And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor?—Jeremiah 2.18.

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Three Propositions

Respecting the

MEDIATORIAL DOMINION of CHRIST,

As they were agreed upon by

The Reformed Presbytery in 1749,

And more fully explained in a

Postscript published by the Presbytery in 1754.

X

TrueCovenanter.com Editor's Introduction.

The paragraphs which follow make up the Postscript to the Reformed Presbytery's Serious Examination and Impartial Survey, published in 1754 in response to a few "protesting brethren" who by schismatic methods went about the establishment of a new Presbytery dedicated to the upholding of heretical notions concerning the extent of Christ's Atonement, largely conform to those of the Arminians.

The propositions set forth in these paragraphs do not have direct bearing on the question, but seem to have become a point of secondary dispute between the two Presbyteries. They consist of the following:

  1. That the Lord Jesus Christ has a twofold Kingdom, one essential to him as God equal with the Father in Power and Glory; another donative, as the Father's honorary Servant;
  2. Dominion is not founded on Grace;
  3. That the Magistrate is not the Vicegerent of Christ, substitute under him in the Church.

These three propositions summarize the Presbytery's doctrine of Christ's mediatorial authority, and their opposition to all Erastian confusion of the institutions of Church and State. For many years the Reformed Presbytery were aspersed by the Associate Presbyterians (Seceders) as having adopted Erastian views on account of their adherence to the principles and practices of Dissenters. Sadly, some Dissenters also opposed the Presbytery as having adopted Erastian views because of the apparent disconformity between some of their statements, and those of our Reformers who wrote against the Erastians.

It is evident however, from such formulations as those which follow, that if in anything the Presbytery reasoned differently than our Reformers of previous generations, yet their full intent, as much or more than any other party of the day, was to conform themselves to the same practices as our Reformers, and to maintain the doctrines of our Confession of Faith and Covenants, which were falling out of favour amongst all others. Especially this is evident from (1) their practice of refusing submission to heretics and apostates as lawful authority amongst God's covenanted people; and (2) their testimony in favour of § 3 of the chapter in our Confession of Faith on the Civil Magistrate, which was gradually and by pieces relinquished by other Presbyterians, until a company of Americans attained to such boldness as to re-write the section without any scriptural support cited for their invented doctrines.

If, therefore, the reader has heard that the Reformed Presbyterians have asserted Erastian doctrines, "as though Dominion was founded on Grace," or "as if the Civil Magistrate must hold his office in the Church itself"; assuming there can be no proper grounds for adopting a practice of Dissent from immoral institutions of civil rule, without such doctrines as the foundation; he may here find out how much honesty there is in such claims. A fair examination of facts, will never lead the reader to regard the Dissenters as "Anti-Government" people, as was alleged by their opponents; but rather to regard them as "Anti-Prelatick" and "Anti-Erastian" Presbyterians, as they plainly confessed themselves, for such were the "authorities" from which they Dissented: Prelatick & Erastian.

2009.07.13.

AS the Division that has happened in the Reformed Presbytery was entirely founded upon the Proposition that has been already largely considered, and shown to be dangerous in its Nature and Tendency; so the Presbytery are under no Obligation, at present, to take any Notice of the Declaration of Principles, which their protesting Brethren have thought proper to make in the End of their Performance, further than that they disproving the Proposition in Dispute, must also disown all such Topics as are built thereupon, derive their Strength therefrom, and stand in a just and necessary Connexion therewith. Nevertheless, lest the Presbytery should be mistaken by any Part, as to their Sentiments of these other Particulars mentioned, page 12, (agreed upon by the Presbytery, January 1749), they judge it proper to subjoin the same in a very few Words. And,

