This post collating quotes from Reformed Theologians on the role of the Civil Magistrate to enforce Biblical Law as community standards (including the first table) is offered as a means of rebuttal to intrustionists who insist that what Reformed Christians should advocate is cultural and civil pluralism.
W.C.F. Chapter 23:3 [Of the Civil Magistrate. ]
” The Civil Magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the Word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven: yet he hath authority, and it is his duty, to take order that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire, that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed, all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed, and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed.”
[Second Helvetic Confession on magistrates].
” In like manner, let him govern the people, committed to him of God, with good laws, made according to the word of God in his hands, and look that nothing be taught contrary thereto. … Therefore let him draw forth this sword of God against all malefactors, seditious persons, thieves, murderers, oppressors, blasphemers, perjured persons, and all those whom God has commanded him to punish or even to execute. Let him suppress stubborn heretics (who are heretics indeed), who cease not to blaspheme the majesty of God, and to trouble the Church, yea, and finally to destroy it.”
The Scots Confession ““ John Knox
Chapter 24 – The Civil Magistrate
We confess and acknowledge that empires, kingdoms, dominions, and cities are appointed and ordained by God; the powers and authorities in them, emperors in empires, kings in their realms, dukes and princes in their dominions, and magistrates in cities, are ordained by God’s holy ordinance for the manifestation of his own glory and for the good and well being of all men. We hold that any men who conspire to rebel or to overturn the civil powers, as duly established, are not merely enemies to humanity but rebels against God’s will. Further, we confess and acknowledge that such persons as are set in authority are to be loved, honored, feared, and held in the highest respect, because they are the lieutenants of God, and in their councils God himself doth sit and judge. They are the judges and princes to whom God has given the sword for the praise and defense of good men and the punishment of all open evil doers. Moreover, we state the preservation and purification of religion is particularly the duty of kings, princes, rulers, and magistrates. They are not only appointed for civil government but also to maintain true religion and to suppress all idolatry and superstition. This may be seen in David, Jehosaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, and others highly commended for their zeal in that cause.
The Belgic Confession of Faith, Article XXXVI
The Magistracy (Civil Government)
We believe that our gracious God, because of the depravity of mankind, has appointed kings, princes, and magistrates; willing that the world should be governed by certain laws and policies; to the end that the dissoluteness of men might be restrained, and all things carried on among them with good order and decency. For this purpose He has invested the magistracy with the sword for the punishment of evil-doers and for the protection of them that do well.
Their office is not only to have regard unto and watch for the welfare of the civil state, but also to protect the sacred ministry, that the kingdom of Christ may thus be promoted. They must therefore countenance the preaching of the Word of the gospel everywhere, that God may be honored and worshipped by every one, as He commands in His Word.
The French Confession – John Calvin
XXXIX. We believe that God wishes to have the world governed by laws and magistrates, so that some restraint may be put upon its disordered appetites. And as he has established kingdoms, republics, and all sorts of principalities, either hereditary or otherwise, and all that belongs to a just government, and wishes to be considered as their Author, so he has put the sword into the hands of magistrates to suppress crimes against the first as well as against the second table of the Commandments of God. We must therefore, on his account, not only submit to them as superiors, but honor and hold them in all reverence as his lieutenants and officers, whom he has commissioned to exercise a legitimate and holy authority.
1. Exod. 18:20-21; Matt. 17:24-27; Rom. ch. 13
2. I Peter 2:13-14; I Tim. 2:2
John Calvin 1509-1564
But this was sayde to the people of olde time. Yea, and God’s honour must not be diminished by us at this day: the reasons that I have alleadged alreadie doe serve as well for us as for them. Then lette us not thinke that this lawe is a speciall lawe for the Jewes; but let us understand that God intended to deliver to us a generall rule, to which we must tye ourselves…Sith it is so, it is to be concluded, not onely that is lawefull for all kinges and magistrates, to punish heretikes and such as have perverted the pure trueth; but also that they be bounde to doe it, and that they misbehave themselves towardes God, if they suffer errours to roust without redresse, and employ not their whole power to shewe a greater zeale in that behalfe than in all other things.
Calvin, Sermons upon Deuteronomie, p. 541-542
” Whoever shall now contend that it is unjust to put heretics and blasphemers to death will knowingly and willingly incur their very guilt. This is not laid down on human authority; it is God who speaks and prescribes a perpetual rule for his Church. It is not in vain that he commands paternal love and all the benevolent feelings between brothers, relations, and friends to cease; in a word, that he almost deprives men of their nature in order that nothing may hinder their holy zeal. Why is so implacable a severity exacted but that we may know that God is defrauded of his honour, unless the piety that is due to him be preferred to all human duties, and that when his glory is to be asserted, humanity must be almost obliterated from our memories.”
Quoted in P.Schaff; History of the Christian Church vol 8 :791f.(Eerdmans 1981). The context is the defence of the execution of Servetus
on Psalm 2
…without a doubt he is speaking of the kingdom of our Lord Jesus. He admonishes all kings and authorities to be wise and to take heed to themselves. What is this wisdom? What is the lesson He gives them? To abdicate it all? Hardly! But to fear God and give homage to His Son…Furthermore, Isaiah prophesies that the kings will become the foster fathers of the Christian church and that queens will nurse it with their breasts (Isa. 49:23). I beg of you, how do you reconcile the fact that kings will be protectors of the Christian Church if their vocation is inconsistent with Christianity?
Calvin, Treatises Against the Anabaptists and Libertines, p. 79
Martin Bucer 1491-1551
” But since no one can describe an approach more equitable and wholesome to the commonwealth than that which God describes in his law, it is certainly the duty of all kings and princes who recognize that God has put them over his people that they follow most studiously his own method of punishing evildoers. For inasmuch as we have been freed from the teaching of Moses through Christ the Lord so that it is no longer necessary for us to observe the civil decrees of the law of Moses, namely, in terms of the way and the circumstances in which they described, nevertheless, insofar as the substance and proper end of these commandments are concerned, and especially those which enjoin the discipline that is necessary for the whole commonwealth, whoever does not reckon that such commandments are to be conscientiously observed is certainly not attributing to God either supreme wisdom or a righteous care for our salvation.
