Thomas Case on the Government of Christ

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VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Puritan Sermons, 1659 - 1689, vol. v, pp. 520-521, Thomas Case, The Conclusion of the Morning Exercise:

The government of Christ is to be owned publicly.

(i.) For, first, it is the will of Christ, who was appointed to be King of nations as well as "King of saints," (Rev. xv.3,) not only to erect himself a government in the hearts of his people, but also to be publicly owned by nations, as to the religion which he hath established. There is a national acknowledgment of Christ, as well as a personal and ecclesiastical. Christ is personally owned, when we receive him into our hearts: He is ecclesiastically owned, by his worship in the churches of the saints: and nationally owned, when the laws and constitutions of the civil government are framed so as to advance the interest of his sceptre, and the Christian religion is made a national profession. This is spoken of in many places of scripture. (Gen. xvii.8; xviii.18; Isai. lv.5; lx.12; Matt. xxviii.19, 20.)
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
You're most welcome! Here is another gem from that same sermon relating to the Establishment Principle.

Because civil peace is bound up in ecclesiastical.

(ii.) Because, without preserving of unity and uniformity in religion, civil peace cannot be long maintained. -- No differences being carried on with so much heat and earnestness of contention as differences in matters of religion. For, that which should be a judge of strifes, then becomes a party; and what should restrain our passions, feeds them. Therefore, when one scorneth what another adoreth, there must needs be great contentions and exasperations of mind; and when every man is left to hold what he lists in matters of religion, all manner of mischief and confusions must inevitably follow; and every one stickling for the precedency of his party, there can be no solid union of heart under so vast and boundless a liberty. Tumults in the church do necessarily beget confusions in the commonwealth; for the church and state, like Hippocrates' twins, -- they weep and laugh, and live and die, together.

For those who may be interested in further reading about Thomas Case, see here.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
There are also good biographies of Thomas Case in Memoirs of the Westminster Divines by James Reid and in Meet the Puritans ed. by Joel Beeke and Randall Pederson.
 

Bladestunner316

Puritan Board Doctor
Trevor,
Can you provide a biblical response to what was posted? How would you handle being in OT time's when we were commanded to kill worshipers of false gods?
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Thomas Case:

But because the power of magistrates in sacred things is much questioned; and we are usually slandered, as a rigid sort of men that would plant faith by the sword, and more for compulsion of conscience than information; I shall give you a taste of what we hold to be the magistrates' duty in and about sacred things. We say, therefore, that religion may be considered as to be planted, or as already planted, in a nation.

What is to be done when religion is to be planted.

When it is to be planted
and hath gotten no interest or footing among a people, the preachers and professors of it must run all hazards, and boldly own the name of Christ, whatever it cost them. The only weapons which they have to defend their way, are prayers and tears. And whatever proselytes they gain to the faith of Christ, they must use no resistance, but only "overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; not loving their lives to the death." (Rev. xii.11.) And thus did the Christian religion get up in the face of the opposite world; "not by any public interest and the power of the long sword, but merely by its own evidence and the efficacy of God's grace accompanying the publication thereof." And though it were a doctrine contrary to nature, and did teach men to row against the stream of flesh and blood; yet it prevailed, without any magistracy to back it. The primitive Christians, how numerous soever they were, never made head against the powers then in being; but meekly and quietly suffered all manner of butcheries and tortures, for the conscience of their duty to God. And what we say concerning religion in the general, holdeth true also concerning reformation, or the restitution of the collapsed state of religion. When men oppose themselves against the stream of corruptions which, by a long succession and descent, run down against them, and are armed by law and power, they are "in patience to possess their souls," and to suffer all manner of extremity for giving their testimony to the truths of God; and in this case we only press the magistrate to "be wise" or cautious that he do not oppose Christ Jesus, (Psalm ii.10,) "by whom kings reign, and princes decree justice." (Prov. viii.15.)

What the magistrates' duty is, when religion is planted.

But when religion is already planted and received among a people, and hath gotten the advantage of law and public edicts in its favour, not only for its security and protection, but also for its countenance and propagation; then it becomes the people's birthright, (as the law of Moses is called "the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob," Deut. xxxiii.4,) and ought to be defended and maintained by the magistrate, as well as other laws and privileges which are made for the conservation, welfare, and safety of that nation. Yea, much more: because, if the magistrate be "the minister of God for good," (Rom. xiii.4,) then he is to take care of the chief good, which is religion, as concerning not only the bodies, but souls, of the people committed to his charge; and therein to take example from the holy magistrates of the people of the Jews, who were zealous for God in this kind.
...
The magistrate is to see that religion, when once established, be not violated.

(2.) Briefly, then, that which we say is this, -- that a religion, received by a nation, and established by laws, should not be violated; and the magistrate is to see that it be preserved against all open opposition and secret underminings, and in no case contemned and scorned. -- The consciences of men are liable only to the judgment of God; but their words and practices come under the magistrate's cognizance. Inquisition into men's thoughts we condemn; but taking notice of their hard speeches and contempuous revilings and public opposition against the truth, is that which we commend in the Christian magistrate. The law of Theodosius concerning heretics doth fully express our sense: "If men will perish by holding pernicious doctrines, let them perish alone; but let not others perish with them, by their holding them out." The canon in this case is, "Their mouths must be stopped." We contend not [for] punishment so much (unless in point of blasphemy) as prevention. If seducers be not severely chastised, yet like wild beasts, they "must be muzzled,"...that they may do no harm: their "mouths must be stopped," lest, by "teaching things which they ought not, they subvert whole houses." (Titus i.11.) Once more: we are not such rigid imposers as the world doth make us to be; as that in lesser things, wherein good men may err or differ, we should presently call-in the power of the magistrate to avenge our quarrel. We know there is a due latitude of allowable differences, wherein the strong should bear with the weak; (Rom. xv.1; ) and are so far from making use of civil censures in such cases, that we think the church should not use any extreme course, but rather all manner of patience and indulgence.
 
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