Chapter 23, Of the Civil Magistrate, is something of controversy among Presbyterians lately due its Republican revision in America. Those lately having second thoughts about the Constitution, and inclining to Toryism, insist the 1646 formulation on the civil magistrate is the only genuine doctrine, and presume the colonial redactions of 1787-89 to be ad hoc addenda adopted by a marginalized presbytery.
But such was not the case.
The War of Independence, referred to by the crown alternately as a “Presbyterian Revolt” and “Parsons’ Rebellion,” was led by Scots-Irish Presbyterians under banners reminiscent of those flown in the English Civil War which read “No King but King Jesus!” And the Presbyterian-schooled “father of the Constitution” James Madison led the Presbyterian-laden continental congress under the advisory chaplaincy of Presbyterian Rev. John Witherspoon. Presbyterians of the era not only understood the senatorial (by etymology, “rule by elders”) republican system to be the patent Presbyterian model of government, but insisted that it was an Anglo-Celtic Presbyterian war. So did their enemies, in fact.
As we addressed in chapter 19 with respect to the ‘general equity’ of the …
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