Archive for August, 2013

John Knox on the Magistrates Duty in the reformation of religion

August 8, 2013
John Knox on the Magistrates Duty in the reformation of religion,

“But the facts of Hezekiah, and of Josiah, do more clearly prove the power and duty of the civil magistrate in the reformation of religion. Before the reign of Hezekiah, so corrupt was the religion that the doors of the house of the Lord were shut up, the lamps were extinguished, no orderly sacrifice was made. But in the first year of his reign, the first month of the same, did the king open the doors of the temple, bring in the priests and the Levites, and assembling them together, did speak unto them as follows: “Hear me, O ye Levites, and be sanctified now, and sanctify also the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry forth from the sanctuary all filthiness”­ he means all monuments and vessels of idolatry (1 Chron. 29). “For our fathers have transgressed, and have committed wickedness in the eyes of the Eternal, our God; they have left him, and have turned their faces from the tabernacle of the Lord, and therefore is the wrath of the Lord come upon Judah and Jerusalem. Behold, our fathers have fallen by the sword, our sons, daughters, and wives are led in captivity. But now have I purposed in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, that he may turn the wrath of his fury from us. And therefore, my sons” ‘he sweetly exhorts’ “be not faint: for the Lord hath chosen you to stand in his presence, and to serve him.”

Such as be not more than blind, clearly may perceive that the king does acknowledge, that it appertained to his charge to reform the religion, to appoint the Levites to their charges, and to admonish them of their duty and office, which thing he more evidently declares, writing his letters to all Israel, to Ephraim, and Manasseh, and sent the same by the hands of messengers, having this tenor: “You sons of Israel, return to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he shall return to the residue that resteth from the hands of Assyria. Be not as your fathers, and as your brethren were, who have transgressed against the Lord God of their fathers, who hath made them desolate, as you see. Hold not your heart therefore, but give your hand unto the Lord; return unto his sanctuary; serve him and he shall show mercy unto you, to your sons, and daughters, that be in bondage: for he is pitiful and easy to be entreated” (2 Chron. 30:6-9).

Thus far did Hezekiah by letters and messengers provoke the people declined from God to repentance, not only in Judah where he reigned lawful king, but also in Israel, subject to another king. And albeit that by some wicked men his messengers were mocked, yet as they lacked not their just punishment (for within six years after Samaria was destroyed and Israel led captive by Shalmanesar), so did not the zealous King Hezekiah desist to prosecute his duty in restoring the religion to God’s perfect ordinance, removing all abominations.

The same is to be read of Josiah, who did not only restore the religion, but did further destroy all monuments of idolatry, which of long time had remained (2 Chron. 34). For it is written of him, that after the book of the law was found, and that he had asked counsel at the prophetess Huldah, he sent and gathered all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem; and standing in the temple of the Lord, he made a covenant that all the people, from the great to the small, should walk after the Lord, should observe his law, statutes, and testimonies, with all their heart and all their soul, and that they should ratify and confirm whatsoever was written in the book of God. He further commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the inferior order, that they should carry forth of the temple of the Lord all the vessels that were made to Baal, which he burnt, and did carry their powder to Bethel. He did further destroy all monuments of idolatry, yea, even those that had remained from the days of Solomon. He did burn them, stamp them to powder; whereof one part he scattered in the brook Kidron, and the other upon the sepulchres and graves of the idolaters, whose bones he did burn upon the altars, where before they made sacrifice, not only in Judah, but also in Bethel, where Jeroboam had erected his idolatry (2 Kings 23). Yea, he further proceeded, and did kill the priests of the high places, who were idolaters and had deceived the people; he did kill them, I say, and did burn their bones upon their own altars, and so returned to Jerusalem. This reformation made Josiah, and for the same obtained this testimony of the Holy Ghost, that neither before him, neither after him, was there any such king, who returned to God with his whole soul, and with all his strength, according to the law of Moses. ” -John Knox, The Appellation, 1558

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A Testimony Its Use and Importance

August 8, 2013

A Testimony–Its Use and Importance

A Testimony–Its Use and Importance

The question is sometimes asked, what is the use of a testimony, and what is its proper place in the standards of the church? The inquiry is by no means an unimportant one, and a correct understanding of the subject to which it relates, is necessary, in order to witness faithfully and intelligently for the truth. A very common distribution of the word of God, is into “the law and the testimony.” Ps. 78:5; Is. 8:16 and 20. These evidently refer to divine revelation, as containing both the duties which we are to perform, and the truths we are to believe, constituting a perfect system of practice and of faith. The law is the rule of our obedience—the testimony the matter of our belief.

In some respects, though not fully, the counterpart of this is the duty of the church to confess Christ, and to bear witness for him. God’s people are both confessors and witnesses. Luke 12: 8; Is. 43:10. And these two designations were applied to them with specific meaning, in the primitive ages of the Christian church, particularly when suffering persecution. Those were called confessors, who acknowledged that they were Christians, and refused to renounce their religion. Those were called witnesses or martyrs, who laid down their life for their religion; and hence the term martyr, of precisely the same import with witness, came to be the distinctive and honorable appellation of those who died for their fidelity to Christ. And the highest authority warrants this use of the term. “Antipas, my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.” Rev. 2:13.

It is evident, then, that in addition to the duty of confessing Christ, that of bearing witness for him, devolves on his people. They are required not only to declare that they belong to Christ, but also to evince that they are at enmity with the world. The former they do in their confession, creed, or summary of divine truth, by whatever name they may call it. The latter they do by their testimony, in which they show that while they are united among themselves, they are in a state of separation from, and opposition to, all who deny the truth. The confession is the bond of union by which they are held firmly together; the testimony is the exertion of this combined strength put forth in an aggressive form against error and wickedness.

