February 10, 2012

A needed reminder from Thomas Helwys

"That the magistrate is not by virtue of his office to meddle with religion, or matters of conscience, to force or compel men to this or that form of religion, or doctrine: but to handle only civil transgressions (Rom 13), injuries and wrongs of man against man, in murder, adultery, theft, etc., for Christ only is the king, and lawgiver of the church and conscience. James 4:12)." 

Article 84 of Helwys' confession of faith.

"the King is but an earthly King, and he hath no authority as a King but in earthly causes, and if the Kings people be obedient & true subjects, obeying all humane lawes made by the King, our lord the King can require no more:  for mens religion to God, is betwixt God and themselves;  the King shall not answere for it, neither may the King be judgd (i.e., judge) betwene God and man.  Let them be heretikes, Turks, Jewes, or whatsoever it apperteynes not to the earthly power to punish them in the least measure."
No words in the book are more forceful than the preface.

"Heare, 0 King, and dispise not ye counsell of ye poore, and let their complaints come before thee.  The King is a mortall man, and not God[:]  therefore hath no power over ye immortall soulles of his subjects, to make lawes and ordinances for them, and to set spirituall Lords over them.  If the King have authority to make spirituall Lords and Lawes, then he is an immortall God, and not a mortall man.  0 King, be not seduced by deceivers to sin so against God whom thou oughtest to obey, nor against thy poore subjects who ought and will obey thee in all things with body[,] and goods, or els[e] let their lives be taken from ye earth.  God save ye King."

From The Mistery of Iniquity, Thomas Helwys 

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