Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of Robert Barclay > Catechism and Confession of Faith > Chapter 13


Concerning Magistracy.

Question. What is the Duty of a Magistrate?

A. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me; he that Ruleth over Men must be Just, Ruling in the Fear of God [2 Sam. 23:3].

Q. What do the Scriptures speak of the Duty of such as are under Authority?

A. Let every Soul be Subject to the Higher Powers; for there is no Power but of God: The Powers that be, are ordained of God: Whosoever therefore resists the Power, resists the Ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves Damnation: For Rulers are not a Terror to good Works, but to the Evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the Power? Do that which is Good, and thou shalt have praise of the same; for he is the Minister of God to thee for Good: But, if thou do that which is Evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the Sword in vain: for he is the Minister of God; a Revenger to execute Wrath upon him that doth Evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for Wrath, but also for Conscience sake [Rom. 13:1-5].

Submit your selves to every Ordinance of Man for the Lord's sake, whether it be to the King as Supream; or unto Governours, as unto them that are sent by him, for the Punishment of Evil-Doers, and for the Praise of them that do well; for so is the Will of God, that with Well-doing ye may put to silence the Ignorance of foolish Men [1 Pet. 2:13-15].

Q. Ought Tribute to be paid to them?

A. For, for this Cause pay we Tribute also; for they are God's Ministers, attending continually upon this very thing: Render therefore to all their Dues, Tribute to whom Tribute is due, Custom to whom Custom, Fear to whom Fear, Honour to whom Honour [Rom. 13:6-7].

Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's [Matt. 22:21].

Q. Are we obliged to obey Magistrates in such things, as we are perswaded in our Minds are contrary to the Commands of Christ?

A. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all, nor teach in the Name of Jesus: but Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God, to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye; for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard [Acts 4:18-20].

And when they had brought them, they set them before the Council, and the High-Priest asked them, saying, Did not we straightly command you, that ye should not teach in this Name? And behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your Doctorine, and intend to bring this Man's Blood upon us: Then Peter and the other Apostles answer'd, and said, We ought to obey God rather than Men [Acts 5:27-29].

Q. What ought to be the Magistrates Behaviour in such cases according to the Counsel of wise Gamaliel?

A. Then stood there up one in the Council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a Doctor of Law, had in Reputation among the People, and commanded to put the Apostles forth a little space, and said unto them, Ye Men of Israel, take heed to your selves, what ye intend to do, as touching these men: And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone; for if this Counsel or this Work be of men, it will come to nought; but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it, lest happily ye be found even to fight against God [Acts 5:34-35,38-39].

Q. What Command giveth Christ to his People under the Gospel, in relation to this matter? How doth he hold forth their Duty under the Parable of the Tares?

A. So the Servants of the Houshold came, and said unto him, Sir, didst thou not sow Good Seed in thy Field? from whence then hath it Tares? He said unto them, An Enemy hath done this. The Servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay, lest while ye gather up the Tares, ye root up also the Wheat with them [Matt. 13:27-29].

Q. Doth he explain these Tares of the Wicked, whom the Godly must not take upon them to cut off, lest through Mistake they hurt the Good; but leave it to God, to do it by his Angels?

A. The Field is the World; the good Seed are the Children of the Kingdom; but the Tares are the Children of the Wicked One; the Enemy that sowed them is the Devil; the Harvest is the End of the World; and the Reapers are the Angels: As therefore the Tares are gathered and burnt in the Fire, so shall it be in the end of this World; the Son of Man shall send forth his Angels, and they shall gather out of his Kingdom all things that offend, and them which do Iniquity [Matt. 13:38-41].

< previous | contents | next >