“The two Anointed Ones standing before the Lord of the whole earth”
David Bryce & Son, 129 Buchanan Street
R.W. Hunter, 19 George IV. Bridge
The crown of Christ is the joy of angels. It ought also to be the joy of men. That crown was set upon His head by the Father, that humanity might regain the freedom it had lost. Once Scotland beheld that crown with wondrous clearness. Present events in Church and State force her again specially to think of it. May she again lead the nations toward that centre of unity and source of power.
These humble lectures on this great theme go forth at the earnest wishes of some admirers of Christ’s regal honours. May they be the means of pointing all who read them to Him who, by the way of the Cross, passed upward to wear the Crown.
Glasgow, May, 1893.
RELIGIOUS EQUALITY—NATIONAL DISASTER.
“The nation that will not serve thee [the Church] shall perish.”
“And Gallio cared for none of those things.”—Acts 18:17.
THE statement of Samuel Rutherford before the House of Commons in 1643 is suitable to the present times: “The Lord hath a great work now on the wheels in Britain.” There is much unsettlement throughout the ecclesiastical and political world. The very foundations of theology are being shaken, and the policies of empires are being thrown into commotion. The eyes of the civilized world are turned towards these islands of the sea, and all thoughtful minds are concerned about the progress of the conflict and are perplexed as to the issues that may eventually be revealed.
Scotland once rang with the trumpet calling on the people to muster for the defence of the Crowns of Christ: and now that trumpet must be sounded again if the great inheritance of liberty is not to be abandoned by a land that was once Emmanuel’s. Of all other questions, that of the Established Church is the question of the present and the coming hour. The agitation for and against the continuance of the present Establishment as a National Church is only a superficial eruption; beneath and behind it lies the great doctrine of the Supremacy of Christ, the apprehension and application of which are absolutely necessary if this agitation is to be brought to an issue that shall reflect honour on the Churches and secure prosperity for the commonwealth. The questions which all Christians and citizens must face without delay are: “Is this Empire under the authority of the Lord Jesus?” “Does it possess a statute-book by which it is bound in its Imperial procedure?” “What relation should it sustain to the blessed and only Potentate?” “By what measures should the British throne best promote the crown and dignity of Him who sits on the Throne of thrones?” Should the British Churches and nation universally solve these and like questions in the fear of God, they would save themselves from drifting, without rudder or compass, on the seething sea of sentiment, and would anchor themselves to Jehovah’s Throne.
THREE POSITIONS MAINTAINED.
The conflict of opinion about the Established Church exhibits the existence of three parties, between whom the lines of separation are being ever more clearly defined. One of the parties includes all who plead for Disestablishment on the theory that the State should not have anything to do with religion. Another includes those who regard the present Established Church in her relations with the State as an ideal Establishment, and as the embodiment of all contended for in the brightest period of the Scottish Reformation. The third party includes those who are convinced that the State and the Church, when both scripturally constituted, should enter into the closest alliance possible for two independent powers, and, under the supremacy of Him who is Lord of both, go hand in hand in promoting the Kingdom of Christ, thereby securing ecclesiastical honour and Imperial glory.
The theory underlying the position of the first of these parties is usually designated “Religious Equality;” but also oftentimes; “Christian Secularism” and “Political Justice.” Religious Equality means, as defined by a judge on the bench, that “all religions as such are equally entitled to protection, and all equally unentitled to preference.” It is sometimes used to represent the theory which would commit the State to the recognition and endowment of various forms of religion, as, in one of the Church Defence publications recently issued, in which it is said that at “the Union there was secured for Presbyterianism in Scotland religious equality with Episcopacy in England.” In this use, it implies the leveling up policy of concurrent endowment. But, as employed in this controversy, it implies the leveling down of all religions, and their exclusion from the sphere of national recognition and support. Some of the propositions put forward by prominent advocates of religious equality are the following:—
“The State is specifically an ordinance of man.”
“Religion is none of the concerns of Government.”
“The duty of the civil magistrate to religion is to let it alone.”
“The province of the civil ruler about religion is to have no province at all.”
“No privilege or advantage shall be conceded to Christianity or any other special religion.”
“Civil legislation ought not to extend beyond the outward and secular affairs of communities.”
“The relation of civil government to Christianity in this country really consists in having no relation at all.”
“The entire political system shall be founded and administered on a purely secular basis.”
“The civil ruler is forbidden by Him who is ‘Lord of the conscience’ to exercise his official power in ally way that involves any recognition and assistance of the Church.”
The system of Establishment “invades the divine prerogative,” and “violates the rights of conscience.”
“Religious freedom” consists in giving “Heaven’s truth a fair field against the devil’s lie.”
“To own the magistrate’s right to employ the national resources for the support of any section of the Church is to place Caesar on the throne of Christ.”
“It is not within the province of the State to provide religious instruction for the subject.”
“The most perfect religious equality can alone meet their just demands.”
“Government is like a banking institution or a railroad corporation, which has nothing to do with the religion of the shareholders.”
“The best legislation on the subject of religion is to repeal all previous legislation on the subject.”
These quotations reveal the character of the plan of campaign to which the supporters of religious equality have committed themselves. It is a campaign for the unreserved destruction of all religious distinctions of a national character. The admissions of Roman Catholics, Atheists, and Mohammedans to political offices, are cited with satisfaction its illustrative triumphs of religious equality. A well-known minister in a Presbyterian Assembly boasted of the admission of [Charles] Bradlaugh, the atheist, to Parliament as “an evidence of the growing power of religious equality.” It will place the religion of the Christ on an equality, in the eye of kings and rulers, as such, with Popery, Atheism, and idolatry—all of them equally outside national recognition and approval. It will require legislators as such, not to concern themselves whether Leo XIII., Allah, or Jesus Christ is the King and Lord of this Empire—political Gallios. It sets the ruler the duty of de-Christianizing the state, and of expelling all religion from his legislation and official conduct. Knox has been sneered at by the Broad-Churchmen of today as an iconoclast; but the advocates of religious equality have entered upon a strange destructive crusade. Knox broke down and banished the idols and brought in the religion of Christ, and gave its blessed Author the seat of honour in the national temple; but the iconoclast under religious equality must not only repel the false religions but the true, banishing God with the gods from the houses of Legislation. He has, therefore, dashed into an iconoclastic crusade unprecedented in history. This dogma is the great Imperial heresy of the times, and must not receive any quarter from those who love the weal of their country and the Crown of their King.
APPLICATION OF FRANKLIN’S TEST.
Benjamin Franklin had this test by which to try every opinion that sought to commend itself to popular favour: “If you have a good principle, go through with it.” If a principle be worthy, it must bear application, without a reductio ad absurdum. The application of religious equality will best expose its hollowness, and prove how truly Dr. M‘Crie’s estimate of it was when he said that “the system which would equalize all kinds of religion in the eye of the law, and deprives religion and its institutions of the countenance and support of human laws, though it has a specious and inviting appearance, contains in its bowels, like the Trojan horse, a host of evils which, issuing forth, would spread devastation around, and soon lay the bulwarks and palaces of Christianity in the dust.”
Religious equality denies the lawfulness of any and every Established Church. Its application would terminate the relations between any State and Church, no matter how scriptural their respective characters and their relations. Had it been in existence and power at the Reformation there never would have been the Establishment which the Reformers erected, and for which the Martyrs died. And it necessarily would deny the formation of any alliance between the Church and State at the Millennial period when “the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow into it.”
The application of religious equality will banish the Word of God from all national schools, for “it is not within the province of the State to provide religious instruction for the subject.” It is, therefore, within the province of the State to take away the Word of God from the subject, and keep it away from the subject so far as special State action is concerned! Monstrous dogma! The defenders of religious equality have ridiculed those who suppose that the State may have a religious educational Establishment, while it sweeps away the ecclesiastical Establishment. Obedient to the demands of this abolisher of all national religion, the names of God and His Christ are expunged from the books in use in the national schools of parts of Australia, and the school books in these countries are being similarly purged of all religious references!
The application of religious equality will repeal the law providing for the Protestant succession to the Throne. The freemen of the pre-Revolution times could not bear upon the throne a sovereign who was not free, and they dethroned the Papal sovereign, who was a mere puppet in the hands of the Pontiff. To prevent for ever the enthronement of a Romanist, the framers of the Revolution Settlement wedged the Protestant succession into the political edifice. That law, prohibiting a Roman Catholic mounting the British Throne, is not consistent with religious equality, and would be abolished in this crusade of destruction as the relic of an intolerant age.
REPEAL OF SABBATH LAWS.
The application of religious equality would repeal all legislation in favour of the Sabbath. These laws certainly resist the equality of the Jew and the heathen in the eyes of the law. There is an inequality to multitudes in prohibiting traffic on the Lord’s-day, and preventing the labourer doing his work and obtaining his wages. But here an ingenious device has been hit upon by the advocate of religious equality to justify legislation for the Sabbath in consistency with his theory. The State, he contends, should continue its laws about the first day of the week, not because of its divine appointment, but as the civil Sabbath—as a day useful for holiday and bodily rest, and found serviceable to industry. And frequently, in religious literature, the reader meets with the terms—the civil Sabbath. Is it possible and honourable to attempt to draw a distinction between the Sabbath as a divine and as a civil institution? If Nehemiah had conceived this nineteenth century notion of a divine and a civil Sabbath, and tried to convince the workers in the wine press, sellers of wares, and packmen, that he was insisting on their resting on the Sabbath, not because it was God’s institution but purely for civil purposes, would he not have lost his power over them? Would they not have considered him an old ecclesiastical hand at drawing distinctions? Can the Sabbath be found anywhere in its origin except in the Word of God? Is not the Son of Man Lord also of the Sabbath-day? Will any Christians dare to rob the Sabbath of its divine origin and then make it their servant? Pluck off its crown and make it a slave? Glory from its brow and make it grind in the political mill? Use it for inferior purposes while the Lord, its divine Author, is not acknowledged? An ingenious mechanic has become the author of an invention, certain to be productive of great advantage in his department of skill. He takes out a patent and in due time perfects the invention, stamps it with his own name, retains his right to it but gives, on certain conditions, the world the benefit of it. By and bye, it has been discovered that the rights of the patentee have been tampered with; his name has been obliterated and another name substituted; the offender is cited to the judge, the criminality examined and judgment pronounced. It is a case of wilful and deliberate appropriation: a case of theft of the patent. Thus is the Sabbath dealt with by those who plead for its legislative protection as the civil Sabbath only. The stamp on its brow of the divinity of its origin is tampered with, obliterated. Its benefits are sought after, but under another designation. It is a case of appropriation by nations and rulers as such of a heaven-given institution without recognition of the original authorship: deliberate theft of the patent. The Sabbath itself will resent the dishonour done, and the Lord of the Sabbath will not hold such a nation guiltless. The Lord will bind the nations to Himself by golden chains, but they will turn them into iron. Iron, then, they shall have, and it shall enter into their soul. Now, therefore, kings, be wise.
The application of religious equality would repeal the laws against blasphemy, the law of marriage according to the Scriptures, the use of prayers in Parliament and assize courts, the religious references in the Oath of Coronation, and all oaths in courts of law. The programme of the Liberal League demands that “all judicial oaths in Courts and other departments of Government be abolished.” The complete de-Christianizing of the whole imperial constitution and administration is the necessary result of the application of this new theory, as required by the Presbyterian professor above cited: “The best legislation on religion is to repeal all previous legislation on the subject.” Its application implies the obliteration, politically, of every vestige of the true religion to be found in British legislation—the breaking down of the remaining carved work—all religions, true and false, being thrown off in one mass of confusion. Its application would imply the serving on Christianity of a notice to quit all national instruments and institutions—a decree of eviction to be executed by the officers of the crown. Another Act Rescissory, like that passed by the drunken Parliament of Middleton and the Royalists, would be necessary, removing from the statute book of the realm every law in favour of the Lord and His Anointed. Intoxicated by their Christian secularism, the defenders of religious equality would abolish all such references as marks of an intolerant policy. A few years ago, the hearts of all humane citizens were oppressed by the conduct of the supporters of the Plan of Campaign towards Captain Boycott. They would not till his fields, nor feed his cattle, nor render him any service: in their heartlessness they would leave him to live or starve and die; and the term Boycotting has since been used to designate the policy pursued relentlessly toward the deserted captain. According to the supporters of religious equality, all national countenance and support must be withdrawn from and refused to the true religion. Outside the pale of State recognition, in company with the “devil’s lie,” “heaven’s truth” may live or die. The supporters of religious equality would make sovereigns and legislators the political Boycotters of the religion of Christ.
RIGHTS OF CONSCIENCE—INTOLERANCE.
Several plausible reasons are produced by the advocates of this theory for its adoption and ascendancy. It is pled that as there are so many forms of religion in the nation, the elevation of one form by its national recognition is an injustice to all those who are of different persuasions. Such action is held to involve an intolerance to the conscientious beliefs of others, and national neutrality toward all religions is contended for as the only peaceful solution of the difficulty. Many who adopt this opinion are loud in their assertions that the advocates of the doctrine of national religion hold intolerant and persecuting opinions. The utter weakness of this argument from the “rights of conscience” may be discovered at a glance. If rulers must avoid all legislation that comes into collision with the so-called rights of conscience, then they are instantly deprived of all their functions. There is nothing that can be legislated upon that will not be regarded by some subjects as interfering with their conscientious convictions. To prevent interference with the rights of conscience of the Jew, the law of the Sabbath must be abolished; of the Mormon, the law of Christian marriage must be repealed; of the Voluntary, the Bible must be expelled from the public school; of the Quaker, the army and navy must be disbanded; of the Republican, the Monarchy must be overthrown; and so on, right through the whole catalogue of legislative acts and public action, not even omitting registration, sanitation, and vaccination. Then, when these multitudinous concessions have been made to the clamours of those whose consciences are touched, the reversal of these concessions is required by those whose conscientious convictions those concessions have violated, and they demand the re enactment by the State of the law of the Sabbath; the provision preventing the legalizing of Mormonism, the retention of the Bible in the school, the re-constitution of the army and navy, and the overthrow of Republicanism and re-erection of Monarchy. To satisfy the rights of conscience of the Roman Catholics, not only must the Protestant succession to the throne be repealed, but Leo XIII. must be accepted in his supremacy over the empire. In the presence of the Romanist’s alleged rights of conscience, the rights of all others, and all other rights and liberties, must forsooth sink into the maelstrom of Papal tyranny, and so one conscience only be satisfied—the one that from the Vatican dominates the million consciences that yield their rights to its gigantic assumptions. At every step in legislation, the ruler ignores or resists the assumed rights of some consciences; and if, therefore, he be required to acknowledge all such rights, his duties must be abandoned in despair, the statute-book left a blank, and his office abolished. The rights of all consciences can never be satisfied unless every subject in a kingdom be a legislator and king for himself. The necessary outcome, therefore, of this theory would lead, as put by a popular United Presbyterian minister, “to the dissolution of human society.” But the construction of a State absolutely colourless as to religion is an impossibility. Such a State never has been and never can be. “There never has been,” writes Plutarch, “a State of atheists. If you wander over the earth, you may find cities without walls, without king, without mint, without theatre or gymnasium; but you will never find a city without God, without prayer, without oracle, without sacrifice.”