Accordingly, in every state sanctified to God capital punishment must be ordered for all who have dared to injure religion, either by introducing a false and impious doctrine about the worship of God or by calling people away from the true worship of God (Deut 13:6-10 and 17:2-5); for all who blaspheme the name of God and his solemn services (Lev.24:15-16); who violate the Sabbath (Ex. 31:14-15, and 35:2; Num. 15: 32-36); who rebelliously despise the authority of parents and live their own life wickedly (Deut.21:18-21); who are unwilling to submit to the sentence of a supreme tribunal (Deut.17: 8-12); who have committed bloodshed (Ex.21:12; Lev. 24:17; Deut. 19:11-13), adultery (Lev. 20:10), rape (Deut.22:20-25), kidnapping (Deut. 24:7); who have given false testimony in a capital case (Deut. 19:16-21).”
” The Fourteenth Law: The Modification of Penalties” in Pauck ibid. pp.378-9
The duty of the civil authority in this matter is hedged about by these three regulations: (1) It must strictly confine itself to its own sphere, and not presume to define heresy; that belongs to the church alone. (2) It must not pass judgment with regard to persons, advantages, and circumstances but with pure regard to the honor of God. (3) It must proceed after quiet, regular examination of the heresy and mature consideration of all the circumstances, and inflict such punishment as will best secure the honor due to the divine majesty and the peace and unity of the church
Beza, De Hereticis, quoted in Schaff, History, p. 798
Let this be the conclusion of this argument: those who would bar the Christian magistracy from the care of religion and especially from the punishments of heretics, condemn the plain word of God, reject the authority of the ages, and as a consequence seek the total destruction and extermination of the church.
Beza, De Hereticis, quoted in Verduin, Stepchildren, p. 57
But what , then, is the relevance of this long discussion of the duty of kings and magistrates to maintain religion for deciding whether they may be forcibly resisted if they persecute it? I reply that it is one thing to introduce religion in a country, another to preserve it once it is established or to restore it when it has been buried, as it were, under the connivance, ignorance, and wickedness of men. I hold, then, that religion is planted and increased by the Spirit of God alone, through the Word, which is ordained for teaching, encouraging, and exhorting, since this is the special activity of the Holy Spirit, which works by spiritual means. The duty of a prince who would convert his subjects from idolatry or superstition to true religion is to see that they are given good and lively instruction, while the duty of subjects, correspondingly, is to yield to reason and to truth. The prince, finally, should provide and enforce good edicts against those who, from pure stubborness, would resist establishment of the true religion, as has been done in our time in England, Denmark, Sweden, Scotland, and in a large part of Germany and of Switzerland, against Papists, Anabaptists, and other heretics. And if, instead of believing in the bloodstained whore of Rome, other nations had done likewise, there would be peace not only in religion but in all other public matters, too.
Beza, Right of Magistrates as found in Constitutionalism and Resistance in the Sixteenth Century Translated and edited by Julian H. Franklin, p. 134
John Knox 1514-1572
[A petition ” to the Quenis Majestie, and Hir most Honourable Privey Counsall etc.”].
” The secound that we requyre, is punishment of horrible vices, sic as ar adultery, fornicatioun, open hurdome, blasphemye, contempt of God, of his Word, and Sacramentis; quhilkis in this Realme, for lack of punishement, do evin now so abound, that syne is reputed to be no syne. And thairfoir, as that we see the present signes of Goddis wrath now manifestlie appear, so do we foirwarne, that he will stryck, or it be long, yf his law without punishement be permitted thus manifestlie to be contempned. Yf any object, that punishementis can nott be commanded to be executed without a parliament; We answer that the eternall God in his Parliament has pronounced death to be the punishment for adulterye and for blasphemye; whose actis yf ye putt not to executioun, (seeing that Kingis ar but his lieutennentis, having no power to geve lyefe, whair he commandis death,) as that he will reputt you, and all otheris that foster vice, patronis of impietie, so will he nott faill to punishe you for neglecting of his judgements.”
works of John Knox; collected and Edited by David Laing. vol.2 (Edin.1864) pp.339-340.
[Idolatrie of Queen Mary; capital punishment].
‘” What ye may,” said the uther,[Knox] “be force, I disput nocht; bot what ye may and aucht to do be Godis express commandiment, that I can tell. Idolatrie aucht nocht [only] to be suppressit, but the idolater aucht to dey the deith, unless that we will accuse God.”” I knaw,” said Lethingtoun,” the idolater is commandit to dey the deith; but be whome?” “Be the peopill of God,” said the uther;” for the commandiment wes gevin to Israeli, as ye may reid, ‘Heir, Israeli,’sayis the Lorde, ‘the statutis and the ordinancis of the Lord thy God,’ &c. Yea, ane [commandement] wes gevin, That gif it be heard that idolatrie is committit in onie ane cytie, inquisitioune sal be taikin; and gif it be founde trew, that than the whole bodie of the peopill sail aryse and destroy that cytie, spairing in it nether man, woman, nor chylde.”
ibid., p. 441. note that both Lethington and Knox are agreed on the continuing relevance of the punishment for idolatry, the only question is who should carry out the punishment when the idolater is
the Queen of that nation.
It is evident, that principallie it apperteineth to the King, or to the Chief Magistrate, to knowe the will of God, to be instructed in his Lawe and Statutes, and to promote his glorie with his hole hart and studie, which be the chief pointed of the First Table. No man denieth, but that the sworde is committed to the Magistrate, to the end that he shulde punishe vice and meinteine vertue. To punishe vice, I say; not onelie that whiche troubeleth the tranquilitie and quiet estat of the common welth, by adulterie, theft, or murther committed, but also suche vices as openly impugne the glorie of God, as idolatrie, blasphemie, and manifest heresie, taught and obstinatly meinteined, as the histories and notable actes of Ezechias, Josaphat, and Josias do plainlie teach us,…
John Knox, The Works of John Knox, ed. David Laing, 6 vols. (Edinburgh: James Thin, 1895), 4:398
Johannes Wollebius – 1586-1629
(4) Such is the government of the church. We come now to civil authority, by which the church is subject to the magistrate.
I. The magistrates are protectors [nutritii] of the church, in that they enforce both tablets of the law, protect [conservere] churches and schools, and defend the truth.
Wollebius: Compendium Theologiae Christianae as found in Reformed Dogmatics edited by John W. Beardslee p. 148
Calling of councils
I. The calling of a council is the privilege of the magistrate, if he is a believer; if he is an unbeliever, either it must be obtained by a petition, or, if he is actively hostile to a council, then as a matter of necessity it must be held with the general consensus of the church.
