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The Dominion of Christ: Part 2.

Database

The Dominion of Christ: Part 2.

James Dodson

[from The Covenanter, June 1848, III.11. 332-337.]


by

John McAuley

I have offered three arguments to prove that Christian magistracy originated in the God of grace, viz: that it never could have had an origin, had not the God of grace given a revelation of his will, by the ministry of the Mediator:—that this revelation of Jesus Christ is obligatory on the civil magistrate, because authoritatively enjoined by the Mediator:—and because Christian magistracy is an integral part of the Christian religion, that is, the duties enjoined, and the rewards and punishments with which they are connected, are an integral part of the Christian religion.

Suffer me here to state, that in contending for the mediatorial dominion of Christ over the nations, it is no part of my intention to attempt a defence of my “phraseology” or manner; but a defence of the great doctrine itself: but on the contrary, it is my resolution to endeavour to profit by any hint that may be given by the friends of this doctrine.

IV

Christian magistracy has its origin in God as the God of grace, because the magistrate is wholly dependent on the Mediator, for every gracious, spiritual, and truly moral endowment, to fit him for performing the duties required, and receiving the promises given to him, by the God of grace, in his word. Without gracious endowments he will receive none of the promises, neither can he without these endowments perform any of the duties in any other way than in the “oldness of the letter.” Before he can “serve in newness of the spirit” he must be “delivered from the law,” as a covenant of works,—must “become dead to the law” and the law dead to him, “that (the law) being dead wherein we were held,” Rom. 7:4-6: must be “held” no longer, either by the commanding or condemning power of the law,—must be freed from carnality, and be made spiritual, “they that are in the flesh cannot please God,” but all those who do not please God offend him. Now the magistrate can receive these endowments from none but the Mediator, for God essentially considered bestows no gracious endowments on fallen man; and where there are no gracious endowments, there can be no Christian magistrates or governments; but when the Mediator bestows these endowments on magistrates and nations, they become Christian magistrates and governments, and cease to be heathen, that is, Christ by the bestowment of his grace, puts a period to the one, and gives existence or an origin to the other. Then, if the God of grace give to the Christian magistrate, precepts and promises, or law and gospel; and bestow grace to obey the first, and believe the latter; and claims and exercises the right of inflicting punishment on the disobedient and unbelieving, who but the brother would deny to him dominion over the magistrate? Is not this the very essence of dominion? The brother lays it down as an axiom that “Christ in the covenant of grace is not to be regarded as the representative of magistrates and citizens as such, but simply as sinners,” and from this draws the conclusion that “the principles that flow out of this covenant cannot be regarded as the formal rule of their conduct viewed in that character.” Now, if the converse of his premises be true, so is that of his conclusion. If it be true that Christ represented magistrates &c., in the covenant of grace, then the principles of that covenant are the rule of his obedience. It is just as certain that Christ represented rulers and people, as it is that he represented the priest, and the whole congregation, see Leviticus chapter four throughout. Verse 3, when the high priest sinned, he was directed to take a young bullock for a sin offering, the death of this bullock was substituted for that of the high priest, it also was a type of Christ, its substitution of his substitution, and its death of Christ’s death. Again, if the whole congregation sin, they are directed to take a young bullock for a sin offering, verse 13. These two cases are intended to represent Christ as the substitute of his people in their ecclesiastical relations, but the two following represents him as their substitute in their civil relations. Verse 22, when a ruler sinned, he was directed to take for a sin offering “a kid of the goats, a male without blemish.” Then it is certain that the ruler had a typical representative, and that this type pointed to Christ the great antitype, as the ruler’s representative. Again, verse 27, “if any one of the common people sin &c., he shall bring for his offering a kid of the goats, a female without blemish.” This was manifestly intended to prefigure Christ as the citizen’s representative. Thus Christ did represent rulers and citizens “as such,” and not “simply as sinners.” He represented them as sinning rulers and citizens.

Equally absurd and unfounded is another assertion where he says, “the covenant of works does not contemplate man as magistrate and subject, &c.” It manifestly contemplated man in every relation,—more philosophy palmed off on his readers for theology. All that the brother has now to do, is to deny that the covenant of works respects men in their ecclesiastical relations, or that Christ is the representative of man in this relation, and he is one in doctrine with Professor Seward and the neologians of Germany. His doctrines are as really neologian or Neonomian as theirs; the only difference is, they have taken two steps, he only one. But it is impossible for him to defend, and carry out his present philosophical views without becoming a full blooded neologian.

