Civil Government

.

Subsections

The General Equity of O.T. Civil Laws

Resistance to Tyranny

War

Against Separation from Impure Civil Governments

Church-State Relations

Works Against the Roman Apologist Bellarmine  (who treated of the Civil Magistrate)

.

.

Order of Contents

Treatises
On the Limits of Civil Government
Prayers for the Civil Government
Against the Regulative Principle of Civil Government
The Human Root of Civil Power
Laws are not to be for Private Interests
French

.

.

Treatises

Medieval Age

Marsilius of Padua – The Defender of the Peace  Buy  (1324; trans. 2005)

“This is arguably the best place to go to understand the Protestant argument against the tyranny of the late medieval papacy and church authorities, and it was written two centuries before the Protestant Reformation!  So sweeping was Marsilius’s condemnation of the papacy and the assumptions that underlay it that he was forced to flee even the anti-papal stronghold of Paris and take refuge with the German prince Ludwig of Bavaria.  Pope Clement VI later anathematized the book as containing “more than 240 heretical articles.”

…At its heart is a positive vision of the function of politics as the art of establishing tranquillity and justice that is deeply rooted in Aristotle and Augustine and at the same time startlingly anticipates many of the key developments of modern political theory.  Among them: a thoroughgoing account of popular sovereignty as the basis of all government, arguments for the importance of regular elections, a clear articulation of the principle of the indivisibility of sovereignty, and a sharp distinction between sins and crimes.” – Davenant Institute

.

On the 1500’s

Article

Figgis, J. Neville – Political Thought in the Sixteenth Century  being ch. 22 in The Cambridge Modern History, vol. 3, The Wars of Religion  1909  35 pp.

.

Books

Allen, J.W. – A History of Political Thought in the Sixteenth Century  1928  575 pp.

Murray, Robert – Political Consequences of the Reformation: Studies in Sixteenth Century Political Thought  Buy  1960  338 pp.

.

1500’s

Calvin, John – Of Civil Government 1536, 32 long paragraphs, being chapter 20 of Book 4 of his Institutes of the Christian Religion 

Bullinger, Henry – On the Duties of Rulers and Subjects  beginning on p. 15, 20 pages, chapter 2 from Edmund Morgan’s Edmund Morgan’s Puritan Political Ideas: 1558-1794

.

1600’s

On Rutherford’s, Lex Rex  1644

Adams, Brandon – Rutherford’s Lex Rex – Summary  2017  91 paragraphs

Gillespie, George – ‘On Whether Lawful Authorities may Impose Oaths’  1649  31 paragraphs

The original Westminster Confession in chapter 22.3 says that, “It is a sin to refuse an oath touching anything that is good and just, being imposed by lawful authority.”  See this article for the proof-texts of this Biblical teaching and that it was lawful for Scotland and England to impose the Solemn League and Covenant, 1643, on their populaces (which was the catalyst for the Westminster Confession of Faith).

Hausam, Mark – Against Cameronianism, Part 1Part 2  2012  28 & 18 paragraphs

Cameronianism, contrary to Westminster Confession 23.4, teaches that if a civil government is not fully Christian then it does not have lawful authority from God.  The view came from the covenanter Richard Cameron in Scotland in the 1680’s and is currently held by Still Waters Revival as well as some other Reformed Presbyterians. 

.

1800’s

Girardeau, John – Conscience and Civil Government: an Oration  1860  28 pp.

Hodge, Charles – On Suing another Christian in Civil Court, from his Commentary on 1 Corinthians, ch. 6:1-11

.

Contemporary

Article

Kayser, Phillip – Torture: a Biblical Critique  2010  22 pp.

Kayser demonstrates that torture is contrary to numerous principles in scripture.

.

Books

Hazony, Yoram – The Virtue of Nationalism  Buy  2018

“This well-timed bombshell of a book by the remarkable Israeli philosopher and political theorist Yoram Hazony…  is a broadside against the consensus of liberal internationalism, in all its forms, that has dominated Western discourse for at least the last generation. 

