On the Civil Magistrate’s Just Authority for Restraining the Congregating of Citizens, even the Church, & Quarantining, etc., with Sufficient Natural Warrant, according to God’s Moral Law

“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. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”

Rom. 13:3-4

“Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane…”

1 Tim. 1:9

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Subsections

The Magistrate’s Authority Around Spiritual Things (circa sacra)

Contra Libertarianism

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Order of Contents

On Civil Concerns

Introduction:  Proof
That the Magistrate is to Protect the Commonwealth from Spreading
.        Diseases
On Quarantining Symptomatic Persons
On Quarantining Non-Symptomatic Persons, including from Assembling
On Restricting Commerce to that which is Necessary
On Restricting Imports
On Restricting Immigration

On Ecclesiastical Concerns

That the Church is Subject to Legitimate Civil Law
That the Church is Not Subject to Legitimate Civil Law is Romanism
That the Magistrate is to Support the Church’s Assemblies in a Time of
.        Plague, & that Churches should be One of the Last Things to be
.        Closed

That the Magistrate may Preside Civilly in Church Assemblies
That the Magistrate may Keep Persons Suspected to be Contagious
.         from Church Assemblies
On the Magistrate’s Civil Power Regarding Public Preaching
That the Magistrate may Prohibit Church Assemblies with Sufficient,
.        Natural, Civil Warrant
That the Magistrate may not Restrain Church Assemblies without
.        Sufficient, Natural, Civil, Warrant

On the Restraints of the Church in Civil Matters
On the Spiritual Power of the Church in the Civil Matters of an
.        Established Christian Nation
On the Church’s Right to its Own External Government in Sacra

On the Authority of the Civil Magistrate to Punish the Church which
.        Errs in Natural & Civil Matters, & Evident Truth
On the Right of the Magistrate to Punish those who Publish
.        Dangerous Opinions Contrary to the Light of Nature &, in an
.        Established Christian Nation, the Settled Doctrines of the Church

On Extraordinary Civil Power in Extraordinary Circumstances

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On Civil Concerns

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Introduction

Proof that the Magistrate may Quarantine Citizens
upon Sufficient Natural Circumstances

1.  It is a breaking of the moral 6th Commandment (‘Thou shalt not murder’) to harm or unduly put our neighbor in risk of bodily harm. (WLC #99.6-8; 2 Sam. 23:17; 1 Chron. 11:19)

2.  It is morally wrong to use liberty in indifferent things if it results in the harm of our neighbor. (Rom. 14:15,19-20; 1 Cor. 10:31)

3.  All positive civil laws, ordinances, rights and constitutions under any given natural circumstances are to be grounded on, and reflect God’s Moral Law. (Rom. 13:3-4)

4.  God’s moral law is to be obeyed by all persons at all times (with the power that they command, Mk. 12:30; Mt. 6:33). (WLC #93)  Hence moral law is more foundational than, and overrides, positive ordinances when they conflict. (Mt. 15:3; 12:2-5)

5.  It is a breaking of moral law, and hence sinful, if exercising one’s liberty for travel or assembly results in the harm of others.  Thus, a person has no unqualified, moral right to free travel and assembly, and consequently,  no absolute, civil right to such.

6.  The civil magistrate by Nature (and by the teaching of God’s Word, Rom. 13:3-4) is to uphold natural and moral law.

7.  As persons are first bound to obey God’s natural and moral law, if the Magistrate materially upholds God’s moral law, though he be ignorant of such and it be not his conscious intention, yet subjects are bound thereby.

8.  The light of Nature teaches (as well as Scripture, Rom. 13:4) that civil magistracy is to seek the good, preservation and defense of the commonwealth.

9.  Hence, to an extraordinary evil, it is sinful if the magistrate does not exercise (when it is in his capability to do so) an extraordinary amount of power so as to fulfill God’s Moral Law (rather than to leave it undone) to the subjects of the commonwealth (the stronger serving the weaker), and this in order that life and civil liberties for the common good might be more fully enjoyed in the long-term (rather than the commonwealth perishing or receiving undue harm in the short-term).

10.  Therefore magistrates may, in accordance with God’s Moral Law (whether this is their conscious motive or not), exercise civil authority unto varied degrees of quarantining its citizens and limiting their travel and assembling in a time of a severe spreading disease unto the good of the commonwealth, with sufficient natural warrant.

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Note:

This webpage does not address the issue of the Magistrate quarantining and forbidding various levels of assemblies apart from sufficient natural warrant and God’s natural and moral law binding therein.

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That the Magistrate is to Protect the Commonwealth from Spreading Diseases

1500’s

Theodore Beza

A Learned Treatise of the Plague…  (London, 1580; rep. 1665), p. 18

“And here comes in the way that general bond wherewith man is especially bound unto man, and that without taking away of humanity itself, cannot be broken; There is also another bond binding every citizen unto his country and city.  But both these bonds I affirm to be natural and universal, that everyone must have regard of his estate, and calling; for some serve in public offices, either civil, or the ministry; the rest are private persons…

…yet, lest in this case [of flight], any man by flattering of himself, might sin against his neighbour [in neglecting his duty towards him], it is the duty of a Christian magistrate to provide that those things which either breed or nourish the plague, so far as they may, be taken away, and that regard may be had of those that be visited with this sickness, that all be not driven to be careful for all.

But if in such calamities the magistrate do not in time provide, as much as may be, both by such lawful means as are not repugnant unto Christian charity, that the infection may be prevented, and also that the sick of the plague want [lack] nothing…”

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Johann von Ewich

The Duty of a Faithful and Wise Magistrate in Preserving and Delivering of the Commonwealth from Infection in the Time of the Plague or Pestilence, Two Books  (London, 1583), bk. 1, ch. 1, p. 4-5.  von Ewich was a reformed German reformer, physician and city health official.

“Neither in this case ought the authority of certain worthy and most learned men to move us, who seem too indiscreetly for to deny that this care appertains unto the Magistrate, whose office (say they) it is not to rid men from diseases, but only to maintain the safety and peace of our life and goods.

For it may even out of their own words be proved sufficiently, that albeit the magistrate ought not to cure the diseases of every several man, or preserve them from such as do not openly ravage, nor have common causes (for this is the proper duty of the physicians), yet when as they hold it to be belonging to their charge, by their service and authority to perform, that their subjects may live commodiously: who sees not that this commodiousness does also appertain unto the health of the body?  Which thing he that believes not, the same has never seen how miserably all the duties of men are cumbered, the order of the churches, the exercises of godliness, the instruction of youth, the traffic of citizens, whereupon must needs ensue a most grievous destruction of particular persons, when the plague troubles a city or country.

Wherefore, I appeal unto thyself, whosoever thou art that art of this opinion, that thou thinkest not it to be the duty of the Magistrate to preserve the commonwealth from diseases (and especially common diseases) do not such sicknesses seem unto thee to be numbered amongst other incommodities?  And can men live together commodiously when as these diseases do rage?  Doubtless this canst thou not affirm if ever thou hast had experience before what the plague is, or what it may work, where it once has prevailed?  Why then, say I, doest thou think it a thing not appertaining unto the duty of the magistrate, to deliver men from such diseases, that is with public care to defend?

I pray thee, hast thou not seen that which is usual in all well ordered commonwealths, how diligently in cities the Magistrate provides and stores up such things as serve for the use of war?  How carefully he prepares weapons?  How busily he retains garrisons set in a readiness?  Especially when he is in fear of some hurt to ensue? and to what end? but that men should live commodiously. Wherefore are horses kept; ships built; walls repaired, trenches dug, towers set up and banks cast: but that the citizens should live more commodiously in safety against the invasions or assaults of the enemies?

Dogs are maintained for the like cause, nets are pitched, hunters are hired and troops of country people draw together if at any time wolves or such like beasts do trouble a country.  I remember in the kingdom of France that certain leopards, which the king uses to keep, did break out of ward, and in every place slew the countrymen.  The whole country was mustered and neither cost nor labor spared until they had rid the land from that fear.  How much more justly then in this calamity and misery also ought there some provident course to be taken whereby this so mighty an enemy and cruel beast may be kept away from our throats, which in a very short time is wont to ravage very far, and as it were a canker, eat up every thing that is next [to] it?

To the end that the clean in the Old Testament should not keep company with the unclean lepers, by the authority of the Magistrate, there was made a separation, neither were they received among the other people before that they were by the priests appointed to this office, judged cleansed after they were viewed naked.”

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1600’s

Clapham, Henoch

Clapham (fl. 1600) was an English puritan who was a pastor of a congregation in Amsterdam.  He may likely have been a Brownist (separatist).

Henoch Clapham, His Demands and Answers touching the Pestilence: Methodi­cally handled, as his time and means could permit  (1604)  no page number

Art thou a Magistrate?

Then hearken what Solomon [a magistrate] says: ‘Deliver them that are drawn to death; and wilt thou not preserve them that are led to be slain? (Prov. 24:11-12)  If thou say, ‘Behold, we knew not of it,’ He that ponders the hearts, does He not understand it?  And He that keeps thy soul, knows he it not?  Will not he also recompence every man according to his works?

Thus let the Magistrate take heed how he pleads ignorance, and winks at the fall of the innocent.  For such a looking through the fingers may fill the earth with innocent blood, till it roar again for heaven’s iudgment.  And so not only such, but also the whole land shall fare the worse for injustice.”

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In Latin

Heidegger, Johann Heinrich – Section 25, II.  of Theoretical-Practical Dissertation 3, ‘On Pestilence’  in Biblical Exercitations  (Zurich, 1700), Appendix, pp. 76

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On Quarantining Symptomatic Persons from Harming Others

Quotes

1500’s

John Calvin & Geneva

The following were ordinances instituted by the civil magistrate in Geneva, drafted by Calvin.  A similar statement as that below is made on:

p. 11 of Robert Fills, The Laws & Statutes of Geneva as well concerning Ecclesiastical Discipline, as Civil Regiment, with certain proclamations duly executed, whereby God’s religion is most purely maintained, and their commonwealth quietly governed…    1562

Genevan Ecclesiastical Ordinances, 1541  from J.F. Bergier & R. M. Kingdon, Registres de la Compagnie des pasteurs de Geneve au temps de Calvin, 2 vols. (n. p., 1962-4), Registres I, pp. 1-13. Trans. G.R. Potter & M. Greengrass, under the title Jean Calvin (Edward Arnold; London, 1983), pp. 71-6

“Concerning the Hospital


As for the plague hospital, it must be kept entirely separate.”

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Johann von Ewich

The Duty of a Faithful and Wise Magistrate in Preserving and Delivering of the Commonwealth from Infection in the Time of the Plague or Pestilence, Two Books  (London, 1583)

“If any man before the time prescribed shall go out of his house without license and thrust himself into the company of others, he shall be bound to begin afresh the time of shutting in and be punished beside[s] with an arbitrary [appointed] punishment.

But if the same part being infected before and yet scarce well recovered, or but meetly recovered, shall adventure to do the like, he is to be accused of great unthankfulness and to be deprived of all benefits usual to be done unto him, and besides [this] to be restrained with [a] longer keeping in.

But if being now in very deed infected with the plague, he shall be found to have committed this heinous offence upon notorious and wicked boldness, as a murderer after the loss of his goods [being set to die and having nothing further to lose], if he be without children, let him be delivered over unto the hangman.”

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1600’s

James Balmford

Balmford (1556- after 1623) was an English minister at Southwark who appears to have been presbyterian, as he affirmed the office of ruling elders (pp. 22-23), unlike episcopal Anglicans.

A Short Dialogue Concerning the Plague’s Infection, Published to Preserve Blood through the Blessing of God  (London, 1603), p. 10

“Preacher:

…for lepers might go abroad to seek relief: but yet in such sort, as has been showed.  And so I could wish that our infected poor, since they must needs go abroad, would remember the ten lepers, how they stood afar off and lift[ed] up their voice when they craved help of our Savior (Lk. 17:12-13): so they would go abroad in such sort as authority directs: to wit, out of the most frequented way and with a rod in their hand.

I say with grief (must needs) for if authority had regarded these things betimes when there were but few infected houses, they might have been well shut up and provided for till they were cleansed, either [being provided] of their own or the common charges.”

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The Puritan & Presbyterian English Long Parliament, 1641

‘Orders about the Plague’  in ‘House of Lords Journal Volume 4: 8 September 1641’, in Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 4, 1629-42 (London, 1767-1830), pp. 390-392. British History Online

“1. That the bill [which said, ‘Lord have Mercy upon us’], with a large red cross, be set upon the door of every house visited with the plague.

2. That all the stuff in the house, where any have been visited of the plague, be well aired before it be discharged, or the house be opened.

3. The house visited with the plague to be shut up, whether any person therein do die or not; and the persons so shut up to bear their own charge [costs], if they be of ability.

4. No person to be removed out of any infected house but by leave of the Magistrate.

5. If any person shall fly out of any house infected with the plague at or before the death of any in the said house, such person so flying to be pursued by hue and cry; and the house where they shall be found to be shut up, and they returned back to the place from whence they so fled.”

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James Durham

Durham is speaking of the civil magistrate’s right and responsibility to use his authority and force to restrain spiritual seducers and deluders.

The Dying Man’s Testament to the Church of Scotland, or, A Treatise Concerning Scandal... (Edinburgh, 1659), p. 255

“Nor is it the restraining of him [a spiritual seducer] from personal liberty because of it [his false opinion]; but, because he doth not, nor will not use his personal liberty without prejudice to the whole body, which is to be preferred to him: even as a man, infected with the pestilence, ought justly to be restrained, though against his will; yet cannot that be accounted a restraint of just liberty; for, it is no just liberty to have liberty to hurt others.”

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John Edwards

The Plague of the Heart…  (Cambridge, 1665), pp. 29-30.  Edwards was a reformed Anglican.

“Every person is engaged in his place and capacity to appear against vice, and to endeavor the extirpation of it; but here the Magistrate in a special manner is con­cerned, who is to see that all infected persons be shut up.  The leper under the Law was to dwell alone without the camp, that he might not converse with those that were whole: now I have told you, that sin is the worst of plagues and leprosies.

You therefore that are in pub­lic places and offices are to set a watch over notorious sinners, that they go not abroad to infect others: if they break out, you may shoot at them; if sinners will be bold and daring, you are bound to unsheath the sword of justice and strike at them; as indeed there are a sort of hardened sinners that stare justice in the face, and say she is blind, and laugh at her sword, and make their brag that they never felt the edge of it.  Here you will do well to make them experience how sharp it is; that others too, beholding the punishment inflicted on them, may not presume to glo­ry in their shame.”

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On Quarantining Non-Symptomatic Persons, Including from Assembling

Quotes

1500’s

City of Edinburgh  1568

Oct. 15, 1568, ‘Pestilence Statues’  in ‘Extracts from the Records: 1568, July-December’, in Extracts From the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1557-1571, ed. J D Marwick (Edinburgh, 1875), pp. 250-259. British History Online

“Item, it is statute and ordained that how soon any manner of person falls sick within this burgh, in whatsome-ever kind of sickness that ever it be, the owners of the house enclose themselves and come not forth of their houses, neither suffer any to resort to them unto the time they advertise the baillie [civil officer] of the quarter and order be taken by him, under the pain of death.”

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London  1577

Court of the Common Council of London – ‘Articles to be inquired of, what orders have been put in execution, for the restraining of the infected of the plague, within the city of London and liberties thereof’  (London, 1577)

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Johann von Ewich

von Ewich (1525-1588) was a reformed, German reformer, educated in law, and was a physician and professor of medicine.  He came to hold the civil office of city-physician under the mayor of the increasingly reformed city of Bremen.  He outlines in this work a plan for Bremen and other cities to implement upon an outbreak of a plague.

The Duty of a Faithful and Wise Magistrate in Preserving and Delivering of the Commonwealth from Infection in the Time of the Plague or Pestilence, Two Books  (London, 1583)

ch. 6, ‘Of Order to be Appointed Among the Citizens, and of Leaving of Public Meetings & Assemblies’, pp. 26-7 ff.

“There must also an order be set down [by the magistrates] among the citizens, to avoid public assemblies, games, feasts, drinkings, marriages, dancings, fairs, schools, churches, and public baths; for besides that in many of these there is great offence committed, not only against the body, but also against the soul, there is also no small danger of getting and scattering the infection.  Wherefore, wise men give counsel that at such times we should very seldom come into great companies of men.

For there is no man so unskillful but he knows that where as all things are done without consideration, as it were in a mingle mangle, that there the infection is spread farthest and infects many.  As when the taverns and typling houses whither they go to drink are open unto all daily, the market also, the shambles, public places also in which linen is washed, and diverse sorts of people are wont [accustomed] to be mixed together, are haunted [frequented by the plague].

