Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.—Rom. 8.33

[The Extraordinary Executing of Judgment by Private Persons Vindicated, by Alexander Shields.]


The suffering of some,
upon the account of extraordinary executing of Judgment
upon notorious Incendiaries & murderous public Enemies,
by private Persons in the circumstances wherein they were stated

SURELY (saith Solomon) oppression maketh a wise man mad, as on the other hand, a gift destroyeth the heart. Which whensoever there is a concurrence and verification of both together, makes it very incident, and noways to be admired, that either some actions of the oppressed be censurable; or, that there be found many to censure them, either out of ignorance or prejudice, at a far off glance, which a nearer or narrower inspection of circumstances, through a prospect of charity, would not so readily condemn. When the oppression of tyrants comes to such a height and pinch of extremity, that it not only threatens a community with dissolution, and reduces a people to such a paroxism of desperation and consternation (in respect of human deliberation bringing them to their wits end) that either they must succumb as slaves, and mancipate consciences, persons, liberties, {717} properties, and all they are or have, to the lust of raging tyrants and their revenging emissaries; or surrender themselves, and their posterity, and, which is dearer, the interest of religion, to be destroyed: then it is no wonder, that they be sometimes necessitated in such an extremity, to apply extreme remedies to extreme evils, and forced to fall upon such expedients to prevent their utter extermination, as at other times common order, and ordinary justice would make extravagant. Yea it is no marvel, though they fall into several real extravagancies, which are not to be justified or extenuated; but rather it is to be acknowledged, as a miracle of the Lord’s mercy, that in such a case they are restrained from more scandalous excesses of that nature. Yet even then, such as live at ease, free from oppression who are blinded with prejudice at the oppressed, and bribed with the indulgence and lenity of the oppressors towards themselves, will look upon these actions as transports of madness, and effects of extravagant zeal, while they weigh them only in the scales of ordinary justice, and do not ponderate them in the balance of necessitated virtue; nor perpend the circumstances which made those extraordinary acts of judgment, which materially are lawful at all times to be executed by some, to be then necessary acts of justice to be inflicted by them in such a case. But if either the oppressors themselves, or such who are blinded and bribed with their gifts, and killed with their kindness, not only into an omission of concurring, but into a condemning of such extraordinary attempts of taking off those destroyers; or, if onlookers at a distance, would seriously consider, and ingeniously declare their opinion, in a particular application of the case to themselves, what they would do in such circumstances: I doubt not, but as charity should oblige them to be sparing of their censure, in a case whereof they have no experience; so justice, in resolving this point for themselves, would constrain them to justify such extraordinary {718} necessitated practices for self-preservation, in preventing punishing, by destroying their destroyers, and move the rather to admire their patience, who have suffered so much and so long those beasts of prey to devour them, than to censure their precipitancies, in being constrained to endeavour to deliver themselves at last from, and put an end to their cruelty who did most annoy them. "Yea, (as Naphtali says very well) it were impossible that rational men, after the feeling of so sore grievances, should still couch under the burden, and submit themselves to the yoke of such vile apostate upstarts and bloody villains, and not rather acquit themselves like men, by pulling off these vizards, under which they mask their villanies and cloak their violence; and plucking them out of that sanctuary of loyalty, and refuge of authority, which they do not more pretend than profane by all their horrid rebellions against God, and cruel murders executed upon the Lord’s people, to the effect that in the righteous and deserved punishment of these wicked men, both the sin of the land might be sifted, and the fierce anger of the Lord averted," Naph. first edit. page. 134. Nevertheless such lawful and, (as one would think) laudable attempts, for cutting off such monsters of nature, beasts of prey, burdens to the earth, as well as enemies to the commonwealth, are not only condemned as murders and horrid assassinations, but criminally and capitally punished as such. And upon this account, the suffering of such, as have left a conviction upon the consciences of all that knew them, of their honesty, integrity, soundness in the principles, and seriousness of the practice of religion, have been several singular, and signally severe, and owned of the Lord, to the admiration of all spectators; some being cruelly tortured and executed to the death, for essaying such execution of judgment, as Mr. Mitchel; others for accomplishing it, as Mr. Hackston of Rathillet, {719} and others, who avowed their accession to the cutting off that arch-traitor Sharp, prelate of St. Andrews; and others, for not condemning that and like acts of justice, though they were as innocent of the facts as the child unborn.

The foregoing historical representation of the matters of fact, doth clear the circumstances of the actions: which if ever any of that nature performed by private men without public authority, could be justified, will at least demur the condemning of them. For, the men, or rather monsters, thus removed, had not only been perjured apostates from, and conjured enemies against God, in a conspiracy with the devil, to destroy the reformation, and the remnant that professed it, affronted blasphemers, perfidious betrayers of the country, and enemies to the commonwealth, malignant incendiaries, and habitual murderers of many of the Lord’s people, who, for many notorious crimes, had forfeited their lives to justice; but were insolently prosecuting their murdering designs informing the council, and instigating them against innocent people to destroy them utterly, procuring from them bloody orders to spare none, but cut off all who might fall into their hands, and vigorously and vigilantly with all violence pursuing their murdering mandates, both in their own persons, and by villains, whom they hounded out as intelligencers to get, and to give notice where any of those persons might be detected, whom they avowed, and avowed a design to destroy, when in the heat and height of their rage they were cut off. The actors were noways subject to them, nor any other way related, than declared and independent enemies are to one another, having renounced all relation to them and their masters, as magistrates and their superiors; and were in no terms of peace with them, but maintaining an hostile opposition and carrying, without cessation, arms to resist them; and when they got that advantage over them, that these enemies were seeking against them, they declared {720} solemnly to them, and died, declaring it to the world, that they were not moved out of private revenge for personal injuries they had done against themselves; but being touched with the zeal of God, love to their country, respect to justice trampled upon by tyrants, and for saving themselves, rescuing their brethren, and preventing their murdering them, because there were none that would or could execute justice upon the legally: therefore they were forced to put forth their hands against them as enemies, with whose preservation their own could not consist. Their circumstances were such, that they were reduced to the greatest of extremities, precluding, all other human possibility of preserving themselves and their brethren from destruction intended, and declaredly resolved, and restlessly sought and prosecuted by these murderers, being persecuted to the death by them, daily chased, hunted, way-laid, turned out of their own habitations, intercommuned, discharged and denied all harbour in any house, under the hazard of the same pains that themselves were liable to, which was death by the present law and so forced to hide in caves and dens; out of which they durst not come forth, if it were but to seek bread for themselves, without imminent danger of their lives; the country raising the hue and cry after them, whensoever they were seen, whereby many were killed as soon as they were apprehended: hence they could neither escape in the land, nor by flight out of the land, passages by sea and land being stopt, and none suffered to go any where, without strict examination what they were, which was impossible for them to elude: and many other specialities of misery and danger were ingredients in their circumstances, that no words can represent to them that are altogether strangers to them. Wherefore, in such a strait and pinch of perplexity, when they could not otherwise escape the fury of the firebrands, nor demur and deter the rest of them from an uncontrouled pursuit after the lives {721} of innocents, nor otherwise avert the wrath of God against the land for the impunity of such vermin; and seeing there was no access to address themselves to magistrates, who by office are obliged to bring such villains to condign punishment; and none were found in public authority, but such as patronized and authorized them; whom in conscience they could not acknowledge, and in prudence durst not make application to them for fear of their lives; what could they do? what was left them to deliberate, but to fall upon this extraordinary course, wherein if they have stumbled into some extravagancies, as to the manner, who can think it strange, considering the case? But as that is not the debate; so as for such acts of vengeance as are peccant [criminal] in the matter, and were not circumstantiate, as above rehearsed, being disowned in their public declarations, and the actors excluded from their communion, for whom I plead; it were iniquous to impute the scandal of them to that suffering people. It is only the so circumstantiate, necessitated, extraordinary execution of judgment, upon notoriously gross and grassant incendiaries, tyrants, and terrible murdering enemies, where there is no living for them, that I vindicate. And though the handling of this tender and quick scented subject may seem odious to some, and my discourse upon it is pregnant with an oblique design to obviate such unmerited surmises, I must say, it is only the wiping off of such reproaches as reflect on religion; the vindication of preterite extraordinary practices of this nature; the investigation of present duty with respect to future emergencies; and the restraining all extravagancies incident on this Head, that I intend. However this may be exploded by this generation, as odious and uncouth doctrines; yet, in former periods of this church, it has been maintained with courage, and asserted with confidence. How the ancient Scots, even after they received the Christian faith, served their tyrants and oppressors, how in the beginning of {722} the reformation, the killing of the cardinal, and of David Rizio, were and are generally to this day justified, and what was the judgment and pleading of our reformers for practicing this principle against idolaters, &c. needs not be here repeated. Mr. Knox’s judgment in particular is before declared, and will be further discovered, if we consider how he resented his slackness, in putting people to execute judgment in these words, insert in second part of the cloud of witnesses, p.60. "For God (said he) had not only given me knowledge, and a tongue to make known the impiety of the idol, but had given me credit with many, who would have put in execution God’s judgments, if I would only have consented thereto: but so careful was I of the common tranquility, and loath was I to offend some, that in secret conference with zealous men, I travailed rather to slacken the fervency God had kindled in them, than to animate and encourage them to put their hands to God’s work; wherein I acknowledge myself to have done most wickedly, and from the bottom of my heart I do ask God pardon, that I did not what in me lay to have suppressed that idol from the beginning." But the proceeding historical representation doth abundantly demonstrate this is no novelty, to assert, that when the ruin of the country, suppression of religion, destruction of the remnant professing and suffering for it, and the wrath of God is threatened in, and for the impunity of idolaters and murderers, that by the law of God and man should die the death; and supposing always such as are in public office not only decline their duty, but encourage those destroyers, yea authorize them themselves, we may not only maintain defensive resistance according to our capacity, but endeavour also vindictive and punitive force in executing judgment upon them in cases of necessity, as before circumstantiate. And I am the more confident to assert it, that what I say cannot be condemned, till first what our reformers {723} have proven be confuted. However, to endeavour to make it somewhat clear, I shall premit some assertions, to clear the state of the question; and then give some reasons for it, when clearly stated.

First, It will be needful for clearing our way, to shew what length we may warrantably go in this matter of executing judgment, in our private capacity, in extraordinary cases of necessity, by setting down some propositions negative and positive, signifying what we disown, and what we own in this point.

1. What we disown, may appear in these assertions, 1. No necessity nor circumstance supposable whatsoever, can justify the murder of the righteous or innocent, or vindicate the unlawful taking away of their lives directly, or indirectly, immediately, or mediately, which in thought as well as deed we must abhor, as a horrid breach of the sixth command. The guilt thereof may be incurred several ways; as by killing them immediately, as Cain did his brother Able; or commanded them to be killed, as Saul commanded Doeg to kill the Lord’s priests; or contriving their murder, as David did Uriah’s, and Jezabel Naboth’s; or counselling thereunto, as the people advised the princes to the murder of Jeremiah, and all that cried crucify Jesus were murders of Christ; or by procuring it, as Haman was guilty of the intended murder of the Jews; or concurring therein, as Joab was guilty of Uriah’s death as well as David, and Judas of Christ’s by betraying him; or by the patrociny thereof, defending and sparing the murderers when called, by office, to punish them, as David was guilty in not punishing Joab, Ahab in patronizing the murder of Naboth; or by consenting thereunto, as Saul consented to the death of Stephen; or by knowing and permitting, and conniving at it, as is condemned, Prov. 24.11,12. Whether this be done under colour of law, as Pilate murdered our Lord, Herod killed James; or without all colour, by absolute power, {724} Herod the Ascalonite murdered the infants; or whether it be done by purpose, as Joab murdered Abner and Amasa; or without previous purpose yet with knowledge of the action in the perpetrating of it, as men may do in passion, when provoked beside their purpose, or in tumult, without intending it beforehand; yet that is murder; Barrabas committed murder in the insurrection. For, as for casual killing, contrary to intention, without knowledge, that’s no breach of the command. And, whatever may be said of necessitated delivering up the innocent, pursued by a potent enemy, to deliver the city from his fury; or of preferring our own life to our innocent neighbour, in a case when both can not be preserved, and by preserving the one lawfully, the other happens to lose his life; I do not meddle with these cases. But since this is taken for granted by casuists [those who study & resolve cases of conscience], I infer, If it be lawful, that the innocent man die in case of necessity, that others may be preserved; then much more is it lawful, that the nocent [mischievous], who are guilty of murdering the righteous all these ways above specified, and actually prosecuting their murdering designs by these methods, should rather be made to die, than the righteous be destroyed. But of this sort of murder, taking away the life of the righteous, none hath the impudence to accuse that reproached people.

2. Though a man kill an innocent unwittingly and willingly, besides his knowledge and against his will; yet he may be guilty of sinful homicide, if he was obliged to know that he was in hazard of it, and neglected to consider, lest a man might be killed by what he was doing: as if a man should shoot at random, when he doth not know but some may be killed thereby; or if one were hewing with an ax, which he knew or might have known to be loose, and the head not well fastened to the helve, did not advertise those about him of it; if by flying off it happen to kill any person, he were not innocent, but if he knew not without any inadvertency, then he were guiltless, Deut. 19.5. See Durham on the 6th Commandment. So if a {725} man built a house without battlements, he should bring blood upon his house, if any man fell from thence, Deut. 22.8. But of this the question is not.

