Monday, January 2, 2012

Henry Bullinger on the Kingship of Christ and the ruler’s duty to submit to biblical law

by Daniel F. N. Ritchie
Reformed Worldview Books
Reformed Covenanter

Writing to King Edward VI of England in 1550, Henry Bullinger told him of the need for kings to submit to the kingship of Jesus Christ and to obey his royal law:

Having my warrant therefore out of the word of God, I dare boldly avow, that those kings shall flourish and be in happy case, which wholly give and submit themselves and their kingdoms to Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, being King of kings, and Lord of lords; acknowledging him to be the mightiest prince and monarch of all, and themselves his vassals, subjects, and servants: which, finally, do not follow in all their affairs their own mind and judgment, the laws of men that are contrary to God’s commandments, or the good intents of mortal men; but do both themselves follow the very laws of the mightiest king and monarch, and also cause them to be followed throughout all their kingdom, reforming both themselves and all theirs at and by the rule of God’s holy word.  For in so doing the kingdom shall flourish in peace and tranquillity, and the kings thereof shall be most wealthy, victorious, long-lived, and happy.  For thus speaketh the mouth of the Lord, which cannot possibly lie: “When the king sitteth upon the seat of his kingdom, he shall take the book of the law of God, that he may read in it all the days of his life, that he may do it, and not decline from it either to the right hand or to the left; but that he may prolong the days in his kingdom both of his own life and of his children.” [Deuteronomy 17]  And again, “Let not the book of this law depart out of thy mouth,” (Josue [sic], or thou, whatsoever thou art that hast a kingdom), “but occupy thy mind therein day and night, that thou mayest observe and do according to all that is written therein: for then shalt thou make thy way prosperous, and then shalt thou be happy.”  It is assuredly true, therefore, confirmed by the testimony of the most true God, and in express words pronounced, that the prosperity of kings and kingdoms consisteth in true faith, diligent hearing, and faithful obeying the word or law of God: whereas their calamity and utter overthrow doth follow the contrary.

Henry Bullinger, Fifty godly and learned sermons divided into the five decades containing the chief and principal points of Christian religion, ed. Thomas Harding (1849-52 Parker edn; 4 vols, Grand Rapids, 2004), ii, 4-5.


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