In this case, therefore, laws must be made by the Preservers [civil health officials appointed specifically for the plague] whereby such meetings may be forbidden, or else severed into diverse places and times.

If marriages are to be made (albeit whom can these contracts like in such an estate of things, in which if at any time else, the counsel of the apostle ought to prevail, that for the present necessity it were better to remain single) let them be kept with a very small number of persons and without all pomp.  As for drunkenness and gormandize, dancings and other not necessary or rather dangerous and hurtful ceremonies and fashions, which for the most part are wont to be used: let them be sent packing far away, lest (as it is in the proverb) this sweet meat have sour sauce (Tob. 2; Amos 8; 1. Mach. 1; Prov. 14), and lest they bewail the next day the oversight committed the day before.

Now concerning houses of learning and schools in which children come together, what shall I say?  Else than that it seems very convenient and in manner necessary, if we will avoid the spreading of the infection, that those which cannot be brought unto a place more commodious, be for a time shut up and that the youth be rather taught at home, albeit with never so small profit, and give themselves to private readings than with so great danger by heaps to come together.  For the age of children and lads, as being given to feeding, intemperate, tender, thin, unwary, is wont to be more subject unto this sickness [bubonic plague] than those that are elder and of more years.  Wherefore, Rhases, the chief of the Arabian physicians, and after him Franciscus Valleriola, physician oArles, give counsel that infants and children be with speed removed from infectious places into another country where they need fear no danger of infection,

The like may be judged of common and yearly fairs, also of funerals or burials…

Unto this chapter, let the Preservers [civil health officials appointed for the plague] add this, and earnestly advise upon it with all the magistrates, namely, whether it were better for certain poor people, which get their living by begging from door to door, and by reason of their needy life feeding on everything, are more in danger of this disease than others, go unto and run about all streets, and chiefly such houses where dead corpses are, and seek unto all men (for cruel necessity drives them out of their own poor cottages); let them I say consider whether it were better to send them some whither else, or to maintain them by the common charge at their own houses so long until the sickness slack, that by this means occasion may be taken from them of running up and down, of receiving and scattering the infection.  For it can scarce be said how great and present danger does hereby grow unto the whole city.

For this way it shall come to pass that the less multitude of people there is, so much the less infection there shall be: and the less infection there is, so much less dying and more speedy deliverance is to be hoped for.  For like as when the rot is gotten into an heap of apples, the more lie gathered together, the more it increases and the longer the rotting endures: so also here it comes to pass that if once the plague be crept into a city that is populous, we see the sickness daily to be increased and cherished a great while, which thing is not wont in such sort to happen in a place less peopled…”

bk. 2, ch. 9

“Among the citizens, whosoever shall be found a breaker or transgressor of the order appointed, let him have punishment according unto the nature of his fault…  They that shall dance, trim up or go unto public baths, or be married, shall have some small punishment: but if they get a special privilege [permit], no punishment at all.  For there may such causes fall out why some thing may be granted unto some, the which ought not commonly to be done unto all.

Whosoever [being unsymptomatic] after the prohibition of the Preservers [civil health officials appointed for the plague] shall dare to go out of any house infected with the plague without an appointed mark, shall be punished with a money-punishment:

If any man before the time prescribed shall go out of his house without license and thrust himself into the company of others, he shall be bound to begin afresh the time of shutting in and be punished beside[s] with an arbitrary [appointed] punishment. “

bk. 2, ch. 10, p. 168

“6.  They [magistrates] must command such order to be observed or kept among the citizens that all public assemblies be avoided, as marriages, games, dancings, [public] baths, common fairs, pompous funerals or burials.  Church assemblies may be used, if they be divided into diverse places, that they come not together in great heaps, and sit close one by another.  Great schools are to be removed into a place and air more convenient: lesser schools, and for children, are so long to be shut up until the sickness cease raging.”

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City of Edinburgh, Scotland  1585

‘Extracts from the Records: 1585, Apr-June’, in Extracts From the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1573-1589, ed. J D Marwick (Edinburgh, 1882), pp. 406-430. British History Online

“May 9, 1585
Pest Persons.

In consideration that their is two persons dead in the pest within this 24 hours, which was enclosed in the house in the Fish Market Close within Jhonn Young the tailor’s land, where the woman died of before, [blank] days since or thereby, therefore finds it most expedient that the three persons yet on live in the said house shall be transported forth of the town, and the house cleaned with diligence, and that provision be made that they shall not escape or run away, the place to transport them to be in the house at the acres of umquhill Adam Purves…  And the said persons to be put be themselves, and an watch to be put in an luge [cottage?] beside of three clean persons to keep them, and the whole gear [garments, etc.] which is not in lock[ed]-fast lumes [containers] to be taken forth and burnt.

June 16, 1585

Proclamation of Statues, Leith

Ordains proclamation to be made through this burgh that no servants pass or repair within the town of Leith without they be in company of their masters or some honest neighbors that will answer for them, under the pain to be imprisoned for 15 days, to be fed with bread and water allenarily.  Suchlike that no persons upon any pretext or excuse pass to the West Mure, or repair toward the lugeis [cottages], sick and suspect folks, without special license of the bailies had and obtained thereto, under the pain to be enclosed upon their own expenses for the space of 20 days.  And that all masters of households, men, women, and all others, where there shall happen any persons to be sick of any kind of disease, enclose themselves and make incontinent advertisement to the magistrates be the visitors, officers, or their next neighbors, and from thine come not forth and repair amongst the King’s lieges [lands] without license of the bailies or of the bailie of their quarter, and concil not their sicknesses, under the pain of deid [death?].  Also that none be found to have to sell in the markets or other places any sybois, leeks, or unions in during this present pestilence, under the pain of banishment and tynsal [destruction] of their stuff.”

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1600’s

Balmford (1556- after 1623) was an English minister at Southwark who appears to have been presbyterian, as he affirmed the office of ruling elders (pp. 22-23), unlike episcopal Anglicans.

Balmford below is speaking of the case where a house has an infected person in it, quarantined within a part of the house.  The other (asymptomatic) persons in the house were yet to be quarantined within the house so as not to possibly spread the disease to the rest of society.

A Short Dialogue Concerning the Plague’s Infection, Published to Preserve Blood through the Blessing of God  (London, 1603), p. 10

“Professor [Layman]

“…that which I know doth most trouble most men, especially of the poorer sort.  To wit, they think it most extreme cruelty, to be barred from going abroad to seek relief or maintenance for them and theirs, except they either had sufficient of their own, or their wants [needs] were supplied.

Preacher

…But what say you to those, who are not so poor, but that they may keep their houses at their own charges, till they be cleansed?

Professor

They think it an hell to be so long shut up from company and their business: the neglecting whereof is the decay of their state.

Preacher

Indeed this impatiency is the cause why so many smother the
plague in themselves and their families so long as they can, to the hazarding of life: but I advise them to consider the resolution of Paul, which was, never to eat flesh rather than he would offend his brother (1 Cor. 8:3): much more ought they patiently to endure a little restraint and loss rather than to endanger the life of many (Gen. 4:10).

O blood is a grievous and crying sin! (Ps. 51:14) and therefore David would not drink the water of the well of Bethlehem though he longed for it, because it was gotten with the jeopardy of lives, but called it blood (2 Sam. 23:15-17).  Let them believe that God is able to give them more than they lose by following his direction.  Let them know what this is: ‘I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.’ (Hos. 6:6)  Let them show their faith by patience. (Rom. 8:25)  ‘For he that believeth, maketh no haste’, (Isa. 28:16 being assured of God’s promise: that in quietness and confidence shall be their strength (Isa. 30:15).  Let them imitate Moses and Aaron, who were as hasty in behalf of their sister Miriam, but yet were persuaded by God to shut her out of the host seven days (Num. 12:12 ff.).  Thus much for these goers abroad. (Eze. 34:2,8)”

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England & Scotland  1606

King James I

While the below was written against faithful Scottish, presbyterian ministers, the two responses provided by Calderwood to the King’s Declaration by those presbyterian ministers do not dispute the legitimacy of the king’s practice in such civil affairs.

It should be noted however, that the King’s assumption is that he has authority over any and all such civil affairs in his land, to do with as he may like.  Rutherford, on the other hand, maintained the opposite: that the King does not have authority to forbid civil practices if they be good, but only has authority to forbid such practices when they harm the commonwealth and it is necessary to forbid them for the good of the commonwealth.  The former view is that the king has all authority over civil affairs irrespective of God’s moral law; the latter, that the king only has authority over civil affairs in accordance with God’s moral law.

It should be noted that after this passage, the King goes on to use this civil example relating to the plague as a pretext for unlawfully forbidding an ecclesiastical assembly of the presbyterian ministers.  The presbyterian ministers, in their two responses, thoroughly refute the King’s arguments.

‘A Declaration of the Just Causes of His Majestie’s Proceedings…’  in David Calderwood, History of the Kirk of Scotland 6.426

“As for an instance (which has been too frequent in all this isle all these years past, saving the pleasure of God), every burgh-royal has their own times of public mercats [markets] allowed unto them by the law, and the king’s privilege; but when the plague happened in any of these towns, did not he, by proclamation, discharge the holding of the mercat at that time for fear of infection, and yet thereby did no prejudice to their privileges…”

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Scotland  1607

King James I

While the presbyterian Calderwood did not approve the following action of the Magistrate in delaying the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, yet he does not dispute the legitimacy of the civil reason given here respecting the plague (though he disputes everything else).  Calderwood lists out numerous of the other ‘real’ reasons why the King took this action (which reasons Calderwood disapproved of).

A Scottish minister of that time, William Scot, evidently a presbyterian sympathizer, recorded the same event (though says it was in 1608).  He too does not object to the justification of the plague, though he disputes the other reasons given by the King.  See An Apologetical Narration of the State & Government of the Kirk of Scotland…  (Edinburgh: Wodrow Society, 1846), p. 196.

as given in David Calderwood, History of the Kirk of Scotland, vol. 6, p. 683

“…so in like manner, God’s present visitation of our said burgh of Dundee by the plague, enforces the prorogation [discontinuation without being dissolved] of the said [General] Assembly [of the Church of Scotland] to some other time…

…that the General Assembly is continued and prorogued to the last Tuesday of April…  and betwixt and then, it may be hoped, that it may please God of his mercy to remove the said plague of pestilence.”

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London

1625

Totaro, Rebecca, The Plague Epic in Early Modern England: Heroic Measures, 1603-1721  Pre  (Routledge, 2012), p. 34

“At the very least, Londoners were by this time divided regarding whether or not to attend church during plague visitations.  The government ordered theaters and markets closed during outbreaks, parliament was prorogued [discontinued without being dissolved], and the idea of coming together, even for worship, ran counter to contagion theory, which was gaining traction.”

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1630

Mayor of London, ‘By the mayor…  of the city of London…  command all manner of persons…  to take notice of, and observe these several articles ensuing…’  (London, 1630)

“That the feasts and meetings at halls, taverns, or other places within this city or liberties, used to be made by the countrymen of any shire, or other place within this realm, wrestlings, and fencers’ prizes, shows, or the like, which has been a cause of gathering multitudes together, be now forborne, and not attempted to be made by any person or persons whatsoever, until the city and the places adjacent shall be clear of the present infection (which God of his mercy grant).”

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Dumfries, Scotland  1648

Sharon Adams, Regional Road to Revolution: Religion, Politics and Society in South-West Scotland, 1600-50  (2002), p. 152, fn. 57

“The burgh’s [Dumfries’s] principal fair was cancelled in 1648 as it was feared it might spread the plague.”

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James Durham  1659

The Dying Man’s Testament to the Church of Scotland, or, A Treatise Concerning Scandal...  (1659), Part 3, ch. 14, p. 252

“6. They [civil magistrates] may, and ought to interpose their authority, for inhibiting the receiving and hearing, or conversing with known and manifest seducers: for, this is but to discharge, and thereby to preserve the people from running to their own hazard, even as men ought to be commanded to keep at distance with a place or person suspected to be infectious because of the pestilence;

Neither could such a restraint be accounted any diminution of their just liberty, yea this were but a putting to of their sanction to the clear direction which the Lord lays upon His people, and therefore there could be no hazard to miscarry in it, especially where the application to such and such persons, might be as clearly discernable from the Word as the duty is.”

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On the Great London Plague  1665-66

Miller, Kathleen, The Literary Culture of Plague in Early Modern England  Pre  (Palgrave, 2016), p. 36

“A number of proclamations issued in the relation of the visitation [of the plague in 1665] pertained to the concourse of the people.  Under most circumstances the concourse of people was vehemently prohibited in political plague texts, upholding an understanding of material protection against the threat of contagion.”

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2000’s

Gary North

‘Conclusion’  in Ch. 56, ‘Boundary Violations’, ‘C. Public Health’, ‘2. Quarantine’  in Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition, vol. 4  (2020)

“There has to be a system of government regulation, up to and including quarantine, in order to stop the spread of dangerous pathogens. These should be regarded as invaders. If a society has the right to create a military defense system against invading armies, then it has the right to do the same with respect to invading armies of pathogens. Only the civil government can do this. This cannot be done on a profit-seeking basis. This is not a matter for the free market to solve. The free market can solve certain issues, such as the development of anti-pathogen chemicals or techniques. There can be profit in this. But the taxpayer is going to have to provide the money that civil governments use to develop systematic pathogen defense strategies, and then implement these strategies.

In terms of the total cost of government, these are minor expenditures. Societies have used them throughout history. Most people accept them. There is no well-organized opposition to their use. Compared to the massive expenditures of the modern state on projects that are clearly banned by the Bible, these exceptions do not constitute a threat to the freedom of covenant-keeping people. Furthermore, those free market economists who would deny any of these expenditures have not developed comprehensive monographs on how the free market could attain these goals. They are legitimate goals. Free-market economists need to come to grips with this fact: they cannot beat something with nothing.”

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Article

Wikipedia – ‘Mary Mallon, or Typhoid Mary’

Typhoid Mary (1869-1938) was an Irish-born cook believed to have infected 51 people, three of whom died, with typhoid fever, and the first person in the United States identified as an asymptomatic carrier of the disease.  Because she persisted in working as a cook, by which she exposed others to the disease, she was twice forcibly quarantined by authorities, and died after a total of nearly three decades in isolation.

It should be noted that the literature and practices of the Reformation and puritan era shows that they were very aware that asymptomatic people could, and often did, infect other people with diseases.

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On Restricting Commerce to that which is Necessary

Quote

Johann von Ewich

The Duty of a Faithful and Wise Magistrate in Preserving and Delivering of the Commonwealth from Infection in the Time of the Plague or Pestilence, Two Books  (London, 1583)

bk. 1, ch. 7

“…hereafter we must see concerning the selling and buying of things necessary…  it is a thing doubtless greatly material that not only things hurtful be not brought into the city, but also the things good and profitable should be brought, but with such a proviso that the things that are to be brought in be set abroad and sold with least danger.  Here therefore laws are to be made [of] what kinds of meats [foods] may be lawful to be sold and what not…  and a certain penalty by the Preservers [civil health officials appointed for the time of the plague] to be set upon the offenders.

Lastly, also as touching the place wherein all things pertaining unto meat and drink are to be sold, something must be added.  For it seems not convenient that all things should be brought into one market.  For so it must needs be that a mighty multitude of people should come together…  the infection must with all diligence be shunned, as has been often said already.  There must therefore be ordained many places in sundry parts of the city where those things must be set which pertain unto food and are needful for everyone.  Let there also be a several [different] market for flesh and fish, for herbs and fruits, that all discommodities which may arise by the mingling together of a multitude of people and bringing of things sellable, may with all diligence be avoided.”

bk. 2, ch. 9

“They that shall adventure to bring into the city and to sell things forbidden are worthily to be punished with the loss of the things themselves.  The same punishment is to be laid upon the buyers, if they yet now have with them the things whole and untouched: otherwise let the punishment be equal unto the price of the things.  He that is found selling of profitable things, as meats or drinks, in any other place than in the place appointed, let him bear the loss of all that he sets to sale.

Whosoever of his own private authority shall covetously increase the price of things sellable above that [which] is reasonable or above the appointed rate, let him be under the punishment of unlawful usuries, and for a time forbidden to occupy any more.”

