The Magistracy Is from God. Magistracy of every kind is instituted by God himself for the peace and tranquility of the human race, and thus it should have the chief place in the world. If the magistrate is opposed to the Church, he can hinder and disturb it very much; but if he is a friend and even a member of the Church, he is a most useful and excellent member of it, who is able to benefit it greatly, and to assist it best of all.
The Duty of the Magistrate. The chief duty of
the magistrate is to secure and preserve peace and public tranquility.
Doubtless he will never do this more successfully than when he is truly
God-fearing and religious; that is to say, when, according to the example
of the most holy kings and princes of the people of the Lord, he promotes
the preaching of the truth and sincere faith, roots out lies and all superstition,
together with all impiety and idolatry, and defends the Church of God.
We certainly teach that the care of religion belongs especially to the
Let him, therefore, hold the Word of God in his hands, and take care lest anything contrary to it is taught. Likewise let him govern the people entrusted to him by God with good laws made according to the Word of God, and let him keep them in discipline, duty and obedience. Let him exercise judgment by judging uprightly. Let him not respect any man's person or accept bribes. Let him protect widows, orphans and the afflicted. Let him punish and even banish criminals, impostors and barbarians. For he does not bear the sword in vain (Rom. 13:4).
Therefore, let him draw this sword of God against all malefactors, seditious persons, thieves, murderers, oppressors, blasphemers, perjured persons, and all those whom God has commanded him to punish and even to execute. Let him suppress stubborn heretics (who are truly heretics), who do not cease to blaspheme the majesty of God and to trouble, and even to destroy the Church of God.
War. And if it is necessary to preserve the safety
of the people by war, let him wage war in the name of God; provided he
has first sought peace by all means possible, and cannot save his people
in any other way except by war. And when the magistrate does these things
in faith, he serves God by those very works which are truly good, and receives
a blessing from the Lord.
We condemn the Anabaptists, who, when they deny that a Christian may hold the office of a magistrate, deny also that a man may be justly put to death by the magistrate, or that the magistrate may wage war, or that oaths are to be rendered to a magistrate, and such like things.
The Duty of Subjects. For as God wants to effect the safety of his people by the magistrate, whom he has given to the world to be, as it were, a father, so all subjects are commanded to acknowledge this favor of God in the magistrate. Therefore let them honor and reverence the magistrate as the minister of God; let them love him, favor him, and pray for him as their father; and let them obey all his just and fair commands. Finally, let them pay all customs and taxes, and all other such dues faithfully and willingly. And if the public safety of the country and justice require it, and the magistrate of necessity wages war, let them even lay down their life and pour out their blood for the public safety and that of the magistrate. And let them do this in the name of God willingly, bravely and cheerfully. For he who opposes the magistrate provokes the severe wrath of God against himself.
Sects and Seditions. We, therefore, condemn all
who are contemptuous of the magistrate--rebels, enemies of the state, seditious
villains, finally, all who openly or craftily refuse to perform whatever
duties they owe.
We beseech God, our most merciful Father in heaven, that he will bless the rulers of the people, and us, and his whole people, through Jesus Christ, our only Lord and Savior; to whom be praise and glory and thanksgiving, for all ages. Amen.
Page edited: 12/11/2008