Hazony argues that “nationalism” is a much-misunderstood concept; it is not about valuing the aggrandizement of one’s own nation at the expense of all others (indeed, that is but a form of imperialism), but about valuing the good of nations as such—the distinctiveness of different cultural and regional traditions, and the value of them having a mechanism to govern themselves: the nation-state…

…the nationalist heritage as one rooted in the Hebrew Scriptures, recovered by the Protestant Reformers, and best developed within the heritage of Anglo-American political thought.” – Davenant Institute

.

.

On the Limits of Civil Government

Samuel Rutherford

Lex Rex  (1644)

“I lay down this maxim of divinity: Tyranny being a work of Satan, is not from God, because sin, either habitual or actual, is not from God; the power that ‘is’ [Rom. 13:1], must be from God; the magistrate as magistrate, is good, in nature of office, and the intrinsecal end of his office, Rom. 13:4, for he is the minister of God for thy good; and therefore a power ethical, politic, or moral, to oppress, is not from God, and is not a power, but a licentious deviation of a power, and is no more from God (but from sinful nature, and the old serpent) than a license to sin.”

.

.

Prayers for the Civil Government

John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan

‘Just a Talker’, p. 44

“O Lord, bless our sinful, godless, Sabbath-breaking Privy Council.  Thou knowest that Thou art not honored there, for they profane thy holy day by their meetings for state business.”

“O Lord, bless the high courts of parliament now assembled.  Thou knowest that Thou art not honored there, where potsherd warreth with potsherd.  Do Thou be there to over-rule their deliberations.”

.

.

Against the Regulative Principle of Civil Government

Quotes

1600’s

William Ames

An Analytical Exposition of Both Epistles of the Apostle Peter, illustrated by doctrines out of every text.  And applied by their uses, for a further progress in holiness (London, 1641), p. 58

Question:  Why is the Magistracy called an ‘ordinance of man’ [1 Pet. 2] v. 13, seeing all powers are ordained of God, and every power is the ordinance of God, Rom. 13:1-2?

Answer:  The superiority of power, or government itself, is simply and absolutely commanded by God, and in that respect [it] is called the ordinance of God; but this or that special manner of power or government is not determined by God, but by men; and is therefore [it is] called an ordinance of man, which as touching the nature of it, may also be called an ordinance of God: And this is the difference betwixt an ecclesiastical and a civil office:  An ecclesiastical office is not legitimate if it be not directly determined by God Himself, and consequently cannot be changed by men: but this or that civil office may be made and changed by men.  And the reason of the difference is this, because God and Christ alone has dominion and power in spiritual matters; but in civil matters men are also [g]ods, though not absolute.”

.

Robert Baillie

A Dissuasive From the Errours of the Time  (1645), p. 31

“They spoil kings and parliaments of their legislative power.

But their great tenet about the magistracy is this, that no prince nor state on the earth has any legislative power; that neither king nor parliament can make any law in anything that concerns either church or state; that God alone is the Lawgiver; that the greatest magistrate has no other power, but to execute the Laws of God set down in Scripture; that the judicial Law of Moses binds at this day all the nations of the world as well as ever it did the Jews: They tell us that whatever God in Scripture has left free, it may not be bound by any human law, whether civil or ecclesiastic; and what God has bound by any law in Scripture, they will not have it loosed by the hand of any man.”

.

George Gillespie

Aaron’s Rod Blossoming; or, the divine ordinance of church government vindicated (1646; Edinburgh, 1844), p. 84

“The presbyterial government has no such liberty nor arbitrariness as civil or military government has, there being in all civil or temporal affairs a great deal of latitude left to those who manage the same, so that they command nor act against the Word of God.  But presbyterial government is tied up to the rules of Scripture in all such particulars as are properly spiritual and proper to the church, though, in other particulars, occasional circumstances of times, places, accommodations and the like, the same light of nature and reason guides both church and state; yet in things properly spiritual and ecclesiastical, there is not near so much latitude left to the presbytery, as there is in civil affairs to the magistrate.”