3. Though a person be not altogether innocent, nor to be reckoned among the righteous; but suppose him wicked and profane, and engaged in an evil course, dishonourable to God, prejudicial to the church and kingdom, and very injurious to us; yet it may be murder to kill him, if he be not guilty of crimes that deserve death by the law of God: for the life of man is not subject to the arbitrament of any, but his who is the author of life and death; it is necessary to all to obey the law, Thou shalt not kill, without exception, but such killing as is approven by the author of the law, as saith, Ames. De Conscientia, cap. 31. quest. 2. Hence this people so much reproached with extravagant actions, do abundantly clear themselves of that imputation of being of the mind to kill all that differ from them, (which was the impudent forgery of the father of lies,) in their Informatory Vindication, Head 3. "We positively disown (say they) as horrid murder, the killing of any because of a different persuasion or opinion from us, albeit some have invidiously cast this odious calumny upon us," And it is clear, they that took the oath of abjuration swore a lie, when they abjured the Apologetical Declaration, in so far as it is asserted it was lawful to kill all employed in the king’s service, when it asserted no such thing, as is shewed above Head 3. To think so much, let be to declare it, far more to practice such a thing against all that served the king, or any merely, because they served him, or because they are in a wicked course, or because they have oppressed us, were abominable; for these things simply do not make men guilty of death, to be punished capitally by men according to the law of God. But when they are stated in such opposition to us, and serve the tyrant’s murdering mandates by all those {726} ways above specified; then we may by the law of God and nature and nations, destroy, slay, and cause to perish, and avenge ourselves on them that would assault us, and are seeking our destruction; as it was lawful for the Jews to do with Haman’s emissaries, Esth. 8.11,13. and 9.1,2,5. This charge then cannot reach the case.

4. Though murderers, and such as are guilty of death by the law of God, must be punished by death; for, "he that sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed," yet it may be murder for a man to kill another, because he thought him so criminal, and because he thought it his duty, being moved by pretended enthusiastical impulse, in imitation of the extraordinary actions of such as were really moved by the Spirit of God. As when James and John would have commanded fire to come down to consume the Samaritans, the Lord rebuked them, saying, "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of, for the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them," Luke 9.54-56. Such impulses had need to be well examined, for ordinarily they will be found not consistent with a gospel spirit, which is always averse from acts of cruelty. Blind zeal sometimes may incite men to fearful work: yea the persecutors have often most of that spirit, as our Lord foretells, "The time cometh, that whosoever killeth you shall think that he doth God service," John 16.2. Paul in his pharisaical zeal, breathed out slaughter against the disciples. And Satan can drive men under several colours, to act such things, as he did the Boors in Germany, and John of Leyden and his followers, whose practices are deservedly detested by all that have any spark of Christianity or humanity: for if this were espoused as a principle, there would be no security for men’s lives. But hence it cannot be concluded, that God may not animate some to some rare enterprizes, for the cutting off of tyrants and their bloody emissaries, incendiaries, destroyers of innocent people, and putting {727} an end to, and stopping the career of their murders, in a time of real extreme necessity, the matter of the action being unquestionably lawful, their ends and intentions really good and commendable, there being also a deficiency of others to do the work, and themselves in some probable capacity for it. See Jus Popul. cap. 20, pag. 410. Neither can it be denied, but true zeal may sometimes incite people to such exploits for the preservation of religion and liberty, their own lives and brethren, all like to be destroyed by the impunity of beasts of prey. This will be found very consistent with the gospel spirit: and though this principle be asserted, and also put in practice; all persons, notwithstanding thereof would have sufficient security for their lives, except such as have really forfeited their lives by all law of God and man. Those that are led by impulses, may pretend the imitation of extraordinary examples, and abuse them; yet hence it will not follow, that in no case these extraordinary examples may be imitated. Shall the examples of good magistrates, executing justice on idolaters and murderers, be altogether unimitable, because tyrants abuse them in persecuting the innocent? If this arguing were good, it would make all virtuous actions in the world unimitable; for these may be abused by pretenders. See Jus Popul. ubi supra, pag. 412. But it cannot be charged upon the suffers upon this head, that they had nothing to give as the reasons of their actions, but pretexts of enthusiasms.

5. Though a man be really so criminal, as that he deserves death by the law of God and man; yet it may be murder to kill him, if we do not certainly know it, and can prove it, and convict him of it upon trial: for no man must be killed not indicted, or the cause unknown. Thus even magistrates may murder murderers, when they proceed against them without probation or cognition according to law, far more private persons. Thus the Abiezrites would have murdered {728} Gideon, not only unjustly, for his duty of throwing down the altar of Baal, but illegally; because they would have had him brought out that he might die without any further trial, Judg. 4.29,30. So likewise the Jews that banded and bound themselves under a curse to kill Paul before he was tried, would have murdered him, not only unjustly for his duty, but illegally before he was tried, Acts 23.12. But this does not condemn the actions of those sufferers, in maintaining the necessary execution of judgment, upon persons who are notorious murderers, yea, professing a trade and prosecuting habitually a tract of continued murdering the people of the Lord.

6. Though it should be certainly known, and sufficiently proven that a man is a murderer, &c. yet it were murder for an inferior, under a relation of subjection to him, to kill him, as long as that subjection were acknowledged; for, whensoever the common and mutual right or relation, either natural, moral, civil, or religious, to the prejudice or scandal of the church, or state, or particular persons, is broken by killing any person, that is murder, though the person killed deserved to die. As if a subject should kill an acknowledged king, a son by nature or in law should kill his natural or legal father, a servant should kill his master, breaking these relations, while their right and tie were acknowledged, (as some of them must still be acknowledged as long as the correlates continue in being, to wit, that of a father is not broken by his becoming a murderer) and to the danger, detriment, and scandal of the church and state; that were properly assassination: for assassins are they, who being subject to others, either out of their own head, for their own ends, or by command of their superiors, kill their superiors, or such as they command them to kill, as Alstedius describes them, Theol. Cas. cap. 18, de homicid. reg. 55. Therefore David would not kill Saul, because he acknowledged him to be the Lord’s anointed, to whom he was under a relation of {729} subjection, and because he was his master and father in law, and because it would have tended to the hurt of the kingdom, and involved it in combustions and contentions about the succession, and prejudiced his own right, as well as to the scandal of the people of God, though Saul deserved otherwise to be capitally punished. So Ishbosheth was killed by Baanah and Rechab, 2 Sam. 4.7. so Jozachar and Jehozabad, who killed Joash, 2 Kings 12.21, were punished as murderers, chap. 14.6, because they were his servants, and did assassinate him to whom they were subject: so the servants of Amon were punished by the people as conspirators against their king and master, 2 Kings 21.23,24, though Amon deserved to have been punished as well as Amaziah was. Hence generally it is observed by some; that though right be given to equals or superiors, to bring their nearest relations to condign punishment, when they turn enticers to idolatry, Deut. 13.6. Yet no right or law, upon any cause or occasion whatsoever, is given to inferiors, as children, &c. to punish their fathers. See Pool. Synop. Critic. in locum. However it be, this cannot condemn the taking off of notorious murderers, by the hand of such as were no way subject nor related to them, but as enemies, who, in extreme necessity, executed righteous judgment upon them, without prejudice of the true, necessary, and chief good of the church and commonwealth, or of any particular person’s just right and security, as Naphtali qualifies it, pag. 12,23. first edition.

7. Though the matter of the action were just, and the murderer such a person as we might punish without any breach of relative obligations, or duties; yet the manner may aggravate it to some degree of murder; if it be done secretly, when it may be execute publicly, or suddenly and precipitantly, when it may be done deliberately, without rushing upon such an action, or hurrying the murderer to eternity; as this also might have had some weight with David not to {730} murder Saul secretly and suddenly in the cave or when he was sleeping; So Ishbosheth, and Joash, and Amon were murdered; or if it be done subtilly, when it may be performed in more plain and fair dealing; or treacherously, under color of friendship; or cruelly without regard to humanity; and especially when the actors are at peace with the person, whose blood they shed, as Joab shed the blood of war in peace, 1 Kings 2.5, in killing Abner and Amasa so craftily and cruelly; and Absalom made his servants assassinate Amnon, 2 Sam. 13.28,29. But this cannot be charged upon them who executed righteous judgment, as publicly, deliberately, and calmly, as the extraordinary exigence of pressing necessity, in extremity of danger, could allow, upon notorious murderers, with whom they were in open and avowed terms of hostility.

8. Though the manner also be inculpable; yet if the principle and motive of killing, even those that deserve to die, be out of malice, hatred, rage, or revenge, for private or personal injuries, it is murder. For the affection and intention doth make one and the same action of taking away the life, homicide or no homicide: Lex Rex saith, Quest. 31, Pag 338, If a man out of hatred deliberately take away another man’s life, he is in so far a murderer, but if that same man had taken away the other’s life, by the flying off of his axe head, he neither hating him before, nor intending to hurt him, he is no murderer by God’s express law, allowing cities of refuge for the one, and not for the other, Deut. 4.42. Deut. 19.4, &c. private revenge is indignity to God, whose it is to take revenge, Deut. 32.35. Rom. 12.19, "Dearly beloved avenge not yourselves for vengeance is the Lord’s." For which cause Jacob curses Simeon and Levi their murder of the Shechemites; for in their anger they slew a man, Gen. 49.6,7. So David would not put forth his hand against Saul, for his own private and personal quarrel. So {731} Joab killed Abner, and Absalom Amnon. But this does not make the execution of judgment, out of zeal for God, respect to righteousness, love to the nation’s interest, and care to preserve the persecuted people of God from imminent destruction, upon public enemies, incendiaries, that are trampling upon all these precious interests, and threatening the utter ruin of them, and in a particular manner their destruction who thus prevent them.

9. Though the motive or cause were upon a public account, yet it may be murder to have a wrong end in it; as either to intend simply the destruction of the person on whom they execute judgment, as the end to which all their action is directed, or to make their own advantage or honour the end of the action. Thus David would not kill Saul, because it might have been thought he did it to obtain the kingdom, of which he was rightful successor; and deservedly he punished the Amalekite, that brought news of his killing Saul; and Baanah and Rechab, for their killing Ishbosheth, thinking thereby to advance themselves at David’s court. So also Joab murdered Amasa to secure himself in the general’s place. And Jehu, though upon the matter he executed righteous judgment, his end was only himself, it is condemned as murder. But when the execution of righteous judgment is both formally intended by actors, and natively and really doth conduce to the glory of God, the preservation of the remnant threatened to be destroyed by these murderers, the suppressing of impiety, doing of justice, turning away wrath and removing of present, and preventing of future judgments, then it may be duty. Naphtali, Pag. 23. first edition.

10. Though the end also were not culpable; yet it may be murder to kill criminals by transgressing the sphere of our vocation, and usurping upon the magistrate’s sword: for he, by office, is a revenger, to execute wrath upon him that doth evil, Rom. 13.4, none must make use of the sword of vindictive justice, {732} but he to whom the Lord giveth it; therefore they that came to take Christ are condemned and threatened for this, Matth. 26.52, "All they that take the sword, shall perish with the sword." The God of order hath assigned to every man his station and calling, within the bounds whereof he should keep, without transgressing by defect or excess, let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called, 1 Cor. 7.20, and study to be quiet and do his own business, 1 Thess. 4.11. Therefore David would not kill Saul, because he would have done it beside his calling. And therefore the killing of Joash and Amon was murder, because the assassins did transgress their vocation, but when notorious incendiaries do not only transgress their vocation, but the limits of human society, and turn open enemies to God and man, destroying the innocent, making havoc of the Lord’s heritage, and vaunting of their villainies, and boasting of their wickedness, and thereby bringing wrath upon the land if such effronteries of insolence should pass unpunished, and when there is no magistrate to do that work of justice, but all in that place are art and part with them, patrons and defenders of them; yea, no magistrate that can be acknowledged as a minister of God to be applied unto; in that case, it is not a transgression of our vocation, nor an usurpation upon the magistrates, where there is none, to endeavour to avert wrath, by executing righteous judgment. Otherwise, if for fear, or suspicion of the accidental hazard of private men’s usurping the office, or doing of the duty of public persons, every virtuous action which may be abused, shall be utterly neglected, impiety shall quickly gain universal empire, to the extermination of all goodness, Naphtali, pag. 24. first edition. To clear this, it must be considered, that a man’s calling is twofold; his particular calling, whereunto in the ordinary course of things he is regularly confined: and his general calling, not circumscribed by particular rules {733} which, from the common obligation of the end for which all callings are institute, in the clear exigence of an extraordinary emergent, according to the general rules of righteousness, bind to an agreeable practice; therefore circumstances may sometimes so diversify actions, that what in the ordinary and undisturbed state of things would be accounted an excess of our particular calling, and an usurpation, in an extraordinary occurrence may become a necessary duty of our general calling.

