We assume that this is a legitimate subject of inquiry, and we are confident that it is, at the present time, one of much practical importance. The time has gone by, we trust forever, for the false and pernicious dogma-that allegiance is due whatever government exists, irrespective of its moral character-to be maintained by intelligent Christians. With them it is scarcely any longer a serious question, in theory at least, whether or not the divine law is above all human laws. The assumptions of infidelity have become so arrogant, and betray so clearly its purpose to make the will of man supreme, that the religious mind has become aroused in some degree to a sense of the practical value of a truth long treated as an abstraction, receiving only a cold and inoperative assent.
We do not propose, in this article, to contest the point with infidelity. It is wiser to endeavor to harmonize the friends of truth, and persuade them to take the only position from which the common foe can be successfully attacked. Those who, few in number, have contended long for the supremacy of the law of God in civil things, while professed Christians generally are either silent or opposing, have a right to be heard, and should speak out, that their weight may be felt in bringing matters to a proper issue in the great moral conflict already commenced. With this view we propose, in a few particulars, to answer the inquiry at the head of this article.
First: Civil government, in order to receive the allegiance of Christians, should recognize the God of the Bible as the source of power. "King of nations," (Jer. 10:7), is one of His titles. Is this an unmeaning title, conferring an empty honor on the object of all true fear and worship? Does it not indicate that nations are His subjects-that he rules over them, and that they are under obligation to acknowledge and submit to His authority. But where should this obedience begin, or what is its first act? It is perfectly clear that there cannot be obedience where there is no recognition of the authority to which it is due. The want of this vitiates all that follows, for it is a practical refusal of subjection-a constructive declaration of independence. The title, "King of nations," and elsewhere, "King of kings," means more than that God governs nations by His providence as He governs the irrational and inanimate creatures; it asserts his prerogative of ruling them, by his moral law, and it implies the duty on their part of owning Him as their King.
"There is no power but of God: the powers that be, are ordained of God." Rom. 13:1. The true meaning of these propositions is, that God is the author of civil rule. He has instituted it in His word, and He constitutes it according to His word. When it is so constituted it is a power ordained of God; but when it is not so constituted-when the authority of God is not owned-it is not the higher power to which every soul is commanded to be subject. Of such, God himself says, "They have set up kings, but not by me; they have made them princes, and I knew it not." Hos. 8:4.
Can Christians be active participants in the sin of disowning the authority of the "King of nations?" Can they ignore the existence of the source of power? What says an enlightened conscience? We are sure its decision will be, they cannot.
Second: In order that Christians may own allegiance to civil government, it must acknowledge the authority of Messiah. This nations are commanded to do under pain of divine displeasure. "Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth-kiss the Son, lest he be angry," (Ps. 2:10,12). The Lord Jesus Christ is appointed heir of all things, (Heb. 1:20). All power in heaven and in earth is given to Him, (Matt. 28:18). He is given to be the head over all things to the Church, (Eph. 1:22). One of His official titles is "Prince of the kings of the earth," (Rev. 1:5). We need not multiply proofs of the truth that civil rule is put under the Mediator. It is found everywhere in the Bible, and any view of the system of grace that does not include it, is essentially defective.
But are nations under no corresponding obligation? Are not authority and obedience correlate terms? Who will dare to say that though Christ is King of nations, nations are not bound to own Him as their King? or, to say what is not less impious, that though they are bound to acknowledge Him, they may omit to do so and be sinless? We are slow to believe that any thoughtful Christian would hesitate to say that nations sin in not subjecting themselves to Messiah's authority. Let it be borne in mind that the sin of refusing to submit to the Man of God's right hand is a sin in the nation's constitution, interwoven with its very existence. It must also be remembered that all such national sins are the sins of the people of which the nation is constituted. By becoming incorporated with the nation, they become partakers of its sins. They assume formally, and in a manner most clear, the responsibility of a national refusal to kiss the Son. They give their consent to, and unite in, the nation's treasonable declaration, "We will not have this man to reign over us."
Now we ask in all earnestness, can Christians, true fearers of God, do this? By their profession they declare that they are on Christ's side, that they will at all times own Him, and set His glory above every other consideration. How can they reconcile with this declaration made to Him, to the Church, and to the world, their refusal to testify against national dishonor done to Him by disregarding His authority, and what is still worse, their active participation in the great wrong? We are convinced that Christians have not given this subject the conscientious examination its importance demands, or they would not be found in sworn companionship with Christ's enemies.
