Josiah, Erastianism and National Covenanting
Part 2
By Al Hembd
Copyright 1997 © First Presbyterian Church of Rowlett

[Editor’s Note: This paper is part of a series that originally were email posts to FPCR’s Internet discussion group, The Westminster Forum. Mr. Hembd wrote his articles as part of a discussion of George Gilliespie’s 17th century tract, Wholesome Severity Reconciled with Christian Liberity. ]


As we examine this question of whether a Christian magistrate may today cause the people of his jurisdiction to stand to the covenant of God, we shall find three things:

First, the civil magistrate as the minister of God must enforce God's Moral Law through just and equitable laws. These statutes must be framed so as to enforce the Moral Law.

Second, the civil magistrate must "Kiss the Son" (Psalm 2:12) in fear and trembling, in his public capacity as the civil magistrate. Nations as nations are bound now to serve Him (Ps. 72:11 and Is. 60:12; and therefore,

Third, it follows by necessity that the civil magistrate must endeavor to make his people to stand to the covenant of God according to his particular station as magistrate.

This covenant may be inaugurated by an outward and formal vow, required of the people, and of the magistrate himself. A de facto covenant may exist without such formality, for actual practice of national adherence to the true religion, and enforcement of the Law of God on the part of the magistrate, may result in actual covenanting, without a formal covenant having been ratified.. Yet, a formal vow is much to be preferred because "an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife," Hebrews 6:16. That is, the taking of a formal oath to a national covenant settles once and for all where the nation as a nation really stands.

But now we deal with the first point more thoroughly. The civil magistrate, as the minister of God, must enforce the Moral Law, through just and equitable laws that uphold the righteousness of the Ten Commandments.

Let us examine Romans 13:1-6, which reads as follows: "1 - Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 - Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 - For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have the praise of the same: 4 - For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 - Wherefore, ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake. 6 - For, for this cause pay ye tribute also, for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing."

We must note the following things:

1) The civil magistrate is indeed the minister of God, ordained of God to a specific charge: verses 4 and 6.

2) He is specifically here ordained to two duties: to be a terror to evil works, and to be for a praise(r) to them that do good works, verse 3 and 4.

3) He is ordained of God; therefore, to God is he accountable. And, being accountable to God, he is to minister according to God's standards. And the standard in God's sight for what constitutes good and evil is God's Word, specifically, the Law of God, which is the standard of all righteousness. Accordingly, the civil magistrate is the minister of God to enforce God's Law.

4) He is ordained of God, not to deal with matters of the heart; he is, to the contrary, to deal with matters of outward behavior. He is a terror to them that do evil, but he is for the praise of them that do well. As the minister of God, he judges doing. On the other hand, the ministers of the Gospel deal with matters of the heart in preaching sin, righteousness, and judgment; in preaching faith and repentance; in preaching Law and Gospel; and, as the Holy Ghost enables them, and blesses their labors, in applying these truths to the hearts of men.

5) Carefully take note that the standard of righteousness by which the magistrate is to judge outward behavior is the Moral Law, which is the only standard of morality for men. As Calvin rightly said, if one changes the judicial laws, he can do so without actually changing morality itself. That is to say, one could change an application of the law so as to adapt some of the penalties of the judicial laws to a given land. Alternatively, one could adopt additional laws that pertain to the morality of the Moral Law to the specific cultural practices of a given society. Both of these could be done without changing the standard as to what right and wrong are. However, one cannot change the Moral Law, without changing the very standard of right and wrong. The Ten Commandments as a whole comprise that Moral Law by which magistrates must rule.

The Ten Commandments have no specific penalties for any of the sins condemned. That is because the Moral Law is neither a code of penalties for crimes nor a codex of rewards for well doing. The Moral Law instead is the very standard of what constitutes right and wrong. The penalties for infractions against the Moral Law can and may be adapted to the specific situations of a given culture. The Judicial Law given to Israel is just such an adaptation, given by Jehovah God of Israel to address it's specific culture.

