On Implicit, or Blind Faith & Obedience

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Subsection

On Arbitrary Laws

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Order of Contents

Article  1
Ob Blind Faith
Quotes
On Believing Doctrines that are Above Reason
Historic Presbyterianism Never Requires Implicit Faith or Obedience
Blind Obedience is a Mark of Romanism & Prelacy
That Persons are not to Blindly Believe Preachers
That Church Commands & Determinations are Not to be Blindly Obeyed
That the Magistrate is Not to Blindly Obey the Church
That the Magistrate is Not to Exact Blind Obedience in Matters of Religion
With Regard to War

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Article

1800’s

Connelly, Pierce (Pascal the Younger) – Ch. 7, ‘Blind Obedience’  in Cases of Conscience, or, Lessons in Morals: for the Use of the Laity, Extracted from the Moral Theology of the Romish Clergy  (London, 1851), pp. 48-53

This work is against Romanism, and is specifically against the ethics of the Jesuits.  Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) had attacked the wicked doctrines of the Jesuits, such as evading oaths and giving permission to sin, in his Provincial Letters.  Hence this English author styled himself, ‘Pascal the Younger’.

This chapter contains significant quotes from the foundational writings of the Jesuits, evidencing their doctrine of blind obedience, and their (twisted) reasons and justifications for it.

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On Blind Faith

Samuel Rutherford

A Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience…  (London [1649]), ch. 11, ‘Of the Obliging Power of Conscience’, p. 135 & passim

“Nor are we obliged to follow what our conscience says is true and good, because, or upon this formal reason and ground, that the conscience says so, more than we are to believe and practice what the Church or the conscience of others, [who are] the Church, the learned and godly, say; for we make not the word of the Church the formal object of our faith, but ‘thus saith the Lord’ only, because the Church is but a company of men and so our faith should depend upon men, even though holy and speaking ingenuously what their conscience dictates as true, which is absurd, ergo, by the same reason, what one man’s conscience, our own or others’ say, is not the formal object of our faith and practices, for so also our faith should depend on man, not on God.

And we say the conscience, at its best, is but regula regulata [a rule being regulated] not, regula regulans [a regulating rule], nor ought it to have the throne of God, for God is only Regula Regulans.  If it were a rule, it is to be ruled by God and his Word, yea, as we are to try all things and not believe with a blind faith what others say, or their conscience proposes to themselves and us, as truth, for then we make a Pope of the consciences of men under the notion of teachers and Church; so we are not to be ruled without trying, and absolutely [ruled] by our own conscience, but to try its dictates by the Word of God, otherwise we make a Pope and a God of our own conscience.”

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Quotes

George Gillespie

A Dispute Against the English-Popish Ceremonies…  ([Leiden] 1637)

Pt. 3, ch. 8, p. 137

“11.  Do not our divines plead for this judgement of private discretion, which ought to be permitted to Christians, when anything is propounded to be believed or done by them?  And this, their judgement, is to be seen in their writings against Papists about the controversies de interpretatione Scripturae, deside implicita, etc.”

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Pt. 4, ch. 3, pp. 10-11

“Moreover, as we may not use any indifferent thing at our own pleasure; so neither may the Church at her will and pleasure command the use of it: but as our practice, so the Church’s injunction must be determined and squared according to the former [three] rules [of using indifferent things (1) to the glory of God, (2)according to the law of charity and (3) purity of conscience].  And if any man think, that in the use of things indifferent he may be led and ruled by the Church’s determination without examining any further, let him understand that the Church’s determination is but a subordinate rule, or a rule ruled by higher rules.

He [Dr. Forbes] has been speaking of the rules which God’s Word gives us concerning the use of things indifferent, and all of them he comprehends under this rule, that we should hear the Church and obey them who are set over us, as if God’s rules were subordinate to men’s rules and not theirs to his.  We say not that every man may use things indifferent suo arbitratu [according to his judgment]: but we say withal that neither may the Church command the use of things indifferent, suo arbitratu.  Both, she in commanding and we in obeying, must be guided by the rules of Scripture.