11. Though it were no usurpation beyond our calling; yet it may be murder, to kill any without the call from God in a case of necessity, either in the immediate defence of life, or though it be in the remote when the hazard is unavoidable. Everything must have God’s call in its season to make it duty, so also the time of killing, Eccles. 3.3. For want of this David would not kill Saul. Lex Rex saith excellently to this, quest. 31, pag. 329,330 [page 161, in modern reprint editions], "David might have killed Saul when he was sleeping, and when he cut off the lap of his garment, but it was unlawful for him to kill the Lord’s anointed, as it is unlawful to kill a man because he is the image of God, Gen. 9.6, except in case of necessity,——David having Saul in his hand, was in a remote posture of defence, the unjust invasion then was not actual, nor unavoidable, nor a necessary mean in human prudence for self preservation; for king Saul was not in actual pursuit of the whole princes, elders, community of Israel; Saul did but seek the life of one man David, and that not for religion, or a national pretended offence, and therefore he could not, in conscience, put hands on the Lord’s anointed; but if Saul had actually invaded David for his life, David might, in that case, make use of Goliah’s sword, (for he took not the weapon as a cypher to boast Saul) and rather kill than be killed."—Thus he. By a call here, we do not mean an express or immediate call from God, such as the prophets might {734} have to their extraordinary executions of judgments, as Samuel and Elijah had to kill Agag and Baal’s prophets; but either the allowance of man, then there is no question about it; or if that cannot be had, as in the case circumstantiate it cannot, then the providential and moral call of extreme necessity, for preservation of our lives, and preventing the murder of our brethren, may warrant an extraordinary executing of righteous judgment upon murderers. Men may have a call to a necessary duty, neither every way mediate nor immediate, as the call of running together to quench a fire in a city, when magistrates through wickedness or negligence, will not, or do not, call people forth unto that work; they have not man’s call, nor an immediate call from heaven, yet they have a lawful call from God; So they do not intrude upon the magistrates office, nor want they a call to this execution of judgment, who did materially that work for that exigent which magistrates, by office, were bound to do, being called thereto by God, by nature, and the call of inevitable necessity, which knoweth no human law, and to which some divine positive laws will cede. Jus populi. chap. 20. pag. 423.

12. Though this be a principle of reason and natural justice, when all the fore-mentioned circumstances are clear, that it is lawful for private persons to execute righteous judgment, upon notorious incendiaries, and murdering public enemies, in cases of necessity; yet it might be a sinful breach of the sixth command, to draw extraordinary examples of it to an ordinary practice in killing all who might be found criminal, and would deserve death by the law, as all that have served under a banner of tyranny and violence, displayed against God and his people, to the ruin of the reformation, wasting of the country, oppression of many honest families, and destruction of many innocent people, are and would be found guilty of murder; as the chief captain would have truly {735} alleged Paul to have been a murderer, if he had been the Egyptian which made an uproar, and led out four thousand men that were murderers, Acts 21.58. As for the vulgar and ordinary sort of those vermin of varlets, it is of no advantage for oppressed people to foul their fingers upon them, when their slaughter would not put a stop to, but rather increase the destruction of the people of God; and were unlawful to prevent and anticipate the due and legal execution of justice, where there is any prospect or expectation of its running in its right channel. But for the chief and principal ring leaders, and common public and habitual incendiaries, and masters of the trade of murdering the Lord’s people, when there is no other way of being rid of their rage, and preserving ourselves, and preventing the destruction of our brethren, we may in that case of necessity make public examples of them, that may be most answerable to the rules of the ordinary procedure of justice, and in imitation of the heroic actions recorded and justified in the word of God, in the like extraordinary cases; which are imitable, when the matter of their actions is ordinary, that is, neither preternatural nor supernatural though the occasion was singular, just, and necessary, both by divine precept, and as a mean to good and necessary ends. and when there is no other to do the work, nor any prospect of access to justice in its ordinary and orderly course, nor possibility of suspending it till that can be obtained. We need not then any other call than a spirit of holy zeal for God, and for our own and our brethren’s preservation, in that pinch of extremity. We do not hold these extraordinary actions for regular and ordinary precedents, for all times and persons universally; which if people should fancy, and heed more the glory and fame of the action, than the sound and solid rule of the scriptures, they may be tempted and carried to fearful extravagancies. But they may be warrants for private {736} persons in their doing of these things, in an extreme necessity, to which at other times they are not called. And when the Lord, with whom is the residue of the spirit, doth breathe upon his people, more or fewer, to the exciting of more than ordinary zeal, for the execution of justice upon such adversaries, we should rather ascribe glory and praise to him, whose hand is not shortened, but many times chooseth the weak and foolish things of the world to confound the mighty and the wise, than condemn his instruments for doing such things, Naphtali pag. 24,25. prior edit.

All these cases, which are all I think on at present, comprehending all that may any way infer the guilt of murder, I have collected; to the end I may conclude this one argument, and leave it to be considered: If this extraordinary executing of judgment, upon notorious incendiaries and murdering public enemies, by private persons, in the circumstances above declared, cannot be reduced to any case that can infer guilt of murder; then it cannot be condemned, but justified; but this extraordinary executing of judgment, &c. cannot be reduced to any case that can infer the guilt of murder, (as will appear by the induction of all of them:) therefore this extraordinary executing of judgment, &c. cannot be condemned, but justified.

II. In the next place, What we own may be done warrantably, in taking away the life of men without breach of the sixth command, will appear by these propositions and assertions, which will bring the matter to the present circumstantiate case.

1. It is certain, though the command be indefinitely expressed, it doth not prohibit all killing, but only that which is condemned in other explicatory commands. Our Lord Jesus, repeating this command, explains it by expressing it thus, Matth. 19.18,—"Thou shalt not murder." And if any be lawful, it is granted by all, that is, which is unavoidable by the invincible necessity of providence, when {737} a man following his duty doth that which beside and contrary to his intention, and without any previous neglect or oversight in him, proveth the hurt and death of another, in which case he was allowed to flee to the city of refuge by the law of God. Whence if that physical necessity did justify that kind of killing, shall not a moral necessity every way invincibly unavoidable (except we suffer ourselves and our brethren to be destroyed by beasts of prey) vindicate this kind, in an extraordinary extremity, when the murderers are protected under the sconce of pretended authority? In which case the law of God would allow deliberate murderers should be pursued by the avenger of blood, and not to have liberty to flee to these subterfuges and pretexts of authority, (mere tyranny,) but to be taken from the horns of such altars, and be put to death, as Mr. Mitchel says in vindicating his own action, in a letter dated Feb. 1674.

2. It is lawful to take the life of known and convicted murderers by public justice; yea, it is indispensably necessary by the law of God, and no mercy nor pardon of the magistrate may interpose to spare them; for, "Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses.—Ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer:—but he shall surely be put to death," he was not to be admitted to the benefit of any refuge: and the reason is, "Blood defiles the land, and the land cannot be cleaned of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it," Numb. 35.30-33. Hence, if it be so necessary to cleanse the land, then when the magistrate is not only negligent in his duty, but turns a patron and protector of such murderers, and employs them as his emissaries to murder and destroy, it cannot be expected he should cleanse the land, for then he should free it of the burden of himself, and begin with himself: therefore then, there must be more incumbent upon private persons, touched with the zeal of God, than at another time. And as Mr. Knox, {738} in his conference with queen Mary, says, "They that in the fear of God execute judgment, where God hath commanded, offend not God, though kings do it not;" and adduces the example of Samuel killing Agag, Elias killing the prophets of Baal, and of Phinehas killing Zimri and Cozbi.

3. It is lawful for private persons to kill their unjust assaulters, in defending themselves against their violence, and that both in the immediate defence of our life against an immediate assault, in the instant of the assault, and also in a remote defence of ourselves, when that is as necessary as the first; and there is no other way of escaping the destruction intended by murderers, either by flight or by resistance; then it is lawful to preserve ourselves by taking advantages to cut them off.

4. It is lawful in a just war to kill the enemy; yea in the defensive war of private subjects, or a part of the commonwealth, against their oppressing tyrants, as is proven, head 5, Where several of the arguments used to evince that truth will confirm this; as namely, those arguments taken from the people’s power in reformation, and those taken from the hazard of partaking of others sin and judgment: for, if all the magistrates, supreme and subordinate, turn principal patrons and patterns of all abominations, and persecutors and destroyers of the people for not complying with them, then the people are not only under an obligation to resist them; but seeing otherwise they would be liable for their sin, in suffering them thus to trample on religion, and the interests of God as well as their own, in order to turn away the wrath of God, it is incumbent upon them to vindicate religion, and reform the land from these corruptions, in an endeavour to bring those malignant enemies of God, and destroyers of the people, to condign punishment, "That the heads of the people be hanged up before the Lord against the sun, the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from the land," Numb. 25.4. In this case, as Buchanan says of a {739} tyrant, De jure regni, "A lawful war being once undertaken with such an enemy as a tyrant is, every one out of the whole multitude of mankind may assault, with all the calamities of war, a tyrant, who is a public enemy, with whom all good men have a perpetual warfare." And though the war be not always actually prosecute in a hostile manner, yet, as long as peace is not concluded and the war ceased, they that have the just side of the quarrel may take advantages, in removing and taking off, (not every single soldier of the contrary side, for that would contribute nothing to their prevailing in the end) but the principal instruments and promoters of the war, by whose fall the offending side would suffer great loss, and the defending would be great gainers. So Jael killing Sisera, Jabin’s captain-general, is greatly commended. [Judges chapters 4,5.] Now this was the case of the suffers upon this head, as Mr. Mitchel, one of them represents it in his forecited letter, "I being (says he) a soldier, not having laid down my arms, but still upon my own defence, having no other end or quarrel at any man—besides the prosecution of the ends of the covenant, particularly the overthrow of prelates and prelacy; and I being a declared enemy to him (that is Sharp) on that account, and he to me in the like manner, I never found myself obliged to set a centinel at his door for his safety; but as he was always to take his advantage, as it appeareth, so I of him to take any opportunity offered; moreover; we being in no terms of capitulation, but on the contrary, I, by his instigation, being excluded from all grace and favour, thought it my duty to pursue him at all occasions."

5. It is lawful to kill enemies in the rescue of our brethren, when they are keeping them in bondage, and reserving them for a sacrifice to the fury of tyrants, or leading them forth to a slaughter, or in the time of acting their murdering violence upon them: then, to break prisons, beat up garrisons, surprise {740} the murderers, and kill them in the rescue of our innocent brethren, is very lawful, according to that command, Prov. 24.11,12, and the practice of Moses, who seeing one of his brethren suffering wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and slew the Egyptian, Acts 7.24. For that is a certain truth, which Grotius saith in locum. "the law of nature gives a right to an innocent, and to the defender of an innocent person, against the guilty offender." Hence it cannot but be lawful also, in a case of necessity, when both ourselves and our brethren are pursued incessantly by destroying murderers, to avenge ourselves on them, and slay them, when there is no other way to be rid of their violence.

6. It is lawful to prevent the murder of ourselves and our brethren, when no other way is left, by killing the murderers before they accomplish their wicked design, if they be habitually prosecuting it, and have many times accomplished it before. This followeth upon the other; and upon this account it had been duty for Gedaliah to have suffered Johanan to slay Ishmael, and so prevent the governor’s murder, if it had been certainly known that Ishmael was sent by the king of Ammon to assassinate him, Jer. 40.14,15, for nothing there is objected against the lawfulness of the thing, but only it was alleged that he spoke falsely. Alstedius asserts this, Cas. de homicid. reg 6. p. 331. It is lawful to prevent him that would assault us, and by preventing to kill him before his invasion, if it be necessary, to prevent him, that our life cannot be otherwise defended but by preventing, and hence he justifies that saying, "It is lawful to kill him that lieth in wait to murder," ibid. This is all the length that the reproached sufferers, whom I am vindicating, go, in asserting this principle, as may be seen in their Informatory Vindication, Head 3. pag. 544, where they say, "We maintain it is both righteous and rational, in defence of our lives, liberties, {741} and religion, after an orderly and Christian manner, to endeavour by all means lawful and possible, to defend ourselves, rescue our brethren, and prevent their murder in a martial opposition against wicked persecutors, who are seeking to destroy them and us, and imbrue their hands in our blood, according to the true import of the Apologetical Declaration." Which is very rational; especially considering.

7. These murderers who are thus to be prevented, are such whom the law of God commands to be put to death, and no where allows to be spared, being public enemies to God and good men, open blasphemers, avowed idolaters, affronted adulterers, notorious murderers, habitual tyrants, suppressing religion, oppressing the innocent, and professing a trade of destroying the Lord’s people. Surely if God hath expressly in his laws provided, that blasphemers, idolaters, murderers, &c. should not be suffered to live, he never intended men daily guilty, yea making profession of these crimes, should be allowed impunity, either by virtue of their office, or because there is none in office to execute judgment upon them; but in a case of extreme necessity, these will not only allow, but oblige people, daily murdered by them, for their own preservation, for vindication of religion, for purging the land of such wickedness, for turning away the wrath of God, to prevent their prosecuting their murdering designs any further, and put a stop to their persecution, by putting an end to their wicked lives: seeing, as Buchanan says, De Jure Regni, it is expressly commanded, "to cut off the wickedness and the wicked men, without any exception of rank or degree; and yet in no place of sacred scripture are tyrants more spared than private persons." Much less their bloody emissaries.