.

One Hundred and Eleven Propositions concerning the Ministry and Government of the Church (1647; Edinburgh, 1844), p. 12

“40.  The reformed churches believe also, and openly confess, the power and authority of emperors over their empires, of kings over their kingdoms, of princes and dukes over their dominions, and of other magistrates or states over their commonwealths and cities, to be the ordinances of God Himself appointed as well as to the manifestation of his own glory, as to the singular profit of mankind: and withal, that by reason of the will of God Himself, revealed in his Word, we must not only suffer and be content that those do rule which are set over their own territories, whether by hereditary or elective right, but also to love them, fear them, and with all reverence and honor embrace them as the ambassadors and ministers of the most high and good God, being in his stead, and preferred for the good of their subjects, to pour out prayers for them, to pay tributes to them, and in all business of the commonwealth which is not against the Word of God, to obey their laws and edicts.

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 Gods 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…”

.

Samuel Rutherford  1658

A Survey of the Survey of that Sum of Church Discipline Penned by Thomas Hooker, p. 278

“2.  The civil corporation may:

[1.] limit the major [an official] in regard of time, for a year and no longer;

2. they may make him half a tyrant, a dictator and absolute, or give him less power, that he shall rule none but with the consent of 12 assessors; but the people may not make him a pastor for a year and then lay him aside for no fault as a major is unofficed; nor may they limit him so as he shall not preach in season and out of season but by the consent of 12 men.

3.  The corporation may erect itself in a kingdom or commonwealth and may create consuls, dictators, praetors, tribunos plebis, etc. as may most serve for the safety and peace of this State; but the Church may bring in no new officers but those appointed by Christ; nor may they alter the government, and metamorphose it into another than that which is according to the pattern showed in the mount.”

.

.

The Human Root of Civil Power

Samuel Rutherford

Lex Rex...  (1644), p. 34

“For the subject of royal power, we affirm, the first and ultimate, and native subject of all power is the community, as reasonable men naturally inclining to a society; but the ethical and political subject, or the legal and positive receptacle of this power is various, according to the various constitutions of the policy.  In Scotland and England, it is the three estates of parliament; in other nations, some other judges or peers of the land.”

.

.

Laws are not to be for Private Interests

Samuel Rutherford

Lex Rex...  (1644), p. 124

“It is poor hungry skill…  to say that any laws are made for private interests and the good of some individuals.  Laws are not laws if they be not made for the safety of the people.”

.

.

French

Rivet, Andrew – Instruction for a Christian Prince, through Dialogues between a Young Prince and his Tutor, along with a Meditation on the Vow of David, the 101st Psalm  (Leiden, 1642)  Index

“In 1632 Rivet unexpectedly left the University of Leiden because the stadholder Frederik Hendrik, impressed by Rivet’s scholarly qualities and international orientation, wanted his presence at the court in The Hague, seeing in Rivet the ideal educator and governor for his five-year old son, Prince William II…

The marriage of William II to Mary, the oldest daughter of Charles II, in London in 1641, at which wedding Rivet (almost sixty-nine years old) was present, marked the end of his educational task at the court in the Hague.  As a summary of his teaching, he wrote the Instruction du Prince Chrestien.  It contained seventeen dialogues in which he discussed the duties of a prince toward God and his subjects, including precepts for the personal lifestyle of a prince.” – Willem van Asselt in Theology of the French Reformed Churches (RHB, 2014), pp. 266-7

.

.

.

“But let us remember that, while Christ forgives the sins of men, he does not overturn political order, or reverse the sentences and punishments appointed by the laws.”

John Calvin

.

.

.

Related Page