They who are set over us in the Church have no power given them of Christ which is not for edifying, Eph. 4:12.  The council of the apostles and elders at Jerusalem (which is a lively pattern of a lawful synod to the world’s end) professed they would lay no other burden upon the disciples except such things as the law of charity made necessary for shunning of scandal: and so that which they decreed had force and strength to bind, a Charitate propter Scandalum [from charity due to scandal], says Sanctius.  But suo arbitratu [by their (mere) judgment] they enjoined nothing.  It appears by this place (says [Thomas] Cartwright) that there may be no abridgment of liberty simply decreed, but in regard of circumstance, according to the rule of edification.  And if the Church’s decrees and canons be not according to the rules of the Word, yet forasmuch as everyone of us shall give account of himself and his own deed, we must look that whatsoever the Church decree, yet our practice in the use or omission of a thing indifferent, be according to the foresaid rules.

We may not for the commandment of men transgress the rule of piety by doing anything which is not for God’s glory and ordered according to his will; neither ought any of us to obey men, except for the Lord’s sake and as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God; which teaches us the manner how we ought to obey men, namely, propter Christum et sicut Christus praecipit [for Christ, as Christ commands].  For if we should know no more but the will of man for that which we do, then we should be the servants of men, not the servants of Christ.

Neither yet may we for any human ordinance break the rule of charity: but whatsoever either would weaken or not edify our brother, be it never so lawful, never so profitable to ourselves, never so powerfully by earthly authority enjoined, Christians, who are not born unto themselves, but unto Christ, unto his Church and unto the fellow members, must not dare to meddle with it.

Nor lastly may we obey men so as to break the Law of Purity, and perform any action with a doubtful conscience, that is, whereof either the Word has not, or we out of it have no warrant: in which case tender consciences must be tendered, rather than be racked by authority: for be the things in themselves never so lawful, etc., they are utterly unlawful to me without such information.

Whereas therefore some say that in the use of matters indifferent, the laws of those who are set over us ought to rule us; we still answer that our practice may not be ruled by any law of man except it be according to the rules of the Word; whereof one is this: Tantum oportere esse obedientiae studium in Christianis, ut nihil agant, quod non existiment vel potius certi sint placere Deo (Calvin on Rom. 14:5).”

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An Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1641), Postscript, pp. 16-18

“And now I shall leave to be considered by wise men these vast differences betwixt the Papists’ implicit faith and the case of our [presbyterian] Churches governed by elderships:

1.  The Church assents not to that which the consistory of elders decrees or does, except it be agreeing to the Word of God, as the Reasoner [Independent writer] himself says: but there is no such limitation in the Papists’ implicit faith.

2.  The consistory [local session] of elders does not press anything upon the Church imperiously, or by naked will and authority, without any reason, as the Church of Rome does with those from whom she requires implicit faith.

3.  The Papists know not what those things be which they believe by implicit faith: so that such a faith is rightly called mera articulorum fidei ignorantia, a mere ignorance of the articles of faith: but the decrees of our elderships whereunto our Churches do consent are made known unto them.

4.  Our Churches are, by the judgement of Christian discretion, to examine all things propounded unto them, even the decrees of the elders, whereas Papists may not examine what the Church propounds or commands.

5.  Papists, by their implicit faith, believe whatsoever the Church believes because they think the Church cannot err, but our Churches conceive not only their particular elderships, but ecumenical councils, to be subject to error.”

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Aaron’s Rod Blossoming...  (London, 1646), bk. 2, ch. 8, ‘Of the Power and Privilege of the Magistrate in things and causes Ecclesiastical…’

p. 266

“As we do not deny to the magistrate anything which the Word of God does allow him, so we dare not approve his going beyond the bounds and limits which God has set him.  And I pray God that this be not found to be the bottom of the controversy [as it is too unqualified, even for Gillespie’s adversaries], Whether magistracy shall be an arbitrary government; if not in civil, yet in ecclesiastical things?”

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p. 280

“Protestant writers…  supposing it [1 Cor. 14:29, 32-33] to hold forth a binding authoritative judgment of the prophets, whereunto any one prophet is bound to be subject, the judgement of his private discretion being always reserved to him, that he give not blind obedience.”

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111 Propositions Concerning the Ministry and Government of the Church  (1647), Proposition 96

“…thereby it is sufficiently clear that they [magistrates] ought to cherish, and by their authority ought to establish, the ecclesiastical discipline; but yet not with implicit faith or blind obedience: For the Reformed Churches do not deny to any of the faithful, much less to the magistrate, the judgement of Christian prudence and discretion concerning those things which are decreed or determined by the Church.”