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On Restricting Imports

Articles

Ayr, Scotland  1604

pp. 131-32  of James Young, Life of John Welsh, Minister of Ayr…  (Edinburgh, 1866)

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Scotland during the Great Plague of London  1665

Town Council of Edinburgh – ‘Edinburgh…  1665…  the proclamation…  prohibiting and discharging all trade and commerce betwixt this Kingdom…  and places of the Kingdom of England which are infected or suspected to be infected with the sickness, or plague of pestilence…’  (Edinburgh, 1665)

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On Restricting Immigration

Quote

Johann von Ewich

The Duty of a Faithful and Wise Magistrate in Preserving and Delivering of the Commonwealth from Infection in the Time of the Plague or Pestilence, Two Books  (London, 1583)

bk. 1, ch. 10, ‘Of not Receiving of Travelers and Strangers into the City, nor of Bringing in of Things without a Testimonial of the Health of that Place from Whence they Come’

“But truly the Preservers [civil health officials appointed for the plague] shall in vain altogether with this travail [labor] and diligence look unto their commonwealth if they use not like wisdom in the receiving in or shutting out of either men or things that come from other places when as this sickness is now rife everywhere and is at this time in a great part of Germany.  For what shall it avail to have removed the filth of our own places, if we will receive again the corruption from others?

…even so also this magistrate of ours (whom in this case we have said must be a general physician [by metaphor]) must do his diligence in the universal and common body of the commonwealth and orderly provide for all, that not so much as the least piece of infection be received or left behind whereupon new wracks and dangers are to be feared.  For (as the poet says) the flame that is not looked unto does straight again recover.

But if any man shall think that it is against charity for that I hold that men and such as are our brethren are to be shut out, of the which many fly unto us as unto a sanctuary, as it were from a deadly enemy: unto him I must make this answer, that I would have no man forsaken or in any case to be destitute of our help, but yet there ought to be a set and steadfast way and order in using of help.  True charity begins at itself, but ends not in it self alone: But rather it stretches out itself as far as it can to every neighbor, and according unto her power, imparts her help with every man; and as Ambrose says of liberality, [it] is commended of her faith: cause, place and time.  For what a kind of charity should this be, to receive one sick sheep into the fold and to bring the scab unto the whole flock?”

bk. 2, ch. 9

“If any, either stranger or citizen, coming from infected or suspected places have not a testimonial of health and of the soundness of the things that he brings with him, let him be shut out: and if he shall privily come into the city, let him suffer the loss of his things; and concerning himself being punished, let him be put back for a time or else shut out for altogether.

The keeper of the gates, which shall receive any coming from a strange place without a testimonial of health, if he do it wittingly, let him for certain days be imprisoned: but if he do it unwittingly, as it may come to pass in a multitude passing by, yet he is to be punished with some money-penalty.  The same is to be ordained concerning innkeepers and such as lodge strangers.

Whosoever shall affirm that it is lawful for Christians in the time of the plague, without a lawful cause and consent of the rulers, to leave his city and church, he is worthy [of] the name of a schismatic: and if so be he so run away, he is to be deprived of the freedom of the city. “

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Civil Examples

Edinburgh  1568

Oct. 15, 1568, ‘Pestilence Statues’  in ‘Extracts from the Records: 1568, July-December’, in Extracts From the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1557-1571, ed. J D Marwick (Edinburgh, 1875), pp. 250-259. British History Online

“…that no person cleaned enter within the town with[out] license of the baillie, and be convoyed with an officer to the place appointed for them, under the pain of death; and that they come not forth of their houses for the space of 20 days after their entry within the town, under the said pain; and in the meantime that [they] keep company with no clean persons nor they with them, under the said pain.”

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Scotland  1574

Footnote 33  in ‘Historical preface: 1600-3’, in Charters and Documents Relating To the City of Glasgow 1175-1649 Part 1, ed. J D Marwick (Glasgow, 1897), pp. clxxxiv-cciv. British History Online

“It [the plague] appears to have been brought into Leith by a passenger from England, on 14th October, 1574, and several persons died of it there, before its existence was generally known; it entered Edinburgh on the 24th of the same month [A History of Epidemics in Britain, by Charles Creighton, M.D., I., p. 366], and five days later, viz., on 29th October, the town council of Glasgow prohibited all persons from Leith, Kirkcaldy, Dysart, Burntisland, and other places in which its existence was suspected, from coming to the city; inhabitants of Glasgow were also prohibited from going to these places.

In Edinburgh the only place suspected is stated to have been Bell’s Wynd, and inhabitants of Glasgow were prohibited from going to that city without a testimonial, or from returning without a certificate from the magistrates that they had not associated with suspected persons there. Residenters in the town were prohibited from receiving strangers in their houses, except such as were licensed by the magistrates or their officers; and even residenters in houses outside of the ports were subjected to a similar restriction.

Travellers from places unsuspected were also required, before being received within the city, to produce a testimonial from the magistrates of the burgh or the minister of the parish beyond a burgh. [Council Records, I., pp. 27–8]  Two days later the privy council issued an order from Dalkeith to check the spreading of the plague landwards “through the departure of sick folk and foul persons;” it prohibited concealment of the existence of the malady, and commanded infected persons “to cloise thame selffis in.” [Privy Council Register, II., p. 415]”

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City of Edinburgh, Scotland  1585

‘Extracts from the Records: 1585, Apr-June’, in Extracts From the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1573-1589, ed. J D Marwick (Edinburgh, 1882), pp. 406-430. British History Online

“May 21, 1585
Wilsoun, Russell, Walker, put to Assize.

Finds expedient that Thomas Wilsoun, traveler, presently infected with the pest[ilence] and in point of death, and also Margaret Russell and Jonet Walker, her daughter, be incontinent [not containing themselves] put to the knowledge of an assize [judgment] for having of the pest and known the same concealing thereof and repairing amongst our Sovereign Lord’s lieges [lands] openly, to the infection of some and hazard of many, and being found culpable in any point of the premises, to be immediately execut[ed] to the death at the Stray Mercat.

May 28, 1585

Masters of the College.

The bailies and a part of the council being convened, and understanding be master Robert Rollock and master Duncane Nairne, masters of the College, that the whole students, through the fire and brute of the pestilence, has left the schools and thereby they have nothing to do, desiring therefore licence of the town to depart and use their friends for a season, offering to return to their cuir [chair?] and service whensoever the town shall think expedient, upon advertisement to be made in their names be master Alexander Guthre, their clerk.  Which desire the said bailies and council thought reasonable, and therefore willingly granted and consented thereto.”

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That the Church is Subject to Legitimate Civil Law

The Scottish Second Book of Discipline  1578

Ch. 1, ‘Of the Kirk & Policy Thereof in General…’

“Finally, as ministers are subject to the judgment and punishment of the magistrate in exter nal things, if they offend…”

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George Gillespie

An Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland…  (Edinburgh, 1641), p. 42

“We hold that… Christians are governed by Magistrates, neither as they are Christians, nor as they are men, but as they are subjects, and they are governed by Chri­stian Magistrates as they are Christian sub­jects.”

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111 Propositions…  (Edinburgh, 1647), #45-46,

“45.  The second difference [between civil and church power] is in the object, or matter about which: The power politic or civil is occupied about the outward man and civil or earthly things, about war, peace, conservation of justice and good order in the commonwealth; also about the outward business or external things of the Church, which are indeed necessary to the Church, or profitable, as touching the outward man, yet not properly and purely spiritual, for they do not reach unto the soul, but only to the external state and condition of the ministers and members of the Church.

46.  For the better understanding whereof, tis to be observed that so far as the ministers and members of the Church are citizens, subjects or members of the commonwealth, it is in the power of the Magistrate to judge, determine and give sentence concerning the disposing of their bodies or goods; As also concerning the maintenance of the poor, sick, the banished and of others in the Church which are afflicted; To regulate (so far as concerns the civil order) marriages, burials, and other circumstances which are common both to holy and also to honest civil societies; to afford places fit for holy assemblies and other external helps by which the sacred matters of the Lord may be more safely, commodiously and more easily in the Church performed: To remove the external impediments of divine worship or of ecclesiastical peace, and to repress those which exalt themselves against the true Church and her Ministers, and do raise up trouble against them.

66.  Fourthly, they [the Church and magistrate] differ in the[ir] end [design]:  The immediate nearest end of civil power is that the good of the commonwealth may be provided for and procured, whether it be in time of peace, according to the rules of law and counsel of judges; or in time of war according to the rules of military prudence; and so the temporal safety of the subjects may be procured, and that external peace and civil liberty may be preserved, and being lost may be again restored.”

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Samuel Rutherford

A Peaceable and Temperate Plea (1642), ch. 19, ‘…as about… the King’s Power in Things Ecclesiastical’

p. 299

“2.  He [the king] is the head of the persons who make the Church, and so is a politic-head, but he is not the head of the Church-visible, as it is such.  The head-visible and members are of one nature; the king as king is a politic and civil head; the visible Church is not a politic and civil, but an ecclesiastic body…

Nathan as a man was David’s servant, but as a prophet he was God’s servant, and not David’s servant.”

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pp. 303-4

“Yea and the Christian king rules over men as men, and also as Christian-men; he rules over them as men, with a dominion over their bodies, lives and goods by his civil laws, he has also dominion as king over men, as Christians and members of Christ’s kingdom and Church, not over their consciences (for that is proper only to the Father of spirits), but he has a coactive [coercive] power over all men, even pastors, as to cause them do their Christian duties, he has power to compel Church-men in assemblies to determine truth, and to use the keys right, and to preach and use the sacraments according as Christ has commanded in his Word, and to punish them when they do otherwise.

I answer, the infallible rule of judging for both [Church and State] is the Word of God, which speaks home impartially to both, if they will hear, but certainly the king’s civil, kingly coactive power to compel men to do their duty remains the highest and most supreme power on earth, in genere potestatis politicae, in ‘the kind of politic-power’, and pastors and all men may by this power be compelled to do right; as for the abuse of the power, it is no part of the power; and in this kind the king has a negative-politic and kingly suffrage [vote] and voice in all Church assemblies, no ecclesiastical constitution has the force of a [civil] law without the politic suffrage of the civil judge.”

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The Due Right of Presbyteries (1644), Appendix, pp. 454-5

“We do not teach that Church-men are loosed from the positive laws of emperors and kings.  Bellarmine [a Papal apologist] says that the magistrate can neither punish Church-men, nor convene them before the tribunal; so [Pope] Innocentius the third, says the empire is not above the Pope, but the Pope is above the empire…  And what they allege for Peter’s exemption from paying tribute, will exime [exempt] all the disciples, and so all Church-men by divine right from the laws of princes.  Yea all Clergy-men (say they [Papists]) by a divine positive law are eximed from the laws of magistrates.  So says Suarez, Bellarmine, and the [??] of Rheimes, but with neither conscience, nor reason.  And contrary to their own practice and doctrine:

For Paul will have every soul subject to superior powers, and except the Roman Clergy want [lack] souls, they must also be subject.  Solomon punished Abiathar, Josiah burnt the bones of the priests upon the altar, Christ subjected himself to his parents, payed tribute to Caesar, and commanded scribes and pharisees to do the like, Mt. 22, willing that they should give to Caesar those things which are Caesar’s.  Paul appealed to Caesar’s tribunal, and Rom. 13, as many as may do evil [unqualified], as many as are in danger of resisting the power, are to be subject. Rom. 13:4; but Church-men are such, therefore they are subject.”

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The Divine Right of Church Government...  (1646), p. 560

“10th Assertion.  Hence I am not afraid to assert a reciprocation of subordinations between the Church and the Magistrate, and a sort of collaterality and independent supremacy in their own kind common to both, for every soul, pastors and others, are subject to the Magistrate as the higher power, in all civil things, Rom. 13:1-4; Tit. 3:1; 1 Pet. 2:13-14; Mt. 22:21.”

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That the Church is Not Subject to Legitimate Civil Law is Romanism

Article

Andrew Rivet – pp. 25-32  of The State-Mysteries of the Jesuits, by way of Questions and Answers. Faithfully extracted out of their own writings by themselves published…  (London, 1623)

Rivet was reformed.  This is a dialogue between a novice learning the way of his teacher, a Jesuit, explaining to him their doctrine from the printed writings of Romanists.

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Quotes

Samuel Rutherford

The Due Right of Presbyteries  (1644), pt. 2, Appendix, p. 454

“Believe if ye will [as it is claimed by Romanists] that [Emperor] Constantine gave to the Popes of Rome freedom and immunity from the imperial laws…  we teach no such kingly power given to Church-men, and judge this Donation [of Constantine] to be a forged lie, invented by Papists…

6.  We do not teach that Church-men are loosed from the positive laws of emperors and kings.  [The Romanist, Robert] Bellarmine says that the Magistrate can neither punish Church-men, nor convene them before the tribunal…  And as he says, by divine law the Pope is eximed [exempt] from all laws of princes…  And what they allege for Peter’s exemption from paying tribute, will exime all the disciples, and so all Church-men by divine right from the laws of princes.  Yea all Clergy-men (say they) by a divine positive law are eximed from the laws of Magistrates…

Paul will have every soul subject to superior powers, and except the Roman clergy want [lack] souls, they must also be subject.  Solomon punished [the priest] Abiathar, Josiah burnt the bones of the priests upon the altar, Christ subjected Himself to his parents, payed tribute to Caesar, and commanded scribes and pharisees to do the like, Mt. 22, willing that they should give to Ceasar those things which are Caesar’s.  Paul appealed to Caesar’s tribunal, and Rom. 13, as many as may do evil, as many as are in danger of resisting the power, are to be subject, Rom. 13:4.  2. but Church-men are such, therefore they are subject.”

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That the Magistrate is to Support the Church’s Assemblies in a Time of Plague & that Churches should be One of the Last Things to be Closed

“And David [the king] built there an altar to the Lord, and offered [through the priests] burnt offerings and peace offerings.  So the Lord heeded the prayers for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel.”

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Quotes

1500’s

William Cupper

p. 341 of Sermon 10 in Certain Sermons Concerning God’s Late Visitation in the City of London and other parts of the land, teaching all men to make use thereof, that mean to profit by God’s fatherly chastisements… (London, 1592)

“…[Magistrates, during a time of plague] must follow the example of David in this place who humbled himself before the Lord, who prayed for himself and for the people, and built an altar and offered up sacrifice; that is, they must maintain God’s truth to the uttermost of their power; they must set forward the preaching of the Word; they must with good Hezekiah and Josiah remove all idolatry and superstition (2 Kings 18:4; 23:4); they must also with David labor to find out the cause of God’s punishment, and remove it as he did when famine was in his land (2 Sam. 21:1,9)…”

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1600’s

London  1603

The following quote evidences the pattern in that era that when necessary, the regular assemblies of the churches where the plague was prevalent were closed, though usually replaced by more occasional fast days, which services were often held publicly, sometimes being weekly.

Shrewsbury, J.F.D. – A History of the Bubonic Plague in the British Isles  Pre  (Cambridge, 1970), pp. 323-4

“Throughout August London suffered a grievous destruction of its citizens although a large part of its inhabitants had deserted it.  On the 4th Bartholomew and Sturbridge Fairs were cancelled, and the preamble to an Order in [the civil town] Council published on the 5th records ‘the lamentable informations which we daily receive of the great spreading of the contagion of the plague through the Kingdom’.

This order requested the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to instruct their bishops to notify the churchwardens [church grounds-keepers] of infected parishes to stop public assemblies and exhort their parishoners to observe the public fast–which Wilson says was proclaimed 2 July–privately in their own homes.  He remarks that the Tuscan Resident commented ‘with some surprise and irony on this fast,

“which is performed in all the parishes and consists in staying in church all day, singing psalms, hearing sermons, the one shortly after the other, and making I know not how many prayers, imploring God for the stoppage of the plague and the ceaseless rain which for a month past has fallen to the detriment of all kinds of crops.””

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Dundee, Scotland  1608

Iain E. F. Flett, The Conflict of the Reformation and Democracy in the Geneva of Scotland, 1443-1610: an Introduction to edited texts of documents relating to the Burgh of Dundee  (Univ. of St. Andrews, 1981), p. 159

“The [Town] Council [of Dundee] were also anxious to maintain provision for the ministry in time of crisis, as during the outbreak of plague in 1608.”

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George Wither  1628

Wither (1588–1667) was a prolific English poet, pamphleteer, satirist and hymn-writer.

Britain’s Remembrancer, Containing a Narration of the Plague Lately Past…  ([London, 1628]), p. 131-3

“But, to our discontent, we also had
Our due allowances the shorter made
Ev’n by command.  For, some (I know not why)
Had falsely misinform’d Authority,
That our promiscuous meetings, at the Fast,
Increased the plague: which was believ’d in haste.
And being urg’d, perhaps, with such fane show
Of reason, as conjecture could imbue;
(The matter being aggravated too,
With such untruths, as travel to and fro)
The public preaching on the Fasting day,
Was, in an evil season, took away.