V

Christian magistracy has its origin in God as the God of grace, because it is as really and truly instituted by him in this character, as ecclesiastical government. The God of grace by the ministry of Jesus Christ instituted both civil and ecclesiastical government. Horn in his introduction to the study of Theology, says, “On the departure of the children of Israel from the land of their oppressors, under the guidance of Moses, Jehovah was pleased to institute a new form of government” Mathew Henry in his comment on Prov. 8:15, 16, says: “Civil government is a divine institution, and those that are intrusted with the administration of it have their commission from Christ: it is a branch of his kingly office, that by him kings reign.” See Scott on the same passage. Again, Ebenezer Erskine, in his sermon on Psalm 2:6, puts civil government, in every sense of the word, both in its institution, and administration under the Mediator. He says, “God in the person of the Son, sustains the place of a Mediator, surety, and redeemer,” and “that in order to the accomplishment of the Son’s undertaking, (as Mediator) ‘all power in heaven and earth is given to him:’ all government is COMMITTED to the Son, angels, men and devils, and all creatures are put under his hand that he may make them subservient to the recovery of that poor contemptible creature man.” Again he says, on the same page, vol. 2, page 524, “his general mediatory kingdom extends itself over heaven, earth and hell.”

But this is not the testimony on which I rely to prove that the God of grace instituted civil government by the ministry of Moses. And it must be kept in mind that Moses, as well as Paul and Peter, acted in all his ministrations as the servant of Jesus Christ, and not as the minister or servant of God essentially considered; for God essentially considered, has no intercourse or converse with fallen man, and God as the God of grace, deals not with fallen man, except through a Mediator. Then all that Moses did, he did as the minister of the Mediator, and not as the minister of God essentially considered. Now that Moses did institute Christian magistracy, or Christian civil government, is plain.

1. Because the Mediator, by the ministry of Moses, gave them a constitution and a judicial law. The ten commandments was to them both a civil and ecclesiastical constitution, because it is called God’s covenant with that people, not only as a religious people, but as a “kingdom of priests,” and a “holy nation,” Ex. 19:5: and because this covenant was sworn and ratified not only by ecclesiastics, but by civil rulers, and military men. At the renovation of this covenant, in the land of Moab, “captains of tribes, elders and officers” are mentioned among the covenanters, Deut.  29:10, 18: See also 2nd Chron. 34:29-32: and Neh. 9:38, and 10: where princes, Levites and priests seal unto the covenant. And our fathers in 1643, in their solemn league and covenant say: “We noblemen, barons, knights, gentlemen, citizens, burgesses, ministers of the gospel, and commons of all sorts, &c.,” and in this they were manifestly following the footsteps of the flock, and imitating the example of the covenanters from the days of Moses.

The ten commandments are, from their very nature, both a civil and ecclesiastical constitution, first, because they are a summary defence of all kinds of rights, and a compendium of all kinds of duties; secondly because they contain the matter of the covenant between God and man of every condition, and between man and man in every relation. 2. Moses under the direction of the God of grace, instituted Christian or moral civil government, because he appointed civil rulers; or rather, made those rulers whom the people had been directed to choose, Deut. 1:13, “Take ye wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.” Here Jesus Christ, the angel of the covenant that spake with Moses, His servant, in instituting civil government, gave directions for the election and investment of godly or religious civil rulers, see also 2nd Samuel 23:3; Ex. 18:21. Here we have specified, not only natural and acquired, but religious qualifications. 3. The angel of the covenant institutes Christian magistracy, because he does not only specify the duties of rulers, but lays restraints upon them, Deut. 17:15-20: and bestows on both the obedient, and disobedient, their appropriate rewards. 4. The angel of the covenant, instituted civil government, because he has given full instruction to the ruled, with regard to the election of officers, see all the above quoted passages, and with regard to their duties to these rulers.