II. The persons who ought to be present at a council are civil and ecclesiastical presidents, clerks, suitable men chosen for the purpose…
VII. The duty of the civil president is to convene the council, to defend it after it has gathered, to prevent all violence and disorder, to promulgate the regularly adopted decrees by his authority, and to use force against those who are unwilling [to comply].
ibid. p. 149
Chapter IV: The Works Connected with the Second, Third, and Fourth Commandments in General
V. Religion ought to be the concern of everybody, but especially of magistrates and ministers.
The former are indeed the guardians of the church. They are responsible, therefore, for the maintenance of churches and schools, the support of ministers, and so on.
VIII. Religion is not to be forced [upon people] but taught.
IX. Religion is not to be spread by arms, but nevertheless it is to be defended by them.
Examples are pious kings, like the Maccabees, and emperors, especially Constatine the Great and Theodosius the Great.
X. If any abuse enters religion, it is to be reformed by the prince or magistrate.
Examples are Moses, Joshua, David, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, Constatine the Great, Theodosisus, etc.
Chapter VII: The Duties Connected with the Fourth Commandment
XIV. The sanctification of the sabbath is the duty of everyone, but especially of magistrates and pastors.
The magistrate should give heed to Nehemiah’s example, lest the sabbath be persistently violated (Neh. 13:15ff.). It is also his duty to moderate the strict obersavation of this day when necessity requires, in order that considerations of love may also be effective. Examples were given by the Maccabees (I Macc. 2:41), and Constantine the Great, who permitted farm labor whenever weighty necessity required it.
Francis Turretin – 1623-87)
Thirty-Fourth Question: The Political Government of the Church
What is the right of the Christian magistrate about sacred things, and does the care and recognition of religion belong in any way to him? We affirm
I. After having treated of the ecclesiastical government of the church, we must add something about the political. Concerning this, a grave question is moved in the examination and decision of which it is sinned in different ways, in excess as well as defect.
II. They sin in excess who claim all ecclesiastical power for the magistrate; who oppressed by the liberty of the ministry, deliver the thurible into the hand of Uzziah and think that no power belongs to pastors except what is derived from the magistrate.
They sin in defect who remove him from all care of ecclesiastical things so that he does not care what each one worships and allows free power to anyone of doing and saying whatever he wishes in the cause of religion Or who, although they ascribe to him the care of nourishing and defending the church, so that he may kindly cherish and pwerfully defend it, still leave nothing of recognition and nothing of judgment concerning religion save the execution alone to him. They rest upon this foundation – that this knowledge and judgment about matters of faith is proper to the ecclesiastical order, whose decrees the magistrate is bound to respect and perform. This is the opinion of the Romanists, which Bllarmine sets forth.
III. The orthodox (holding the mean between these two extremes) maintain that the pious and believing magistrate cannot and ought not to be excluded from all care of religion and sacred things, which has been enjoined upon him by God. Rather this right should be circumscribed within certain limits that the duties of the ecclesiastical and political order be not confounded, but the due parts be left to each. this we embrace in two propositions.
IV. First proposition. “A multiple right concerning sacred things belongs to the magistrate.” It is proved (1) from the divine command. To him was committed the custody of the divine law; on this account he ought to care for the piety and worship of God, which is commanded by the first, no less than for justice and love, which is commanded by the second table: “And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes” (Dt. 17:18,19)
Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Vol.III, pgs. 316-317
XI. Although Christ did not commit his church to Tiberius, but to Peter, still he did not exclude princes from the care of religion (he called them nursing fathers); nor did he who said “Kiss the Son” repel kings as such. The ministry of the word is committed to pastors; but the care of the state no less to the magistrate; in which state if the church exists, why should not the pious magistrate as such both afford entertainment to the church and keep off the wolves, who in the name of pastors lay waste the flock? Otherwise, by the same argument, I shall have denied that the defense of religion belongs to the magistrate because he gave no commands about religion to Tiberius.
XIV. Affirmatively there are many things which belong to the magistrate in reference to sacred things.
(1) He ought to establish the sacred doctrine and the pure worship of God in the state according to the prescription of the divine word; faithfully to conserve it when established or even to restore and reform it when declining, as is evident from the passages already quoted concerning Asa, Jehoshaphat, Josiah, Joash, Hezekiah. Hence the design of pious princes and Christian magistrates must be praised, according to which they lent a helping hand to the Reformation (which was in vain expected from the Roman court) and used all their endeavors to cherish and sustain it.
(2) He ought to protect the church according to his ability, to restrain heretics and disturbers of ecclesiastical peace, to promote the glory of God, to defend and propagate the true religion and to hinder the confusion of religions.
(3)-(6) my fingers are getting tired…there are more good things he says – CR.
XV. Ecclesiastical power is either internal, direct and formal, occupied with the administration and exercise of sacred things (such as the preaching of the word, the administration of the sacraments and the dispensation of the keys); or extrinsic, indirect and only objective (such as concerned with sacred things, as to procurement and disposition, that all things be done decently and in order in the house of God). The first belongs to pastors alone, to whom he has committed his church and given the keys of the kingdom of heaven; the latter belongs to Christian magistrates and princes, inasmuch as they ought to be the guardians of both tables; as in a well-regulated family the father disposes and arranges all things, the execution and
performance of which belongs to the domestics.
From pages 327-336 Turretin deals with heretics and especially the Servetus affair. It is a necessity to read the whole passage to guarantee all the nuances and qualifications are thought through but for the sake of time here is a sample:
XLIV. Third proposition. “We think that incurable factious and blasphemous arch-heretics, not ceasing to scatter their poision, against interdicts often and repeated and a pledge given, disturbing both the state and church, can be punished with death.” Yet that this is not resorted to unless all other mild means have been tried without avail to cure them and restore them to a better mind. For when it is evident that such remedies not only do not cure the evil, but rather exasperate and increase it, then at length (although sorrowfully) the magistrate compelled by the necessity of his office will direct his attention to it.; like physicians, who are wont to employ extreme remedies for desperate and extreme maladies that what cannot be corrected and cured may be stopped by the knife and cautery so that the healthy parts may not be affected…
XLV. The reasons why we so determine are various, indicated already by us in Section 32 and the following, to which we add the attrociousness of the crime. for if punishment ought to increase with the greatness of the crime, no one can doubt that the blasphemy and impiety by which the majesty of God is directly assailed, is the greatest of all crimes and one which on that account ought to be visited with the greatest punishment; especially if an obstinate and pertinacious contempt of political and ecclesiastical order is joined with it as also perjury and an insane fury for corrupting others with the same poison. Such monsters of men ought to be regarded as public pests and cancers, as disturbers of the church and state whom it is of the highest importance to remove, whether to vindicate the glory of the offended supreme majesty or to conserve human society.
