Lex Rex [Law Is King, or The Law & The Prince] (1644)

Samuel Rutherford


Preface

Who doubts (Christian Reader) but innocency must be under the courtesy and mercy of malice, and that it is a real martyrdom to be brought under the lawless inquisition of the bloody tongue. Christ, the prophets, and apostles of our Lord, went to heaven with the note of traitors, seditious men, and such as turned the world upside down: calumnies of treason to Caesar were an ingredient in Christ’s cup, and therefore the author is the more willing to drink of that cup that touched his lip, who is our glorious Forerunner: what, if conscience toward God, and credit with men, cannot both go to heaven with the saints, the author is satisfied with the former companion, and is willing to dismiss the other. Truth to Christ cannot be treason to Caesar, and for his choice he judges truth to have a nearer relation to Christ Jesus, than the transcendent and boundless power of a mortal prince.

He considered that popery and defection had made a large step in Britain, and that arbitrary government had over-swelled all bans of law, that it was now at the highest float, and that this sea approaching the farthest border of fancied absoluteness, was at the score of ebbing: and the naked truth is, prelates, a wild and pushing cattle to the lambs and flock of Christ, had made a hideous noise, the wheels of their chariot did run an equal pace with the blood-thirsty mind of the daughter of Babel. Prelacy, the daughter planted in her mother’s blood, must verify that word, As is the mother, so is the daughter: why, but do not the prelates now suffer? True, but their sufferings are not of blood, or kindred, to the calamities of these of whom Lactantius says, (1. 5, c. 19,) O quam honesta voluntate miseri erant. The causes of their suffering are, 1st, Hope of gain and glory, steering their helm to a shore they much affect; even to a church of gold, of purple, yet really of clay and earth. 2nd, The lie is more active upon the spirits of men, not because of its own weakness, but because men are more passive in receiving the impressions of error than truth; and opinions lying in the world’s fat womb, or of a conquering nature, whatever notions side with the world, to prelates and men of their make are very efficacious.

There is another cause of the sickness of our time, God plagued heresy to beget Atheism and security, as atheism and security had begotten heresy, even as clouds through reciprocation of causes engender rain, rain begat vapors, vapors clouds, and clouds rain, so do sins overspread our sad times in a circular generation.

And now judgment presses the kingdoms, and of all the heaviest judgments the sword, and of swords the civil sword, threatens vastation, yet not, I hope, like the Roman civil sword, of which it was said,

Bella geri placuit nullos habitura triumphos.

I hope this war shall be Christ’s triumph, Babylon’s ruin.

That which moved the author, was not (as my excommunicate adversary, like a Thraso, says) the escapes of some pens, which necessitated him to write, for many before me has learnedly trodden in this path, but that I might add a new testimony to the times.

I have not time to examine the P. Prelate’s preface, only, I give a taste of his gall in this preface, and of a virulent piece, of his agnosco stylum et genium Thrasonis, in which he labors to prove how inconsistent presbyterian government is with monarchy, or any other government.

  1. He denies that the crown and scepter is under any co-active power of pope or presbytery, or censurable, or dethroneable; to which we say, presbyteries profess that kings are under the co-active power of Christ’s keys of discipline, and that prophets and pastors, as ambassadors of Christ, have the keys of the kingdom of God, to open and let in believing princes, and also to shut them out, if they rebel against Christ; the law of Christ excepts none, (Mat. 16:19; 18:15, 16; 2 Cor. 10:6; Jer. 1:9,) if the king’s sins may be remitted in a ministerial way, (as Job 20:23, 24,) as prelates and their priests absolve kings; we think they may be bound by the hand that loosed; presbyteries never dethroned kings, never usurped that power. Your father, P. Prelate, has dethroned many kings; I mean the pope whose power, by your own confession, (c. 5, p. 59,) differs from yours by divine right only in extent.

  2. When sacred hierarchy, the order instituted by Christ, is overthrown, what is the condition of sovereignty? — Ans. — Surer than before, when prelates deposed kings. 2. I fear Christ shall never own this order.