Now, seeing all these cases of killing I have collected, are justifiable in scripture, and none of the sufferers upon this head, whom I am vindicating, have exceeded in principle or practice the amount of these {742} assertions, what is said already may have some weight to demur a censorious condemnation of them. But, as the True Nonconformist [by Robert McWard] well observes, in answer to Dialogue 7, p. 391, Seeing the consideration resulting from the concurrence of all circumstances, whereupon the right diagnosing of such deeds, when actually existent, doth mostly depend, doth more contribute to the clearing and passing a judgment on a case of this nature, when the whole contexture is exposed to certain examination, than to set down general rules directive of such practices (which yet will all justify this question) therefore to clear the case further, all may be resolved into this state of the question:

"Whether or not private persons, incessantly pursued unto death, and threatened with ineluctable destruction by tyrants and their emissaries, may, to save themselves from their violence, in case of extreme necessity, put forth their hand to execute judgment upon the chief and principal ringleaders, instruments, and promoters of all these destructive mischiefs and miseries, who are open and avowed enemies to God, apostates, blasphemers, idolaters, tyrants, traitors, notorious incendiaries, atrocious murderers, and known and convict to be public enemies, prosecuting their murdering designs notourly and habitually, and therefore guilty of death by all laws of God and man; and in such an extraordinary case, put them to death, who have by law forfeited their lives to justice, when there is no access to public justice, no prospect of obtaining it in an orderly way, nor any probability of escaping their intended destruction, either by flight or resistance, if they be past longer unpunished; and so deliver themselves from their murdering tyranny, while they are under no acknowledged subjection to them, nor at peace with them; but maintaining a defensive resistance against them; and in this extraordinary execution of justice, being not chargeable with ignorance of matters of fact so manifest nor {743} mistakes of circumstances so palpable, nor with malice, rage, or revenge against their persons for private and particular injuries, nor with enthusiastic impulses pretended as their rule, nor with deceit or treachery in the manner, nor with any breach of relation or obligation, nor usurpation upon prejudice to any lawful right whatsoever in the matter, nor with any selfish of sinistrous ends in the design; but forced to perform this work of judgment, when there is none other to do it, out of zeal for the glory of God, care of the country’s good, love to their brethren, sense of their own danger, and respect to justice; to the end, that by the removal of these wicked destroyers, their war against the prevailing faction of their malignant enemies may be more successfully maintained, their religion, lives, laws, and liberties more securely defended, their brethren rescued, their murder prevented, impiety suppressed, the land cleansed from the blood, and the wrath of God averted."
That is the true state of the question, the preceeding assertions, all comprehended here, do make it evident. To which I answer in the affirmative, and shall come to give my reasons.

Secondly, Then I shall offer some reasons for this, first for some grounds and hypotheses of reason; then more expressly from scripture-proofs.

1. There may be some arguments offered from the dictates of natural reason, which I shall but only glance at.

1. I premit the consideration of the practice of all nations, even such from whom patterns have been taken for government, and who have had the most polite and purest policy, and have been the severest animadverters upon all extravagants and transgressors of their vocation; yet even among them, for private persons to destroy and rid the commonwealth of such burdens, and vile vermin so pernicious to it, was thought a virtue meriting rather commendation, than a thing to be condemned. I shall not here instance {744} the laudable practices recorded in scripture; these may be seen in their own place. Neither do I speak of ruder nations, among whom this is a relict of reason, not of rudeness, as the Oriental Indians have a custom, whenever any person runs amuck, that is, in a revengeful fury, takes such a quantity of opium, as distracts them into such a rage of mad animosity that they fear not to assault (which is the common operation of that portion there) and go through destroying whom they can find in their way; then every man arms against him; and is ambitious of the honour of first killing him, which is very rational; for otherwise no man could be safe; and it seems to be as rational, to take the same course with our mad malignant mucks who are drunk with hellish fury, and are running in a rage to destroy the people of God whom they can meet with. But all the nations, where the best policy is established, have been of this mind. In Greece public rewards were enacted to be given, and honours appointed for several cities, to those that should kill tyrants, from the mightiest of them to the meanest; with whom they thought there was no bond of humanity to be kept. Hence, Thebe is usually commended for killing her husband, Timoleon for killing his brother, because they were pernicious and destructive to the commonwealth; which, though it seem not justifiable, because of the breach of relation of natural subjection, yet it shews what sentiments the most politic nations have had of this practice. As also among the Romans, Cassius is commended for killing his son, and Fulvius for killing his own son going to Cataline, and Brutus for killing his kinsmen, having understood they had conspired to introduce tyranny again. Servilius Ahala is commended for killing even in the court Sep. Melius, turning his back and refusing to compear in judgment, and for this was never judged guilty of bloodshed, but thought nobilitate by the slaughter of a tyrant, and all posterity did affirm the same. Cicero, speaking of {745} the slaughter of Csar, stiles it a famous and divine fact, and put to imitation. Sulpitius Asper, being asked, why he had combined with others against Nero, and thought to have killed him? made this bold reply, "That he knew not any other way to put a stop to the villainies, and redeem the world from the infection of his example, and the evils which they groaned under by reason of his crimes." On the contrary, Domitius Corbulo is reprehended by all, for neglecting the safety of mankind, in not putting an end to Nero’s cruelty, when he might very easily have done it; and not only was he by the Romans reprehended, but by Tyridates the Persian king, being not all afraid lest it should afterward befall an example unto himself.

When the ministers of Caius Caligula, a most cruel tyrant, were, with the like cruelty, tumultuating for the slaughter of their master, requiring them that killed him to be punished, Valerius Asiaticus the senator cried out aloud, "I wish I had killed him," and thereby both composed their clamour, and stopt their rage. "For there is so great force in an honest deed, (saith Buchanan, de jure Regni, relating this passage) that the very lightest shew thereof, being presented to the minds of men, the most furious assaults are allayed, and fury will languish, and madness itself must acknowledge the sovereignty of reason." The Senate of Rome did often approve the fact, tho’ done without their order oftentimes by private hands: as upon the slaughter of Commodus, instead of revenging it, they decreed that his carcase should be exposed and torn in pieces. Sometimes they ordered before hand to have it done; as when they condemned Didimus Julianus, they sent a tribune to slay him in the palace; nay, they have gone so far, as in some cases to appoint reward for such as should kill those tyrants that trampled upon their laws, and murdered virtuous and innocent people; as that sentence of the senate against the two Maximini doth witness, Whosoever {746} killeth them deserves a reward. Buchanan as above, rehearsing many instances of this nature gives reasons of their approveableness; and these I find here and there scattered, in his book, de jure Regni, (1.) They that make a prey of the commonwealth, are not joined to us by any civil bond or tie of humanity, but should be accounted the most capital enemies of God and all men. (2.) They are not to be counted as within human society, but transgressors of the limits thereof; which whoso will not enter into, and contain himself within, should be taken and treated as wolves, or other kinds of noisome beasts, which whosoever spares, he preserves them to his own destruction, and of others; and whosoever killeth, doth not only good to himself but to all others; and therefore doth merit rather reward than to be condemned for it. For if any man, divested of humanity, should degenerate into such cruelty, as he would not meet with other men but for their destruction (as the monster I am speaking of, could meet with none of the party here treated upon, but to this effect) he is not to be called a man, no more then the satyrs, apes, or bears. (3.) It is expressly commanded to cut off wickedness and wicked men, without any exception of rank or degree; and, if kings would abandon the counsels of wicked men, and measure their greatness rather by duties of virtue, than by the impunity of evil deeds, they would not be grieved for the punishment of tyrants, nor think that royal majesty is lessened by their destruction, but rather be glad that it is purged from such a stain of wickedness. (4.) What is here to be reprehended? is it the cause of their punishment? That is palpable. Is it the law which adjures them to punishment? All laws are desired as necessary for repressing tyrants; whosoever doth condemn this, must likewise condemn all the laws of nations. Is it the person executing the laws? Where will any otherwise be found to do it in such circumstances? (5.) A lawfully waged war being once undertaken with an enemy for a just {747} cause, it is lawful not only for the whole people to kill that enemy, but for every one of them: everyone therefore may kill a tyrant, who is a public enemy, with whom all good men have a perpetual warfare; meaning, if he be habitually tyrannical, and destructive to the people, so that there is no living for good people for him; otherwise, though a man by force or fraud acquire sovereignty, no such violence is to be done to him, providing he use a moderate way in his government, such as Vespasian among the Romans, Hiero in Syracuse. (6.) Treason cannot be committed against one who destroys all laws and liberties of the people, and is a pernicious plague to the commonwealth.

2. Such is the force of this truth in the case so circumstantiate, that it extorts the acknowledgment of the greatest authors, ancient and modern, domestic and foreign, and even of all rational royalists (as Mr. Mitchel says in his postscript to the forecited letter.) "That it is lawful for any private person to kill a tyrant without a title, and to kill tories or open murderers, as devouring beasts, because the good of his action doth not only redound to the person himself but to the whole commonwealth, and the person acting incurs the danger himself alone."

Tertullian, though a man loyal to excess, says, every man is a soldier enrolled to bear arms against all traitors and public enemies. The ancient ecclesiastical historian, Sozomen, relating the death of Julian, and intimating that he was supposed to have been slain by a Christian soldier, adds, let none be so rash as to condemn the person that did it, considering he was thus courageous in behalf of God and religion, Sozomen’s Hist. lib. 6, p. 2. Barclaius, a great royalist, saith, all antiquity agrees, that tyrants, as public enemies, may most justly, be attacked and slain, not only by the community but also by every individual person thereof. Grotius, de jure belli, lib. 1, cap. 4, saith, if any person grasp at dominion by unjust war, {748} or hath no title thereto by consent of the community, and no paction is made with him, nor allegiance granted, but retains possession by violence only, the right of war remains; and therefore it is lawful to attack him as an enemy, who may be killed by any man, and that lawfully. Yea, king James VI, in his remonstrance for the right of kings, says, the public laws make it lawful and free for any private persons to enterprise against an usurper. Divines say the same. Chamier, Tom 2, lib. 15, cap. 12, sect. 19. All subjects have the right to attack tyrants. Alsted. Theolog. Gas. cap. 17, reg. 9, pag. 321. Any private man may and ought to cut off a tyrant, who is an invader without a title; because in a hostile manner he invades his native country. And cap. 1.18. reg.14. p 332. "It is lawful for every private man to kill a tyrant, who unjustly invades the government. But Dr. Ames concerning conscience, Book 3. Chap. 31, concerning manslaughter, asserts all that is here pleaded for in express terms, Question 4. Whether or no is it lawful for a man to kill another by his own private authority? Answer. Sometimes it is lawful to kill, no public precognition preceeding; but then only, when the cause evidently requires that it should be done, and public authority cannot be got; For in that case, a private man is publicly constitute the minister of justice, as well by permission of God, as the consent of all men. These propositions carry such evidence in them, that the authors thought it superfluous to confirm them, and sufficient to affirm them. And for any reasons that can be adduced to prove any of these assertions, it will be as evident that this truth I plead for is thereby confirmed, as that itself is thereby strengthened; for it will follow natively, if tyrants and tyrants without title, be to be thus dealt with, then the monsters, of whom the question is, those notorious incendiaries and murdering public enemies, are also to be so served; for either these authors assert the lawfulness of so treating tyrants {749} without a title, because they are tyrants, or because they want a title. If the first be said, then all tyrants are to be so served; and reason would say, and royalists will subscribe, if tyrants that call themselves kings may be so animadverted upon, because of their perniciousness to the commonwealth by their usurped authority, then the subordinate firebrands that are the immediate instruments of that destruction, the inferior emissaries that act it, and actually accomplish it, in murdering innocent people, may be so treated; for their persons are not more sacred than the other, nor more unpunishable. If the second be said, it is lawful to kill them, because they want a title; then it is because they want a pretended title, or because they want a real and lawful one. The latter is as good as none, and it is proven, Head 2, Arg. 7, that no tyrants can have any. The former cannot be said, for all tyrants will pretend some, at least before they be killed.

