And to the end it be not supposed, that some alteration has been inserted after the creation of kings. In the times of Joas and Josias, when there was question of renewing the covenant between God and the people, all the estates met together, and all were bound and obliged particularly. Also not only the king, but the kingdom, and not only all the kingdom, but also all the pastors of the kingdom, promise each of them for themselves fidelity and obedience to God. I say again, that not only the king and the people, but also all the towns of Israel, and their magistrates, oblige themselves to God, and, as homagers to their liege Lord, tie themselves to be His forever, with and against all men. For further proof of the aforesaid, I would entreat the reader diligently to turn over the Holy Bible, especially in the books of the Kings and the Chronicles. But for a yet more ample explication of this matter, let us produce for example what is in practice at this day.
In the empire of Germany, when the emperor is to be crowned, the electors and princes of the empire, as well secular as ecclesiastical, meet together personally, or else send their ambassadors. The prelates, earls, and barons, and all the deputies of the imperial towns, come thither also, or else send special proxies; then do they their homage to the emperor, either for themselves, or for them whom they represent, with, and under, certain conditions. Now, let us presuppose that one of these who has done homage voluntarily, afterwards endeavors to depose the emperor, and advance himself into his place, and that the princes and barons deny their sovereign the succor and tribute which they owe him, and that they have intelligence with that other who conspired and sought to possess himself of the imperial throne. Think you that they of Straesbourgh or of Nurembergh, who have bound themselves by faith unto the lawful emperor, have not lawful right to repress and exclude this traitorous intruder? Yea, on the contrary, if they do it not, if they give not succor to the emperor in this his necessity, think you that they have satisfied or performed their fealty and promise, seeing that he who has not preserved his governor when he had means to do it, ought to be held as culpable and guilty as he who offered the violence and injury unto him? If it be so (as every one may sufficiently see it is), is it not then lawful for the men of Libna and of Modin? And does not their duty enjoin them to do as much as if the other estates of the kingdom have left God, to whose service and pleasure they know and acknowledge themselves to he bound to render obedience?
Let us imagine then some Joram or Antiochus who abolishes true religion, and lifts up himself above God, that Israel connives and is content, what should that town do which desires to serve God purely? First, they should say with Joshua, for their parts, look whom you desire rather to obey, the living God, or the gods of the Amorites; for our parts, we and our families will serve the Lord. Choose you then, I say, if you will obey in this point him, who, without any right, usurps that power and authority which no way appertains unto him; for my part, happen what may, I will keep my faith to him to whom I promised it. I make no question but that Joshua would have done the uttermost of his endeavor to maintain the pure service of the living God in Thamnathe Serathe, a town of Ephraim, where his house and estate lay, if the Israelites besides had so much forgotten themselves as to have worshipped the god of the Amorites in the land of Canaan.
But if the king should pass yet further, and send his lieutenants to compel us to become idolaters, and if he commands us to drive God and His service from amongst us, shall we not rather shut our gates against the king and his officers, than drive out of our town the Lord who is the King of kings? Let the burgesses and citizens of towns, let the magistrates and governors of the people of God dwelling in towns, consider with themselves that they have contracted two covenants, and taken two oaths. The first and most ancient with God, to whom the people have sworn to be His people; the second and next following, with the king, to whom the people have promised obedience, as unto him who is the governor and conductor of the people of God. So then, as if a viceroy conspiring against his sovereign, although he had received from him an unlimited authority, if he should summon us to deliver the king whom he held besieged within the enclosure of our walls, we ought not to obey him, but resist with the uttermost of our power and means, according to the tenor of our oath of allegiance. In like manner think we, that it is not a wickedness of all most detestable, if at the pleasure of a prince who is the vassal and servant of God, we should drive God from dwelling amongst us, or deliver Him (as far as in us lieth) into the hands of His enemies.