The very word testimony, conveys an idea specifically different from that conveyed by the word confession. The latter means no more than a declaration of belief, without respect to the evidence on which it rests. The former declares not only what is believed, but furnishes the proof of it, and is designed to convince by its truth, or to silence by its authority. The martyrs of Jesus showed that their death was not that of fools, but as while living they furnished the testimony of scripture to the principles which they professed, and for which they contended, so their refusing to preserve their lives by denying the truth, was the strongest human testimony which they could give to it. For it is very doubtful if any ever suffered death deliberately for a false system, when a denial of an equivocal kind, such as was sometimes proposed to the martyrs, would have saved their lives; and it is certain that in those cases in which heretics have been punished with death, they approached their end with a sullenness and stoicism that shows their want of confidence in their system; while the sufferers for truth, by the sincerity of spirit and holy joy with which they laid down their lives, demonstrated the preciousness and reality of the doctrines in which they believed.

A testimony, as a distinct part of the church’s standards, has become quite unfashionable and unpopular. This undoubtedly arises from the abundance of a spurious charity that would avoid everything that might offend any who bear the Christian name. That the prevalence of such liberality is any evidence that we are wiser, holier, or more faithful than our fathers, few will have the boldness to affirm. It is to be ascribed to a very different cause. The perceptions of this age, of the excellence of truth, are much fainter than those of the ages which are past; and that judicial visitation which, in scripture language, is described as a “spirit of slumber—eyes, that they should not see, and ears, that they should not hear”—seems now to be inflicted. It very naturally follows, from the want of a due appreciation of the truth, that the evil of contrary errors will be greatly underrated; and the consequence is, that a faithful testimony is looked on as a useless and cumbersome part of the church’s dress, which she would do well to lay aside.

The arguments against a testimony are plausible and imposing. It is alleged, that while a party seceding from a corrupt church are required to give the reasons of their separation, and to testify against the errors which caused it, there is still no necessity for witnessing against similar evils in other churches. The argument assumes that error in a parent church is worse than in sister churches; that the latter may and should not condemn in each other, principles and practices which would furnish a legitimate cause for separation from the former. To state the argument thus, is to show its fallacy. Again, we are told that a testimony is an obstacle to the union of the churches. We admit that where there is no doctrinal distinction, no contrariety of practice, churches should not testify against one another; nay more, they should be one. But they should still testify against the errors of those with whom they cannot unite. A testimony is indeed an obstacle to union on any other basis than truth; and the friends of latitudinarianism show their sagacity in endeavoring to have this obstacle removed. On the other hand, the friends of truth should strenuously exert themselves to retain a testimony as the breakwater to check the floods of error which threaten to overwhelm the church.

It is asserted that the church of Scotland, in her purest days, had no testimony, and to urge its necessity now, is a reflection on her faithfulness. We greatly wish that this professed respect for the church of Scotland was real, and that she was taken for a pattern by her degenerate descendants. The church of Scotland had no testimony!! Either ignorance or dishonesty makes the assertion. Her confession and catechisms contain in them one of the elements of a testimony, the proof of the doctrines in which she declared her belief. But she had more. She had her covenants, those impregnable fortresses by which the successive attacks of popery and prelacy had been effectually resisted. And it is a fact significant and suggestive, that opposition to a testimony and to the covenants, comes from the same quarter. Her testimony was, as every testimony should be, adapted to her condition and circumstances. Her armor was directed offensively against every form of error and immorality with which she had to conflict. It was “the armor of truth on the right hand and on the left.” And those who claim to be her children, and yet lay aside a testimony. show that they are incapable of appreciating those of her acts, that confer on her the highest distinction, that of a faithful church, and made her an example worthy of imitation in succeeding ages.

But it may be said she had no testimony against other churches. And why had she not? Simply because, in those days of purity and peace, there were no other churches holding error, to be testified against. When afterwards, owing to the withdrawal of salutary civil restraints, errors sprang up, and sectarian organizations were formed, the church, broken as she was by the crushing oppression of a perjured tyrant, still turned the weapons of her warfare against the foes of truth, and by her faithful declarations seasonably emitted, “tormented the men that dwelt on the earth.” The policy of no testimony would doubtless have been a very prudent one. But while by silence she might have escaped suffering, she would have incurred what is incalculably worse, withering and desolating spiritual judgments.

The church of Christ has an important work assigned her, and she is amply endowed by her Head to accomplish it. As the light of the world, she is to dispel the darkness which is the stronghold of Satan’s kingdom. Truth and error have been in conflict ever since enmity was put between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. Deception and falsehood are employed by the “prince of this world” to retain the power which by their means he acquired. By beguiling our first parents, he made them and their posterity his captives, and in the same way he labors to perpetuate his dominion. The announcement of the mission of the Son of God, to dispossess the usurper and recover the revolted province, filled the kingdom of darkness with dismay. And this precious truth, in all its vast comprehensiveness, is the agency divinely appointed to pull down the strong holds of sin.

Of this truth the church is the depository. She is required to hold it fast, and to hold it forth. It is her crown, that she must suffer no one to take from her. Every doctrine taught in divine revelation, is a necessary part of the armor, both defensive and offensive, with which the Christian soldier is to be arrayed. It is to be both the girdle of his loins and the sword in his hand. Eph. 6:14, 17. He employs this part of his panoply offensively, when as a witness for Christ, he stands forth before the world testifying for the whole truth. The burden of his testimony is, that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only Saviour, and that all men should believe on him, and submit to his authority. The church, the affianced bride of the Lamb of God, is under special obligations to see that the honor of her Head and husband be carefully guarded. Can she be silent when error, that has its origin in the kingdom of darkness, is imposed on the world as an emanation from the source of light? How can she be faithful, and refuse to expose the fatal deceptions of him who was a “murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him?”