Third: A government to which Christians owe allegiance must take the law of God as its rule. This is indeed included in the preceding observations; for in no other way can the authority of God be owned and obeyed. But the importance of the subject demands for it special consideration.
"The Word of God contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy God." To the truth of this proposition none who deserve the name of christian will hesitate to subscribe. It forms a part of the symbols of the faith of all Presbyterian Churches in every land. It is taught to their children [or should be!] among their earliest lessons, and its truth and importance commend themselves to every enlightened conscience.
Can it be admitted for a moment that the civil or political acts of men are exceptions to this rule? If so, it would read that the Bible is the only rule, except in civil things, in which the will of the people is the rule. This, though acted out by multitudes, would secure the assent of but few as a bald abstract proposition. In this instance the creed is better than the practice. But it should be remembered that a sound profession is no apology, still less justification, for wrong doing. If Christians unite with a nation that ignores all divine legislation, their creed, however sound; their declaration, however often repeated, that the Word of God is the only rule to direct men, is the merest trifling, that hardly deserves to be called hypocrisy. But in another aspect it is no light matter. "To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin," (James 4:17), is a declaration not without significance and importance to all whose practice contradicts their profession. They at least cannot plead in extenuation of this sin that they did not know that nations are required to obey the divine law, seeing they have placed among the fundamental principles of their faith a proposition that most obviously asserts this truth.
We do not hesitate to say that Christians incorporating with a government that rejects the divine law and places the will of the people or a constitution of their making in its place, practically disown its high claims, and are found in the company of those who deny a great truth clearly taught in the Word of God, and precious to every believer, and which engaging in the service of Christ they have pledged themselves to maintain at all hazard. What saith the Scripture? "The Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King," (Isa. 33:22). "There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy," (James 4:12).
Fourth: A government that can receive the allegiance of Christians must give countenance and support to the Church. Can a Christian as a civilian ignore that spiritual institution with which are connected all his interests for eternity? Will he consent in any relation he sustains to place infidelity or a false or corrupted form of religion on a level with the religion that is "pure and undefiled before God and the Father," to honor "the bride, the Lamb's wife," no more than "the mother of harlots?" This is done by every government that does not recognize the Church as a heavenly institution, and is not to her "a nursing father," (Is. 49:23). And all who swear allegiance to such a government do this under solemnity, and we must add by the perversion, of an oath. What Christian would swear that a nation should not recognize the true Church and distinguish between her and all false systems of religion? From such an oath every pious mind would recoil. And yet how many do not hesitate to do substantially the same thing in a concrete form, by swearing allegiance to a government of which it is a boasted excellence that it makes no distinction between Christianity and infidelity.
I lay down this maxim of divinity [i.e. theology]; Tyranny being a work of Satan, is not from God, because sin either habitual or actual, is not from God; the power that is, must be from God; the Magistrate as Magistrate, is good, in nature of office, and the intrinsical end of his office, Rom 13:4, for he is the Minister of God for thy good; and therefore an ethical, political, or moral, power to oppress, is not from God, and is not a power, but a licentious deviation of a power, and is no more from God, then a license to sin, but [rather] from sinful nature, and the old serpent.-Samuel Rutherfurd. (Lex,Rex, 1644).
Religion is the whole Bible: sects pick out a part of it. But what whole? The LIVING whole, to be sure-not the dead whole: the SPIRIT; not the letter.
(All titles below available from Still Waters Revival Books at: http://www.swrb.com/pcopy/photoc.htm).
Civil Government: An Exposition of Romans 13:1-7 (1853)
A very controversial publication based on the idea that "unholy republics refuse to acknowledge Him (Christ) as Lord of all." This failure to covenant with Christ, as nations, exposes the fact that these national governments are the enemies of Christ (as with the individual or church who will not covenant with Christ). They are thus in violation of the first commandment and therefore treasonous usurpers who will not have the one true king to rule over them. Their laws and actions bare this out, as they refuse to rule by the law of God, but rather, as dupes of Satan, rule by their own autonomous standards. And, though it is their duty to be a terror to evil and promote the good, they, in the main, do the opposite. They protect and support murders (e.g. abortionists), continence and permit perversity (e.g. homosexuality, pornography, etc.) and take no action to establish the Reformed faith (but rather extend constitution rights to all manner of cults, sectarians, satanists and Roman Catholics) ó to name but a few of the more obvious areas of government rebellion against King Jesus. Willson's father's application of the principles put forth in this book are found just below as they related to the United States government specifically.
