OVT OF THE CONFESSION OF SAXONIE.
Artic. 23. Of the ciuill Magistrate.
BY the benefit of God this part also of doctrine of the authoritie of the Magistrate, that beareth the sword, and of the authoritie of Lawes and Iudgements, and of the wholl ciuill state is god•ily set forth: and by great trauell, and many writings the manifold and great furies of the Anaba∣ptists and other fantasticall men are refuted. We teach therefore that in the wholl doctrine of God deliuered by the Apostles and Prophets, the degrees of the ciuill state are auouched, and that Magistrates, Lawes, order in iudge∣ments & the lawfull societie of mankinde▪ are not by chance sprong vp among men. And although there be many hor∣rible confusions, which grow from the Deuill, and the mad∣nes of men, yet the lawfull gouernment and societie of men is ordained of God, and whatsoeuer order is yet left by the exceeding goodnes of God, it is preserued for the Church sake, as it is said Rom. 13. and Psal. 126. Except the Lords ke•pe the Citie, in vaine he watcheth, that keepeth it, &c. There∣fore in themselues they are thinges good, to beare the au∣thoritie of a Magistrate, to be a Iudge, to be a minister, to execute iudgements, to make lawfull warres, and to be a sol∣diour in lawfull warres, &c. And a Christian man may vse these thinges, as he vseth meate, drinke, medecines, buying and selling. Neither doth he sinne that is a Magistrate, and dischargeth his vocation, that exerciseth iudgement, that goeth to warre, that punisheth lawfullie those that are con∣demned, &c. And subiects owe vnto the ciuill Magistrate obedi∣ence, as Paull saith Rom. 13. Not onelie because of wrath, that is, for feare of corporall punishment, wherewith the rebel∣lious are rewarded by the Magistrate, but also for conscience sake, that is, rebellion is a sinne that offendeth God, and withdraweth the conscience from God.
This heauenly doctrine we propound vnto the Churches, which establisheth lawfull authoritie, and the wholl ciuill state, and we shew the difference of the Gospell, and the ciu•l• gouernment. God would haue all men to be ruled and Page 593 kept in order by ciuill gouernment, euen those that ate not regenerate, and in this gouernment, the wisdome, iustice, and goodnes of God toward mankinde, is moste clearelie to be seene. His wisdome is declared by order, which is in the discerning of vertues and vices and in the societie of mankinde vnder lawfull gouernment, and in contracts gui∣ded and disposed by maruelous wisdome. Then the iustice of God appeareth in ciuill gouernment, in that he will haue open sinnes to be punished by the Magistrates, and when they that are in authoritie doe not take punishment on of∣fenders, God himselfe miraculouslie draweth them vnto punishment, and proportionablie doth lay vpon grieuous sinnes, grieuous punishment in this life: as it is said, Mat. 26. Whosoeuer taketh the sword, shall perish with the sword. & Heb. 3. Whoremongers and adulterers, God will iudge. In these punish∣ments God will haue to be seene the differences of vertues and vices, and will haue vs learne that God is wise, iust, true, and chaste. The goodnes of God also toward mankinde is seene▪ in that he preserueth the societie of men after this order. And for that cause doth he maintaine it, that from thence his Church may be gathered, & he wil haue common wealthes to be places for the enterteinment of his Church. And the ciuill gouernment is one thing, which keepeth in order all men, euen those that are not regenerate: and for∣giuenes of sinnes, and righteousnes in the heart, which is the beginning of life and of eternall saluation, which by the voice of the gospell is effected in the hearts of them that be∣leeue, is another thing. Both these benefits god hath bestow∣ed vpon mankinde, and will haue vs to vnderstand the diffe∣rence of ciuill iustice, and light in our hearts. Neither doth the gospel condemne or ouerthrow common welthes or fa∣milies. And although it belong not to those that teach in the Church, to giue particular lawes of politique gouernment, yet the worde of God doeth generallie teach this of the power of the Magistrate▪
First, God would that the Magistrate without all doubt should sound forth the voice of the morall law among men, touching discipline, according to the 10. commaundements or the law naturall; that is, he woulde haue by the voice of the Magistrate, first soueraigne and immutable lawes to be Page 593 propounded, forbidding the worship of Idols, blasphemies, periuries, vniust murders, wandring lustes, breach of wed∣lock, theft, and fraude in bargaines, contracts, and iudge∣ments.