And it is not the least dangerous of his artifices, to persuade the friends of truth to lay aside any part of their armor, or to employ it in a way less effectual to advance the cause of Christ. And this we are confident is done when a testimony for truth is laid down, or its directness and force are in any way impaired.—”Peace, peace,” is a delusive cry, uttered by the enemy when he perceives his kingdom to be in danger from the aggressive attacks of truth. The “roaring lion” can readily conceal the suspicious indications of his natural ferocity, under the garb of “an angel of light;” and like the fabled sirens that by their song wiled to his destruction the deluded mariner, soothe and flatter to imbecility those whom he could not overcome by violence.

With what unblushing effrontery does he put forth the peace and prosperity of the church, as an unanswerable reason why, among her different, and in some respects opposing families, there should be no controversy. Having accomplished all that he can reasonably expect by dividing the church, he is now quite willing that the divisions be healed, provided it be on the terms that the friends of truth ground their arms. The unity of the church was violated, and the truth which gave her strength and symmetry was abandoned in the schisms which have placed her members in the unseemly position of separate ecclesiastical households. It is evident that while the enemy hates the visible unity of the church, he hates the truth more; and he can lend a helping hand to promote and perpetuate the former, if truth the meanwhile lies bleeding, and error and delusion are strengthened and cherished. Of this, the boasted unity of the “mother of harlots and abominations in the earth,” is clear demonstration.

The church is an aggressive institution. “I am come,” says her Lord, “to send fire in the earth.” “The Word of the Lord is like as a fire;” and “all the proud, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble.” The preaching of the word is the divinely instituted means of overturning the kingdom of Satan, and bringing sinners into the kingdom of Christ. By her faithful ministers who “shun not to declare all the counsel of God,” the church utters aloud her testimony for truth; and by publishing to the world the errors by which it is opposed, with their refutation, she gives efficacy and force to her testimony. It is thus that doctrines and practices are subjected to the ordeal by which their character is with certainty determined. “He that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God.”

The present would be a time peculiarly inauspicious for relinquishing, or even for relaxing a testimony. The “war of opinions” foreseen by a sagacious statesman of the last century, has begun. Systems of wrong that have long been maintained by the sword, are beginning to be examined, as it regards their foundation and claims. However reluctant, their advocates must meet the friends of right on the arena of rational discussion, and either maintain their cause by argument, or abandon it. The value of truth, of the whole truth, and that too presented in its most potent form, cannot in such circumstances be over-estimated. The minds of the multitude require to be convinced that religion, and truth, and liberty, and right, are all on the one side, and that the world can be put in possession of these invaluable blessings by the process which the Bible alone reveals. Those who have realized the value of these blessings should be active in showing them to others, and at the same time demonstrate the danger of a compromise in the smallest particular, with any sentiment opposed to the principles of which they are the legitimate results.

We wish to be understood as giving special importance to that part of the church’s testimony which relates to the duty of nations. It is unpopular, we admit, and there are strong inducements held out to give it a less prominent place than in times past. It is in this quarter that the friends of a covenanted testimony have most to fear. There is a spirit of neutrality in all the churches, and we cannot expect to escape. Let the watchmen be vigilant, and active, and faithful. Let them cry aloud and not spare. There is a warfare to be waged, and a victory to be won. The promise is to him that overcometh. The trial will be severe—the conflict fierce, and the sufferings great, but the result is certain, and the reward glorious. To animate us to faithfulness—to prepare us to endure all things for Christ, we have the recorded declaration of our great Leader, the Captain of the Lord’s hosts, respecting the victors and the means by which they were successful in the terrible struggle. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of the testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Rev. 12:11. “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”

From the Reformed Presbyterian Vol XVI No. VII September 1852. pp. 193-198.

A reply to the Reconstructionist Theonomist

August 7, 2013

The following is reply I had written a few weeks back for to show the difference between Covenanter Theonomy (Historic Theonomy)  and Reconstructionist Theonomy (Neo-Theonomy). I am reposting here so I can share when I need to. I will only modify the name of the person in the first paragraph of who this was written to..

[Name deleted],

You do realize that the theonomist during the formation of our country heavily disagree with you regarding the Constitution and our government? In fact the first generation of Covenanters after the signing and ratification of our Constitution refused to swear loyalty and refused to even acknowledged the legitimacy of the government.. By doing so they could not have citizenship in this nation and remained aliens within this land- a land in which they were born in.. Yes their children born after the signing and ratification were de-factoed in as citizens but even they refuse to swear loyalty, acknowledge the legitimacy of the government/constitution, serve in the military, run for office, vote in elections, serve on juries, etc (all in which I agree with). Why? Because any of the above would be a recognition of something illegitimate and unlawful. I could not be part of the military in a pagan nation or many of the things listed above. Regarding the Military, 1. Because the ruler would be a tyrant and thus unlawful. So in essence you would be a mercenary working for a tyrant robbing and pillaging and murdering on behalf of the tyrant in unlawful warfare. If you do not say anything and/or do something about what the tyrant is doing you become an accomplice in the crimes of that tyrant, Psalm 50:18 “When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers.” The same is true for murder. This passage even replies to robbers and murderers who masquerade as magistrates in the high places, see Act, Declaration, and Testimony of 1761 on this from a confessional stand point who quotes from Donald Cargill. My second problem would be taking an oath to an unlawful and anti-christian government and constitution and thus legitimatizing that government and constitution which is unlawful and sinful in the first place. Regarding running for office or voting. I could not conscientiously run for office because I would have to swear to uphold an ungodly and antichristian constitution. Nor could I vote for someone (even if they meet the essential qualifications of Scripture) because then I would be an accomplice in their unlawful oath taking to the constitution.