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On Believing Doctrines that are Above Reason

George Gillespie

A Treatise of Miscellany Questions...  (Edinburgh, 1649), ch. 11, ‘Of Stability & Firmness in the Truth’, p. 140

“7.  Let reason be brought in captivity to the obedience of Christ, 2 Cor. 10:5.  That which made the Antitrinitarians and Socinians fall away from the belief of the Trinity of persons in the Godhead, and of the union of the two natures of God and man in the person of Christ, was because their reason could not comprehend these articles: which is the ground of their opinion professed by themselves.

When I speak of captivating reason, I do not mean implicit faith: the eyes of my understanding must be so far opened by the Holy Ghost, that I may know such an article is held forth in Scripture to be believed, and therefore I do believe that it is, though my reason cannot comprehend how it is.”

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Historic Presbyterianism Never Requires Implicit or Blind Obedience

Quotes

1600’s

Samuel Rutherford

The Divine Right of Church Government  (London, 1646)

Introduction, Section 2, p. 15

“For the Church does bind and loose in the external court, either by a commission from Him who as head of the Church, and who as King gave to her the keys of the Kingdom…”

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1800’s

James Bannerman

The Church of Christ, vol. 1 (Edinburgh, 1868), pp. 241-3

“Second, there are means of a most indispensable kind to be
employed in the way of explanation and instruction, counsel and persuasion, to secure the convictions and concurrence of the private members of the Church, in whatever act or declaration the rulers, in the exercise of their judicial, or legislative, or administrative functions, may find it necessary for them to perform or to adopt.

Without the use of such means to carry the conscience and understanding of the members of the Church along with them in all that they do and declare, the office-bearers are not at liberty to use or enforce their peculiar power at all.  And it is only when all such means have been employed and exhausted without effect, and when the members of the Church, so dealt with in the way of Christian persuasion and instruction, still refuse their concurrence, that it may be necessary and is lawful to use authority to strengthen the appeal, and to fall back upon the ultimate resource of all societies, — namely, the inherent right of the rulers to rule, and the no less inherent duty of the ruled to obey.

[Ruling against an errant conscience is only to occur after the rulers have set forth sufficient reasons for the convincing of the one with the errant conscience to obey moral law and truth.  After this point, the one with the errant conscience has been shown that his conscience errs against truth and morality, and all persistence therein is truly a perverse contumacy against God’s truth and morality, not being founded on truth or morality.]

Fourth, there is yet another concession which it is necessary to make in regard to this matter, and which it is of some importance to note; and it is this, that the mere resistance to authority as authority alone, ought not to be made a ground for Church censure or punishment, when there is no moral or spiritual offence connected with the resistance.

Of course resistance to authority, even when that authority is put forth, as it sometimes may and must be, in enforcing a thing indifferent, may yet be associated with moral guilt on the part of those who indulge in it.  Such resistance may arise out of feelings of hatred to all restraint, or opposition of a malignant kind to all authority ; it may become contumacy, and as such involve moral blame.

But until resistance to authority becomes in one way or other morally wrong, when the consent of the members to the act or deed of the rulers is withheld from no cause in itself sinful, such want of consent or concurrence ought to be dealt with on the principle of forbearance in things indifferent, and not be visited with censure or penalty of an ecclesiastical kind.”

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Blind Obedience is a Mark of Romanism & Prelacy

Samuel Rutherford

Joshua Redivivus, or, Mr. Rutherford’s Letters…  ([Rotterdam?, 1664]), ‘Christian Reader’, no page numbering

“…his [Christ’s] servants, who stood firm in their opposition to Prelacy…  but if they will have patience to hear me to ‘Amen’ [at the end], I may possibly convince them of a truth they, are not willing to hear; for I not only grant that they have forgotten their Master’s directions, inhibiting them to to lift up themselves above their brethren…

they must have leave to put out mine and other men’s eyes besides (which we are not willing to give them; though if any man would gratify his Grace [the king], and their Lordships [the prelates], he must part with these in the first place; for an implicit faith is the basis and foundation of their Kingdom of darkness, without which it would fall about their ears and but overwhelm them in the rubbish…  before this come so much as under debate, almost with indifferent men, whether God be angry at their way?  His very giving of them up to persecute his people & servants, says nothing, if it say not this, that whatever be their outward prosperity, he has classed them with Pharaoh, in pouring out his plagues upon their heart…”

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That Persons are not to Blindly Believe Preachers

Samuel Rutherford

‘A Sermon Preached before the Right Honorable House of Lords, in the Abbey Church at Westminster, Wed. the 25th day of June, 1645…’  (London, 1645), pp. 20-22

“…nor was it ever in our heart to teach…  blind obedience…  [such] would cast upon us the doctrine of Papists and Jesuits to make the ways of Christ odious, it has as great strength against the preaching of the Gospel; for if Paul or any faithful pastor preach to the magistrates of Berea that Christ, whom the Jews crucified, is the only Redeemer and Saviour of the world, and…  they [magistrates] are not for that, with blind obedience to receive it and not to search the Scriptures to try whether that which is preached be agreeable to the Scriptures, nor to take it upon the bare authority of the preacher, but they are to search the Scriptures and obliged to believe the preached Gospel.

