Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Foundational Law Quotes of History: John Calvin, set two

“To prevent anyone falling into error, let us therefore consider, in the first place, that man is under two kinds of government – one spiritual, by which the conscience is formed to piety and service of God; the other political, by which a man is instructed in the duties of humanity and civility, which are to be observed in an intercourse with mankind. They are generally, and not improperly, denominated the spiritual and temporal jurisdiction, indicating that the former species of government pertains to the life of the soul, and that the latter relates to the concerns of the present state, not only to the provision of food and clothing, but to the enactment of laws to regulate a man’s life among his neighbors by the rules of holiness, integrity, and sobriety. For the former has its seat in the interior of the mind, whilst the latter only directs the external conduct: one may be termed a spiritual kingdom, and the other a political one. But these two, as we have distinguished them, always require to be considered separately.

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Nor let anyone think it strange that I now refer to human polity the charge of the due maintenance of religion, which I may appear to have placed beyond the jurisdiction of men. For I do not allow men to make laws respecting religion and the worship of God now any more than I did before, though I approve of civil government which provides that the true religion contained in the law of God be not violated and polluted by public blasphemies with impunity.

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In short, if they remember that they [government office holders and officials] are the vice-regents of God, it behooves them to watch with all care, earnestness, and diligence, that in their administration they may exhibit to men an image, as it were, of the providence, care, goodness, benevolence, and justice of God.

. . .

The vice or imperfection of men therefore renders it safer and more tolerable for the government to be in the hands of the many, that they may afford each other mutual assistance and admonition, and that if any one arrogate to himself more than is right, the many may act as censors and masters to restrain his ambition.

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[N]o kind of government is more happy than this where liberty is regulated with becoming moderation and properly established on a durable basis, so also I consider those as the most happy people who are permitted to enjoy such a condition.

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[T]he magistrates likewise ought to apply their greatest diligence, that they suffer not the liberty, of which they are constituted guardians, to be in any respect diminished, much less violated.

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[A]ll laws are preposterous which neglect the claims of God and merely provide for the interests of men.

. . .

These things evince the folly of those who would wish magistrates to neglect all thoughts of God, and to confine themselves entirely to the administration of justice among men, as though God appointed governors in his name to decide secular controversies, and disregarded that which is of far greater importance-the pure worship of himself according to the rule of law.

. . .

[I]n the infliction of punishments the magistrate does not act at all from himself, but merely executes the judgments of God . . . to avenge the afflictions of the righteous at the command of God is neither to hurt nor to destroy.”

1 comment:

thekingpin68 said...

For I do not allow men to make laws respecting religion and the worship of God now any more than I did before, though I approve of civil government which provides that the true religion contained in the law of God be not violated and polluted by public blasphemies with impunity.

Thanks for the quotes. In a fallen world (not the culminated Kingdom of God), it is good to have government that is influenced by the laws of God, but not strictly ruled by one religious group. At the same time, it is not good to have secular government, making religious laws.