The Two Sons of Oil; or, the Faithful Witness for Magistracy and Ministry upon a Scriptural Basis (1850 edition, reprinted 1995)
A Covenanter classic opening Revelation 11:3-4 and Zechariah 4:14. It has been hailed as the "best presentation of the position of the Covenanter Church that has been written." Noting that the "[t]ime has been, when the whole body of Presbyterians, in Scotland, England, and Ireland, unanimously subscribed" to these principles, "[f]or civil and ecclesiastical reformation" and that thousands bled and died for the glorious covenanted cause of civil and ecclesiastical reformation; Wylie sets out to explain and defend "that cause. Not because it is an ancient cause; not because many have sealed it with their blood; but, because," as he says, "I thought it the doctrine of the Bible, and the cause of Christ." This book explains how to tell if a government (especially a civil government) is faithful to Christ and thus to be obeyed for conscience's sake. It also gives direction regarding when and how to resist (and disassociate) yourself from governments which get their power from "the beast." Moreover, this book gives clear testimony as to what the Bible requires of civil magistrates, noting "that civil rulers should exercise their power in protecting and defending the religion of Jesus." It also gives plain reasons why dissent from the government of the United States (and other covenant breaking nations) is the legitimate Scriptural pattern. (Softcover)
Prince Messiah's Claims to Dominion Over All Governments: and the Disregard of His Authority by the United States in the Federal Constitution (1832)
The reality of Christ's kingship explored and vindicated from Scripture, with application to the United States constitution. The author's conclusions have far-reaching consequences and should be looked at seriously by all Christians, whether they reside in the United States or not (for the biblical principles enumerated here also apply to other nations). We, today, are seeing the desolation of kingdoms worldwide (through wars, famines, disease, unjust taxation, immorality, etc.) by the wrath of the Lamb, much of which can be attributed to national ignorance of this doctrine. "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath be kindled but a little" (Psalm 2:12). This book will go a long way to exposing the fact, as Willson writes, that "ungodly men have occupied, and do now occupy, many of the official stations, in the government," and that "Tyrants are yet on their thrones, and unholy republics refuse to acknowledge Him (ChristRB) as Lord of all."
This book is considered by many as the classic work on covenanting. "The theology of Covenanting is here unfolded with a richness of scriptural research and a maturity of intellectual strength which would have made the grey eye of Peden glisten with delight. The treatise is a valuable addition to that solid theological literature of which the Reformed Presbyterian Church has produced repeated and enduring specimens, and stamps Mr. Cunningham as a distinguished disciple of the thoughtful and scriptural school of Mason and the Symingtons" (Presby Rev., (1844) as cited in The Treasury of the Scottish Covenant by Johnston). The author himself notes that "Prayer and the offering of praise are universally admitted to be duties of religion. The Scriptures announce a place among these for the exercise of solemn Covenanting... What the word of God unfolds concerning it, is addressed to the most resolute consideration of all, and is capable of engaging the most extensive and prolonged investigation. And yet, though none have found this subject, like all God's judgements, else than a great deep, still in meditating upon it, the ignorant have been brought to true knowledge, and the wise have increased in wisdom. 'The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant' (Ps. 25:14)... Mutual federal engagements, concerning things religious and civil, whether entered into merely by simple promise, or confirmed by the solemn oath, have been made from the highest antiquity to the present. The hostility to some such engagements, and also the proud disregard for their obligation, which have been evinced by some in all ages, demand a most careful examination into their nature and design... Furnished with the key of Scripture, approaching the subject, we are enabled to open the mysteries in which ignorance and prejudice had shut it up; and equipped with the armour of light shooting forth its heavenly radiance, in safety to ourselves we assail the darkness thrown around it, and behold the instant flight of the spirits of error which that darkness contains. Standing alone in beauteous attractions descended from heaven upon it, this service beckons us to approach it, and engages to connect extensive good with a proper attention to its claims. The observance, under various phases, is described in Scripture as an undisputed and indisputable reality." In this book Cunningham exhaustively covers the subject of covenanting in over 400 pages. He deals with the manner, duty and nature of covenanting (including personal and social covenanting), the obligation covenanting confers, how covenanting is provided for in the everlasting covenant, how it is adapted to the moral constitution of man and how it is according to the purposes of God. Numerous Divine examples are cited from Scripture and covenanting is shown to be one of the great privileges of the Christian life. An interesting chapter covers "Covenanting Enforced By the Grant of Covenant Signs and Seals;" which touches on circumcision, baptism, the Sabbath, the Priesthood, the new heart and the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Furthermore, this book demonstrates how God's approbation rested upon Covenanters in formers ages, how covenanting is predicted in prophecy, how it is recommended by the practice of the New Testament Church and at what seasons it is appropriate. The appendices touch on the relationship of covenanting to immoral and unscriptural civil governments, the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, the British constitution and the apostasy of the Revolution settlement. Additionally, Cunningham acknowledges that the true church is "bound by the obligations of the Church of God is past times" and is still obligated to pay what it has vowed to the Lord in those magnificent attainments of the second Reformation (the epitome of these attainments being embodied in the Solemn League and Covenant and the Westminster Standards). If you are interested in the ordinance of covenanting this is the most extensive treatment you will find in one book. It is a gold mine of Scriptural references and should be read at least once by everyone who calls upon the name of Christ.
