The Covenanter position on the divine work of the Church and State

“The Covenanters witnessed for the right relations and mutual duties of Church and State. Their strenuous maintenance of the freedom of the Church from the control of the State did not comprise their whole work on this point. They saw clearly that these two Divine institutions, each serving God in its own sphere, owed important duties to each other. The Scripture teaches that kings are to be “nursing fathers and their queens nursing mothers” to the Church of God; and that “the nation and the kingdom that will not serve her shall perish.” (Isaiah 49:23; 60:12.) To determine these duties and to secure the due fulfilment of them by these high parties, was the constant aim of the Covenanters. The Acts of the reforming Parliaments and of reforming Assemblies displayed their high conception of these duties. I am not here to maintain that this conception was at all points free from mistake, or that the statements of these duties which they have left to us would not have been different if they had lived, and thought, and laboured in other lands, and amid other surroundings. But they saw clearly, and steadfastly maintained that the State should help the Church by the moral influence of its own high example in acknowledging Christ as King, and accepting His law. The State can powerfully assist the Church by discharging the whole duty of the State in its own sphere in accordance with the law of Christ ; by repressing wickedness, by promoting good morals, by educating all the children of the Commonwealth in the common unsectarian principles of our holy religion, by bestowing the rewards, and honours, and trusts of government on those who are morally deserving. Thus, the State, without trenching on the sphere of the Church, develops such a state of society as is most conducive to the success of the Church in her work.”

The Headship of Christ Over the Church,

By the Rev. Professor Jambs Dick, M.A., Belfast.

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