You will say, it may be that the towns appertain to the prince. And I answer, that the towns consist not of a heap of stones, but of that which we call people, that the people is the people of God, to whom they are first bound by oath, and secondly, to the king. For the towns, although that the kings have power over them, notwithstanding the right of inheritance of the soil belongs to the citizens and owners, for all that which is in a kingdom is indeed under the dominion of the king, but not of his proper patrimony. God in truth is the only Lord proprietor of all things, and it is of Him that the king holds his royalties, and the people their patrimony. This is as much as to say, you will reply, that for the cause of religion it shall be lawful for the subjects to revolt from the obedience of their king. If this be once granted, it will presently open a gap to rebellion. But, hearken, I pray you patiently, and consider this matter more thoroughly. I might answer in a word, that of two things, if the one must needs be done, it were much better to forsake the king, than God; or with Saint Augustine in his fourth book, Of the City of God, chapter IV, and in the nineteenth book, and chapter XXI, that where there is no justice, there is no commonwealth; that there is no justice when he that is a mortal man would pull another man out of the bands of the immortal God, to make him a slave of the devil, seeing that justice is a virtue that gives to everyone that which is his own, and that those who draw their necks out of the yoke of such rulers, deliver themselves from the tyranny of wicked spirits, and abandon a multitude of robbers, and not the commonwealth.
But to re-assume this discourse a little higher, those who shall carry themselves as has been formerly said, seem no ways accusable of the crime of revolt. Those are said properly to quit the king or the commonwealth, which, with the heart and purpose of an enemy, withdraw themselves from the obedience of the king or the commonwealth, by means whereof they are justly accounted adversaries, and are oftentimes much more to be feared, than any other enemies. But those of whom we now speak do nothing resemble them. First, they do in no sort refuse to obey, provided that they be commanded that which they may lawfully do, and that it be not against the honor of God.
They pay willingly the taxes, customs, imposts, and ordinary payments, provided that with these they seek not to abolish the tribute which they owe unto God. They obey Caesar while he commands in the quality of Caesar; but when Caesar passes his bounds, when he usurps that dominion which is none of his own, when he endeavors to assail the Throne of God, when he wars against the Sovereign Lord, both of himself and the people, they then esteem it reasonable not to obey Caesar; and yet, after this, to speak properly, they do no acts of hostility. He is properly an enemy who stirs up, who provokes another, who out of military insolency prepares and sets forth parties to war. They have been urged and assailed by open war, and close and treacherous surprisals, when death and destruction environ them round about, then they take arms, and wait their enemies’ assaults. You cannot have peace with your enemies when you will, for if you lay down your weapons, if you give over making war, they will not for all that disarm themselves, and lose their advantage. But for these men, desire but peace and you have it; give over but assailing them, and they will lay down their arms; cease to fight against God, and they will presently leave the lists. Will you take their swords out of their hands? Abstain you only then from striking, seeing they are not the assailants, but the defendants; sheathe your sword, and they will presently cast their buckler on the ground, which has been the reason that they have been often surprised by perfidious ambuscades, whereof these our times have afforded over-frequent examples.
Now, as we cannot call that servant stubborn or a fugitive, who puts by the blow which his lord strikes at him with his sword, or who withdraws or hides himself from his master’s fury, or shuts his chamber door upon him until his choler and heat be passed over, much less ought we to esteem those seditious, who (holding the name and place of servants and subjects) shut the gates of a city against their prince, transported with anger, being ready to do all his just commandments, after he has recovered his judgment, and related his former indignation. We must place in this rank, David, commander of the army of Israel, under Saul, a furious king. David, oppressed with calumnies and false taxations, watched and waylaid from all parts, he retired unto, and defended himself in inaccessible mountains, and provided for his defense to oppose the walls of Ceila against the fury of the king; yea, he drew unto his party all those that he could, not to take away Saul’s life from him, as it plainly appeared afterwards, but to defend his own cause—see wherefore Jonathan, the son of Saul, made no difficulty, to make alliance with David, and to renew it from time to time, the which is called the alliance of the Almighty. And Abigail says in express words, that David was wrongfully assailed, and that he made the war of God.
We must also place in this rank the Maccabees, who, having good means to maintain wars, were content to receive peace from King Demetrius and others, which Antiochus had offered them before, because by it, they should be secured in the free possession and exercise of their religion. We may remember that those who in our times have fought for true religion against Antichrist, both in Germany and France, have laid down arms as soon as it was permitted them to serve God truly according to His ordinance, and oftentimes having fair means and occasion to advance and continue the war to their much advantage—as when the Philistines compelled Saul to cease attack, and Antioch to desist from an assault upon its neighbors, and other occasions when everything favored further warfare. See then the marks which distinguish and separate sufficiently those of whom we speak from rebels or seditious.
