“Thou shalt not steal… Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house… nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.”
On Anabaptism (which held to enforced communal living)
Order of Contents
Grounds & Extent of Civil Rights & Restrictions 1
Limits of Exercising the Fullness of Civil Power unto Public Good 1
Good Works are Not to be Coerced 1
All Lawful Powers are from God & are Subordinate Only in their Exercise
. unto Other Authorities in a Limited Way 2
Rutherford, Samuel – Question 16: “Whether or Not a Despotical & Masterly Dominion of Men & Things Agree to the King Because He is the King” in Lex Rex 1646
Replace the word ‘king’ with ‘civil magistrate’ and this chapter is a masterly delineation of how Socialism (and many political ideas close thereto, rampant in the modern political scene) is contrary to natural law and the Word of God. More importantly, read to learn what the various positive relations are by Creation between individuals, property, the State, the family, Scripture, etc.
Rutherford’s original context was arguing against the divine-right of kings, which held that kings implicitly owned all of their subjects and all of their property. Rutherford demonstrates otherwise and sets forth the grounds of natural and Biblical political theory.
Hodge, Charles – Systematic Theology (Eerdmans, 1872-3), vol. 3, pt. 3, ch. 19, ‘The Law’, section 12, ‘The 8th Commandment’, pp. 428-434
Dabney, Robert – The Practical Philosophy… (Mexico, MO: 1897), Ch. 4, ‘Civic Ethics’, pp. 385-390
‘All Men by Nature Equal–In What Sense?’
‘The Pretended Equality Works Unjust Inequalities’
‘Particular Rights Common to All’
Dabney refers throughout these sections to the Jacobin theory. This referred to the views of an American, socialist, political group. The name went back to the dominant political society in the French Revolution of 1789.
A Free Disputation (1649), ch. 4, p. 50
“We hold with Lactantius that religion cannot be compelled, nor can mercy and justice and love to our neighbor commanded in the Second Table [of the Law], be more compelled than faith in Christ.”
A Peaceable and Temperate Plea (1642), ch. 19, p. 307
“4. …In the art of painting, ye may abstract that which is moral from that which is artificial; but in a King as a King, there is nothing artificial, or which is to be abstracted from justice and piety; for all the acts of kingly authority as kingly, are moral acts of justice, and of piety in preserving both the Tables of the Law (if a King command a stratagem of war, that which is merely artificial is not from the King as King, but from a principle of military art in him, as an expert soldier)…”
On the Grounds & Extent of Civil Rights & Restrictions
Robert L. Dabney
The Practical Philosophy (Mexico, MO, 1897), p. 383
“Man’s natural liberty is this: privilege of having and doing those things only to which the individual has a moral right. Consequently, the natural liberty of two men in the same commonwealth may be different, because under Providence, their natural endowments and relations may differ. Were it possible to frame a government thoroughly equitable, each person’s civic liberty would be identical with his natural: the privilege of having and doing all those things, and those only, to which each has a moral right.”
On the Limits of Exercising the Fullness of Civil Power unto the Public Good
Lex Rex… (1644), p. 197
“5. [Henning] Arnisaeus [d. 1636, a German, Lutheran political writer] desires that kings may use sparingly the plenitude of their power for public good; there must be, says he, necessity to make it lawful to use the plenitude of their power justly; therefore Ahab sinned, in that he unjustly possessed Naboth’s vineyard…
but this plenitude of power may be justly put forth in act, says he, if the public good may be regarded.”
The Divine Right of Church Government… (London, 1646), Appendix, Question 1, pp. 6-7
“1 Cor. 6:12, ‘All things (indifferent) are lawful in themselves, but they are not expedient,’ if we be brought under the power or band of them by law. Therefore, in the means of worship, not only must we see what is lawful, but also what is profitable and conducing to the end…
1 Cor. 7:6, ‘But this I speak by permission, not of commandment.’ Therefore in things in which God has granted us liberty, to do or not to do, permission has place, not obliging necessity or penal laws.
13th Proposition. There cannot be commanding laws in things that are politicly good or evil according to the individual complexion, temperature, or gifts of singular men: [for example] to marry or not to marry, cannot be commanded, for where God looses, no power on earth can bind, v. 33.
1 Cor. 8:7, Paul condemns them in the use of their Christian liberty, ‘Howbeit there be not in every man this knowledge;’ then that rulers may make laws in things indifferent, without scandal, they must remove ignorance.
2. If there be but one person weak in knowledge (there is not in every man that knowledge), a law obliging all in things indifferent cannot be made.”
Good Works are Not to be Coerced
“For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good.”
A Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience… (1649), p. 50
“We hold with Lactantius [d. c. 325] that religion cannot be compelled, nor can mercy and justice and love to our neighbor commanded in the Second Table be more compelled than faith in Christ.”
That All Lawful Powers are from God & are Subordinate Only in their Exercise unto Other Authorities in a Limited Way
The Divine Right of Church Government (1646)
ch. 24, pp. 538-9
ch. 25, pp. 563-4 & 568-9