The Constitution is radically and willfully defective in that it does not recognize the existence of God, the supremacy of Christ the King of Nations, and the Word of God as the supreme law. On account of these radical defects, and the many immoralities which naturally flow from them, Reformed Presbyterians cannot recognize it as a scripturally constituted civil government, nor swear allegiance to it. The relation of Christ to the nation is that of a Sovereign to a moral subject—a moral person, upon whom the law of His Kingdom is binding.

The document reads: “We, the people of the United States * * * do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” This declaration is historically, philosophically and scripturally untrue. I dare say Blasphemous. It replaces the God Yahovah who is creator of all things and sovereign over all nations with a new god “the people”. The Constitution in all its essential elements was in existence before the document thus called was penned; constitutions are not ordained of men, but grow; and the Scripture affirms that the powers that are legitimate powers at all, are ordained of God. These glaring defects, with the denial of any religious qualification, the absence of the name of God from the oath, and the license of immorality and crime upon which it sets its official seal, give the document, called the Constitution, such a character of infidelity and irreligion that no true Christian ought to give it his full sanction. For these reasons and many more, Reformed Presbyterians (Covenanters) have never voted at any of the elections, nor held office under the government. They have refused, to recognize the authority of the government, and its right to legislate.

“The preamble is, “We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

It should be — We, the people of the United States, acknowledging the being and authority of God, and our obligation to submit to his Son Jesus Christ as King of nations, for the glory of God, to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do adopt, sanction and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” -The Reformed Presbyterian and Covenanter, Vol. I. MARCH, 1863. No. 3.

The objectional features of the Constitution of the United States were clearly pointed out and testified against. Its wilful omission of all reference to God the Author, Christ the King, and the Word of God as the Supreme Law of nations and civil government, and other permissions of evil, excluded all conscientious Covenanters from swearing allegiance to it.

“NO consideration will justify the framers of the Federal Constitution and the administration of the Government, in withholding a recognition of the Lord and His anointed from the grand charter of the nation.” — Rev. Alexander McLeod, D. D

“IN the United States the refusal to acknowledge God in the Constitution has probably been more explicit than it ever was in any other nation.” — Rev. James R. Willson, D. D.

“THE Federal Constitution of the United States does not recognize the existence of God, the King of Nations; * * and shall a nation act as if independent of the God of the Universe, and expect to be guiltless? * * The principles of reformation are not fashionable. They were once, however, considered as the glory of Presbyterians. For civil and ecclesiastical reformation, for a glorious covenanted cause, thousands bled and died. * * I have endeavored to advocate that cause because I thought it the doctrine of the Bible, and the cause of Christ.” — Rev. Samuel B. Wylie, D. D.

For constitutions religious test as well as recognizing God, Christ as king of the nations and His law as the supreme laws of the land are essential for legitimate authority at ALL levels of government. State constitutions, Federal constitutions, confederacies of nations as well as treaties between nations. I believe in a civil type presbytery system in the same way as the church presbytery is setup. Ex. 18 is where the civil presbytery is ordained. From the local level to the highest level in the land.

The Act, Declaration and Testimony of 1761 a Covenanter Confessional work states:

“And further we maintain, that a due measure of those qualifications which God, the great lawgiver requires in his word, together with what other stipulations according to the same unerring rule, a christian people, who are blessed with the light of divine revelation, have made the fundamental conditions of civil government among them, are essentially necessary to the constitution and investiture of lawful authority over such people. No other but such a constitution or investiture, can either be approves of by God, or answer the ends, ultimate or subordinate, of this ordinance, unto the honor of the great institutor, appears from Prov. 7:15,16; Psa. 142:19,20, and 149:6,7,8,9; Isa. 49:28; Rom. 13:1,2,8,4; Deut.. 17:14,15; 2 Sam 23:2,3,4; Exod. 18:21. “

When it comes to Magistrates themselves they are required to have a due measure of those qualifications which God has ordained in His Word and they are essentially necessary to the constitution and investiture of any lawful authority over a people. What are these essential qualifications?

“The New Testament gives a definitive statement of civil government in Romans ch. 13 v. 1-9 and 1 Timothy ch. 2 v. 1-2; which is a summary of the pattern also found in the Old Testament. We shall first take in review these Old Testament passages where we have the epitome of kingship delineated. Thus the qualifications of those who exercise civil rule are that, They must be men of truth, fearing God and hating covetousness (Ex. 18.21); they must be just, and not deceitful, false or oppressive: He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God (2 Sam. 23.2-3); they must be men of understanding, they must be of the same nation, and not strangers (Deut. 13 v. 1 & 17; Jer. 30 v. 21). They are to be elected by all the people, that is, by the adult men among whom they are to rule: The men of Judah made David king (2 Sam. 2 v. 4) or again: The people made Saul King (1 Sam. 11.15) and as also in the words of Hushai: Whom the Lord and this people, and all the men of Israel choose, his will I be (2 Sam. 16.18). Any perversion of this order by those who thrust in upon the people however they accomplish it, is usurpation; as in Hos. 8.4: ‘They made kings but not by me; that is, strictly and only in the way appointed by God, and which is said to be “by” him as if God himself had actually done it.” -Alexander Shield, A Hind Let Loose, 1638

Legitimate Governments are established by God under His theocratic kingdom. They are one of the two sons of oil that serve the Lord of all the Earth (Zech. 4:14) They are to submit themselves to His rules or be dashed into pieces (Ps. 2) Magistrates are ordained civil minister of God (Romans 13) and they must rule according to His laws and permission (Ps. 2). If they violate His laws and permissions they disqualify themselves as being ordained of God. If men who are not qualified sit in the seats of magistrates they are robbers and thieves (Isa. 42:24) and not ordained magistrates. They are usurpers as in Hos. 8.4: ‘They made kings but not by me; that is, strictly and only in the way appointed by God. So we have now seen what is required as essential for nations and constitutions as well as what is essential for magistrates for lawful legitimate rulers who are ordained of God but what about duties?

