Monday, January 19, 2009

Robert Hill on the Duties of Magistrates and Subjects

Robert Hill, English Puritan (d. 1623) edited William Perkins' exposition of Revelation 1-3 and wrote a notable Puritan devotional manual, The Pathway to Prayer and Piety (1613). In it, among other things, he discusses the duties of magistrates and subjects. I thought this was appropriate to reflect upon during Inauguration Week.

Robert Hill, The Pathway to Prayer and Piety, Vol. 2, pp. 30-32:

Quest. But since God hath appointed civil government in the world, what are the duties of a good Magistrate?

He is bounden,

1. In his own person to fear and serve God.

2. To plant true religion in his dominions, and abolish all kinds of superstition.

3. To enact wholesome laws for the good ordering of his State and people.

4. To see that God's Commandments, and his own edicts be duly observed. 2 Chron. 19.5, 6, 7.

5. By those Laws to hear and judge both poor and rich. Deut. 1.16, 17.

6. To make the safety of the people the most sovereign Law: and with Augustus, rather save one Subject than destroy a thousand enemies.

7. To keep his own Laws in his own person. Prov. 16.12.

8. Not to look more to private gain than the good of his people. Deut. 16.19.

9. To live so as he may be both feared and loved. 1 Sam. 12.18.

10. To pray often for his State and Subjects. In a word, he must have a Lady's hand, an Eagle's eye, and a Lion's heart.

Quest. And what are the duties of a good Subject?

. He oweth to his Governor,

1. Fear, as he is the minister of Justice. Rom. 13.4.

2. Reverence, as he is the Father of his people. 1 Pet. 2.17.

3. Obedience as he is under God upon earth. 1 Pet. 2.13, 14.

4. Prayer, that under him he may live an honest and godly life. 1 Tim. 2.1.

5. Protection of his person from danger, though it should be with the loss of his own life. 2 Sam. 18.3.

6. Maintenance in paying tribute unto him, under whom he enjoyeth all that he hath. Rom. 13.

7. Commendation of his virtues, for which especially he is to be admired. 1 Sam. 12.4.

8. Concealment of his infirmities, and to take heed how he censure them.

9. To take heed that he speak not evil of him, no not to curse him in his heart. Acts 23.5.

10. If God take his Governor away, he must keep an honourable memory of him after he is dead.

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