J. Brown against Toleration: Biblical Warrant, Part 1

J. Brown against Toleration: Biblical Warrant, Part 1

From On the absurdity of Authoritative Toleration of gross Heresy, Blasphemy or Idolatry

John Brown (of Haddington) makes the following points in this first essay:

  1. God is the governor of all things.
  2. The rights of persons in authority must therefore be derived from God.
  3. All persons in authority must do all things to glorify God.
  4. It necessarily follows that any person in authority must not do anything that would diminish or be opposed to the glory of God, or act in opposition to His own revealed will and character.
  5. Persons in authority must therefore encourage subordinates in doing good and discourage subordinates from doing evil.


To illustrate the doctrine (of suppression of false religions by the civil magistrate) of our excellent standards, it is proper to observe:

  1. God alone is the self existent and absolutely independent creator and preserver, and therefore [is the] original and supreme proprietor and governor of all things in heaven and earth.

And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

Exodus 3:4

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth…

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Genesis 1

Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty…

Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever…

O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches….

Psalm 104

The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.

Psalm 24: 1-2

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

Psalm 33:6

That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.

Psalm 83:18

Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.

Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods.

For thou, LORD, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods.

Psalm 97:2, 7, 9

Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.

Ezekiel 1:11

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Colossians 1:16-18

And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:

And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

Daniel 4:34-35


  1. All rights, civil, natural, or spiritual, whether of conscience, or of persons, or of husbands, parents, masters, magistrates, ministers, or even Christ as mediator, must therefore wholly originate from God alone. To suppose any real right or being whatsoever, not originating from him, is to give up with the necessary excellence of God, and to plunge into the very depths of atheism.

The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.

Psalm 115:16

For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

Romans 11:36

For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.


Hebrews 2:10

And [Peter] said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.


Acts 10:28

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;


2 Corinthians 5:18

But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.


Psalm 75:7

And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:

Daniel 2:21

And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will…

And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

Daniel 4:32, 35

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.


Matthew 28:18

All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

Matthew 11:27

He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.

John 5:35


  1. All right and authority of conscience, persons, husbands, parents, magistrates, ministers, or even Christ as mediator, being wholly derived from God, ought, necessarily ought, wholly to be improved, or exercised in his name, in conformity and subordination to his law, as the supreme rule, and in order to promote his declarative glory as the chief end of it.

The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

Proverbs 16:4

For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

Romans 11:36

If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 4:11

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31

I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

John 5:30

And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.

John 8:29

He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.

John 7:18

Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Ephesians 3:21


  1. No right or authority derived from God can therefore be lawfully improved or exercised, in protecting, encouraging, allowing or commanding anything which God himself, on account of his infinite perfection in holiness, justice, goodness and truth, cannot command – or in discouraging, disallowing, or prohibiting anything which God in his law requires. It is absurd to suppose that God can give men a power which he has not himself; and shocking blasphemy to suppose him capable of giving them the right and authority to condemn or counteract his own law as their rule, or his own glory as their chief end, in everything they do.


If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.


2 Timothy 2:13

For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 1:12-13

Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?

Exodus 15:11

He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.


Deuteronomy 32:4

The just LORD is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame.

Zephaniah 3:5

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man

James 1:13