… as he [the magistrate] may as a Christian, try the word preached, so may he the same way try the decrees and determinations of the Church, and not take them upon blind trust…

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That Church Commands, Requirements & Determinations are Not to be Blindly Obeyed

Samuel Rutherford

A Survey of the Spiritual Antichrist…  (London, 1648), ‘A Brotherly and Free Epistle…’, no page numbers

“But, 2. All the power and authority of synods we conceive to be ministerial, not lordly, limited, regulated by the only Word of God in the Scripture, and in matters circumstantial, of order and decency, as time, place, persons (observe I say not in mystical religions, ceremonies, called, but unjustly, ‘indifferent’, or the like) by the law of nature, rules of piety, charity, and Christian prudency, for the edification of our brethren and the glory of God;

and a lawful synod we judge has power ministerial from Christ to pass constitutions [in Greek] ‘decrees’, Acts 16:4 (‘laws’ I do not call them, because Christ is the only Lawgiver, King, and head of his Church, his officers are only servants and heralds to hold forth his laws) and these constitutions [or creeds and confessions] condemning Arminianism, Socinianism, Familism, Antinomianism, etc…. 

and commanding in the Lord that they consent to the form of sound doctrine, rebuking all that subvert souls, and trouble the Churches, Acts 15:23-24, are to be obeyed, and the conscience submitted to them, not absolutely, not for the sole will and mere authority of the heralds, as if they were infallible, not with blind obedience, not without reclamation, or appeal, if they be either contrary or beside the scriptures, but conditionally in so far as they are agreeable to the Word of God…”

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That the Magistrate is not to Blindly Obey the Church in Enforcing in Sacra Matters Civilly by Circa Sacra in an Established Christian Nation

Samuel Rutherford

The Due Right of Presbtyeries... (1644), pt. 2, Appendix, Objection: ‘David also prepared materials for the Temple…’, p. 449

“2.  Papists will have the magistrates so to defend the faith, as they have not power to judge [by way of jurisdiction in spiritual things], not [even] as Christians with the judgement of discretion, what is right or wrong, but they must, as blind servants, execute what Prelates decree, yea and see (non propriis (says Henry Blyssemius) sed alienis Episcoporum ac praelatorum suorum oculis videre) ‘not with their own eyes, but with the eyes of their Prelates,’ yea and the magistrate should not read the Scripture (say Papists and Nicanor’s brethren, the Jesuits), [which is] expressly contrary to God’s Word, Dt. 17:17, ‘He shall read in the book of the Law all the days of his life,’ Josh. 1:8, but only believe as the Church believes, and this is blind obedience that they require of princes; this faith or obedience we think abominable in all men, as [also] in princes.”

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‘A Sermon Preached before the Right Honorable House of Lords, in the Abbey Church at Westminster, Wed. the 25th day of June, 1645…’  (London, 1645), pp. 20-22

“…nor was it ever in our heart to teach that the Christian magistrate is with blind obedience to execute the decrees of the Church; for this poor argument, if it have any nerves, as it would cast upon us the doctrine of Papists and Jesuits to make the ways of Christ odious, it has as great strength against the preaching of the Gospel; for if Paul or any faithful pastor preach to the magistrates of Berea that Christ, whom the Jews crucified, is the only Redeemer and Saviour of the world, and that therefore they are, as nurse-fathers, to give liberty to the servants of God, to preach this doctrine and to hinder any to persecute such as shall preach this doctrine, yet by their civil authority, and ex officio [out of their office], they are not for that, with blind obedience to receive it and not to search the Scriptures to try whether that which is preached be agreeable to the Scriptures, nor to take it upon the bare authority of the preacher, but they are to search the Scriptures and obliged to believe the preached Gospel.