Specific penalties for infractions of the Moral Law can be adapted to a specific culture. The Judicial Law given to Israel is just such an adaptation, given by Jehovah God of Israel. The Judicial Law addressed the state of Israel as it existed at that time. Of course, due consideration must be given by the present-day magistrate to the penalties assigned in the Judicial Law. The Judicial Law was a law given by the All-wise God, and it could well be argued that, in some instances at least, some of the punishments have an abiding permanence. The death penalty for murder would be one example, since that particular penalty was given prior to and apart from the Judicial Law of Israel. Yet however one might change the penalties of the Judicial Law, one cannot change the Moral Law without changing the very standard of right and wrong by that act.

Calvin, in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, IV.xx.14, states as follows:

For there are some who deny that any commonwealth is rightly framed which neglects the law of Moses, and is ruled by the common law of nations. How perilous and seditious these views are, let others see: for me it is enough to demonstrate that they are stupid and false. We must attend to the well-known division which distributes the whole law of God, as promulgated by Moses, into the moral, the ceremonial, and the Judicial Law, and we must attend to each of these parts, in order to understand how far they do, or do not, pertain to us. Meanwhile, let no one be moved by the thought that the judicial and ceremonial laws relate to morals. For the ancients who adopted this division, though they were not unaware that the two latter classes had to do with morals, did not give them the name of moral, because they might be changed and abrogated without affecting morals. They give this name specially to the first class, without which, true holiness of life and an immutable rule of conduct cannot exist.

The judicial penalties of a nation may be altered according to Calvin, without changing the standard of what constitutes right and wrong. However, the Ten Commandments cannot be changed, without changing the standard of what is moral and what is not. The Ten Commandments clearly delineate for us what constitutes right and wrong.

Blasphemy, idolatry, and Sabbath breaking are specific sins condemned by the Ten Commandments. Since the civil magistrate is to be the minister of God to punish all evil doers, he must then punish blasphemers, idolaters, Sabbath-breakers, and followers after other gods. He must restrain such crimes, because they are sins against God's Law, and are therefore evil. The civil magistrate has a commission from God. He is ordained of God to be a terror to them that do evil. He does not bear the sword in vain in this regard. As a minister of God, he must answer to God.

Accordingly, the standard by which the magistrate must judge what is evil and what is good must be the word of God, specifically, the law of God (that is, the Moral Law). "By the Law is the knowledge of sin," Romans 3:20. If the civil magistrate is to know what sin is so as to punish it, he must study the Law of God. And he must punish outward infractions of that Law for the magistrate is to deal with outward behavior, i.e. he deals with the doings of men, whether they be good or bad.

Similarly, the magistrate must reward good works. The knowledge of what constitutes a good work also comes from the law of God: see I Cor. 7:19, I John 2:3-5. Good works, as the Heidelberg Catechism correctly teaches, are works done out of faith, in accordance with the law of God, to the glory of God. If the magistrate is faithfully to discharge his commission from God, he must resort to the law. It is only by reference to God's law that he can determine what is good. It is only in reference to the Moral Law that he can promote good within his realm; determine what is evil within his realm; and repress the said evil with the sword given him by the Lord of heaven and earth.

When the magistrate fails to punish any outward transgression of God's Law, to that extent he has failed in his commission from God, and will be judged accordingly (Ps. 82). Blasphemy, idolatry, and Sabbath-breaking are all crimes in the sight of the holy God of heaven and earth. Accordingly, the great God of heaven and of earth has ordained "gods" under Him (Ps. 82), to repress these crimes, as well as crimes against the second table of the law.

Regarding the degree of severity the magistrate may choose to punish Sabbath-breaking, idolatry, and blasphemy, the magistrate is now at some liberty to determine these things. I qualify this statement somewhat by saying that the civil magistrate is also free, if he so wishes, to enforce the penalties of the Civil Law with regards to those commandments regulating moral behavior. No one could rightly say of a civil magistrate, for example, that if he punished adultery with death he is unrighteous. Such a statement as that would be to accuse God himself of unrighteousness. That was precisely the punishment God Himself assigned in the Judicial Law. Thus, if the magistrate regards it best for his jurisdiction and for the glory of God, he has some freedom in punishing crimes against the Ten Commandments.

As the civil law as a body of laws has now expired, the magistrate is also free to determine whether to punish certain crimes at certain seasons more severely than that which is mandated in the Judicial Law. It is also the case that he may in other instances be more lenient.

