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Civil Government

James Dodson

Moses, the Lawgiver.

Moses, the Lawgiver.


"I lay down this maxime of Divinitie; Tyranny being a worke of Sathan, is not from God, because sinne either habituall or actuall, is not from God; the power that is, must be from God; the Magistrate as Magistrate, is good, in nature of office, and the intrinsecall end of his office, Rom. 13:4. for he is the Minister of God for thy good; and therefore a power ethicall, politick, or morall, to oppresse, is not from God, and is not a power, but a licentious deviation of a power, and is no more from God, but from sinfull nature, and the old serpent, then a license to sinne."—Samuel Rutherfurd, Lex Rex (1644).


Works on Civil Government:


Romans XIII.1-5.-1601-Andrew Melville (1545-1622).-An extract from Melville's commentary on Romans, translated from the Latin by J.M. Willson, showing his agreement with the Reformed Presbyterian stance on this passage.

A Sermon Preached To the Honorable House of Commons, At their late solemn Fast, Wednesday, December 27. 1643.-1644-Alexander Henderson.-A sermon detailing the great need and method of reforming both the church and the nation together with a dire warning to magistrates that will not be reformed.

Wholesome Severity reconciled with Christian Liberty.-1644-George Gillespie.-A tract concerning the extent and application of the laws of the Bible in the civil affairs of nations with a discussion of how this comports with liberty of conscience.

Ruler's Sins the Cause of National Judgments.-1650-Patrick Gillespie.-A sermon warning about the dangers posed to a people by the wickedness of their rulers with some explanation of the covenantal solidarity of the moral person of nations.

The Sanquhar Declaration.-1680-Richard Cameron (1648-1680).-A short and terse casting off of any allegiance to the unlawful magistracy of Charles II. and his courtiers and dragoons with some reasons why on behalf of the Societies.

Thirty-Fourth Question: The Political Government of the Church.-1685-Francis Turretin (1623-1687).-In this section, there is a comprehensive overview of the issues, limits and duties of the civil magistrate in all matters circa sacra together with a defense of punishing obstinate heretics.

A Hind let loose; or An Historical Representation of the Testimonies of the Church of Scotland, -1687-Alexander Shields.-A thorough survey of the history of the Scottish church which contains many hints on church communion together with several chapters devoted to Covenanter controversies.

A View of the Rights of God and Man.-1797-James McKinney.-This sermon seeks to expound the proper limits and duties surrounding civil liberties in order to avoid both tyranny and infidelity.

Messiah, Governor of the Nations of the Earth:-1803-Alexander McLeod.-A discourse on the Mediatorial character of Christ and the importance of this doctrine with respect to the duty of nations favored with the light of the Gospel. 

The Subjection of Kings and Nations to Messiah.-1820-James Renwick Willson.-An excellent presentation of the doctrine of the Mediatorial reign of Christ and its implications for all nations and kingdoms. This is the Covenanter postmillennial vision.

Prince Messiah’s Claims to Dominion Over All Governments: and the Disregard of his Authority by the United States, in the Federal Constitution.-1832-James Renwick Willson.-Two essays: the first, examining the claims of Christ over the nations; and, the second, the application of these claims to the present constitution of the civil government in the United States.

Argument On The Magistrate’s Power Circa-Sacra. [Published as an Overture.]-1834-Reformed Presbyterian Church, in America.-This Overture, written by Rev. William Sloane, who was a member of the Synod, defends the Reformed position the power of the magistrate circa sacra. It does so contrasting this view against that of Erastians and those who hold to religious toleration.

Bible Magistracy: or Christ's Dominion Over the Nations with an Examination of the Civil Institutions of the United States.-1842-James M. Willson.-This represents Willson's early work on the mediatorial kingdom of Christ and its implications in the relam of civil government particularly that of the United States.

Letter on “The Higher Powers.”-1845-Thomas Sproull.-This letter explains why by "higher powers" Paul did not mean the Roman powers of his day and why "higher powers" does refer to any legitimate civil government constituted according to the will of God.

An Essay on Submission to the Powers That Be.-1850-James M. Willson.-In this essay, Willson explores the kinds of civil governments unto which Christians owe a conscientious submission in the Lord. He demonstrates that this only pertains to governments possessing certain characteristics, particularly a profession of Christianity.

Civil Government: An Exposition of Romans XIII. 1-7.-1853-James M. Willson.-This volume contains a very careful and nuanced exposition of a portion of Scripture that has often been put to ill use by those who are not the friends of the rights of God or man.

Argumentative Testimony. According to the Resolution of the Reformed Presbyterian Synod.-1855-James McLeod Willson.-Two chapters for the proposed "Argumentative" portion of the RP Testimony; the first, discussing Testimony Bearing; the second, the Right of Dissent from Immoral Civil Constitutions.

The Duty of Nations to the Church.-1860-David Steele.-An article explaining that nations must serve the Mediator Christ in their national capacity by giving their support to national establishments of religion.

The Loyal Archite; or the Attributes of Legitimate Civil Government.-1875-Thomas Sproull.-A sermon addressing three chief requirements for a legitimate constitution of civil government.

A Case of Conscience.-1878-David Steele.-An short article on the question of Covenanters and taxation.

CIRCULAR No. 2.-1885-David Steele.-On Covenanter identity, the American "civil" war and matters of taxation.