  3. The miter cannot suffer, and the diadem be secured. — Ans. — Have kings no pillars to their thrones but antiChristian prelates. Prelates have trampled diadem and scepter under their feet, as histories teach us.

  4. Do they not (puritans) magisterially determine that kings are not of God’s creation by authoritative commission; but only by permission, extorted by importunity, and way given, that they may be a scourge to a sinful people? — Ans. — Any unclean spirit from hell, could not speak a blacker lie; we hold that the king, by office, is the church’s nurse father, a sacred ordinance, the deputed power of God; but by the Prelate’s way, all inferior judges, and God’s deputies on earth, who are also our fathers in the fifth commandment style, are to be obeyed by no divine law; the king, misled by p. prelates, shall forbid to obey them, who is in downright truth, a mortal civil pope, may loose and liberate subjects from the tie of a divine law.

  5. His inveighing against ruling elders, and the rooting out of antiChristian prelacy, without any word of Scripture on the contrary, I pass as the extravagancy of a malcontent, because he is deservedly excommunicated for perjury, popery, Socinianism, tyranny over men’s conscience, and invading places of civil dignity, and deserting his calling, and the camp of Christ, etc.

  6. None were of old anointed but kings, priests, and prophets; who, then, more obliged, to maintain the Lord’s anointed, than priests and prophets? The church has never more beauty and plenty under any government than monarchy, which is most countenanced by God, and magnified by Scripture. — Ans. Pastors are to maintain the rights of people, and a true church, no less than the right of kings; but prelates, the court parasites, and creatures of the king, that are born for the glory of their king, can do no less than profess this in words, yet it is true that Tacitus writes of such, (Hist. 1. 1,) Libentius cum fortuna principis, quam cum principe loquuntur: and it is true, that the church has had plenty under kings, not so much, because they were kings, as because they were godly and zealous: except the P. P. say, that the oppressing kings of Israel and Judah, and the bloody horns that made war with the lamb, are not kings. In the rest of the epistle he extols the Marquis of Ormond with base flattery, from his loyalty to the king, and his more than admirable prudence in the treaty of cessation with the rebels; a woe is due to this false prophet, who calls darkness light, for the former was abominable and perfidious apostasy from the Lord’s cause and people of God, whom he once defended, and the cessation was a selling of the blood of many hundred thousand protestants, men, women, and sucking children.

This cursed P. has written of late a treatise against the presbyterian government of Scotland, in which there is a bundle of lies, hellish calumnies, and gross errors.

  1. The first lie is, that we have lay elders, whereas, they are such as rule, but labor not in the word and doctrine (1 Tim. 5:7, p. 3).

  2. The second lie, that deacons, who only attend tables, are joint rulers with pastors (p. 3).

  3. That we never, or little use the lesser excommunication, that is, debarring from the Lord’s Supper (p. 4).

  4. That any church judicature in Scotland exacts pecuniary mulcts, and threaten excommunication to the non-payers, and refuses to accept the repentance of any who are not able to pay: the civil magistrate only fines for drunkenness, and adultery, blaspheming of God, which are frequent sins in prelates.

  5. A calumny it is to say that ruling elders are of equal authority to preach the word as pastors (p. 7).

  6. That laymen are members of presbyteries or general assemblies. Buchanan and Mr. Melvin were doctors of divinity; and could have taught such an ass as John Maxwell.

  7. That expectants are intruders upon the sacred function, because, as sons of the prophets, they exercise their gifts for trial in preaching.

  8. That the presbytery of Edinburgh has a superintending power, because they communicate the affairs of the church and write to the churches, what they hear prelates and hell devise against Christ and his church.

  9. That the king must submit his scepter to the presbytery; the king’s scepter is his royal office, which is not subject to any judicature, no more than any lawful ordinance of Christ; but if the king, as a man, blaspheme God, murder the innocent, advance belly-gods, (such as our prelates, for the most pare, were,) above the Lord’s inheritance, the ministers of Christ are to say, “The king troubles Israel, and they have the keys to open and shut heaven to, and upon the king, if he can offend.”