The Duty of Covenanting, and the Permanent Obligation of Religious Covenants (1853)
Excerpted from the Reformed Presbyterian Catechism below, this book deals with an almost forgotten ordinance of God. It explains what covenants are, while contrasting them with oaths, vows and law. Furthermore, it distinguishes between civil and religious covenants and shows how the individual, family, church or nation can (and should) enter into covenants -- especially religious covenants. Explains why, when and how covenants are binding on posterity, citing abundant Scriptural proof for each assertion made. Here is a sample argument from this book, demonstrating how even covenants made between men are viewed as binding upon posterity by God himself: "Another instance in which posterity is recognized in covenant obligation is found in Joshua 9:15. This covenant was made between the children of Israel and the Gibeonites. Between four and five hundred years after that time, the children of Israel are visited with a very severe famine, in the days of David. 2 Sam. 21:1. And it is expressly declared by the Lord that, 'It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.' And at the same time, v. 2, that very covenant is recognized, and the breach of it is stated, as being the formal reason of the divine displeasure. Now, had it not been for this covenant, the extirpation of the Gibeonites would not have been imputed to Israel as a thing criminal; for they were comprehended in Canaanitish nations, which God had commanded them to root out" (pp. 139-140). Take the time to look these verses up. This subject has great bearing on the unity of the church, the Christian's response to godless covenant-breaking nations, hermeneutics, the family and general faithfulness to God (because many today -- individually, ecclesiastically, and nationally -- are breaking covenants which God still views as binding though they are oblivious to this obligation). Great price too!
The Duty of Nations, in their National Capacity, to Acknowledge and Support the True Religion (1853)
Excerpted from the Reformed Presbyterian Catechism below, this book deals with the inescapable necessity, of the demand found in the Word of God, for the Civil establishment of Christ and King and Lawgiver over every nation on earth. If you are sick of the cease-fire with humanism, set forth by the syncretistic, Satanic and pragmatic pagan politicians of our day, (those who bargain with votaries of Antichrist [the Pope], publicly tolerate all manner of false religions (e.g. Islam) and idolatry, and compose their policy and draw their pretended authority from the beast [and not the Word of God], this book is for you! For all pagan politics is summed up in the words of the Cameronian (Covenanter) political philosopher Alexander Shields, as "rotting away under the destructive distempers of detestable neutrality, loathsome lukewarmness, declining, and decaying in corruptions, defections, divisions, distractions, confusions; and so judicially infatuated with darkness and delusions, that they forget and forego the necessary testimony of the day" (A HIND LET LOOSE, 1797 edition, p. 20). Pick up this book and begin the political walk in the "footsteps of the flock," traveling the covenanting road of Reformation and Scripture (with the magisterial Reformers of the past)!
The Reformed Presbyterian Catechism (1853)
A manual of instruction, drawing from such notable authors as William Symington and J.R. Willson, presenting "arguments and facts confirming and illustrating the 'Distinctive Principles'" of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Chapters deal with: "Christ's Mediatorial Dominion in general;" Christ's exclusive Headship over the Church;" "The Supreme and Ultimate Authority of the Word of God in the Church;" Civil Government, the Moral Ordinance of God;" Christ's Headship over the Nations;" "The Subjection of the Nations to God and to Christ;" The Word, or Revealed Will of God, the Supreme Law in the State;" "The Duty of Nations, in their National Capacity, to acknowledge and support the True Religion:" "The Spiritual Independence of the Church of Christ:" "The Right and Duty of Dissent from an immoral Constitution of Civil Government;" "The Duty of Covenanting, and the Permanent Obligations of Religious Covenants;" "The Application of these Principles to the Governments, where Reformed Presbyterians reside, in the form of a Practical Testimony;" and finally "Application of the Testimony to the British Empire." A most important book, as we approach (possibly) the end of the great apostasy and will be in need of preparing for the dawning of the glorious millennial blessings to come; the days prophesied in which the church "shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breast of kings" (Isa. 60:16).