Calvin comments as follows on how the magistrate may adapt the Moral Law to the peculiar moral situation of his people:

...The Judicial Law, given them (i.e., the Jews) as a kind of polity, delivered certain forms of equity and justice, by which they might live together together innocently and quietly. And as that exercise in ceremonies properly pertained to the doctrine of piety, inasmuch as it kept the Jewish Church in the worship and religion of God, yet was still distinguishable from piety itself, so the judicial form, though it looked only to the best method of preserving that charity which is enjoined by the eternal law of God, was still something distinct from the precept of love itself. Therefore, as the ceremonies might be abrogated without at all interfering with piety, so, also, when these judicial arrangements are removed, the duties and precepts or charity can still remain perpetual. But if it is true that each nation has been left at liberty to enact the laws which it judges to be beneficial, still these are always to be tested by the rule of charity, so that while they vary in form, they must proceed on the same principle...

What I have said will become plain if we attend, as we ought, to two things connected with all laws--viz. the enactment of the law, and the equity on which the enactment is founded and rests. Equity, as it is natural, cannot be the same in all, and therefore ought to be proposed by all laws, according to the nature of the thing enacted. As constitutions have some circumstances on which they partly depend, there is nothing to prevent their diversity, provided they all alike aim at equity as their end. Now, as it is evident that the Law of God which we call moral, is nothing else than the testimony of natural law, and of that conscience which God has engraven on the minds of men, the whole of this equity of which we now speak is prescribed in it. Hence it alone ought to be the aim, the rule, and the end of all laws. Wherever laws are formed after this rule, directed to this aim, and restricted to this end, there is no reason why they should be disapproved by us, however much they may differ from the Jewish law, or from each other (August. de Civ. Dei, Lib. xix. c. 17). The Law of God forbids to steal. The punishment appointed for theft in the civil polity of the Jews may be seen in Exodus xxii. Very ancient laws of other nations punished theft by exacted double of what was stolen, while subsequent laws made a distinction between theft manifest and not manifest. Other laws went the length of punishing with exile, or with branding, while others made the punishment capital. Among the Jews, the punishment of false witness was "to do unto him as he had thought to have done with his brother" (Deut. xix. 19). In some countries, the punishment is infamy, in others hanging, in others crucifixion. All laws alike avenge murder with blood, but the kinds of death are different. In some countries, adultery was punished more severely, in others more leniently. Yet we see that amidst this diversity they all tend to the same end. For they all with one mouth declare against those crimes which are condemned by th This is not necessary, nor even expedient. There many be a country which, if murder were not visited with fearful punishments, would instantly become a prey to robbery and slaughter. There may be an age requiring that the severity of punishments should be increased...One nation might be more prone to a particular vice, were it not most severely repressed...

Thus, the magistrate may find in his particular nation that it is necessary to punish some offenses more severely than the Judicial Law would. At other times or in other places the magistrate may find himself compelled to punish more leniently than would the Judicial Law. Calvin does allow for either. In some nations, adultery was punished more leniently than the Judicial Law punished it. In other nations robbery was punished by exacting twofold of that which was taken, which is a more lenient punishment than that of the Judicial Law. Yet, in other nations, where robbery and slaughter were pandemic, it may become necessary to punish both with immediate death.

There well may be times of great civil disorder today that may merit uncommon severity in punishments. In a city where a significant part of the population suddenly gave themselves to wholesale pillaging, looting, and beatings (e.g. the riots in South Los Angeles), it may become necessary to institute martial law. The local citizens may need to be admonished to observe a curfew, perhaps even on pain of death, until law and order can be restored.

In some lands where the Gospel is having much success, there may be a restraining influence even upon the unconverted by the preaching of the Gospel. Where such influence is present the need for severity in the civil laws may become less needed. In such instances, the magistrate may determine that it is more appropriate, as an initial punishment, to fine Sabbath-breakers or to imprison blasphemers, rather than immediately executing them as was allowed in the Judicial Law.

