16th Century Reformed Confessions on the Magistrate

157672800Tetrapolitan Confession-(1530 Bucer and Capito):

23- … They accordingly teach that to exercise the office of magistrate is the most sacred function that can be divinely given. Hence it has come to pass that they who exercise public power are called in the Scriptures gods… Therefore none exercise the duties of magistrate more worthily than they who of all are the most Christian and holy…

First Confession of Basel (1534 Oecolampadius):

8- God has charged governments, His servants, with the sword and with the highest external power for the protection of the good and for vengeance upon and punishment of evildoers. For this reason, every Christian governement with which we desire to be numbered, should do all in its power to see that God’s Name is hallowed among its subjects, God’s kingdom extended, and His will observed by the assiduous extirpation of crimes.

First Helvetic Confession (1536 Bullinger and others):

26- Since all governmental power is from God, its highest and principal office, if it does not want to be tyrannical, is to protect and promote the true honor of God and the proper service of God by punishing and rooting out all blasphemy, and to exercise all possible diligence to promote and to put into effect what a minister of the Church and a preacher of the Gospel teaches and sets forth from God’s Word…

Geneva Confession of 1536 (Calvin):

21- We hold the supremacy and dominion of kings and princes as also of other magistrates and officers, to be a holy thing and a good ordinance of God…

Confession of the English Congregation at Geneva (1556 Knox):

4- And besides this ecclesiastical discipline, I acknowledge to the Church a political magistrate who administers justice to every man, defending the good and punishing the evil, to whom we must render honor and obedience in all things which are not contrary to the Word of God. And as Moses, Hezekiah, Josiah, and other godly rulers purged the Church of God of superstition and idolatry, so the defence of Christ’s Church against all idolaters and heretics, as Papists, Anabaptists and such rascals or antichrist pertains to the Christian magistrates, to root out all doctrine of devils and men, such as the mass…

Scots’ Confession (1560):

24- … The are not only appointed for civil government but also to maintain true religion and to suppress all idolatry and superstition.

Belgic Confession (1561):

36- …And being called in this manner to contribute to the advancement of a society that is pleasing to God, the civil rulers have the task, subject to God’s law, of removing every obstacle to the preaching of the gospel and to every aspect of divine worship.

… And the government’s task is not limited to caring for and watching over the public domain but extends also to upholding the sacred ministry, with a view to removing and destroying all idolatry and false worship of the Antichrist; to promoting the kingdom of Jesus Christ; and to furthering the preaching of the gospel everywhere; to the end that God may be honored and served by everyone, as he requires in his Word.

Second Helvetic Confession (1566 Bullinger):

30- …The chief duty of the magistrate is to secure and preserve peace and public tranquility. Doubtless he will never do this more successfully than when he is truly God-fearing and religious; that is to say, when, according to the example of the most holy kings and princes of the people of the Lord, he promotes the preaching of the truth and sincere faith, roots out lies and all superstition, together with all impiety and idolatry, and defends the Church of God. We certainly teach that the care of religion belongs especially to the holy magistrate.

Posted originally on SATURDAY, MAY 14, 2011 at Calvin On Tap

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