Seven duties of civil magistrates outlined in Scripture and enforced in the Westminster Standards:

1. Nationally eradicate idolatry and false religion (cf. 2 Chron. 34:3-7; 2 Chron. 31:1; 2 Chron. 15:8; 2 Chron. 15:16, etc.).

2. Nationally promote the true worship, discipline, and doctrine of the church of Christ (2 Chron. 29:11-30:6; 2 Chron. 30:12-27; Ezra 10:10vv.; Neh. 10:31-32, etc.).
3. Nationally establish the one true religion and church (cf. 2 Chron. 34:8- 17; 2 Chron. 29:3-5; 2 Chron. 31:2-3; 2 Chron. 31:20-21; 2 Chron. 32:12, etc.).

4. Nationally confess their own sins and the sins of their fathers (2 Chron. 34:21; 2 Chron. 29:6-7; 2 Chron. 30:7-9; Ezra 9:6-10:2; Neh. 9:2-37, etc.).

5. Nationally publish the truth (2 Chron. 34:30; Ezra 10:7-8, etc.).

6. Nationally renew covenant with God and set the state upon a fully covenanted biblical pattern, agreeing to nationally obey the law of God (2 Chron. 34:31; 2 Chron. 29:10; 2 Chron. 15:12-15; Ezra 10:3-4; Neh. 9:38-10:31, etc.).

7. Nationally cause (by civil power) the inhabitants of the nation to stand to the covenant (2 Chron. 34:32-33; 2 Chron. 15:12-13; Ezra 10:5, etc.).
Isaiah 49:22-23 is very clear that Magistrates are to be nursing fathers to the church and that their duty is not minimized in the New testament times

Speaking of New Testament Times Isaiah says,

Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me. (Isaiah 49:22-23)

William Symington says,

The prophecy refers to New Testament times, when the Gentiles are to be gathered unto the Redeemer. A prominent feature of these times shall be the subserviency of civil rulers to the church, which surely supposes their subjection to Christ her Head. Kings shall be thy nursing-fathers is a similitude which imports the most tender care, the most endearing solicitude; not mere protection, but active and unwearied nourishment and support. If, according to the opinions of some, the best thing the state can do is to let her alone, to leave her to herself, to take no interest in her concerns, it is difficult to see how this view can be reconciled with the figure of a nurse, the duties of whose office would certainly be ill discharged by such a treatment of her feeble charge. -William Symington, Messiah the prince or, the mediatorial dominion of Jesus Christ (1839)

Westminster divine Samuel Rutherford says,

“But the Magistrate is fore-prophesied Isai. 49. 23. and 60. 10. Rev. 21. 26. to be a Nurse-father to the Church under the New Testament, to keep and guard both Tables of the Law, and to see that Pastors do their duty, to minister to the Church by his royal power, yea when the fountain shall be opened in David’s house, that is under the New Testament, he shall thrust through the false Prophet that speaketh lies in the Name of the Lord, Zach. 13. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Kings as Kings must confer some royal service to the Church, over which they are Nurse-fathers. But all the power that Kings have, is essentially co-active, and in order to rewarding or punishing, Rom. 13. 3, 4. therefore they must confer coactive service. Piscator saith well, That the Prince is called the keeper of both Tables of the Law by our Divines, therefore he is to vindicate God’s glory in both. He that hath the keeping of two pits, one more horrible and dark, another more mild and heartsome for two malefactors, a thief, and an adulterer, he must not cast the thief in such a dark dungeon as the adulterer: so if the Magistrate keep both Tables, he must not punish according to his own will, but according to the rule and prescript of God.” Samuel Rutherford, A Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience, Chapter XXV, Arg. 4

John Calvin speaking on Psalm 2 and Isaiah 49:23,

“…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. 79Libertines, p. 79

Pastor James M Willson speaking on Isaiah 49:23

“Prophecy speaks in the plainest terms, and manifestly expresses the divine approval of that which it foretells. “The kings of Tarshish and of the isles, shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts,” Ps. 72:10. “Kings shall be thy nursing fathers and their queens thy nursing mothers,” Is. 49:23. The preceding verse fixes both the person referred to in this prophecy, and its application to New Testament times. The sixtieth chapter of Isaiah, abounds with similar prophecies. The language of the sixteenth verse is very explicit, “thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breasts of kings.” Under these figurative expressions it is intimated, that when the nations are brought to submit to the sceptre of Christ, their allegiance will be manifested by efforts to aid the church in promoting the great designs of the Redeemer’s mission. Happy, indeed, will such nations be, while “the nation and kingdom that will not serve Christ and the church shall perish.”” Christ’s Dominion Over The Nations, Chapter 3 “The Duty of Nations, 1842

They are to rule according to the civil laws of God as they pertain to the nations. They are even required to suppress heresy..

