‘… there is another king, one Jesus.’ (Acts 17:7)
The following small pamphlet is reproduced for the information of any members or friends of the congregation who wish to have their memories refreshed as to the Reformed Presbyterian position concerning our responsibility in relation to the coming Parliamentary election. Whilst the pamphlet was written in 1913 and the names of the politicians mentioned are somewhat out of date, the principles expressed are still the same today, i.e. the glory of the Lord Jesus and His kingship over civil government.
The nations of England, Scotland and Ireland are ‘Covenanted Nations.’ In 1643 the government of these nations swore and signed the Solemn League and Covenant, vowing before God to uphold, amongst other things, the Kingship of Christ over the nations and submission to Him and the acknowledgement of Him in our civil government.
As covenanters we believe that these obligations continue to this very day. The government of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are to rule in submission to and acknowledgment of Christ as King of the nation. This is clearly not happening in practice and instead we have a government which is wicked, apostate and covenant-breaking in its administration.
The Covenanters of the 17th century, including Richard Cameron, Donald Cargill and James Renwick, suffered severe persecution and death, refusing to recognise the Stuart Royalists in their belief in the ‘Divine Right of Kings’ and rejecting as unscriptural their Erastianism which teaches that civil government has authority over the church and as such has authority to appoint ministers and bishops therein. Instead they believed in the biblical doctrine of the ‘Divine Right of Presbytery.’
At the Revolution Settlement in 1688 the constitution failed to acknowledge the Solemn League and Covenant and the Divine Right of Presbytery, instead Episcopacy was established in England and Ireland. Even in Scotland, heretics and persecutors were accepted as members, office bearers and ministers within the Revolution Settlement Church of Scotland. Murderers with the blood of the covenanters on their hands were accepted as members of the church. The rights of Christ over civil affairs were not acknowledged as God's Word requires and as the Solemn League and Covenant had previously committed the three kingdoms to maintain.
There are many reasons for us to reject the Revolution Settlement but it suffices to say that the present political system and government of these nations is an example of the outworking of it in this nation. We have an atheistic, God-hating governmental system which true reformed-thinking Christians cannot support. Covenanters are not against voting, as such. But we must ask: is there anywhere a candidate who is committed to practical dissent from the Christ-dishonouring aspects of the constitution and a return to the obligations of the Solemn League and Covenant? Has any made even the slightest public assertion of the rights of Jesus Christ over politics as King of nations? We have not heard of any such. This silence means that loyalty to King Jesus requires we vote for no-one. "Now therefore why speak ye not a word of bringing the king back?" (2 Samuel 19:10). Failure to openly acknowledge the crown rights of the Redeemer should not receive our support whatever relative qualities a candidate may have. The attached pamphlet is recommended for your edification.
On behalf of Loughbrickland R.P. Session, May 2010
From the present Reformed Presbyterian Testimony (1990):
"Where the government of a nation thus flouts the authority of Jesus Christ, the rendering of unqualified allegiance to Him by Christians will require them to withhold their unqualified allegiance to the State. They will have to separate from the State where the State separates from Christ. The only position consistent for the Christian is the position of dissent from any constitution or form of government which refuses or neglects to own allegiance to Jesus Christ, since professing Christians in nations, which give moral support to such constitution or form of government, share in the responsibility for its antichristian character. (Matt. 6:24; Acts 4:19; Exod. 23:2; Ps. 94:20; 2 Cor. 6:17; Eph. 5:11)."
Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland
The Coming Parliamentary Bye-Election In the City of Derry
To the Covenanters in the Constituency.
The Synod has directed its Committee on Covenant-Renovation and Witness Bearing to issue instructions and warning to the members of the Church in the case of political elections (see Minutes of Synod, 1905, section liv.). It is our duty to comply with this direction now that you are confronted with a Bye-election and all the turmoil of electioneering. As, however, you have so recently been reminded of the Covenanter’s profession and duty of separation from the working of an antichristian and atheistic Constitution, and you have so often faithfully stood the test of temptation arising through local excitement and obtrusive canvassers, the less need be said now to confirm your holy and Providentially vindicated position.
