« PrécédentContinuer »
grandeur, belong to the mediatorial kingdom of Christ; and that either there are no magistrates among the heathens, or the mediatorial kingdom of Christ, in respect of one part of it, namely, magistracy, is visible among them. But the truth is, Christ's mediatorial kingdom is not of this world. Magistracy, as well as other things belonging to the kingdom of Providence, are put into Christ's hand, to be ordered in subserviency to the good of bis church. But this ordering does not alter the nature of these things, or the tendency of them to their natural ends. They are still, in themselves, mere worldly things. Magistracy, for example, is the same secular institution among christians, as among heathens. And the mediatorial kingdom of Christ is visible among the former, and not at all among the latter.
Alex. I have heard, that these people charged the associate presbytery with declining from the cause for which some zealous Presbyterians suffered persecution, in the reign of Charles the second. Hume, in bis history, represents them as fanatics and enthusiasts; though he allows, that they were treated with unjustifiable severity. They were certainly pious people. Did their opinion concerning the civil magistrate, agree with that of those now called the Reformed Body?
Ruf. That these martyrs should be represented in an odious or contemptible light, by such a writer as David Hume, is not to be won. dered at. For, to use the words of an excellent poet,
A patriot's blood
ls cold on this.* The martyrs under Charles the second, though they disowned the ecclesiastical supremacy, or the headship over the national church, with which he had been invested by the parliament in 1661 and 62, yet acknowledged his civil authority, and obeyed him in things lawful, till about the year 1679. Ten of these martyrs, who suffered in 1666, delivered a joint testimony, in which they say, “We are con6 demned by men, and esteemed by many as rebels against the king, 6 whose authority we acknowledge.” Another testimony, by some of the former ten, has these words: 6 We declare in the
of “ God, before whom we are now ready to appear, that we did not “ intend to rebel against the king and his just authority; whom we " acknowledge for our lawful sovereign.”+ All, that are acquainted with the history of the persecution in that period, know, that when
† Naphtali, page 216, 221.
the sufferers were asked, Whether they owned the king's: authority, the interrogators meant to include the authority which was given him by the act of parliament in spiritual matters; and that if the sufferers had answered in the affirmative, they would have been considered as consenting to the spiritual authority which he claimed. Even in the latter part of this period of persecution, it is evident, that the pripcipai reason of their answering that question in the negative, was, that they understood the king's authority, which they were then required to acknowledge, as including his ecclesiastical supremacy. - The 6 main cause of my suffering," said Mr. Cargil, who was put to death in 1681, “is my not acknowledging the present authority, as it is 56 established in the supremacy and explanatory act. The magistracy, 66 which I have rejected, is that which was invested with Christ's
power. When he mentioned the explanatory act, he said, “ he “ meant, that the act, which, in explaining the king's supremacy, gives 6 him a right to the authority of Jesus Christ, is against right."* In the year 1684, John Campbell, being asked by a lieutenant colonel Windram, Whether he would pray for the king? answered, that 6 he both did and would pray for the king, that the Lord would give “ him a godly life here, and glory hereafter.” The colonel said, That is not enough: you must pray for Charles the second, as he is supreme over all causes, ecclesiastic, as well as civil. John replied, * that, in his opinion, that was praying for him as the head of the 6 church, a title, which belonged to Christ alone.”+. So that it appears, that the sufferers would have acknowledged his civil authority, and would have continued to obey him in things lawful, notwithstanding his supremacy; if he had not required their owning that supremacy and obedience in unlawful things; or if he had not acted the tyrant, exercising all sorts of cruelty upon them, merely because they refused to make acknowledgments, which it was unlawful for them to make.
Alex. Those who are now termed Covenanters, deem it inconsistent with the obligation of the solemn league and covenant, to own any other as lawful magistrates, than such as have a due measure of scrip tural qualifications.