  10. That king James said, a Scottish presbytery and a monarchy agrees as well as God and the devil, is true, but king James meant of a wicked king; else he spake as a man.

  11. That the presbytery, out of pride, refused to answer king James’s honorable messengers, is a lie; they could not, in business of high concernment, return a present answer to a prince, seeking still to abolish presbyteries.

  12. It’s a lie, that all sins, even all civil business, come under the cognizance of the church, for only sins, as publicly scandalous, fall under their power. (Matt. 18:15-17, etc.; 2 Thess. 3:11; 1 Tim. 5:20.) It is a calumny that they search out secret crimes, or that they ever disgraced the innocent, or divided families; where there be flagrant scandals, and pregnant suspicions of scandalous crimes, they search out these, as the incest of Spotswood, P. Prelate of St Andrews, with his own daughter; the adulteries of Whitefore, P. Prelate of Brichen, whose bastard came weeping to the assembly of Glasgow in the arms of the prostitute: these they searched out, but not with the damnable oath, ex officio, that the high commission put upon innocents, to cause them accuse themselves against the law of nature.

  13. The presbytery hinder not lawful merchandise; scandalous exhortation, unjust suits of law, they may forbid; and so does the Scripture, as scandalous to Christians, 2 Cor. 6.

  14. They repeal no civil laws; they preach against unjust and grievous laws, as, Isaiah (10:1) does, and censure the violation of God’s holy day, which prelates profaned.

  15. We know no parochial popes, we turn out no holy ministers, but only dumb dogs, non-residents, scandalous, wretched, and apostate prelates.

  16. Our moderator has no dominion, the P. Prelate absolves him, while he says, “All is done in our church by common consent” (p. 7).

  17. It is true, we have no popish consecration, such as P. Prelate contends for in the mass, but we have such as Christ and his apostles used, in consecrating the elements.

  18. If any sell the patrimony of the church, the presbytery censures him; if any take buds of malt, meal, beef, it is no law with us, no more than the bishop’s five hundred marks, or a year’s stipend that the entrant gave to the Lord Bishop. for a church. And whoever took buds in these days, (as king James by the earl of Dunbar, did buy episcopacy at a pretended assembly, by foul budding,) they were either men for the episcopal way, or perfidiously against their oath became bishops, all personal faults of this kind imputed to presbyteries, agree to them under the reduplication of episcopal men.

  19. The leading men that covered the sins of the dying man, and so lost his soul, were episcopal men; and though some men were presbyterians, the faults of men cannot prejudice the truth of God; but the prelates always cry out against the rigor of presbyteries in censuring scandals; because they themselves do ill, they hate the light; now here the prelate condemns them of remissness in discipline.

  20. Satan, a liar from the beginning, says, The presbytery was a seminary and nursery of fiends, contentious, and bloods, because they excommunicated murderers against king James’ will; which is all one to say, prophesying is a nurse of bloods, because the prophets cried out against king Ahab, and the murderers of innocent Naboth; the men of God must be either on the one side or the other, or then preach against reciprocation of injuries.

  21. It is false that presbyteries usurp both swords; because they censure sins, which the civil magistrate should censure and punish. Ilias might be said then to mix himself with the civil business of the kingdom, because he prophesied against idolaters’ killing of the Lord’s prophets; which crime the civil magistrate was to punish. But the truth is, the assembly of Glasgow, 1637, condemned the prelates, because they, being pastors, would be also lords of parliament, of session, of secret council, of exchequer, judges, barons, and in their lawless high commission, would fine, imprison, and use the sword.

  22. It is his ignorance that he says, a provincial synod is an associate body chosen out of all judicial presbyteries; for all pastors and doctors, without delegation, by virtue of their place and office, repair to the provincial synods, and without any choice at all, consult and voice there.

  23. It is a lie that some leading men rule all here; indeed, episcopal men made factions to rent the synods; and though men abuse their power to factions, this cannot prove that presbyteries are inconsistent with monarchy; for then the Prelate, the monarch of his diocesan rout, should be anti-monarchical in a higher manner, for he rules all at his will.

