Originally Posted by Edwards
The nature of civil government, and the extent and limits of the authority of magistrates, have been so frequently and largely discussed, especially in later times, that scarce anything new concerning them can be said. Still, to be reminded of what is old and has often been said, especially on such important subjects, is by no means without its use. If therefore this shall be all that is done in my present discourse, it will not be in vain.

The sources of argument for the exhibition and confirmation of the truth as to civil government are two, reason and scripture. And of the passages of scripture referred to by writers on the subject, the text is probably the chief. Now it is of great importance that we know the scriptural doctrine on these points. For if God has revealed his mind concerning the nature, extent, and end of civil government, we may be sure that such a revelation is a perfect and infallible rule for us. And as our text is supposed by many to be the passage in which above all others God has made known his will concerning these things, so we are under peculiar obligation, in our inquiries after truth on these subjects, to attend to it, and to endeavor by all means to possess ourselves of its true meaning and import. This we now propose to do.
Why this article? Because throughout the world all nations are governed by men in various ways. Some countries are blessed with thoughtful and gracious rulers. Others, perhaps the majority, are not so fortunate and they are oppressed and living under harsh rulers. Canada is one of those nations where the current government is oppressive and denies individual freedoms by fiat. In the U.S., likewise, the current regime is most undeniably corrupt and opposed to all who would demand that the liberty and freedoms guaranteed them in the Constitution are persecuted, arrested and even imprisoned. Such governments existed throughout history. Believers have often had endure great suffering and even death under such governments. Yet the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul wrote: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God." And thus, there has always been less than a unanimous understanding of how a Christian is to act in regard to the rulers under whom they are living. One recent example stands out when the COVID virus appeared. Governors demanded closing of businesses, schools and even churches. Some citizens, including Christians believed that unfeigned obedience to those edicts. Others conversely believed that no government has the authority to rule over the Church. Jonathan Edwards, having lived not long after the American Revolution had personal experience with this issue and wrote this short treatise concerning this troubling issue.

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In His service and grace,

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simul iustus et peccator

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