Wilhelmus A Brakel – (1635-1711)
Does the civil government exercise any authority at all with regard to the church?
It has no authority whatsoever in the church, but it does have authority with regard to the church.
We thus most strenuously oppose the Erastians and Arminians who posit all authority and government with the civil government, subordinating all ecclesiastical authority and government to the civil government, from which it is in turn delegated to the church. We have contradicted this notion in the foregoing and shall shortly do so again. We are likewise opposed to the view of the papists who remove all who belong to the church from governmental jurisdiction. At the same time, they maintain that the civil government may not render judgment at all in the realm of religion, and that the civil government must merely follow blindly and execute whatever the church has deemed and judged to be correct. We are also opposed to the view of the Libertines who insist that the government may not be involved with religion at all, but must permit every religion in its territory to proclaim whatever it wishes. We declare that the civil government does indeed have authority with regard to the church and is obligated to make use of this, which is a matter we subsequently shall demonstrate to be so.
What authority does the civil government not have?
It has no authority whatsoever in the church and may not rule over the church as lords and masters. Government officials may not act as if they are servants sent of Christ””in Christ´s Name preaching, administering the sacraments, using the keys of the kingdom of heaven, commissioning ministers, appointing elders in the church, and decreeing what or what will not be preached concerning divine truths, and what are or are not the fundamental points of the Christian religion. They also have no right to depose and expel ministers who are godly and blameless in doctrine and life, and who have been lawfully called as the ministers of given churches. They may not, as lord and master over the church, reject such men, declare the calling to be null and void, efface it, etc. The government has no authority relative to such ecclesiastical matters, for in doing so she would reach for the crown and scepter of the Lord Jesus, whose prerogative this is. Those governments who are not refrained by the many examples of divine judgment will pay a bitter price for such a practice.
Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service Vol. II, pp. 169-170
The Responsibility of the Civil Government with Regard to the Church
We must now consider also what authority the civil government has with regard to the church. Such use of its authority we wholeheartedly uphold.
The duties of the government with regard to the church are threefold. It has 1) the power of protection, 2) the power to legislate concerning external circumstances, and 3) the power to subdue evil influences.
First, the civil government is empowered to protect the church. It must protect the church from all oppression from without and within, so that no one will disturb or prevent either the exercise of religion or the meetings of consistories, Classes, and Synods. It must preserve the freedoms and the spiritual privileges which Christ has given to the church, so that she may use and exercise them without impediment. It must remove all external obstacles which either could be detrimental to religion or impede the growth and well”“being of the church. It must do everything possible to promote religion so that the church may flourish under its protection and “œ?may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty?” (?1 Tim. 2:2?). Such was the practice of the godly kings David, Solomon, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah””a fact which can generally be observed in the books of Kings and Chronicles.
Secondly, the civil government has power to legislate concerning external circumstances. As such it can maintain order as far as the external circumstances of public worship are concerned””such as the most suitable time for and place of worship, as well as that the welfare of the civil state be not impeded. It must also call ecclesiastical synods together, and see to it that other ecclesiastical assemblies are held, so that they in turn may promote the internal well”“being of the church.
Thirdly, the civil government has the power of control with regard to ecclesiastical matters. It must see to it that members of the clergy””ministers, elders, and deacons””discharge their duties and not be negligent in this regard, as well as that they adhere to the established church order which is according to God´s Word. It must publicly oppose those who by false doctrine and immorality trouble the church, or who by evil philosophies and opinions disturb the civil state as far as political matters are concerned. It must also prevent the continuation of such practices. It must exterminate false religions. It must promote the reformation of the church if she becomes entirely degenerate in doctrine and morals, and by the use of all political means imaginable restrain opponents and compel those who forsake religion to observe their duty, etc. In this manner Moses (Ex. 32), Asa (?2 Chr. 14?), Jehoshaphat (?2 Chr. 17?), Hezekiah (?2 Chr. 29?, ?30?), Josiah (?2 Chr. 34?), and Nehemiah (?Neh. 13:30?”“?31?) were engaged in the work of reformation. How blessed is the church and the civil state which functions in this way, and where the church and the civil government, each within their own sphere of influence, are faithful in the discharge of their tasks!
We thus observe that none ought to be of the opinion that the government is not to be involved in the church at all, ought not to be concerned about her, and ought merely to be the blind executor of whatever the church wishes her to carry out. There is a certain Jus majestatis circa sacra; that is, a rightful claim, power, or duty of civil governments with regard to that which is holy. The Belgic Confession speaks of this in Article 36:
[quoteAnd their office is, not only to have regard unto, and watch for the welfare of the civil state; but also that they protect the sacred ministry; and thus may remove and prevent all idolatry and false worship; that the kingdom of antichrist may be thus destroyed and the kingdom of Christ promoted. They must therefore countenance the preaching of the Word of the gospel everywhere, that God may be honored and worshipped by everyone, as He commands in His Word.
It is the duty of civil government to uphold not only the second table of the law, but also the first. It must see to it that God is honored. It may not tolerate any idolatry, worship of images, or any false religion within her jurisdiction, but must rather eradicate these. It must prevent the vain use of God´s Name practiced by cursing, swearing, and blasphemy. It must prevent the desecration of the Sabbath, punish violators of this commandment, and see to it that the gospel is proclaimed everywhere within its jurisdiction. It must see to it that the church, as the darling of the Lord Jesus, is protected and preserved; and that neither internal dissension nor any external oppression disturb or destroy the church, but that instead she be safely preserved in the use of the privileges and liberties which her King Jesus has given her.
The government must be engaged with regard to all these things, but not formaliter; that is, by intruding into the very essence of the matter at hand. It must do so objectively; that is, deeming her (the church) to be the object of its activity. Therefore we say that the civil government has authority with regard to the church, rather than in the church. Neither civil governments nor any other individual may exercise power in or over the church, for Jesus is her only King. The civil government has, however, an obligation with regard to the church. There is a significant difference between “œ?in?” and “œ?with regard to.?” A civil government has authority with regard to marriage, but no authority in the marriage; with regard to a household, but not within the household. It likewise has authority with regard to the church, but not in the church. We have thus shown what authority the civil government has with regard to the church, and what authority the elders have in the congregation.
Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service Vol. II, pp. 178-179
Almost all of our men are of this opinion, that heretics should be punished with the sword.
[i]”De Magistratu,” Operum Theologicorum [Miscellaneorum], 7:166-88 cited in Turretin Vol. III, p. 334[i]
“Is it lawful for the magistrate to proceed against heretics with the sword?” He answers affirmatively
Institutes of Christian Religion 49 , p. 874 cited in Turretin, Vol. III pg. 334
“It is not a question concerning the seditious, blasphemous, heretics, who besides the propagation of false doctrine, excite sedition in addition, instigate subjects against magistrates and utter direct and open blasphemies against God; for that they can be capitally punished on account of sedition and blasphemies we do not wholly controvert.”
Locus 24.317, “De Magistratu Politici,” Loci Theologici , 6:446
“No one of us denies that pertinacious heretics can be excommunicated, no one hinders the punishment of seditious heretics, disturbers of the public peace, with the sword.”
Locus 24.355, ibid. , 6:470 both cited in Turretin, Vol. III p. 334
James Ussher – Archbishop of Armagh (1580-1655) in a speech published with a controversial work against the Jesuit, Hybernus, defends the oath of fidelity which declared the king to be the sole supreme governor in the kingdom. Thus he distinguishes
“two distinct powers established by God in these lands, one of which is of the keys committed to the church, the other of the sword entrusted to the civil magistrate; the former ordained to operate about the internal man, having an immediate relation to the remission and retention of sins; the latter ordained to operate about the external man, affording protection to the obedient, and inflicting external punishments upon the rebellious”
A Speech Delivered in the Castle-Chamber at Dublin the xxii of November, Anno 1622, pp.304
Although in this way we make the prince and priest guardians of both tables, and although the matter about which they exercise their office can be the same, still the form and mode of governing in it is distinct in every way. One extends itself only to the external man, the other to the internal; one binds or looses the soul; the other attends to the body and things pertaining to it; one has a special regard to the judgment of the future world, the other refers to the present retention or privation of some of the conveniences of this life.
ibid., p. 6
Both citations as found in Francis Turretin’s Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Vol. III, p. 322-323
Parliament of Scotland
[21. Act aginst the Crime of Blasphemy].
” OUR Soveraign Lord, and the Estates of Parliament considering that hitherto there hath been no Law in this Kingdom, against the horrible crime of Blasphemy, Therefore, His Majestie, with advice of His said Estates, Doth hereby Statute and Ordain. That whosoever hereafter, not being distracted in his wits, shall rail upon, or curse GOD, or any of the Persons of the blessed Trinity, shal be processed before the chief Justice; and being fpund guilty, shall be punished with Death.”
THE LAWS and ACTS Made in the FIRST PARLIAMENT of Our most High and Dread Soveraign, CHARLES THE SECOND, etc. Holden at Edinburgh the first of January, 1661 etc. Edin 1683. no page numbers
A Solemn Testimony Against Toleration, etc. By the Commissioners of the General Assembly 1649
[Punishment of idolaters capital; perpetuity of this law].
“As the Lord by his servant Moses, in the xviiith of Deuteronomy, requires of him that shall reign over his people, that he have a copy of the law of the Lord by him, and that he read therein all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, and to keep all the words of that law; so in the xiiith of that book he gives a command to put to death the false prophe, and the brother that speaks to his people to turn them away from the Lord their God; and the reasons taken from the nature of the duty, whereby he persuades unto the obedience thereof, are perpetual and no less binding unto us now, than to them of old.”
Reprinted in Faithful Witness-Bearing Exemplified: Kilmarnock1783. p. 74.
James Durham 1622 – 1658
[Job 31: 26; idolatry].
” Vs. 26. // / have looked to the Sun, or moon, when they shined, and my heart hath been secretly enticed or my mouth hath kissed my hand. He gives two reasons why he would riot do this.
 Because it is a heinous sin; for as little as folks think of false worship or idolatry; yea, an iniquity to be punished by the judge. Job was not of their religion that plead for toleration. He knew that God’s law gave warrant to them then (and it gives also warrant to us now) to punish idolaters, and the judge ought to do it.”
James Durham, Lectures on Job. Edt. by C. Coldwell. (Dallas, Texas; Naphtali Press,1995) p.170. Note that Durham declares the death penalty decreed by Deut.22:22 to be a moral law. 90 ibid., p. 172
Thomas Cartwright 1535-1603
[Judicial Law and equity;].
” And, as for the judicial law, forasmuch as there are some of them made in regard of the region where they were given, and of the people to whom they were given, the prince and the magistrate, keeping the substance and equity of them ( as it were the marrow), may change the circumstance of them, as the times and places and manners of the people shall require. But to say that any magistrate can save the life of blasphemers contemptuous and stubborn idolaters, murderers, adulterers, incestuous persons, and such like, which God by his judicial law hath commanded to be put to death, I do utterly deny, and am ready to prove, if that pertained to this question “.
“SecondReply” 1575 cited in Worksof John Whitgift,1.270. ParkerSoc. 1851
William Perkins: A Commentarie upon the Epistle to the Galatians. Lon.1617 [ Pilgrim Press, 1989] pp. 202-204.
Example 3. Hee that blasphemeth the name of God, shall bee put to death, Leuv.24.16. Understand this law of manifest and notorious blasphemies, that pearce through God, as the words import: and then it is a maine fence to the third commaundement. For Gods name may in no wise be abused, and troad under foot: and therefore blasphemers pearcing God, are to be cut off. This is the very law of nature, as appeares by Nabuchadnezzar , who gave in commandement to his people, that whosoever blasphemed the name of the true God should be put to death, Dan.3.29. Here note, that manifest and convicted Atheists, if they bee put to death, have but their deserts.