And now, if giving a civil constitution, and judicial law,—if laying down the character and duties of civil rulers,—if giving directions for their election and investiture with office,—if showing what kind of subjection is due to their lawful authority, is instituting civil government, then the angel of the covenant has done all this “by the hand of Moses.” But now, I utterly deny that God as the God of grace, instituted heathen civil government, or that God essentially considered, instituted Christian civil government. And now a query—will the brother answer it? When God commanded Elijah to go and anoint Hazael to be king of Syria, Jehu to be king of Israel, and Elisha to be prophet in his room, did Elijah receive this commission from God essentially considered, or from God as the God of grace? 1st Kings 19:15.

VI

Christian magistracy has its origin in God as the God of grace, because Christ does actually exercise dominion over princes and kingdoms, both heathen and Christian. Not indeed in the same manner.

1. His dominion over heathen kings and kingdoms, is exercised in the ordering of his providences,—in turning the king’s heart, purposes or motives, like the rivers of water, whithersoever he will, Prov. 21:1; as Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus, causing them to accomplish his purposes, and advance the interests of his kingdom. Thus “he is head over all things to the Church:”—in hindering or restraining their wrath. Psalms 76:10: “stilling the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumults of the people,”—and when it is for his glory, and the interests of his spiritual kingdom, by breaking them with a rod of iron, and dashing them in pieces as a potter’s vessel, Ps. 2:9: by making the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth, to their mutual destruction, Isaiah 14:9.

2. Christ exercises dominion over Christian princes and nations, by “putting his laws in their mind, and writing them in their hearts,” Heb. 8:10: by inclining and enabling them to yield a willing subjection to this law,—not simply by compelling them by his overruling providence to promote his glory, but by inclining them by his word and spirit to do that which is well pleasing in his sight—inclining them to his law and testimony,—by the exercise of his divine power, the bestowment of divine grace, enabling them to abhor that which is evil, and powerfully determining them to that which is good. That Christ does thus rule Christian princes and nations, is proven from the history, precepts and prophecy of the scriptures. First, by the history of the scriptures; thus he ruled the kingdoms of Judah and Israel in the days of David and Solomon; thus he ruled the kingdom of Judah in the days of Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah. Secondly, the precepts of the scriptures prove that Christ exercises a moral dominion over Christian nations; it is true that the precepts are addressed to all princes and nations who read the scriptures, but they become a ruling power in the hearts of none but Christian princes and nations.

The scriptures tell us that rulers must be men “fearing God,” Ex. 18:21: “ruling in his fear,” 2nd Sam. 23:3: serving him with fear and trembling, Ps. 2:11. Ministers of God for good, a terror to evil doers, and a praise to them that do good, Rom. 13:3,4: and many other passages contain precepts given to rulers, either expressed or implied. And now the question arises, who gave these precepts? In whose name did the prophets and apostles deliver these precepts to rulers? In the name of God essentially considered, or in the name of God as the God of grace? We have already proven that God essentially considered does not speak in the scriptures, and that the God of grace does not hold converse with fallen man, except through a Mediator. And Peter says expressly that the Spirit of Christ signified to the Prophets those things that were revealed to them, 1st Pet. 1:2. The spirit of Christ, the one, the only lawgiver revealed to them whatsoever they spake. It was the God of Israel—the angel of the covenant, that spake to all the prophets, and it was in the name of Him that spake to them, that they spake to the people. Then all the prophets that delivered precepts, threatenings, or promises to rulers, did it in the name of Christ the Mediator, who both spake to them, and in them.

