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  • Adam Clarke's CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY -
    Part 23 - RULERS AND SUBJECTS


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    Part 23 RULERS AND SUBJECTS [11]

    The different forms of civil government which have obtained in the world:-

    I. PATRIARCHAL... -- Government by the heads of families. II. THEOCRACY... -- The government of the Jews by God himself, as lawgiver, monarch, and judge. III. MONARCHY... -- Government exercised, laws made and executed, by the authority and will of an individual. Under this form may be classed, 1. Autocracy; a government in which an individual rules by himself without ministry, counsel, or advice. 2. Gynaeocracy. This is simply a case where the male issue fails, and the crown descends in the female line: but it has nothing in its civil constitution to distinguish it from monarchy, &c. 3. Despotism. Formerly despot signified no more than "master or teacher." It is now used only in a bad sense, and frequently confounded with tyranny. 4. Tyranny. Originally the term tyranny appears to have meant no more than "monarchy;" but the abuse, or lawless exercise of power, brought the words tyrant and despot to imply "a cruel and relentless governor; an unreasonable and oppressive ruler." 5. King signifies properly "the knowing person, the wise man." IV. ARISTOCRACY... -- Government by the nobles. Aristocracy generally prevails in a regency, where the hereditary governor is a minor, or under age. Under aristocracy may be ranked OLIGARCHY...: a state in which a few men, whether of the nobles or plebeians, but particularly the latter, have the supreme rule. This frequently prevails under revolutions, where the rightful governor is deposed or destroyed.

    V. DEMOCRACY... -- A government administered by representatives chosen by the people at large. Nearly allied to this is "republicanism." There is rather an affected than real difference between this and democracy: both are of the people, though the latter pretends to be of a more liberal type than the former. FEDERALISM...: A government framed out of several states, each having its own representatives, and sending them to a general congress or diet. VI. ANARCHY... -- Where the legislative and executive power is acknowledged as existing nowhere, or rather equally in every individual: and where, consequently, there is no rule; all is confusion, every one doing what is right in his own eyes. At present only three kinds of governments prevail in the world:-- 1. Monarchy; 2. Aristocracy; 3. Democracy: and these are only distinguished, by being more or less limited by law, more or less rigid in execution, or more or less mild in general operation.

    Every man owes to Caesar, that is, the civil government under which he lives,

    I. HONOR... He who respects not civil institutions, and those who in the course of God's providence are clothed with political authority, will scarcely regard civil obligations: and the men who can speak evil of such dignities will, in general, be found such as have little reverence for God himself. It is therefore most evident that every man should honor and reverence civil authority, in whomsoever it is invested: 1. Because it comes from God. 2. Because without it society could not subsist. 3. Because in every case it promotes, in a less or greater degree, the public welfare; and, 4. Because, in its support and preservation, his own happiness is intimately concerned. If Caesar, in his official character, do not receive that honor which, from the origin, nature, and end of government, is due to him, public order and tranquillity must soon be at an end. II. OBEDIENCE... There can be no government without laws: and laws, howsoever good in themselves, are useless if not obeyed. In the order of God, to Caesar is intrusted the civil sword; and the laws show how he is to wield it. While it is "a terror to evil doers," it is a "praise to them that do well." Where the laws are right, and equal justice is maintained, no honest man need fear the sword. Obedience to the laws is absolutely necessary; for, when the spirit of insubordination takes place, no man can ever have his right; nothing but wrong prevails; and the property of the honest and industrious man will soon be found in the hands of the knave. Those who have nothing to lose, and to whom the state owes nothing, are the first to cry out of wrongs; and the first to disturb civil order, that they may enrich themselves with the spoils of those who by legal inheritance, or honest industry, have obtained wealth. Wherever the spirit of disobedience and insubordination appears, it should be discountenanced and opposed by every honest man. III. TRIBUTE... Nothing can be more reasonable than the principle of taxation. Every country must have a government. Every government has three grand duties to perform in behalf of the governed: 1. To maintain domestic order. 2. To distribute impartial justice. 3. To protect from foreign enemies. For the first, many civil officers, and a militia, are generally required. For the second, courts of justice, judges, &c., must be provided. For the third, a strong military and naval force, particularly in times of war, or danger, must be always on foot, or in readiness, in order to save the state.

    Now, all these expenses are incurred for the public; and by the public they ought to be borne: and taxation is the only mode by which money can be raised to defray these expenses. Every man, therefore, who shares in the blessings of domestic peace; who glories in the administration of impartial justice; and who wishes the land of his nativity, the constitution of his country, and its civil and religious institutions, to be preserved to himself and his dependents; should cheerfully bear his part of the public burdens, by giving that tribute to Caesar, through whom and from whom, according to the constitution, under the superintendence of God's providence, all these inestimable blessings are derived. He should support the government, that the government may support him: and the principle of justice is the same here as in the performance of any civil contract, or the remuneration of any kind of service. The justice that obliges me to pay the hireling his wages equally obliges me to pay tribute to Caesar. I have had the hireling's labor; he has had my pay. I have had the protection of the state; it has had my respect, obedience, and support. In both cases obligation and interest are mutual. The state is bound to protect the subject; the subject is bound to obey and support the state. When the subject is protected in all his rights and privileges, the state has done its duty. When the subject honors the state, obeys the laws, and contributes his quota for the support of government, he has done his duty. The subject cannot live without the support of the state; the state cannot exist without the obedience and support of the subject.

    Reader, if thou hast the happiness to live under the British constitution, be thankful to God. Here, the will, the power, and utmost influence of the king, were he even so disposed, cannot deprive the meanest subject of his property, his liberty, or his life. All the solemn legal forms of justice must be consulted; the culprit, however accused, be heard by himself and his counsel; and in the end twelve honest, impartial men, chosen from among his fellows, shall decide on the validity of the evidence produced by the accuser. For the trial by jury may God make the inhabitants of Great Britain thankful!

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