John Cotton (December 4, 1585 ““ December 23, 1652)
Excerpt from a Copy of a Letter from Mr. Cotton to Lord Say and Seal in the year 1636
I am very apt to believe, what Mr. Perkins hath, in one of his prefatory pages to his golden chain, that the word, and scriptures of God do contain a short upoluposis, or platform, not only of theology, but also of other sacred sciences, (as he calleth them) attendants, and handmaids thereunto, which he maketh ethics, economics, politics, church-government, prophecy, academy. It is very suitable to God´s all-sufficient wisdom, and to the fullness and perfection of Holy Scriptures, not only to prescribe perfect rules for the right ordering of a private man´s soul to everlasting blessedness with Himself, but also for the right ordering of a man´s family, yea, of the commonwealth too, so far as both of them are subordinate to spiritual ends, and yet avoid both the churches usurpation upon civil jurisdictions, in ordine ad spiritualia, and the commonwealths invasion upon ecclesiastical administrations, in ordine to civil peace, and conformity to the civil state. God´s institutions (such as the government of church and commonwealth be) may be close and compact, and co-ordinate one to another, and yet not be confounded. God hath so framed the state of church government and ordinances, that they may be compatible to any common-wealth, though never so much disordered in his frame. But yet when a commonwealth hath liberty to mold his own frame I conceive the scripture hath given full direction for the right ordering of the same, and that, in such sort as may best maintain the euexia of the church. Mr. Hooker doth often quote a saying out of Mr. Cartwright (though I have not read it in him) that no man fashioneth his house to his hangings, but his hangings to his house. It is better that the commonwealth be fashioned to the setting forth of God´s house, which is his church: than to accommodate the church frame to the civil state. Democracy, I do not conceive that ever God did ordain as a fit government either for church or commonwealth. If the people be governors, who shall be governed? As for monarchy, and aristocracy, they are both of them clearly approved, and directed in scripture, yet so as referreth the sovereignty to himself, and setteth up Theocracy in both, as the best form of government in the commonwealth, as well in the church.
Cotton, John cited in Puritan Political Ideas 1558-1794 ed. By Edmund Morgan, 1965, p.170-171
Abstract of the Laws of New England
Of Crimes. And first, of such as deserve capital punishment, or cutting off from a man’s people, whether by death or banishment.
1. FIRST, blasphemy, which is a cursing of God by atheism, or the like, to be punished with death.
2. Idolatry to be punished with death.
3. Witchcraft, which is fellowship by covenant with a familiar spirit, to be punished with death.
4. Consulters with witches not to be tolerated, but either to be cut off by death or banishment.
5. Heresy, which is the maintenance of some wicked errors, overthrowing the foundation of the christian religion; which obstinacy, if it be joined with endeavour to seduce others thereunto, to be punished with death; because such an heretick, no less than an idolater, seeketh to thrust the souls of men from the Lord their God.
6. To worship God in a molten or graven image, to be punished with death.
7. Such members of the church, as do wilfully reject to walk, after due admonition and conviction, in the churches’ establishment, and their christian admonition and censures, shall be cut off by banishment.
8. Whosoever shall revile the religion and worship of God, and the government of the church, as it is now established, to be cut off by banishment. [i] Cor. 5:5.
11. Profaning of the Lord’s day, in a careless and scornful neglect or contempt thereof, to be punished with death.
James Fergusson 1621-1667
[The magistrate’s right to punish idolatry etc.].
” The main question then is, concerning State Toleration. Concerning which some do affirm, That whatever the Church may do in inflicting Church censures on Heriticks, Maintainers of Heterodox Opinions: Yet, Say they, no civil Punishment, such as Death, Imprisonment, Mulcts, or fines, should be inflicted on any Error or Blashemy whatsoever; providing the Maintainers of them carry themselves peaceably, do not trouble the State, or do evil against the Commonwealth in civil Things: We again on the contrary do hold, that it is the duty of the Civil Magistrate to suppress Error, Heresies, and every sin against the First Table, as well as it is his Duty to suppress Adultery, Fornication, Sedition, and other sins against the Second Table: And that he is not only bound to suppress Errors and Blashemies, that are contrary to fundamental Truths, or the Light of Nature; but all Error contrary to other points of Truth.”
81 James Fergusson, A Brief Refutation Of The Errors Of Toleration, Erastianism, Independancy And Separatbn. 1692. pp. 51-52. These sermons were originally preached in 1652 but published posthumously by his son.
The magistrate’s power to punish blasphemy and heresy].
” If it was the approven practice of Kings and Magistrates under the Old Testament to suppress Error, Heresie, and Blasphemy, then Magistrates under the New Testament are bound to do the like.”
ibid., pg. 54. Later [pp.61-62], Fergusson says That whatever was commanded to be done by Magistrates under the Old Testament as a part of their duty, this Magistrates under the New Testament are obliged to as a part of their duty also, .”he cites Exod.22.20; Lev.24.15,16;Deut.13.1
David Dickson 1583-1663
[Chapter 20; Of Christian Liberty, Quest. IV; Magistrate to punish by the law].
“Do not lastly the Lutherans, Anabaptists, Arminians, Quakers, and all sort of Hereticks, and Sectaries err, who maintain, ( under the pretext of Christian Liberty) that the Civil Magistrate, is not obliged in duty, to punish any man with the sword, for errors in doctrine, but that they ought to be tolerated, and suffered, providing such persons as own them, do not trouble, or molest the Common-wealth? Yes: By what reasons are they confuted? … The Lutherans, Anabaptists, Arminians, and other sectaries are confuted? (1) Because, it is evident, from many examples of Godly Magistrats, who did extirpat Idolatry, and inflict punishment upon Idolaters, as did Jacob the Patriarch, … Of Asa, who decreed that whosoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel (according to the law of God; Deut. 13.9.) should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man, or woman; 2 Chron.15.13….(4) It is evident from the office of the Magistrat, who is the Minister of God against them, that do evil, and beareth not the sword in vain: Rom. 13.3,4. (5) Because, it is expressly commanded in Scripture, that punishment be inflicted upon Idolaters, even by the nearest relations. If then, the Father may kill the Son, may kill the Daughter, the Husband the Wife of his bosom: and if one brother may stone another brother with stones, that he die, for being Idolaters; much more may the Civil Magistrat do this; Deut.13.6 to the 13 verse;
Deut.17.2 to the 7 verse; Lev.24.16 (8) Because, Ezra did esteem it, a great favour and blessing of God, conferred upon the Church; for which he thanked God, that had inclined the heart of Artaxerxes, to publish a Decree, for the punishment of those, that did not observe the Law, whether it be, (saith the Text) unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment; Chap.7.23,25,28 “.
David Dickson, Truth’s Victory Over Error. Edin. 1684. pp. 157-162
[WCF. chapter. 23; Of the Civil Magistrate Quest.1. Magistrate; Power of sword].