The magistrate could well reason along these lines: the OT dispensation was one, relatively speaking, that had less of the "spirit of adoption," and more of the "spirit of bondage." Being as grace was not manifested so freely then, the persons under that covenant (which was a unique form of the covenant for the Church in its infancy) were more dependent upon the threatenings of Sinai to keep them in line. Hence it was that the inspired Paul refers to that dispensation of the covenant of grace, relatively speaking, as "the spirit of bondage," Rom. 8:15. There was more Law and less Gospel set forth to the Church in those times; hence, the severity of many of the punishments, such that death was the immediate punishment allowed or even required for those who desecrated the Sabbath, or who blasphemed, etc.

There was then more of the thundering of Sinai, and less of the sweet wooing of the covenant of peace sent forth from the crucified Saviour now exalted upon Mount Zion in heaven. The civil magistrate now under Gospel times, particularly in a nation where the Gospel is experiencing considerable success, could well reason that by promoting the true Gospel in one's realm, and by affording sinners of the above transgressions more opportunities for repentance he is doing his duty as a minister of God.

But it is essential that the magistrate punish said offenses. Is idolatry immoral, or no? Is blasphemy immoral, or no? Is blasphemy against God's Word immoral, or no? Is Sabbath-breaking immoral, or no? Are not these offenses "evil-doing?" The magistrate, as the minister of God, is then duty-bound to punish these offenses. In such punishing he enforces the righteousness of the Moral Law, even though he may opt not to punish each offense with the exact severity mandated in the OT Judicial Law.

If we say that these offenses are not immoral, do we not call God a liar? If we say that magistrates are to punish evil-doing, but not these offenses which are against the First Table of the Law, do we not set aside God's standard of what is evil-doing, and what is well-doing? How is the magistrate being faithful as a true minister of God, then, when he sets aside the righteousness of God, in determining for himself what constitutes good and evil doing?

Some cavil that chapter 13 of Romans deals only with offenses of the Second Table, given the context of the chapter, which begins to deal with Second Table duties immediately after the discourse on the civil magistrate. To which I reply: it is true that the discourse on the civil magistrate is immediately followed by Second Table duties, and that therefore, God's ordinance of the civil magistrate does indeed serve to further the practice of Second Table duties in the populace. However, though the civil magistrate does serve to further social cooperation and social peace through the enforcement of Second Table duties, this by no means negates the duty of the magistrate, as he is the minister of God, to First Table duties as well. Is not piety the foundation of all true charity? Is not the social welfare of a nation dependent upon outward piety and recognition of God and His holy Word? Accordingly, even for the social welfare of the nation and for the furtherance of Second Table duties, the civil magistrate is duty bound to further outward piety amongst the citizens of the commonwealth.

The civil magistrate is the minister of God. This calling of God is also upon heathen magistrates. They, too, whether they acknowledge it or not, are ministers of God. They are not ministers of Jesus Christ, that is, ministers of Christ's Church. The ministers of Jesus Christ are like the seven stars in Christ's right hand; those ministers, who are ministers in Christ's Mediatorial Kingdom, the Church, are directly under the Mediatorial Headship of Christ. Civil magistrates as magistrates are not directly under the Mediatorial government of Christ. Rather, magistrates as magistrates are under the direct government of God, and are thus under the government of Christ as He is God the Son, not as He is Christ the Mediator. Thus, a magistrate's not being himself a child of grace, and thus not being personally under the Mediatorial government of Christ, in no wise exempts him from his being under the rule of and directly answerable to Christ as God the Son, the ruler of all things. For Christ, as He is God the Son, has authority over all things, both within His Mediatorial kingdom, and without it.

The civil magistrate is the minister of God. Whether he is personally under the Mediatorial reign of grace or not, he is still under God's direct authority, as he is fulfilling an ordinance and institution of God. He is answerable to God to enforce God's standard of doing good and to by God's own standard. Hence, he is duty bound to enforce the righteousness of God's Law as it is found in both Tables. And that is his office whether he be a professing Christian, or a heathen.

For more on how that the magistrate is under Christ the Son, and how that, therefore, he is not as a magistrate under Christ the Mediator, and that, therefore, heathen and Christian magistrates alike are responsible to Christ as God the Son, I refer the reader again to "Aaron's Rod Blossoming," by George Gillespie, Book 2, Chapters 5 and 6.