Distinctive Principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church (1841)
This book is not designed to discuss "the (many-RB) doctrines which the Reformed Presbyterian church holds in common will others," but is written to set forth RP distinctives. It tackles its subject from three major heads: "Social Covenanting;" "The Dominion of Christ;" and "The Universal Application of Scripture (civil as well as religious)." It shows that while these doctrines "are held by many, as abstract doctrines of divine truth, they are not embodied in the testimony of any other Christian denomination: nor made necessary to ministerial or Christian fellowship. Although other individuals may hold these doctrine, it is a 'distinctive' feature of the RPC to embody them in her testimony; and to make them terms of communion." It also explains how these are the same distinctives that were maintained "at the era of the reformation, (when) the covenanted church of Scotland bore a distinguished testimony for all the offices of Christ, as prophet, priest and king: and for the pure doctrines, worship, discipline, and government of the house of God." The author states that "the great object aimed at is to help forward the glorious triumph of the Messiah, so beautifully described in the 72nd Psalm. When 'all Kings shall fall down before him; and all nations shall serve him.'"
The Duty and Perpetual Obligation of Social Covenanting
The material found in this bound photocopy addresses a forgotten and neglected ordinance of God: social covenanting. God's people in times of repentance and thanksgiving, trial and blessing have been a covenanting people. In the most pure times of ecclesiastical and civil reformation throughout history, both church and state under the mediatorial rule of Christ have by the grace of God bound themselves together by covenant to promote and defend the true Christian religion. The first document adopted by the Westminster Assembly was in fact, the Solemn League and Covenant (1644). It united the kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland in a covenanted reformation of both church and state in order to preserve, promote and defend the true Christian religion (as summarized in the Westminster Confession of Faith, Larger and Shorter Catechisms, Directory For Public Worship, and Form of Church Government), and in order to expose and uproot all false teaching contrary to the Scripture and these standards. Furthermore, it was not only the desire of the Westminster Assembly to unite in covenant the three British kingdoms, but rather to include in this covenanted reformation all of the Reformed Churches throughout Europe. Consider the goal of the Assembly as summarized by Hetherington: "There was one great, and even sublime idea, brought somewhat indefinitely before the Westminster Assembly, which has not yet been realized, the idea of a Protestant union throughout Christendom, not merely for the purpose of counterbalancing Popery, but in order to purify, strengthen, and unite all true Christian churches, so that with combined energy and zeal they might go forth, in glad compliance with the Redeemer's commands, teaching all nations, and preaching the everlasting gospel to every creature under heaven. This truly magnificent, and also truly Christian idea, seems to have originated in the mind of that distinguished man, Alexander Henderson. It was suggested by him to the Scottish commissioners, and by them partially brought before the English Parliament, requesting them to direct the Assembly to write letters to the Protestant Churches in France, Holland, Switzerland, and other Reformed Churches. . . . and along with these letters were sent copies of the Solemn League and Covenant, a document which might itself form the basis of such a Protestant union. The deep thinking divines of the Netherlands apprehended the idea, and in their answer, not only expressed their approbation of the Covenant, but also desired to join in it with the British kingdoms. Nor did they content themselves with the mere expression of approval and willingness to join. A letter was soon afterwards sent to the Assembly from the Hague, written by Duraeus (the celebrated John Dury), offering to come to the Assembly, and containing a copy of a vow which he had prepared and tendered to the distinguished Oxenstiern, chancellor of Sweden, wherein he bound himself 'to prosecute a reconciliation between Protestants in point of religion'. . . . [O]n one occasion Henderson procured a passport to go to Holland, most probably for the purpose of prosecuting this grand idea. But the intrigues of politicians, the delays caused by the conduct of the Independents, and the narrow-minded Erastianism of the English Parliament, all conspired to prevent the Assembly from entering farther into that truly glorious Christian enterprise. Days of trouble and darkness came; persecution wore out the great men of that remarkable period; pure and vital Christianity was stricken to the earth and trampled under foot. . ." (William Hetherington, History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines , [Edmonton, Alberta: Still Waters Revival Books], pp. 337-339). The material presented herein is commended to the reader with the sincere prayer and confidence that God will again restore the Church of Jesus Christ to a glorious covenanted reformation--one that will even surpass that one to which she had attained at the time of the Westminster Assembly. However, when the Lord brings that future covenanted reformation it will not be limited to only three kingdoms of the earth, but by the grace and power of Christ our King, it will be a covenanted reformation that will encompass all of the nations of the earth (Ps. 2:6-12; Is. 2:1-4; Mt. 28:1-20) and will bring to the church a visible unity and uniformity that (unlike pleas for unity today) is firmly grounded upon the truth" (Greg Price, Preface). The material contained in this compilation was gathered together by the session of the Puritan Reformed Church of Edmonton/Prince George. Its 210 pages contain the following items, as listed in this bibliography for social covenanting.