For, when the flesh was fed, and soul deprived
Of two repasts, which weekly we received,
Profaneness, and hard-heartedness began
To get new rooting in the mind of man.
We missed those good helps, and those examples
Which had been preached to us in our temples.
The poor did want full quickly, to their grief,
Those alms the Fast brought out for their relief.
And, when with prayers, preaching did not go,
Our cold devotions, did far colder grow.
What instrument of mischief might he be
Who caused that? And, what a fool was he!

If Wednesday-sermons holp infect[ion]; I pray
What kept us safer on the Sabbath day?
Since most fast then till noon without re[in]fection?
Or, what at funerals, did stop infection?
Good God! in thy affairs, how vain (to me)
Doth carnal policy appear to be?
How apt is flesh and blood to run a course,
Which makes the soul’s condition, worse and worse?

To venture on eternal death how toward!
And in a temporal danger what a coward!
Sure, had not such a project, had a scope
Beyond the reaching of the Devil’s hope,
And been too damnable for any one
To be his procurator thereupon;
Some would have made the motion that we might
Have liv’d excluded from our churches quite:
And, that till God his hand should please to stay,
None should in public, either preach, or pray.

‘Twas well the weekly number of the dead,
By God’s mere mercy, was diminished,
Before the prohibition of the Fast:
The Fiend had else, for evermore, di•g•ac’t
That discipline: and carnal policy
Had so insulted o’re Divinity,
That, in succeeding ages, men unholy,
Would thence have proved, such devotion, folly.

But, God prevented it, that we should take
Good notice of it; and good uses make:
And I have mention’d it, that here I may
God’s wisdom and man’s foolishness display.
Oh let us to our fasts again return;
Let us, for our omissions truly mourn;
And not capitulate with God, as though
He, first his rod out of his hand should throw,
Here we would come unto Him: for, if thus
A son of ours should bear himself to us,
It would our fire exasperate the more;
And make the fault seem greater than before.

Why should we in an action that is just
The mercy of our gracious God distrust?
Or, unto any place be loath to go,
Where God is to be heard, or spoken to,
Through fear of that which may be caught at home
And in a thousand places where we come?
Our sins and plagues were public: so should we
In pray’rs, and tears, and alms, and fastings be.
For, that strong Devil which hath tortur’d thus
Our general body, is not cast from us
By single exorcisms: neither shall
Our privacies advantage us at all,
Except in what conduces to the health
Of private men, or of their private wealth.

If we in close retirements (by our fear)
At markets, or where worse assemblies are,
Infected grow: the Devil, by and by
With us persuadeth, either to belie
The Church, our constant fasting, or some one
Good work, or pious action we have done.
(As visiting the sick, in time of need,
Or any other such like Christian deed)
For, he those practices doth greatly spite,
And, to disparage them hath much delight:
Because he sees, that such as are inclined
To pious means, will soon by trial find,
Good hopes to thrive beyond their expectations;
Their knowledge, fool his cunning machinations;
Their faiths grow strong; temptations weak appear;
Their joy most perfect, where most sorrows are;
And know, that when the Lord of Hosts is armed,
With all his judgments, that, he least is harmed,
Who, bold through love, self-trust quite from him throws
And, runs with confidence to meet his blows.

Let no man then be fearful to repair
Unto the house of preaching, or of pray’r;
Or, any whither else, those works to do,
Which he by conscience is obliged to:
No, though the Devil in the passage lay,
Or strow’d most fearful dangers in the way.
For, if in such a case, our death we take,
Our death, shall for our best advantage make.

Yet, let none think I this opinion carry,
That ev’ry Church, will be a sanctuary,
To all that come for, sure, if any dare
Without devotion in God’s house appear,
To them, that place, more peril threatens, than,
A chamber thronged with infected men.
Some fainted in the Church, as others did
Within their houses (where themselves they hid)
Yet not so often.  For though some did please
To blame the Church for spreading this disease,
No places were more harmless.  None did we
Behold more healthy, or to scape more free
From this infection, than those persons, whom
We saw most often, to God’s worship come.
Nor were there any houses more infected
Then theirs, who most the house of God neglected.

I speak not this by rumor: For, ev’n thither
Resorted I, where thronged were together
The greatest multitudes: And day by day
I sat where all the crowd I could survey.
Yet, I nor man, nor child, nor woman saw,
To sink, look pale, or from their place withdraw
And, doubtless, if such faintings there had been,
As many prated of; I some had seen.

Which, since I did not see, I wish again,
None would at such a time, God’s house refrain,
Except in congregations not their own,
And were infection feared is, or known:
Or in their own assembly, where disorder
Committed willfully, the pest may further.
Or, when their body’s weakened, or the air
Their safety’s may some other ways impair.
Excepting to (in times of visitation,
When they are marked with marks of separation,
As rising, blues, or sores.  O, newly from
The company of such like persons, come.
Or, whensoever they or do•, or may
Suppose themselves infectious anyway.

These (as the lepers did, by Mose’ Law)
From public congregations should withdraw,
For, sure, if any such themselves intrude
To mix among a healthy multitude,
(Though prayers or devotions they pretend,
Or whatsoever other pious end)
Their foolish practice is unwarrantable;
Yea, their condition so uncharitable,
That I abhor it: and believe that for
So doing, God their prayers doth abhor:”

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During the Great Plague of London  1665-66

Article

Anon. – A Pulpit to be Let [Filled]. With a Just Applause of those Worthy Divines that Stay with Us.  (London, 1665)

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Quote

Charles Creighton, A History of Epidemics in Britain, from A.D. 664 to the Extinction of the Plague [1666]  (Cambridge, 1891), p. 684

“At the same time the villagers [of Eyam, Derbyshire Dales, England] in general were instinctively moved to escape from the tainted spot; but Mompesson used his authority to prevent them, and a boundary line was drawn round the village, about half a mile in circuit and marked by various familiar objects, beyond which no one was to go.  Mompesson’s motive appears to have been to prevent the spread of the infection to the country around, and his parishioners submitted passively.  After the end of June the villagers would have found it difficult to escape, owing to the terror which the very name of their village caused in all the country round…

Thus shut up in their narrow valley, the villagers perished helplessly like a stricken flock of sheep.  By the end of June ceremonial burials came to an end, the church and the churchyard were closed, the dead were carried out wrapped in sheets by one of the villagers…”

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1700’s

Article

Heidegger, Johann Heinrich

Section 37, Query 5, ‘Whether Holy Assemblies in the Churches are to be Dissolved or Ommitted Lest they be Infected from Those that are Shut Up?’  in Theoretical-Practical Dissertation 3, ‘On Pestilence’  in Biblical Exercitations  (Zurich, 1700), Appendix, pp. 85-87.

Heidegger strongly argues for continuing Church assemblies during a time of pestilence; yet he also allows that Church assemblies may be dissolved, and that they may need to be dissolved (p. 86, point 5):

“If in a time of contagion, assemblies will need to be dissolved, it shall not be a work such that the Church be called back from: repentance, being confirmed in faith, being summoned to prayer, or in being prepared for death, etc.”

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Civil Examples

Edinburgh, Scotland  1585

‘Preface’, in Extracts From the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1573-1589, ed. J D Marwick (Edinburgh, 1882), pp. lvii-lxxx. British History Online

“During the period to which this volume relates, the magistrates and council seem to have usually met twice a-week, on Wednesdays and Fridays, at ten o’clock…

On 19th May 1585, it was resolved, in consideration of the apparent increase of the plague, that the council should meet every day after prayers and sermon…”

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‘Extracts from the Records: 1585, Jul-Sept’, in Extracts From the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1573-1589, ed. J D Marwick (Edinburgh, 1882), pp. 430-437. British History Online

“Aug. 10, 1585
Proclamation, Gatherings.

The foresaid bailies and a part of the counsel ordains proclamation to be made through this burgh charging that no manner of persons enduring the time of this present pestilence, either men or women, take upon hand to hold any conventions at the close heads, Cowgate, and high streets, be even or be day, as they commonly do, whereby infection daily arises, discharging all convention of houses and women in special and all such other idle persons which has not charge or licence of the bailies, but only to convene at Kirk and market and to no other places and times, under the pain to be enclosed in their houses upon their own charges for the space of a month and further punished in their bodies and goods at the will of the magistrates.”

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During the Great Plague of London  1665-66

Miller, Kathleen, The Literary Culture of Plague in Early Modern England  Pre  (Palgrave, 2016),

p. 36

“A number of proclamations issued in the relation of the visitation [of the plague in 1665] pertained to the concourse of the people.  Under most circumstances the concourse of people was vehemently prohibited in political plague texts, upholding an understanding of material protection against the threat of contagion.

However, the persistent belief in the moral dimension of illness manifested in proclamations that gestured to instances when gatherings could be justified, in the interest of providential salvation.  On 6 July [1665], measures for designated fast days and the severity of the growing outbreak were proclaimed in a text entitled ‘By the King.  A Proclamation for a Generall Fast Throughout the Realm of England’.  Fast days during plague had been enacted first during an outbreak in 1563 under Elizabeth I, who, alongside her council and the church, scheduled prayer and fasting, with fasting on Wednesdays…  The proclamation [in 1665] requested that citizens not only maintain the request, ‘And that the solemnization of these days may be with such Order and Decency as is requisite’…

Meetings in churches continued through the outbreak, though the circumstances changed once many pulpits were left abandoned by their Anglican ministers.  The flight of ministers meant nonconformist ministers took up the task of preaching at some of the vacant pulpits.  Writing of the height of the epidemic, nonconformist Thomas Vincent described the scene at a church in God’s Terrible Voice in the City:  ‘Now there is such a vast concourse of people in the Churches, where these ministers are to be found, that they cannot many times come near the Pulpit doors [in order to enter the pulpit to preach] for the press [of the people]’.”

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p. 98

“Though the prospect of a congregation gathering during times of contagion, whether led by the state church or a dissenting minister, is harrowing in and of itself, this did not stop such gatherings taking place.  Plague services were one of the few gatherings of the public allowed, with some pulpits occupied by figures filling in for clergy who fled and room made for certain ejected ministers [from 1662] to take up their pulpits once more.”

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That the Magistrate may Preside Civilly in Church Assemblies

1500’s

John Calvin

Calvin’s Catechism (1538)  in ed. Dennison, Reformed Confessions 1.440-1

31. Human Traditions

“We have Paul’s general statement that in the churches all things are to be done decently and in order.  Accordingly, civil observances, by which bonds, as it were, order and decorum are kept in the assembly of Christians, are by no means to be classed among human traditions, but are rather to be referred to that rule of the apostle, provided they are not believed to be necessary for salvation, or bind consciences by religion, or are related to the worship of God, or lodge piety in these things.

But we are stoutly to resist those regulations which under the title of ‘spiritual laws’ are in force to bind consciences as if necessary for the worship of God…”

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Theodore Beza

‘Theodore Beza’s Confession (1560): A Brief & Pithy Sum of Christian Faith’, 5th Point, ‘Of the Church’, 13. ‘To Whom it Belongs to Call a Council’  in Reformed Confessions of the 16th & 17th Centuries, ed. Dennison  (RHB, 2010), vol. 2, pp. 305-6

“That the [ecclesiastical] gathering ought to be assembled by order and then by authority of someone elected among them, we do not doubt that it is the office of the magistrate to order and provide for the ecclesiastical state to be governed well and ruled in peace, as well as to increase therein (1 Tim. 2:2).”

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Johann von Ewich

The Duty of a Faithful and Wise Magistrate, in preserving and delivering of the commonwealth from infection, in the time of the plague or pestilence…  (London, 1583), bk. 1, ch. 6, ‘Of Order to be Appointed among the Citizens, and of Leaving of Public Meetings and Assemblies,’ p. 27.  Ewich was a German reformer and civil health official.

“And first concerning Church meetings, this counsel is to be given [to civil magistrates], that they come not by heaps, or by throngs, neither in, nor go out, and that they flock not by great numbers into one church, where they shall be driven to sit straightly and near together, especially in one city: whereas there are more places fit for this purpose, in the which the divine service, that is, the expounding of the word of God, and administration of the sacraments may be done.

For albeit these things may peradventure seem unto some to be but small, and of little importance, yet nothing is to be omitted, which by any means may make for the turning away of the infection. And that which Cicero said, that when as we ought to do for the benefit of men, and do service to the fellowship of mankind, nothing is to be kept close, whatsoever commodity or store we have, the same especially ought to have place at this time.”

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Andrew Melville  1584

‘To Pastors of the Kirk of Geneva & Zurich’, pp. 165-66  in David Calderwood, History of the Kirk of Scotland, vol. 4

“…neither can he [an opponent] be ignorant of that which he has so often read and learned of your most godly writings, that it pertains not to the prince either to prescribe religion to the kirk or discipline to the pastors thereof, but by his authority to confirm both the one and the other, appointed by God, and sincerely declared out of his Word by the ministry of his servants; to revenge and punish all corrupting of clean doctrine, contempt of holy discipline, and perturbation of lawful order (for which use and purpose he has received the sword), to decore the Assemblies, if need be, with his presence; to arm the innocency of the ministry by his safe-guard and defense; if there arise controversies among the pastors, sometimes to compose and agree the same by his authority interpouned; to promove, by good laws made for that effect these things which are lawfully constituted by the Assemblies, and to do many other things for the weale of the kirk which were long to rehearse, and unneedful.

But far otherwise does he sit in the synods among the pastors than he does in the throne of the kingdom among the estates: here to make laws for subjects and command, but there to receive laws from God and to obey.  And albeit that some things be called ecclesiastical, and other things civil, and the civil appertain to the commonweal, and the other to the kirk; yet it is not so much to be considered what things are handled, as how, seeing the knowledge of one and the self-same thing one way, and in some respect, appertains to the magistrate, and another way to the senate ecclesiastical.  And yet such a matter neither does the kirk civilly, nor the counsel or parliament ecclesiastically entreat.”

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1600’s

Thomas Paget

Paget (d. 1660) was an English presbyterian, puritan, and brother to John Paget (c. 1574-1638), who was of the same variety.

‘A Humble Advertisement to the High Court of Parliament’, no page number, near the end, rt. page,  in John Paget, A Defence of Church Government Exercised in Presbyterial, Classical and Synodal Assemblies…  (1641)

“In their several presbyteries, classes and synods, provincial and national, they have [ecclesiastical] presidents and scribes chosen from amongst themselves for the more orderly managing of their sessions.  And in synods some chief magistrates are present to see order observed.”

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Samuel Rutherford

A Peaceable & Temperate Plea for Paul’s Presbytery in Scotland...  (1642), ch. 20, 12th Article, p. 322

“With us [the Church of Scotland,] the king or his commissioner is present [in our General Assemblies], as in the national assembly of the Jews was King David (1 Chron. 13:1,2), Asa (2 Chron. 15:9), Hezekiah (2 Chron. 29:4, Josiah, 2 Chron. 34:29).  For the king bears the sword and is there as a politic president and nursing father (Isa. 49:23; Rom. 13:4).”

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George Gillespie

111 Propositions…  (1647), #50-51, 65

“50.  Unto the external things of the Church belongs not only the correction of heretics and other troublers of the Church, but also that civil order and way of convocating and calling together synods, which is proper to the Magistrate; for the Magistrate ought by his authority and power both to establish the rights and liberties of synods assembling together at times appointed by the known and received law, and to indict and gather together synods occasionally as often as the necessity of the Church shall require the same;

Not that all or any power to consult or determine of ecclesiastic or spiritual matters does flow or spring from the Magistrate as Head of the Church under Christ; but because in those things pertaining to the outward man, the Church needs the Magistrate’s aid and support.

51.  So that the Magistrate calls together synods [as teaches WCF 31.2], not as touching those things which are proper to [ecclesiastical] synods; but in respect of the things which are common to synods with other meetings and civil public assemblies, that is, not as they are assemblies in the name of Christ, to treat of matters spiritual, but as they are public assemblies within his territories; for to the end that public conventions may be kept in any territory, the licence of the lord of that place ought to be desired.

In synods therefore a respect of order, as well civil as ecclesiastical is to be had; And because of this civil order, outward defense, better accommodation, together with safe access and recess, the consent and commandment of him who is appointed to take care of, and defend human order, does intervene.

He [the magistrate] takes care also for maintaining the ministers and schools, and supplies the temporal necessities of God’s servants, by his command assembles synods, when there is need of them; and summons, calls out, and draws to trial the unwilling, which without the Magistrates strength and authority cannot be done, as has been already said; he makes synods also safe and secure, and in a civil way presides or moderates in them (if it so seem good to him), either by himself or by a substitute commissioner.  In all which the power of the magistrate though occupied about spiritual things, is not for all that spiritual but civil.”

