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Westminster Confession of 1646: Of the Civil Magistrate

Chapter XXIII. Of the Civil Magistrate

I. God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates, to be, under Him, over the people, for His own glory, and the public good: and, to this end, hath armed them with the power of the sword, for the defence and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evil, doers, (Rom 13:1-4; 1Pe 2:13-14).

II. It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate, when called thereunto, (Pro 8:15-16; Rom 13:1-2, 4): in the managing whereof, as they ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth, (Psa 2:10-12; 1Ti 2:2; Psa 82:3-4; 2Sa 23:3; 1Pe 2:13); so, for that end, they may lawfully, now under the new testament, wage war, upon just and necessary occasion, (Luk 3:14; Rom 13:4; Mat 8:9-10; Act 10:1-2; Rev 17:14, 16).

III. The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the Word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, (2Ch 26:18; Mat 18:17; Mat 16:19; 1Co 12:28-29; Eph 4:11-12; 1Co 4:1-2; Rom 10:15; Hbr 5:4): yet he hath authority, and it is his duty, to take order that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire, that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed, all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed, and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed, (Isa 49:23; Psa 122:9; Ezr 7:23, 25-28; Lev 24:16; Deu 13:5-6, 12; 2Ki 18:4; 1Ch 13:1-9; 2Ch 34:33; 2Ch 15:12-13). For the better effecting whereof, he hath power to call synods, to be present at them, and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God, (2Ch 19:8-11; 2Ch 29-30; Mat 2:4-5).

IV. It is the duty of people to pray for magistrates, (1Ti 2:1-2); to honour their persons, (1Pe 2:17); to pay them tribute or other dues, (Rom 13:6-7); to obey their lawful commands and to be subject to their authority, for conscience’ sake, (Rom 13:5; Tts 3:1). Infidelity, or difference in religion, doth not make void the magistrates’ just and legal authority, nor free the people from their due obedience to them, (1Pe 2:13-14, 16): from which ecclesiastical persons are not exempted, (Rom 13:1; 1Ki 2:35; Act 25:9-11; 2Pe 2:1-11; Jud 8-11); much less hath the Pope any power and jurisdiction over them in their dominions, or over any of their people; and, least of all, to deprive them of their dominions, or lives, if he shall judge them to be heretics, or upon any other pretence whatsoever, (2Th 2:4; Rev 13:15-17).



DISCLAIMER: Creeds, catechisms, and confessions do not replace Scripture, nor the authority of Scripture. The creeds, catechisms and confessions are included herein for purposes of reference. Blue Letter Bible aims to provide resources that cover a range of traditional, orthodox, conservative Christianity, for the benefit of all of our users. The inclusion of the creeds, catechisms, and confessions does not necessarily mean that the ministry agrees with each and every point in each, since some are coming from different Christian perspectives of faith, practice and worship. The user may find them useful as tools to assist in understanding or teaching the Scriptures, since they were drafted based upon Scripture. Used in their proper context, they can continue to aid us as much today as they did for our forefathers in centuries past.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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