1. Samuel Rutherford, Due Right of Presbyteries , pp. 130-139
2. George Gillespie, The Works of George Gillespie, Vol. 2, pp. 71-88.
3. John Brown of Wamphray, An Apologetic Relation , pp. 167-175, 181-207.
4. David Scott, Distinctive Principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, pp. 14-90.
5. William Roberts, The Reformed Presbyterian Catechism , pp. 134-152.
6. The Reformed Presbytery, An Explanation and Defence of the Terms of Communion , pp. 181-187.
7. The Reformed Presbytery, Act , Declaration and Testimony , pp. 11-23.
8. The Reformed Presbytery, The Auchensaugh Renovation , pp. 115-140.
9. The Church of Scotland (1639), The National Covenant of Scotland , pp. 345-354 in the Westminster Confession of Faith published by Free Presbyterian Publications.
10. The Westminster Assembly (1644), The Solemn League and Covenant , pp. 355-360 in the Westminster Confession of Faith published by Free Presbyterian Publications.
11. The Church of Scotland (1648), A Solemn Acknowledgement of Publick Sins and Breaches of the Covenant , pp. 361-368 in the Westminster Confession of Faith published by Free Presbyterian Publications.
A Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience (1649 edition.)
Rutherford's Free Disputation, though scarce, is still one of his most important works -- with maybe only a few copies of the actual book left in existence. Though Rutherford is affectionately remembered in our day for his Letters, or for laying the foundations of constitutional government (against the divine right of kings) in his unsurpassed Lex Rex, his Free Disputation should not be overlooked -- for it contains the same searing insights as Lex Rex. In fact, this book should probably be known as Rutherford's "politically incorrect" companion volume to Lex Rex. A sort of sequel aimed at driving pluralists and antinomians insane. Written against "the Belgick Arminians, Socinians, and other Authors contending for lawlesse liberty, or licentious Tolerations of Sects and Heresies," Rutherford explains the undiluted Biblical solution to moral relativism, especially as it is expressed in ecclesiastical and civil pluralism! (Corporate pluralism being a violation of the first commandment and an affront to the holy God of Scripture). He also deals with conscience, toleration, penology (punishment), and the judicial laws, as related to both the civil and ecclesiastical realms. Excellent sections are also included which address questions related to determining the fundamentals of religion, how covenants bind us, the perpetual obligation of social covenants (with direct application to the Solemn League and Covenant and the covenant-breaking of Cromwell and his sectarian supporters), whether the punishing of seducing teachers be persecution of conscience, and much more. Walker adds these comments and context regarding Rutherford's Free Disputation, "The principle of toleration was beginning to be broached in England, and in a modified shape to find acceptance there. Samuel Rutherford was alarmed, or rather, I should say, he was horrified, for he neither feared the face of man or argument. He rushed to the rescue of the good old view... It is not so easy to find a theoretical ground for toleration; and Rutherford has many plausible things to say against it. With the most perfect confidence, he argues that it is alike against Scripture and common sense that you should have two religions side by side. It is outrageous ecclesiastically, it is sinful civilly. He does not, however, take what I call the essentially persecuting ground. He does not hold that the magistrate is to punish religion as religion. Nay, he strongly maintains that the civil magistrate never aims at the conscience. The magistrate, he urges, does not send anyone, whether a heretic (who is a soul murderer--RB) or a murderer, to the scaffold with the idea of producing conversion or other spiritual result, but to strengthen the foundations of civil order. But if he gives so much power to the king, he is no lover of despotism withal: the king himself must be under law. To vindicate this great doctrine is the object of another book, the celebrated Lex Rex; of which it has been said by one competent to judge, that it first clearly developed the constitutionalism which all men now accept" (Theology and Theologians..., pp. 11-12). In our day Francis Schaeffer, and numerous others, have critiqued many of the problems found in modern society, but most have spent little time developing explicitly Biblical solutions -- especially regarding the theoretical foundations that Rutherford addresses here. Rutherford's Free Disputation provides a detailed blueprint for laying the foundations that must be laid before any lasting, God-honoring solutions will be found. Furthermore, Rutherford and his writings were the enemies of all governments not