The second dutie. Let the Magistrate be an obseruer of these diuine and immutable lawes, which are witnesses of God, and chief rules of manners, by punishing all those that transgresse the same. For the voice of the law without pu∣nishment and execution is litle auaileable to bridle and re∣straine men. Therefore it is said by S. Paull, Rom. 13. The Magistrate is a terrour to him that doth euill, and giueth honour to them that doe well, And well hath it beene said of olde, The Magistrate is a keeper of the Law, that is, of the first and second Table, as concerning discipline and good order.
The third dutie of the ciuill Magistrate is to adde vnto the law naturall, some other lawes, defining the citcumstan∣ces of the natural law, and to keepe and maintaine the same by punishing the transgressours: but at no hand to suffer or defend lawes contrarie to the law of God or nature, as it is written, Esai. 10. Woe be to them that make wicked lawes. For kingdoms are the ordinance of God, wherein the wisdome and iustice of God, that is, iust lawes ought to rule, euen as the wise King, and one that feared God, Iosaphat said, 2. Chron. 19. Ye exercise not the iudgement of men, but of God, who is with you in iudgement. Let the feare of God be with you, and doe all things diligentlie. For although manie in kingdoms doe despise the glorie of God, yet notwithstanding this ought to be their especiall care, to heare and imbrace the true do∣ctrine of the Sonne of God, and to cherish the Churches. as the 2. Psalme speaketh, And now yee Kings vnderstand, and be learned ye that iudge the earth. And Psal. 23. Y•e Princes open your gates, that is, open your kindomes to the gospell, and giue entertainment to the Sonne of God. and Esa. 49. And Kings and Queenes shallhe thy nurces, that is, let common∣welthes be nurces of the Church, let them giue entertain∣ment to the Church, and to godlie studies. Let Kinges and Princes themselues be members of the Church, and right∣lie vnderstand the doctrine thereof, and giue no help vnto those that establish false doctrine, and exercise vniust cru∣eltie, and remember this saying, I will honour them that honuorPage 594me. And Daniell in the 4. Chap. exhorteth the King of Ba∣bylon, to acknowledge the wrath of God, and to shew mer∣cie to the bannished Church, when he saieth, Redeeme thy sinnes with righteousnes and with mercie toward the poore, and there shallbe a healing of thy transgression. And since they are among the principall members of the Church, let them prouide that iudgement be rightlie exercised in the Curch, as Con∣stantine, Theodosius, Arcadius, Martian, Charles the great, & manie godlie Kinges haue prouided, that iudgement in the Church should be sincerely executed. But of the difference of both states, namely of the ministerie of the gospell, and the ciuill magistracie, there are many writinges in our Church, which declare, that we teach no fantasticall nor se∣ditious opinions, but doe shew the necessarie doctrine deli∣uered in the gospell touching both degrees, profitable to godlines, and common peace.
Thankes be to God.
THis is the summe of that doctrine, which by the bles∣sing of God with one consent we teach in our Chur∣ches, which to be the sincere meaning of the doctrine deli∣uered from God in the writings of the Prophets and Apo∣stles, and in the Creedes, we nothing doubt, and it may be vnderstood out of the auncient & purer writers, to be agree∣able to the ancient and pu•er Churches. Now the matter it selfe declareth, that we haue not sought to dispute about newfangled, curious and subtle questions, neither doe striue about authoritie or riches, but onelie to vnfolde and bring to light from the great darkenes of traditions and opinions, that doctrine which is necessarie to the true inuocation of God, to true worship, to the right knowledge of the Sonne of God, and to the saluation of soules, and doe in moste simple and plaine manner propound the same vnto the Churches. For all wise men must needes confesse that there was much obscuritie and many errours in the doctrine of the Monkes, and many snares of conscience in the Popes traditions: and whether doctrine is true, plaine, euident, profitable for con∣sciences, and for manners, comparison doth declare. For we auoide not the iudgements of the Godly, yea rather we Page 593〈1 page duplicate〉Page 594〈1 page duplicate〉Page 593〈1 page duplicate〉Page 594〈1 page duplicate〉Page 596 desire thatthe wholl true Church of God, that is, al the faith∣full & learned, wheresoeuer they are, may vnderstand what we say, who we doubt not will be witnesses that this doctrine is the consent of the true Catholique Church of God. Also we offer our selues at any time, to a more full declaration in in euerie point; and we thinke that this rehearsall of our do∣ctrine now made is agreeable to the confession exhibited at Auspurge, Anno. 1530.
