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Concerning Obeying the Magistrates

September 28, 2011 Leave a comment

However these deeds of men are judged in themselves, still the Lord accomplished his work through them alike when he broke the bloody sceptres of arrogant kings and when he overturned intolerable governments. Let the princes hear and be afraid. But we must, in the meantime, be very careful not to despise or violate that authority of magistrates, full of venerable majesty, which God has established by the weightiest decrees, even though it may reside with the most unworthy men, who defile it as much as they can with their own wickedness. For, if the correction of unbridled despotism is the Lord’s to avenge, let us not at once think that it is entrusted to us, to whom no command has been given except to obey and suffer.

John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion [1559]