But let us yet see other evident testimonies of the equity of their cause, for their defection is of that nature, that, take away but the occasion, if some extreme necessity compel not the contrary, they presently return to their former condition, and then you cannot properly say, they separated themselves from the king or the commonalty; but that they left Joram, and Antiochus, or if you will, the tyranny and unlawful power of one alone, or if divers particulars, who had no authority nor right to exact obedience in the same manner as they commanded. The doctors of the Sorbonne have taught us the like sundry times, whereof we will allege some examples.
About the year 1300, Pope Boniface VIII, seeking to appropriate to his See the royalties that belonged to the crown of France, Philip the Fair, the then king, did taunt him somewhat sharply, the tenor of whose tart letters are these:
“Philip by the Grace of God, King of the French, to Boniface, calling himself Sovereign Bishop, little or no health at all.
“Be it known to the great foolishness and unbounded rashness, that in temporal matters we leave only God for our superior, and that the vacancy of certain churches belongs to us by royal prerogative, and that appertains to us only to gather the fruits, and we will defend the possession thereof against all opposers with the edge of our swords, accounting them fools, and without brains who hold a contrary opinion.”
In those times all men acknowledged the pope for God’s vicar on earth, and head of the universal church. Insomuch, that (as it is said) common error went instead of a law, notwithstanding the Sorbonnists being assembled, and demanded, made answer, that the king and the kingdom might safely, without blame or danger of schism, exempt themselves from his obedience, and flatly refuse that which the pope demanded. For so much as it is not the separation but the cause which makes the schism, and if there were schism, it should be only in separating from Boniface, and not from the church, nor from the pope, and that there was no danger nor offense in so remaining until some honest man were chosen pope. Everyone knows into what perplexities the consciences of a whole kingdom would fall, which held themselves separated from the church, if this distinction be not true. I would demand now, if it be not yet more lawful to make use of this distinction, when a king invades and encroaches on the jurisdiction of God, and oppresses with hard servitude, the souls dearly bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Let us add another example.
In the year of our Lord 1408, when Pope Benedict XIII did oppose the French church by tributes and exactions, the clergy, assembled by the command of King Charles VI decreed, That the king and inhabitants of the kingdom ought not to obey Benedict, who was a heretic, a schismatic, and altogether unworthy of that dignity, the which the estates of the kingdom approved, and the parliament of Paris confirmed by a decree. The same clergy also ordained that those who had been excommunicated by that pope, as forsakers and enemies of the church, should be presently absolved, nullifying all such excommunications, and this has been practiced not in France only, but in other places also, as histories do credibly report. The which gives us just occasion most perspicuously to see and know, that if he who holds the place of a prince do govern ill, there may be a separation from him without incurring justly the blame of revolt; for that they are things in themselves directly contrary—to leave a bad pope, and forsake the church; a wicked king, and the kingdom. To return to those of Libna, they seem to have followed this before-remembered expedient; for after the re-establishment of the service of God they presently became again the subjects of king Ezekias. And if this distinction be allowed place, when a pope encroaches on the rights of any prince, which, notwithstanding in some cases acknowledges him for his sovereign, is it not much more allowable, if a prince who is a vassal in that respect, endeavors to assure and appropriate to himself the rights of God? Let us conclude, then, to end this discourse, that all the people by the authority of those, into whose hands they have committed their power, or divers of them, may, and ought to reprove and repress a prince who commands things against God. In like manner, that all, or at the least, the principals of provinces or towns, under the authority of the chief magistrates, established first by God, and secondly by the prince, may according to law and reason, hinder the entrance of idolatry within the enclosure of their walls, and maintain their true religion; yea, further, they may extend the confines of the church, which is but one, and in failing hereof, if they have means to do it, they justly incur the penalty of high treason against the Divine Majesty.
