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National Establishments of Religion

James Dodson

A scene of the Scottish people signing the national Covenant, 1638.

A scene of the Scottish people signing the national Covenant, 1638.


“Hence it ought to be observed that something remarkable is here demanded from princes, besides an ordinary profession of faith; for the Lord has bestowed on them authority and power to defend the Church and to promote the glory of God. This is indeed the duty of all; but kings, in proportion as their power is greater, ought to devote themselves to it more earnestly, and to labor in it more diligently.”—John Calvin, Commentary on Isaiah (1550). 

Works on National Establishments of Religion:


The Two Sons of Oil; or, The Faithful Witness for Magistracy and Ministry Upon a Scriptural Basis.-1803-Samuel Brown Wylie.-This small treatise constitutes one of the most readable and comprehensive expositions of the Reformed Presbyterian position with respect to the application of its principles on civil magistracy in the United States. Written in the early days of the republic, it shows that godless principles were incorporated into the U.S. Constitution.

Statement of the Difference Between the Profession of the Reformed Church of Scotland,-1807-Thomas McCrie (1772-1835).-A defence of national churches and national estalbishments of religion with many helpful discussions on the use and purpose of creeds and confessions in the life of the church.

The Christian Magistrate: A Discourse.-1832-Thomas Houston.-An excellent survey of the qualifications and duties of the civil magistrate. Houston is particularly helpful to explain how a Christian magistrate is responsible to establish the true religion and his power circa sacra. His discussion of punishing heretics and idolaters required a full length defense which he issued the following year. This is a strong indictment of theological liberalism and its tendencies.

The Reviewer Reviewed, and The Covenanter and Testimony of the Reformed Presbyterian Church Vindicated, from the Perversions and Groundless Allegations of the Rev. John Paul, in a Pamphlet, Entitled, “The Covenanter Reviewed & Persecution Condemned.”-1833-Thomas Houston.-A vigorous defense of his discourse on the Christian Magistrate from charges of being contrary to the received doctrine of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Mr. Houston demonstrates the depth of historical support for this doctrine. This pamphlet also has much to teach about historical testimony and the engagement to walk in the footsteps of the flock.

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

Lectures on the Lawfulness and Advantages of National Establishments of Religion.-1839-William White, of Haddington.-Two Lectures explaining and defending the national establishment of religion together with a discussion of its advantages to the interests of true Christianity.

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

National Establishment of Religion, A Divine Institution.-1860-William Sloane (1787-1863).-This is the text of a sermon commemorating the Scottish Reformation, in 1560, designed to assert and prove that National Establishments are Scriptural and the historical doctrine of the Reformers. He spends his time expounding the theory without worrying too much about certain points of application.

Church and State: Three Lectures.-1893-James Kerr.-A series of lectures examining three possible positions one may hold concerning the relation between church and state. First, the state might offer all religions equality which is a prescription for national disaster; second, the state might establish a church with its worship and discipline which is to offer dishonor to the church; third, the state might embrace the true religion and a Scriptural establish which is glorious.