The Westminster Divines on Armed Resistance to Tyranny

This was a live issue during the days of the Westminster Assembly in the 1640’s as the English Parliament, which called the Assembly, took up arms against the tyrrany of King Charles I.  Parliament won, and cut of the King’s head.  As Samuel Rutherford championed, the King is not the Law, but God’s Law is King.




Short Works

Burroughs, Jeremiah – A Brief Answer to Dr. Ferne’s Book Tending to Resolve Conscience about the Subjects taking up of Arms, 1643  12 pages

Herle, Charles – A Fuller Answer to a Treatise written by Doctor Ferne, entitled The Resolving of Conscience Upon this question: Whether upon this supposition or case (the King will not defend, but is bent to subvert religion, laws, and liberties), subjects may with good conscience make resistance.  Wherein the original frame, and fundamentals of this government of England, together with Rom. 13:1 and 1 Pet. 2:13 [are examined], 1642  30 pages




Marshall, Stephen – A Plea for Defensive Arms, or, A copy of a letter written by Mr. Stephen Marshall to a friend of his in the city, for the necessary vindication of himself and his ministry, against that altogether groundless and most unjust and ungodly aspersion cast upon him by certain malignants in the city, and lately printed at Oxford, in their Mendacium aulicum, otherwise called, Mercurius Aulicus, and sent abroad into other nations to his perpetual infamy in which letter the accusation is fully answered, and together with that, the lawfulness of the Parliament’s taking up defensive arms is briefly and learnedly asserted and demonstrated, texts of Scripture cleared, all objections to the contrary answered, to the full satisfaction of all those that desire to have their consciences informed in this great controversy, 1643  30 pages



Short Books

Bridges, William

The Wounded Conscience Cured  56 pp.  in Works, vol. 5

The Truth of the Times Vindicated, whereby the Lawfulness of Parliament Proceedings in Taking up Arms is Justified  65 pp.  in Works, vol. 5

The Loyal Convert  in Works, vol. 5

Palmer, Herbert – Scripture and Reason Pleaded for Defensive Arms: or, The whole controversy about subjects taking up arms.  Wherein besides other pamphlets, an answer is punctually directed to Dr. Ferne’s book, entitled, ‘Resolving of conscience, etc.’  The scriptures alleged are fully satisfied, the rational discourses are weighed in the balance of right reason, and matters of fact concerning the present differences are examined, 1643  80 pages




Burroughs, Jeremiah – The Glorious Name of God, ‘The Lord of Hosts’, Opened in Two Sermons, vindicating the Commission from this Lord of Hosts, to subjects (in some case) to take up arms, with a post-script, briefly answering a late treatise by Henry Ferne, 1643  142 pages



Full Length Book

Rutherford, Samuel – Lex, Rex: The Law and the Prince: a dispute for the just prerogative of king and people, containing the reasons and causes of the most necessary defensive wars of the kingdom of Scotland and of their expedition for the aid and help of their dear brethren of England: in which their innocency is asserted and a full answer is given to a seditious pamphlet entitled Sacro-Sancta Regum Majestas, or, The sacred and royal prerogative of Christian Kings, under the name of J. A. but penned by Jo. Maxwell the excommunicate P. Prelate: with a scriptural confutation of the ruinous grounds of W. Barclay, H. Grotius, H. Arnisœus, Ant. de Domi P. Bishop of Spalata, and of other late anti-magistratical royalists, as the author of Ossorianum, D. Fern, E. Symmons, the doctors of Aberdeen, etc., in 44 questions  Buy  1644

See especially Questions 9, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18, 22, 23, 25, 29, 30, 40.  See Questions 20 & 36 for the Doctrine of Interposition.  See Questions 28, 31, 32, & 33 regarding the Doctrine of the Lawfulness of Armed Resistance Against Tyrants.




Related Pages

Resistance to Tyrrany

Historic Treatises on Resistance to Tyrrany

Historic Quotes on Resistance to Tyrrany

All of the Writings of the Westminster Divines Online

All of the Writings of the Westminster Divines Online by Topic