Whether private men may resist by arms
It remains now that we speak of particulars who are private persons. First, particulars or private persons are not bound to take up arms against the prince who would compel them to become idolaters. The covenant between God and all the people who promise to be the people of God, does not in any sort bind them to that; for as that which belongs to the whole universal body is in no sort proper to particulars, so, in like manner, that which the body owes and is bound to perform cannot by any sensible reason be required of particular persons, neither does their duty anything oblige them to it; for everyone is bound to serve God in that proper vocation to which he is called. Now private persons, they have no power; they have no public command, nor any calling to unsheathe the sword of authority; and therefore as God has not put the sword into the hands of private men, so does He not require in any sort that they should strike with it. It is said to them, “put up thy sword into thy scabbard.” On the contrary the apostles say of magistrates, they carry not the sword in vain. If particular men draw it forth, they make themselves delinquents. If magistrates be slow and negligent to use it when just occasion is offered, they are likewise justly blamable of negligence in performing their duties, and equally guilty with the former.
But you will say unto me, has not God made a covenant, as well with particular persons as with the generality, with the least as well as the highest? To what purpose was circumcision and baptism ordained? What means that frequent repetition of the covenant, in so many passages of Holy Writ? All this is true, but the consideration hereof is diverse in their several kinds. For as all the subjects of a good and faithful prince, of what degree soever they be, are bound to obey him; but some of them, notwithstanding, have their particular duty, as magistrates must hold others in obedience; in like manner all men are bound to serve God, but some are placed in a higher rank, have received greater authority, insomuch as they are accountable for the offenses of others, if they attend not the charges of the commonalty carefully.
The kings, the commonalties of the people, the magistrates into whose hands the whole body of the commonwealth has committed the sword of authority, must and ought to take care that the church be maintained and preserved; particulars ought only to look that they render themselves members of this church. Kings and popular estates are bound to hinder the pollution or ruin of the temple of God, and ought to free and defend it from all corruption within, and all injury from without. Private men must take order, that their bodies, the temples of God, be pure, that they may be fit receptacles for the Holy Ghost to dwell in them. If any man defile the temple of God, saith the apostle, him shall God destroy, for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are; to the former He gives the sword which they bear with authority, to the other He recommends the sword of the Spirit only, to wit, the word of God, wherewith Saint Paul arms all Christians against the assaults of the devil.
What shall then private men do, if the king will constrain them to serve idols? If the magistrates into whose hands the people have consigned their authority, or if the magistrates of the place, where these particulars dwell, do oppose these proceedings of the king, let them in God’s name obey their leaders, and employ all their means (as in the service of God) to aid the holy and commendable enterprises of those who oppose themselves lawfully against his wicked intention. Amongst others they have the examples of the centurions, and men-at-arms, who readily and cheerfully obeyed the princes of Judah, who, stirred up by Jehoidas, purged the church from all profanation, and delivered the kingdom from the tyranny of Athaliah. But if the princes and magistrates approve the course of an outrageous and irreligious prince, or if they do not resist him, we must lend our ears to the counsel of Jesus Christ, to wit, retire ourselves into some other place. We have the example of the faithful mixed among the ten tribes of Israel, who, seeing the true service of God abolished by Jeroboam, and that none made any account of it, they retired themselves into the territories of Judah, where religion remained in her purity.
Let us rather forsake our livelihoods and lives, than God; let us rather be crucified ourselves, than crucify the Lord of Life. Fear not them (with the Lord) who can only kill the body. He Himself, His apostles, and an infinite number of Christian martyrs, have taught us this by their examples; shall it not then be permitted to any private person to resist by arms? What shall we say of Moses, who led Israel away in despite of King Pharaoh? And of Ehud, who, after ten years’ servitude, when Israel might seem to belong by right of prescription to him who held the possession thereof, killed Eglon, the King of Moab, and delivered Israel from the yoke of the Moabites; and of Jehu, who put to death his lord the King Joram, extirpated the race of Ahab, and destroyed the priests of Baal? Were not these particulars? I answer, that if they be considered in themselves, they may well be accounted particular persons, insomuch as they had not any ordinary vocation. But, seeing that we know that they were called extraordinarily, and that God Himself has (if we may so speak) put His sword into their hands, be it far from us to account them particular or private persons, but rather let us esteem them by many degrees, excelling any ordinary magistrates whatsoever.