Westminster divine George Gillespie (one of the most brilliant men on the assembly) said,

“Things immutable, and common to all Nations are the laws concerning Moral trespasses, Sins against the Moral law, as murder, adultery, theft, enticing away from God, blasphemy, striking of Parents. Now that the Christian Magistrate is bound to observe these Judicial laws of Moses which appoint the punishments of sins against the Moral law … 1. If it were not so, then it is free and arbitrary to the Magistrate to appoint what punishments himself pleaseth. But this is not arbitrary to him, for he is the Minister of God, Rom. 13.4. and the judgment is the Lord’s, Deut. 1.7; 2 Chron. 19.6. And if the Magistrate be Keeper of both Tables, he must keep them in such manner as God hath delivered them to him. 2. Christ’s words, Matt. 5.17, Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the Prophets, I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill, are comprehensive of the Judicial law, it being a part of the law of Moses …”

Gillespie continued,

“Though we have clear and full scriptures in the New Testament for abolishing the Ceremonial law, yet we nowhere 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 to shew some scripture for it. “ -George Gillespie, Wholesome Severity Reconciled with Christian Liberty, 1644

[Name deleted], you have frequently said because Rushdoony and others have said that the Constitution recognizes God because of the Date and mention of a Sabbath day off. But these were already answered a century before by able Reformed Theologians..

The Testimony against the Moral Evil’s of the U,S, Constitution states regarding the Sabbath day off,

“In reply to all this, it has been urged that Sunday is mentioned in the constitution. True, it is so. But in what connection? “If any bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law.” (Art. I. Sec. vii. specification 2.) Is it a violation of the tenets of a Jew, Deist, Mahometan, or Hindoo, to retain a bill, in some cases, eleven or twelve days, instead of ten? Does he thereby acknowledge the Sabbath to be a divine institution? Were two merchants to enter into partnership, on condition that their store should not be opened on Sabbath, a deistical partner would not violate the contract by spending the whole of that day in some other secular employment—as many Presidents have done, their oath of office notwithstanding. The mention of the Sabbath, and by its pagan name too, is no more a recognition of that day as set apart by God in his word for devotion, than the naming of Thursday for any transaction by christians, is a recognition of the worship of the pagan idol Thor, to whom, among the heathen, that day was sacred.—Besides, it was not the intention of those who framed the constitution, to exclude christians from the office of President. They intended to put all on an equal footing. Had they not excepted the Sabbath, an advantage would have been given to an infidel President, over a christian, who might entertain conscientious scruples as to the examining of bills on the Lord’s day. After all, were there, as there is not, a recognition of one precept of the law of God, would that be an acknowledgment of the whole law? It might as well be pled that the punishment of theft, by the government of China, is a recognition of the Christian religion, and proves that government {45} to be Christian, because one commandment of the Bible is—”Thou shalt not steal.” By this argument, all the governments of the world might be proved to recognize christianity, and to acknowledge Messiah as their prince! The advocates of the christianity of the United States’ government must be hard pressed in the field of argument, when they are compelled to rear the superstructure of their advocacy on so narrow a basis.”

Regarding the Date “in the Year of our Lord” Bible Magistracy Christ Dominion over the Nations by James Willson answers this objection in 1842,

“Now there is no reference to the Messiah in the Constitution. Neither in the phraseology of that instrument, nor in any of its provisions, would any alteration be required, were there no such person as the Saviour of sinners. The only allusion to Christ, is in the date appended to it; it is dated “in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the twelfth.” If this be a profession of subjection to the Messiah, or even an acknowledgment of his being, then will it be exceedingly difficult to find man or woman in all western Europe, or in the greater part of this western world, who is not a disciple of Jesus Christ, not in profession only, but in reality, for all date their deeds, their correspondence, their ages, &c., in the same form. Then would Socinians, Infidels, and even Atheists, be every day of their lives, and every time they write “Anno Domini,” acknowledging that the Saviour of sinners is their Lord and Saviour! The truth is, that the prevalence of the Christian religion in Europe has introduced there, and among the descendants of Europeans, the custom of reckoning the lapse of time, and of marking its intervals, from the incarnation of Christ. It is utterly absurd to suppose that the use of this era makes all who do so, Christians.

To return to our argument. Did any one ever think of charging an Infidel with inconsistency in swearing to support the Constitution? Could such a person be rejected if offering to swear the oath? Could an officer be impeached for blaspheming the Saviour? None of all these were ever thought of. Indeed, those very persons who endeavour, on the one hand, to make us believe that the United States as a nation acknowledge Christ, are as clamorous, on the other, against any arrangement which would exclude from office Socinians, Infidels, &c. “The legs of the lame are not equal.” Would Infidels, be eligible to office, provided this nation had made in its constitutional arrangements an acknowledgment of Christ? Decidedly not. The conclusion is manifest. The nation has made no such acknowledgment. “

Ultimately, the issue here is Historical theonomy vs. Neotheonomy. Bahnsen, Rushdoony, Demar, etc were a new type of theonomist that deviated from the historical theonomic views. That is not to say that they were not good men. I respect these men greatly but I do disagree with them on numerous points. I believe the historic covenanter theonomy is the most biblical and most consistent principle regarding the issue of civil magistracy.

Is. 8:12, “Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy.”

“the kingdom and dominion and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High.” Dan. 7:27.