Ruf. The greater the measure which any magistrate possesses of of these qualifications, he is, no doubt, the better. But if, by a due measure of them, be meant all that the scriptures, as the rule of duty, requires, whoever expects to see a magistrate possessed of such a measure of these qualifications,
Thinks what ne'er was, nor is, nor e’er shall be. But with regard to the solemn league, it contains an engagement to
preserve and defend the civil magistrate, in defence of the true religion and liberties; that is, an engagement to own and obey him, so far as is consistent with the preservation of the true religion and civil liberty. But this is quite different from an engagement to acknowledge no other as a lawful magistrate, to whom obedience in lawful things is due, than such as profess the true religion sworn to in the league:- This appears, both from the doctrine and the example of those who first entered into it. What their doctrine on this subject was, we learn from the confession of faith, which, in pursuance of the design of the solemn league, was composed by the Westminster assembly, and adopted by the general assembly of the church of Scotland, in 1647. For, according to that confession, “ Infidelity or “ difference in religion, does not make void the magistrate's just and « legal authority; nor free the people from their due obedience to * him.” Nor is the magistrate here excepted, who has been set up by the will of the body politic, where the light of the gospel has been generally diffused.
* Crookshanks' History, part 2d. chap. 5.
† Ibid. chap. 9.
How agreeable this doctrine concerning the civil magistrate, is to the engagement in the solemn league, appears from a passage which I shall now read, of the Apologetical Relation, the author of which* had a most accurate acquaintance with this subject. 6 The Covenanters “ do not say, that they are never bound to defend the king's authority, 6s but when he is actually promoting and advancing the work of God, * according to his full power and place; nor do they say, that when 66 he opposeth the work of God, that they are at liberty to destroy his “person, or to spoil and rob him of his just power and authority. * And therefore, both that clause in the covenant, and their proceed“ing may be abundantly
justified, without clashing with the confes“sions of the Protestant Reformed churches, or of their own; for they “still acknowledge, that difference in religion does not make void the “ magistrate's just and legal authority, nor free the people from sub"jection.”
The same thing is evident, from the example of those who first entered into the solemn league and covenant. For they acknow. ledged Charles the first as their lawful king, and professed their willingness to obey him in all his lawful commands: though he still declared, that he reckoned himself bound in conscience to defend prelacy, and even his ecclesiastical supremacy:
The sufferers under Charles the second disowned, as has been already observed, his ecclesiastical supremacy or headship over the church; but we have no reason to think, that they would ever have disowned his civil authorty, if he had not tyrannically required their acknowledgment of subjection to that supremacy, and also their renunciation of the solemn league, which they had sworn to the Most High God, torturing and putting them to death, when they refused obedience to such unlawful commands.
Alex. One thing,' in which it seems hard to justify these people, is their holding it lawful to pay taxes to our government, and to take the benefit of its courts of justice, while they account it an unlawful government. An excuse for the payment of tribute to such a government, is implied in these words of their testimony published in Scot. land : “ They testify against a direct and active, a free and voluntary 5 paying of tribute," unto the present government, “ as unto the ordi. 56 nance of God, particularly, when these dues are required as a tessera 6 of loyalty to such.”+
Ruf. I cannot see any solid ground for the distinction in the words you have cited : for, if paying tribute to the present government be lawful, then it is plain, that it should be done directly and volun* Mr. Brown of Wamphray.
Testimony of the Reformed Presbytery.
tarily. On the other hand, if it be sinful, in the case as circumstanced, it ought not to be done at all ; not even in an indirect and involuntary manner.
Alex. They sometimes quote Rom. xiii. 5, Ye must needs be subject not only for wrath, but also for conseience sake: as if those who hold the present government to be unlawful, and therefore will not pay taxes thereto from a principle of conscience, may yet, without sin, part with their money or goods for that purpose, for wrath, or from the fear of punishment.
Ruf. The plain meaning of this text is, that we ought to be subject to the civil magistrate; not only, as the worst of men often are, from the fear of punishment, but also, as christians ought to be, from a principle of conscience. The apostle is so far from allowing christians to be subject to the civil magistrate for wrath, without being so for conscience sake, that he enjoins what is directly contrary, that they should be no farther subject to him for wrath, than they are so for conscience sake: for the subjection here meant, is the subjection inculcated in the preceding verses; subjection to the civil magistrate as the ordinance of God, as the minister of God for good; that is a subjection to him for conscience sake; no other subjection being approved by the apostle.