The calling of Moses is approved by the express word of God, and by most evident miracles; it is said of Ehud that God stirred him up to kill the tyrant and deliver Israel; for Jehu, he was anointed by the commandment of the prophet Elizeus, for to root out the race of Ahab, besides, that the principal men saluted him king, before he executed anything. There may as much be said of all the rest, whose examples are propounded in Holy Writ. But where God Almighty does not speak with His own mouth, nor extraordinarily by His prophets, it is there that we ought to be exceedingly cautious, and to stand upon our guard; for if any, supposing he is inspired by the Holy Ghost, do attribute to himself the before-mentioned authority, I would entreat him to look that he be not puffed up with vain glory, and lest he make not a God to himself of his own fancy, and sacrifice to his own inventions. Let him not then be conceived with vanity, lest instead of fruit he bring forth deluding lies. Let the people also be advised on their parts, lest in desiring to fight under the banner of Jesus Christ, they run not to their own confusion to follow the army of some Galilean Thendas, or of Barcozba, as it happened to the peasants and Anabaptists of Munster, in Germany, in the year 1323. I will not say, notwithstanding, that the same God who, to punish our offenses, has sent us in these our days, both Pharaoh’s and Ahab’s, may not sometimes raise up extraordinary deliverances to His people; certainly His justice and His mercy continue to all ages, firm and immutable.
Now, if these visible miracles appear not as in former times, we may yet at the least fall by the effects that God works miraculously in our hearts, which is when we have our minds free from all ambition, a true and earnest zeal, a right knowledge, and conscience, lest being guided by the spirit of error or ambition, we rather make idols of our own imaginations, than serve and worship the true and living God.
Whether it be lawful to take arms for religion
Furthermore, to take away all scruple, we must necessarily answer those who esteem, or else would that others should think they hold that opinion, that the church ought not to be defended by arms. They say withal that it was not without a great mystery that God did forbid in the law, that the altar should be made or adorned with the help of any tool of iron; in like manner, that at the building of the temple of Solomon, there was not heard any noise of axe or hammer, or other tools of iron; from whence they collect the church which is the lively temple of the Lord, ought not to be reformed by arms; yea, as if the stones of the altar, and of the temple were hewed and taken out of the quarries without any instrument of iron, which the text of the holy scripture doth sufficiently clear.
But if we oppose to this goodly allegory, that which is written in the fourth chapter of the Book of Nehemiah, that one part of the people carried mortar, and another part stood ready with their weapons, that some held in one hand their swords, and with the other carried the materials to the workmen, for the re-building of the temple; to the end, by this means, to prevent their enemies from ruining their work, we say also, that the church is neither advanced nor edified by these material weapons; but by these arms it is warranted and preserved from the violence of the enemies, which will not by any means endure the increase of it. Briefly, there has been an infinite number of good kings and princes (as histories do testify) which by arms have maintained and defended the service of God against pagans. They reply readily to this, that wars in this manner were allowable under the law; but since the time that grace has been offered by Jesus Christ, who would not enter into Jerusalem mounted on a brave horse, but meekly sitting on an ass, this manner of proceeding has had an end. I answer first, that all agree with me in this, that our Savior Christ, during all the time that He conversed in this world, took not on Him the office of a judge or king, but rather of a private person, and a delinquent by imputation of our transgressions, so that it is an allegation besides the purpose, to say that he hath not managed arms.
But I would willingly demand of such exceptionalists, whether that they think by the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh, that magistrates have lost their right in the sword of authority? If they say so, Saint Paul contradicts them, who says that the magistrates carry not the sword in vain, and did not refuse their assistance and power against the violence of those who had conspired his death. And if they consent to the saying of the apostle, to what purpose should the magistrates bear the sword, if it be not to serve God, who has committed it to them, to defend the good and punish the bad? Can they do better service than to preserve the church from the violence of the wicked, and to deliver the flock of Christ from the swords of murderers? I would demand of them, yet, whether they think that all use of arms is forbidden to Christians? If this be their opinion, then would I know of them, wherefore Christ did grant to the centurion his request? Wherefore did He give so excellent a testimony of him? Wherefore does Saint John Baptist command the men-at-arms to content themselves with their pay, and not to use any extortion, and does not rather persuade them to leave their calling? Wherefore did Saint Peter baptize Cornelius the Centurion, who was the first-fruits of the Gentiles? From whence comes it that he did not in any sort whatsoever counsel him to leave his charge?
