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Reformed Covenanter: 'Alexander Henderson on the original Covenanters’ respect for the King’s majesty'

As they have done and suffered much for vindicating and maintaining the liberty of their Religion, that what belongeth unto God may be rendered unto God; So do they desire, that according to the rule of righteousness, each man have his own, and above all men, That the things which are Caesar’s be rendered unto him, and to give him that which is God’s were a wronging both of God and Caesar. They have ever been willing to taxes and to pay subsidies above that which they were able. They join with the inward reverence of their hearts, external honour and obedience in all things lawful.

They pour forth their prayers to God in private and public, for all blessings spiritual and temporal upon his Royal Person and Government, and upon his Progeny; and for the same blessings upon the Queen’s Majesty, especially that God by his Spirit would give unto her the knowledge and love of the truth. They long for her conversion as an happiness to herself, and a means of great happiness to the King, to their Children, and to all their Subjects.

And, that the Lord may answer their prayers, they think it incumbent to the Church of England, nor can any bond whatsoever oblige them to the contrary, to use the best and most powerful means, and would most willingly in all humility, love and respect, join their endeavours for that blessed end. And as they thus present their best desires and prayers, so are they ready to sacrifice their lives to God for his Majesty’s good, and in their hearts are grieved that their loyalty, which they account their no small glory, should have been called in question.

Neither is this all. But moreover they do acknowledge that his Majesty, as supreme Magistrate, hath not only charge over the Common-wealth, but doth watch and hath inspection over the Church and Church matters, but in a civil way. Vos Episcopi in Ecclesia (saith Constantine) Ego extra Ecclesiam Episcopus à Deo constitutus sum. And therefore that he is, by his high calling and place, Custos utrius{que} tabulae, to command the precepts of the first table as well as of the second table to be obeyed: That he is Vindex Religionis by his sword, as the Spirit of God in Scripture is Iudex, and the Church is Index: That he hath power to turn the constitutions of the Church into Laws, and to confirm them by the civil sanction in Parliament: That he may constrain all his subjects to do duty in matters of religion, and may punish the transgressors: That when debates arise about Religion, he hath power to call the Assemblies of the Church, to be present and civilly preside in them, and to examine their constitutions, that he may discern of them both as a Christian caring for his own soul, and as supreme Magistrate watching over his people: and that he may do all things which can prove him to be a kind and careful nursing Father.

They account all that is vomited out to the contrary, [as, that they liked Anarchy better then Monarchy, and that they would turn a Kingdom into a democracy,] to be but the fictions and calumnies of the malicious enemies of God and his truth; not unlike the lies which were devised against the Christians of old: their consciences, their words, writings, and actions, even then when the world did put the worst constructions upon them, were witnesses of the integrity of their hearts.

They do still hold that there can be no antipathy betwixt one ordinance of God and another. By him Princes do reign, and he hath also appointed the Officers and Government of his own house. They do desire nothing more then that the Son of God may reign, and that with and under the Son of God, the King may command, and they, as good subjects to Christ and the King, may obey.

Alexander Henderson, The government and order of the Church of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1641), pp 65-68.


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