The promoters of religious equality pose as the champions of liberty and toleration; this is the cup by which they divine. They seem perfectly unconscious of any intolerance or persecution attaching to their theory. Its success is to “end the intolerance of the past, and introduce a millennium of freedom.” Their rod is to swallow up all the rods, and to bloom blossoms and bear almonds! But the universal acceptance of religious equality will violate the conscientious convictions of all who cannot accept it, and its abettors would be the only persons whose conscientious convictions would be satisfied. To the demands of all consciences opposed to their own, they offer an emphatic negative. Shall Christians not have the Christianity they profess acknowledged by the State? No; say the supporters of religious equality. Shall Protestants have their Protestantism? No; say they again. Calvinists the Westminster standards? No. Presbyterians their Presbyterianism? No. Episcopalians their Thirty-nine Articles? No. Roman Catholics their Popery? No. Mohammedans their Mohammedanism? No. Mormons their Mormonism? No. Idolaters their idolatry? No. Shall the defenders of religious equality have their principle acted on by the State Yes, yes; for thus only can the rights of consciences be respected! The conscientious beliefs of all, therefore, who wish their religious beliefs acknowledged by the State are trampled upon by those who cry for liberty under the cover of religious equality. To the Protestant it says: No Bible in the State; to the Roman Catholic, no Romish Missal; to the Mohammedan, no Koran; to the Parsee, no Zendavesta; to the Hindu, no Saastra. And then, having resisted and violated the conscientious beliefs of all these millions, religious equality speaks “great swelling words” about toleration and liberty. When the believers in these various systems come to the doors of the national institutions, religious equality demands that they divorce themselves officially from their deepest religious convictions: it becomes a dictator to their consciences, and lodges an interdict by the power of the State against any effort being made by the Christian (say) to have the Bible recognised as heaven’s statute-book for rulers, and Christ acknowledged as the Sovereign of the Empire. This principle is, therefore, intolerant toward all doctrines and policies which dare attempt to resist its progress toward ascendancy. In Hindu mythology there is a deity, Siva by name. Siva is a chief deity; he dominates all the others, and they are believed to yield without hesitation all his demands, however imperious. In the whole region of questions relating to the duty of nations to religion, equality assumes to be the deity of deities. It expels all religions from the sphere of the State; it clears the Pantheon of all the gods; it is the dogma which domineers over the dogmas of the sects to their exclusion from the political arena; it hurls out the God of the gods, and then reigns alone in the Imperial temple, now a religious vacuity, while it cries out lustily, Toleration, Equality, Liberty. In truth, this Siva of religious equality is the concept of the brain and the workmanship of the hands of its own votaries. And its votaries do admire their own creation. But as in nature, so in the Kingdom of Christ; any domain on earth evacuated of the true religion must be abhorrent to Him who “has ascended up far above all heavens that He might fill all things.”
Religious equality is the opposite extreme to Erastianism. Against Erastianism it wages unceasing warfare. It maintains, and properly enough, that by Erastianism the Established Churches are shackled and the province of Christianity invaded. Soon may the time come when no State shall play the tyrant with Christ—His Church and claims; and when no Church shall yield to any king but her own. But what if religious equality be as Erastian as any Erastianism? What if religious equality exerts a tyranny against Christ and Christianity, as monstrous as any State ever exerted? Notwithstanding all its professions of liberating religion from State control, religious equality fetters Christianity and erects a rival power to its glorious Author. It does not permit Christianity free range over the domain of Imperial politics. It does not permit the teacher in the public schools to turn the thoughts of the scholars, when he chooses, to the Word of God, and the glory of the Redeemer therein revealed; it raises a barrier at the very entrance to the national school, and says to the Scriptures, Hitherto, but no farther; it denudes the Christian ruler of his religious beliefs in his representative functions; it makes the Christian statesman the author of atheistic laws—laws like a pair of shoes, which do not show whether made by a Christian, an Atheist, or an Idolater; it bolts the doors of the Houses of Legislature and all public institutions against the authority of Him who is Head over all principality and power; it forces Christ Jesus tile Lord outside the sphere of imperial action, into an equality with Leo XIII., Allah, and Vishnu; it thrusts Christ out into the manger, because it will not make “room for Him in the inn.” Oh! heartless action toward the Son of the Highest. So that, in rivetting these fetters on Christianity, it rivets on itself for ever the charge of intolerance. And therefore, on this gibbet of tyranny and persecution which it has prepared for the Mordecais of the principle of national religion, let there be swung up this Haman of religious equality, fifty cubits high.
PROFESSION OF HONOUR TO RELIGION.
It is also frequently contended by the admirers of religious equality, that the State is so unscriptural that it is wholly undesirable to require it to make any profession of the true religion or legislate in its favour. There is implied on the part of those who advance this position a high esteem of Christianity—its nobility and glory. Why degrade it by bringing it into a legislative assembly constituted on principles so alien and opposite to its character? What dishonour to religion to introduce it to, and ask recognition of it by a company of men among whom are Romanists, Agnostics, and Atheists! Now, by whose influence have such persons been admitted to membership in Parliament? On whom rests much of the guilt of reducing politics to such degradation? The very persons who now denounce the corruption! Those who have been maintaining that the State had nothing to do with religion, and that it matters not of what religion the legislators may be. Those who have been giving every assistance to Atheists and other irreligious parties to break down all barriers against the admission to power of Infidels, Deists, and other avowed opponents of Christianity.
But this argument, if carried out, would lead to the exclusion of Christianity from the earth. The chaplain must cease preaching the Gospel to the criminals in the jails of the land. The missionary must not entreat the cannibal and the fetish-worshipper to turn to the Saviour of sinners. The evangelist must cease inviting the lapsed masses to profess the name of Christ and stand forth for His cause. The minister of Christ must end his ministry as its work is carried on among some or more who are mere formalists. Ah! the more corrupt, the more need for the gospel; the more serious the malady, the greater the opportunity for the great Physician to reveal His healing power. Beware rest dishonour be done the Lord under the profession of honouring Him. Singular argument, indeed! So glorious a King is He that His claims must be withdrawn from part of His dominions; so holy His sceptre that it must not be stretched over corruption and rebellion; so disaffected has the State-province become that the only alternative to the King’s indignity is the dismemberment of His empire; so revolutionary the rulers that they must not be required to own the King whose bands they have broken; so unlikely is He to acquire the due allegiance of His subjects in revolt that His own loyal subjects elsewhere must consent to and help to execute an inglorious policy of scuttle! Tell it not in Gath. To exclude the Lord’s anointed from the Throne and Parliament of these realms under profession of doing Him honour is to repeat the ceremony of a kiss and a betrayal; to crown Him while crucifying Him. Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him, but smote him therewith in the fifth rib.
It must not be forgotten, indeed, that Christians who advocate religious equality contend that Christian rulers should be actuated by the Spirit of Christ in their public and representative acts, but this is not to be understood as requiring them as rulers to favour and support the true religion. Some of them maintain that this spirit will so actuate rulers that it shall convince them that the withholding of all official influence from religion is the only policy by which the liberty of the subject can be preserved. That is, the claims of Christ will be allowed a secret force on the hearts of legislators, but they must not issue in the form of a public profession; they may and should operate on their hearts, but they must be suppressed in the products of their legislative counsels; their voice may be heard in the souls of legislators, but not in the constitutions they frame The whole crusade against religion in the State is held to spring out of and be directed by this remarkable characteristic of Christianity. It is of the very spirit of Christ, that is, to impel the vandalism of breaking down every reference to the true religion in the laws and customs of the kingdom! It is of the very spirit of Christianity to bar out Christianity from the houses of legislation. Those are acting under the impulse of the very spirit of Christianity when they stand at the doors of public institutions and compel Christ and Christianity to stand without! Then they are the very haters of intolerance and the very champions of liberty! Does the spirit of Christ curtail the government of Christ? Does the spirit of Christ exclude Him from any of His dominions—Him who sits on the imperial throne of the Father, Prime Minister of State over the entire universe! Anathema to such a gospel?
RELIGIOUS EQUALITY PRAYER.
The following prayer, suitable for an admirer of religious equality, may help to expose the character and tendency of this sectarian tenet. The quotations indicated are taken from the statements of its defenders:
O King of Nations, we praise Thee that the principles of toleration and liberty are better understood in our times than at any previous period of the world’s history. We confess the sin we and our fathers have so long committed in favouring Christianity by our national acts and administration, and acknowledge with sorrow that thereby Christianity was dishonoured, and intolerance and persecution inflicted on our fellow-subjects who have not accepted Christianity nor professed belief in the Saviour. We mourn that Roman Catholics have been so long disqualified for political offices in these kingdoms, and we rejoice that they are now admitted to the highest trusts under the Crown. We praise the Lord that the “narrow ledge” that prevented Atheists becoming members of Parliament has been broken down, and that they are now members of Parliament and Privy Councilors—evidences these of the “growing power of religious equality.” We rejoice also that a follower of Mahomet has been chosen by a constituency as their representative, and is now elevated to a seat in the House of Commons. We thank Thee that the Scottish Education Act excludes the Bible and religious teaching from the schools during the school hours, nationally provided for, and we pray that all School Boards may soon exclude the Bible and all religious instruction from the schools they superintend. Convince, O Lord, all the electors throughout this empire that belief in Thee is not necessary in candidates for Parliament, and make them so broad and liberal that they shall choose representatives, “irrespective of their religious opinions.” Convince the statesmen and politicians in these lands that “the entire political system should be founded and administered on a purely secular basis.” Convince them that they are to act on the principle that “religion is none of the concerns of government,” and that “all legislation in affairs of religion is an encroachment on the rights of man, and an invasion of the prerogatives of God.” Make them good men by Thy Holy Spirit, but persuade them that they must not so act that “any privilege or advantage shall be conceded by them as rulers to Christianity.” Disappoint, O Lord, the efforts of those in the United States who are labouring for the recognition of God and His Son in the Constitution of the Republic, and convince those who plead for it that the success of their movement would mean intolerance and persecution to all who held a different opinion. Level down by Thy power all parts of our laws which favour Christianity, persuade our legislators that their duty to Christianity is simply to “give to heaven’s truth a fair field against the devil’s lie,” and convince them that “the best legislation on religion is to repeal all previous legislation on the subject.” Complete the work of reformation, Thou Governor among the Nations, by giving success to this principle of religious equality, and bring in soon that golden age of “political liberty” when the rights of conscience of all subjects shall be respected, and when “no religion in the State” shall be the inscription on the natural arms and the governing policy of this and all the empires of the world. This petition we offer in the name of Him who is Head over all things, to His body, the Church, and God over all, blessed for ever. Amen.
PRAYER FOR THE SUCCESS OF MORLEY.
A few months ago John Morley stood as a candidate for the representation of Newcastle in the Imperial Parliament. Morley is an Agnostic, has often written the name of God as if one of the gods many and lords many of the idolatrous world, and is “a blank atheist, who looks upon the religion of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as a stumbling-block in the way of civilisation.” At the time of his candidature, the Christians of Newcastle, who supported him, held a prayer meeting in favour of his return. They besought the God of heaven to lift to a seat in the Cabinet of Great Britain this “blank atheist.” Had they met to pray for the conversion of John Morley to the faith of Christ, their action would have been worthy, but their prayer meeting for his return to Parliament showed that the infidel theory of government is considered consistent with the revelation of Christ. They assumed that the Lord of nations was willing to have as a ruler in the nation a man who cannot and does not acknowledge Him. They assumed that he who denied the rights of God would be one of the best guardians of the rights of men! They pled for the assistance of Him, who requires kings and governments to serve Him, to elevate to government a man who declines His assistance in governmental affairs, a man who bolts the doors of Parliament against the presence and authority of the King of kings. They assumed that God ought to help into Parliament a man who is an avowed enemy of His Son and of all His claims upon the individual and community at large. Is it any wonder that this legislator is now pressing measures on the Parliament and the country which imperil the rights of man, as he already spurns the Crown rights of the Son of God? Those who think that it matters not what religion rulers may profess should take counsel from Ahaziah’s captains and their fifties, from the Romans under Nero and their own ancestors under the Stuarts. What guarantee is there for liberty in an empire directed by rulers, who hold the most opposite opinions on religion, exerting the most powerful influences in their actions and lives? Is liberty safe in the hands of Ritualists, Prelatists, Romanists, Agnostics, and Atheists? What a Babel of tongues would such a Parliament be? With this motley crew entitled to direct the helm of the ship of State, where are the passengers willing to trust themselves aboard? Are they reliable custodians of the millions on millions of subjects of this civilised nation? Governments so composed carry within themselves the elements of their own dismemberment. To attempt the conduct of the affairs of empires by rulers who ignore God is, in the laboratory of imperial politics, an experiment accompanied by tremendous risk. It is laying moral dynamite, ready for a disastrous explosion. “Those nations shall be utterly wasted.”