3. But though some of these great authors neither give their reasons for what they assert, nor do they extend it to all tyrants that tyrannize by virtue of their pretended authority, yet it will not be difficult to prove, that all, great and small, that murder, destroy, and tyrannize over poor people, are to be punished, though they pretend authority for what they do. And hence, if all tyrants, murderers, and destroyers of mankind ought to be punished; then when it cannot be done by public authority, it may be done by private; but all tyrants, murderers, and destroyers of mankind ought to be punished: Therefore————. The minor is manifest from the general commands of shedding blood of every man that sheds it, Gen. 9.6, of putting to death whosoever killeth any person, Numb. 35.30,31, of respecting no mans person in judgment, Deut. 1.17. And universally all penal laws are general without exception of any; for under that reduplication of criminal transgressing those laws, under that general sanction, they are to be judged; {750} which admits of no partial respect: for if the greatest of men be murderers, they are not to be considered as great, but as murderers; just as the meanest are to be considered not as mean or poor, but as murderers. But I need not insist on this, being sufficiently proved, Head 2, Arg. 9, and throughout that Head, proving that tyrants can have no authority: and, if they have no authority, then authority (which they have not) cannot exempt them from punishment. The connexion of the major proposition may be thus urged: when this judgment cannot be executed by public authority, either it must be done by private authority, in case of extreme necessity, or not at all; for there is no medium, but either do it by public authority, or private: if not at all, then the land must remain still defiled with blood, and cannot be cleansed, Numb. 35.33. Then the fierce anger of the Lord cannot be averted, Numb. 35.4, for without this executing of judgment, he will not turn it away Jer. 5.1. Then must murderers be encouraged, by their impunity, to make havoc of all according to their lust, besides that poor handful who cannot escape their prey, as their case is circumstantiate. Besides, this is point blank contrary to these general commands which say peremptorily, the murderer shall be put to death; but this supposed case, when public authority will not or cannot put them to death, says, they shall not be put to death. In this case then I demand, whether their impunity is necessary, because they must not be put to death? or because they cannot be put to death? To say the latter, were an untruth; for private persons can do it, when they have access, which is possible: if the former, then it is clearly contradictory to the commands, which say, they must be put to death, excepting no case, but when they cannot be put to death. If it be said, they must not be put to death, because the law obliges only public authority to execute judgment; to this I reply. (1.) I trust to make the contrary appear from scripture by and by. (2.) If the {751} law obliges none but those in public authority to execute judgment, then when there is no judgment execute, it must be the sin of none but those in public authority; and it be only their sin, how comes others to be threatened and punished for this, that judgment is not executed? If they must only stand by, and be spectators of their omissions unconcerned, what shall they do to evite this wrath? shall they exhort them, or witness against them? But that more than all this is required, is proved before several times, where this argument of the people’s being punished for the sin of their rulers hath been touched. (3.) Then when there is no authority, it must be no sin at all that judgment is not executed, because it is the sin of none; it cannot be sin, except it be sin of some. (4.) What if those in public authority be the murderers? Who shall put then to death? By what authority shall judgment be execute upon them? Whether public or private? public it cannot be; for there is no formal public authority above the supreme, who are supposed the party to be punished; if it be the radical authority of the people, which is the thing we plead for, then it is but private, as that of one party against the other: the people are the party grieved, and so cannot be judges; at best then, this will be extrajudicial executing of judgment. And if the people may do it upon the greatest of tyrants, then a part of them who are in greatest hazard may save themselves from those of lesser note, by putting them to death; for if all the people have right to punish universal tyrants, because they are destroyers of all; then a part hath right to punish particular tyrants, because they are destroyers of them, when they cannot have access to public authority, nor the concurrence of the whole body.

4. Let these murderers and incendiaries be considered, either as a part of the community with them whom they murder and destroy, or not; if they be a part, and do belong to the same community (which {752} is not granted in this case, yet let it be given) then when the safety of the whole, or better part, cannot consist with the sparing or preserving of a single man, especially such an one as prejudges all, and destroys that better part; he is rather to be cut off, than the whole or the better part be endangered: for the cutting off of a contagious member that destroys the rest of the body, is well warranted by nature, because the safety of the whole is to be preferred to the safety of a part, especially a destructive part: but now, who shall cut it off? since it must be cut off, otherwise a greater part of the body will be presently consumed, and the whole endangered. It is sure the physician’s duty; but what if he will not, or cannot, or there be no physician? then any that may must; yea, one member may, in that case, cut off another. So, when either the magistrate will not, or dare not, or does not, or there is none to do this necessary work of justice, for the preservation of the community; any member of it may rather prevent the destruction of the whole, or a greater part, by destroying the murdering and destructive member, than suffer himself and others to be unavoidably destroyed by his being spared. If they be not within, or belonging to that society, then they may be dealt with, and carried towards as public enemies and strangers, and all advantages may be taken of them in cases of necessity, as men would do, if invaded by Turks or Tartars.

5. Let it be considered, what men might have done in such a case before government was erected, if there had been some public and notour murderers still preying upon some sort of men. Certainly then private persons (as all are in that case) might kill them to prevent future destruction. Hence, if this was lawful before government was established, it cannot be unlawful when people cannot have the benefit of the government, when the government that is, instead of giving redress to the grieved and oppressed, does allow and empower them to destroy them: otherwise {753} people might be better without government than with it; for then they might prevent their murderers by cutting them off. But so it is that this was lawful before government was established: for let it be adverted, that the scripture seems to insinuate such a case before the flood. Cain, after he murdered his brother, feared that every man that found him should slay him, Gen. 4.14. If he had reason to fear this, as certainly he had, if the Lord had not removed that, by prorogueing [delaying] the execution of vengeance upon him, for his greater punishment, and the world’s more lasting instruction, and by setting a mark upon him, and inhibiting, under a severe threatening, any to touch him; then every man that should have killed him was the magistrate, (which were ridiculous) or every man was every, and any private person universally, which might have killed him, if this inhibition had not past upon it. Ainsworth upon the place saith, ‘That among the ancient Romans, every one might kill without a challenge, any man that was cursed for some public crime.’ And cites Dionys. Halicarnas. l. 2. And so Cain spoke this from a dictate of nature and guilty conscience.

6. At the erection of government, though the people resigned the formal power of life and death, and punishing criminals, over to the governor constitute by them; yet, as they retain the radical power and right virtually, so when either the magistrates neglect their duty of vindicating the innocent, and punishing their destroyers, or empower murderers to prey upon them; in that case, they may resume the exercise of it, to destroy their destroyers, when there is no other way of preventing or escaping their destructions; because extreme remedies ought to be applied to extreme diseases. In an extraordinary exigent, when Ahab and Jezebel did undo the church of God, Elias, with the people’s help, killed all Baal’s priests, against and without the king’s will; in this case, it is evident the people resumed their power, as Lex Rex saith, question 9, {754} p. 63. There must be a court of necessity, no less than a court of justice, when it is in this extremity, as if they had no ruler, as that same learned author saith, quest. 24, pag. 213. If then the people may resume that power in cases of necessity, which they resigned to the magistrate; then a part may resume it, when a part only is in that necessity, and all may claim an interest in the resumption, that had an interest in the resignation.

7. Especially upon the dissolution of a government when people are under a necessity to revolt from it, and so are reduced to their primitive liberty, they may then resume all that power they had before the resignation, and exert it in extraordinary exigents of necessity. If then a people that have no magistrate at all may take order with their destroyers then must they have the same power under a lawful revolt. As the ten tribes, if they had not exceeded in severity against Adoram, Rehoboam’s collector, had just cause to take order with that usurper’s emissary, if he came to oppress them; but if he had come to murder them, then certainly it was duty to put him to death, and could not be censured at all, as it is not in the history, 1 Kings 12.18. But so it is that the people pursued by these murderers, some of which in their extreme exigencies they put to death; have for these several years maintained a declared revolt from the present government, and have denied all subjection to it upon the grounds vindicated, Head 2. And there they must be considered as reduced to their primeve liberty, and their pursuers as their public enemies, to whom they are no otherwise related than if they were Turks, whom none will deny it lawful to kill, if they invade the land to destroy the inhabitants.

8. Hence, seeing they are no other than public enemies, unjustly invading, pursuing, and seeking them to destroy them: what arguments will prove the lawfulness of resistance, and the necessity of self-defence, in the immediate defence of life, as well as remote, {755} will also prove the lawfulness of taking all advantages upon them: for if it be lawful to kill an enemy in his immediate assault, to prevent his killing of them, when there is no other way of preserving themselves from his fury; then it must be lawful also in his remote but still incessant pursuit, to prevent his murdering them by killing him, when there is no other way to escape in a case of extreme necessity. But that this was a case of that poor people, witnesses can best prove it; and I dare appeal to two sorts of them that know it best, that is, all the pursuers, and all the pursued.

9. This is founded, and follows upon the 4th article of the Solemn League and covenant: where we are bound with all faithfulness to endeavour the discovery, of all such as have been, or shall be incendiaries, malignants, or evil instruments,——that they may be brought to public trail, and receive condign punishment. Now, as this obliges to the orderly and ordinary way of prosecuting them when there is access to public judicatories: so when there is none either this article obliges to no endeavour at all; (which cannot be, for it is moral duty to endeavour the punishment of such) or else it must oblige to this extraordinary action and execution of judgment, if to any at all. Especially considering, how, in the sense of the short comings of this duty, it is renewed in the solemn acknowledgement of sins, and engagement to duties, that we shall be so far from conniving at malignity, injustice, &c. that we shall——take a more effectual course, than heretofore, in our respective places and callings, for punishing and suppressing these evils.——Certainly we were called to one way of prosecuting this obligation then, when it was first engaged into, and to another now, when our capacity and circumstances are so materially and formally altered: if the effectual course then was by public authority; then now when that is wanting, there must be some obligation to take some effectual course still, that {756} may suit our places and callings, which will certainly comprehend this extraordinary way of suppressing those evils, by preventing their growth in curbing the instruments, and executing judgment upon them, in a case of extreme necessity, which will suit with all places, and all callings.

II. From the scriptures, these arguments are offered,

First, Some approven examples, and imitable in the like circumstances, will clear and confirm the lawfulness of this extraordinary work of judgment executed by private persons, upon notorious incendiaries, firebrands, and murderers, guilty of death by the law of God,

1. Moses spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren; and he looked this way, and he looked that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand, Exod. 2.11,12. Here is an uncondemned example: whereof the actor who was the relater did not condemn himself, though he condemns himself for faults that seem less odious; yea, in effect, he is rather commended by Stephen the Martyr, Acts 7. And though it be extraordinary, in that it was objected to him the second day: yet it was not unimitable; because that action, though heroical, whereof the ground was ordinary, the rule moral, the circumstances commonly incident, the management directed by human prudence, cannot be unimitable; but such was this action, though heroical. The ground was ordinary, spying his brother in hazard, whose murder he would have prevented. The rule was moral, being according to that moral precept in rescuing our brother in hazard, Prov. 24.11,12. The circumstances were incident in a case of extreme necessity, which he managed very prudently, looking this way, and looking that way, and hiding him in the sand. Therefore it may be imitated in the like case. It signifies nothing to {757} say that he was moved by the Spirit of God thereto: for unto every righteous performance the motion of the Spirit of God is requisite. This impulse that Moses had and others after-mentioned, was nothing but a greater measure of that assisting grace, which the extraordinariness of the case, and the difficulties therein occurring did call for; but the intervening of such motions, do not alter the rule, so as to make the action unimitable. Impulses are not the rule of duty, either under an ordinary or extraordinary exigence; but when they are subsequent and subservient both to the rule of duty, and to a man’s call in his present circumstances, they clearly determine to the species of an heroic enterprise; in so much that it is not only the particular deed that we are to heed for our imitation, but we are to emulate the grace and principle of zeal which produced it, and is thereby so conspicuously relucent for our upstirring to acts in like manner, as God may give opportunity, as is observed by the true non-conformist, Dial. 7. pag. 392. &c.

2. When Israel joined himself unto Baal-Peor, the Lord said unto Moses, ‘Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel.’ And Moses said unto the judges, ‘Slay every one his men that were joined unto Baal-Peor.’ And when Zimri brought the Midianitish Cozbi in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle; and when Phinehas saw it, he rose up,—and took the javelin in his hand, and he went after the men of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through,—So the plague was stayed.—And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying ‘Phinehas hath turned away my wrath from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them,—I give unto him my covenant of peace,—because he was zealous for his God, and made {758} an atonement for the children of Israel.’ Numb. 25.3-13. This action is here much commended, and recorded to his commendation, Psalm 106.30,31. Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment, and so the plague was stayed; and that was counted to him for righteousness, unto all generations; that is,—Into justice of the deed before men, who otherwise might have put a bad construction upon it, as rash, out of season, committed against a magistrate by a private person, too cruel by cutting them off from repentance; but God esteemed it as extraordinary just. Pool’s Synops Critic. in Locum. It is certain, this action was some way extraordinary; because Phinehas was not a magistrate, nor one of the judges whom Moses commanded to slay every one his men, verse 5. Otherwise, if this had been only an ordinary execution of the judgment by the authority of Moses, Phinehas’ action would not have been taken so much notice of, nor so signally rewarded; but here it is noted as a singular act of zeal, which it could not have been, if it was only an ordinary execution of the magistrate’s command: yet, though this action was signally heroical, proceeding from a principle of pure zeal for God, and prompted by a powerful motion of the Spirit of God to that extraordinary execution of judgment: it is notwithstanding imitable in the like circumstances. For, the matter is ordinary, being neither preternatural, nor supernatural, but just and necessary. The end was ordinary, to turn away the wrath of God, which all were obliged to endeavour. The principle was ordinary, (though at the time he had an extraordinary measure of it) being zealous for the Lord, as all were obliged to be. The rule was ordinary, to wit, the command of slaying every man that was joined to Baal-Peor, verse 5, only this was extraordinary, that the zeal of God called him to his heroical action, though he was not a magistrate, in this extraordinary exigent, to avert the wrath of God; which was neither by Moses’s command, {759} nor by the judges’ obedience, turned away only by Phinehas’ act of another nature, and his zeal appearing therein, and prompting him thereto, the Lord was appeased, and the plague stayed. In which fervour of zeal, transporting him to the omission of the ordinary solemnities of judgment, the Spirit of the Lord places the righteousness and praise of the action. Yet the same call and motion of zeal, verses 11-13, yea, another was obliged to do the same, upon the ground of that moral command, Deut. 13.6-9, having the ground of God’s ordinary judgment, which commandeth the idolater to die the death; and therefore to be imitate of all that prefer the true honour and glory of God to the affection of flesh and wicked princes, as Mr. Knox affirmeth in his conference with Lethingtoun, rehearsed before, period 3. Further, let it be enquired, What makes it unimitable? Certainly it was not so, because he had the motion and direction of God’s Spirit; for men have that to all duties. It was not, because he was raised and stirred up of God to do it; for God may raise up spirits to imitable actions. It was not, because he had an extraordinary call, for men have an extraordinary call, to imitable actions, as the apostles had to preach. We grant these actions are extraordinary and unimitable; which, first, do deviate from the rule of common virtue, and transcend all rules of common reason and divine word; but this was not such, but an heroic act of zeal and fortitude: Next these actions, which are contrary to a moral ordinary command are unimitable, as the Israelites robbing the Egyptians, borrowing, and not paying again, Abraham’s offing his son Isaac; but this was not such; next those actions, which are done upon some special mandate of God, and are not within the compass of ordinary obedience to the ordinary rule, are unimitable; but this is not such: as also miraculous actions, and such {760} as are done by the extraordinary inspiration of the Spirit of God, as Elias’s killing the captains with their fifties by fire from heaven; but none can reckon this among these. See Jus Populi at length discussing this point, and pleading for the suitableness of this action, cap. 20. If therefore the Lord did not only raise up this Phinehas to that particular act of justice, but also warrant and accept him therein, and reward him therefore, upon the account of his zeal, when there was a godly and zealous magistrate, able, and whom we cannot without breach of charity presume, but also willing to execute justice; how much more may it be pleaded, that the Lord, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, will not only pour out of that same spirit upon others; but also when he gives it, both allow them, though they be but private persons, and also call them, being otherwise in a physical and probable capacity to do these things in an extremely necessitous, and otherwise irrecoverable state of the church, to which in a more entire condition he doth not call them? And particularly, when there is not only the like or worse provocations, the like necessity of execution of justice and of reformation, for the turning away of wrath, and removing of judgments, that was in Phinehas’s case, but also, when the supreme civil magistrate, the nobles of the kingdom, and other inferior rulers, are not only unwilling, to do their duty, but so far corrupted and perverted, that they are become the authors and patronizers of these abominations, Naphtali prior Edit. p. 23.

