The Casting Down of the Last and Strongest Hold of Satan. (2) - Theses VIII-XI, by Thomas Edwards.
There can be no reason in the world given, that all other persons in relations who have authority over others, as Masters, Fathers, Mothers, Tutors, Husbands, Ministers, should be bound to have a care in matters of religion over their children, servants, &c. and a power of commanding and making them outwardly to worship God and keep his way (So its said of Abraham, he will command his children, make his children and servants know that he is their father and their master; so speaks the Fourth Commandment to the father of the family, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, &c. Tis not said, do thou remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day, but thou shalt admonish thy son and thy daughter that they also sanctify it; God does not say so, but thus, remember that thou sanctify it, and that all others that are thine, sanctify it) and that Princes and Magistrates who are the highest powers, and have the greatest authority on earth (who externally and politically have a power over Ministers, Parents, Masters, to rectify their male administration (as is evident by many instances in Scripture) who can also help and remedy evils in cases where Parents, Masters, Ministers cannot, and have many advantages to bring men to good above others) should not have a power over their subjects to command them to the worship of God and restrain them from idolatry and heresy. Hence 'tis a good saying of Zanchie on the Fourth Commandment, every father of a family can and ought to force his family to the outward worship of God; why should not the Magistrate also his subjects? I desire some reason may be shown why the talents of authority and power in all other hands must be made use of for God in reference to the souls of men, and not in the hands of the Magistrate; and why Parents, Masters offend in not caring for their families in matters of religion, and the Magistrate not.
The holy Patriarchs, good Judges, godly Kings, and other pious Magistrates spoken of in Scripture, did de facto make use of their power and authority over others to suppress false doctrine, false worship, false prophets, seducers, and to bring those under them to the true fear and worship of God; they thought it their duty not only in their own persons to keep to the Word of God and to serve him, and to bring their children to it, but to command all under their Government to the true worship of God, forbidding and suppressing all other. It would fill a book to relate and open all the particulars concerning religion, in commanding the true, destroying the false, and punishing false prophets, idolaters, apostates, recorded in the Scriptures of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Jehoshaphat, Asa, Hezekiah, Josiah, Manasseh after his conversion, Nehemiah, with many others. I shall set down some particulars of some of them.
Abraham the Patriarch was a Magistrate, a great Prince, that had three hundred and eighteen servants armed trained men born in his house, he had not only the covenant in his own flesh, but he made all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money to be circumcised Gen.17. he cast also out of his family, Hagar the bond-woman, and scoffing persecuting Ismael, born after the flesh, Gen. 21. compared with Gal. 4. 29, 30. and Gen. 18. 19 God saith of him, I know that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord; upon which place Master Cheynell a learned Divine of the Assembly writes thus: Abraham did not leave his children and servants to their own genius, their own councils, their own lusts, though 'tis certain that divers of them would have thanked him for such a liberty; for they had been nursed up in superstition and idolatry as Abraham was, and might have pretended that they were not satisfied in point of conscience; but Abraham knew how to distinguish between liberty of conscience and liberty of lust, and therefore would not allow them such a liberty as would have enticed them into the worst kind of bondage. Pareus also, God uses the word command, that parents and superiors may understand that they are not overly and slightly, but diligently, and with authority to do their duty to bring their inferiors to the fear and obedience of God.
Jacob the Patriarch, Gen. 35. 2, 3, 4. said to his household, and to all that were with him (all under his power and protection) put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments. And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their land, and all their ear-rings which were in their ears, and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem. Pareus upon the place shows that they that were with Jacob made distinct from his household, were those Shechemites that were taken captive by the sons and servants of Jacob who had brought their idols with them, and observes that as 'tis the office of a good Master of a family in his house, so of a Magistrate in the common-wealth to take away idols and instruments of idolatry, and other lets of true conversion to God.
Jehoshaphat, Asa, Hezekiah, Josiah, those excellent Princes made use of their power and the authority of their places in their Kingdoms and Territories, to put down and suppress false worships and ways, to punish false prophets, idolatrous priests, and the people who went after them, to establish the true faith and worship of God, and to command and cause all their people by laws and their authority to stand to their reformations; yea Manasseh who had been so wicked, presently upon his conversion, 2 Chron. 33. 15, 16. rested not in his own repentance that he knew that the Lord was God, but he took away the strange gods, all the altars, and cast them out of the City, and repaired the Altar of the Lord, and commanded Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel: as before he had made them to err by his place, and power, verse 9. so now he made them to serve the Lord God of Israel. Asa that good King, 2 Chron. 14. and 15. by his kingly power took away all idolatry and false worship, and that not only out of the Land of Judah and Benjamin, but out of the Cities which he had taken from Mount Ephraim, the strangers of Ephraim, Manasseh, and out of Simeon, all under his power and jurisdiction, though of the ten tribes, and accounted strangers after the revolt; yea, he destroyed the idol of his Queen Mother. Secondly, he settled and renewed the true worship of God renewing the Altar of the Lord, and entering into a covenant to seek the Lord God. Thirdly, he commanded Judah to seek the Lord God, and to do the Law and the commandment, and to enter into a covenant to bind themselves more to the right seeking of God. Fourthly, he punished those under his government who went contrary, viz. they should be put to death who would not enter into this covenant, or having entered into it, should fall from it, and his Queen Mother he removed from being Queen, because she had made an idol in a grove, that is, he deprived his mother of all dignity and authority which she had by custom.
