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legitimacy of the government that issues it. An unlawful government cannot make a lawful national currency. Hence, our Lord called for a denarius or Roman penny, in order to determine the question about Cesar's title to tribute.
It may be observed, that the passage you just now recited, seems exceptionable, as it implies, that there are right things which persons are to do, from the fear of being compelled to do them by physical force, while they are not bound to do them, because they are required by the moral law. But certainly we must allow the moral law, the law of God, to be a perfect rule; and therefore, it is evident, that there is nothing right, nothing that ought to be done, which that law does not require. The moral law, no doubt, requires things to be done in some circumstances, which it does not require to be done in other circumstances. But in every case, as it is circumstanced, the moral law determines what is duty, and requires it: and whatever is duty ought to be done, because the law requires it. Farther, it may be observed, that according to this distinction, there is one class of right things which persons are to do, because they may be compelled to do them by physical force; and another class of such things which are to be done, because the moral law requires them. But, in truth, that which is always to determine what ought to be done, is the moral law, the only rule of duty, and not motives or external occasions suggesting motives. It is certainly the doctrine of the holy scriptures, that we should not make the impulse of any passion, of hope or fear, of love or hatred, the standard by which we are to determine
any act to be sin or duty. The revealed will of God, and nothing else, is that standard. These two questions, What things ought to be done, and what should move us to do them, are always formally distinct, and require different answers.
§ 63. Alex. Have not this body lately published a new statement of their profession, entitled, Reformation Principles Exhibited ?
Ruf. Yes. I suppose, however, they will not disapprove a reference to the former testimony as a declaration of their genuine tenets. With regard to the new work, of which you speak, it may not be improper to observe, that the Seceders have reason to complain of the first part of it, as misrepresenting some of their principles. This will appear by reading a short paper, which I have written, containing a contrast, in some particulars, between the statement which the Seceders themselves give of their principles, and that which is given in this publication, Statement given by Seceders. Statement given in Refor
mation Principles Exhi1. Mere usurpers can have no lawful
bited. authority: and if they shall acquire the consent of the people, whether expressed 1. The Seceders condemor tacit, they then cease to be such, and ned all distinction between are invested with authority, whereunto such rulers as happened, in God commands subjection and obedience Divine Providence, to have in matters lawful. Again, in order to the power of a nation upon render one an habitual tyrant, it is at unlawful principles, and least necessary that he leave ruling by such as ruled by Divine ap
Statement given by Seceders. Statement given in Refor.
mation Principles Exhi. just laws, that he be engaged in war bited. against the lives, or invading and overturning the avowed liberties and privi- probation: the only quesleges of the nation; as was the case in tion which they would perthe persecuting times before the Revolu- mit a christian to ask is, in tion. It cannot be supposed, that such a relation to the matter of fact, person
real consent of the na- Is there any person actually tion to rule; and therefore he can have in power
r? no lawful authority. However quietly The Scotch Seceders exone may be obliged to live under usur: ceeded the University of pers
habitual tyrants; yet there should | Oxford itself in maintaining be no acknowledgment of their authority the doctrine of passive obe as binding upon the conscience. The dience. They deny, that presbytery's principle of subjection and there is any difference as to obedience doth only respect things law- lawfulness between one goful, and is not at all inconsistent with vernment and another. any self-defence that is necessary, law. Reform. Princ. Exhib. ful and expedient, according to the word
Pars 18t, page 113. of God and right reason ; such as our worthy ancestors endeavoured at Pentland and Bothwell. Yea, there is no manner of inconsistency between being in a posture of self-defence against particular injuries by a magistrate, and an owning, at the same time, his title and authority in what lawful commands he may impose.
Display of the Secession Testimony,
Vol 1, page 290. The associate presbytery and those who adhere to them, do not hold magistracy, or its lawfulness, to be founded on the providential, but on the preceptive will of God. They have nothing to say in defence of that magistracy which is merely providential; though not a little they have to advance, in proof that the office of every magistrate, whom a people have chosen, and whom they acknow. ledge to be invested with civil authority over them, is founded on the preceptive will of God, and is agreeable to his law, in its rise and origin.
Review of the Antigovernment
Scheme, pages 34, and 35. 2. As it was once a peculiar duty of 2. The Seceders, maintain the Jewish nation; so it is peculiarly in that nations, as such, are cumbent upon every civil state, where-not' bound to acknowledge into christianity is introduced, to study | Christ or his religion; and
Btatement given by Seceders. Statement given in Refor
mation Principles Exhi. and bring to pass, that civil government bited. among them, in all the appurtenances of its constitution and administration, run that magistrates have noin an agreeableness to the word of God, thing to do with christianity. and to the interests of the true religion
Ibid. and reformation of the church; as other. wise they cannot truly prosper in their civil concerns, nor be enriched by the blessings of the gospel.