Again, all the Apostles spake, whatsoever they spake, in the name of Christ. They spake only what Christ spake to them in his personal ministry, or what they “received by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Gal. 1:12. John calls the revelation given to him in the isle of Patmos, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” Rev. 1:1. God gave the revelation to Jesus Christ, that is, the God of grace, but Jesus Christ “shewed it unto his servants.” Hence again the whole word of God is called the testimony of Jesus Christ, Rev. 1:3. The Apostles, in their epistles, style themselves the Servants and Apostles of Jesus Christ. See Rom. 1:1: 1st and 2nd Pet. &c. Then when the Apostle Paul penned the thirteenth Chapter of Romans, he did it as the servant of Jesus Christ, and in his name, and the authority there expressed is the authority of Jesus Christ. 1. This authority was given to Jesus Christ by the God of grace, and not by God essentially considered. Matt, 28:18. 2. It is published by Jesus Christ, as His own authority, in His own name, and by Ambassadors of His own choice, who call themselves Servants, Apostles, and Ambassadors of Christ, therefore those who exercise this authority, must exercise it in the name of Him from whom they received it, for they cannot exercise it in their own name, nor in the name of one from whom they did not receive it. Therefore, seeing that this authority was not derived from God essentially considered, nor promulgated in His name, it cannot be exercised in his name, in that character. I know that this is all directly opposed to George Gillespie, but much as I esteem him, I do not reverence his errors quite so much as to adopt them. What if the scriptures do no where say to civil rulers, in so many words, thou shalt rule in the name of Christ? Seeing that Christ does authoritatively command them, tells them how they shall, and how they shall not rule,—gives them a law saying hitherto shalt thou come, but no farther, and promises rewards to the obedient, and proclaims vengeance against the disobedient, Ps. 110:2, 5. Are they not bound to reign in his name, seeing that his law sets bounds to their authority, and he will hold them accountable for every transgression of it? And that they can exercise no authority but what they derive from Him? Could it be possible, if the magistrate were under the dominion of God essentially considered, that Christ would meddle with his dominion as he does,—give laws, promise rewards, denounce threatenings, &c.? This cannot be, there is no more interference between the dominion of God essentially considered, and God as the God of grace, than there is between the covenant of works, and that of grace. Has brother Cooper ever read Gillespie on “Associations and Confederacies with Idolaters, Infidels and Heretics?” If he has not, he would do well to read it, and then he will find abundant employment to reconcile Gillespie with Gillespie. Third, the prophecies prove that Christ exercises dominion over princes and nations, particularly those prophecies that are yet to be fulfilled, which speak of the millennium, when the kingdom of the stone shall become the kingdom of the mountain. The kingdoms symbolized by Nebuchadnezzar’s image, and that symbolized by the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, are as really and truly antagonist powers, as the seed of the serpent, and the seed of the woman;—as Christ and Belial. They are engaged in a war, in which the latter will exterminate the former, and become universal. “And in, the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever,” Dan. 2:44: In chap. 7:27, this universal and everlasting kingdom is said to be given to the “people of the saints of the Most High.” “It shall not be left to other people”—worldly and ungodly men, who will not obey the prince of the kings of the earth. Now this same kingdom that is here said to be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, is also said to be given to him whom Daniel saw in the night vision, coming in the clouds of heaven,—it was one like to the Son of Man—the Mediator, verse 13. Again this dominion, and glory, and kingdom that “was given” to him who came in the clouds of heaven, is said to embrace all people, and nations, and languages,—“that all people, nations, and languages should serve him,” verse 14. Then, from all these passages taken together, we learn that Christ is the king of this kingdom, symbolized by the stone and mountain, and which includes all people, nations, and languages: even as Satan is the king of those kingdoms symbolized by the image, and by the four beasts which Daniel saw come up out of the sea, verse 3.

I will quote only two prophesies more, Ps. 22:27-28; and 72:7-11. Henry commenting on Ps. 22:28, says: “The kingdom of grace, is the Lord Christ’s, and he, as Mediator, is appointed governor among the nations.” The 72nd Psalm no doubt primarily relates to Solomon, but mainly to Christ the Mediator. In this passage we are told that “all kings shall fall down before him, all nations shall serve him,” verse 11. Now he that is here spoken of as having dominion over all kings, and all nations can be none other than the Mediator, for Solomon was not a type of God essentially considered, neither was his kingdom typical of God’s essential kingdom. Thus the history, precepts and prophecies prove that Christ exercises mediatorial dominion over the nations.

Then in the foregoing remarks, we have seen that Christian civil government never could have had existence without a Mediator,—that it is actually and necessarily incorporated into the Christian religion,—that rulers never could have had any of the endowments or qualifications that are necessary—yea essential to the exercise of civil rule on truly Christian principles,—that without a Mediator Christian civil rule, or government never could have been instituted, much less exercised, and finally that Christ does exercise mediatorial dominion over the nations, consequently this dominion has its origin in God in the same character in which it is administered. I admit that it would be a very great error to deny that God’s essential government had its origin in him in his essential character, but I deny that Christian government, either civil or ecclesiastical belongs to God’s essential government, and therefore can neither have an origin in, nor be dispensed by God in that character.