3. When the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab, and they cried unto the Lord, he raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, who made a dagger, and brought a present unto Eglon, and put forth his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly, Judges 3.21. That this action was approven will not be doubted, since the Lord raised him up as a deliverer, who by this heroical action commenced it; and since {761} it was a message from God, and that it was extraordinary, were ridiculous to deny: for sure this was not the judicial action of a magistrate, neither was Ehud a magistrate at this time, but only the messenger of the people sent with a present. Yet it is imitable in the like case, as from hence many grave authors concluded the lawfulness of killing a tyrant without a title.

4. When the Lord discomfited the host of Jabin, and Sisera his captain fled into the house of Heber the Kenite, Jael Heber’s wife took a nail of the tent, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, Judges 4.21, of which the prophetess Deborah says, chap. 5.24, "Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be above women in the tent." Yet not only was Jael no magistrate, but in subjection to and at peace with Jabin, though she killed his captain. But there was no injustice here, when he was declared a public enemy, the war was just, he was an oppressor of the people of God, it became Jael, as a member of the commonwealth, to betray and cut off the common enemy. Therefore Jael had sinned, if she had not killed him. Martyr and others cited in Pool. Synops. Critic., upon the place, albeit that author himself, in his English annotations, does cut the knot, instead of loosing it, in denying Deborah’s song to be divinely inspired in its first composure, but only recorded as a history by divine inspiration, as other historical passages not approven, only because this heroic fact of Jael is there recommended, which is too bold an attempt upon this part of the holy canon of the scripture: whence we see what inconveniences they are driven to, that deny this principle of natural justice, the lawfulness of cutting off public enemies, to procure the deliverance of the Lord’s people. Hence, if it be lawful for private persons, under subjection to, and at peace with the public enemies of the Lord’s people to take all advantages to break their yoke, and deliver the oppressed from {762} their bondage, by killing their oppressors; it must be much more lawful for such as acknowledge no such subjection or agreement, to attempt the same in extreme necessity; but the former is true: therefore the latter.

5. When Samson married the Timnite, and obliged himself by compact, to give them thirty sheets and thirty change garment, upon their solving his riddle, the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he went down to Askelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took the spoil, Judges 14.19. And afterwards, when he lost his wife by the cruelty and treachery of those Philistines, he said unto them, ‘Though you have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease. And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter,’ chapter 15.7,8. And when the Jews, who acknowledged the Philistines for rulers, came to Etam to expostulate with him, all the satisfaction he gave them was to avouch, that as they had done unto him, so he had done unto them, and to kill a thousand more of them, verse 11. &c. These were extraordinary heroic facts, not only because they flowed from an extraordinary power, wherewith he was endued, and from an extraordinary motion and call; but because of his avenging his own private injuries for the public good, in a way both of fortitude and prudence, without a declared war, provoking the enemies against himself, and diverting from the people, and converting against himself, all their fury, in which also he acted as a type of Christ; and also because he acted not as a magistrate at this time, for by whom was he called or counted a magistrate? not by the Philistines, nor by the men of Judah, for they tell him that the Philistines were their lords, and they bound him and delivered him up to them: yet in his private capacity, in that extraordinary exigence, he avenged himself and his country against his public enemies, by a clandestine war, which is imitable in the like case, when a prevailing faction of murdering enemies domineer over and destroy the people of God, {763} and there is no other way to be delivered from them; for his ground was moral, because they were public enemies, to whom he might do as they did to him. Hence, if saints sometimes, in cases of necessity, may do unto their public enemies, as they have done unto them, in prosecuting a war not declared against them; then much more may they do so in cases of necessity, to deliver themselves from their murdering violence, when a war is declared; but here is an example of the former: ergo,———————.

6. When these same Philistines again invaded and over-ran the land in the time of Saul, Jonathan his son, and his armour bearer, fell upon the garrison of these uncircumcised, and killed them, 1 Sam. 14.6,13. This was an heroic action, without public authority; for he told not his father, verse 7. And singular indeed, in respect of the effect, and were a tempting of the Lord, for so few to assault such a multitude, as it were to imitate Samson in his exploits; but in this respect, these actions are unimitable in consideration of prudence, not of conscience, or as to the lawfulness of the thing: their ground was moral, to cut off public enemies. Hence, If it be lawful to fall upon a garrison of public enemies, oppressing the country, then it must be lawful to fall upon one or two, that are the ring leaders of public enemies, and main promoters of their destruction, that are as pernicious, and have no more right or power, than the Philistines; but such is the case of those about whom the question is.

7. When David dwelt in the country of the Philistines, he and his men went up and invaded the Geshurites, and the Gezrites, and the Amalekites; and David smote the land, and left neither man nor woman alive, 1 Sam. 27.8,9. This was without public authority, having none from Saul, none from Achish, in whose country he dwelt, and none of his own, being no magistrate. We deny not divine motion, but plead, that it is imitable from its moral {764} ground, which was that command to cut off the Amalekites, Exod. 17, and the Amorites, whose relicts these nations were; the same ground that Saul the magistrate had to destroy them. Whence it is lawful sometimes for others than magistrates to do that which is incumbent to magistrates, when they neglect their duty. All I plead for from it is, If it be lawful for private persons, upon the call of God, to cut off their public enemies, when they are obliged by command of God to destroy them, though they be living quietly and peaceably in the country; then may it be lawful in cases of necessity, for private persons to cut off their public enemies, whom they are obliged by the covenant of God, to bring to condign punishment, and to extirpate them, (as the covenant obliges in reference to malignant incendiaries) when they are ravening like lions for their prey.

8. In the days of Ahab and Jezebel’s tyranny, whereby the idolatrous prophets of Baal were not punished according to the law, Elijah said unto the people, ‘Take the prophets of Baal, let none of them escape; and they took them to the brook Kishon, and slew them there,’ 1 Kings. 18.40. How Mr. Knox improved this passage we heard before, in the historical representation, Period 3. and Jus. pop. vindicates it, that in some cases private persons may execute judgment on malefactors, after the example of Elias here. Which fact, Peter Martyr, in locum, defendeth thus: ‘I say it was done by the law of God; for, Deut. 18.20, God decerned [determined] that the false prophet should die; and chapter 17, the same is said of private men and women, who would worship idols; but, chapter 13, not only death threatened against a seducing prophet, but a command is added, That no man should spare his brethren.—3dly, It is commanded, that the whole city, when it becometh idolatrous, should be cut off by fire and sword:’ And, Lev. 24.14,16, it is statute, that the blasphemer should not live; ‘to which we may add the {765} law or equity of taliation: for these prophets of Baal caused Jezebel and Ahab kill the servants of the Lord.’ See Jus. pop. cap. 20. pag. 425. Upon this also Mr. Mitchel defends his fact, as above,—‘Also Elijah, by virtue of that precept, Deut. 13, gave commandment to the people to destroy Baal’s priests, contrary to the command of the seducing magistrate, who was not only remiss and negligent in executing justice, but became a protector and defender of the seducers; then and in that case, I suppose the Christians duty not to be very dark.’

9. This idolatrous and tyrannical house was afterwards condignly punished by Jehu, 2 Kings chapters 9,10, who destroyed all the idolaters who were before encouraged and protected by that court, chapter 10.25. This extraordinary fact was not justified by his magistratical authority; for that was as extraordinary as the fact itself, and conferred as a mean to accomplish the fact. He had no authority by the people’s suffrages, nor was he acknowledged as such by the court or body of the people, only the Lord gave it extraordinarily. But it is not the imitation of his assumption of authority that is here pleaded for, but the imitation of his fact in extraordinary cases, when not only tyrants and idolaters pass unpunished, but their insolency in murdering the innocent is intolerable. Mr. Knox vindicates this at length, as before, and shews, that it had the ground God’s ordinary judgment, which commands the idolater to die the death; and that though we must not indeed follow extraordinary examples, if the example repugn to the law, but where it agrees with and is the execution of the law, an example uncondemned stands for a command; for God is constant, and will not condemn in ages subsequent what he hath approved in his servants before. See the Testimony of Period 3, above, and Jus. pop. cap. 20, pag. 418.

10. When Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah, had tyrannized six years, at length Jehoiada, with others, {766} made a conspiracy against her, to depose her, and make Joash king; which when it was discovered, she cried treason, treason, as indeed it would have been so, if she had been the lawful magistrate; for it was an attempt of subjects against her that had the possession of the sovereign power. But Jehoiada commanded the captains to heave her forth without the ranges, and him that followeth her kill with the sword; and they laid hands on her, and she was slain, 2 Kings 11.14-16. That this is imitable in the punishment of tyrants, is cleared above. If therefore it be lawful for subjects to kill usurping tyrants, and such as follow them to help them, under whom nevertheless people might have life; then it must be lawful for private persons to put forth their hand against their cut-throat emissaries, in a case of necessity, when there is no living for them.

11. When Amaziah turned idolater and tyrant, after the time that he turned away from the lord, they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish; but they sent to Lachish after him and slew him there, 2 Chron. 15.27. This fact is before vindicated by Mr. Knox, Period 3; afterward Head 2; and Head 5.

12. When Esther made suit to reverse Haman’s letters, the king granted the Jews in every city, not only to gather themselves together, and to stand for their lives, but also to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women,—and to avenge themselves on their enemies. And accordingly in the day that their enemies hoped to have power over them, the Jews gathered themselves to lay hands on such as sought their hurt, and smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, Esth. 8.11,13, chapter 9.1-5, &c. They had indeed that law of nature fortified by the king’s accessary authority, as Valentinian, by his edict, granted the like liberty, to resist any unjust invader to depopulate the lands of {767} his subjects, that he might be forthwith liable to a deserved punishment, and suffer that death which he threatened.—And the like of Arcadius is extant, in the Justinian Cod. Tit. How it may be lawful for every man to vindicate himself and the public, without the occurrence of a judge. But that doth not exclude the lawfulness of such resistances in case of necessity, without public authority; so here, it was not the king’s commandment that made the Jews avenging themselves lawful, if it had not been lawful before and without it; it gave them only liberty to improve privilege, which they had not from God and nature. Surely their power of resisting did not depend on the king’s commandment, as is proven, Head 5. Ergo, neither their power of avenging themselves, to prevent their murder by their enemies, which they could and were obliged to do, if there had been no such authority: Ergo, it was not only suspended upon the king’s authority. And as for Haman’s sons and adherents, being Agagites, they were obliged, by a prior command, to avenge themselves on them, on all occasions, by that command to destroy Amalek: therefore it must be lawful, even without public authority, in some cases of necessity, to prevent the murder [murderous actions] of public enemies, by laying hands on them that seek the hurt of all the people of God.

Secondly, There are some precepts from which the same may be concluded.

1. There is a command, and the first penal statue against murders, we read, Gen. 9.6. ‘Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.’ Here the command is given to punish capitally all murderers; but there may be some that no magistrate can punish, who are not here exempted, to wit, they that are in supreme authority, and turn murderers, as was said above. Again, the command is given in general to man involving all the community (where the murderer is) in guilt, if his {768} blood be not shed; as we find in the scripture, all the people were threatened and punished because judgment was not executed; and when it was executed even by these who were no magistrates, the wrath of God was turned away, whereof there are many examples above. Further, if the command to shed the blood of murderers be given before the institution of magistracy, then, in case of necessity to stop the course of murderers, it may be obeyed, when there is no magistrate to execute it: but here it is given before the first institution of magistracy, when now there was no government in the world, but family government, as Grotius on the place saith, ‘When this law was given, public judgment was not yet constitute, therefore the natural right and law of taliation is here held forth, which when mankind was increased and divided into several nations, was justly permitted only to judges, some cases excepted, in which that primeve right did remain.’ And if any, then in this case in question. Hence, Lex Rex answereth the p. prelate, essaying to prove, that a magistracy is established in the text denies that Ba Adam, by man, must signify a magistrate, for then there was but family government, and cites Calvin, of the same mind, that the magistrate is not spoken of here. Though this command afterwards was given to the magistrate, Numb. 35.30, yet in a case of necessity, we must recur to the original command.