MONARCH? MULTITUDE? JEHOVAH?
This controversy, now forced in the public arena, leads to the great doctrine that lies at the foundation of personal and political existence and prosperity. It raises a question which shall yet shake souls and empires to their centres, which ought to be faced and must without delay, and whose proper solution shall usher in millennial glory. That question is: Where is the Right of Sovereignty? In God or man? This is now the solemn alternative to humanity—the will of God or the will of man. Which? On his creation, while still in the image of Elohim, man did not possess a sovereignty originating with and terminating in himself. He was the subject of his Creator King, and his liberty could only be maintained by persevering in allegiance to his Lord: his will in joyous subjection to the will of the Highest. His fall consisted in the rejection of the sovereign will of God and the enthronement of his own will. It consisted in the assumption of a sovereignty in himself and the displacement of the sovereignty of God. Under Satanic influence, man cast off the golden bonds of Elohim, and sought a freedom in self-government—in the assumption of a right vested in God alone. This is the legacy of the first Adam, a legacy to which all his posterity, individually and corporatively, cling with the keenest tenacity, but which must be renounced and denounced if they are to recover the freedom of their Edenic state. All the empires of antiquity which have arisen and passed like green bay trees—as Syria, Egypt, Greece, and Rome—were erected on the man-will system of government; and their cemeteries with solitary obelisks, shattered columns in thousands, and ruined temples and palaces, proclaim that their Babels were built without the blessing of God. The Son of Man came to earth to elevate before the eyes of the world in revolt this legislative sovereignty in the everlasting God, as the means by which the prince of the power of the air shall be hurled back from his usurpations, and men in all their relations reach true liberty and happiness at the footstool of the throne of God and the Lamb.
By whose will, then, is Government to be conducted? The will of man, or the will of God? In its efforts to assert the assumed legislative right of sovereignty, the will of man has sought to exercise its powers in a variety of forms. One of the most monstrous of these is priestcraft, in which a fallible creature at the Vatican has sought, by the blasphemous usurpation of the priestly office, to secure his enthronement over the kings and kingdoms of the world. Another is by the temporal sovereigns, like the Nebuchadnezzars and Caesars, becoming autocrats and ruling at their own absolute free will. And the third is by governments existing by the will of the people and appointed by them to carry out their own will. In every case, the will of man is the central principle of action; in every case, God is flung out of the system. By the third this nation is menaced at the present time—“government of the, people, by the people, for the people.” Rid of priest-craft three centuries ago, and rid of king craft two centuries ago, let Scotland beware lest she fall under demo-craft. There has been the tyranny of the priest and the tyranny of the monarch, there might be the tyranny of the multitude. The dogma of the divine right of kings has been exploded; there is need to explode the dogma of the divine right of peoples. The juggernaut car of popular opinion may be as destructive of human liberty as that of the autocrat on his throne. And the principle of religious equality which challenges and resists as intolerance the proposal to have a nation, as such, acknowledge the nation’s King, is a rebel in His dominions, and plucks the crown of sovereignty from His brow to set it on its own. At its first meeting in London a Socialistic Society toasted the “Majesty of the people.” This opinion springs from the old Adamic insurrection in Eden. There is no seat of arbitrary power on the earth. If taken from the monarch and vested in the people, the action is but the transfer of the power—a transfer from thrones to subjects, and the substitution of the tyranny of the mob for the tyranny of the monarch. Deplorable, indeed, is the condition of a people in the hands of a Napoleon or a Charles; and deplorable, also, is a ruler like Pilate in the hands of the people, and of a nation in the power of the subjects, like France in her Revolution and in the period of the Commune. Neither in monarch nor in mob must legislative sovereignty be vested. From both and all others let the sovereignty be wrested and recognised as in God the fountain of all authority. Absolute power is a becoming garland only on the brow of infinite Majesty. It is in Him alone “whose throne is in the heavens and whose kingdom ruleth over all.” But now, says Froude the historian, “the will of the Almighty is banished to the conscience and the closet.” Sovereignty in one man, as in the monarch, or in millions, as in the multitude, means subjection to the will of humanity. Infallibility for government does not reside in one fallible person nor in ten million fallibles. The exercise of sovereignty in either case must result in servitude: sovereignty in God means freedom. Thrones and subjects, monarchs and multitudes must repudiate all assumed rights of self-government, and come to Him who sits on the throne of the universe. The sovereignty in God the Father, upheld and administered by God the Son, is fit to command personal and public consent, universally. The Adamic legacy of an asserted right of self-government must be wholly renounced. Only through the throne of God and the Lamb, can humanity recover its lost inheritance of freedom. All sovereignties must uncrown themselves in the presence of this Sovereign; all supremacies must bow before His Supremacy; all consciences must yield up their claims to the Lord of conscience; and the “divine rights” of kings and peoples must be abdicated for ever in favour of the Rights of tile Divine King—Him whose absolute sovereignty is emblazoned on His vesture and thigh, King of kings and Lord of lords.
OPPOSITION TO BIBLICAL DOCTRINES.
Religious equality arrays its forces against some of the most prominent doctrines of the divine Word. On the character of civil government and civil rulers, the statements of the word of God are numerous and direct. “The powers that be are ordained of God,” but how can that power be the ordinance of God which must not acknowledge God? Its recognition of God ought to be one of its first acts, for then it places itself in right relation to its Lord. How can it be the ordinance of God if it do not accept the Word of God? It may be an ordinance of man for the execution of man’s will; but religious equality will prevent it rising above that level, and denounces as persecution of consciences any act acknowledging itself as a servant of Jehovah. Never, in any proper sense, can government be described as an ordinance of God while it declines to acknowledge God honestly and openly. As an ordinance of God, it will have as administrators those who profess belief in God. A man disloyal to God, as an Agnostic or Atheist, cannot administer the civil institution at the head of which Jehovah stands. “He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God,” is the dying song of King David when the Spirit of God spake by him and His Word was in his tongue; and he sings of the happiness of the nation with rulers of this character, “and it (the nation) shall be as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, a morning without clouds, and as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after the rain.”
Religious equality denies the doctrine of Christ’s Kingship of the nations. The Lord Jesus is vested by the Father with the entire powers of the Imperial Throne, and His dominion includes nations in their corporate character as well as the individual subjects. They are not, while His subjects individually, at liberty to reject or ignore Him nationally. As nations, they are not swung loose from His dominion and dismissed on a career of self-directed lawlessness. While professing to serve Him, they are not to frame their laws so that His presence in their nation might not be known. The action of any dependency of Britain in professing loyalty to the Queen, while carefully ignoring the mention of her name and titles in their official procedure lest her enemies might be offended, would justly be regarded as disaffection and treason. By its demand upon the nation not to favour the true religion, religious equality deprives the nation of one of its highest privileges, shuts Christ out of one province of His delegated dominions, and curtails and dismembers the empire of the King Universal. It is an honour to kings to favour and support the cause for which the King of kings lived in poverty and died on the cross.
Besides, religious equality is opposed to the Reformation so much advanced in these Covenanted lands. The Reformers applied the doctrines of the Scriptures to the public institutions of the kingdom. The nation as such boldly confessed the Lord as King. It was the age of Parliamentary deeds in defence of Christianity, and, therefore, an age in which free States and Constitutions sprang into existence. On the duty of nations and their rulers serving the Lord, there was not a note of discord among all the Reformers. Nonconformists, Episcopalians, Independents, Presbyterians, all held firmly by the obligations resting upon the nation and civil rulers, as such, to profess and support the cause of the Lord and His anointed. The theory of religious equality was not so much as dreamt of in those days. The statement made by a committee of advocates of the theory that the application of it would “complete the work of Reformation,” bears its absurdity on its unblushing forehead. Had these “apostles of toleration” lived and prevailed three centuries ago, not a single Act in favour of the Reformation could have been entered on the Statute Book of the realm. There are still some who garnish the sepulchres of the martyrs while proving their direct descent from those who slew them.
DEGRADATION OF LEGISLATORS.
The tendency of this sectarian principle is to lower the divine institution of Civil Government. Set to execute the popular will, rulers are deprived of the highest standard in the discharge of their duties. They are prevented looking upward to find out and do the will of God, and are compelled to look downward to find and carry out popular opinion. They become no longer statesmen who, as ministers of God, are to attend to the high concerns of their office by leading those entrusted to them to the Throne of God, but the mere presidents and managers of a huge secular corporation—securing order, suppressing crime, manipulating finance, and maintaining an efficient army and navy. They are prevented the use of the best agency in all their dominions for promoting morality, maintaining peace, and bringing down happiness to their subjects. Their office as God’s servants is paralysed, and these “lieutenants of God, in whose sessions God alone Himself doth sit and judge,” are withheld from the public service of their great Commander-in-Chief. It may be contended that they are elected by the people, and so bound to execute the people’s will. But ministers also are elected by the people, yet are they the servants of God, and then the best servants of the people when they are most fully the servants of the living God. The exclusion of all duties about religion from the office of the public representative, therefore, does not broaden his office, but contracts it; does not enrich, but robs it; pulls off the crown of gold, and gives one of iron and clay. Civil rulers, elected by a God-fearing nation, and rightly apprehending their momentous responsibilities, are the heaven-appointed representatives of divine authority over their fellow-men. Such rulers would not degrade their office, but encircle it with lasting renown. To deny them the right to legislate for Christianity is to make them lacqueys to the will of man and bring about their degradation.
On the moral tone of Christian men who sincerely adopt it, religious equality must inflict serious injury. The Christian who from any standpoint deems all religions as entitled to equality, cannot escape a process of demoralization, and more especially when he is convinced that his rejection of them all, including Christianity, is the means of securing liberty to the nation. As an individual he professes the religion of Christ, as a politician he must ignore it; personally, he prefers the Bible to the Koran of the Mohamnmdan and the traditions of the Papacy, officially he must consider them all on an equality; personally he honours the Lord Jesus as the Prince among myriads, officially he must place Him on a level with Allah and Leo XIII.; personally he may take the Saviour with him in all his actions in the Church and society, officially he must leave Him without when he enters upon his duties as a representative of the people. In the former relations, the path of liberty is by the acceptance and profession of Christ, in the latter by His exclusion and rejection. He must, therefore, be a person acknowledging two standards of belief and action, and possessing two consciences. Under the two forces, the mind and conscience are offered insult; legislators dwindle from the lofty character of Christian statesmen into the dwarfed condition of political opportunists. The damaging influence in the public sphere spreads into the ecclesiastical and personal. He who regards all religions as equal from any position is likely soon to regard them as equal from all positions. Injury done one part of the mental and moral system must, like pressure on any part of the brain, spread into all parts of the mental and moral personality, creating a fatal gangrene. If the political recognition of all religions as equal be productive of great benefits to a people, may not an ecclesiastical recognition of the same equality be productive of benefits to the Church? If it conserves liberty in the State, how can it fail to do so in the Church? If the popular will be adopted in matters of rule, why not in matters of religion? Thus the uncrowning of Christ as King of nations leads to the uncrowning of Him in the Church. And is not this public policy lifting up its head in the Church? Is there not an ever-increasing cry for the toleration in the Church of men of all creeds, and the leveling of all barriers in ecclesiastical acts and standards that inflict “disabilities” upon those of differing beliefs? The Church of Christ must be made a “common” for persons of all religions, and this, forsooth, would usher in a period when the lion and the lamb would lie down together! Has religious equality produced such a millennium in the State? Never, perhaps, for the last two centuries, has there been more political animosity and social confusion, and yet, never before has religious equality been so prevalent. Nor shall there ever be lasting peace and prosperity till the spirit of legislation cease to be Christ-expelling, and till the nation cast out from rule the avowed enemies of the Lord, and fully honour Him who is “great in Zion, and high above all the people.”
The titles of this new candidate for popular patronage exhibit an attempted imposition on the public mind—“Religious Equality,” “Political Justice,” “Christian Secularism,” “Political Freedom.” This vulture, which despatches Christianity with the carcases of false religions from the field of politics, bedecks itself with the feathers of the peacock. It is a cry in the name of Christ to expel Him from politics! A happy time it was for Mansoul when the throne of Emmanuel was erected within the city, and His banner waved in triumph over the citadel; but Mansoul’s enemies must, if possible, regain their lost dominions, and so “they disguise themselves with apparel, proffer to let themselves as servants of the famous town of Mansoul, and pretend to do for their masters as beneficially as may be.” Then, “Lord Covetousness called himself by the name of Prudent-Thrifty, and Lord Anger called himself by the name of Good-Zeal.” Britain, and especially Scotland, in the Reformation, was like Mansoul when Emmanuel was welcomed as King. The land was Hephzibah and Beulah. “Where was there a town, a city (a nation), that could compare with Mansoul (Scotland)?” Now, however, a crusade is being conducted with much keenness, whose success would expel Emmanuel from the Throne. The nation is in peril of being drawn away from allegiance to the King by destructive principles with fascinating designations. Hence the Lord Ignore-Christianity-in-Legislation calls himself by the name of “Christian Secularism;” the Lord Regard-Popery and-Protestantism-as-equally-to-be-Denied-National-Favour calls himself by the name of “Religious Equality;” and the Lord Deny-to-National-Society-the-right-of-acknowledging-Christ calls himself by the name of “Political Liberty.” So the professed friends of Mansoul “came into the market place, clothed in sheep’s russet, which was also now in a manner as white as were the white robes of the men of Mansoul. Now these men could speak the language of Mansoul well, so when they offered to let themselves to the townsmen they were presently taken up. They asked but little wages, and promised to do their master’s great service.”