  24. The prime men, as Mr. R. Bruce, the faithful servant of Christ, was honored and attended by al, because of his suffering, zeal, and holiness, his fruitful ministry in gaining many thousand souls to Christ. So, though king James cast him off, and did swear, by God’s name, he intended to be king, (the Prelate makes blasphemy a virtue in the king,) yet king James swore he could not find an honest minister in Scotland to be a bishop, and therefore he was necessitated to promote false knaves; but he said sometimes, and wrote it under his hand, that Mr. R. Bruce was worthy of the half of his kingdom: but will this prove presbyteries inconsistent with monarchies? I should rather think that knave bishops, by king James’ judgment, were inconsistent with monarchies.

  25. His lies of Mr. R. Bruce, excerpted out of the lying manuscripts of apostate Spotswood, in that he would not but preach against the king’s recalling from exile some bloody popish lords to undo all, are nothing comparable to the incests, adulteries, blasphemies, perjuries, Sabbath-breaches, drunkenness, profanity, etc., committed by prelates before the sun.

  26. Our General Assembly is no other than Christ’s court, (Acts 15) made up of pastors, doctors, and brethren, or elders.

  27. They ought to have no negative vote to impede the conclusions of Christ in his servants.

  28. It is a lie that the king has no power to appoint time and place for the General Assembly; but his power is not privative to destroy the free courts of Christ, but accumulative to aid and assist them.

  29. It is a lie that our General Assembly may repeal laws; command and expect performance of the king, or then excommunicate, subject to them, force and compel king, judges, and all, to submit to them. They may not force the conscience of the poorest beggar, nor is any Assembly infallible, nor can it lay bounds upon the souls of judges, which they are to obey with blind obedience their power is ministerial, subordinate to Christ’s law; and what civil laws parliaments make against God’s word, they may authoritatively declare them to be unlawful, as though the emperor (Acts 15) had commanded fornication and eating of blood. Might not the Assembly forbid these in the synod? I conceive the prelates, if they had power, would repeal the act of parliament made, anno 1641, in Scotland, by his majesty personally present, and the three estates concerning the annulling of these acts of parliament and laws which established bishops in Scotland; therefore bishops set themselves as independent monarchs above kings and laws; and what they damn in presbyteries and assemblies, that they practice themselves.

  30. Commissioners from burghs, and two from Edinburgh, because of the largeness of that church, not for cathedral supereminence, sit in assemblies, not as sent from burghs, but as sent and authorized by the church session of the burgh, and so they sit there in a church capacity.

  31. Doctors both in academies and in parishes, we desire, and our book of discipline holds forth such.

  32. They hold, (I believe with warrant of God’s word,) if the king refuse to reform religion, the inferior judges, and assembly of godly pastors, and other church-officers may reform; if the king will not kiss the Son, and do his duty in purging the House of the Lord, may not Elijah and the people do their duty, and cast out Baal’s priests. Reformation of religion is a personal act that belongs to all, even to any one private person according to his place.

  33. They may swear a covenant without the king, if he refuse; and build the Lord’s house (2 Chron. 15:9) themselves; and relieve and defend one another, when they are oppressed. For my acts and duties of defending myself and the oppressed, do not tie my conscience conditionally, so the king consent, but absolutely, as all duties of the law of nature do. (Jer 22:3; Prov. 24:11; Isa. 58:6; 1:17.)

  34. The P. Prelate condemns our reformation, because it was done against the will of our popish queen. This shows what estimation he has of popery, and how he abhors protestant religion.

  35. They deposed the queen for her tyranny, but crowned her son; all this is vindicated in the following treatise.

  36. The killing of the monstrous and prodigious wicked cardinal in the Castle of St Andrews, and the violence done to the prelates, who against all law of God and man, obtruded a mass service upon their own private motion, in Edinburgh anno 1637, can conclude nothing against presbyterian government except our doctrine commend these acts as lawful.