2. This same command of punishing murdering enemies, is even, after the institution of magistrates, in several cases not astricted to them, but permitted to the people, yea enjoined to them. As, (1.) Not only magistrates, but the people, are commanded to avenge themselves on their public enemies, as the Israelites, after their being ensnared in the matter of Peor, are commanded to vex the Midianites, and smite them, because they beguiled them, and brought a plague upon them, Numb. 25.17,18, and Numb. 31.2, {769} to avenge themselves on them, and for this end to arm themselves, and go against them, and avenge the Lord of Midian: which they executed with the slaughter of all the males. So likewise are they commanded to destroy Amalek. It is true these commands are given primarily and principally to magistrates, as there to Moses, and afterwards to Saul: yet afterwards we find others than magistrates, upon this moral ground, having the call of God, did execute judgment upon them, as Gideon and David, before they were magistrates, did avenge themselves and the Lord upon them, as is before cleared. It is also true, that there was some holy severity then to be extended against particular nations as such, peculiar to that dispensation, which is not pleaded as imitable; but the ground was moral, and the right of a people’s saving themselves by the destruction of their enemies, when there is no other way for it, is natural. And this is all we plead for here. If people may vex their enemies, and avenge themselves against them, even without pubic authority, when ensnared by their craftiness; much more may they put a stop to their insolency, by cutting off their principle and most pernicious instruments, in case of necessity, when invaded by their cruelty; but here a people is commanded to vex their enemies, and avenge themselves on them, and accordingly Gideon and David did so, without public authority, and that upon a ground which is moral and natural: Ergo——————. (2.) The execution of the punishment of murderers is committed to the people: ‘The revenger of blood, himself shall slay the murderer, when he meeteth him, he shall slay him,’ Numb. 35.19,21. So that if he met him before he got into any city of refuge, he might lawfully slay him, and if he did flee to any, he was to be rendered up to the avengers hands, Deut. 19.12, that the guilt of innocent blood may be put away from Israel, verse 23. This revenger of blood was not the magistrate: for he was the party pursuing, Numb. 35.24, {770} Between whom and the murderer the congregation was to judge: he was only the next in blood or kindred. In the original he is called Goel, the redeemer, or he to whom the right of redemption belongs, and very properly so called, both because he seeks redemption and compensation for the blood of his brother, and because he redeems the land from blood guiltiness, in which otherwise it would be involved. I do not plead that this is always to be imitated, as neither it was always practiced in Israel; but if a private man, in a hot pursuit of his brother’s murderer, might be his avenger, before he could be brought to judgment, then much more may this power be assumed, in case of necessity, when there is no judgment to be expected by law, and when not only our brethren have been murdered by them that profess a trade of it, but others also and ourselves are daily in hazard of it, which may be prevented in cutting them off. I do not see what is here merely judicial, so as to be rejected as judaical: for sure murderers must be slain now as well as then, and there is the same hazard of their escaping now as then: murder involves the land in guilt, now as well as then, and in this case of necessity especially, that law that gives a man right to preserve himself, gives him also right to be his own avenger, if he cannot otherwise defend himself. (3.) Not only the execution, the decision of matters of life and death, is committed to them; as in the case of blasphemy and cursing, ‘All that heard were to lay their hands upon his head, and all the congregation was to stone him,’ Lev. 24.14,16. ‘The manslayer was to stand before the congregation in judgment. Then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and avenger of blood,’ Numb. 35. 12,24. The people claimed the power of life and death, in seeking to execute judgment upon those that had spoken treason against Saul, Bring the men (say they) that we may put them to death, 1 Sam. 11.12. Especially in the case of punishing tyrants, {771} as they did with Amaziah. Certainly this is not so judicial or judaical, as that in no case it may be imitated; for that can never be abrogated altogether, which in many cases is absolutely necessary; but that the people, without public authority, should take the power of life and death, and of putting a stop to the insolency of destroyers, by putting them to death, is in many cases absolutely necessary; for without this they cannot preserve themselves against grassant tyrants, nor the fury of public enemies or firebrands within themselves, in case they have no public authority, or none but such as are on their destroyer’s side. (4.) Not only the power of purging the land, by divine precept, is incumbent on the people, that it may not lie under blood guiltiness; but also the power of reforming the courts of kings, by taking course with their wicked abetters and evil instruments, is committed to him, with a promise that if this be done, it shall tend to the establishment of their throne; which is not only a supposition in case it be done, but a supposed precept to do it, with an insinuation of the necessity and expediency of it, that it is as suitable as the production of a vessel, Prov. 25.4,5. ‘Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness; which is not only there given to kings, for then it would be in the second person spoken to them, but to the people to do it before them, as the people did with Baal’s prophets from before Ahab. And our progenitors many times have done with wicked counsellors, as may be seen in the foregoing representation, and more fully in the history of the Douglasses, and in Knox’s and Calderwood’s histories. Hence, if it be duty to reform the court, and to take away a king’s wicked sycophants, counsellors, agents, and instigators to tyranny; then it must be lawful, in some cases of necessity, to restrain their insolency, and repress their tyranny, in executing judgment upon such of them as {772} are most insupportable, who are made drunk with the blood of innocents; but the former is true: therefore——————. (5.) For the omission of the executing of this judgment on oppressors and murderers, involving the whole land in blood guiltiness, which cannot be expiated but by the blood of them that are so criminal; not only magistrates, but the whole people have been plagued. As for Saul’s murdering the Gibeonites, the whole land was plagued, until the man that consumed them, and devised against them to destroy them, seven of his sons were delivered unto them, to be hanged before the Lord, 2 Sam. 21.5,6. So also for the sins of Manasseh. The reason was, because if the magistrate would not execute judgment, the people should have done it: for not only to the king, but also to his servants, and to the people that entered in by the gates, the command is, execute ye judgment, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, Jer. 22.2,3, though it be true, this is to be done by every one in their station, justice and order being preserved, and according to the measure of their office, and it chiefly belongs to judges and magistrates: yet this is no wrong to justice, nor breach of order, being nor sinful transgression of people’s vocation, not only to hinder the shedding of innocent blood, to prevent God’s executing of what he there threatens, but also to execute judgment on the shedders, to prevent their progress in murdering villainy, when inferior as well as superior magistrates are oppressing and tyrannizing: therefore this seeking, and doing, and executing judgment, is so often required of the people, in such a case, when princes are rebellious and companions of thieves, and in the city where judgment used to be, now murderers bear sway, Isa. 1.17,21, the Lord is displeased where there is none, Isa. 59.15,16. Jer. 5.1. See this vindicated in Lex Rex, question 34. p. 367; and in Jus. popul. cap. 10, p. 237.

3. That command concludes the same against idolaters, apostates, and enticers thereunto, Deut. 13.6, &c. {773} ‘If thy brother—or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods—thou shalt not spare nor conceal him, but thou shalt surely kill him—because he sought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God—And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and do no more any such wickedness.’ And verse 13. &c. ‘If thou shall hear say in one of thy cities—saying, Certain men the children of Belial, are gone out—and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, let us go to serve other gods—Then shalt thou enquire—and behold if it be truth, and the thing certain—thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly.’—This cause of the open enticers to idolatry was not brought to the judges, as common idolaters, and such who were enticed to serve other gods, and worship them, were to be brought to the gates, and to be stoned first by the hands of witnesses, and afterwards by all the people, Deut. 17.3,5,7. But this is another law; of which the Jewish antiquaries, and particularly Grotius out of Philo and the Rabb. upon the place, saith, ‘Whereas in other crimes the guilty used to be kept after the sentence a night and a day, that if he could say any more for himself he might, these were excepted from this benefit; and not only so, but it was permitted to any to execute judgment upon them (viz. Enticers to idolatry) without waiting for a judge. The like was used against sacrilegious robbers of the temple, and priests who sacrificed when they were polluted, and those who cursed God by the name of an idol, and those who lay with an idolatress: chiefly those who denied the divine authority of the law: and this behoved to be before the people, at least ten, which in Hebrew they called Hheda.—Neither is this to be admitted in so grievous a crime, when even the man-slayer without the place of refuge might have {774} been killed by the kinsman of the defunct.’ And upon Numb. 15.30, the punishment of presumptuous blasphemers, he says, ‘But here these are to be understood thus, that the guilty shall not be brought to the judges, but be killed by them that deprehended them in the crime, as Phinehas did to Zimri:’ and proves it out of Maimonides, Pool. Synop. Critic., on the place. And it must be so; for in this case no mention is made either of judges, or witnesses, or further judgment about it, than that he that was tempted by the enticer should fall upon him, and let the people know it, that they might lay hands on him also; otherwise evil men might pretend such a thing when it was no true.

But in case of a city’s apostasy, and hearkening to enticers, the thing was only to be solicitously enquired into, and then though it was chiefly incumbent upon the magistrate to punish it, yet it was not astricted to him, but that the people might do it without him. As upon this moral ground, was Israel’s war stated against Benjamin, Judges 20.13. When there was no king nor judge, and also when there were kings that turned idolaters and tyrants, they served them so, as here is commanded: witness Amaziah, as is shewed above. Hence not only Moses, upon the people’s defection into idolatry in the wilderness, commanded all on the Lord’s side, every man to put his sword by his side,—and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor, whereby three thousand fell at that time by the sword of the Levites, Exod. 32.27,28. But also Joash, Gideon’s father, upon the same moral ground, though he was no magistrate, could say to the Abiezrites, will ye plead for Baal—he that will plead for him, let him be put to death while it is yet morning.—Judges 6.31. Moreover, (as Mr. Mitchel adduces the example very pertinently,) we see that the people of Israel destroyed idolatry, not only in Judah wherein the king {775} concurred but in Ephraim, and in Manasseh, where the king himself was an idolater; and albeit, they were but private persons, without public authority: for what all the people was bound to do by the law of God, every one was bound to do it to the uttermost of his power and capacity. Mr. Mitchel offers this place to vindicate his fact of shooting at the prelate, Deut. 13.9. ‘Wherein, (says he) it is manifest, that the idolater or enticer to worship a false god, is to be put to death by the hand of those whom he seeks to turn away from the Lord: which precept I humbly take to be moral, and not merely judicial, and that it is not at all ceremonial or levitical. And as every moral precept is universal, as to the extent of place, so also as to the extent of time, and persons.’ The chief thing objected here is, that this is a judicial precept, peculiarly suited to the old dispensation; which to plead for as a rule under the New Testament, would favour the Jewish rigidity inconsistent with a gospel Spirit. Answer. How Mr. Knox refels this, and clears that the command here is given to all the people, needs not be here repeated; but it were sufficient to read it in the foregoing representation, Period 3, Pag. 24. As it is also cited by Jus Pop. pag. 212. &c.

General Truths Concerning the Judicial Laws.