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That the Magistrate may Keep Persons Suspected of being Contagious from Church Assemblies

1500’s

London  1563

Charles Creighton, A History of Epidemics in Britain, from A.D. 664 to the Extinction of the Plague [1666]  (Cambridge, 1891), p. 316

“The great London plague of 1563 had revived the old practices and given rise to some new ones.  Curates and church-wardens [elected, lay, church grounds-keepers] were directed [by the civil authorities] to warn the inmates of houses where plague had occurred not to come to church for a certain space thereafter…  Also it was ordered by the Mayor and Council that…”

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1600’s

James Balmford

Balmford (1556- after 1623) was an English minister at Southwark.  He disputed with Thomas Gataker about casting lots.

A Short Dialogue Concerning the Plague’s Infection, Published to Preserve Blood through the Blessing of God  (London, 1603), pp. 5-8, 11-13.  The table of contents says of this section: ‘The infected who want [lack] no necessary relief should keep in, and they, withal supposed to come about them, are to forbear the Church for a while’

“Preacher:

…But I will show you by the Word of God, that princes both may and ought keep from assemblies, such as be no less dangerous to them, than one scabbed sheep is to an whole flock, and restrain the whole and sound from unnecessary running into eminent danger….

Kings and queens ought to be nursing fathers and nursing mothers to the Church (Isa. 49:23), so as that God’s people may lead a quiet and a peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty (1 Tim. 2:2).  But this is an honest thing before God and men, that kings should (out of a fatherly care) preserve their subjects from destruction, by infection, as well as by the sword (2 Sam. 24:17; 19:9).  As David was no less careful for his people when the pestilence raged, than valiant in defending them against their enemies.

Again, what other thing do sundry laws and customs of Israel teach us?  Priests were forbidden to drink wine or strong drink, that they might put difference between the clean and unclean (Lev. 10:9-10): that every leper and every one that had an issue, and whosoever is defiled by the dead, should be put out of the host (Num. 5:2,45,57): that garments and houses defiled by leprosy (Lev. 13:45,57,14), should be destroyed: that every one to do the work of nature [defecate], should go out of the host (Dt. 23:12-13): and that the dead were buried out of the city (Lk. 7:12).

What (I say) do these laws and customs (well considered)
teach us in their equity, but that God’s people should be carefully preserved from filthiness and contagion?  Let us a little better consider the laws of lepers, as most nearly concerning us, and we shall find that they were not only to have marks to be known by, but also to give warning to company approaching, by saying: ‘I am unclean, I am unclean’ (Lev. 13:45).  Whereby it is evident, that lepers should shun other, and other should shun them. And it is as evident, that they were not to come into the house of God (2 Chron. 26:20-21).  For a king being a leper, was kept out thereof all the days of his life.  Much more may Moses (a magistrate) shut out Miriam (though his sister) of the host for seven days (Num. 12:10,14).

But the plague is more dangerously contagious being mortal, then the leprosy which is not mortal [as is evident in many cases in the Scripture testimonies to the ‘leprosy’ described therein]: therefore princes and magistrates (which are called shepherds, Eze. 34:2,8) may and ought to be very careful, to keep the sound from the infected, and the infected from the sound, especially in assemblies.  As the shepherd is careful to keep scabbed sheep from his flock, and his flock from scabbed sheep.

…touching the comfort of soul, which they desire by coming to Church.  I pray them examine what true comfort they can have when they consider that they are more dangerous than they who go abroad.  For in the Church they sit by it, and that in a throng and heat: whereas if they humble themselves under God’s hand, and tarry at home, though taking it as a part of their cross that they keep so long from the Church; I doubt not but that they shall find God (who turns his children’s bed in time of sickness, Ps. 41:3) as a sanctuary to them.

And this I further say, that he rather is in the assembly of saints, who is there in spirit, though absent in body (Eze. 11:16; 1 Cor. 5:4); than he that is present in body, but absent in spirit (Isa. 29:13).

Professor [Layman]

All this (as I understand) concerns such as being infected themselves, do yet come to Church.  But what say you to those who have spacious houses, so as they come not near the sick of their family, and be sound themselves: may not they come to Church as well as those, between whom and the infected there is but a wall?

Preacher

They may, as I am persuaded, but all things are not expedient
which are lawful (1 Cor. 10:23-24)…”

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On the Magistrate’s Civil Power Regarding Public Preaching

Intro

Rutherford at the end of the quote below affirms that the civil magistrate may prohibit ministers’ preaching (irregardless of where it takes place) if ‘it is injurious and hurtful to human societies’ or if it ‘disturb the public peace’, which things are part of the magistrate’s proper, civil jurisdiction.

This is similar in today’s context to zoning laws: a minister does not have an absolute moral right, or a civil right, to preach in residential areas, as the community, and its delegated magistrate, has already determined that such would disturb the intended, agreed upon, use of those areas and the public peace pertaining to them.  However, the minister is free to preach in the public areas that the magistrate, usually at the community’s consent, has agreed are naturally fitting for the purpose of free public speech within certain noise ordinances.

Rutherford shows in the beginning and middle of the below quote, contra the Arminians and Erastians, that the magistrate has no grounds to prohibit the spiritual preaching of ministers in public places simply because they are public places, the magistrate sometimes claiming to have (an absolute) governance over such.

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Samuel Rutherford

Divine Right of Church Government  (1646), pp. 557-8

“Nor do the Arminians much honor the magistrate, who, walking in the steps of Erastus, do hold that the magistrate having power of public places, preachers are obliged not to preach in public places if the magistrate forbid them; but they may preach in private places.  But:


2.  The Lord has no more given to magistrates power of places, or religious-actions in places, than He has given to them power of truths:  Therefore, they [Arminians] must be obliged in conscience, rejecting a vain and sapless distinction, to preach in public places: for as that judicious and learned, [reformed] professor, Jacob Triglandius says, ‘The place is accident all to the worship, and changes not the nature of it;’ (Trigland, de Potest. et Eccelesiastica Dissertatio, Theol., p. 123)…

3.  The apostles knew not this distinction, for they not only preached truth (the scribes and pharisees forbidding them), but in public places, and at all occasions, and daily in the Temple, and in every house they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ (Acts 6:2,4; 4:1,20; 5:20-21).  The magistrate, being Antichristian, forbids not preaching of saving truths because of the place, be it private or public, but he forbids them because they are saving; and if Jesus Christ has called a man to preach in public in the housetops, the magistrate has no power from God to silence him in public more than in private.  The magistrate forbids that any teach false doctrine, not for the place, but because it is injurious and hurtful to human societies that men should be principled in a false religion, and cannot but disturb the public peace.”

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Due Right of Presbyteries (1644), Appendix, pp. 430-1

“But I answer, [1.] the king as king has dominion-civil of places and times, as places and times, but not of places as sacred in use, and of times as sacred and religious: for his power in Church matters being accumulative, not privative [depriving], he cannot take away a house dedicated to God’s service no more than he can take away maintenance allotted by public authority upon hospitals, schools, doctors and pastors.

God has here a sort of propriety of houses and goods as men have.  Places as sacred-abused are subject to regal power; he may inhibit conventions of heretics.

2. The apostles might preach in the Temple, though civil authority forbid them.

3. Kings are as much lords of places as sacred and public, as they have a dominion of civil places, in respect the king may by coactive [coercive] power hinder that false and heretical doctrine be preached, either in public, or private places, for this he ought to do as a preserver of both Tables [of the Law] and a bearer of the sword for the good of religion; and if they may command pure doctrine to be preached, and sound discipline to be exercised, they may command the same to be done in public places.”

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George Gillespie

111 Propositions…  (Edinburgh, 1647), #54-55

“54.  Those things then wherein the ecclesiastical power is exercised, are the preaching of the Word, the administration of sacraments, public prayer and thanksgiving, the catechising and instructing of children and ignorant persons…

55.  Tis true that about the same things, the civil power is occupied, as touching the outward man, or the outward disposing of divine things in this or that dominion, as was said; not as they are spiritual and evangelical ordinances piercing into the conscience itself (but the object of the power-ecclesiastical is a thing merely and purely spiritual; and in so far as it is spiritual)…”

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Walter Steuart of Pardovan

This work is a standard summary of the practices of the Church of Scotland from her Reformation in 1560 up through the early-1700.s

Collections and Observations Concerning the Worship, Discipline, and Government of the Church of Scotland...  (Edinburgh, 1770), p. 129

“And albeit the vocation of a pastor, his commission and instructions relating thereto, be all of a spiritual nature, and of divine original, yet their persons, estates and behavior, considered in a civil capacity, are, according to Scripture and reason, subject to the civil government.”

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That the Magistrate may Prohibit Church Assemblies with Sufficient, Natural, Civil Warrant

1500’s

Johann von Ewich

The Duty of a Faithful and Wise Magistrate, in Preserving and Delivering of the Commonwealth from infection, in the time of the plague or pestilence…  (London, 1583), bk. 1, ch. 6, ‘Of Order to be Appointed among the Citizens, and of Leaving of Public Meetings and Assemblies,’ p. 27.  Ewich was a German reformer and civil health official.

“There must also an order be set down [by the magistrates] among the citizens, to avoid public assemblies, games, feasts, drinkings, marriages, dancings, fairs, schools, churches, and public baths; for…  there is also no small danger of getting and scattering the infection.  Wherefore, wise men give counsel that at such times we should very seldom come into great companies of men.”

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1600’s

London  1603

Shrewsbury, J.F.D. – A History of the Bubonic Plague in the British Isles  Pre  (Cambridge, 1970), p. 323

“Throughout August London suffered a grievous destruction of its citizens although a large part of its inhabitants had deserted it.  On the 4th Bartholomew and Sturbridge Fairs were cancelled, and the preamble to an Order in [the civil town] Council published on the 5th records ‘the lamentable informations which we daily receive of the great spreading of the contagion of the plague through the Kingdom’.

This order requested the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to instruct their bishops to notify the churchwardens [church grounds-keepers] of infected parishes to stop public assemblies and exhort their parishoners to observe the public fast…  privately in their own homes.”

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Charles Creighton, A History of Epidemics in Britain, from A.D. 664 to the Extinction of the Plague [1666]  (Cambridge, 1891), p. 497

“The truth is, the times were very sad, and nothing but lamentation and bemoanings heard in the streets.  Those that had wealth retired into the country, but those that were needy were, if not taken away by death, almost starved, and so consequently ready to mutiny against their superiors for relief.

All the gates of colleges and halls were constantly kept shut day and night, a few persons being left in them to keep possession.  The shops of the town were closed, none but the attendants on the sick or the collectors for them were to be seen stirring abroad, the churches were seldom or never open for divine service.”

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The State & Church of Scotland  1607

While the presbyterian Calderwood did not approve the following action of the Magistrate in delaying the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, yet he does not dispute the legitimacy of the civil reason given here respecting the plague (though he disputes everything else).  Calderwood lists out numerous of the other ‘real’ reasons why the King took this action (which reasons Calderwood disapproved of).

A Scottish minister of that time, William Scot, evidently a presbyterian sympathizer, recorded the same event (though says it was in 1608).  He too does not object to the justification of the plague, though he disputes the other reasons given by the King.  See An Apologetical Narration of the State & Government of the Kirk of Scotland…  (Edinburgh: Wodrow Society, 1846), p. 196.

as given in David Calderwood, History of the Kirk of Scotland, vol. 6, p. 683

“…so in like manner, God’s present visitation of our said burgh of Dundee by the plague, enforces the prorogation [discontinuation without being dissolved] of the said [General] Assembly [of the Church of Scotland] to some other time…

…that the General Assembly is continued and prorogued to the last Tuesday of April…  and betwixt and then, it may be hoped, that it may please God of his mercy to remove the said plague of pestilence.”

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The Civil Government of the Netherlands after the Synod of Dort  1619

Intro

The American presbyterian, Samuel Miller, narrated the closing scenes of the Dutch, reformed, Synod of Dort (1618-19), saying:

“The [ecclesiastical] Synod examined the Arminian tenets, condemned them as unscriptural, pestilential errors, and pronounced those who held and published them to be enemies of the faith of the Belgic churches, and corrupters of the true religion.  They also deposed the Arminian ministers, excluded them and their followers from the communion of the church, [ecclesiastically] suppressed their religious assemblies and by the aid of the civil government, which confirmed all their acts, sent a number of the clergy of that party, and of those who adhered to them, into banishment.”

– Thomas Scott, The Articles of the Synod of Dort Translated… with an Introductory Essay by the Rev. Samuel Miller…  (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1856), ‘Introductory Essay’, p. 29

This action of the Dutch civil government was in accordance with the Reformation doctrine of the Establishment Principle and the magistrate’s civil power around spiritual things (circa sacra):

The Church Synod executed its power in sacra (in spiritual things) by determining and confirming correct doctrine from the Word of God.

The Magistrate did not perform any actions in sacra (in determining such doctrines), but rather received of the Church her true teachings (recognized by the conscience of the Magistrate), and, with a view towards civil peace, set civil ordinances to protect and defend the outward welfare of the Church and the teachings of the Word of God.

As is seen below, the 14 principal Arminian (defrocked) ministers, teachers and leaders, had the opportunity to yet live in the Netherlands in peace while still holding in conscience to their erroneous beliefs, if they did not publicly teach and seek to propagate them.  However they would not promise this, and in fact were closely connected with attempts to set up an Anti-Synod to counteract the Synod of Dort.  Therefore the civil government banished them from the country.

Take special note that the grounds of the civil government doing this were purely civil (circa sacra and not in sacra), relating to the external peace of civil society, insofar as their propagating of religious doctrines contrary to the received and established doctrines of the Church were creating civil unrest and scandals.  This is in accordance with the teaching of George Gillespie:

“The orthodox Churches believe also, and do willingly acknowledge, that every lawful Magistrate, being by God Himself constituted the keeper and defender of both Tables of the Law, may and ought first and chiefly to take care of God’s glory, and (according to his place, or in his manner and way) to preserve Religion when pure, and to restore it when decayed and corrupted; And also to provide a learned and godly ministry, schools also and synods, as likewise to restrain and punish as well atheists, blasphemers, heretics and schismatics as the violaters of justice and civil peace.”

Proposition 41  in 111 Propositions…  (Edinburgh, 1647)

The likely reason why the document below does not mention the civil suppressing of Arminian churches is that, by getting rid of the Arminian teachers, the churches would remain a part of the reformed churches of the Netherlands, and would be shortly filled with orthodox ministers.

Nonetheless, it is clear that the reformed, civil government of the Netherlands believed it had power, and exercised its power so that a church assembly, an anti-synod, would not convene to perform functions in sacra (of determining doctrine), and this upon civil, circa sacra grounds, and nothing in sacra.

It is also clear that the churches influenced by the Arminian teachers (no doubt having many devotees) were considered (under their reformed constitution) to be Christian churches.  Hence the civil government was not preventing their assembling into a synod as if they were no churches at all, but rather recognized them as churches, and yet still used coercion so that they could not assemble into a synod (to the detriment of civil society).

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‘The Declaration of the Decree Made by the General States of the United Netherland Provinces, against certain Arminians for their Perpetual Banishment’  1619

“…an Act made for the dismissing of them from their spiritual functions: and appointing them to live as secular persons, the contents thereof being, that they should faithfully promise, with upright hearts and consciences, from thenceforth, not to intrude themselves, nor once take upon them to deal in any spiritual affairs, services or ceremonies, as Ministers, Teachers, or Officers of the Church, nor to meddle with the same in any manner whatsoever, openly or secretly, directly or indirectly, neither within nor without the Towns, Villages, and places of the United Provinces, nor the resorts thereof, but to behave themselves civilly, honestly, peaceably and modestly, as particular and Secular subjects ought to do, and to govern themselves orderly according to the commandments and precepts of the superior power, and to be obedient thereunto.

To the which Decree and sentence so pronounced, every one of them severally for himself…  made answer, that concerning their consciences, they were not bound to be obedient unto the said General States [in this matter]…  Their said answer and declaration being wholly conformable to the hurtful, dangerous and pernicious complot and league made by some of their confederates, in form and manner of an Anti-synod, without the consent and commission of the lawful Magistrates…  that by their aforesaid proceedings, as also by all other their actions and comportments, it evidently appears, and is most manifest, that they stubbornly and wilfully continue in their insupportable stiff-neckedness, and disobedience against their lawful Magistrates, and that the same their proceedings tend only, to a further disquietness and trouble of the minds and wills of the good and faithful inhabitants and subjects of the said United Provinces, as also to the perturbation not only of politic government, but of the religion which they, by all the means they could devise hitherto have sought, and yet seek to with-draw and separate from the general and upright feeling, and consent of the true Reformed Churches, both within and without the land.

Therefore the said General States have declared… the said persons and their adherents aforesaid, to be hereby discharged, and wholly dismissed of, and from all spiritual functions, offices and duties usually performed in the Church, and merely made secular persons, and that they whose names are hereafter recited, be banished.”