In the progress of that Holy War, however, these professed deliverers of the city were eventually defeated, and Emmanuel remained Sovereign over Mansoul, “the beloved of His heart.” So, whatever may be the varying fortunes of the several parties in this great “war in heaven,” the issue is as certain as the promises of God. The time is coming when right-hearted Christian men shall no longer make the Crown Rights of Emmanuel a compliment to the clamours of Secularists, Atheists, and others. The fetters of the dragon, out of whose mouth goes one of those frog-like spirits which gather the kings together for the great day of God Almighty, shall be wrested away in righteous judgment. The legislative sovereignty shall be recognised by the nations as residing in the will of the Father through Him who sits on the Father’s imperial throne. The assumption of legislative right in humanity shall be hurled with its prime author into the bottomless pit. Christ Jesus the Lord shall be acknowledged, not simply as a valuable servant of thrones and crowns, or a mere prompter of principles to legislatures and their members, but as the great plenipotentiary of the God of heaven and the Imperial Chief of the commonwealths of the world. The imperialism of the Caesars shall become more imperial than ever by the hearty recognition of the Imperialism of Jesus. All false principles hitherto barring the King from His universal dominions, shall be flung off with the crash of a judgment. Then shall be the time of which the poet king of Israel sang:—
All kings upon the earth that are,
Shall give Thee praise, O Lord;
When as they from Thy mouth shall hear
Thy true and faithful Word.
Yea, in the righteous ways of God
With gladness they shall sing,
For great’s the glory of the Lord,
That doth for ever reign.
ERASTIAN ESTABLISHMENTS—ECCLESIASTICAL DISHONOUR.
“King upon My holy hill of Zion.”—Ps. 2:6.
“The Prince of the Kings of the Earth.”—Rev. 1:5.
RELIGIOUS EQUALITY is sharply opposed by Erastianism. The two are opposite extremes. The former expels religion from the domain of politics, the latter retains but oppresses it. The former, while professing to honour Christ, bars all public institutions against Him; the latter admits Him into these institutions, but immediately on His entrance lays fetters on His feet. The one is intolerant in the complete exclusion of the King from part of His dominions; the other, while admitting His right to rule, impedes the free exercise of the Rights of His Crowns. The one is the anti-Christ of expulsion and rejection; the other the anti-Christ of restriction and domination. The one is the tyranny of prohibition; the other the tyranny of enslavement. The one shuts off the light from the imperial edifice by arresting the current at the meter; the other dims and extinguishes it as it begins to shine. There must be no interference by the one or the other with the religion of Jesus the Christ; no dictatorship to Him who is over principalities and powers. Both despotisms must be thrown out of the world. The King of Zion and the Prince of the kings of the earth must be welcomed within the political domain, and there exalted to the seat of honour amid the acclamations of all churchmen and statesmen, peasants and patricians, Christians and citizens—Blessed is the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the Highest.
When the relations between the Church and State are Erastian in character, two evils are apparent and inseparable. One consists in the invasion by the State of the freedom of the Church; the other in the submission of the Church. One is in the usurpation by the State of the rights of the Church’s King: the other in the yielding up by the Church of those rights of her King which have been usurped. In the former case the State inflicts the Erastianism; in the latter, the Church acquiesces and accepts. The State is the enslaver, the Church is the enslaved. Members of the Church enslaved too, oftentimes are and act as members of the State enslaving. The relationship of Church and State when thus unscripturally constituted is the living illustration of the antichristian principle of Erastianism; they are both, associates in casting dishonour on their own only King.
CLAIMS OF THE ESTABLISHED CHURCH.
The Established Church of Scotland has of late been loudly proclaiming that her relations with the State are not Erastian, and that she possesses all freedom and independence. In these proclamations, there appears to lurk a consciousness of the existence of some bonds somewhere. The following assertions are taken from the publications of the Church Defence Committee, and the speeches of the most prominent ministers and other gentlemen of the Establishment:—
“The establishment of Presbyterianism in Scotland has been the glory of our national history.”
“To-day the Church of Scotland confronts the world as the freest of all the Churches of Christendom.”
“The Church of Scotland is in alliance with the State on terms honourable to herself.”
“The old statutes regulating the relations between Church and State in Scotland are really all that could be required.”
“These relations represent a popular triumph, establishing together the liberties of the people and the liberties of the Church.”
“We have realised the dream of the great Italian statesman Cavour—a free Church in a free State.”
“Scotland has given to the world a Church, free as the winds and yet connected with the State, such as never existed before, and will be a model for future guidance.”
“We are lighting for the honour of our Lord and Master—for the crown rights of Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“The National Church stands on the historic ground of Presbyterianism,” and is “now what the martyrs suffered and struggled to make her.”
“It is the consummation of some hundreds of years of bitter and laborious strife, in which the people of Scotland secured this great homage to the Church of their covenant.”
These confident assertions demand a denial and exposure. The Crowns of Christ and the history of the land call for a refutation of them as defiant and unfounded. The sequel will demonstrate that the Established Church is not only not the freest of all the churches in Christendom, but is firmly bound by Erastian fetters; that the liberties of the Church were servilely surrendered in the Church’s erection, and that the efforts in her defence, as related to the State, are in favour of the perpetuation of the dishonour—the stain—on the glory of “the Crown rights of Jesus Christ our Lord.” Every Christian should rejoice in all the truths professed, and good works done, by the National Church; but all the more should he labour to secure for her the liberty she claims, and lead her to be valiant for that King and Lord, of whose royal prerogatives she claims to be a noble champion.
CHRIST’S HEADSHIP OF THE CHURCH.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the King and Head of the Church. The everlasting Father has set on the throne of the Church the everlasting Son. He has not placed the Crown of the Church on the head of presbyter, or priest, or pope, or prelate, or prince, or Parliament. He has freed her from subjection to all others, and placed her under Him who redeemed her with His own blood. “I have set My King,” not the kings, “over My holy hill of Zion.” This doctrine blazes like a sun in the heavens of revelation. Her King, the Church is expected to acknowledge and serve, fully and joyfully. From Him she is to receive her doctrine, worship, discipline, and government—“the city lieth foursquare.” Through Him she possesses an inherent autonomy; into her province no power has a right to intrude. To invade her jurisdiction is to lay unhallowed hands on the ark of God. She must not permit any authority on earth to interfere with her freedom under her King. In all such resistance, the whole authority of her King, who is over all things, is pledged for her help. To be silent in the presence of any invasion of her liberty, is a “detestable neutrality,” and acquiescing in it makes her an accomplice in dishonour and disloyalty to her Lord.
Brilliantly did this doctrine shine forth in Scotland at the time of the Reformation. The Reformers threw off the power of priest and prince over the Church, and nobly vindicated the rights of the Lord Himself to rule within His own Kingdom. For this Kingship the King Himself suffered to the death; this right He sealed with His blood, for it was the special accusation against Him, the reason for his condemnation before Pilate, and the superscription on His cross; and for it, in the spirit of their Saviour King, the martyrs loved not their lives unto the death. The authors of the Second Book of Discipline (1578) say: “This power ecclesiastical flows immediatlie from God, throw the Mediator, Jesus Chryst, and is spirituall, nocht haiffing a temporall head on erthe, but onlie Chryst, the spirituall Kyng and Governour of His Kirk, now in glorie within the heavines, at the right hand of His Father.” In the paper of “Grievances” against the king’s attempt (1582) to create bishops, it is written: “Your Majesty, by the advice of some counsellors, is taught to take upon your Grace that spiritual power and authority which properly belongeth to Christ, as only King and Head of the Kirk, so that in your Grace’s person some men press to erect a new Popedom, as though your Majesty could not be full King and head of this commonwealth, unless as well the spiritual as the temporal sword be put in your hand, unless Christ be bereft of His authority, and the two jurisdictions confounded which God hath divided, which directly tends to the wreck of all true religion.” Writing from Blackness Prison (1616), John Welsh said: “Who am I that He should have called me to witness that good confession theft Jesus Christ is the King of saints, and that His Church is a most free Kingdom, yet, as free as any Kingdom under heaven, not only to convocate, keep and hold her meetings and assemblies, but also to judge of all her affairs among his members and subjects. The Church is free in her government from all other jurisdiction except Christ’s.” In the Glasgow Assembly (1638) Alexander Henderson said:—“Whatsoever is ours we shall render it to His Majesty, even our lands, lives, liberties, and all; but for that which is God’s and the liberties of His house, we do think neither will His Majesty’s piety suffer him to crave, neither may we grant them although he should crave it.” And Gillespie writes (1646):—“This controversy reacheth up to the heavens, and the top of it is above the clouds. It doth highly concern Jesus Christ Himself, in His glory, royal prerogative, and kingdom, which He hath and exerciseth as Mediator and Head of His Church. The crown of Jesus Christ, or any part, privilege, or pendicle thereof, must needs be a noble and excellent subject.” Likewise, also, said all the reformers and martyrs. For the glory of their King they fought and fell. They were honoured of Him to secure the Church’s independence and foil every attempt by the kings of the land to pluck off His crown. By ecclesiastical deeds and Parliamentary statutes, the regal rights of Christ were recognised and the freedom of the Church guaranteed. In those times the Church of Christ reflected the glory of her King; she fulfilled the glowing imagery of the Revelation: “A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.”
The Church was not destined long to enjoy the peace and security which her heroic struggles had achieved. The Herods, Caesars, and Charleses of the earth have not been able to endure an independent spiritual power within their dominions. They are troubled by its presence, and in their jealousy and autocracy they must curb the exercise of its freedom. If diplomacy fail, the sword must be plucked from its scabbard. In 1660, this monster of kingly arrogance arose, like the beast of prophecy which was “exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron and his nails of brass, which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet.” The King demands for himself authority in the Kingdom of Christ. By the Acts Rescissory, all the Parliamentary Acts in favour of the Reformation were declared treasonable and repealed, and the noblest attainments of the Reformation swept away by one fell stroke. But God had a seven thousand in Scotland, all of whom became Elijahs and publicly dared the monarch’s fury, and lifted up the banner for Christ’s crowns. They did not stand on the lee side of the hill while the wind was blowing a hurricane against the temple of the Lord. Their blood was shed like water; persecution “dragged them into fame and chased them up to heaven.” In the furnace, heated seven times by the royal tyrant and his sycophantic followers, there war the “form of a fourth, even the Son of God.” At length, after well nigh thirty years of the Prelatic Inquisition, the Stuart dynasty was hurled from the British throne, the claws of the beast were torn away, and liberty from tyranny returned and folded its wings to rest once more in the land.
At the Revolution, however, while the sword went back into its scabbard, the Church and State were not restored to their former glory. In part only was the arm of the civil power withdrawn from the authoritative control of the Church of Christ. The Established Church which, as at present constituted, was brought into existence at the Revolution, submitted to the fetters of an Erastian supremacy. Though she has had several struggles against them, and parts of her have wrested them off and come out to freedom, they yet gall her still though she deems herself the freest of all the churches in Christendom. Some pillars, indeed, of the Reformation edifice may be seen in the Church and State of the Revolution settlement, but these are marred and mutilated, and the observer may behold surmounting the new structure not the golden crowns of Him in whom is vested the universal supremacy, but the clayey crown of an earthly sovereign, which, in its inherent right of an ecclesiastical headship, proclaims itself a rival to the King of Zion and the King of kings.
THE ERASTIAN REVOLUTION SETTLEMENT.
William III. was certainly a strong Protestant, but he was as certainly a strong Episcopalian and a strong Erastian. He had no sincere intention of abolishing Prelacy in Scotland and establishing Presbyterianism as maintained by the reformers and martyrs. He absolutely refused to give his assent to an act which was proposed by the Presbyterian suffers, asserting that Presbytery was the only form of Church government consistent with the Word of God. Had he persisted, however, in his desire to establish Episcopacy, he would probably have been dismissed to the Continent whence he came. But there were opportunist politicians then as now. Presbyterianism, in a modified form, was conceded to the popular demand, while the King and Carstares held as firmly as possible the reins of government over the Church. The Act of 1690, establishing the Church, was drawn up from the position of a statesman who dared not brave the opposition of popular opinion, but who was anxious to secure all the ecclesiastical power he could short of rousing up the sufferers under Prelacy and their sympathisers. The proper course for a faithful Church would have been to call an Assembly; adopt deliverances condemnatory of the recent persecutions; reaffirm her adherence to the standards previously sanctioned; pledge herself anew to the covenanted attainments of the Reformation; petition the King and Parliament to repeal the Acts Rescissory and renew them; identify herself with the martyrs by owning their testimonies, and reaffirm her own inherent independence under Christ her only Lord. This was the character of the Christ-honouring procedure of the Church under Henderson and others at the commencement of the Second Reformation, and had there been Melvilles, Hendersons, Gillespies, Cargills, and Renwicks at the Revolution, can there be any doubt that that Settlement would have been more fully illustrative of the glory of Christ’s Crowns? But no Assembly was held till after the State declared the Church’s Establishment. The Settlement of the Presbyterian Church is expressly declared to have been “in prosecution of the declaration of the Estates of this Kingdom.” The Convention of Estates took the first public step toward the erection of the Church, by the presentation of their Claim of Right, dated 11th April, 1689. The Act of 1690 enacts the Establishment of the Church in pursuance of that Claim. In the Act, not the least reference is made to the Catechisms, the Covenants, the Form of Church Government, and Directory for Worship. The Settlement was not carried out “at the instance of the Church.” No representation had been made by her, she had not been consulted, she had not even met, her first Assembly was summoned by the very Act by which she was established. The Church was settled by the State before her voice was heard, or allowed to be heard. The clause in the Act, June 7, 1690, citing the first Assembly, is—
“Their Majesties do hereby appoint the first meeting of the General Assembly of this Church, as above established, to be at Edinburgh, the third Thursday of October next to come, in this instant year, 1690.”