covenanted with Christ. This book will give you a very clear picture as to why "the beast" (civil and ecclesiastical) has reserved his special hatred for such teaching. As Samuel Wylie noted "[t]he dispute, then, will not turn upon the point whether religion should be civilly established... but it is concerning what religion ought to be civilly established and protected, -- whether the religion of Jesus alone should be countenanced by civil authority, or every blasphemous, heretical, and idolatrous abomination which the subtle malignity of the old serpent and a heart deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, can frame and devise, should be put on an equal footing therewith" (Two Sons of Oil: or, The Faithful Witness For Magistracy and Ministry Upon a Scriptural Basis, softcover). Can our generation swallow Rutherford's hard, anti-pluralistic, Covenanter medicine, poured forth from the bottle of the first commandment, without choking on their carnal dreams of a free and righteous society divorced from God (and His absolute claims upon everyone and everything)? Not without the enabling power of the Holy Spirit -- that is for sure! In summary, this book answers all the hardest questions theonomists (and their wisest and best opponents) have been asking for the last 20-30 years (and these answers are much more in depth than any we have seen in the last couple of millennia [less about a century to account for the apostles]). As the reader will discover, Rutherford was a wealthy man when it came to wisdom (and much advanced theologically), and those who take the time to gaze into the King's treasure house, as exhibited in this book, will find that they are greatly rewarded. Furthermore, because of its uncompromising stand upon the Word of God, this book is sure to be unpopular among a wicked and adulterous generation. However, on the other hand, it is sure to be popular among the covenanted servants of King Jesus! This is one of the best books (in the top five anyway) for advanced study of the Christian faith. We have now obtained an easy-to-read, amazingly clear copy of this very rare, old treasure. Great price too, considering that a copy of the 1649 edition, containing this quality of print, would likely cost upwards of $1000 on the rare book market -- though it is unlikely you would ever see a copy for sale!
The Casting Down of the Last and Strongest Hold of Satan; Or, A Treatise Against Toleration and Pretended Liberty of Conscience(1647)
The title continues: "Wherein by Scripture, sound Reason, Fathers, Schoolmen, Casuists, Protestant Divines of all Nations, Confessions of Faith of the Reformed Churches, Ecclesiastical Histories, and constant practice of the most pious and wisest Emperors, Princes, States, the best Writers of Politicks, the experience of all Ages; yea, by divers Principles, Testimonies and Proceedings of Sectaries themselves, as Donatists, Anabaptists, Brownists, Independents, the unlawfulness and mischief in Christian Commonwealths and Kingdoms both of a Universal Toleration of all Religions and Consciences, and of a limited and bounded (toleration--RB) of some Sects only, are clearly proved and demonstrated, with all the material Grounds and Reasons brought for such Tolerations fully answered."
This title (representing the English Presbyterian position) is very much akin to the Scottish view found in Samuel Rutherford's classic A Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience. It is also comparable to the position of the Covenanted Scottish General Assembly as seen in this sample quote,
(W)e are also very sensible of the great and imminent dangers into which this common cause of religion is now brought by the growing and spreading of most dangerous errors in England to the obstructing and hindering of the begun Reformation, as namely (beside many others) Socinianism, Arminianism, Anabaptism, Antinomianism, Brownism, Erastianism, Independency, and that which is called (by abuse of the word) Liberty of Conscience, being indeed Liberty of Error, Scandal, Schism, Heresy, dishonouring God, opposing the Truth, hindering Reformation; and seducing others" (Acts of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 1638-1649 Inclusive, p. 333).
In short, this work of Edwards' is "a treatise against the Magistrates toleration and permission of a promiscuous use and profession of all religions, sects and heresies, and a partial limited toleration of some few sects, or of any one sect, way of worship, church government different from the true religion established and settled." It also deals in great Scriptural depth with many of the questions being debated in our day among Reconstructionists and their opponents (concerning God's law, civil government, etc.). This book was published by the authority of the English Parliament of Edwards' day. 224 pages.