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London, England  c. 1625

The following is an example of what was the de facto practice in the English scene.  Wither (1588–1667) was a prolific English poet, pamphleteer, satirist and hymn-writer.

George Wither, Britain’s Remembrancer, Containing a Narration of the Plague Lately Past…  ([London, 1628]), p. 131

“For, some (I know not why)
Had falsely misinform’d Authority,
That our promiscuous meetings, at the Fast,
Increased the plague: which was believ’d in haste.
And being urg’d, perhaps, with such fane show
Of reason, as conjecture could imbue;
(The matter being aggravated too,
With such untruths, as travel to and fro)
The public preaching on the Fasting day,
Was, in an evil season, took away.”

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Samuel Rutherford

A Survey of the Survey of that Sum of Church Discipline Penned by Mr. Thomas Hooker…  (London, 1658), bk. 4, ch. 12, ‘Of the Magistrate’s Power in Convocating Synods’

pp. 487-9

“Answer 1: Mr. Hooker [a New England Independent puritan] makes all that Christians do as [private] Christians and as Churches, that is, gathering of Churches, hearing, partaking of seals and censures, to be private actings not belonging to the magistrate.

Strange it is, that the convening of the ten thousand subjects in the same place (as our Brethren [the Independents] say) belongs nothing to the magistrate; sure it sides with peace or war.

[Answer] 3:  I wonder more in what capacity the magistrate can have to do with commanding and governing men, if not as they converse morally with men, and in their families, as fathers and sons, as masters and servants, and as Christians who both in private and public may perform duties to one another, or oppress one another…

But if Mr. Hooker mean that private actings of citizens, of members of families, of Christians, that are good and indifferent, do not appertain to the magistrate, who is an adversary to him in this?  Though all good actions done in private or public deserve praise, reward and protection from the magistrate…

Mr. Hooker [said]: “Commission and just permission are all one: A ruler permits a finder [founder] to set up a school; he needs no commission.”

[Rutherford’s] Answer:  …and yet its worse to say [that] the Christian ruler owes to assemblies, pastors, schools only permission.  Paul says, he owes praise, Rom. 13:3, which, with good ground, famous interpreters expound to be countenancing, favor, protection, reward, stipends…”

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p. 499

“…the King has sufficient power to oppose wasters of his kingdom and to require homage of his subjects.  Suppose he have not an unlimited power to forbid these of other nations and Churches, and his own, to go to a synod, within or without his nation, for the settling of the Churches in necessary peace and truth, if the Churches must seek liberty and counsel for their souls good, and edification:

nor has he any lawful power from God to hinder his own subjects to send commissioners to sound and godly synods for counsel and synodical light, more than Jeroboam could lawfully forbid the people to go and worship at Jerusalem, upon pretense that they might be persuaded to cleave to Rehoboam their lawful prince, and waste his new kingdom: nor hath the prince an unlimited and absolute power to exact such absolute homage of his people; nor such a power over their moving from place:

([Margin note:] The Lord of Life has principally in the First Table laid a law upon our locomotive, and all our actings, to honor and love Him first, and the prince only secondarily and subordinately to God; if God charge us first to go to public meetings to honor Him, the Prince under pretense of peace cannot forbid the people to go up to Jerusalem to worship; we are to obey God rather than man.)

for so the [claimed] Church Independent of Jerusalem consisting of ten thousand, if not more, should have no intrinsic power to meet for the public worship of God; but the prince must have a lawful power to hinder their meeting, or then the Church cannot have a lawful power to meet; for the convening of ten thousands, if abused, is as dangerous for wasting of a kingdom in its own way, as the convening of a national synod, is, or may be destructive to peace.”

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Baxter, Richard

A Christian Directory, or a Sum of Practical Theology…  (London, 1673), pp. 870-872

Question 109:  May we omit Church-assemblies on the Lord’s day, if the Magistrate for­bid them?

Answer:  1. It is one thing to forbid them for a time, upon some special cause (as infection by pestilence, fire, war, etc.), and another thing to forbid them statedly or profanely.

2. It is one thing to omit them for a time, and another to do it ordinarily.

3. It is one thing to omit them in formal obedience to the Law; and another thing to omit them in prudence or for necessity, because we cannot keep them.

4. The Assembly and the circumstances of the Assembly must be distinguished:

1. If the Magistrate for a greater good, (as the common safety) forbid Church Assemblies in a time of pestilence, assault of enemies, or fire, or the like necessity, it is a duty to obey him. Because positive duties give place to those great natural duties which are their end: so Christ justified himself and his disciples violation of the external rest of the Sabbath. For the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 2. Because Affirmatives bind not ad semper [to all circumstances], and out of season du­ties become sins. 3. Because one Lord’s day or Assembly is not to be preferred before many, which by the omission of that one, are like[ly] to be obtained.

2.  If princes profanely forbid holy assemblies and public worship, either statedly, or as a renuncia­tion of Christ and our religion; it is not lawful formally to obey them.

3.  But it is lawful prudently to do that secretly for the present necessity, which we cannot do publicly, and to do that with smaller numbers, which we cannot do with greater assemblies, yea and to omit some assemblies for a time that we may thereby have opportunity for more: which is not formal but only material obedience.

4.  But if it be only some circumstances of assembling that are forbidden us, that is the next case to be resolved.

Question 110.  Must we obey the Magistrate if he only forbid us worshiping God, in such a place, or country, or in such numbers, or the like?

Answer:  We must distinguish between such a determination of circumstances, modes or accidents.  What if we be forbidden only place, num­bers, etc. as plainly destroy the worship or the end, and such as do not.  For instance:

1. He that saith, ‘You shall never assemble but once a year, or never but at midnight; or never above six or seven minutes at once, etc.,’ doth but determine the circumstance of time: But he doth it so as to destroy the worship, which cannot so be done in consistency with its ends.  But he that shall say, ‘You shall not meet till nine a clock, nor stay in the night, etc. does no such thing.

So 2. He that saith, ‘You shall not assemble but at forty miles distance one from another; or you shall meet only in a room that will hold but the twentieth part of the Church; or you shall never preach in any city or popular place but in a wilderness far from the inhabitants, etc.,’ doth but deter­mine the circumstance of place.  But he so does it, as tends to destroy or frustrate the work which God commands us.  But so does not he that only bounds Churches by parish bounds, or forb­ids inconvenient places.

3. So he that saith, ‘You shall never meet under a hundred thousand together, or never above five or six, doth but determine the accident of number.  But he so does it as to destroy the work and end.  For the first will be impossible; and in the second way they must keep Church assemblies without ministers, when there is not so many as for every such little number to have one.  But so does not he that only says, ‘You shall not meet above ten thousand, nor under ten.’

4. So he that saith, ‘You shall not hear a Trinitarian, but an Arian, or you shall hear only one that cannot preach the essentials of religion, or that cries down godliness it self, or you shall hear none but such as were ordained at Jerusalem or Rome, or none but such as subscribe the Council of Trent, etc.,’ does but determine what person we shall hear.  But he so does it as to destroy the work and end.  But so does not he that only says, ‘You shall hear only this able minister, rather than that.’

2. I need not stand on the application.  In the latter case we owe formal obedience.  In the former we must suffer, and not obey.

For if it be meet so to obey, it is meet in obedience to give over God’s worship.  Christ said, when they persecute you in one city, flee to another (Mt. 10:13; 16:15[?]): But He never said, ‘If they forbid you preaching in any city, or populous place, obey them.’  He that said, ‘Preach the Gospel to every creature, and to all nati­ons, and all the world, and that would have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,’ (Mt. 28:19; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Tim. 2:25-26; 4:1-3) does not allow us to forsake the souls of all that dwell in cities and populous places, and preach only to some few cottingers elsewhere: No more than he will allow us to love, pity and relieve the bodies only of those few, and take none for our neighbors that dwell in cities, but with priest and Levite, to pass them by.

Question 111.  Must subjects or servants forbear weekly lectures, reading or such helps, above the Lord’s days worship, if princes or masters do command it?

Answer 1:  There is [a] great difference between a mere subject, or person governed, and a servant, slave or child.

2.  There is great difference between such as are hindered by just cause and real necessities, and such as are hindered only through profane malignity.

1.  Poor people have not so much leisure from their callings as the rich: And so providing for their families may, at that time, by necessity, become the greater and the present duty.

2.  So may it be with soldiers, judges and others that have present urgent work of public conse­quence; when others have no such impediment.

3.  He that is the child or slave of another, or is his own by propriety, is more at his power, than he that is only a subject, and so is but to be governed in order to his own and the common good.

4.  A servant that hath absolutely hired himself to another, is for that time near the condition of a slave: But he that is hired but with limitations, and exceptions of liberty, (expressed or understood) has right to the excepted liberty.

5.  If the king forbid judges, soldiers or others whose labors are due to the public, to hear sermons at the time when they should do their work: or if parents, or masters so forbid children and servants, they must be obeyed, while they exclude not the public worship of the Lord’s own day, nor necessary prayer and duty in our private daily cases.

6.  But he that is under such bondage as hinders the needful helps of his soul, should be gone to a freer place, if lawfully he can.  But a child, wife or such as are not free must trust on God’s help in the use of such means as he allows them.

7.  A prince, or tutor, or schoolmaster, who is not a proprietor of the person, but only a governor, is not to be obeyed formally and for conscience sake, if he forbid his subjects or scholars such daily or weekly helps for their salvation as they have great need of, and have no necessity to forbear; such as are hearing or assembling with the Church on the week days at convenient time, reading the Scriptures daily, or good books, accompanying with men fearing God, praying, etc. Because God has commanded these when we can perform them.”

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1900’s

Francis J. Grimké

Grimke was a presbyterian pastor in Washington, D.C.  He wrote in the context of the worldwide pandemic of the Spanish Flu in 1918-20.  See also Andrew Myers, ‘Reflections by Francis J. Grimke on the 1918 ‘Spanish Flu”.

‘Some Reflections, growing out of the recent epidemic of influenza that Afflicted our City’  (Washington D.C., 1918), p. 6

“Another thing that has impressed me, in connection with this epidemic, is the fact that conditions may arise in a community which justify the extraordinary exercise of powers that would not be tolerated under ordinary circumstances. This extraordinary exercise of power was resorted to by the [civil] Commissioners in closing up the theaters, schools, churches, in forbidding all gatherings of any considerable number of people indoors and outdoors, and in restricting the numbers who should be present even at funerals.  The ground of the exercise of this extraordinary power was found in the imperative duty of the officials to safeguard, as far as possible, the health of the community by preventing the spread of the disease from which we were suffering.

There has been considerable grumbling, I know, on the part of some, particularly in regard to the closing of the churches.  It seems to me, however, in a matter like this it is always wise to submit to such restrictions for the time being.  If, as a matter of fact, it was dangerous to meet in theaters and in the schools, it certainly was no less dangerous to meet in churches.  The fact that the churches were places of religious gathering, and the others not, would not affect in the least the health question involved.  If avoiding crowds lessens the danger of being infected, it was wise to take the precaution and not needlessly run in danger, and expect God to protect us.

And so, anxious as I have been to resume work, I have waited patiently until the order was lifted. I started to worry at first, as it seemed to upset all of our plans for the fall work; but I soon recovered my composure.  I said to myself, Why worry?  God knows what He is doing.  His work isn’t going to suffer.  It will rather be a help to it in the end.  Out of it, I believe, great good is coming.  All the churches, as well as the community at large, are going to be the stronger and better for this season of distress through which we have been passing.”

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That the Magistrate May Not Restrain Church Assemblies without Sufficient, Natural Civil, Warrant 

Church of Scotland

Act Approving the [Westminster] Confession of Faith, Aug. 27, 1647, Session 23

“…in kirks constituted and settled…  it being also free [for the Church] to assemble together synodically, as well pro re nata [‘for the thing of necessity’, that is, occasionally] as at the ordinary times, upon delegation from the churches, by the intrinsical power received from Christ, as often as it is necessary for the good of the Church so to assemble, in case the Magistrate, to the detriment of the Church, withhold or deny his consent; the necessity of occasional assemblies being first remonstrate unto him by humble supplication.”

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Samuel Rutherford

A Peaceable and Temperate Plea  (1642), ch. 19, p. 298

“4. the king’s power is accumulative [Rom. 13:4], in giving to the Church, and aiding and helping; God has given to the king the Ten Commandments, and the Gospel, as a pupil is given to a tutor:  The King holds his sword above the Law of God, to ward off the strokes of wicked men who do hurt the Law; but the king’s power is not privative, to take any privilege from the Law and the Church: so his power is as a tutor to keep, not as a father who may both give and take away from his son the inheritance; his power is defensive, not offensive.”

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Divine Right of Church Government (1646), pp. 584-5

1. Whereas he [William Prynne, an Erastian] proves emperors and kings to have a power to convocate councils; It has not strength against us: all our [reformed] divines teach so.  But how?  [By:]

1. An accumulative civil power, so Jewel, Alley, Bilson, Whitaker, Willet, White, Roger, he might have cited more; but no privative [depriving], no ecclesiastical power, so as [that] synods may not lawfully convene without the command of the civil magistrate;

Our divines say many synods and Church meetings were in the apostolic Church without the consent and against the will of the civil magistrate; our divines oppose the Pope, who claims the only accumulative, civil, privative, and ecclesiastic power to convocate synods, and that no synods are lawful without the consent and mandate of the holiness of such a Beast.”

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A Survey of the Survey of that Sum of Church Discipline Penned by Mr. Thomas Hooker…  (London, 1658), bk. 4, ch. 12, ‘Of the Magistrate’s Power in Convocating Synods’, pp. 501-2

“…but it follows not that they [Churches] have no intrinsic power from Christ to meet themselves, if the prince refuse to convocate them, as Asa, Hezekiah, Josiah did, for the Magistrate ought to protect the independent congregation, and every single professor [of Christ]: but it follows not, therefore, [that] the single congregation has no power-intrinsic to meet for Word and seals, except the prince, who is a persecutor, give him leave…

For Christ has given to his Church, and members thereof, power to worship him in private, in public, in Church-assemblies, and has laid above their heads no lawful privative [depriving] power of rulers to hinder his people to worship the Lord God, Exodus 3…  The prince has no power under pretense of keeping civil peace to Caesar, to hinder actings of rendering honor to God, contrary to truth and destructive to the Gospel.”

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George Gillespie

111 Propositions…  (1647), #72-73

“72.  Fifthly, they [the Church and magistrate] are distinguished by the effect.  The effect of civil power is either proper or by way of redundance; The proper effect is the safety-temporal of the commonwealth, external tranquility, the fruition of civil liberty, and of all things which are necessary to the civil society of men: The effect by way of redundance is the good of the Church, to wit, insofar as by execution of justice and good laws, some impediments that usually hinder and disturb the course of the Gospel, are avoided or taken away.

73.  For by how much the more faithfully the Magistrate executes his office in punishing the wicked, and cherishing and encouraging good men, taking away those things which withstand the Gospel, and punishing or driving away the troublers and subverters of the Church; so much the more the orthodox faith and godliness are reverenced and had in estimation, sins are hated and feared: Finally, all the subjects contained (as much as concerns the outward man) within the lists of God’s Law; whence also by consequence it happens by God’s blessing, that the Church is defiled with fewer scandals and does obtain the more freedom and peace.”

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On the Restraints of the Church in Civil Matters

Theodore Beza

A Learned Treatise of the Plague…  (1580; London, 1665), p. 18

“…but this especially must be agreed upon, that as our sins are the chief and true cause of the plague, so that this is the only proper remedy against the same; if the ministers dispute not of the infection (which belongs to physicians) but by their life and doctrine stir up the people to earnest repentance, and love, and charity one towards another.”

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Samuel Rutherford

The Due Right of Presbyteries…  (1644), pt. 2, p. 410

“Hence I reason thus, no synods-ecclesiastical can meddle with the blood and temporal lives of men…”

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The Divine Right of Church Government…  (London, 1646), pp. 558-9

“9th Assertion….  1.  As the object of that high [civil] office is merely and purely civil and positive, relating only to a civil end, of peace: as in importing or exporting of goods, of wool, wax, moneys for the good of the commonwealth, the crying up or crying down of the value of coined gold or silver, the making of laws merely civil; as not to carry armor in the night [which is threatening] in such a city: so in war, commanders, captains and colonels are magistrates to order the battle, lay stratagems…  the parliaments’ power in disposing of fowling, fishing, hunting, eating of flesh, or not eating at such a time: all these, as the Word of God does not particularly warrant the one side more than the other, are merely civil and positive.