But these general truths may be added, concerning the judicial laws, (1.) None can say, that none of the judicial laws, concerning political constitutions, is to be observed in the New Testament: for then many special rules of natural and necessary equity would be rejected, which are contained in the judicial laws of God: yea, all the laws of equity in the world would be so cast: for none can be instanced, which may not be reduced to some of the judicial laws: and if any of them are to be observed, certainly these penal statues, so necessary for the preservation of policies, must be binding. (2.) If we take not our measures from the judicial laws of God, we shall have no laws for punishment of any malefactors by death, of divine right, in the New Testament. {776} And so all capital punishments must be only human constitutions; and consequently they must be all murders: for to take away the life of man, except for such causes as the Lord of our life (to whose arbitrament it is only subject) hath approven, is murder, as Dr. Ames saith, De homicidio Conscience. Lib. 5, Cap. 31. Question 2. For in the New Testament, though in general, the power of punishing is given to the magistrate, yet it is nowhere determined, neither what, nor how crimes are to be punished. If therefore penal laws must be taken from the Old Testament; the subject executing them, as well as the object, must be thence deduced; that is, what is there astricted to the magistrate must be so still, and what is permitted to the people must remain in like manner their privilege; since it is certain, the New Testament liberty is not more restricted as to penal laws than the old. (3.) Those judicial laws, which had either somewhat typical, or pedagogical, or peculiar to the then judicial state, are indeed not binding to us under that formality; though even these doctrinally are very useful, insofar as in their general nature, or equity of proportion, they exhibit to us some documents of duty; but those penal judgments, which in the matter of them are appended to the moral law, and are, in effect, but accurate determinations and accommodations of the law of nature, which may suit our circumstances as well as the Jews, do oblige us as well as them. And such are these penal statutes I adduce; for, that blasphemy, murder, and idolatry, are heinous crimes, and that they are to be punished, the law of nature dictates: and how, and by whom, in several cases, they are to be punished, the law judicial determines. Concerning the moral equity even of the strictest of them, Amesius de Conscien. Lib. 5. Mosaical appendix of precepts, doth very learnedly assert their binding force: (4.) Those judicial laws, which are but positive in their form, yet if their special, internal, and proper reason and ground be moral, {777} which pertains to all nations, which is necessary and useful to mankind, which is rooted in, and may be fortified by human reason, and as to the substance of them approven by the more intelligent heathens; those are moral, and oblige all Christians as well as Jews: and such are these laws of punishing idolaters, &c. founded upon moral grounds, pertaining to all nations, necessary and useful to mankind, rooted in, and fortified by human reason; to wit, that the wrath of God may be averted, and that all may hear and fear, and do no more so wickedly [Deut. 13.11]; especially if this reason be superadded, when the case is such, that innocent and honest people cannot be preserved, if such wicked persons be not taken order with. (5.) Those judicial laws, which being given by the Lord’s immediate authority, though not so solemnly as the moral Decalogue, are neither as to their end, dead, nor as to their use, deadly, nor as to their nature, indifferent, nor in any peculiar respect restringible only to the Jews, but the transgressions whereof both by omission and commission are still sins, and were never abolished neither formally nor consequentially in the New Testament, must be moral; but such, as these penal laws I am speaking of, they cannot be reputed among the ceremonial laws, dead as to their end, and deadly as to their use, or indifferent in their nature: for sure, to punish the innocent upon the account of these crimes, were still sin, now as well as under the Old Testament; and not punish the guilty, were likewise sin now as well as then. If then the matter be moral and not abolished, the execution of it by private persons, in some cases when there is no access to public authority, must be lawful also. Or if it be indifferent, that which is in its own nature indifferent, cannot be in a case of extreme necessity unlawful, when otherwise the destruction of ourselves and brethren is in all human consideration inevitable. That which God hath once commanded, and never expressly {778} forbidden, cannot be unlawful, in extraordinary cases, but such are these precepts we speak of: therefore they cannot be in every case unlawful. Concerning this case of the obligation of judicial laws, Ames. de Conscienc. Lib. 5, Cap. 1, Quest. 9. (6.) Those laws which are predicted to be observed and executed in the New Testament, cannot be judicial or judaical, restricted to the old: but such is this. In the day, that a fountain shall be opened for the house of David for sin, and for uncleanness; which clearly points at the gospel times; it is said, "The Lord will cause the prophets and the unclean spirits to pass out of the land: and it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, thou shalt not live—and shall thrust him through when he prophesieth," Zech. 13.3. Which cannot be meant of a spiritual penetration of the heart: for it is said, he shall not live; and the wounds of such as might escape, by resistance or flight, are visible in his hands, verse 6. It is therefore to be understood of corporal killing enticers to idolatry, according to the law, Deut. 13.9, either by delivering them up to the judges, as Piscator on the place says, or as Grotius saith, they shall run through, as Phinehas did Zimiri, Numb. 25. Understand this of a false prophet, desiring to entice the people to the worship of false gods; for the law empowered every Jew to proceed against such—which law expressly adds, that they should not spare their son, if guilty of such a crime. From all which I conclude, if people are to bring to condign punishment idolatrous apostates, seeking to entice them; then may oppressed people, daily in hazard of the death of their souls by compliance; or of their bodies, by their constancy in duty, put forth their hand to execute judgment, in case of necessity, upon idolatrous apostates and incendiaries, and the principle murdering emissaries of tyrants, that seek to {779} destroy people, or enforce them to the same apostacy; but the former is true: therefore, &c.

4. The same may be inferred from that command of rescuing and delivering our brother, when in hazard of his life; for omitting which duty, no pretence, even of ignorance, will excuse us, Prov. 24.11,12. If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; if thou sayest, behold we knew it not: doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul doth not he know it, and shall not he render to every man according to his works? That is, "Rescue out out of the hand of the invader, robber, unjust magistrate, &c. and that either by defending him with your hand, or tongue, or any other lawful way: men use to make a great many excuses, either that they know not his danger nor his innocence, nor that they were possessed of so great authority that they might relieve him, that they have enough to do to mind their own affairs, and not concern themselves with others, &c. He proposes and redargues here, for example’s sake, one excuse, comprehending all the rest." As commentators say, Pool. Syn. Crit. in loc. This precept is indefinitely given to all: principally indeed belonging to righteous magistrates; but in case of their omission, and if, instead of defending them, they be the persons that draw them to death, then the precept is no more to be restricted to them, than that verse 1, not to be envious against evil men, or verse 10, If thou faint in that day of adversity, thy strength is small, can be said to be spoken only to magistrates. Hence, if it be a duty to rescue our brethren from any prevailing power that would take their lives unjustly, and no pretence even of ignorance will excuse the forbearance of it, then it must be lawful, in some extraordinary cases, to prevent the murdering violence of public incendiaries, by killing them, rather than to {780} suffer ourselves or our brethren to be killed, when there is no other way, in probability, either of saving ourselves, or rescuing them; but here the former is commanded as a duty: therefore the latter also must be justified, when the duty cannot otherwise be discharged.

Now, having thus at some length endeavoured to discuss this some way odd and esteemed odious head, to which task I have been as unwillingly drawn, as the actors here pleaded for were driven to the occasion thereof, whom only the necessity of danger did force to such achievements, to preserve their own and brethren’s lives, in prosecuting the cause; and nothing but the necessity of duty did force me to this undertaking, to defend their name from reproach, and the cause from calumnies. I shall conclude with a humble protestation, that what I have said be not stretched further than my obvious and declared design doth aim at; which is not to press a practice from these precedents, but to vindicate a scripture truth from invidious or ignorant obloquies, and not to specify what may or must be done in such cases hereafter, but to justify what hath been done in such circumstances before. Wherein I acknowledge, that though the truth be certain, such things may be done, yet the duty is most difficult to be done with approbation. Such is the fury of corrupt passion, far more fierce in all than the pure zeal of God is to be found fervent in any, that too much caution, tenderness, and fear, can scarce be adhibit [used] in a subject, wherein even the most warrantable provocation of holy zeal is ordinarily attended with such a concurrence of self-interest, and other carnal temptations, as it is impossible, without the signal assistance of special grace, to have its exercise in any notable measure or manner, without the mixture of sinful allay; as the true nonconformist doth truly observe as above. Yet this doctrine, though in its defined and uncautioned latitude be obnoxious to accidental abuses (as all doctrines {781} may be abused by men’s corruption or ignorance, misapplying the same) is nevertheless built upon such foundations, that religion will own to be firm, and reason will ratify their force. And I hope it is here so circumscribed with scripture boundaries, and restricted in the narrow circumstantiation of the case, that as the ungodly cannot captate [catch] advantage from it, to encourage themselves in their murdering villainies, seeing they never were, never can be so circumstantiate, as the exigence here defined requires; so as for the godly, I may presume upon their tenderness, and the conduct of that Spirit that is promised to lead them, and the zeal they have for the honour of holiness, with which all real cruelty is inconsistent, to promise in their name, that if their enemies will repent of their wickedness, and so far at least reform themselves, as to surcease from their cruel murdering violence, in persecuting them to the death, and devouring them as prey, then they shall not need to fear from the danger of this doctrine, but as saith the proverb of the ancients, wickedness proceedeth from the wicked, but their hand shall not be upon them. But if they shall still proceed to murder the innocent, they must understand, that they that hold this truth in theory, will also reduce it to practice. And bloody papists must know, that Christians now are more men, than either stupidly to surrender their throats to their murdering swords, or supinely to suffer their villainy to pass unpunished; and though their favours have flattered many, and their fury hath forced others, into a faint succumbing and superseding from all action against them; yet all are not asleep; and I hope there are some, who will never enter into any terms of peace with them, against whom the Mediator hath declared, and will prosecute a war for ever [Exod. 17.16,] but will still own and aim at this, as the highest pitch of their ambition, to be found among his chosen, called, and faithful ones, who maintain a constant opposition against them. However, though {782} the Lord seems, in his providence, to put a bar upon all public appearances under display of open war against them; and it is not the design of what is said here on this and the foregoing head, to incite or invite to any: yet certainly, even at this present time, all that have the zeal of God, and love to his righteous cause rightly stated in their hearts, will find themselves called not to supersede altogether from all actions, of avowed and even violent opposition against them, whom we are all bound both by the morality of the duty, and the formality of solemn and sacred covenants, to hold out from a violent intrusion into, and peaceable possession of this land devoted to God, and to put them out when they are got in either by fraud or force; and this plea, now brought to an end, will oblige all the loyal lovers of Christ to an endeavour of these, (1.) To take alarms, and to be fore-warned and fore-armed, resolute and ready to withstand the invasion of popery; that it be neither established by law, through the supineness of such, who should stand in the gap, and resolve rather to be sacrificed in the spot by a valiant resisting, than see such an abomination set up again; nor introduced by this liberty, through the wiles of such, whose chiefest principle of policy is perfidy, who design by this wide gate, and in the womb of the wooden horse of this toleration, to bring it in peaceably; nor intruded by force and fury, fire and sword, if they shall fall upon their old game of murders and massacres. It concerns all to be upon their guard, and not only to come out of Babylon, but to be making ready to go against it, when the Lord shall give the call. (2.) To resist the beginnings of their idolatrous monuments, and not suffer them to set the idol of the mass in city or country, without attempting, if they have any force, to overthrow the same. (3.) In the meantime, to defend themselves and the gospel, against all their assaults, {783} and to rescue any out of their hands, upon all occasions that for the cause of Christ they have caught as a prey, and to oppose and prevent their own and the nation’s ruin and slavery.

But to conclude: as it will be now expected, in justice and charity, that all the vassals and votaries, subjects and servants, of the one common Lord and King, Christ Jesus, every where throughout his dominions, who may see this representation of the case, and vindication of the cause of a poor wasted and wounded, persecuted and reproached, remnant of the now declining, sometimes renowned church of Scotland, will be so far from standing Esau like on the other side, either as enemies, rejoicing to look on their affliction in the day of their calamity; or as neutral, unconcerned with their distressed conditions; or as strangers, without the knowledge or sense of their sorrows and difficulties; or as Gallio’s caring for none of these things, or thinking their case not worthy of compassion, or their sufferings, as at best but started upon slender, subtle, and nice points, that are odd and odious, and invidiously represented: it is now expected, I say, that Christians, not possessed with prejudice, (which is very improper for any that bear that holy and honourable signature) and not willing to be imposed on by misinformations, will be so far from that unchristian temper towards them, as to be easily biassed with all reports and reproaches to their disadvantage, that if they weigh what is in this treatise offered, and truly I may say candidly represented, without any design of prevarication, or painting or daubing, to make the matter either better or worse than it will seem to any impartial observer; they will admit and entertain a more charitable construction of them, and not deny them brotherly sympathy and Christian compassion, nor be wanting in the duty of prayer and supplication for them; at length the Lord would turn his hand upon the little ones, and bring {784} at least a third part, a remnant of mourners, through the fire. So, to that little flock, the poor of the flock, that wait upon the Lord, and desire to keep his way, I shall only say, though I judged necessity was laid upon me, instead of a better, to essay this vindication of your cause, as stated betwixt you and your Lord’s enemies, the men that now ride over your heads, that say to your soul, Bow down that we may go over you, I desire not that you should, yea I obtest that you may not lay any stress on the strength of what I have said; but let its weight lie where it must be laid, on that firm foundation that will bear you and it both, that stone, that tried stone, that precious corner-stone, that sure foundation Christ Jesus; and search the scriptures of truth to see whether these things be so or not: and I doubt not, but by that touchstone if these precious truths be tried, they will be found neither hay nor stubble, that cannot abide the fire, but as sliver tried in a furnace of earth purified seven times. Be not offended, that they are contemned as small, and contradicted as odious, but look to the importance of his glory, whose truths and concerns they are, and from whom they are seeking to draw or drive you, who oppose and oppugn these truths. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free, and hold fast every word of his patience, that you may be kept in this hour of temptation. Let no man take your crown, or pull you down from your excellency, which is always the design of your wicked enemies, in all their several shapes and shews, both of force and fraud, craft and cruelty. Beware of their snares, and of their tender mercies, for they are cruel [Prov. 12.10]; and when they speak fair, believe them not, for there are seven abominations in their hearts. [Prov. 26.25.] "Say ye not a confederacy, neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid; sanctify the Lord of hosts himself, and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread, and he shall be for a sanctuary, but {785} for a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence, to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Wait upon the Lord who hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and look for him among his children," [Isa. 8.12, &c.] though now you be reputed for signs and wonders an Israel, from the Lord of hosts which dwelleth in mount Zion. Who knows, but "therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you, for the Lord is a God of judgment, blessed are all they that wait for him." [Isa. 30.18.] To whom be all glory, Amen.

Having come to a conclusion of the six heads proposed to be treated of, I judged it conducing, by way of a postscript, to subjoin a seventh, in vindication of these conscientious and truly tender sufferers, who, in the dread and awe of the holy, sovereign, and supreme law-giver, who commandeth his subjects and followers, to abstain from all appearance of evil, did in obedience to him and his royal law, chose rather to suffer the rage, robberies, and violence of cruel and bloody enemies, together with censures, reproaches, obloquies, and contempt of apostatizing professors, than to give any aid or encouragement to the avowed and declared enemies of Christ, the covenanted reformed religion of the church, the rights, laws, and liberties of the people, and to the introducing of antichristian idolatry, tyranny, and slavery, by paying any of their wicked and wickedly imposed exactions, raised for furthering their hellish designs, of which none that pays them can be innocent.