The whole people, adjoining them. selves to the true church, should approve themselves to be true members thereof; and, considered in their conjunct and public capacity, (as thus only the matter is competent unto them) should, by their deed of civil constitution, provide, that their magistrates be obliged to concur in the same true religion and reformation, and to rule them by laws nowise prejadicial, but serviceable thereto,
Display of the Secession Testimony,
Vol. 1st, page 280. 3. What the apostle ascribes unto ma- 3. Seceders maintain, that gistrates, (viz. their being ministers of Divine Revelation is not the God for good, being not a terror to good rule by which men are to works, but to evil,) is, in some measure, act in their civil constitucompetent to all such in every nation or tions and laws. state. But the advantage lies very far Reformi Princip. Exhib. on the side of such as have occasion to
pages 114, 115. exercise their office for promoting the church's public good; while, at the same time, they are privileged with, and en. deavour to discharge their other special business, as well as this, according to) the full discovery which God's word hath made of those natural principles that comprehend the due exercise of their office, as well as its institution and end. The christian magistrate ought to determine himself, not merely by natural, but also by revealed or christian principles.
Display of the Secess. Test.
Vol. 1, pages 312, 313. 4. That our Lord's Mediatory govern- 4. The Seceders main. ment and administration doth extend to tain, that Jesus Christ does all outward things in the world of nature not, as Mediator, govern the and providence, in so far as these things world. are supernaturally ordered unto super- Reform. Princ. page 115. natural ends, in the spiritual advantage of his church and people, or so far as
Statement given by Seceders, Statement given in Refor
mation Principles Eschiordered in the channel of love and favour bited. to them, with a subserviency to the purposes and glory of free grace in their salvation; and that all such orderings of outward things are the proper fruit of Christ's purchase; and that all these outward things, as considered in the formality or channel of these gracious orderings, do hold of Christ and his kingdom, as Mediator;-all this is heartily agreed to
Display of the Secess. Test.
Vol. 2, page 299, 5. The charge, brought against the 5. The Seceders mainsynod's act upon the head of universal tain, that the Redeemer has redemption, of denying, that believers not purchased temporal bethemselves receive their common favours nefits for the saints. as benefits of Christ's purchase, is a gross
Reform. Prin. Exhib. calumny. For the said article is so far from excluding common favours which believers receive, that it doth not exclude their common trials and crosses from being among the benefits of Christ's purchase to them. Only these things are so, not as they stand in their earthly condition, but as they are sanctified through the new covenant, and so intromitted with by faith. The common bene. fits of life, in respect of the peculiar conveyance of them to believers, through Christ as Mediator, in the channel of new covenant promises, with a new covenant blessing upon them, are not received by their fingers, but by their faith.
Appendix to the Act of the Associate
demption. Pages 34, 35. 6. Seceders believe that the world 6. The Seceders mainstands on purpose, that the covenant of tain, that the world stands, grace may be exhibited and carried into not on purpose to exhibit the execution; though they do not say, that system of grace; but in orit stands for this purpose only: because der to bring into being the the standing of the world is also neces- children of Adam, that they sary in order to the execution of the might be punished by the covenant of works; for which, as well as curse of the covenant of for the execution of the covenant of works. grace, the truth of God is engaged,
Reform. Princ. Exhib. Review of the Antigovernment
Scheme. Pages 14, 15.
When we endeavour to correct the errors of any, we should beware tof imputing opinions to them which they do not hold. In this, as in many other controversies, the opposite parties often misunderstand one another. It should be the concern of both parties to discern the .snare that keeps them asunder, while both are professing adherence, in other respects, to the same testimony for a covenanted reforma. tion. On this subject, I shall only add one remark: Under the New Testament dispensation, the Lord's people are dispersed through the world as pilgrims and strangers, under a great variety of magistrates; and being always a minority, have little or no share in the choice of these magistrates. On this account, it might have been expected, that if the Holy Spirit had foreseen that most of these magistrates would be unlawful, or such as could not be submitted to or obeyed in their lawful commands, without sin, he would have given his people very particular warning of this danger. On the contrary, there is a deep silence through the whole scripture, as to this matter. We are, Indeed, forbidden to walk after the comma
mandment of rulers in any thing unlawful, or in the imposition of human devices in religious worship. But there are no warnings in scripture against submitting to and obeying the lawful commands of the magistrates of any country, who have been chosen and are acknowledged as such by the people there.
$ 64. Alex. Another subject, on which I wished to have some conversation at this time, is the controversy among the Seceders, about a religious clause in some burgess oaths. Though we, in America, are not concerned in these oaths, yet the dispute concerning this matter is interesting, as it must necessarily occupy a conspicuous place in the history of the christian church.
Ruf. The importance of a controversy is to be estimated not only by the occasion which may often seem trivial, but by the manner in which it is conducted, by its bearing on other subjects, and by its consequences. It is certain, that a great deal of truth, both doctrinal and historical, was either denied or maintained by the parties in this dispute. Instances of Divine mercy in upholding any in a steadfast adherence to their witnessing profession, ought to be recorded.
The contested words of the clause in some burgess oaths, are these: “ Here I protest before God, and your lordships, that I profess and " allow with my heart the true religion, presently professed within 66 this realm, and authorised by the laws thereof :-I shall abide 6 thereat, and defend the same to my life's end, and renounce the 6 Roman religion called Papistry.”
Alex. Many think, that the Seceding ministers should not have meddled with this path, and that it was a thing they had no business with.
Ruf. In the year 1744, the associate presbytery, being considerably increased, agreed to divide themselves into three presbyteries, which were to compose the associate synod. That synod, having met in March 1745, it was proposed, that as the meinbers had agreed to set about public covenanting in their several congregations, so they should endeavour to remove any public bars that might be found to their proceeding in that work. It was then found, that the case of some of their people, who had sworn a burgess oath, having the said