The Claim of Right, therefore, in pursuance of which the Church was established, was passed 16 months before the first Assembly met; and the Act Establishing the Church, four months before the first Assembly. Besides, the Act of 1690 is thus referred to in an Act of 1707: “An Act ratifying the Confession of Faith, and settling the Presbyterian Church Government, with the haill other Acts of Parliament relating thereto, in prosecution of the declaration of the Estates of this Kingdom containing the Claim of Right, bearing date 11th April, 1689.” In face of these facts, the statement by the Duke of Argyll that “the great leading statutes of 1592 and 1690 were all statutes dictated by the Church to Parliament, and were passed at the instance of the Church,” is a gross misrepresentation, and unworthy any unbiased student of Scottish history. Before a Parliamentary Committee, the late Dr. Burns confessed that the Church in 1690 accepted a State constitution. He was asked, “How came the Church in 1690 to accept a ‘State constitution?’” His reply was, “The Church accepted a ‘State constitution,’ not because all her members were satisfied with the principle of doing so, but because they could not help themselves.” The king and his prime minister had, in a large measure, succeeded in their policy. They had appointed the Church’s constitution and standards, and called her first Assembly, and the Church must accept the whole. They had prepared, in imitation of the Prelatic fashions, the Erastian strait-jacket, and the Church must put it on. Further, a “representative of our Royal person” was commissioned to attend the first Assembly, and see that the jacket was properly adjusted.
The origin of the Lord High Commissioner is to be found in the Act, 1592, revived by the Act, 1690, and the clause regarding him runs thus: “And declaris that it sall be lauchfull to the Kirk and Ministrie everilk yeir at the leist, and after pro re nata, as occasion and necessitie sail require, to hold and keep Generall Assemblies: Providing that the King’s Majestie, or his Commissioner with thame, to be appoyntit be his Heires, be present at ilk General Assemblie, befoir the dissolving thereof nominat and appoint tyme and place quhen and quhair the Generall Assemblie bets holden.” The power claimed through the revival of this Act, in 1690, the King was intent upon asserting. He appointed a Royal Commissioner to the Assembly, which was expected to accept the State constitution. Six days before the meeting he wrote a letter to the Assembly, in which he said that “as we have a particular regard in countenancing this Assembly with our authority and a representative of our royal person, so we expect that your management shall be such as we shall have no reason to repent of what we have done. A calm and peaceful procedure will be no less pleasing to us than it becometh you. Moderation is what religion enjoins, neighbouring churches expect from you, and we recommend to you. And we assure you of our constant favour and protection in your following of these methods, which shall be for the real advantage of true piety and the peace of our Kingdom. Given under our royal hand at our Court at Kensington, the 10th day of October, 1690.” The reading of this missive in the Assembly, and the presence of the Lord High Commissioner, must have been felt by the members as the warbling of a royal cat o’ nine tails over the ecclesiastical back.
The first Assembly was held in October, 1690. The next was appointed to meet on November, 1691, but it was prorogued by royal proclamation till January, 1692. When met, it entered on, a discussion about its own powers and independence, when suddenly the “representative of our royal person” declared it dissolved. Many of the members presented an address to the King, regretting the action of the Assembly, and praying “his Majesty to overlook what is past, and be graciously pleased to call a General Assembly, wherein they promise such a management as they doubt not will be acceptable.” But his Majesty declined to hold another Assembly till March, 1693. The next was called for April, 1695, adjourned till July, adjourned again till November, and yet again adjourned till December. The royal proclamation adjourning the Assembly called for April, 1695, till July, runs thus:—
“William, by the grace of God, King, etc. . . to our Lyon King at arms and his brethren, heralds, macers of our Privy Council, pursuivants, messengers at arms, sheriffs, etc., greeting: Forasmuch as we by our Commissioner to the last General Assembly did inderdict a new Assembly to meet the day of April next, and our affairs not allowing it to meet at that time, it is our will and we have thought fit to adjourn the meeting of the said General Assembly from the said day of April next to the 11th day of July thereafter. Therefore we, with the advice of the Lords of our Privy Council, do hereby adjourn the said General Assembly until the 11th day of July next ensuing (1695), and then to meet at Edinburgh, requiring all the members of the said Assembly to attend the same day.”
SUBMISSONS OF THE CHURCH.
In the matter of government also, the State asserted its authority over the Church it had established. By its dictation, many of the Episcopal clergymen who had taken the indulgences offered in the previous reign and had sympathised with the persecutors, were admitted into the communion of the church of their admission. Hetherington says that “this sowed the noxious seed which gradually sprung up and expanded into the deadly upas tree of Moderatism, shedding a mortal blight over her once fair and fruitful vineyard till it withered into a lifeless wilderness.” King William had prepared the way for their admission by a letter from the Hague to the Commissioners of Assembly, in which, referring to those ministers who have “conformed to the law, introducing Episcopacy,” he called upon the Assembly “to give them no vexation or disturbance for that cause or upon that head;” hoped they would “cordially unite with him,” and “proceed to use no more process.” In a subsequent letter, in reply to one of theirs, the King wrote expressing his pleasure at their “inclination to unite with such of the clergy as have served under Episcopacy,” and “we do expect that there shall be so great a progress made in this union that we shall then find no cause go continue that stop which at present we see necessary; and that neither you nor any Commission do meddle in any process or business that may concern the purging out of the Episcopal ministers.” In reply to one of these letters (p. 19), the General Assembly forwarded an address in which they say that—
“Your gracious letter (Oct. 10th), direct to the ministers and elders, met here in the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, was read and heard among us with all joy and thankfulness that the rising and shining again of the royal favour could possibly inspire. For as your Majesty’s concern for the good of this your ancient kingdom hath indeed been such as nothing can impair the happy state whereunto you have restored it, save the want of the due sense and understanding of so great a mercy . . . . Nor are we less sensible of the particular regard your Majesty professeth toward us on this occasion, in countenancing this Assembly with your authority and a representative of your royal person, for which we must humbly acknowledge your gracious favour . . . . And now, great Sir, after so many and so great mercies and favours received from God and your Majesty, we hope we may with confidence assure you, that our management shall be such as your Majesty hath just reason to expect, and shall never give you cause to repent of what you have done for us . . . . We assure your Majesty, as in the presence of God and in expectation of His dreadful appearance, that we shall study that moderation which your Majesty recommends, as being convinced that it is the duty that religion enjoins, and neighbouring churches do most justly expect from us . . . . As likewise to comply in all obsequious duty with all that your Majesty enjoins for the real advantage of true piety and the peace of all your kingdoms.”
Before a Royal Commission, the late Dr. Burns said that “When the Presbyterian Church came to be settled, it was made an essential principle that all the actual incumbents—the curates who had held the charges under Episcopacy, should be allowed to retain their livings simply on taking certain oaths to government and acceding to the Revolution settlement. In consequence of this arrangement, several hundreds who had been put into parishes in persecuting times were received into the Presbyterian Church on very easy terms.” In the year 1712, after the Assembly had taken in numbers of these Episcopal curates, the Commissioners forwarded an address to the Sovereign in which they say—”But, that your Majesty may be further satisfied of the injustice of these calumnies wherewith we are reproached for excessive rigour, we cannot but lay before your Majesty this pregnant instance of our moderation, that since our late happy establishment, there have been taken in and continued hundreds of dissenting ministers upon the easiest terms.”
The imperial cat o’ nine tails had done its work well; the church had been whipped into abject submission; she has bowed to the will of the earthly king and ignored the will of the heavenly. In these transactions there is the tyranny of the monarch, acting seemingly on the assumption of “the divine right of kings;” and there is the still more saddening sight of the servility of the Church yielding ingloriously the rights of her divine King. Seldom have Roman Catholics crouched more slavishly at the feet of the priestly potentate in the Vatican, than did those Commissioners and members of the Revolution Church, when they even gloried in the “easy terms” on which, in obedience to the earthly king, they admitted into their communion those who were accomplices in the recent rebellion against the King of kings. Their action helped much to prepare the way for the concurrence of the Established Church in the Union of the Crowns, by which Scotland consented to the preservation, “inviolable and for ever,” of the Erastian and Prelatic Establishment in England.
The Revolution Settlement, then, was strongly Erastian. The Church was made an engine of State policy. Caesar took his seat on the throne of Christ: he sat in the Temple of God. He took the Crown from the head of Christ, and defiantly placed it on his own. The Church acquiesced in those acts, by which the Crown was torn from her professed King. Had Samuel Rutherford been alive, he would have denounced those “loons who were plucking the Crown off my royal King’s head.” The consent by the Church to this dishonour was her own dishonour, and guiltless she cannot be held. Alliance with an Erastian State is an alliance with a power which is a rival to Christ—a State whose policy would subvert the foundations of any Church of Christ. Though addressing the sovereign of these lands annually since her constitution, two hundred years ago, never has the National Church prepared a remonstrance against the crown because of these invasions, nor sought her own emancipation. Instead of this, never in all her history have her leaders more loudly boasted of their independence, and gloried in their relations with the State, or more boldly claimed to be defending the Crown rights of the Lord Jesus.
The dishonour attaching to the Church because of these relations, is deepened by reason of several other characteristics of the State with which she is allied. The Erastianising element in the State is not the only one that forbids an alliance with it as an Establishment on the part of a Christ-honouring Church. There is no proper recognition in the constitution and administration of the will of God revealed in the Scriptures, as the standard of legislation and morality, and there is no express acknowledgment of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Governor among the nations. The supreme headship on earth over the Church of England is vested in the sovereign, as taken from the Pope by Henry VIII., and this headship is regarded as an inherent right of the British Crown. There is no difference in principle between this supreme headship and that of the supreme pontiff at Rome. The vicar of God on the banks of the Tiber has as good a claim to his headship, as the vicar of God on the banks of the Thames. The prelatic Church of England is established by the State, and richly endowed out of the public funds. Well-nigh two millions of pounds from public property and the imperial exchequer are granted to papal institutions in Britain and her colonies, by means of which that inveterate foe of human freedom is encouraged in its policy of reducing the empire to subjection to the Vatican. The avowed enemies of the Lord and His Christ are elevated to almost all places of power and trust, the “narrow ledge” that had prevented the admission of the honest atheist having been recently rent away. Among the leaders of the nation are Puseyites, Roman Catholics, Infidels, and Atheists. Can the Church that boasts of close alliance with such a State be guiltless in the sight of God? At the last meeting of the Commission of the Established Church, Professor Story ridiculed the proposed Suspensory Bill by holding up to scorn the religious profession of its authors. Mr. Gladstone was “filled with the rankest Anglicanism probably entertained by any layman of the present day. Along with him was his chief henchman and greatest intellectual support in the Government, in whom they found a blank atheist, who looked upon the religion of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as a stumbling-block in the way of civilisation. These two, a rank Anglican and a blank atheist, were the leaders to the abolition of the Church of Scotland.” But, why retain established relations for one day with a State directed by “rank Anglicans and blank atheists,” and whose spirit and principles, as now carried out, justify their presence and power at the very centre of Government? Yea, why boast of these very relations, and employ all possible methods of rendering them permanent and impregnable? The Church of Christ must not ally herself with any and every State that may offer her friendship: the Queen of Ophir clad in gold must not associate with those who are clad in the rags of Rome and the pinchbeck of atheism. She dishonours Him in whose robes she is arrayed when she has any alliance with the enemies of her Sovereign Lord.
The tendency of these relations to demoralize the tone of her most worthy ministers and laymen is revealing itself continually. The more they boast of their relationship with such a State, the more fully is this apparent. One of the most distinguished of the Church’s laymen, a member of Parliament, recently maintained that there was no inconsistency in an Episcopal Church being the Established Church in England, “because they were both branches of the Reformed Church.” And at the Commission above mentioned, Ex-Moderator M‘Gregor said they “had the Episcopalians with them,” and they “would have the Roman Catholics with them too, because the Roman Catholics were averse to the principle of the destruction of national religion.” By these and other declarations, the leaders of the Establishment seem willing for the adoption of religious equality in its leveling up policy, or concurrent endowment of the various religions severally represented by the majorities in the three kingdoms. Here again the popular will is assumed as the standard of national action, not the will of God. Religious equality, on the leveling down system, empties the national house of all religions: religious equality, on the leveling up system, fills the national house with all religions. The former banishes every god—including the true God—because there are so many religions in the nation; the latter welcomes all the gods represented by the religions majorities in the nation, and has even pled for the national recognition of several of the religions within the separate kingdoms. The one empties the pantheon, expelling the God and the gods; the other fills it, elevating to their pedestals of equal height the God and the gods Both are sectarian policies. The action of the admirers of the Establishment in being thus anxious to secure the help of prelate and papist is like the action of Eliashib in preparing a “great chamber” in Jerusalem for Tobiah the Ammonite, thus fostering revolution and anarchy, and providing sorrow and labour for that godly reformer, the faithful Nehemiah. These men would not, advance arguments so unworthy were it not that their Church consents to be “laid side by side with the Prelatic, semi-Popish Church of England, in the arms of the constitution, as their sisters in the arms of their mother or of their common nurse,” and were it not that Papal institutions are being singularly nursed and endowed.
RITUALISM OF THE ESTABLISHMENT.