But not as magistrates [are they] either to preach themselves, or to judge authoritatively by virtue of their office, whether the preacher’s doctrine be the Gospel of Christ or no[t]: so if a synod, by the Holy Ghost and the light of Scriptures, determine anything for discipline or censure, the magistrate, as he may as a Christian, try the word preached, so may he the same way try the decrees and determinations of the Church, and not take them upon blind trust and accordingly punish the contraveners [to the Church’s decrees] as a magistrate, and as he is the minister of God that bears his sword; but yet he can no more as a magistrate, and by his office, prescribe such ecclesiastic laws (as wee have [in] Acts 15:28; 16:4) unto the Churches of God, or as a magistrate and by his office judge them unlawful and forbid them, than he can preach the word, or say it seemed good to the Holy Ghost [Acts 15:28] and to me who bears the sword, to command that the Churches observe such and such laws.”

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The Divine Right of Church Government…  (1646), pp. 595-9

“They [Romanists] write that magistrates do not see in Church-matters with their own eyes, but with bishops’ eyes, and that they must obey without examining the decrees of councils; and this they write of all subject to the Church; Toletus in Instruct (Sacerdot., bk. 4, ch. 3):

Si Rusticus circa articulos fidei credat suo episcopo proponenti-aliquod dogma hereticum, mor•tur in credendo, licet sit error.”

Cardinal Cusanus (excit., bk. 6, sermon):

Obedientia irrationalis est consumata et perfectissima obedientia sicut Iumentum obedit domino.”

Ibid.:

Sententia pastoris ligat te, pro tua salute, etiam si injusta fuerit.

Envy cannot ascribe this to us; Calvin, Beza, yea, all our writers condemn blind obedience as brutish.

But that the magistrate is not obliged to execute the decrees of the Church without further examination, whether they be right or wrong, as Papists teach that the magistrate is to execute the decrees of their Popish councils with blind obedience and submit his faith to them, because he is a layman and may not dare to examine whether the Church does err or not, is clear:

1.  Because if in hearing the Word all should follow the example of the men of Berea, not relying on the testimony of Paul or any preacher, try whether that which concerns their conscience and faith be agreeable to the Scriptures or no, and accordingly receive or reject; so in all things of discipline, the Magistrate is to try by the Word whether he ought to add his sanction to these decrees which the Church gives out for edification and whether he should draw the sword against such a one as a heretic and a perverter of souls:

But the former is true: the magistrate’s practice in adding his civil sanction and in punishing heretics concerns his conscience, knowing that he must do it in faith as he does all his moral actions; Ergo [Therefore], the magistrate must examine what he practices in his office, according to the Word, and must not take it upon the mere authority of the Church, else his faith in these moral acts of his office should be resolved ultimately on the authority of the Church, not on the Word of God, which no doubt is Popery; for so the warrant of the magistrate’s conscience should not be, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ but ‘Thus saith the Church in their decrees.’

2.  The magistrate and all men have a command to try all things; Ergo, to try the decrees of the Church and to retain what is good, 1 Thess. 5:21, to try the spirits even of the Church, in their decrees, 1 Jn. 3:1.

3.  We behooved to lay down this Popish ground, that 1. The Church cannot err in their decrees. 2. It’s against Scripture and reason that magistrates, and by the like reason, all others, should obey the decrees of the Church with a blind faith, without inquiring in the warrants and grounds of their decrees, which is as good Popery as magistrates and all men are to believe as the Church believes with an implicit faith; so ignorance shall be the mother of devotion; Whoever impute[s] this to us, who have suffered for non-conformity, and upon this ground, that synods can err, [and have] refused the ceremonies, are to consult with their own conscience whether this be not to make us appear disloyal and odious to magistracy in that which we never thought, far less to teach and profess it to the world.

4.  Their chief reason is: The magistrate by our doctrine, by his office, is obliged:

1.  To follow the judgment of the Church, and in that he is a servant or enslaved: Qui enim judicia aliorum sequi tenetur, is non regit, sed regitur, adeoque servus est, & mancipium brutum eorum, quorum judicium sequi obligatur, and the magistrate (say they), as such, is neither to judge nor try what the Church decrees, but as a burrio, or hangman, [is] to execute that which the Church has decreed.

But 1. I put it in form and retort it thus:  They are servants and slaves who are obliged not to despise, but to hear and obey and so to follow the judgement of the prophets, the faithful pastors of Christ, preaching the Word of God soundly and orthodoxly.  But not only magistrates, but all within the visible Church are obliged not to despise, but to hear and obey and so to follow the judgment of the prophets, the faithful pastors of Christ preaching the Word of God soundly and orthodoxly; Ergo, magistrates and all within the visible Church are slaves and servants.

