Objection to Establishmentarianism answered by John Brown of Haddington


Again, Joshua Hicks has noted another fine answer to an objection concerning Establishmentarianism.  The first one he noted is here. https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/objection-answered-concerning-establismentarianism-a-nations-acknowledgement-of-christs-rule/

Another objection commonly put to Establishmentarianism is the fear of tyranny on the part of a non Christian magistrate.  If we press a state established religion, what if a Muslim, Mormon, __________ comes to power? Relatedly, John Brown of Haddington has this to say (and, really, I think his last sentence is quite pithily to the point):

[Objection]:The Christian law of doing to others that which we would have them do to us, demands, That we should allow every man to think, profess, and act in religion as he pleaseth. If we think men heretics, blasphemers or idolaters, our proper method is to manifest the utmost kindness and familiarity to them, that we may gain them to the truth. Every other method is no less dangerous than uncharitable. If orthodox Christian magistrates restrain and punish the spreading of Heathen, Mahometan, and Popish errors or worship,—Heathen, Mahometan and Popish princes will be thereby tempted to restrain and punish the spread of gospel-truth in their dominions, and can plead the very same right for their conduct.
(1.) Strange! Did not God know the meaning of his own law of equity and kindness between man and man, and the true method of securing or propagating his own religion, when he made or encouraged the laws against seducers, idolaters, and blasphemers above mentioned;—when he commanded his people to avoid false teachers, and not so much as to lodge them in their houses.
(2) With all your pretended benevolence, Would you familiarly lodge in your in your family a notorious pick pocket or an harlot, along with your own children, in order to gain them to the ways of piety and virtue? You would not. Why then, in direct contradiction to the command of God, do you plead for familiarity with robbers of God, defilers, or murderers of souls!
(3) The Christian law of kindness and equity requires me to do all that for the real welfare of my neighbour, in subordination to the glory of God, which I could lawfully wish him, in like circumstances, to do for me? But, must I do evil that good may come, rendering my damnation just? Must I procure “my just liberty to believe and serve God according to his own appointment, by granting my neighbour an unjust, an authoritative licence to insult and blaspheme God, and worship the devil in his stead? Because I wish my neighbour to be helpful to me, in honouring God, and in labouring to render myself and others happy in time and eternity, Must I assist and encourage them in horribly dishonouring God, and destroying themselves and others. None but an atheist, who believes no real difference between moral good and evil, can pretend it.
(4.) When and Where have Faithful adherents to gospel-truth, got much liberty and safety by means of their friends encouraging and protecting gross heresy, blasphemy and idolatry?. . . .
(5) Ought Elijah to have spared, nay protected and encouraged the prophets of Baal, as a mean of securing for himself the protection of Ahab and Jezebel, or, because she was disposed to avenge their death? Must thieves and robbers be benevolently used, protected and suffered to pass unpunished, for fear of provoking their associaus to revenge the just severities used towards them? Let magistrates do their duty, and leave events to God.

(6.) Till you honestly profess yourself an atheist, who believes no intrinsical difference between moral good and evil, never pretend that magistrates, who have their whole power from God, have any power against the truth, or have a right to exercise that power derived from God for the good of mankind, to his dishonour and to the hurt of mankind. Astonishing! Because a power originating from God may be rightfully exercised in promoting his declarative glory, the spread or protection of his gospel, and the happiness of mankind,—May it, must it, therefore, in the hand of other magistrates, be rightfully exercised in promoting blasphemy and robbery of God, and worshipping of devils?—Because it may be rightfully exercised in punishing obstinate and notorious heretics, blasphemers and idolaters,—May it, must it, therefore be rightfully exercised in persecuting and murdering the faithful preachers and professors of Gospel-truths, and worshippers of the true God?—Because magistrates in Britain have a right to punish thieves and murderers, must these in France have as good a right to use Alms givers and skilful and diligent Physicians in the same manner?—Because that which tends to the highest honour of God, and temporal and eternal happiness of mankind ought to be authoritatively tolerated, nay established, every where,—may,—must, that which tends to his highest dishonour, and the most dreadful temporal and eternal ruin of mankind, be every where, in like manner, tolerated or established?—Because in a dearth, benevolent persons may be tolerated, nay highly encouraged in freely distributing wholesome provisions to the poor and needy, may, or must, malicious murderers be therefore tolerated and encouraged in distributing their poisoned morsels, especially if abundantly sweetened among the unwary infants or others?

(7.) The restraint or suitable and seasonable punishment of that which is contrary to God’s law, being commanded by himself, can never have any tendency to introduce corruptions in religion, or persecution for an adherence to gospel-truth. And if some will abuse their power, that must not hinder others, either in church or state, to use theirs aright.