To these things must be added the present condition of the Church in relation to doctrine and worship—a condition which hundreds of her own most worthy members deeply deplore. The epidemic of a “veiled infidelity” and the epidemic of a pro-Romish ritualism are daily assuming more serious dimensions. Among her rationalists are many who have left Colenso in their wake long ago, and to whom the miracles of Revelation are a myth. Among her ritualists, with their Romeward hymnal and their liturgies, are not a few Dean Hannays and budding Lauds, against whose heads, “itching” for bishops’ mitres, the stool of Janet Geddes, still in a good state of preservation, might justly be hurled at any moment. Even Principal Tulloch said that there were “some in the Church who had sacerdotal ideas as to the character of the priesthood.” Yet that Church, with her Erastianism, her rationalism and sacerdotalism, claims to be “now what the reformers and martyrs suffered and struggled to make her,” and “the consummation of hundreds of years of bitter strife.” If the Established Church of which the Reformers were members and for which the martyrs suffered had been like the present Establishment, then every intelligent Christian would be ashamed of both reformers and martyrs. Imagine as members of the present Established Church the signatories of the Protestation of 1606 in which they declare that they “will reserve unto the Lord’s own hands that glory which He will communicate neither with man nor angel,” and “to whom it belongeth as properly to rule the Church, according to the good pleasure of His will, as it belongeth to Him to save His Church by thc merit of His sufferings.” Imagine as the Lord Balfour of the Establishment the Lord Warriston of the Westminster Assembly, who, addressing it, said: “Let all know that the spirit of your Master is upon you, and that Christ hath servants who will not only make pulpits ring with the sound of His prerogatives, but will also carry it aloft through the earth that Christ lives and reigns alone in His Church, and will have all done therein according to His word and will, and that He has given no supreme headship over His Church to any Pope, King, or Parliament whatsoever.” Imagine as a Moderator of the Establishment the Moderator of the Glasgow Assembly of 1638, which abolished the five Articles of Perth, Liturgy, Canons, and Diocesan Episcopacy, and cast down the walls of this modern Jericho—the Moderator, Alexander Henderson, in his closing address solemnly warning all who would rebuild the walls to “beware of the curse of Hiel the Bethelite.” Imagine as Moderator-elect of the Established Assembly the author—George Gillespie, of “Aaron’s Rod Blossoming;” and of “English-Popish Ceremonies Obtruded on the Church of Scotland,” and who said of the Reformation Church, “It is not brick, nor clay, nor Babel’s cursed timber and stones that is in our second temple, but our blessed King Jesus is building His house all palace work and carved stones; it is the habitation of the Lord.” To imagine the reformers and martyrs leaders of the present Establishment is to imagine these noble servants of God rising out of their graves and ignobly wiping out the epitaph on their tombstones, “This shall a standing witness be ‘twixt Presbyterie and Prelacie.”
Lord Balfour of Burleigh, wearer of an honoured name, is, without doubt, the most prominent layman in the Establishment. He is convener of the Church Interests Committee, and a bold champion of his Church. At the meeting of the Commission, in tabling the committee’s report anent the Suspensory Bill, he said that “their opponents might think it was not very difficult to delude a Church; but he ventured to say to them that they would find it impossible to defraud a nation.” These are strong terms—“delude” and “defraud.” But what if the possession by the Establishment of the emoluments of the Reformation Church be baseless and a fraud? Some months ago, his lordship was requested, in the course of a respectful communication, to produce any Parliamentary deed to show that the patrimony enjoyed by the Revolution Church was openly and honourably conveyed to her. One passage in that communication was: “I have searched in vain for any Act of Parliament conveying these revenues to the National Establishment. The reformers and martyrs, and their successors, were robbed of those revenues by the Stuart persecution, and, through the offices of State, in some way or other the Erastian Establishment entered quietly upon the unlawful possession—a flagrant case of ecclesiastical resetting.” But Lord Balfour declined the controversy, produced no such deed of conveyancing, because no such deed exists, or was ever framed; and though such a deed had been made and could be produced, no deed can convert robbery and spoliation into honesty and righteousness. The matter of the patrimony is, however, of little importance; but the matter of principle is of the last importance. And when by the Duke of Argyll, Lord Balfour, and others, claims are defiantly advanced on behalf of the present Established Church, with her Erastianism, infidelity, and ritualism, that she is “the freest of all the Churches in Christendom,” and what “the martyrs suffered and struggled to make her,” every intelligent Christian and impartial historian must repel the claims as an imposition and an outrage. Those in the Establishment who are satisfied with the relations of their Church with the State, and are helping on her ritualism and sacerdotalism, are burying the doctrines for which the martyrs died; they are “deluding” their own Church and other Churches; “defrauding” the reformers and martyrs of their name and fame, and libeling their memory and testimony.
Were George Gillespie here to-day he would be ashamed of the Establishment that parades his name for the sake of popular favour, and he would, with Scripture and with sarcasm, administer a sound chastisement to his prodigal son—such as he gave to the ministers and members of the Church of his own day, who were reintroducing saints’ days, liturgies, and other pro-Romish customs and ceremonies:—
“The Church of Scotland was blessed with a more glorious and perfect Reformation than any of our neighbouring Churches. It had the applause of foreign divines, so was it in all parts agreeable unto the Word. But now, alas, even this Church, which was once so great a praise in the earth, is deeply corrupted. It is not this day feared but felt, that the rotten dregs of Popery, which were never purged away from England and Ireland, and having once been spewed out with detestation, are licked up again in Scotland. The Church’s shamefaced forehead hath received the mark of the beast. Her lovely locks are frizzled with the crisping pins of anti-Christian fashions. Her sweet voice is mumming and muttering stone missal and magical liturgies. Her fair neck beareth the halter-like tokens of her former captivity, even a burdensome chain of superfluous and superstitious ceremonies. Her undefiled garments are stained with the meretricious bravery of Babylonish ornaments, and with the symbolizing badges of conformity to Rome. Her harmless hands reach brick and mortar to the building of Babel. Her beautiful feet with shoes are all besmeared while they return apace in the way of Egypt. Oh! forlorn Prince’s daughter! How art thou not ashamed to look thy Lord in the face? . . . The vain shows and shadows of these ceremonies have hid and obscured the substance of religion. The true life of godliness is smeared down and suppressed by the burden of these human inventions. What marvel that Papists clap their hands, for they see the day coming which they wished for. Some of them tell us in broad terms that they hope we are coming fast home to them. They delight to stay still in Babylon, finding us so fast turning back hither, as if we repented we came out from them. . . . Such is the deceitfulness of sin, and the cunning conveyance of that old serpent that if his head be once entering in, his whole body will easily follow after, and if he make you handsomely to swallow gnats at the first, he will make you swallow camels ere all be done. Oh! happy they who dash the little ones of Babylon against the stones.”
The spectacle of the Established Church lashed into fury, in the presence of the agitation for disestablishment, is saddening in the extreme. She has served the State with all the fidelity of a slave, thinking herself free, for more than two centuries. She is now confronted by a coalition of parties who, not by any means actuated generally by scriptural principle, seem likely to prove successful in breaking the fetters and giving her freedom, but against her own will. The State will throw her off as a morsel to satisfy the enemies of a Christian State—Infidels and Atheists and others who would “burn her flesh with fire.” For protection from these assailants, and the continuance of her subjection, she clings tenaciously, even wildly, to the skirts of a State whose body ,and spirit are largely composed of, and controlled by, “rank Anglicans,” Jews, Roman Catholics, and “blank Atheists.” And amid cries of “confiscation,” “unholy alliance,” “national calamity,” “defrauding the nation,” and “brute force,” she is loudly proclaiming her superior freedom, and endeavouring to “delude” the Scottish people into the belief that she is the lineal successor of the Church of the Reformation. If thrown off, it will be “in great pain.”
DUTY OF THE ESTABLISHMENT.
But what ought the Established Church of Scotland to do? While burning indignation is warranted by her unrighteous claims, there must be no unchristian desire for the perpetuation of her errors and corruptions, or for her demolition and extinction. Her immediate reform should be sought with all earnestness. What is her present duty? She ought to do now what the Revolution State did not permit her to do then, at her constitution. She ought to denounce the dogma of Erastianism, and renounce the alliance of Erastianism. She ought to withdraw from all Establishment relations with the State till the State become a loyal servant of its King—her King also. The corruptions of the State even since the Revolution, as for instance in now having “rank Anglicans and blank Atheists” in power, would amply justify her in the repudiation of every tie of Establishment, even down to the vinculum of the jus devolutum. She ought to put down “the throne” of the Lord High Commissioner, and lift her eyes more loyally to the one Lord High Commissioner, who, on the throne of the Sovereign of the universe, rules, in the name of the Father, all the powers and principalities of earth and heaven. She ought to pour into Parliament remonstrances and petitions against the continuance of the Prelatic Establishment in England. She ought to protest against the endowment of Popery out of the national funds, and voluntarily relinquish her own till endowments of all false systems be terminated. She ought to protest against the elevation to power in the state of the open enemies of the true religion and of the Governor among the nations. She ought to address herself to the work of internal reform by purging out the rationalism and ritualism which have invaded, with their paralysing powers, her piety and purity. In order to all this, she ought to take new views of Him, “on whose head are many crowns,” who requires the Church and State to be loyal to His Throne, and who will yet bind together those two loyal servants in promoting the glory of His own great name.
The Established Church of Scotland enjoys a magnificent, opportunity of gaining for herself imperishable laurels in the battle now waging for Christ’s crowns. By her numbers, wealth, and rank, she is better fitted than any church in Scotland to lead this northern kingdom in the path of righteousness, and influence the destiny of the Empire at home and abroad. “Loose thyself, then, from the bands of thy neck, captive daughter of Zion.” “Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” By this action she would abolish the dishonour done her Lord by the encroachments of the State upon her own domain, and the dishonour under which she herself lies. She would initiate a reformation among the most blessed in the annals of history. She would be the best friend of the Sovereign on the throne and the nation at large. She would take away the blots and blurs by which the nation and she have dimmed and darkened those brilliant diamonds on the diadem of Emmanuel—Christ, the King of the Church, and Christ, the King of nations. She would gather together into one the “scattered fragments” of the Christian Churches. She would lead the nation to turn its eyes to the Throne of its glorious Sovereign. She would “look forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.” And those halcyon days would soon come when the Church and nation would enjoy all the peace, unity, and happiness intended for them when the “Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at My right hand,” appointing Him “King upon My holy hill of Zion,” and “Prince of the kings of the earth.”
That Zion and Jerusalem too,
His name and praise may well record,
When people and the kingdoms do
Assemble all to praise the Lord.
SCRIPTURAL ESTABLISHMENTS—IMPERIAL GLORY.
“Kings shall be thy nursing fathers.”—Isaiah 49:23.
“The Kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.”—Rev. 11:15.
THE construction of a Scriptural Establishment is rendered impossible by religious equality and Erastianism. The former denies to the State the right of giving preference to any church—denounces the exercise of that right as intolerance. The latter reduces to servitude the Church to which preference is extended. Both are rival forces to a right establishment; each takes the crown from the head of Christ, and haughtily sets it on its own. Both are assailants of His royal prerogatives—blots on Christ’s diadem. In opposition to both, the State is bound, in obedience to its King, who is the King of the Church also, to prefer to all other religions and churches the true Church: and the Church is bound, in obedience to her King, who is the King of nations also, to consent to such preference, even to seek and request it. Both Church and State should come into the closest alliance that is consistent with their respective independent powers, and not till this alliance is effected are they fully servants of Him who is their one supreme Lord. No existing State and Church offer in their alliance an embodiment of this doctrine. But every Christian is under obligation to employ his energies in the construction of an alliance between Church and State, which would be a living refutation of religious equality and Erastianism, and a living illustration of the kingship of Christ over the Church and nation. The erection of an Establishment, in which Church and State as servants of their King would lovingly co-operate for the extension of His Kingdom, would bring honour to the Church and glory to the empire, and be a signal triumph of the claims of Him to whom “is given dominion and glory and a Kingdom.”
SCRIPTURAL ALLIANCE POSSIBLE.
Some contend that a Scriptural Establishment is impossible, as no Establishments exist in which the liberties of the Church are properly secured; and they, therefore, repudiate all proposals of a proper Establishment as chimerical and utopian. But does the abuse of a doctrine warrant its disuse and abandonment? Is there any institution or right that might not for similar reasons be abolished? The Reformers before the Reformation, in the presence of the apostasies of the Church accumulating for more than ten centuries, might have contended that the construction of a Scriptural Church was impossible. The Martyrs before the Revolution might have relinquished their struggle, alleging that the construction of a free State was impracticable. If tyrants are on thrones, must monarchies and governments be overthrown? If there be corrupt judges, shall the Bench be abolished? If the rights of conscience be abused, will men abnegate the right of private judgment? And though a thousand States had oppressed and enslaved a thousand churches, does it; follow that there cannot be any Establishment conservative of the respective rights of both Church and State? In the presence of the existence of Erastian Establishments, it is all the more necessary that all noble-minded members of the Church and citizens should bestir themselves to bring Church and State into subjection to Christ, and both into an alliance productive of each other’s prosperity and honouring to their common Lord. The refusal to grasp and apply a scriptural doctrine, while surrounded with abuses however monstrous, may indicate lack of courage and intellectual power. “In the midst of contrary impulses,” writes a philosopher, “he alone evinces the superiority and the strength of his mind, who is able to disentangle truth from error. Such are the men whom nature marks out to be the lights of the world, to fix the wavering opinions of the multitude, and to impress their own characters on that of their age.”
In raising this imperial structure, there is necessity, first of all, for the foundation stone. This Stone of foundation has been laid from eternity: and when the ecclesiastical and political builders shall have ceased to reject it, it shall become the Head of the corner also. The edifice must begin with Him who sits on the Throne of the worlds—that Throne before which all consciences must bow and from which all rights must be received. The beginning must be made where John began in Patmos when he was about to look upon a panorama of providences to come “Behold a throne was set in heaven and One sat on the throne.” A sound theology about the enthronement of Christ is necessary to sound churchmanship and sound statesmanship as well—a sound polity and a sound policy. There must be a clear apprehension and a loyal acceptance of the universal supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the great, only Plenipotentiary of heaven, “ruling under the throne of the Father, ruling for the Father, ruling by the law of the Father, to the utmost bound of the entire universe of God.” The Son of Man, on His coronation, received lordship over a dominion extending from the roofless heaven to the bottomless pit. This dominion included many kingdoms; so that the imagery of the Apocalypse which represents Him as having “on His head many crowns” is possessed of an appropriate sublimity. On the throne of His Supremacy, He commands all kingdoms to serve Him in the advancement of the glory of the everlasting Father and Lord.
CHARACTER OF THE ALLIED.
Every Church that would claim to be Christian in character must acknowledge this royal authority, and willingly conform herself to the commands of her King. To Him she owes her existence; in Him she must trust; from Him she must receive her beliefs and law; to Him she must look for the power of the Holy Spirit; and for His glory she must live. The government is upon His shoulders, and on Him “hangs all the glory of the Father’s house.” The Church will defend the crown of her King, resent every dishonour done Him, and will not submit to have her own independence invaded by any power on earth. This she will make clear to all priests and prelates, princes and parliaments. It is the duty of the Church to teach the claims of her King upon kings. She will call upon all peoples and nations to do honour to her King, and will demand liberty to go into all lands on her mission of salvation on the ground and in the strength of the command given her as He was about to sit down on His throne:—“All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations.” A Church not in loyalty to her Saviour-King is not entitled to expect any State to enter into alliance with her, and with such a Church a State loyal to its Lord would decline and scorn alliance.