But the conclusion is absurd; Ergo, some of the premises [are absurd]; but the assumption is the Word of God:  Judah was carried captive because they would not hear the prophets rising early in the morning and speaking to them.  Also in the New Testament, this is true to the second coming of Christ: ‘He that heareth you, heareth me, he that despiseth you, despiseth me.’

And this, he that will not obey the servant of the supreme magistrate in that wherein he is a servant and holds forth the lawful commands of the supreme magistrate, he will not obey the supreme magistrate.  The major proposition is the adversaries’; the assumption is express Scripture; let them see then to the conclusion.

2.  When the adversary shall answer this argument with equal strength made against preaching and hearing the Word, they will answer their own argument made against Church-government.

3.  This argument is made against synods-Popish, that cannot err, as our protestant divines object; and therefore the adversary is Popish here, not we.  Thus they are servants and slaves who are obliged to follow the judgment of councils absolutely, without limitation; and because they say it, whether they warrant their decrees by the Word of God or not, that is a true major proposition: But now the assumption is most false, for neither magistrates nor any other are to follow the judgment of the Church absolutely, without limitation, and because they say it.

The other part is, they are servants and slaves who are to follow the judgement of the Church and councils with a reserve and a condition and limitation, insofar as they agree with the Word; now the major [premise] is false.

2.  He that is obliged to follow the judgement of another does not rule, but is ruled; true, in that in which he follows the judgment of another.  The magistrate, insofar as in matters of religion that concern his conscience, faith and practice, he follows pastors; he is not a ruler formally to those whose judgement he is obliged to follow.  But in civil matters he may be, and is, a ruler to those same; for we answer to Papists who by this same argument would prove that Church-men are not subject to the magistrate, nor to civil laws:  He that is a sheep is not to rule and command his shepherd; but the magistrate is a sheep and a member of the Church, and pastors and doctors are shepherds.  We answer, in diverse considerations a magistrate as a magistrate in civil things, is not ruled by pastors and doctors, but he is to rule them: But a magistrate as a member of the Church, as a Christian in things that concern his conscience, is a sheep and to be ruled, [and he is] not a ruler to pastors and doctors, and so here; and therefore, non concluditur quod est [that is not concluded]…”

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That the Magistrate is Not to Exact Blind Obedience from People in Matters of Religion

Samuel Rutherford

The Divine Right of Church Government...  (1646), p. 550

“But magistrates as magistrates hold forth in their law-abstinence from those same sins of adultery, incest, murder…

2.  Not under the pain of eternal wrath and condemnation, before the Judge of [the] quick and [the] dead:  Magistrates as magistrates have neither calling, office, place nor power to threaten or inflict eternal punishment; if magistrates do persuade the equity of abstinence from adultery, incest, murder in their statutes or acts of parliament from the Word of God, from the sixth and seventh command[ments] of the Decalogue, from the Judgment and eternal punishment that follows these sins, they so persuade not as magistrates [from their office per se], but as divines and as godly and Christian men;

Yet my sense is not that the magistrate can lawfully command obedience in matters of religion not understood or known by the subjects: that were to exact blind obedience; but my meaning is that the magistrate as the magistrate holds not forth his commandments to teach and inform the conscience, as pastors do, but he presupposes that his mandates are known to be agreeable to the Word of God, and proposes them to the subjects to be obeyed.”

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With Regard to War

Samuel Rutherford

Lex Rex...  (1644), Question 36, ‘Whether the Power of War be Only in the King?’, p. 378

“Objection 4.  The causes of war (says Mr. Simmons, sect. 4, p. 9) should not be made known to the subjects, who are to look more to the lawful call to war from the prince than to the cause of the war.

[Rutherford’s] Answer:

[1.]  The parliament and all the judges and nobles are subjects to Royalists, if they should make war and shed blood upon blind obedience to the king, not inquiring either in causes of law or fact; they must resign their consciences to the king.

2.  The king cannot make unlawful war to be lawful by any authority-royal, except he could raze out the Sixth Commandment [of the Decalogue]: therefore subjects must look more to the causes of war than to the authority of the king; and this were a fair way to make parliaments of both kingdoms [England and Scotland] set up Popery by the sword, and root out the Reformed religion upon the king’s authority [as was being done at the time of Rutherford writing], as the lawful call to war, not looking to the causes of war.”

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