It is sure the magistrate has a supremacy, and an independency above the Church or ministers of the Gospel in all these; and as these prescind [are detached] from all morality of the First and Second Table [in that they are not inherently moral or immoral of themselves], I hold that neither the power nor person of the magistrate is subordinate to the Church and Church-assemblies [in these things], and ministers of the Gospel should [in Greek] and exceed the limits and bounds of their calling if they should meddle with these; as the Church should exceed their bounds, if they should make canons touching the way of sailing, painting, tilling the earth, according to such and such principles of art, for these are without the sphere of the Church’s activity;

In this consideration that learned and grave divine Dr. Andrew Rivet says well (in Decalog., ch. 5, p. 204) that as we believe a man well skilled in his own art, so that his judgement is a supreme rule; so the supreme authority of the magistrate to us in things positive is a rule; for indeed it cannot be denied but there be arcana imperis, secrets of State that are not to be communicated to pastors or to any, in which the rulers have a supremacy.”

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The Westminster Confession

Ch. 31, section 5

“Synods and councils are to handle or conclude nothing but that which is ecclesiastical; and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs, which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition, in cases extraordinary…”

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George Gillespie

111 Propositions…  (1647), #48, 53 & 56

“48.  For to that end also is the holy Scripture profitable, to show which is the best manner of governing a commonwealth, and that the Magistrate as being God’s Minister may by this guiding star be so directed, as that he may execute the parts of his office, according to the will of God, and may perfectly be instructed to every good work;

yet the Minister is not said properly to treat of civil businesses, but of the scandals which arise about them, or of the cases of conscience which
occur in the administration of the commonwealth: So also the Magistrate is not properly said to be exercised about the spiritual things of the Church, but rather about those external things which adhere unto and accompany the spiritual things.

53.  The object of ecclesiastical power is not the same with the object of the civil power, but much differing from it; for the ecclesiastical power does determine and appoint nothing concerning men’s bodies, goods, dignities, civil rights, but is employed only about the inward man, or the soul…

56.  Surely the faithful and godly ministers, although they could do it unchallenged and uncontrolled, and were therein allowed by the Magistrate (as in the prelatical times it was), yet would not usurp the power of life and death, or judge and determine concerning men’s honors, goods, inheritance, division of families, or other civil businesses; seeing they well know these things to be heterogeneous to their office: But as they ought not to entangle themselves with the judging of civil causes…”

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On the Spiritual Power of the Church in Civil Matters in an Established, Christian Nation

The Scottish Second Book of Discipline  1578

Ch. 1, ‘Of the Kirk & Policy Thereof in General…’

“15.  …The ministers should assist their princes in all things agreeable to the Word, provided they neglect not their own charge by involving themselves in civil affairs.”

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George Gillespie

111 Propositions…  (1647), #47 & 63

“47.  The matter may further be thus illustrated:  There is almost
the like respect and consideration of the Magistrate as he
is occupied about the outward things of the Church, and of
the ecclesiastic ministry as it is occupied about the inward
or spiritual part of civil government, that is, about those
things which in the government of the commonwealth belong
to the conscience.

It is one thing to govern the commonwealth, and to make political and civil laws; another thing to interpret the Word of God, and out of it to
show to the Magistrate his duty, to wit, how he ought to govern the commonwealth and in what manner he ought to use the sword.

The former is proper and peculiar to the Magistrate (neither does the ministry intermeddle or entangle itself into such businesses), but the latter is contained within the office of the ministers.

63.  The same sin therefore in the same man may be punished one way by the civil, another way by the ecclesiastical power; by the civil power under the formality of a crime, with corporal or pecuniary punishment; By the ecclesiastical power, under the notion and nature of scandal, with a spiritual censure, even as also the same civil question is one way deliberate upon and handled by the Magistrate in the Senate or place of Judgment; another way by the minister of the Church, in the presbytery or synod;

by the magistrate so far as it pertains to the government of the commonwealth, by the minister, so far as it respects the conscience; for the ecclesiastical ministry also is exercised about civil things spiritually, in so far as it teaches and admonishes the magistrate out of the Word of God what is best and most acceptable unto God, or as it reproves freely unjust judgments, unjust wars, and the like, and out of the Scripture threatens the wrath of God to be revealed against all unrighteousness of men; So also is the magistrate said to be occupied civilly about spiritual things.”

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On the Church’s Right to the Exercise of its Own External Government, this being in Sacra, and, under Normal Conditions, the Magistrate having no Sufficient Natural or Civil Grounds to Restrain it

Samuel Rutherford

Article

pp. 298-302  of A Peaceable and Temperate Plea (1642), ch. 19

Rutherford here refutes the Erastian Anglican view, as espoused by John Whitgift.

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Quotes

Due Right of Presbyteries  (1644), Appendix

p. 419

“2. If they [Churches] decree things good, lawful and necessary, the prince has a power given him of God to ratify, confirm, and approve these by his civil sanction, but he has no power-ordinary to infringe, or evert what they have decreed.

3. And if the Church be altogether incorrigible and apostate, then we say as follows…”

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p. 425-7

“…external and vocal preaching, and a visible administration of the sacrament in such an orderly way, as Christ has instituted, is an external ruling of Church members according to the law of Christ as King, an external ordaining of the worship, is an external ordering of the worshippers according to the acts of worship thus ordered, as sense teaches us: but the external ordaining of the worship, to preach, this, not this, to celebrate [the sacrament] in both kinds [bread and wine], by prayer and the words of institution, and not in one kind only [a wafer, as the Papists], is an external ordering of God’s worship:

therefore as kings cannot administrate the sacraments, nor preach, so neither can they have the external government of the Church in their hands.

2…  John Reynolds [the English puritan] answers [the fore-stated Popish and Erastian opinion] that, from two offices [of external government and inward, spiritual government] of the head [Christ], which is to give life and influence of motion to the members, and also to guide and moderate the actions external of the body [the Church], we cannot make two heads [the king for the outward and Christ for the inward, as in Anglicanism]; and because the king has some civil government about the Church, we cannot make two heads over the Church, Christ one, and the King another under him.

[Reynolds is saying, Rutherford approving, that because the king, on presbyterianism, rightfully has ‘some civil government about the Church’, it does not follow that the king is therefore a head of the Church, under Christ or otherwise.  If the king legitimately ruled in sacra, in sacred things, this would be the case; but he does not, and it cannot be the case.]

3.  This [Erastian Anglican tenet] is Anabaptistical; for because the visible government of the Church is external, we are not to cut off all necessity of the ministry to feed and rule with ecclesiastical authority, and because the prince is gifted and a Christian, to give all to him, for a calling there must be from God, for the king to govern the Church of Christ by laws, and prescribing external worship therein, for Christ has left, Eph. 4; 1 Cor. 12; 1 Tim. 3; men to be feeders and governors of his Church by office, whose it is to be answerable for souls, Heb. 13:18.

4.  It is tyrannical, because [1.] it puts power into the magistrate’s hand to take from the Church, that inbred and intrinsic power of external and visible government over herself and members, which all civil incorporations by instinct of nature have, and the magistrate, as such, not being a member of the Church has [would have] a headship, even being a heathen magistrate, over the redeemed body of Christ.

2.  By this reason, the Lord Jesus as King has no pastors in his name to use the laws of his kingdom, by binding and loosing; for discipline being an external thing, (say they) is not a part of Christs kingly power, but the King as Christ’s civil vicar has this power [which Rutherford denies]…”

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pp. 442-3

“Whereas some object that the care both of temporal good and spiritual good belongs to the magistrate, therefore he must have a power to make Church laws.  See [David] Pareus.  For his care cannot be supreme, if he must rule at the nod and beck of Church-men.

I Answer, the connection is weak: he who has the care of both the temporal and spiritual good of the people, he has a nomothetic [law-making] power to procure both these two goods: it follows [in] no way, for then might he have a power in his own person to preach, and administrate the sacraments; this power [of the magistrate] procures the spiritual good, but such as is the care, such is the power: the care is politic and civil; Therefore the power to procure the spiritual good, must bee politic and civil [circa sacra, not in sacra].”

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George Gillespie

An Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland…  (Edinburgh, 1641), p. 150-1

“By the diatactic [Teaching] power a Synod may institute, restore, or change, according to the condition and exigence of the Church, the external circumstances in the worship of God, and ecclesiastical discipline: I mean those circumstances which are common both to civil and sacred societies, the conve­niency whereof is determinable by the light of Nature, always observing the general rules of the Word, which commands that all be done to the glory of God, that all be done to edifying, that all be done in order and decency, that we give none offence, that we support the weak, that we give no place to the enemies of the truth, nor symbolize with idolaters, etc.

Now for avoiding dis­order and disconformity in a nation profes­sing one religion, it is fit that National Sy­nods give certain directions and rules even concerning these rites and circumstances, not having therein an arbitrary or autocratorke power, but being always tied to follow the rules foresaid.”

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111 Propositions…  (Edinburgh, 1647), #53-54, 79, 81

“53.  The object of ecclesiastical power is not the same with the object of the civil power, but much differing from it; for the ecclesiastical power does determine and appoint nothing concerning men’s bodies, goods, dignities, civil rights, but is employed only about the inward man, or the soul, not that it can search the hearts, or judge of the secrets of the conscience, which is in the Power of God alone: Yet notwithstanding it has for its proper object those externals which are purely spiritual, and do belong properly and most nearly to the spiritual good of the soul; Which also are termed [in Greek] the inward things of the Church.

54.  Those things then wherein the ecclesiastical power is exercised, are the Preaching of the Word, the Administration of Sacraments, public Prayer and Thanksgiving, the Catechising and instructing of children and ignorant persons, the examination of those who are to come to the holy Communion, the Ecclesiastical Discipline, the Ordination of Ministers, and the abdication, deposing, and degrading of them (if they become like unsavory salt), the deciding and determining of controversies of Faith and cases of Conscience, Canonical constitutions concerning the treasury of the Church and collections of the faithful, as also concerning ecclesiastical rites, or indifferent things, which pertain to the keeping of decency and order in the Church, according to the general rules of Christian love and prudence contained in the Word of God.

79.  Seeing then there are so many and so great differences of both offices [of the Church and the magistrate], and seeing also that the function of ministers and elders of the Church is not at all contained in the office of the magistrate; neither on the other part, this is comprehended within that; magistrates shall no less sin in usurping ecclesiastical power, ministering holy things, ordaining ministers, or exercising discipline ecclesiastical, than ministers should sin in rushing into the borders of the magistrate, and in thrusting themselves into his calling.

81.  So then the Word of God and the Law of Christ which by so evident difference separates and distinguishes ecclesiastical government from the civil, forbids the Christian magistrate to enter upon or usurp the ministry of the Word and sacraments,, or the juridical dispensing of the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, to invade the Church-Government, or to challenge to himself the right of both swords, spiritual and corporal; But if any magistrate (which God forbid) should dare to arrogate to himself so much, and to enlarge his skirts so far, the Church shall then straightway be constrained to complain justly, and cry out, that though the Pope is changed, yet Popedom remains still.”

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On the Authority of the Civil Magistrate to Punish the Church which Errs in Natural & Civil Matters, & Evident Truth

Westminster Confession  1645

ch. 20, section 4

“And because the power which God hath ordained, and the liberty which Christ hath purchased, are not intended by God to destroy, but mutually to uphold and preserve one another; they who, upon pretense of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power, or the lawful exercise of it, whether it be civil or ecclesiastical, resist the ordinance of God;[p]

And for their publishing of such opinions, or maintaining of such practices, as are contrary to the light of nature, or to the known principles of Christianity, whether concerning faith, worship, or conversation; or to the power of godliness; or such erroneous opinions or practices, as either in their own nature, or in the manner of publishing or maintaining them, are destructive to the external peace and order which Christ hath established in the church; they may lawfully be called to account,[q] and proceeded against by the censures of the church, and by the power of the civil magistrate.[r]

[p] Matt. 12:251 Pet. 2:13,14,16Rom. 13:1-8Heb. 13:17.
[q] Rom. 1:32 with 1 Cor. 5:1,5,11,13. 2 John ver. 10,11 and 2 Thess. 3:14 and 1 Tim. 6:3-5 and Tit. 1:10,11,13 and Tit. 3:10 with Matt. 18:15-171 Tim. 1:19,20Rev. 2:2,14,15,20Rev. 3:9.
[r] Deut. 13:6-12Rom. 13:3,4 with 2 John ver. 10,11. Ezra 7:23,25-28Rev. 17:12,16,17Neh. 13:15,17,21,22,25,302 Kings 23:5,6,9,20,212 Chron. 34:332 Chron. 15:12,13,16Dan. 3:291 Tim. 2:2Isa. 49:23Zech. 13:2,3.”

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ch. 31, section 5

“Synods and councils are to handle or conclude nothing but that which is ecclesiastical; and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs, which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition, in cases extraordinary; or by way of advice for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate.[f]

[f] Luke 12:13,14John 18:36

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Johann von Ewich

The Duty of a Faithful and Wise Magistrate in Preserving and Delivering of the Commonwealth from Infection in the Time of the Plague or Pestilence, Two Books  (London, 1583), bk. 2, ch. 9

“He that being in health or [is] sick, shall contemn physic, let him be condemned of stubbornness and counted as an heretic: unto whom also afterwards, less benefit and duty is due from others; nay, he shall be counted unworthy [of] the fellowship of citizens.  For he has tempted God and with the rebellious Jews required miracles, when as without miracles he might have had experience of the grace of God.

Whosoever shall affirm that it is lawful for Christians in the time of the plague, without a lawful cause and consent of the rulers, to leave his city and church, he is worthy [of] the name of a schismatic…  And he that shall hold every plague to be as an immediate punishment from God, is to be condemned of ignorance and to be despised as an evil speaker: as one that lays upon God his own rashness and blame of his own reckless negligence.”

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Samuel Rutherford

Due Right of Presbyteries…  (1644), Pt. 2

pp. 412-414

“But if that cannot be conveniently had, as in a national Church it may fall out, then the Magistrate as a preserver of peace and truth, may command the sincerer part [of the Church] to convene in a synod, and do their duty, as the good kings of the people of God did: 2 Chron. 15, Asa gathered together a people who entered in covenant to seek the Lord God with all their heart, and laid an obligation of punishment to death on the rest, vv. 12-13;

and Jehoshaphat, 2 Chron. 23:4, he laid charge on Hilkiah the High Priest, and the priests of the second order, whom he knew to be better affected to the work, to bring out the vessels made for Baal; which proves that the king should put the sincerest to do that, which in common belongs to the whole, in which case of the erring of the most part of the Church, the prince indirectly condemns the erring part of the [ecclesiastical] synod, because it is his place to forbid and to punish with the sword, the transgressors of God’s Law.

But because his power is accumulative [to build up, according to the truth], not privative [to take away], under that pretense he has not power to hinder the sincerer part to meet and determine according to the Word of God.

…but the king’s power cannot make Church-canons [determinations], for it is a part of the ministerial calling to make canons, and therefore he [the magistrate] cannot annul and dissolve canons: but some greater kingly power is due to the king in the case of the Church’s aberring, than in the case of the Church’s right administration;

and as our divines do justly give to the prince an extraordinary kingly power in the case of universal apostasy of the Church, as Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, and other worthy reformers in the Church of the Jews, did warrantably use their kingly power, when the Church-men were corrupted and negligent in their duty; so in a particular case of a particular error of the synod, the king as king, may use his kingly power in this fact, that is, secundum quid extraordinarie [according to that which you must do extraordinarily], for the king is obliged as king to add his accumulative power of a civil sanction to all just and necessary Church constitutions, and if the canon or Church constitution be wicked and popish, he is obliged to deny his civil sanction, and not that only, (for he that is not with Christ is against him) but he is to employ his kingly power against such canons, and so is to deliver the Church of God in that, and in denying his accumulative power to unjust canons, he adds his kingly power accumulative to the true Church, in saving them from these unjust canons.”

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p. 420

“The king’s influence in Church canons (as we think) is:

[1.] as a Christian antecedent, to exhort that the Lord Jesus be served;

2. concomitant, as a member of the Church to give a joint suffrage with the synod;

3. consequent, as a king to add his regal sanction to that which is decreed by the Church according to God’s Word, or otherwise to punish what is done amiss.”

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George Gillespie

111 Propositions…  (1647), #86

“86.  What then?  Shall it be lawful ordinarily for ministers and elders to do what they list, or shall the governors [elders] in the Churches, glorying in the law, by their transgression dishonor God: God forbid.

For first, if they shall trespass in anything against the magistrate or municipal laws, whether by inter-meddling in judging of civil causes, or otherwise disturbing the peace and order of the commonwealth, they are liable to civil trial and judgments, and it is in the power of the magistrate to restrain and punish them.”