  37. What was preached by the servant of Christ, whom (p. 46) he calls the Scottish Pope, is printed and the P. Prelate dares not, could not, cite any thing thereof as popish or unsound, he knows that the man whom he so slanders, knocked down the Pope and the prelates.

  38. The making away the fat abbacies and bishoprics is a bloody heresy to the earthly-minded Prelate; the Confession of Faith commended by all the protestant churches, as a strong bar against popery, and the book of discipline, in which the servants of God labored twenty years with fasting and praying, and frequent advice and counsel from the whole reformed churches, are to the P. Prelate a negative faith and devout imaginations; it is a lie that episcopacy, by both sides, was ever agreed on by law in Scotland.

  39. And it was a heresy that Mr. Melvin taught, that presbyter and bishop are one function in scripture, and that abbots and priors were not in God’s books, dic ubi legis; and is this a proof of inconsistency of presbyteries with a monarchy?

  40. It is a heresy to the P. Prelate that the church appoint a fast, when king James appointed an unseasonable feast, when God’s wrath was upon the land, contrary to God’s word (Isa 22:12-14); and what! will this prove presbyteries to be inconsistent with monarchies?

  41. This Assembly is to judge what doctrine is treasonable. What then? Surely the secret council and king, in a constitute church, is not synodically to determine what is true or false doctrine, more than the Roman emperor could make the church canon, Acts 15.

  42. Mr Gibson, Mr. Black, preached against king James’ maintaining the tyranny of bishops, his sympathizing with papists, and other crying sins, and were absolved in a general Assembly; shall this make presbyteries inconsistent with monarchy? Nay, but it proves only that they are inconsistent with the wickedness of some monarchies; and that prelates have been like the four hundred false prophets that flattered king Ahab, and those men that preached against the sins of the king and court, by prelates in both kingdoms, have been imprisoned, banished, their noses ripped, their cheeks burnt, their ears cut.

  43. The godly men that kept the Assembly of Aberdeen, anno 1603, did stand for Christ’s Prerogative, when king James took away all General Assemblies, as the event proved; and the king may, with as good warrant, inhibit all Assemblies for word and sacrament, as for church discipline.

  44. They excommunicate not for light faults and trifles, as the liar says: our discipline says the contrary.

  45. This assembly never took on them to choose the king’s counselors; but those who were in authority took king James, when he was a child, out of the company of a corrupt and seducing papist, Esme Duke of Lennox, whom the P. Prelate names noble, worthy, of eminent endowments.

  46. It is true Glasgow Assembly, 1637, voted down the high commission, because it was not consented unto by the church, and yet was a church judicature, which took upon them to judge of the doctrine of ministers, and deprive them, and did encroach upon the liberties of the established lawful church judicatures.

  47. This Assembly might well forbid Mr. John Graham, minister, to make use of an unjust decree, it being scandalous in a minister to oppress.

  48. Though nobles, barons, and burgesses, that profess the truth, be elders, and so members of the general Assembly, this is not to make the church the house, and the commonwealth the hanging; for the constituent members, we are content to be examined by the pattern of synods, Acts 15:22, 23. Is this inconsistent with monarchy?

  49. The commissioners of the General Assembly, are, a) A mere occasional judicature. b) Appointed by, and subordinate to the General Assembly. c) They have the same warrant of God’s word, that messengers of the synod (Acts. 15:22-27) has.

  50. The historical calumny of the 17th day of December, is known to all: a) That the ministers had any purpose to dethrone king James, and that they wrote to John L. Marquis of Hamilton, to be king, because king James had made defection from the true religion: Satan devised, Spotswood and this P. Prelate vented this; I hope the true history of this is known to all. The holiest pastors, and professors in the kingdom, asserted this government, suffered for it, contended with authority only for sin, never for the power and office. These on the contrary side were men of another stamp, who minded earthly things, whose God was the world. b) All the forged inconsistency between presbyteries and monarchies, is an opposition with absolute monarchy and concluded with a like strength against parliaments, and all synods of either side, against the law and gospel preached to which kings and kingdoms are subordinate. Lord establish peace and truth.