Quotes from the Scottish Secession Church on Christ’s Mediatorial Kingdom and the Civil Magistrate

The Secession Church of Scotland (1733 and following) commonly held that Christ’s Mediatorial Kingdom was over all things spiritually, but civil government still derived its source of authority only from God as the Lord of Nature.  See also Articles on the Extent of Christ’s Mediatorial Kingdom by the Scottish Secession Church.

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Order of Quotes

Gib, Adam  1774
M’Crie,Thomas  1805
Shaw, Robert  1845
Lytle, James  1883

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Gib, Adam  1774 

The Present Truth, 1774

vol. 1, p. 333

The institution of Civil Magistrates is allenarly [only] by the preceptive will of God, as the supreme Lord and King of all the world: While, if the Magistrate derived his office properly from Christ as Mediator, then it could not fail to be an evangelical, and so an Erastian office.  But, in opposition hereto, the kingdom of Christ is not of this world; though a right to have the kingdoms of this world rendered subservient and tributary to his spiritual kingdom in the visible Church, belongs to Him as Mediator: And so, in subserviency to his mediatory kingdom, the management of the kingdom of Providence, throughout the whole world, was put into the hands of Zion’s King, Eph. 1:22-23; Mt. 28:18.  

vol. 2, Section IV, ‘Concerning the Doctrine of our Standards, about the Purchase of Christ’, p. 186

There is no manner of question, but that our Lord Jesus has a dominion over all things as Mediator; in which He governs them spiritually and supernaturally, with a subserviency to the great work of Grace: And as all the accomplished work of grace (though not the eternal purpose thereof), is indeed the purchase of Christ; so it is only through this purchase, as a proper fruit and effect thereof,—that any things can become actually subservient to that glorious work.  

But it is a quite other thing, and most eversive of scripture truth,—to say that all things belong to Christ’s mediatory kingdom, even as they are things of this world; or as they are governed in an earthly, secular or natural way, toward their natural ends.  This kind of government, or administration, belongs to Him as the Most High God,—the Sovereign Lord of Nature: And it is an essential prerogative of his Godhead, thus to govern the world which He has made; so that He could no more lay aside the actual exercise of this government, than He could do his Supreme Deity,—and could no more make a purchase of the one than of the other.  Yet if it were not as God but as Mediator, that He is now governing all things in their natural course towards their natural ends; this would necessarily say, that his divine administration in common providence, and so an essential prerogative of his Godhead,— were presently superseded, sopited [stopped], or laid aside,—giving place to another tenor of administration: While, at the same time, such a view of matters must fill people with very carnal notions of our Lord’s spiritual kingdom.

vol. 2, p. 211

Our Lord Jesus is given to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body. He is the One master, the One Lord and Lawgiver of his people, as to all spiritual matters.  In respect of his kingly office, He is the head and fountain of all church-power; of all influence and government in that spiritual kingdom.  This is an inseparable prerogative of his mediatory Crown; which cannot fit any head but his own, cannot flourish upon any other.  The setting up of any visible head to his Church, on earth, must be an innovating of her constitution,—and very prejudicial to her spiritual interests.  Any subverting of his kingdom, by transferring the rights thereof to the kingdoms of men,—must be an high provocation to the eyes of his glory.

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Thomas M’Crie (the elder)  1807

Statement of the Difference, 1807, ch. 6

The right which magistrates have to interfere [externally govern] with religion and to employ their power for its support, is founded in natural principles; and is not pleaded for as originating from the Mediator’s office, or as of supernatural institution, any more than other parts of his official power and duty…

Natural principles teach that if God be pleased to grant a supernatural revelation of his will, declaring in what manner He will be worshipped (as he has done in the Scriptures), it is the duty of all, magistrates and people, to whom it is made known, to embrace, and, in their several stations, to promote and support this.  The form which religion assumes in consequence of supernatural revelation is the only true one, and has a divine claim upon all that countenance and support which human laws can give it; and the application of the common principles of magistracy to the support of the true religion, and of the kingdom of Christ, as visibly erected in the world, does not remove it from its proper foundation, or ascribe new powers to the office.

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Robert Shaw  1845

The Reformed Faith: an Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith (1845, Christian Focus, 2008), Ch. 23, ‘The Civil Magistrate’, p. 311

When it is asserted that magistracy is a divine institution, it is not meant that it is of direct and express divine appointment, like the office of the gospel ministry.  Nothing more is intended [than] that government is agreeable to the will of God.  It is his will that the happiness of mankind be promoted.  But government is indispensable to their happiness – to the preservation of peace and order, to the safety of life, liberty, and property.  Nay, it is necessary to the very existence of any considerable number of mankind in a social state.  The deduction natively follows, that it is the will of God that government should exist; and this deduction of reason is amply confirmed by the express declaration of an inspired apostle:

‘There is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God.  Whosoever, therefore, resists the power, resists the ordinance of God’ (Rom. 13:1-2).  

It is to be observed, that magistracy was instituted by God, as the moral Governor of the world, and is not derived from Christ as Mediator.  This forms an important distinction between the civil and the ecclesiastical powers.

The King of nations has instituted the civil power; the King of saints has instituted the ecclesiastical power.  I mean, the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth, who exercises sovereignty over the workmanship of his own hands, and so over all mankind, has instituted magistrates to be in his stead, as gods upon earth; but Jesus Christ, as Mediator and King of the Church, whom his Father has set upon his holy hill of Zion (Ps. 2:6), to reign over the house of Jacob for ever (Luke 1:33), who has the key of the house of David upon his shoulder (Isa. 22:22), has instituted an ecclesiastical power and government in the hands of Church officers, whom, in his name, He sends forth.’

George Gillespie, Aaron’s Rod, p. 185

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Lytle, James  1883

Lytle was an American in the United Presbyterian Church, which found its roots partly in the Scottish Secession Church.

Proceedings of the Convention of the United Presbyterians Opposed to Instrumental Music in the Worship of God, p. 130

“The civil part, or the duty of nations to acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ as king over (not of) them, to give and administer God’s law.”

 

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Related Pages

The Extent of Christ’s Mediatorial Kingdom

The Covenant of Grace

The Church

The Establishment Principle

Civil Government

Against Separation from Impure Civil Governments