This concludes the discussion of this point concerning the civil magistrate's responsibilities to enforce the whole Moral Law of the Ten Commandments, both Tables. We now consider the obligation of the magistrate to "kiss the Son," to acknowledge the Headship of Christ over the nations as "King of nations;" to pay due respect to His Name, His Word, and His Cause.

Psalm 2:10-12 make the following command to magistrates, to kings, to "judges of the earth:" "Be wise now, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him."

Kings and judges of the earth, in their public capacities, are to serve the LORD with fear. They are to "rejoice with trembling:" that is, they are to rejoice in the LORD's goodness in the calling they have to serve Him as the ministers of God. And they are to rejoice with trembling, which is to say that they must consider the gravity of their calling. They must serve the LORD in that calling, and not themselves. They must rule by His commandments; they must further His Cause and His Word in their realms.

They must "kiss the Son." This figurative act entails two things: reverence and love. "If ye love Me, keep My commandments," says the Lord Christ in John 14:15. Civil magistrates are to manifest, then, their homage, their submission, reverence, and love to Christ, as "King of nations," Jer. 10:7. They are to do so by ruling in His fear: "He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God," II Sam. 23:3. The magistrate must reverence the Son; he must rule in the righteousness of the Law of God. But he must also promote the Cause of Christ in his realm. They that would love Christ must also love His people. They must love the true Church. Civil magistrates must manifest their love to Christ by furthering the Cause of the true Church in their realms; they are obligated to do so, whether they actually will or not. "For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee [that is, the true Zion of God - AH] will perish, yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted," Is. 60:11.

Hence, for the good of their realms, it is imperative that the judges of the earth kiss the Son by serving the true Zion of God; the true Church; the Church that is "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone," cf. Eph. 2:20. They may not serve ANY organization that arrogates to itself the name of "church." They certainly may not render their homage and allegiance to that anti-Christ system that has the "man of sin, the son of perdition," at its head: namely, the Roman Church.

Serving Antichrist is not "kissing the Son;" to the contrary, it is open insurrection against Him. Thus, in Is. 60:11-12, the Zion alluded to here, to which magistrates are duty bound to render their service, to which they are duty bound to "bring unto her the forces of the Gentiles" (i. e., their financial resources), is the true Church, the Church which is "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone." It is that Church which is "the pillar and ground of the truth," I Tim. 3:15. It is that Church that not only holds the Bible as the Word of God alone, but which also rightly divides the Word of truth, faithfully expounding the systems of doctrine within that Word, namely, the Law and the Gospel. (See Calvin's Commentary on I Tim. 3:15.)

The context of Isaiah 60:1-12 militate that we understand here, not the false Church, but the true. It is that Church which God speaks of in the immediately preceding verses, in Isaiah 59:20-21: "And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD. As for Me, this is My covenant with them, saith the LORD; My Spirit that is upon thee, and My Words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever."

The Cause of Christ which is the true Church: this is the Church to which magistrates are bound to render their service, to which they are duty bound to "bring in their forces," Is. 60:11-12. Indeed, it is in the immediate interest of their nations that they do so, for "the nation and kingdom that shall not serve thee [i. e., the true Church] shall perish, yea, they shall be utterly wasted." The nation that will not further Christ's Cause in their lands shall ultimately be destroyed, without remedy. Accordingly, the magistrate who would truly be a Benefactor, a Protector, a Defender of his nation, must forward the Cause of Christ in his land, with all his might. "Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish in the way."

It is furthermore in the interests of civil magistrates to promote the Cause of Christ in their lands, because it is the Gospel, faithfully preached in the true Church, that, with the Lord's blessing, subdues the carnal enmity of the natural man against the Law of God, Rom. 8:7, which Law, as we have already proven, the magistrate is duty bound to enforce. How can the civil magistrate enforce the Law of God in his land, when the very natural temperament of man is at opposition to that Law? Is it not by the preaching of the holy Gospel, that the Son of God is pleased to "gird His sword on His thigh, and ride prosperously" throughout the land, cf. Ps. 45:3-4? That is, is it not by the "sharp, two-edged sword" of truth, of the Law and the Gospel, that Christ slays men to themselves, and calls them to Himself and to His service? Is it not all important, then, that the enlightened magistrate have a faithful ministry in his land, that through the sharp, two-edged sword that goes out of that ministry's mouths, sinners would be slain to themselves, enemies of the Law would by the Law be killed to themselves, that they might become new men in Christ by the Gospel? How important, then, is the Gospel ministry in a nation!