Links for further reading, Highly recommended,

The Act, Declaration and Testimony of 1761 (First two parts are historical and can be avoided, The Meat is in Part 3 with a Confessional Summary in Part 4)

Act, Declaration and Testimony of 1761 Part 3

http://www.covenanter.org/RefPres/actdeclarationandtestimony/actpart3.htm#part3

Act, Declaration and Testimony of 1761 Part 4

http://www.covenanter.org/RefPres/actdeclarationandtestimony/actpart4.htm

Testimony Against the Moral Evil’s of the U.S. Consitution, 1839

http://www.truecovenanter.com/reformedpresbyterian/rpcna_testimony_against_constitution_of_usa_corrected.html

Bible Magistracy Christ’s Dominion Over the Nations by James Willson, 1842

http://www.covenanter.org/JMWillson/Magistracy/biblemagistracy.htm

Wholesome Severity Reconciled with christian Liberty by George Gillespie, 1644

http://www.covenanter.org/GGillespie/wholesome_severity.html
Additional Quotes,

American Covenanter James Willson declared the following in a sermon 32 years after the U.S. Constitution was ratified by the USA the following:

“Britain and the United States are colonies within Jehovah’s government; and if they refuse to acknowledge the authority of Messiah, he will treat them as rebel provinces of his empire. In the United States, the refusal to acknowledge God, has probably been more explicit than it ever was in any other nation. Soon after we had obtained, through the beneficent providence of God, liberation from the dominion of a foreign power; soon after the most eminent displays of Jehovah’s goodness to our land; the convention, elected to form articles of fundamental law for the commonwealth, rejected the government of God, and with a degree of ingratitude, perhaps without a parallel, formed a constitution in which there is not the slighest hint of homage to the God of heaven; in which God receives no more honor than the devil. They force all within their territories to bow before them, but they refuse to bow before the throne of God. This is a species of national atheism, almost as enormous as that of the French republic, whose representatives voted, that there is no God. It is to all intents practical atheism; and we cannot doubt that those who planned such rebellion against the King of kings and Lord of lords, were practical atheists and professed infidels.”

_The Subjection of Kings and Nations to Messiah_, p. 65 in _Political Danger_ published by Crown and Covenant Publications.

That all nations are to be subject to King Jesus, even in the OT is evident. That the Church and State were ALWAYS separate is also evident, even if modern day PhDs say nay…nay them…they are in error trying to out smart the Truth…

“The command is to all—to states, republics, kingdoms, and empires, in whatever quarter of the world they may be found, from whatever branch of the human family they may be descended, and whatever may be their local peculiarities and pursuits—let all bow down before the Mediator and serve him. But we must be more particular.

1. It is their duty to bind themselves to him by covenant engagement, consecrating themselves to him, swearing allegiance to him as their King and Lord, binding themselves to one another, and, as united together in social compact, to seek the protection and the blessings of Messiah, Heaven’s Almighty Vicegerent. ”

The subjection of Israel to the government of God, was to him in the mediatorial person and character; for the relation in which he stood to them, and they to him, was a gracious covenant relation—a relation which God, absolutely considered, cannot sustain to any of the guilty race of Adam, either individually or nationally. Whatever may be said of their national polity, of the connexion, or rather as some ignorantly assert, of the perfect sameness of their church and civil state, still it is abundantly evident, that they had a civil government, a national territory and property, and civil relations and rights; and that all these were completely subjected to the government of the Son of God, in his character of Mediator.

Is there any intimation in the whole volume of inspiration, that other nations should not copy after the example set them in Judea? Any hint that the honors there claimed by Messiah, and conceded to him, were peculiar to that territory, and that he does not demand them in other quarters of the world? Nothing like it; but quite the reverse. “The uttermost parts of the earth are given to him for inheritance;” “he is the governor among the nations;” “Sheba’s and Seba’s kings shall offer gifts, yea all kings shall fall down before him;” “the isles shall wait for his law;” “the gathering of the people shall be to him.” The lion of the tribe of Judah has the volume of providence committed to him, and he prevails to open the seals of the book in which the destiny of the nations is recorded: “he is prince of the kings of the earth;” and “hath on his vesture and on his thigh written, King of kings, and Lord of lords.” Indeed, is not easy to conceive, how God could have expressed his will more plainly, or have more fully and distinctly asserted the claims of his Son to universal dominion, and the duty of nations to acknowledge him.”

from James Willson’s sermon _THE SUBJECTION OF KINGS AND NATIONS TO MESSIAH_

Covenanter’s Reply to Jury Duty

Having been summoned to act as a juror on the 8th of the present month, I humbly assign the following reasons why I can not serve in such capacity with a safe conscience:—

  1. Civil government being the ordinance of God, his holy Word ought to be the rule of its constitution and administration.
  1. I find that God, and Christ, and the Bible, are all excluded from the national Constitution.
  1. I believe that the juror’s office, like every other civil office, is created by that Constitution; and that I as a juror, would be chargeable with denying Christ before men; and He says He will deny all such before his Father. Matt. 10:33.
  1. I do not believe that in a country favored with the Holy Scriptures, Jews, Mahometans, Heathens, &c. should be fellow-citizens with Christians, and Christians be compelled to identify with such persons. “It would be tyranny to constrain them to such measures.”
  1. Reformed Presbyterians have dissented from the government from its origin, and for such reasons as above indicated. They approve many of the laws as equitable between man and man, but in civil relations they cannot disown God, his Son and his Law, as I in the position of a juror would be obliged to do.
  1. The Quaker’s conscience is respected in military affairs, and I think the same exemption should be accorded to me in civil affairs; especially when I cheerfully contribute my proportion of the common taxation, for the protection of my personal liberty and security of my property.
  1. Finally, I find that the Constitution guarantees “liberty of conscience;” and I only claim the just application of this provision of the fundamental law.

Robert Alexander, Phila. Feb. 5th 1875

The Christians Duty to his enemies by R.L Dabney

August 6, 2013

The Christian Duty toward his enemies

Presbyterian Minister Robert Dabney, 1820 -1898

 

It may be surmised that this is a duty whose “metes and bounds” are ill understood by many of the people of God, and consequently, the minds of many of them are harassed with doubts and temptations concerning it. On the one hand, many, perhaps, excuse to themselves criminal emotions under the name of virtuous indignation, and on the other some of them afflict themselves with compunctions for and vain endeavors against feelings which are both proper and natural to us as rational beings.

