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The Two Republics, or Rome and the United States of America

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    “ARTICLE XXVIII. “OF ECCLESIASTICAL POWER

    “There have been great controversies touching the power of the bishops, in which some have in an unseemly manner mingled together the ecclesiastical power, and the power of the sword. And out of this confusion there have sprung very great wars and tumults, while the pontiffs, trusting in the power of the keys, have not only instituted new kinds of service, and burdened men’s consciences by reserving of cases, and by violent excommunications; but have also endeavored to transfer worldly kingdoms from one to another, and to despoil emperors of their power and authority. These faults godly and learned men in the church have long since reprehended; and for that cause ours were compelled, for the comforting of men’s consciences, to show the difference between the ecclesiastical power and the power of the sword. And they have taught that both of them, because of God’s command, are dutifully to be reverenced and honored, as the chief blessings of God upon earth.TTR 574.1

    “Now, their judgment is this: that the power of the keys, or the power of the bishops, according to the gospel, is a power or command from God, of preaching the gospel, of remitting or retaining sins, and of administering the sacraments. For Christ sends his apostles forth with this charge: ‘As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.’ John 20:21-23. ‘Go, and preach the gospel to every creature,’ etc. Mark 16:15.TTR 574.2

    “This power is exercised only by teaching or preaching the gospel, and administering the sacraments, either to many, or to single individuals, in accordance with their call. For thereby not corporeal, but eternal things are granted; as, an eternal righteousness, the Holy Ghost, life everlasting. These things cannot be obtained but by the ministry of the word and of the sacraments; as Paul says, ‘The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.’ Romans 1:16. Seeing, the, than the ecclesiastical power bestows things eternal, and is exercised only by the ministry of the word, it does not hinder the civil government any more than the art of singing hinders civil government. For the civil administration is occupied about other matters, than is the gospel. The magistracy does not defend the souls, but the bodies, and bodily things, against manifest injuries; and coerces men by the sword and corporal punishments, that it may uphold civil justice and peace.TTR 574.3

    “Wherefore the ecclesiastical and the civil power are not to be confounded. The ecclesiastical power has its own command, to preach the gospel and to administer the sacraments. Let it not by force enter into the office of another; let it not transfer worldly kingdoms; let it not abrogate the magistrates’ laws; let it not withdraw from them lawful obedience; let it not hinder judgments touching any civil ordinances or contracts; let it not prescribe laws to the magistrate touching the form of the State; as Christ says, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ John 18:36. Again: ‘Who made me a judge or a divider over you?’ Luke 12:14. And Paul says, ‘Our conversation is in heaven.’ Philippians 3:20. ‘The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God, to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations,’ etc. 2 Corinthians 10:4, 5.TTR 574.4

    “In this way ours distinguish between the duties of each power, one from the other, and admonish all men to honor both powers, and to acknowledge both to be the gifts and blessings of God.TTR 575.1

    “If the bishops have any power of the sword, they have it not as bishops by the command of the gospel, but by human law given unto them by kings and emperors, for the civil government of their goods. This, however, is another function than the ministry of the gospel.TTR 575.2

    “When, therefore, the question is concerning the jurisdiction of bishops, civil government must be distinguished from ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Again, according to the gospel, or, as they term it, by divine right, bishops, as bishops, that is, those who have the administration of the word and sacraments committed to them, have no other jurisdiction at all, but only to remit sin, also to inquire into doctrine, and to reject doctrine inconsistent with the gospel, and to exclude from the communion of the church wicked men, whose wickedness is manifest, without human force, but by the word. And herein of necessity the churches ought by divine right to render obedience unto them; according to the saying of Christ, ‘He that heareth you, heareth me.’ Luke 10:16. But when they teach or determine anything contrary to the gospel, then the churches have a command of God which forbids obedience to them: ‘Beware of false prophets.’ Matthew 7:15. ‘Though an angel from heaven preach any other gospel, let him be accursed.’ Galatians 1:8. ‘We can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.’ 2 Corinthians 13:8. Also, ‘This power the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.’ 2 Corinthians 13:10.”TTR 575.3

    This confession is a sound exposition of the doctrine of Christ concerning the temporal and the spiritual powers. It clearly and correctly defines the jurisdiction of the State to be only in things civil; that the sword which is wielded by the powers that be, is to preserve civil justice and peace; and that the authority of the State is to be exercised only over the bodies of men and the temporal concerns of life, that is, of the affairs of this world. This shuts away the State from all connection or interference with things spiritual or religious. It separates entirely religion and the State.TTR 575.4

    While doing this for the State, it also clearly defines the place of the church. While the State is to stand entirely aloof from spiritual and religious things and concern itself only with the civil and temporal affairs of men, the church on its part is to stand aloof from the affairs of the State, and is not to interfere in the civil and temporal concerns of men. The power of the church is not to be mingled with the power of the State. The power of the church is never to invade the realm, or seek to guide the jurisdiction, of the State. The duty of the clergy is to minister the gospel of Christ and not the laws of men. In dealing with its membership in the exercise of discipline, the church authorities are to act without human power, and solely by the word of God. The ministry of the gospel is with reference only to eternal things, and is not to trouble itself with political administration.TTR 576.1

    This is Protestantism. This is Christianity. Wherever these principles have been followed, there is Protestantism exemplified in the Church and the State. Wherever these principles have not been followed, there is the principle of the papacy, it matters not what the profession may have been.TTR 576.2

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