” CHAP. XXIII. Of the Civil Magistrate. Question 1. Hath God armed the Civil Magistrat, with the power of the Sword, for the defence, and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evil doers? Yes. Rom.13.1,2,3,4. I Peter 2.13.14. Well then, do not the Socinians err, who maintain, that it is not the duty of the Civil Magistrate, to punish the guilty with death? Yes. By what reasons are they confuted? (1) Because, GOD hath expressly commanded, that transgressing Idolaters be put to death; Deut.17.7. Deut. 19.21. (2) Because, it appertains to the office, and duty of the Magistrate, to punish the guilty with death; Rom. 13A I Peter 2.14. (3) Because, the capital punishment of evil doers makes others stand in awe, and fear to offend; Deut. 13.11 Deut. 19.20:…”
ibid., p. 206. Dickson further cited Exod. 21.12. The use of Case law confirms that by “evildoers” in Romans 13, is meant transgressors of the Law of God.
[WCF. chpt. 23 Quest. II. Civil magistrate; punishment of blasphemies, etc.]
” Quest.II. Is it the duty of the Civil Magistrate, to take order, that all Blaspemies, and Heresies be suppressed, all the ordinances of God duely settled, administered, and observed; all abuses in worship, and discipline reformed, all Idolaters, Gainsayers, and other obstinate dissenters, be obliged and forced to quite their tenets and opinions, and conform themselves to the true worship , and service of
God, according to his law? Yes (5) Because, whosoever blasphemed the name of the Lord, was surely put to death; lev.24.16….(6) Because, the supream magistrate is Custos utriusque Tabulae, a keeper of both tables of the law of God. as well the first Table, which relates to Religion, and our duty to God; as of the second which relates to righteousness, and our duty to our neighbour. If then, he may punish evil doers, who offend against the second Table, and force and compel them to obedience, by the sword of justice, which God hath put into his hand, much more may he punish Idolaters, and Blashemers, who offend against the first Table, and force and compell them to obedience:…”
ibid., pp. 210-211. Dickson uses an afortiori argument (from the lesser to the greater), which depends on a belief in the right of the magistrate to punish 2nd. table crimes. Thus the Christian may be a Civil magistrate.. ” (3) Because, the Magistrate exercises, and executes Gods judgements; Deut.1.17.”p.212
Samuel Rutherford ** 1600 – 1661
[Magistrate’s to punish idolatry, as keeper of two tables of the law].
“And this is the cause (I conceive) why great Divines have said the object of the Magistrates power as a Magistrate is the externall man, and earthly things, because he doth not in such a spirituall way of working, take care of the two Tables of the Law, as the Pastor doth; and yet the spirituall good and edification of the Church in the right preaching of the Word, Sacraments, and pure discipline is his end. It is true, whether the blashemer professe repentance, or not, the Magistrate is to punish, yea and to take his life, if he in seducing of many, have prevailed, but yet his end is edification, even in taking away the life; for he is to put away evill, that all Israel may feare, and doe so no more; but this edification is procured by the sword, and by a coactive power, and so the Church power and the kingly power differ in their formall objects, and their formall ends.”
Samuel Rutherford, The Due Right of Presbyteries or, A Peacable Plea, etc. Lon 1644. p. 398
[Deut. 17; Magistrate’s to read the law].
” It is true as King hee is oblieged to read continually in the booke of the Law of God, Deut. 17. and to know what is truth, what heresie, in so farre as hee commandeth that Pastors preach sound doctrine, and that as a Judge hee is to punish heresie.”
ibid., p. 429
[Punishment requires witnesses for all Old Testament crimes which are perpetual as to equity].
” It is clear the question must be thus stated, for all the lawes of the old Testament (which we hold in their Morall equitie to be perpetuall) that are touching blasphemies, heresies, solicitation to worship false Gods and the breach of which the Godly Magistrate was to punish, command or forbid onely such things as may be proved by two or three witnesses, and which husband and wife are not to conceal, and from which all Israel must abstain for fear of the like punishment. Deut. 13.8,9,10,11; Deut. 17.5,6; Levit.20.1,2,3,4,5. But opinions in the minde, acts of the understanding, can never be proved by witnesses and such as neither Magistrates nor Church can censure.”
Samuel Rutherford, A Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty ofConscience etc… (Lon-1649). p. 47
[Seducers to idolatry to be punished now as then].
” For neither under Moses more then now, could the sword convert men to the true Religion, yet bodily death was to be inflicted on the seducer, then, as now. Deut.13.11.”
ibid., p. 55.
[Duty of the Magistrate from Deut.13 & Rom.13 perpetual].
“… the intrinsecall worke and end of the Magistrate is to avenge evill doing, and so to remove the fierce anger of the Lord from a land, that the people may feare and not do any such wickednesse, as is cleare, Deut.13:10,11. Exod.32:29,30. Deut. 19:20. Rom. 13:3,4,5. 1 Pet.2:14. Now the false Prophet is such as brings on all these evills, and therefore if Magistrates stand under the new Testament, and if there be such a sin now as thrusting away people from the Lord who hath, in Christ, delivered us from a greater bondage then that of Aegypt, this must be a perpetuall Law.”
ibid., pp. 186-187
[Lev.24:10-14 a perpetual law against blasphemy].
” Levit.24:10,11,12,13,14. which is,ver.15,16. Whosoever curseth his God shall beare his sin, 16. And whosoever blasphemeth the name of the Lord hee shall surely be put to death; and all the congregation shall certainly stone him, as well the stranger as hee that is borne in the land, when hee blasphemeth the name of the Lord shall be put to death: there be two things here for me that proveth this was no judiciall temporary law binding Israel onely. 1. His God, Holdeth forth, that nature abhorreth, and the sum of the first command written in the heart is, hee that curseth his maker whom he is to blesse, love, and serve with all his heart, should dye. 2. This law obliegeth the stranger, and any heathen to be put to death, if hee should blaspheme God, saith it is the law of nature, and obliegeth us under the New Testament as being the highest sin that nature crieth shame, and woe upon;”
ibid., p. 183
George Gillespie** 1613-1648
[ The Judicial law; its continuing authority].
” 1. Though we have clear and full scriptures in the New Testament of the abolishing the ceremonial law, yet we no where read in all the New Testament of the abolishing of the judicial law, so far as it did concern the punishing of sins against the moral law, of which heresy and seducing of souls is one, and a great one. Once God did reveal his will for punishing those sins by such and such punishments. He who will hold that the Christian Magistrate is not bound to inflict such punishments for such sins, is bound to prove that those former laws of God are abolished, and show some Scripture for it.”
George Gillespie, Wholesome Severity Reconciled with Christian Liberty, Lon. 1645 (reprinted in;Naphtali Press, Anthology of Presbyterian & Reformed Literature, Volume 4. Dallas Texas, 1991)
[Capital punishment by magistrates].