Your position is one of political dissent, that is, dissent not merely from this or that political party, but from the Civil constitution itself, in professed and oath-bound agreement with which all the political parties act and vote. This Constitution is not only founded on the ruins of the Covenanted Reformation of these lands in Church and State, but utterly ignores the law and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, Whom God has appointed to be King of nations. It so far dethrones Christ, Who is the sole King of the Church, as to give His throne to a mortal; and in the State it professes no subjection to Christ, His Word, or indeed to any objective moral code whatever. The conditions of membership in the House of Commons are absolutely neutral as between truth and error, Protestantism and Popery, Christianity and Judaism, Christianity and Paganism, Christianity and Atheism, and, therefore, neutral as between God and the devil. The Papist, the Jew, the Atheist, and the Fire-worshipper – all are admitted to full membership; but there is no admission, that is, submission, to God, the Ordainer of civil government, or to Christ, the Divinely appointed King of nations. There is thus secured, in the words of the late Mr. Gladstone, “absolute separation between civil duty and religious belief.” The conditions of membership are as non-religious as if there was no such thing in the universe as religion, and as godless as if there was no God. The Constitution decrees by law the iniquity of fundamentally ignoring Divine Revelation, and denying Christ as King. It is no exaggeration to say that it is in rebellion against the Lord and His Anointed.
Is it any wonder that Covenanters, as Christians, Protestants, and patriots, were revolted by this unspeakable impiety and unrighteousness, and refuse still to be morally identified with it? Every year that passes makes this dissent seem to them to be only the more clearly justified and the more imperatively necessary. Our fathers took up this position more than two hundred years ago, and Covenanters have maintained it since under many discouragements. They are not surprised that a holy and just God, true to His threatenings, should have sent judgments on a backsliding nation, and, among these, they undoubtedly reckon the Home Rule rebellion. This, though aimed by Papists against Great Britain for its professed Protestantism, is, we believe, really aimed by God as a judgment against Great Britain for its systematic treachery to true Protestantism and true religion in both Church and State. The rebellion of the petted Papist is unconsciously waged against the British Government for its rebellion against God. And there is, among the British people, no thought apparently of repentance, and nothing but the intensification of rebellion in the House of Commons. It is far from the acknowledgment of Christ’s supremacy as the east is distant from the west.
How could a Covenanter acquiesce in this dethronement of Christ? How could he directly or by a representative swear allegiance to a Constitution so antichristian, and take it as the sovereign rule of his political action? How could he build hopefully on a foundation impious, atheistic, and unpatriotic? And if he has absolutely no Scriptural ground for hope of either avoiding God’s displeasure at his identification with this rejection of his Saviour King, or of warding off temporal evil by the sin of voting, which actually has brought upon voters that evil judgment, or of securing any kind or degree of national reform, why vote at all?
Covenanters are, in regard to the national apostacy, specially responsible to God for faithful action, as they have specially studied the claims of Christ, cordially accepted them, and solemnly pledged themselves to keep apart from a Constitution, a Parliament, and an Elective Franchise which ought to accept Christ as King but which theoretically and practically reject Him. Covenanters, if they voted on the Covenant-breaking, pro-Popish, and atheistic basis would not only break their vows and cease to be Covenanters, but would shame their ancestors, wound the feelings of brethren, nullify, so far, all past contendings, and grievously injure the peace and welfare of the Church. They would threaten its very life as a separate denomination, the reason of whose existence is to glorify Christ by not only all Divinely-required service to Him of a positive kind, but by keeping out of every conspiracy, whether weak or strong, whether Irish or British, whether local or Imperial, which is framed against His universal supremacy.
Covenanters, we are convinced, will not vote. They have resisted too steadily and too often the strongest temptations to vote, even when it still seemed possible to voters to prevent Home Rule by voting, to be easily deceived now; and their character and purpose are too fixed to be easily blown away as chaff. But if there is one waverer among them, we feel justified in writing for his sake alone. The pressure from outsiders will be very obtrusive, seeing that they trust in the casting of votes on an antichristian basis, and hopefully cling to this God-dishonouring political method, though it has been defeated and discredited. On the other hand, Covenanters, who have not used, and do not trust in such an antichristian kind of voting, have been amply vindicated for their long-continued stand with Christ to keep out of political apostacy in the day of its apparent prosperity, they will not prove recreant to Him now when Divine judgment is falling on that apostacy.“BE STEADFAST.” “IF ANY MAN SERVE ME, HIM WILL MY FATHER HONOUR.”
Samuel Ferguson (Chairman);
S. R. M’Neilly (Convener).