A State that would be a party to a Scriptural Establishment must itself be Scriptural. The first step in order to its attainment of this character must be by renouncing all supposed legislative sovereignty in itself, whether in the monarch or the multitude, and by recognising that it is vested in the Father—the ultimate source of all authority—and is to be exercised in obedience to Him who sits on the Father’s Throne. When sin, rebellion and anarchy prevailed in these earthly dominions, Jehovah arrested merited judgment and destruction, and ushered in the dispensation of mercy and power through the Mediator. By this Mediator God upholds the worlds and rules the nations, and nations must acknowledge and honour the Son if they are to acknowledge and honour the Father, from whom their powers originally come. It is the high honour of a nation to acknowledge “the Son, even as the Father also.” In yielding this reverence and service, nations must frame their constitutions in obedience to His will, fashion their laws according to His supreme law, exalt as rulers those only who are loyal to the nation’s King, extend favour and support to the true religion to the exclusion of all false religions, and conduct their administration and all public institutions to the glory of God in Christ Jesus. A State disloyal to the King of Nations is not entitled to enter into the relation of Establishment with any Church, and with such a State a loyal Church would decline and scorn alliance.
INFERENCES FROM THE SEPARATIST THEORY.
Church and State being now scriptural in character, the questions immediately present themselves: Ought these two to enter into the relations of Establishment? And, if so, to what extent may such an alliance be justified? The former of these questions is answered at once by asking, What will two institutions loyal to the same King be naturally impelled to do? Will they not voluntarily come into the closest alliance possible, consistently with their respective rights and functions, to maintain the crowns on their King’s head and promote His regal claims and glory? Is there to be no friendly recognition? No co-operation? No mutual assistance rendered by these two servants of the one Sovereign? Is there to be an enforced separation between them? They are two ministers of one Sovereignty; two functionaries ordained of God; two princes of one dominion. They have originated in one source, and exist for the fulfilment respectively of one commanding purpose—the glory of the one God. Their loving and loyal hearts would revolt at the suggestion of a complete separation. In refusing alliance with the State, the Church would be resisting the help of a willing servant of her King, and so withstanding the will of her Master. In refusing alliance with the Church, the State would be despising a willing servant of its King, declining its own duty and honours, and exposing itself to the judgments of God. A Christ-honouring State would never dream of giving no more preference to such a Church than to Popery, Mohammedanism, and idolatry. It would acknowledge her existence, pledge its power to protect her liberty, approve her profession, and encourage her in her mission of salvation and social reformation. It would bring its silver and its gold to the bride, the Lamb’s wife, in homage to the Bridegroom. It would say, Blessed is she that cometh in the name of the Lord.
An enforced separation between Church and State, Scripturally constituted, offers serious injury to Christ’s crowns. These crowns spring from and centre in the one supremacy, and are therefore in unity in the exercise and promotion of all the claims of that supremacy. These crowns rest on the same head; they are borne by the same shoulders; the rights they represent are exercised through the love of the same heart. His regal rights over the Church are exercised in the interests of the Church and also of the nation where the Church exists. His regal rights over the State are exercised for the sake of the Church—the most beloved of all institutions to the heart of the Sovereign Supreme. Christ being “head over all things,” and therefore, of nations, “for the sake of His body, the Church,” will nations be denied the expression of even any preference for that “body” of Christ for whose sake they are under Christ? If so, then that nation is coerced into an attitude, so far, of hostility to the very purpose for which it is placed under Him, and therefore at enmity to the “body” of Christ, and to Christ its head. And in that case, His crown rights over the nation must be exercised for judgment, not for prosperity. The relationships between the two kingdoms under the one supremacy ought to illustrate and embody the love and unity subsisting between the two crowns over those two kingdoms. But if there is to be a great gulf fixed between them, then it is every way pertinent indignantly to inquire, Is Christ divided? If there must be complete separation between Church and State, however loyal both may be to the one Lord, if alliance or Establishment would in that case involve intolerance, and constitute “an invasion of the prerogatives of God,” then such a contention carries upward irresistibly a cleavage into the crowns of Christ, with disunion and disorder. Though the Mediatorial kingdom comprehends a thousand provinces and a thousand functionaries, yet the kingdom is One, the crowns are One, and the crowned is One; and these two servants, Church and State, will, if loyal, by their alliance in homage to their Lord, behold more than ever the brilliancy of the crowns wherewith He has been by the Father crowned.
CHARACTER OF THE ALLIANCE.
It has been often keenly contended that there cannot be an Establishment other than Erastian—that in every case the State must exert a tyranny and the Church consent to servitude. No Established Church can be free; the moment she becomes Established she forfeits her freedom! This contention cannot arise from anything else but confusion of thought. Two independent powers may not only not forfeit their independence by alliance, but may give each other powerful assistance in the maintenance of independence. No State indeed gives the Church the right to existence or to liberty, but the State may and should pledge itself to respect the Church’s independence. The individual may engage not to invade the liberty of the Church but to defend her freedom against all who would attempt its invasion. And so the State may and ought to pledge itself to refrain from all interference with the Church’s liberty and to resist the attempts of others to invade it. Such declarations and guarantees may be made stipulations of the very alliance. Thus the civil power, with the sword, would guard the spiritual power, which has no sword, in the exercise of its independence and execution of its heavenly mission. Even in the age of the Emperor Constantine, against whose establishment of the Christian Church the opponents of all establishments have directed their heavy artillery, the independent jurisdictions of the two powers were well understood. Like the Melville of a later time, Hosius addressed the Emperor—“Intrude not yourself into ecclesiastical matters, neither give commands unto us concerning them. God hath put into your hands the kingdom; to us He hath entrusted the affairs of the Church: and as he who should steal the empire from you would resist the ordinance of God, so, likewise, fear on your part lest, by taking upon yourself the government of the Church, you become guilty of a great offence.”
Two independent empires may form alliances for mutual advantage. Germany and Great Britain have often entered into leagues—offensive and defensive. If a cave of politicians arose to denounce every alliance of the kind as certain to involve the surrender of its independence by one of the contracting parties, would they not justly be deemed fanatical by the Bismarcks and Gladstones and the peoples at large? Why, the alliance may be exceedingly helpful in the perpetuation of the independence of both empires. In the case of two contiguous properties, the owners are usually anxious to form agreements by which they consent to respect the rights of each other, and their agreement is helpful in the maintenance of those rights and the promotion of peace and amity. The more distinctly the terms of the contract are specified the better. All the more necessary is it for Church and State to enter into a clearly defined alliance, as they occupy the same territory and the members are to some extent at least the very same persons. An Established Church possesses in this particular an advantage over every non-established Church—she has the express covenant of the State not to invade her domain. The closer the alliance is, consistently with the preservation of the respective jurisdictions of the parties allied, the more free both will be for their appropriate work in the world. Church and State, loyal to Christ, and allied together in mutual respect and love, furnish the strongest bulwark possible against all the enemies of Church and State and all foes to the liberties of mankind.
PASSAGES TEACHING THE DOCTRINE.
The doctrine of Establishments is taught in countless passages of the Divine Word. It is taught by the approved examples of kings and their nations toward the Church, by warning of judgments, by prediction and otherwise. In vain will the “Christian secularist” find a single passage forbidding the civil ruler to give preference to the Church of Christ, much less branding such action as intolerance.
“The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He hath charged me to build Him an house at Jerusalem.”—Ezra 1:2.
“Whatsoever is commanded of the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven; for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons.”—Ezra 7:23.
“God is gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet. . . For God is King of all the earth .·. . The princes of the people are gathered together, even the people of the God of Abraham; for the shields of the earth belong unto God; He is greatly exalted.”—Ps. 47:5, 7, 9.
“Because of Thy temple at Jerusalem shall kings bring presents unto Thee.”—Ps. 68:29.
“The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him.”—Ps. 72:10, 11.
“Kings shall be thy (the Church) nursing fathers and their queens thy nursing mothers.”—Isaiah 49:23.
“The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee (the Church) shall perish; yea those nations shall be utterly wasted.”—Isa. 60:12.
“Behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve Him.”—Daniel 7:13, 14.
“The Father hath set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places; and hath put all things under His feet, and given Him to be the Head over all things to the Church.”—Ephesians 1:21, 22.
“The kingdoms of the world are become the kingdoms of the Lord and of His Anointed.”—Rev. 11:15.
Can any student of these passages, with a spark of intelligence, allege that their spirit and letter are not violated by the theory which demands that kings and nations give no preference to the true religion and Church of Christ? In the face of such passages, how does a Christian ruler place on an equality with Christianity the systems of infidelity and idolatry? How does he maintain that his duty is fully discharged in simply giving “heaven’s truth a fair field against the devil’s lie?” That his duty is fully discharged in taking care that the combatants—the true Church and false Churches—have secured to them fair play in the arena of conflict! No special favour to the bride of Christ among the wolves! Such heartless, Christless policy must draw down from heaven the wrath of an angry God. But among the “all things put under His feet” for the Church’s sake, are nations and their sovereigns. When they realize their position and place themselves where the Father has placed them, “under His feet,” then they are on the way to honour. “Under His feet” for Christ’s sake, they are raised to royal dignity for the Church’s sake, for they that honour the royal Bride shall be honoured by the royal Bridegroom.
In the Old Testament Scriptures oftentimes, the representatives of these two powers go hand in hand in bearing onward the chariot of the Lord. Moses and Aaron, David and Abiather, Solomon and Zadok, Hezekiah and Zechariah, Zerubbabel and Joshua—these are the “two anointed ones (sons of oil), that stand before the God of the whole earth.” Compelled to face the arguments for Establishment arising from the offices and relations of these representatives, the defenders of the dogma of “political liberty” have had the audacity to say that “Jewish princes, ignorant of the law of their God, or regardless of its directions, may have legislated for religion; but their disobedience of the divine will does not invalidate the teaching of the Scriptures.” Hear that, ye Davids, Hezekiahs, Josiahs. You were guilty of “disobedience of the divine will.” Rebels against the Throne of God! The apostles of intolerance! The lineal ancestors of the Neros, Charleses and Jameses! But is it not written of them, again and again, that “they did that which was right in the sight of the Lord.” And this shall be their epitaph on the rock for ever, when all contrary policies shall have been driven back into the region of eternal erebus.
Confronted with the argument from the predictions of Scripture, the opponents of Establishments have hazarded assertions yet more extraordinary—if that be possible. Their great champion—Marshall—has written that “In no case, nor under any pretext, is it competent for us to intermeddle with their fulfilment. The fulfilment must be left to Him by whom they have been uttered. He alone is the executioner of His own decrees. To say otherwise were, in effect, to say that men may mount the Throne of God and take the reins of His government into their puny hands.” Now, if it be obligatory on Christians to “leave the fulfilment of prophecies to Him by whom they have been uttered,” what is to be done regarding the prophecies that predict the spread of the Gospel to the ends of the earth? Translating the Scriptures into the language of the heathen and all missionary enterprize must cease instantly. Livingstone, Carey and Hannington, and their supporters have been “mounting the Throne of God and taking the reins of His government into their puny hands.” And, inasmuch as all unscriptural establishments are doomed in prophecy to overthrow, what guilt, on their own strawing, cleaves to all disestablishment agitators who are not allowing God to be the “alone executioner of His own decrees,” but are “mounting the Throne of the Most High?” But, in very deed, those who will prevent nations and their rulers from serving Christ and His Church, who will be dictators to them of a policy which banishes the King from His dominion over nations—these men are “mounting the throne of the Most High and taking the reins of government into their puny hands.”
Not one of all the treatises by the opponents of this principle omits special reference to the saying of our Lord, “My kingdom is not of this world.” On this statement, the Christian secularists build their boasted Malakhoff. From it they infer that as the kingdom of Christ is not of this world, the kingdoms of the world are debarred from rendering His kingdom any countenance or support. The Church, being spiritual, is held to be sinning in accepting the moral and material assistance of nations. The sight of this tower of the enemy carries its overthrow. According to this interpretation, it is wrong in the Church to hold property, to avail herself of the help of legal documents enforceable by the sword, to have collection plates, silver and gold, or even to allow the bodies of men in and out of the church doors. If, being a spiritual kingdom, the Church must not avail herself of any assistance except that which is spiritual in its nature and springs from a spiritual source, then the weakest capacity can see with the clearness of a sunbeam that all Christians in all relations may evade every obligation to serve God except by the inward spiritual emotions. On the contrary, it might be expected in the nature of the case that the Church, not having the sword, should have the help of the State, with the sword, for her protection from persecution and all invasions. Certainly, the kingdoms of this world would find their honour in rendering all assistance to that kingdom which is not of the world, in her heaven-appointed work. Their interpretation of this passage may be deemed their Malakhoff, it is nothing more than a man-of-chaff.
CLAIMS ON IMPERIAL FUNDS.
But the passages cited above, enjoining the duty resting on kings and nations toward the spiritual kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, raises the question of the material support of the Church from the national funds. The terms in which endowments have been granted may be objectionable, but the duty of nations as such to give for the cause of Christ their Lord is unquestionable. Admit the doctrine of the duty of a nation to give preference to the true religion and the true Church, and this admission carries irresistibly the conclusion that pecuniary aid should not be withheld. The profession of regard for the Church and sincere wishes for her prosperity while material help is refused, is alike despicable whether in the individual or the State. The whole web of sophistry cunningly woven about this part of the question may be torn into shreds by asking: If Christ has claims on the national conscience, has He not claims on the national purse? To profess to do Him a service from which the money element is excluded, would be glaring hypocrisy whether in a nation or a man only. A nation really loyal to Christ would never dream of conduct so ignoble and niggardly. It would, as a subject and servant, open its exchequer for the sake of its Lord. It would honour the King by gifts to His Bride. It would rejoice in the enlargement of her dowry—in the gathering in of the travail of the Bridegroom’s soul.