First, Then, as the Presbytery did formerly agree, That the Lord Jesus Christ has a twofold Kingdom, one essential to him as God equal with the Father in Power and Glory; another donative, as the Father's honorary Servant: so they being still of the same Judgment, declare, That Christ hath a twofold Kingdom, arising from different Considerations, comprehending different Subjects, or the same Subjects standing in different Relations unto him, governed by different Laws, erected and maintained for different Ends and Purposes, all subservient to his own Glory, and the Good of his Body the Church.  (1.) He hath an essential Kingdom, in which he presides as God equal with the Father and Holy Ghost, over all the Extent of Creation, from which no Being can possibly ever revolt; which is absolutely incommunicable to any Creature in Heaven or in Earth; and which, by his infinite Wisdom, and irresistible Power, he governs, by an immense Multiplicity of various Laws, wisely adapted to their different Natures, and resulting from their different Relations to him; over which Kingdom he shall remain an uncontrollable Sovereign, through the revolving Ages of an incomprehensible Eternity.  This essential Kingdom is common to the three Persons in the adorable Trinity; of which none of them can possibly be divested, {209} more than of their Being.  As the supreme and incomprehensible Maker of all Things, God essentially has, from the absolute Infinity of his Power, communicated Existence to a boundless Number of Beings, of different Natures, Ranks, and Orders, for the brighter Displays of his own glorious and essential Perfections; so he must needs have, and exercise a sovereign and uncontrollable Authority and Sway, an universal Sceptre, over all the extensive Regions of Heaven and Earth, with their respective Inhabitants. And thus, as Creator, Christ may be justly called God over all, blessed for ever. [Rom. 9.5.]  (2.) He hath a donative Kingdom as Mediator, God and Man in one Person, unto which he was designed and appointed by God the Father, in the eternal Counsel of Peace, intimated in Prov. 8.23. Luke 22.29. The Ground-foundation and Charter of which Sovereignty is laid in that Price and Ransom of inestimable Value, paid by him to Law and Justice, in the room and stead of his Body the Church, the given ones; and by virtue of which he obtained a just Right and title, not only of Conquest, but also of Purchase; over whom he sways a Sceptre of Grace, Love, and Peace; ruling by his Spirit in such Laws, Ordinances, and Institutions, as in infinite Wisdom are calculated for promoting the Glory and Honour of God, and for accomplishing their Edification and Salvation.  This is his spiritual Kingdom, the Kingdom of the Covenant, that was to be raised out of the Rebel-world of Mankind, whereof Christ is constituted the alone King and Head, Psalm 2.6. Hence, he as Mediator presides in a special Manner in and over all the Ordinances and Administrations instituted by him within the Pale of the visible Church, which is his Spouse and Bride; while at the same Time, by a Right of Conquest over Hell and Death, and him that hath the Power of Death, the god of this World, and all the Powers of Darkness, triumphing openly over them in his Cross; even over these, and all their hellish Confederates, he rules with a Rod of Iron, baffling all their Stratagems, secret Plots and Machinations, dashing them to Pieces like a Potter's Vessel, or causing all these, by his wise and over-ruling Providence, work together for his own Glory, and the Good of them that love him.  So that the Effects and Influences of his mediatorial Power and Government are diffused over all the Inhabitants of Heaven, Earth, and Hell.  In Agreeableness to which, are the declared Sentiments of Dr. Owen, in these Words, "God the Father, in {210} the Pursuit of the sovereign Purpose of his Will, hath granted unto the Son, as incarnate, and Mediator of the new Covenant, according to the eternal Counsel between them both, a sovereign Power and Authority over all Things in Heaven and Earth, with the Possession of an absolute Proprietor, to dispose of them at his Pleasure, for the Furtherance and Advancement of his proper and peculiar Work as Head of the Church."  Hence it follows, that, in Subserviency to his spiritual Kingdom, his Church, the Administration of the Kingdom of Providence throughout the World is committed to him; being made head over all things to the church, which is his body, Eph. 1.22,23.  Zion's King and Head manages all Things by his Providence, as well without as within the Church, though in a very different Way, as to his own People, and to Enemies in the midst of whom he rules, Psalm 110.2.  Thus Christ's Lordship and Dominion extends to Reprobates as well as others. They are not exempted from that all Flesh which he hath Power over; though this universal Dominion is not exercised for their Good, but in behalf of his Saints. And it is not founded upon an universal Satisfaction, but upon two other Grounds.  (1.) His Interposition upon the Entrance of Sin, against the immediate Execution of the Curse due unto it, as befell the Angels.  This fixed the World under a Dispensation of Forbearance and Goodness. Which Dispensation is thus far on the Account of Christ, that though, as relating to Reprobates, the Favours they enjoy, are no Parts of his special Purchase as Mediator of the new Covenant; yet they are a necessary Consequent of his Interposition, against the immediate Execution of the whole Curse, upon the first Entrance of Sin, and of his Undertaking for his Elect, Isa. 49.8, I will give thee for a Covenant of the people, to establish the earthPsalm 75.3.  (2.) He makes a Conquest over them. It was promised, Gen. 3.15. He hath undertaken, and will accomplish it, 1 Cor. 15.21. And the Dominion granted him on these Grounds, as above, is sovereign, and absolute, and judiciary, John 5.22,23.  As he hath Power over their Persons, so he hath Regard unto their Sins, Acts 17.32, Matth. 25.30,31, &c.