” It is but a poor argument whereby Bishop Bilson, Of the Government of the Church, chap.4, would prove the cutting off not to be meant of excommunication, because it is applied even to capital offences, such as the law elsewhere appointeth men to be put to death for, as if it were any absurdity to say, that one and the same offence is to be punished sub formalitate scandali with excommunication, and sub formalitate criminis with capital punishment; and who knoweth not that a capital crime is a cause of excommunication, which is also sometimes the sole punishment, the magistrate neglecting his duty. If a known blashemer or incestuous person be not cut off by the magistrate, as he ought by the Law of God, shall he therefore not be cut off by excommunication. If he had proved that all the causes of cutting off in the law were capital crimes, he had said much; but that will never be proved.”
Aaron ‘s Rod Blossoming; p. 30
[ The Magistrates duty to enforce punishments against law].
” 2. I heartily yield that a lawful magistrate, whether Christian or heathen, ought to be a keeper or guardian of both tables; and, as God’s vicegerent, hath authority to punish heinous sins against either table, by civil or corporal punishments, which proves nothing against a distinct church government for keeping pure the ordinances of Christ.”
ibid., p. 67
Philip Nye ** 1596-1672
[Distinction between civil and ecclesiastical sanctions].
” Blasphemy may be punished with two punishments, if a sin may be punished with two punishments; as for example, theft: if a man were a church member he might be excommunicated first, and hanged afterwards. That was not a fallacy.
There were two places that Mr. Collier had [alleged]. They must not punish idolaters then because the magistrate was so. But for the woman taken in adultery, this was the reason that Christ did not judge her, because he would not meddle with magistratical matters. All the while Christ lived no Jewish rite was abolished.”
Puritanism And Liberty Being the Army Debates (1647-9) from the Clarke Manuscripts, edt. by A.S.P. Woodhouse. Lon-1974 p. 128. All words in square brackets have been added by the editor to
give the sense of the MSS.
Thomas Hodges ** d.1672
[Parliament is to enforce God’s Law against blasphemy].
” By your Censures and Punishments, let all the world take notice you are sensible of Gods dishonour, and that there is nothing more you affect, then to do him service in this great businesse: If nothing else will do it, (t) the Seducing Prophet must die the death, for offering to thrust Gods people from him; Eliah slayes (u) Baals Prophets, the like doth (w) Jehu, (x) The People of the land slay Mattan. If any offer sacrifice to Idols on altars, let him be cut off with the sword, says Constantine; Valentinian, Theodosius, Martian , were alike disposed against such persons. I confesse, such executions should be after other means made use of, all endeavor frustrated; desperate Doctrines broached, with Haeresie, Blasphemy, or Sedition mingled. The Thunderbolt smites few, but frights many.”
Thomas Hodges, The Growth and Spreading of Haeresie. Set forth in a Sermon preached before the Honourable House of Commons, Lon. 1647. p.57. The proof texts cited in the margin are (t) Deut.13.5.(u)1 King. 18. (w) 2 King. 10.24. (x) 2 King. 11.18.
Richard Vines ** 1600-1655
[Blasphemers and seditious heretics still to be executed].
” For the blasphemous and seditious Haeritickes, both Lutherans and others of the Reformed churches do agree that they may be punished capitally, that is for their blasphemy or sedition; but the Socinian stands out here also, and denies it; alleadging that the punishment of false Prophets in the old Testament was speciali jure by speciali law granted to the Israelites, and therefore you must not looke (saith the Socinian ) into the olde Testament for a rule of proceeding against false Prophets and blasphemers: Nor (saith Calvin and Catharinus ) can you find in the new Testament any precept for the punishment of Theeves, Traytors, Adulterers, Witches, murtherers and the like, and yet they may, or at least some of them bee capitally punisht: for the Gospell destroys not the just lawes of civill policy or CommonÂ¬wealths;… ”
Richard Vines, The Authours, Nature, and Danger of Haeresie. Laid open in a sermon Preached before the Honourable House of Commons… March 1646. Lon. 1647 p. 64
Nathanial Hardy 1618-1670
[God to be honoured more than Man].
“…divers Nations appoint various punishments, all some, for those that violate Religion, tell me, I beseech you, Is it a capital! crime to speak Treason against the three Estates of the Land, and shall it deserve lesse to belch out blasphemy against any of the three Persons in the sacred Trinity? Is it an offence worthie of punishment to abuse the Sonne of a King? and is it lesse to dishonour the Sonne of God? shall they who rob your houses be condemned, and these that rob your soules escape? are those women which adulterate their husbands beds justly sentenced? and shall those that adulterate Gods sacred Word go free? Fidem ne sen/are Deo levius quam homini? Is it a more veniell offence to break faith with God then man ? ”
Nathanial Hardy, The Arraignment of Licentious Libertie, and Oppressing Tyrannie. In a Sermon before the Right honourable House of Peeres.Febr.24.1646 p.18.
William Reyner ** d.1666
[How we may prevent idolatry].
” Execute judgement for God, every one as farre as his power will stretch. First, doe judgement upon thine owne selfe for thy sinnes in all wayes of godly revenge, as by Fasting & c. sing mercy and judgement to thy family, as David Psa.101. Doe thy best that judgement that hath beene turned to wormewood and hemlocke, may run downe like a mighty streame, in publique. and where thy hand cannot reach a blow, or cast a stone at an idolater, blasphemer persecutor, & c. let thy heart at least doe it. For if a mans consenting to, or approving of an act of injustice may in guilt him, as I may say, in it as it was with the Jewes, whose state was ruined for killing Christ and the Prophets, though most part of them had never seene any of them Mat.23.37. why may not a mans executing judgement, with his heart, when he can proceed no further, be accepted, in respect of him, for an act of justice, by him that is pleased both in good and evill actions, to accept the will for the deed?
This duty is principally incumbent upon the Magistrate, who is to execute judgement of the Lord, not arbitrarily as himself pleaseth; but according to the rule of the Word, both for mater and manner.
1. For the matter man hath no warrant either to leave grosse and horrid sinnes unpunished in the committers of them; such as are the ring leaders in idolatry and persecution; nor yet to commute or change the nature of the punishment.”
William Reyner, Babylons Ruining- Earthquake and the Restauration ofZion delivered in a sermon before the honourable house of commons… Aug. 28 1644. p.44 Later Reyner questions the motives of Magistrates who punish theft, yet do not pursue idolaters etc.