Jehoshaphat used his authority when he came to be King to take away the high places and groves out of Judah, and from Beersheba to Mount Ephraim from South to North, from one end of his Kingdom to another he brought his people unto God from whom they had fallen, (for the Kingdom of Judah from the days of Asa was extended to Mount Ephraim.)
Hezekiah when he came to the Kingdom removed the high places and images, cut down the groves, broke in pieces the Brazen Serpent; he and his Princes gave out a commandment, and established a decree for the keeping of the Passover, and for the turning of the people unto God, and he restored the true worship of God, and commanded the Priests and the people to do their duties in their several places.
Josiah that godly Prince, First, he removed and destroyed the high places, groves, carved images, molten images, the altars of Baalim and all the idols out of all the Land, he took away the horses given to the Sun, he defiled Topheth, brake down the houses of the Sodomites, and purged the Land of all the abominations. Secondly, he put down all the idolatrous Priests, and all other Priests that had burnt incense upon the high pla∣ces, and slew all the Priests of the high places upon the Altars. Thirdly, he restored the true worship of God, made a Covenant with God to that end, and commanded the people to keep the Passover, and to perform the Covenant. Fourthly, he caused all that were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin to stand to the Covenant, and made all that were present in Israel to serve, even to serve the Lord their God, 2 Chron. 34. 32, 33. that is all that were under his jurisdiction he kept them in such awe by his regal authority and penal laws, as they durst not but stand to the Covenant.
As de facto it is evident in the examples related (besides divers others recorded in Scripture) that good Magistrates did always meddle for God and his truth, against false worship and seducers, so that they did it de jure, and ought to do so is as clear from the approbations, special testimonies, promises, rewards and blessings given by God of them, made to them, and bestowed by God on them for so doing. There's hardly any place mentioning what the Patriarchs, Judges, Kings, Magistrates did in this kind, but there's some commendation, some blessing, some special testimony from God for so doing recorded in those places, 2 Chron. 14. 2, 3, 4. Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God, For he took away the Altars of the strange gods and the high places, &c. So it is said of Jehosophat, Hezekiah, Josiah, they did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, are highly commended, have many blessings upon themselves and their Kingdoms, and all for commanding by their princely power their subjects to good, and removing all false worship and the means of it. God will not hide from Abraham the thing that he was doing concerning Sodom, and the reason is given, because he will command his children and his houshold after him to keep the way of the Lord. Jacob took away the strange gods from his household and all that were with him, and God manifests his approbation of it, the terror of God was upon the Cities round about Jacob, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob; yea God gives such testimony to Princes and Magistrates suppressing false prophets and false worships, that he has rewarded with temporal blessings wicked Kings for so doing, as is evident in Jehu, who for destroying Baal out of Israel, though he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, yet his children of the fourth generation should sit on the throne of Israel, 2 Kings 10. 28, 29, 30.
Those Magistrates, Judges and Princes, even the dear servants of God, who being in place of authority and power, that out of carnal respects to wives, children and other interests, have suffered and tolerated idolatry and other evils (though they in their own persons never practised, much less commanded any such things, nay disuaded from them) and not used their power to restrain and hinder them, have been both sharply reproved and severely punished by God for it: King Solomon having power to hinder his wives from idolatry, and not doing it, but suffering them, God is provoked to bring wrath upon him and his family, 1 King. 11. 4-12. to rend the Kingdom from him, to stir up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite. Tis the opinion of many good Divines, and that upon the first of Kings, ch. 11. and in answer to the Arminians upon that Article of falling from Grace, that Solomon did not bring or admit idols into the house of God, neither did he command the people, that either they should forsake the true worship of God, or worship idols, neither can it be proved that he did in his own person worship idols. This is only certain that being bewitched by his idolatrous wives, he suffered them to build altars and high places, or at most commanded them to be built, and this the word in the Hebrew vers. 11. with thee, not of thee, implies as much, for as much as this is done with thee, imply∣ing done in his Kingdom, and near Jerusalem, though not by Solomon himself.
Eli being a Judge, because when his sons made themselves vile, he restrained them not, redressed not their corruptions and abuses about the sacrifices, though he reproved and dissuaded them from their ways by many strong arguments, therefore God brought fearful ruin upon him and his house, cutting off his arm, and the arm of his fathers house, &c. as in 1 Sam. Ch 2, 3, 4 it is laid down at large.