Cincinnati, Nov. 12th, 1850.
Containing an application of the principles of our Covenanted Testimony to the existing condition of society in these United States.
The controversy which arose between the Associate and Reformed churches, on the doctrine of civil magistracy, was the occasion of greater divergency between them, on collateral subjects. From false principles, consistent reasoning must produce erroneous conclusions. Assuming that the Son of God, as Mediator, has nothing to do with the concerns of God’s moral government beyond the precincts of the visible church, it would follow, that church members, as citizens of the “kingdoms of this world,” neither owe him allegiance nor are bound to thank him for “common benefits.” The assumption is, however, obviously erroneous, because, as Mediator, he is “head over all things to the church,” Eph. i, 22, consequently, all people, nations and languages, are bound to obey and serve him, in this office capacity, and to thank him for his mercies.
While this controversy was keenly managed by the respective parties in the British isles, the Lord Christ interposed between the disputants, as it were, to decide the chief point in debate. By the rise of the British colonies west of the Atlantic, against the parent country, and their successful struggle to gain a national independence, a clear commentary was furnished on the long-contested principle, that, in some cases, it is lawful to resist existing civil powers. Seceders, forgetting, for the time, their favorite theory, joined their fellow colonists in casting off the yoke of British rule. Those who vehemently opposed Reformed Presbyterians, for disowning the British government, joined cheerfully in its overthrow. How fickle and inconsistent is man! During the revolutionary struggle might be witnessed the singular spectacle—humbling to the pride of human reason, revolting to the sensibilities of the exercised Christian—brethren of the same communion, on opposite sides of the Atlantic, pleading with the God of justice to give success to the respective armies! East of the ocean the petition would be, “Lord, prosper the British arms;” on the west, “Lord, favor the patriots of these oppressed colonies!” Such are the consequences natively resulting from a theory alike unscriptural and absurd—a principle deep-laid in that system of opposition to the Lord and his Anointed, emphatically styled “The Antichrist.”
Great national revolutions are special trials of the faith and patience of the saints. No firmness of character will be proof against popular opinion and example at such a time, without special aid from on high. Reformed Presbyterians in the colonies rejoiced in the success of the revolution, issuing in the independence of the United States. Their expectation of immediate advantage to the reformation cause was too sanguine. A new frame of civil