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On the Right of the Magistrate to Punish those who Publish Dangerous Opinions Contrary to the Light of Nature &, in an Established Christian Nation, the Settled Doctrines of the Church

Articles

Durham, James – The Dying Man’s Testament to the Church of Scotland, or, A Treatise Concerning Scandal...  (1659)

Ch. 13, ‘What is Required of Magistrates for Restraining of Seducing Spirits?’

Ch. 14, ‘What may be justly Acknowledged to be within the Reach and Power of the Magistrate in such a case, and so, what is his Duty?’

“If it be said, That it seems sufficient for the Magistrate to maintain civil peace, and to restrain civil disturbances [in exclusion to restraining spiritual seducers]:  We may look to these considerations in answer to this:


3. Is it possible to separate growth in delusions and variety of absurd errors, and civil faction and discord? or, in experience have they ever been separated?  We see they made men carnal in Corinth, they made them bite and devour one another in Galatia, as, ch. 5 of that epistle to them; yea, provoked to debates, envying, wraths, strifes, back-bitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults, 2 Cor. 12:20, and can such things be with the entertaining of civil peace?  For, does not the interruption of civil peace flow from hatred, bitterness, alienation of mind, envy contradictions, and such like?  And do not these necessarily wait on debates, and diversities of opinions?

For, it is not to be supposed that such differences, proceeding from want of light, can be in men that are altogether mortified and without corruption: Therefore, may it be expected that that corruption will flame out upon such occasions; and that order is observable which the apostle has, 2 Cor. 12, just now cited, where he begins with debates, and proceeds by diverse steps, till it close with tumults: and these who are acquainted with the histories of older and latter times, will acknowledge this to be a truth.

4.  There is almost but very little in the foregoing particulars mentioned, but what is necessary for the preserving and restoring of civil peace, or the preventing or censuring of the disturbance thereof, seeing there can be no solid ground whereupon to maintain peace, except the springs of debates and tumults be stopped, and such distempers from which they spring, be either cured and purged away, or restrained.


Or, in the last place, it may be considered, if ever it has done good to the State, wherein it was permitted, or to the magistrates who did permit the same; or, if thereby secret jealousies, heart-burnings, divisions and factions have not been fostered and brought up to such height as has proven dangerous to the body, and has hazarded the eating out of the belly, where it was bred, or the stinging of the bosom that did give it heat.”

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Quotes

Samuel Rutherford

A Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience...  (London, 1649)

pp. 57-58

“Then the true state of the question is not [1.] whether the sword be a means of conversion of men to the true faith [which its not], nor 2. whether heathen by fire and sword are to be compelled to embrace the truth [they’re not], nor 3. whether violence without instruction and arguing from light of scriptures, should be used against false teachers [its not], nor 4. whether the Magistrate can punish the opinions of the mind, and strain internal liberty [it can’t].

But whether or not ought the godly and Christian prince [to] restrain and punish with the sword false teachers, publishers of heretical and pernicious doctrines, which may be proved by witness, and tends to the injuring of the souls of the people of God, in a Christian society, and are dishonorable to God, and contrary to sound doctrine; and so coerce men for external misdemeanors flowing from a practical conscience sinning against the second table, as well as from a speculative conscience (to borrow these terms here) when they profess and are ready to swear they perform these externals merely from and for conscience.”

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pp. 116-7

“…but it cannot follow, that because teaching and publishing of errors in non-fundamentals is consistent with [the persons having] saving grace, that therefore these non-fundamental sins of murder, adultery, tolerating of idolatrous high places, persecuting of faithful prophets, making of a golden calf, and hallowing of it to be adored as the God that brought Israel out of Egypt, are sins not to be tolerated in the truly godly, such as Aaron, David, and Asa, for then should they be tolerated in the wicked also, for the toleration of such in the godly, because they are not fundamental wickednesses inconsistent with saving grace, is as destructive and more because of their extreme scandalousness, to all peace and safety of human societies, and to the duty of the godly magistrate, as these same sins in the wicked, upon the same grounds publishing of all errors non-fundamental, the toleration of the high places, are as inconsistent with peace, destructive and injurious to souls, especially in the godly, as scandalous to other false teachers, as these non-fundamental sins.”

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ch. 10, p. 124

 “For we are as much obliged to believe non-fundamentals that are clear (as that there were eight persons saved in the ark, and the old world drowned with waters, Sodom burnt with fire), as to believe fundamentals, that there is no name whereby men may be saved, but by the name of Jesus, for the Authority of God speaking in his Word and his command does equally oblige to both; but there is no such necessity so absolute in believing non-fundamentals, as in believing these, without the knowledge whereof, we cannot be saved.

But it never follows that errors in non-fundamentals published and taught to the ruin of the souls of many, they having such a strong connection and influence on the knowledge of fundamentals, are to be tolerated since our sinning here does as equally and strongly strike against the authority and express command of God (at least in most things of that kind) as in points fundamental; and therefore the magistrate, who is to look to the honor of God as a Christian, and peace of societies in all, is as much obliged to punish clearly opened, non-fundamental, as fundamental, false doctrines.”

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pp. 142-3

“Now toleration lays this ground as a principle: Men are not to be troubled for their conscience, because they believe, hold, publish and teach what they do, right or wrong, according to their conscience, be it erroneous or not erroneous; and their zeal, hope, persuasion, comfort, carries them to undergo the reproaches of heretics, seducers, false prophets, imprisonment, torture, death, burning quick, rather than they would sin against known truth, and offend against a conscience, though erroneous;

Yet because the sufferers are not infallible, and it may be a lie, they believe, publish, and suffer, for their hope may be grounded on a lie, their comfort not bottomed on the Scripture, and so false hope and comfort, their rejoicing in sufferings, and undergoing torture and violent death, but fleeting and counterfeit joy, their zeal without knowledge, a bastard zeal, having nothing to do with the Word and Gospel-promises; but in the bottom, as contrary to them as light is to darkness: For what any saint or professor believes and publishes, he is to believe and publish, and die in it, and for it, with a faith that the contrary may be a truth of God, and so to be tolerated and born with:

Now the hope of the hypocrite is therefore compared to the spider’s web, to a broken tree, to a blasted olive tree, his joy to a night vision, a dream, the cracking of thorns under a pot, because both hope and joy, and all his comfort is grounded on an erroneous conscience, a lie, an imagination, not on the Word of God.”

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pp. 348-9

“…for they teach, that a man may publish that which by consequence destroys the faith of fundamentals, and so subvert the faith of others, which to do is a sin; but because the man follows the indictment [conviction] of his erroneous conscience, it is no sin to the man that so teaches; yea, he may innocently suffer persecution for his conscience, thus erroneous; yea, and die a martyr for it.

Therefore, if the following of an erroneous conscience shall make a less sin to be no sin but innocency, it shall make a greater sin, to wit, killing of his son to his heavenly father [as an erroneous sacrifice, modeled off of Gen. 22], no sin, and so he may lawfully do it [though this is murder].

Nor will it suffice to say, to offer a man to God and kill him, is against the light of nature, and [in]vincibly a sin; what then? if the man believe he is commanded to kill him, his erroneous conscience must bind, as the offering of whole burnt offerings to God, to us is a sin, against the light of nature, in regard the law of nature can no more warrant it, than it can warrant Christ to offer up himself to God [Christ needed the positive command from his Father].

But upon the supposition of Libertines, its no murder; nor is it punishable at all, because the father may, yea, and lawfully, ought to worship God according to the indictment of his conscience, whither the conscience be right or bloody and erroneous, and yet he is not punishable for blood-shed, by their way for merely, and simply, without any malignancy or hatred to the child; he believes, he ought to prefer his Maker to his dearest child’s life as well as Abraham, and the conscience does naturally, and as under no Law, simply believe it is the like service, and worship that Abraham would have gratefully performed unto God, if God in reward of that love, had not forbidden him again to kill his Son.

And this answer presupposes also, that it is impossible for a father to have such a conscience, as may stimulate, and command to kill his son, and that in the authority, and name of God, as he erroneously, yea, and as he invincibly holds, as Socinians, Familists, Papists, believe purgatory, merits, justification by works, who yet are not to be punished for their conscience, according to Libertines.

Again, there is no intrinsic malignancy [in intention] in the act of naticide, or son-sacrificing, but what it has from the Lord’s Law forbidding to kill, now those that killed their sons to Molech, yea, to God, as they thought, strongly, yea, invincibly believed God commanded them, to do Him such bodily service, as is clear from Jer. 7:31; 15:5.  And that this is invincible ignorance (I take the word invincible in the Libertines’ sense) Libertines grant, for in our condemning son-sacrificing, they will say we are not infallible.  Yea, the understanding, being spiritual, cannot be restrained, says Dr. [Jeremy] Taylor, sect. 13, n. 6, and no man can change his opinion when he will, says he, ibid., n. 7, and so should not be punished for it, and n. 13, there is nothing under God Almighty that has power over the soul of man, so as to command a persuasion.  If he be then persuaded, that he ought to kill his son, he ought unpunishably so to do.”

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On Extraordinary Civil Power in Extraordinary Circumstances

Theological Material

Article

Aaron’s Rod Blossoming... (London, 1646), Bk. 1, Appendix, ‘The Erastians Misrepresent the Jewish Government…  Their confounding of that which was extraordinary in the Jewish Church with that which was the ordinary rule…  The power and practice of the godly kings of Judah in the reformation of religion cleared…’, pp.65-75

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Quotes

On the Executive Privilege of the Magistrate

Samuel Rutherford, Lex Rex...  (1644), Question 39, ‘Whether or No any Prerogative at All Above the Law be due to the King, or if Jura Magestatis [by the Right of Majesty] be any Such Prerogative Royal?’

I conceive kings are conceived to have a threefold supreme power:

1.  Strictly absolute to do what they please, their will being simply a law.  This is tyrannical.  Some
kings have it, de facto, ex consuetudine [by custom], but
by a divine law none have it…

2.  There is another power limited to God’s law, the due proper right of kings. (Dt. 17:18-20)

3.  There is, a potestas intermedia, a middle power, not so vast as that which is absolute and tyrannical, which yet is some way human.  This I take what jurists call jus regium, lex regia, jura regalia regis; Cicero, jura majestatis; Livius, jura imperii, and these royal privileges are such common and high dignities as no one particular magistrate can have [inherently, or to himself alone], seeing they are common to all the kingdom…  so the magazine and armory for the safety of the kingdom is in the king’s hand.  The king has the like of these privileges, because he is the common, supreme, public officer and minister of God for the good of all the kingdom;

and, amongst these royal privileges, I reckon that power that is given to the king, when he is made king, to do many things without warrant of the letter of the law, without the express consent of his council, which he cannot always carry about with him, as the law says.  The king shall not raise armies without consent of the parliament; but if an army of Irish, or Danes, or Spaniards, should suddenly land in Scotland, he has a power, without a formally-convened parliament, to command them all to rise in arms against these invaders and defend themselves — this power no inferior magistrate has as he is, but [only] such a magistrate [as the king].

And in many such exigencies, when the necessity of justice or grace requires an ex-temporal [out of the moment] exposition of laws, pro re nata, ‘for present necessary execution’, some say only the emperor, — others, all kings have these pleasures.”

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Samuel Rutherford

Due Right of Presbyteries  (1644)

p. 412

“Hence our Fifth Conclusion: when there is an equal rupture in the body, nothing extraordinary would be attempted if ordinary ways can be had:  if Saul the ordinary magistrate had, at God’s commandment, killed Hagag, Samuel the prophet should not have drawn his sword…”

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pp. 413-4

“…but some greater kingly power is due to the king in the case of the Churches aberring, than in the case of the Churches’ right administration; and as our divines do justly give to the prince an extraordinary kingly power in the case of universal apostasy of the Church, as Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, and other worthy reformers in the Church of the Jews did warrantably use their kingly power, when the Church-men were corrupted and negligent in their duty;

so in a particular case of a particular error of the synod, the king as king, may use his kingly power in this fact, that is, secundum quid extraordinarie [according to that which is extraordinary], for the king is obliged as king to add his accumulative power of a civil sanction to all just and necessary Church constitutions, and if the canon or Church constitution be wicked and popish, he is obliged to deny his civil sanction, and not that only (for he that is not with Christ is against Him), but he is to employ his kingly power against such canons, and so is to deliver the Church of God in that, and in denying his accumulative power to unjust canons, he adds his kingly power accumulative to the true Church, in saving them from these unjust canons.”

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pp. 415-6

“…but the truth is, neither the king’s judgement, as a certain rule to the representative Church, nor [is] the representative Church’s judgment a rule to the King, but the Word of God [is] the infallible rule to both.  Judgment may crook, truth cannot bow; it stands still unmoveable like God, the father of truth;

but in this case if both err, excellently says Junius (contra Bellarmine, on Councils, bk.1, ch. 12), the magistrate erring, the Church may do something extraordinarily; and the Church erring the magistrate may do something also in an extraordinary way, as common equity and mutual law requires, that friends with mutual tongues bick [quarrel?] the wounds of friends.”

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p. 417

“Though the king have power in case of the Church aberration (which is somewhat extraordinary) it follows not therefore, in ordinary, he has a nomothetic [law-making] power to make Church-Laws.”

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p. 419

“7th Conclusion.  When the representative Church is universally apostatical, then may the prince use the help of the Church-essential of found believers, for a reformation; and if they also be apostatic (which cannot be, except the Lord utterly have removed his candlestick) we see not what he can do but hear witness against them, but if there be any secret seeker of God in whose persons the essence of a true Church is conserved.

The king by a royal power, and the law of charity is obliged to reform the land, as the godly kings with a blessed success have hitherto done, Asa, Josiah, Jehoshaphat, in which case the power of reformation and of performing many acts, of due belonging to the Church officers, are warrantably performed by the king, as in a diseased body, in an extraordinary manner power recurs from the members to the politic head and Christian prince, who both, as a King, in an authoritative way is obliged to do more then ordinary, and as a Christian member of the Church, in a charitative and common way, is to care for the whole body.”

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Divine Right of Church Government  (1646)

p. 481-2

“If there be no formed Church endued with knowledge and discretion to choose their own elders, if there be godly men fit to be chosen, they are to convene and choose from amongst them elders, the godly magistrate is to join his vote and power, because there is a Church not yet constitute[d], it is now Perturbatus aut corruptus Ecclesiae status [the state of the Church is disturbed or corrupted], and I ever judged it a golden saying of that great divine Francis Junius:

“that when the magistrate will not concur, the Church in that extraordinary case may do somewhat, which ordinarily they cannot do; and again, when the Church does not their duty, the magistrate in that case may do something more than ordinary, to cause the Church [to] do their duty; for its a common Law, to ills out of order, remedies out of the roadway may be applied.” (Junius nim•• in Bellarmine, do∣ci. bk. 1, ch. 12, note 18, pp. 329-30)

So if the priests and Levites be corrupt, Jehoshapaht and Hezekiah and Josiah may reform: And therefore though the godly Magistrate, jure communi, by the common Law of Nature, employ his power to appoint elders, all errors and confusions in the Church are in some measure out of order…”

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George Gillespie

111 Propositions (1647)

“84.  …in the worst and troublesome times, or in the decayed and troubled estate of things…  diverse things are yielded to be lawful to godly magistrates, which are not ordinarily lawful for them, that so to extraordinary diseases extraordinary remedies may be applied.  So also the magistrate abusing his power unto tyranny, and making havoc of all, tis lawful to resist him by some extraordinary ways and means, which are not ordinarily to be allowed.”

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Robert MacWard

The Banders Disbanded…  (1681), p. 45

“XVII.  As extraordinary evils require extraordinary helps, so the Magistrate may do many things in a time of the Church’s gathering, backsliding or corruption which he cannot do so long as the Church is in a well constitut[ed] & reformed condition:

But from this to infer that he may demolish the established order and fabric of a right[ly] constitut[ed] and reformed Church, on purpose to give a proof of his extraordinary power, by reducing the same into order again; Or that he may make use of this extraordinary power, when the ordinary and appointed means are to be had, and also in case to effectuate the cure; to infer this (I say) were both impious and incongruous.”

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Civil Example

Quote

The Puritan, English Long Parliament, 1641

‘Orders about the Plague’  in ‘House of Lords Journal Volume 4: 8 September 1641’, in Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 4, 1629-42 (London, 1767-1830), pp. 390-392. British History Online

“10.  That all such Magistrates, or other Persons that shall be trusted with this Service [about the plague], may be enabled to do all other things necessary in pursuing the execution of these orders as occasion shall require, and be out of the danger of misconstruction, seeing they hazard their particular safeties to provide for the public.”

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Related Pages

On Spreading Diseases & Plagues

On Social Distancing & the Adaptation of the Church

Resistance to Tyrrany

Civil Government

The General Equity of the Old Testament Civil Laws