For as much therefore as the doctrine, which we here re∣cite, is true, and necessarie for the Church, we intreat that our Churches may not be condemned, as if they either im∣braced errours, or foolishlie or seditiouslie stirred vp strife without any weightie cause. The truth, and weight of the matters may deliuer vs from this vniust accusation. Next after a godly manner, we admonish the Councell itselfe. They see that olde abuses and many great errours are as yet sticking in the Church, because in al ages euen from the be∣ginning of mankinde the deuil cōtinueth scattering his seed of errour, and since that time through the ignorance of men, by superstition they are either confirmed, or do shoote forth againe. And now for that the vanitie of many superstitions is known, the times require a reformation, & vnles the go∣uernours prouide that the trueth may be brought to light, great diuision in opinions is like to follow: especially because in this last age of the worlde great confusion is to be feared. Therfore let the councel see to it, that they condemne not a manifest truth. And if in a godly sort they wil deliberate how they may prouide for the churches, & if a more ample decla∣ration shal be demaunded of vs, men learned, of vnderstan∣ding▪ louing the truth & fearing god must be chosen, to con∣sult together of these so weighty matters▪ Neither let them only striue with vs in number of vices, seeing it is manifest by many preiudices, of what opinion the Bishop of Rome, and others are, that are adicted vnto him, who now by the space of many yeares haue not onelie set forth against vs edicts written with bloode, but also haue slaine many of our side: and there be many that neither vnderstand, nor looke after any truth of doctrine, but being alreadie corrupted with prophane perswasions, doe thinke this to be an especi∣all parte of politique men, to defend the present state and Page 597 to mainteine their owne authoritie. And for this purpose they seeke fit Ministers▪ by sophisticall iugling to •est out the truth. Wherefore now we testifie that we will not reiect the truth, although it be condemned by the iudgements of such men. And we openlie professe, that we consent not to the Councell of Trent, which heretofore hath sent abroade decrees partlie false, partly captious and sophisticall: but doe earnestly request that both we may be heard in the same matter, and that the errours before confirmed by the de∣crees of the Tridentine Councell may be reformed. And we reuerently bese•ch the most worthy Emperour Carolus Augu∣••us that he giue not leaue to the Aduersaries to oppresse the truth by their presumption, and to strengthen their crueltie which they exercise against innocents, and to stare vp grea∣ter dissention by their vniust decrees. And now we com∣mend the Church and our selues to the Sonne of God our Lord Iesus Christ, who we know, by the voice of the Gospell gathereth together to himselfe an euerlasting Church: and we praie him that he would gouerne vs, and not suffer the light of his Gospell to be extinguished, nor the assemblies of them that rightlie call vpon him to be dispersed.
AND we request all that teach in the Churches ne•re adioyning or els where, that receiue the Confession exhibited at Auspurge, 1530. that when they reade these things, if in any point they finde any want, they would lo∣uinglie admonish vs thereof: for that it was not our purpose to bring vp any other kinde of doctrine, but plainlie to recite the summe of the Confession of Auspurge, and the common consent of these Churches▪ and we desire that we may be fauourablie, and not quarrelouslie iudged of. We purpose not to stirre vp new contentions: but especially we pray to the Sonne of God our Lord Iesus Christ, that was crucified for vs, and rose againe, that praied in his agonie, that we might be one in God, that he would make vs also in the most Churches one in himselfe. We whose names are sub∣cribed hereunto, who doe now teach in the Churches & V∣niuersities vnder mentioned, do protest that in this writing, Page 597 which we desire to haue rightlie and not quarrelouslie vn∣derstood, we haue recited the common doctrine published in the Churches and Vniuersities, wherein we teach the Gospell, and we are perswaded that this is the true, sincere, and incorrupt doctrine of our Lord Iesus Christ, agreeing with the Apostles and Prophets and with the Creedes, and that it is necessarie for the Churches, and we praie our Lord Iesus Christ, who was crucified for vs, and rose againe, that he would mercifully gouerne and defend these Churches.
Also we offer our selues to further declaration in euerie Article. This was written Anno 1551. Iulie. 10. in the towne of Wirtemberge, where the Pastours of the Churches neere adioyning were met together, &c.