 

The embarrassment is increased by the current opinion that there is inconsistency between the teachings and examples of the Old Testament and the New upon this subject. Men read in the former the stern language of the imprecatory Psalms, for instance, of the thirty-fifth, the thirty-ninth, the one hundred and ninth, and thirty ninth, where the inspired man prays: “Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul . . . Let them be as chaff before the wind, and let the angel of the Lord chase them”; or describes the persecuted church as crying to her oppressors: “Happy shall he be that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us”; or protests: “Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? And am I not grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred.” They then turn to the Sermon on the Mount and read the words of our Lord: But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use and persecute you.” They thereupon imagine a discrepancy, if not a contradiction, between them, and adopt the mischievous conclusion that the two Testaments contain different codes of Christian ethics. This notion, it is to be feared, has a general prevalency. What is more common than to hear Christians, who should be well informed, and who profess full reverence for the inspiration of the whole Scriptures, speak of the morality of the Old Testament, of the Hebrew saint, of the prophet, as harsh, austere, and forbiddening, while that of the New Testament, of Jesus, and of the Christian is sweet and forgiving?

 

All these notions are of Socinian or rationalistic origin, and are incompatible with an honest belief in the actual inspiration of the Scriptures. In inspiration is but an “elevation of the consciousness,” a quickening of the intuitions of the transcendental reason, an exaltation of the soul, of the same generic kind with the other impulses of genius, only of a higher grade, then it can be understood how prophets and apostles may contradict each other, although yet they may teach us noble lessons, and such as common men would never have found out of themselves. But if “All Scripture (the apostle means the Old Testament) is theopneustic,” if “holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” to “lead them into all truth,” then a real discrepancy between them is impossible; for all truths must be harmonious among themselves. …

The same view commends itself irresistibly to the plain mind from this fact, that Jesus Christ, not to add the apostles, suspended the truth of his mission and doctrine on the infallibility and holiness of the Old Testament. His appeal is ever to them. He cites Moses and the prophets as though he thought their testimony must be the end of strife. Now, if they are not inspired and true, it follows irresistibly that Jesus Christ was either mistaken or he was dishonest. Absit impietas. In either case, he is no Redeemer for us. And, indeed, the former alternative of this dilemma is inadmissible for one who claimed, as he did, an infallible knowledge of himself, a preexistence of the era of Abraham and the prophets and the authority of the Messiah by whose Spirit those prophets spoke, So that, if the Old Testament were imperfect, Jesus of Nazareth would stand convicted of criminal attempts of imposture.

There is a second reason why such an explanation cannot be applied to the supposed vindictiveness of Old Testament morals: that the same sentiments are expressed in the New Testament, and the same maxims of forbearance which are cited as so lovely in the latter are set forth, both by precept and example, in the former, so that, if a discrepancy is asserted, it must not be between David and Christ, Hebrew and Christian, but both Testaments must be charged with contradicting themselves, as well as each other. Thus, in Acts viii. 20, Peter exclaims to Simon Magus, “They money perish with thee!” In Acts xxiii. 3, Paul sternly denounces the persecuting chief priest, “God shall mite thee, thou whited wall!” and in 2 Tim. Iv 14 distinctly expresses a prayer for retribution upon Alexander, the copper-smith of Ephesus: He “did me much evil; the Lord reward him according to his works.” In 2 Thess I:7-10, Christ’s coming “in flaming fire to take vengeance on them that know not God,” is subject of admiration in all them that believe. In the Apocalypse vi. 10, the souls of the martyrs under the altar are heard crying with a loud voice: “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” and in Matt. Xi. 20, and xxiii: 13, Jesus of Nazareth is heard denouncing awful woes upon the enemies of truth.

On the other hand, the Old Testament contains substantially the same precepts of forgiveness, and example of forbearance, which are so much admired in the New. First, the great truth, which lies at the root of all this subject, that retribution is the exclusive function of the Lord, was first published in the Old Testament, and it is thence Paul quotes it, in Rom. Xii. 10, It is written, Vengeance is mine, saith Lord.” It is written a thousand years before *Deut. Xxxii:35, Lev.xix:18), “To me belongeth vengeance and recompense”; recognized by David as a rule for him (1 Sam. Xxiv:12) towards his deadly enemy, Saul,- “The Lord judge between me and thee, and the Lord avenge me of thee;  but my hand shall not be upon thee”;  repeated in Psalm xciv:1, “O lord God, to whom vengeance belongeth”; and  cited against evil men, as a rule which they had violated, twice in Ezek. Xxv: 12, 15, “Edom and the Philistines have taken vengeance, and have the greatly offended.” The lovely precept for rendering good for evil is enjoined upon the Israelites in a form most perspicuous and impressive to a pastoral people: “If thou meet thine enemy’s ass or his ox going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again.” (Ex. Xxiii:4) Israel was enjoined to practice tenderness toward foreigners, a  duty ignored then by the pagan world, and especially toward Egyptians, their late ruthless oppressors, (Ex. Xxii:21; Deut. Xxiii:7). …

 

This age has witness a whole spawn of religionist, very rife and rampant in some parts of the church, who pretentiously declares themselves the apostles of a lovelier Christianity than that of the sweet Psalmist of Israel. His ethics were entirely too vindictive and barbarous to them, forsooth; and they with their peace societies, and new lights would teach the world a milder and more beneficent code!