Beza - <1> The Right of Magistrates Concerning the Rights of Rulers Over Their Subjects and the Duty Of Subjects Towards Their Rulers A b rief and

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< 1 > The Right of Magistrates Concerning the Rights of Rulers Over Their Subjects and the Duty Of Subjects Towards Their Rulers. A brief and clear treatise particularly indispensable to either class in these troubled times. By Theodore Beza Translation by Henry-Louis Gonin, edited by Patrick S. Poole Notes from the critical French Edition translated by Patrick S. Poole To Kings and Princes the Counsel of David: Psalm 2: Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath will soon be kindled. To the Subjects: I Peter 2:13: Be subjects to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake. Contents: Question 1. Must Magistrates Always Be Obeyed As Unconditionally As God? Question 2. Is A Magistrate Held Responsible To Render Account Of All His Laws To His Subjects? And How Far Are They To Presume Such Laws To Be Just? Question 3. How Far Must Obedience Be Rendered Or Refused To Unjust Or Impious Commands? Question 4. How Can One Who Has Suffered Wrong At The Hands Of A Ruler Defend Himself Against Him? Chapter 5. Whether Manifest Tyrants Can Lawfully Be Checked By Armed Force. Question 6. What is the duty of subjects towards their superiors who have fallen into tyranny? Question 7. What must be done when the Orders or Estates cannot be summoned to impede or to check tyranny? Question 8. What may be done against unjust oppressors? Question 9. Whether subjects can contract with their rulers? Question 10. Whether those who suffer persecution for the sake of their religion can defend themselves against tyrants without hurt to their consciences. Endnotes
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< 2 > Question 1. Must Magistrates Always Be Obeyed As Unconditionally As God? Inasmuch as only the will of almighty God is the eternal and immutable Rule of all Justice, we declare that it must be unconditionally obeyed. As regards however the obedience due to Princes, they too would doubtless have to be obeyed always and unconditionally if they ruled constantly in accordance with the utterance of God. Since however theirs is often the contrary case, such obedience must be made subject to the following condition, namely that they command nothing impious, nothing unjust. Impious or sinful I call those which God forbids in the First Table of His Law, or which forbid those which God there commands. Unjust behests, however, I call those by which the performance of that, which every man in accordance with his calling either public or private is in charity bound to render to his neighbor, is either prevented or forbidden. To prove this with rational arguments as well as clear examples will not be difficult. The Lord says by the prophet Isaiah, "I will not give my glory unto another". Although the Lord has not spoken so clearly, yet in fact it admits of no doubt that commands emanating from purely human authority cannot without sin be regarded as of equal weight with those which God Himself has given. But the authority of God and men would be equal and alike if it were required that men should always be unconditionally obeyed in like manner with God. I add further that whenever
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This note was uploaded on 02/14/2012 for the course POLS 3136 taught by Professor Bazowski during the Winter '10 term at York University.

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Beza - <1> The Right of Magistrates Concerning the Rights of Rulers Over Their Subjects and the Duty Of Subjects Towards Their Rulers A b rief and

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