Now, if to bear arms and to make war be a thing lawful, can there possibly be found any war more just than that which is taken in hand by the command of the superior, for the defense of the church, and the preservation of the faithful? Is there any greater tyranny than that which is exercised over the soul? Can there be imagined a war more commendable than that which suppresses such a tyranny? For the last point, I would willingly know of these men, whether it be absolutely prohibited Christians to make war upon any occasion whatsoever? If they say that it is forbidden them, from whence comes it then that the men-at-arms, captains, and centurions, who had no other employment, but the managing of arms, were always received into the church? Wherefore do the ancient Fathers, and Christian historians make so horrible mention of certain legions composed wholly of Christian soldiers, and amongst others of that of Malta, so renowned for the victory which they obtained, and of that of Thebes, of the which Saint Mauritius was general, who suffered martyrdom, together with all his troops, for the confessing of the name of Jesus Christ? And if it be permitted to make war (as it may be they will confess) to keep the limits and towns of a country, and to repulse an invading enemy, is it not yet a thing much more reasonable to take arms to preserve and defend honest men, to suppress the wicked, and to keep and defend the limits and bounds of the church, which is the name of Jesus Christ? If it were otherwise, to what purpose should Saint John have foretold that the whore of Babylon shall be finally ruined by the ten kings, whom she has bewitched? Furthermore, if we hold a contrary opinion, what shall we say of the wars of Constantine, against Maxentius, and Licimius, celebrated by so many public orations, and approved by the testimony of an infinite number of learned men? What opinion should we hold of the many voyages made by Christian princes against the Turks and Saracens to conquer the Holy Land, who had not, or at the least, ought not to have had, any other end in their designs, but to hinder the enemy from ruining the temple of the land, and to restore the integrity of His service into those countries?
Although then the church be not increased by arms, notwithstanding it may be justly preserved by the means of arms. I say further, that those that die in so holy a war are no less the martyrs of Jesus Christ than their brethren who were put to death for religion; nay, they who die in that war seem to have this disadvantage, that with a free will and knowing sufficiently hazard, into which they cast themselves, notwithstanding, do courageously expose their lives to death and danger, whereas the other do only not refuse death, when it behooveth them to suffer. The Turks strive to advance their opinion by the means of arms, and if they do subdue a country, they presently bring in by force the impieties of Mohamet, who in his Alcoran, hath so recommended arms, as they are not ashamed to say it is the ready way to heaven, yet do the Turks constrain no man in matter of conscience. But he who is a much greater adversary to Christ and true religion, with all those kings whom he has enchanted, opposes fire and faggots, to the light of the gospel, tortures the Word of God, compelling by wracking and torments, as much as in him lies, all men to become idolaters, and finally is not ashamed to advance and maintain their faith and law by perfidious disloyalty, and their traditions by continual treasons.
Now on the contrary, those good princes and magistrates are said properly to defend themselves, who environ and fortify by all their means and industry the vine of Christ, already planted, to be planted in places where it has not yet been, lest the wild boar of the forest should spoil or devour it. They do this (I say) in covering with their buckler, and defending with their sword, those who by the preaching of the gospel have been converted to true religion, and in fortifying with their best ability, by ravelins, ditches, and rampers the temple of God built with lively stones, until it have attained the full height, in despite of all the furious assaults of the enemies thereof. We have lengthened out this discourse thus far, to the end we might take away all scruple concerning this question. Set, then, the estates, and all the officers of a kingdom, or the greatest part of them, every one established in authority by the people; know, that if they contain not within his bounds (or at the least, employ not the utmost of their endeavors thereto) a king who seeks to corrupt the law of God, or hinders the reestablishment thereof, that they offend grievously against the Lord, with whom they have contracted covenants upon those conditions. Those of a town, or of a province, making a portion of a kingdom, let them know also, that they draw on themselves the judgment of God if they drive not impiety out of their walls and confines if the king seek to bring it in, or if they be wanting to preserve, by all means, the pure doctrine of the Gospel, although for the defense thereof, they suffer for a time banishment, or any other misery. Finally, more private men must be all advertised, that nothing can excuse them, if they obey any in that which offends God, and that yet they have no right nor warrant, neither may in any sort by their private authority take arms, if it appear not most evidently, that they have extraordinary vocation thereunto, all which our discourse will suppose we have confirmed by pregnant testimonies drawn from Holy Writ.
End of Second Question