Secondly, As the Presbytery formerly agreed, that Dominion is not founded on Grace; so, according to the common usual Acceptation of the Words, in opposition to the Anabaptistical Scheme, who understand it of Grace subjectively in the Hearts of Magistrates, so as that no Man can be a lawful {211} Magistrate, unless he be a real Christian, endued with saving Grace, they still, in this Sense, deny the Proposition: As also, if thereby is understood Grace objectively; so as that it is of such positive divine Revelation, as the Doctrines of the Trinity, Incarnation—are; or yet such as the positive unalterable Institution of Presbyterian Church-government.  For even among the Athenians, Romans, Lacedemonians, and other Heathens, are found certain Systems of Government established and adjusted with the most exquisite Skill, as may unquestionably confirm what the Apostle to the Romans says, chapter 2.14,15. While at the same Time the Presbytery declare, that Scripture-qualifications are essential to the Being of a lawful Magistrate in a Christian Land; and none but such as are qualified according to Scripture, our Covenants, and the fundamental Laws of the Land agreeable thereunto, can be lawful Magistrates over these reformed Lands; and that otherwise the Government cannot be said to promote either the Glory of God, or the true Peace and Happiness of the Society: And they reject all Tenets and Doctrines contrary thereunto.

Thirdly, The Presbytery formerly agreed, That the Magistrate is not the Vicegerent of Christ, substitute under him in the Church.  Agreeable whereto, in opposition to the Erastian Tenet, viz. That the civil Magistrate is substitute under Christ, as Mediator, to exert his royal Power in and over the Church; they still declare, that the Magistrate, as Christ's Vicegerent, is not substituted in the Church under him. But at the same Time they maintain, that a lawful Magistrate hath Authority from the Word of God, and it is his indispensable Duty to take Order, that Unity and Peace be preserved in the Church, that the Truths of God be kept pure and entire, that all Blasphemies and Heresies be suppressed, all Corruptions in Worship and Discipline be prevented or reformed, and all the Ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed; agreeable to our Confession of Faith, chapter 23. § 3. and that gracious Promise, Isa. 49.23; and are obliged by the divine Law to exert their royal Authority, in charging, that whatsoever is commanded by the God of Heaven, be done for the House of the God of Heaven. [Ezra 7.23.]  To conclude, it seems to be undeniable, if the Scriptures of Truth are owned to be a perfect Rule, that where ever Christianity comes, the civil Government should be so modified, moulded, and framed, as to correspond with the Circumstances of such a People; and that all Laws, Statutes, Ordinances, and {212} Institutions whatsomever, either respecting the Constitution or Administration of the Government, must needs be formed and built upon the Plan of divine Revelation.  Hence, not only are the Laws of the Mediator binding upon the Consciences of Magistrates, in all their public Administrations, as well as in their Election, Constitution, and Appointment; but also must this glorious Person be invested with a Headship of Power over them, for the sake of his Body the Church, disposing their Hearts, and over-ruling all their Transactions, Counsels, and Deliberations, to favour his righteous Cause, according as he hath graciously promised, Isa. 60.10,11,16. Chapter 43.14,15.

FINIS.