The Reformed Presbyterian Church, the United States, and Constitutional Liberty

“Reformed Presbyterians are Covenanters. They are persuaded that among the most precious instruments in all political history are the National Covenants of Scotland and the Solemn League and Covenant of Great Britain and Ireland. These Covenants are not only exponents of the principles of pre-eminently political constitutions, and their principles of constitutional liberty are applicable in all lands and under different forms of government. Reformed Presbyterians, constitutional liberty in the ecclesiastical sphere they are particularly those of us who belong to the United States, may be strongly inclined to the Republican form of government We may believe that that form is in closest harmony with the Divine standard which commands the choosing of able men and men that fear God from among the people, and the placing of these in the seats of political authority (Ex. xviii. 21). But we all agree, as Reformed Presbyterian Covenanters, that constitutional government, whether under the monarchical or republican form, is the main thing. So some of us may prefer, all things considered, a written political constitution. But whether the nation’s fundamental law or the political constitution may be written or unwritten, a constitutional government with its constitutional limitations, its adjustment of the legislative, judicial, and executive departments, its provision for its own modification in harmony with its stability, is that for which Reformed Presbyterianism has ever contended. These constitutional provisions of a republican government are the guarantees of liberty. They balance liberty with law. They are a sacred compact between the governors and the governed, and between the people of the sovereign nation among themselves. It is in this way that Reformed Presbyterianism reconciles the elements of truth in each of two apparently conflicting theories of the State, when it traces the sovereign power of the political organism to God, and at the same time recognizes the place of a political compact or covenant, or a constitution of government, into which the members of the nation enter with each other for the administration of civil affairs.  Avoiding the political error of the Divine right of kings, and the no less pernicious political heresy of the social compact, it anchors the State as sovereign under God to the Throne of God, and on the basis of his perfect law of liberty secures to all the members of the political body the Covenanted constitutional guarantees of both civil and religious liberty.”

Rev. Dr. McAllister, Pittsburgh, gave an address on , THE POLITICAL ATTITUDE OF REFORMED PRESBYTERIANISM P. 438.


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