John Brown: It is a Sin for Civil Leaders to Tolerate False Religions

John Brown: It is a Sin for Civil Leaders to Tolerate False Religions

From On the Absurdity of Authoritative Toleration of Gross Heresy, Blasphemy or Idolatry

 

The scriptures plainly represent magistrates granting of men an unrestrained freedom to profess and practise a false religion as extremely sinful and hurtful.

  1. It is in [effect to attribute in] the name of God to give a liberty to the flesh, of which heresies and idolatry are the manifest and damning works, Gal 5:13; Gal 5:19-21; with Rom 8:7-8.
  2. It is not merely to pity and spare, but to encourage such as seek to draw away their subjects from God, contrary to Deut 13:9-10; Eph 4:14; 2 Tim 3:4-5, 13; 2 Pet 2:1-3.
  3. In so doing, magistrates, as political shepherds, not only suffer the flock of God, the King of nations, under their charge, to wander or be driven from their fold and pasture, but encourage them in it, contrary to Ezek 34:5-8; Acts 20:30.
  4. It marks a heavy judgment of God upon, and an anarchy in a commonwealth, when every man is left without restraint, and doth that which is right in his own eyes, in matters of religion, Judg 17:6; Zech 11:9, 16; 2 Chron 20:33; Amos 4:4-5.
  5. In granting such liberty, magistrates are not for Christ, by whom they rule, Prov 8:15-16, but against him, in encouraging and protecting the doctrines and works of the devil, which he [Christ] came to destroy, John 8:44; 1 Tim 4:2; Rev 16:13-14; with 1 John 3:8; Zech 13:2.
  6. False religion eats out the true doctrine of Christ, and the true piety and virtue which proceed from the faith of it, which are like joints and bands to connect and establish a nation, Isa 53:5; 2 Tim 2:16-17; Gal 5:10-12.
  7. Heresies produce divisions, 1 Cor 11:18-19, [and] make men wanton, filthy dreamers, despisers and revilers of magistrates, Jude 4, 8; 2 Pet 2:10-17. They render times perilous and make men traitors, heady, high minded, truce-breakers, false accusers, fierce, without natural affection, despisers of those that are good, 2 Tim 3:1-13. They produce envy, strifes, evil surmisings, and perverse disputings, 1 Tim 6:3-4; Gal 5:19-20.  They spoil Christ’s vines, Song 2:15.
  8. False religion deprives a nation of God’s protecting hedge of favourable providence, and opens an inlet to the floods of destructive judgments, Exod 32:25; Ezek 13:4-5; Ezek 22:30-31.
  9. Magistrates [who] indulgence of a false religion are represented as a kicking at the true religion and an honouring of corrupters above God, and brings a charge of the wickedness upon the tolerators of it. Hence Eli the judge of Israel is represented as [a] kicking at God’s sacrifice, honouring his profane sons above God, and making himself fat with God’s portion of the sacrifices, because he did not effectually reform his sons, 1 Sam 2:12-16, 23-25, 29; Eph 5:7, 11. Nehemiah [also] contended with the rulers of Judah for suffering the worship of God to be neglected and the Sabbath profaned, Neh 13:10-18.
  10. Such indulgence of false or corrupt religion is represented as tending to make men abhor the true religion and speak evil of it, 1 Sam 2:17; 2 Pet 2:1-3.