So then, it behooves civil magistrates, in fulfilling of their duties to uphold the Law of God in both Tables, to further the Gospel ministry with all of their might. The sword of the civil magistrate alone cannot subdue the people to submit to the reign of Christ. "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the LORD," Zech. 4:7, shall the Cause of Christ be established in a land, shall the enemies of the Lord be brought down at Christ's feet, shall the nations be subdued to the reign of Christ under His righteous Law. Therefore, it is imperative that the "ministry of the Spirit," cf. II Cor. 3, be fully preached in a land. For it is by that ministry, namely, the preaching of the Law and of the Gospel, blessed with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, that sinners are won to the reign of Christ. But the civil magistrate can do much to promote that preaching. Indeed, it was by the Spirit of the LORD that Zerubabel, Joshua the high priest, and Ezra and Nehemiah were raised up, and the hearts of the people turned to return to the land, to worship Jehovah as instituted in His Word. Yet, having stirred up the hearts of the people thus, both common men and leaders (Ezra 1:5), the LORD then also turned the hearts of kings to lend their helping hand to the Cause. Civil magistrates cannot build the Church, but they can do much to help, to promote its building, just as also they can hinder it, persecute it, or seek to destroy it. And it is altogether in the interest of the magistrate that he seek to promote it, that he seek to be a "nursing father" to the true Church. For, just as the nation or kingdom that will not serve the Cause of Christ shall be destroyed, so also, the nation or kingdom that DOES promote the Cause of Christ shall know "the blessing of Abraham." They shall know the blessing of Abraham's Seed, Christ, in their lands. "In Him shall all nations of the earth be blessed," Gen. 22:18

Now the question comes: how may magistrate do this? How may they further the TRUE Cause of Christ in their realms? How may they lawfully determine which Church is true, and which is false? how may they lend their hand to the truth, by repressing false doctrine, and upholding the true? how may they identify the true Church by law, so as to recognize that Church as the true Church by legal sanction, so as to be "to the praise of them that do good," by "bringing in the forces of the Gentiles" to her Cause, by supporting her revenues with state revenues? See Isaiah 60:3-6, 10-11. For just as kings are to be a terror to evil works, by the material repression of evil by the magisterial sword, so also kings are to be to the material praise of them that do good, by supporting their Cause with the material resources of the nation: Is. 60:16-17. And what is the highest good, but to bring the Gospel into a land, a nation? to bring the good tidings of peace with God, the glad tidings of the redemption which is to be had for sinners through Jesus Christ? the joyous news of "Him in Whom the nations are to be blessed?"

And now to answer the above question. How can the civil magistrate promote the Cause of Christ in the land? Well, first we must determine how he may and cannot do it. He cannot do it be usurping to himself the keys of the kingdom. It "appertaineth not to the king" (cf. II Chron. 26:18) to minister in holy things: that is, in the regular preaching of the Word, the administration of the sacraments, or in church discipline. "The Law must go out of Zion, and the Word of the LORD from Jerusalem." Hence, the true preaching of the Word, and the conciliar determination of what IS the true doctrine of the Word, must go out of the mouths of the holy ministers of the true Church, the true Zion of God. The civil magistrate cannot expect a blessing, but rather a curse (as Uzziah experienced) if he should try to usurp to himself the preaching of the Word, or the determination of what constitutes sound doctrine.

But, like Josiah of old: the civil magistrate certainly may, and MUST exhort the ministers of the Gospel to their duty. He must exhort them to preach to the truth, just as Josiah exhorted the priests of the Temple to be faithful, "teaching priests." So also the civil magistrate must exhort the ministers to "cleanse the sanctuary," by discerning true doctrine from the false, by dealing with corruptions in worship, by purging out scandalous offenders in the Church. So then, the civil magistrate may and must charge the ministers of the Gospel to their duty, to preach the Word, and to assemble synodically to determine right doctrine, worship, and practice in the Church.

The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 23, Article II, rightly states as follows:

"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: yet hath he 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, all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented and reformed, and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed. For the better effecting thereof, he hath power to call synods..."