It is improper to represent the payment of a tax as being only the circumstance of parting with money; while a tax is demanded as a just debt due to a lawful government for the protection it affords us ; just as a debt is demanded by the proprietor of a house or land, from a tenant who has occupied it for some time. It must be as unjust to pay a tax to one who ought not to be acknowledged as a lawful magistrate, as it would be to pay the rent due for a house or land to one who we certainly know is not, truly, but only pretends to be, the proprietor thereof. But the countenance given in the former case, to an usurpation of the magistrate's office, is more criminal, as being more extensively pernicious, than the countenance which is given in the latter, to the unjust claim made to a house or piece of land.
Alex. In applying the text before mentioned to this subject, they often say,
We pay taxes to an unscriptural government on the same principle on which we may give a robber a part of our property to save the remainder. It is a pity that they cannot find a more decent simile than this; for it seems, at first view, shocking to common sense to represent a government, which it cannot be denied, answers the end, in a great measure, of good government in securing the administration of justice, and in protecting the citizens in the enjoyment of their natural rights, as no more entitled to any compensation than a band of robbers.
Ruf. A robber's demand of a person's money is not to be complied with, unless the compliance be a lawful mean of avoiding a greater evil; and then it is to be consented to for conscience sake. That it is a lawsul mean, appears from this consideration, that the robber's demand requires no unlawful acknowledgment; such as the acknowledgment of the robber's moral right to the money he demapus; for he makes no pretension to any such right; but only to a superior physical power of taking violent possession. But the demand of a part of or property upon a moral ground, namely, as a tax to which a lawful magistrate only is entitled, is a very different case. A person's giving his money to the robber, is an acknowledgment of the superior physical power, on the ground of which it was demanded ; but the giving of the money, demanded as a tax due to a lawful magistrate, is an acknowledgment of the moral right, upon the ground of which it is demanded. If he who demands the tribute be no lawful magistrate, but an usurper or unlawful ruler; then, it is sinful to comply with the demand, while he makes it upon the ground of a pretended moral right. We are to give no money to support an unlawful ruler. As we are not to give it for conscience sake; so we are not tą give it for wrath, or from the fear of punishment; for we should rather suffer than sin.
Ales. They say farther, We may do all things commanded by the constituted authorities, which are in themselves right and lawful, not connected with unlawful circumstances, not because they are commanded by legitimate authority, which is the true tessera of loyalty ; but either because the moral law requires them, or because they may be compelled to do them by physical force.
Ruf. There are several things in the practice of these people which cannot well be denied to be connected with circumstances which are inconsistent with their opinion concerning the unlawfulness of the present civil government. The payment of taxes, for example, is connected with the circumstance of their being required by the authority of the government. The ground of this demand cannot be physical force; because the physical force of government depends on the taxes that support it; and therefore, government's demand of taxes, cannot depend on its physical force. The whole reason of this demand, is the moral right which a lawful government has to be supported. Hence, the payment of taxes necessarily implies an acknowledgment of that right. To this purpose, the apostle says, For this cause pay ye taxes to magistrates; for they are public ministers of God.* Hence it is evident, that when taxes are paid for the cause or reason for which the apostle directs us to pay them, (and whenever christians pay them, it should be for this reason, they must be a true tessera or token of loyalty. In bringing a law-suit against any, a person acknowledges that the court, before which he brings the suit, has a just authority to determine it. If the authority of the court be unlawful, all its judicial proceedings are unlawful. To submit a cause to be tried and decided by such a court, is to sin against God; and also, to tempt the judge and jury to sin against him. Even a person's taking an oath before any of our civil courts, is connected with circumstances which iinply subjection to its authority, and consequently an acknowledgment of it; such as the taking of the oath by the command of the court, in answer to a summons, bearing the stamp of the civil authority, and specifying time and place, and the cause depending. The buying and selling of houses and lands are connected with an acknowledgment of the civil authority, which grants the titles by which property in them is held, and by which it is transferred. An unlawful government cannot give a lawful title to property. Even the receiving of the money of any government, as lawful money, implies an acknowledgment of the
* Rom. xii. 6.