The advocates of the complete separation of Church and State are ever asserting that the granting of money to the Church always implies the enslavement of the Church. For 130 years prior to 1850, certain Nonconformists in England were in receipt of grants from the nation amounting in all to nearly a quarter of a million, and there was no enslavement. Prior to the Disestablishment measure in Ireland, the large body of Presbyterians there were receiving regium donum annually, and there was no Erastianism. Large grants are being made annually to Papal institutions throughout this nation, but will any Romish hierarchy or any person who knows the Papacy, believe that any subjection is thereby implied? No one will reason that pastors of congregations lose their independence by accepting stipends from the people. A member of the Church who would expect subserviency because of his liberality, though he gave ninety per cent. of all the contributions, would be justly regarded as a religious infant or tyrant, and would be either laughed at or contemned. Seeing ministers are not enslaved by grants from their people, how can it be urged that any and every State-grant necessarily enslaves the Church? The individual gives to the Church as an act of worship of his Lord, and the State that is loyal to Him will give to the Church in a similar spirit, and will bid her freedom and God-speed in her efforts to hold forth the Cross and the Crowns of Him they both serve, before the eyes of all the nations.
ESTABLISHMENT AND RIGHTS OF CONSCIENCE.
A Presbyterian professor of theology has presented the theory of the separation of religion and the Church from the State, of which he is a supporter, with much clearness and simplicity, by the following practical supposition: Granted a nation, all the subjects of which, with the exception of one man, hold and profess the same religion—whether true or false—the act of the sovereign in giving legislative recognition to that religion would involve the crime and guilt of intolerance and persecution. This is the necessary logical application and outcome of the professor’s theory. In opposition to this, the doctrine here contended for would require the sovereign to give his official sanction to the true religion, though there were but one subject in his kingdom of that religion. More, it lays on him the duty of accepting and professing the true religion and giving it official sanction, though there were not a single person in his kingdom of that religion. Suppose that in the Kingdom of Israel, in the times of Ahab and Elijah, there had not been one but the prophet who held the religion of the God of Israel, what was the duty of Ahab the idolater? Was it not his duty to renounce his idolatry at once, shatter his idol calves, accept and profess the religion of Israel’s God, and give it his countenance and aid as king? Though there had not even been a solitary Elijah in his dominions, was this not his duty, and would it not have been to his everlasting honour? Is there any soul that in the presence of Him who is God over all would dare to say, No! to this question? Settle that question honestly at once, in this day of battles for the Lord, and this rebel opinion of a supposed sovereignty in conscience and not in God, would be hurled back into perdition.
In presence even of the supposition of Ahab attending to this duty, thinkers of limited outlook and all political fence-sitters will at once throw up the cry, A lion in the way; Ahab will certainly be expelled from the throne by the popular fury. Rash vaticinators! Ahaz made molten images to Baal, sacrificed to the gods of Damascus, and burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom. His son, Hezekiah, succeeded him, reversed the policy of his father, caused “the filthiness” to be carried out of the house of the Lord, and gathered the rulers of the city together to worship Jehovah. Was he expelled from the throne? No. Mannasseh and Amon, his son, reared up altars for Baalim, worshipped the host of heaven, and made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err and to do worse than the heathen. Josiah, Amon’s son, purged Jerusalem and Judah from the high places and the molten images, and beat the graven images into powder, and brought his subjects together into covenant with the Lord. Was he driven from the throne! No. Both Hezekiah and Josiah were established on their thrones, with honour to themselves and joy to their kingdom. And had Ahab abolished idolatry and turned himself and his subjects to the Lord God of Elijah, was it not at least possible, especially with Elijah as helper, that he would have remained king and wiped off the infamy resting on his memory. If he had been driven from the throne, better throneless than Godless; and, if he had been assassinated on account of reforms wrought in righteousness, he would have been received to sit on a heavenly throne, and been accorded a high place on the roll of martyrdom. The path of duty is the way to glory.
THE ESTABLISHMENT AT THE REFORMATION.
The Establishment reared by the Scottish Reformers in the best times of the Reformation, stands in history as a refutation of the opinion that Church and State cannot be nearly allied without the surrender of freedom. The Reformers, without exception, maintained the principle of Establishments and urged upon the nation the duty of acknowledging and rendering support to the Church of Christ. Their convictions on this question are often dealt with unjustly by the opponents of this principle. The author of a prize essay on “Civil Establishments of Christianity Indefensible” cites in illustration of his argument the address of Andrew Melville to James IV., giving, however, that part only which bears on the headship of Christ over the Church and excluding the part referring to the king’s duty to the Church. “Thair is Chryst Jesus the King and His kingdom, the kirk, whase subject King James the Last is, and of whase kingdom nocht a king, nor a lord, nor a heid, but a member.” But the quotation should have been continued—“Those whom Christ hath called and commanded to watch over His Church have power and authority from Him to govern His spiritual kingdom both jointly and severally; the which no Christian king or prince should control and discharge but fortify and assist, otherwise they are not faithful subjects of Christ and members of the Church.” To cite Andrew Melville as a supporter of the independence of the Church to the exclusion of establishment, is doing a grave dishonour to his memory. It is making him the friend of a theory which he would have denounced as rank heresy. To cite part only of the passage in the connection is a piece of literary dishonesty, it is the strangling of a witness while in the act of giving his testimony; and is all the more offensive by those who are crying down “intolerance” and crying up “political justice.” This grave offence has been perpetrated also by the authors of the “Statement by the Committee of the Synod of the United Presbyterian Church,” and by the compiler of the “Treasury of the Scottish Covenant.” The latter also omits quotations from the Second Book of Discipline in favour of Establishments while producing several on the Church’s independence. In all equity such passages as the following should have been given:—“It pertains to the office of a Christian magistrate to assist and fortify the godly proceedings of the Kirk in all behalfs; and, namely, to see that the public estate and ministry thereof be maintained and sustained, as it appertains, according to the Word of God. To make laws and constitutions agreeable to the Word of God, for advancement of the Kirk and policy thereof, without usurping anything that pertains not to the civil sword, but belongs to the offices that are merely ecclesiastical.”
With such clear views about Church and State, Melville and Knox and the reformers in the Second Reformation reared their Establishment. The Church met, framed her standards, appointed her government and whole polity, and laid them before the State. The State considered, approved, ratified. The free Church and the free State became allied and were still free; both leagued together as servants of the Crown. The formation of this relation between the Church and State placed the crown on the edifice of the Reformation. The late Dr. Andrew Symington refers thus to the general principle of Establishments and to the Establishment then happily constituted:—
“A civil establishment of religion, according to the sound and scriptural theory of such a national institute, implies no barter of the Church’s privileges for the countenance and pay of the State, but a civil confirmation of privileges already possessed by the Church by solemn donation from her exalted head . . . . It is for the mutual advantage of both Church and State, to be united on sound scriptural principles . . . . We conceive that in the Second Reformation, these two provisions were admirably fulfilled. Church and State acknowledged the common obligation of submission to the Redeemer’s Headship . . . . To the Christian, the lover of the Saviour and His Church, this period is pregnant with instruction and with promise, the brightest day of Scotland’s Church, a day in which millennial glory seemed to dawn. A Church, holding directly her Head in heaven, with doctrines and institutions and polity based immediately on the Holy Scriptures; with standards so excellent; with ministers so pious and faithful; with a people so enlightened and devoted: Allied to a Christian reformed State, without any encroachment upon its independence or compromise of her own; with schools for scriptural education and seats of learning consecrated by sound religion, and banded together in holy covenant, and standing fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made her free, and resolutely prosecuting her proper purposes, presents an object commanding admiration.”
For fidelity to these happy attainments—this complete Established uniformity, the servants of Christ were driven from their benefices, intercommuned, outlawed, shot down on the moors, drowned in the waters, carried to heaven in chariots of fire. Their sufferings were on behalf of Establishment in principle and in fact. The late Dr. C. J. Brown, referring to the Act of 1649, said, “How finely does the existence of this very statute demonstrate the practicability of an alliance between Church and State on terms honourable to both; and further demonstrate how nobly and successfully the Church had struggled during the previous years to maintain her spiritual independence . . . . Voluntary churchmen, out of an Establishment, talk of the independence of the Church; our forefathers, within one, bled and died for it.”
PROGRAMME FOR CHRISTIAN PATRIOTS.
What, then, is to be the programme worthy of the most thorough adherence of all members of the Church and lovers of the commonwealth? Are there no nobler objects for the servants of God in this Empire than the shifting programmes of one or other of the great parties in the State? The programme of present momentous importance may be summarised in this—The acknowledgment of the Universal Supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ. All other aims and ends should fall back into obscurity in the presence of this—Church and State scriptural and allied together under their common Lord. The object to be kept in view is that which was seen on the old flag that waved over the hills and through the glens of Scotland when the battle was being waved for Christ’s crowns and men’s liberties—”Reformation in Church and State, according to the Word of God and our Covenants.” If the claims of the universal Sovereign and the rights of humanity are not to be surrendered and lost, the people must wake up and lay again the foundations to which these nations owe their civil and religious liberty. The Will and Word of God must be accepted as the standard of action in all the relations of life. The Sovereignty of the Father and the Supremacy of Christ must be acknowledged by imperial statute. The ecclesiastical lordship of the British sovereign must be abolished as involving dishonour to the Church’s only Lord—a sad blot surely on the crown of a Christian nation. All laws must be repealed that interfere with the independence of the Established Churches. The subjects must learn that civil government is a divine institution. In short, a strong and sustained enterprize must be undertaken to reduce the whole political and ecclesiastical condition into submission to the throne of Him from whom alone come liberty, order, happiness, and prosperity. He must be the stone of foundation and the stone at the head of the corner. The glory of Christ must be set up in the land.
In view of these outlines of the programme, thousands will cry, impracticable! Herculean! Visionary! But who are those who thus deride these proposals? Why, the very persons who are more or less responsible for the unhappy conditions into which churches and nation are drifting. Within the memory of this generation, many fundamental changes have been introduced which, at their first proposal, were received with similar derision. Impracticable? Impossible? Is the situation more hopeless than when Hezekiah and Josiah succeeded to the kingdom of Judah? Is it more hopeless than that of the Christian Church in the Roman Empire, before Paganism was repudiated and Christianity ascended the throne of the Caesars? Is it more hopeless than before the Reformation in these lands when Romish superstition and tyranny covered the people as with a funeral pall? is it more hopeless than before the Revolution, when Cameron and his compatriots nailed their declaration to the Cross of Sanquhar, and gave the first peal to the bell that tolled the knell of the tyrant. The Reformers of this age have the examples of all the past times of Reformation—like lighthouses lining the pathway they are bound to take. The construction of the Scriptural will be accompanied by the demolition of the unscriptural. As at the Reformation from the Papal Establishment, the sword and the trowel must be employed together. If one tithe of the energy and sacrifice now being put forth for and against the great political proposal of the day were exerted for the reform of Church and State according to the Word of God and for their alliance in promotion of His glory, the attainment of these exalted objects would soon be achieved. Soon, both Church and State, those sons of oil, would shine with splendour as satellites to the Sun of Righteousness and flood this earth with the light of heaven. “As I live, saith the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth shall be filled with My glory.”
VALOUR AND VICTORY.
The programme is visionary and utopian! But is it right? “I would rather be right,” said Adams, “than President of all America.” Is it right? Is not the proposal to bring all powers on earth into loyalty to King Jesus scriptural? Is it not celestial? Is it not divine? Is it not consistent with the issues that shall be revealed at the dawn of the Millennial day? If so, then it shall be realised. And if so, it is the pressing duty of every soul to bend its whole strength to have it realised now. “Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from Mount Gilead.” But “O blessed hands,” says Rutherford, “that shall put the crown on Christ’s head in Scotland;” and “all the world shall fall before Him, and (as God liveth) every arm lifted up to take the crown off His royal head, or that refuseth to hold it upon His head, shall be broken from the shoulder blade.”
Those who, in the spirit of Christ’s loyal servants in the past, would labour for the recognition by all institutions of the crowns of Christ, may not be a multitude, but they must stand firm. They are on the winning side. On that day when, at Waterloo, the destinies of empires were trembling in the balance, a courier from a part of the field where a regiment was being hard pressed by the soldiers of France, dashed up to the Commander-in-Chief, represented the peril in which his men were placed, and asked reinforcements. The Iron Duke, knowing that all his available forces were in action, but convinced that it was necessary for that regiment to hold its position, replied, “Stand firm.” Soon another dashed up, explaining the increased peril; still the same reply, “Stand firm.” Yet another, one of the highest officers in command, stating that the regiment was being decimated, and they must yield if not sustained. Again, with throbbing heart, the calm reply, “Stand firm.” “All right,” responded the officer as he galloped off, “you will find us there.” And they were found there, every man fallen with his face to the foe. But the victory was won. The despotism that menaced Europe and the world was thrown off to rise no more. The Captain of the hosts of the Lord calls upon every soldier to stand firm, and every loyal soldier will.
In the battle of the present hour, principles of the last importance stand out in the fields of destiny, ever coming into deadlier collision. For “there is war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels.” The three frog-like spirits of the Apocalypse, coming out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, are gathering the kings and nations together to the battle of the great God. The despotisms of earth in array against the supremacy of the Great I AM. Beams from the crowns of Christ would soon melt these anti-Christs clean away. And at the thrilling blast of the seventh trumpet and in the reeling melee of the Armageddon struggle, this triumvirate of hell shall be flung back into their own abyss, and the “kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.”
His name for ever shall endure,
Last like the sun it shall;
Men shall be blessed in Him, and bless’d
All nations shall Him call.
And blessed be His glorious name
To all eternity;
The whole earth let His glory fill.
Amen, so let it be.