This book is also available on Reformation Bookshelf CD volume 24 (CD SUPER SALE) at: http://www.swrb.com/Puritan/reformation-bookshelf-CDs.htm
Act, Declaration, And Testimony, For The Whole Of The Covenanted Reformation, As Attained To, And Established In, Britain and Ireland; Particularly Betwixt The Years 1638 and 1649, Inclusive. As, Also, Against All The Steps Of Defection From Said Reformation, Whether In Former Or Later Times, Since The Overthrow Of That Glorious Work, Down To This Present Day (1876)
Upholds the original work of the Westminster Assembly and testifies to the abiding worth and truth formulated in the Westminster family of documents. Upholds and defends the crown rights of King Jesus in church and state, denouncing those who would remove the crown from Christ's head by denying His right to rule (by His law) in both the civil and ecclesiastical spheres. Testifies to the received doctrine, government, worship, and discipline of the Church of Scotland in her purest (reforming) periods. Applies God's Word to the Church's corporate attainments "with a judicial approbation of the earnest contendings and attainments of the faithful, and a strong and pointed judicial condemnation of error and the promoters thereof" (The Original Covenanter and Contending Witness, Dec. 17/93, p. 558.). Shows the church's great historical victories (such as the National and Solemn League and Covenant, leading to the Westminster Assembly) and exposes her enemies actions (e.g. the Prelacy of Laud; the Independency, sectarianism, covenant breaking and ungodly toleration set forth by the likes of Cromwell [and the Independents that conspired with him]; the Erastianism and civil sectarianism of William of Orange, etc.). It is not likely that you will find a more consistent working out of the principles of Calvinism anywhere. Deals with the most important matters relating to the individual, the family, the church and the state. Sets forth a faithful historical testimony of God's dealings with men during some of the most important days of church history. A basic text that should be mastered by all Christians. This book is also free on the web at: http://www.covenanter.org/RefPres/actdeclarationandtestimony/acttitle.htm.
Other Reformation Resources:
Westminster Confession of Faith Super Sale
Puritan Bookshelf CD Series Super Sale
Reformed Presbytery (RPNA, Covenanters)
(reconstituted after 113 years) Super Sale
Doctrinal Integrity: The Utility and Importance of Creeds and Confessions and Adherence to Our Doctrinal Standards by Samuel Miller
The Covenanted Reformation Defended Against Contemporary Schismatics: A Response and Antidote Primarily to the Neopresbyterian Malignancy and Misrepresentations, and the Manufactured "Steelite" Controversy, Found in Richard Bacon's A Defense Departed; With a Refutation of Bacon's Independency, Popery, Arminianism, Anabaptism and Various Other Heresies (Including an Exhibition of His Opposition to Scripture and the Covenanted Reformation, in General; and His Opposition to John Calvin, John Knox, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland [Especially 1638-1649], Samuel Rutherford, George Gillespie, the Testimony of the Covenanter Martyrs, the Reformed Presbytery, the Puritan Reformed Church of Edmonton and a Host of Other Prominent Reformers from Past Generations, in Particular) -- With Copious Notes on Mr. Bacon's Backsliding and His Blackening of the Blue Banner; as Well as Various Replies to Other Modern Malignants by Greg Barrow (Greg Price, Reg Barrow, Larry Birger, et al.) (Though set in the context of a debate with one individual, this book addresses a number of specific problems which plague the Presbyterian and Reformed churches of our day in general. "It conclusively and irrefutably demonstrates that those churches which today call themselves Presbyterian [and even many which claim a more general Reformed heritage] have grievously departed from the Scriptural standards and principles of the previous Spirit led Reformations [of the 16th and 17th centuries]. This will become progressively [and painfully] clear as the reader witnesses evidence upon evidence of defection from biblically based Reformation attainments (Phil. 3:16) -- and the burying and/or removing of the ancient Reformation landmarks. Ultimately, when the testimony and evidence [presented in this book] is weighed in light of Scriptural verities, it is entirely safe to say that the original Reformers would not only have sought negative ecclesiastical sanctions against our modern pseudo-Reformers, but in many cases negative civil sanctions as well," writes Reg Barrow in the "Publisher's Preface." This book, of over 300 [8.5" X 11"] pages, is also offered as a cerlox bound photocopy [$14.98 US funds] or a Hardcover photocopy [$25.00 US funds]. It is also free on most of the CDs in both the REFORMATION BOOKSHELF CD set [30 CDs, http://www.swrb.com/Puritan/reformation-bookshelf-CDs.htm ] and the PURITAN BOOKSHELF CD set [32 CDs, http://www.swrb.com/Puritan/puritan-bookshelf-CDs.htm ])
Still Waters Revival Books, 4710-37A Ave., Edmonton, AB, Canada T6L 3T5
(Reformation resources at great discounts!)
Home page at: http://www.swrb.com/
Contact us today for your FREE mail-order catalogue!
Back to swrb home page