The Act of Settlement and its Relevance for Today - Rev Hugh Cartwright
19 Jan 2009
Before saying anything about the Act of Settlement I would like to refer briefly to two points which may set our subject in a Biblical context and help to explain our concern about what some might consider a merely political matter: 1. The obligation of the Christian and of the Church to the civil magistrate or ruler. 2. The obligation of the civil magistrate or ruler to God. Then we shall endeavour to consider 3. The Act of Settlement, noting its historical setting, what it is and what it says, its legal position and its religious significance. Following on from that we shall notice 4. Moves to remove it from the Statute Book. After that we shall hopefully be in a position to see 5. Its relevance for today, for the Church and for the State. We shall conclude by suggesting 6. The action which we should take in view of the danger to which we are exposed. I should say that by the civil magistrate in this paper we mean not primarily the justice of the peace , the sheriff or the judge, but the governing civil authority in the nation, which is ultimately the monarch and the Parliament.
1. The obligation of the Christian and of the Church to the civil magistrate
Our Lord taught that God’s people are to recognise the authority even of heathen magistrates, such as governed Israel in His days on earth, and to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22: 21). The apostle Paul writes at some length in Romans 13 regarding the respect to be shown to the magistrate in that magistracy has been appointed by God for the preservation of order, the administration of justice and the good of society generally. “They are God’s ministers” (Romans 13: 6). In 1 Timothy 2:1ff he exhorts us to pray “for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” and engage in making saving truth known to sinners. While the Church is not to interfere in the temporal province of the civil magistrate any more than the civil magistrate is to interfere in the spiritual province of the Church, it is the responsibility of the Church, and indeed of Christian citizens, particularly in a democracy, to make use of whatever facility is available to bring the truth of Scripture to bear upon the decisions and conduct of the magistrate in matters involving spiritual or moral principle, just as that truth is to be brought to bear upon all kinds and classes of men. John Knox confronting the Queen with the claims of God was in the tradition of the prophets of old. The apostles and Christians of their time, with respect and humility and yet boldness, asserted God’s claims over against the ungodly demands of the magistrates of the day. There were godly judges and kings in Israel and Judah by divine appointment. Outstanding men of God, such as Joseph and Daniel, were in positions of civil authority even in heathen governments. The Lord’s people are not of the world and are to live a life of separation from the world, but they are not to isolate themselves from society and they are to be deeply interested in the conduct of the national life of the places where they are in the providence of God. The “world” and the “State” are not synonymous. “And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace” (Jeremiah 29: 7).
The Church as such does not become involved in party politics or the administration of civil affairs but should point out to the authorities Biblical principles on matters of policy with which the State takes to do, especially those which have a bearing on religion and morals.
2. The obligation of the civil magistrate or ruler to God
Civil magistracy is ordained by God. It is a divine institution. Of course this does not necessarily mean that God approves of those who occupy the office or that He gives the stamp of His approval to their performance in their office. But it does mean that those who occupy this office are accountable to Him and their accountability is measured by the light which they have available to them regarding the will of God. Nations and their rulers are accountable directly to God and not to the Church. But where the Church is and the light of God’s law and Gospel has shone in a nation so that people have become aware of the revealed will of God - where society and its institutions have been influenced by God’s revealed will - magistrates are under obligation, like all other persons in all other positions, to regulate their personal and official conduct by God’s will and to use their office and authority to promote his will.
Magistrates cannot be neutral in their attitude to the revealed will of God any more than any other person can be. Magistrates in a Christian nation, having the light of supernatural special revelation, have obligations beyond those which they have simply as magistrates. It is a good and necessary deduction from Scripture that what we are to pray for magistrates to be and do they are responsible for being and doing. It is their duty to promote, in ways competent to them as magistrates, those circumstances which we are to have in view when we pray for them “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2: 2). And magistrates in a nation which has committed itself formally to maintain the true religion of the Bible, and laws in keeping with it, are bound in a special way to fulfil that obligation. William Cunningham puts it well (in Historical Theology, Vol. 1, p. 391): “an obligation lies upon nations and their rulers to have respect, in the regulation of their national affairs, and in the application of their national resources, to the authority of God’s word, to the welfare of the church of Christ, and the interests of true religion”. The breach of solemn covenant, such as the covenant implied in the laws connected with the Act of Settlement and the Coronation Oath and the Act of Union, exposes the guilty nation to the particular displeasure of God. Revealed truth avowed by a nation cannot be renounced without serious consequences.
3. The Act of Settlement
The Act of Settlement dates from the period subsequent to that in which both Scotland and England had experienced oppression and persecution under the Romanising tendencies of the later Stewart kings. They had enjoyed a return to freedom after having summoned William and Mary to assume the crown in each of their nations. James’ overthrow and flight, and the events known as the Glorious Revolution, had resulted in the Bill of Rights asserting the supremacy of Parliament and requiring that those succeeding to the throne should be Protestant.
The Act of Settlement 1701 is quite a lengthy piece of legislation. It first gives an account of how, through the success given by the providence of God to what it calls the “just undertakings and unwearied endeavours” of William and Mary, their subjects “were restored to the full and free possession and enjoyment of their religion, rights and liberties”. It expresses concern for securing beyond “all doubts and contentions” the stability then attained, and particularly it expresses concern “for the succession of the Crown in the Protestant line, for the happiness of the nation and the security of our religion”. It specifies the line of Princess Sophia of Hanover, granddaughter of King James VI and I, as that through which the crown was to descend. The particular provisions in which we are interested and to which the attacks of many are directed are as follows: “That all and every person and persons, who shall or may take or inherit the said crown, by virtue of the limitation of this present act, and is, are or shall be reconciled to, or shall hold communion with, the See or Church of Rome, or shall profess the popish religion, or shall marry a papist, shall be subject to such incapacities as in such case or cases are by the said recited act provided, enacted and established; and that every King and Queen of this Realm, who shall come to and succeed in the imperial Crown of this Kingdom by virtue of this act, shall have the coronation oath administered to him, her, or them, at their respective coronations, according to the act of Parliament made in the first year of the reign of His Majesty, and the said late Queen Mary, intituled an Act for establishing the Coronation Oath (1689) .... That whosoever shall hereafter come to the possession of this Crown, shall join in communion with the Church of England, as by law established”.
The Coronation Oath established in 1689, to be put to the monarch, was: “Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the laws of God, the true profession of the gospel and the Protestant reformed religion established by law, and will you preserve unto the bishops and clergy of this Realm, and to the churches committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges as by law do or shall appertain unto them, or any of them?”. The response was to be: “All this I promise to do”, and then with hand upon the holy Gospels: “The things which I have here before promised, I will perform and keep: So help me God”. The only merely verbal change in the oath, as it was put to our present Queen for example, takes account of the existence of the United Kingdom and of the fact that only within England was the Episcopalian Church of England established by law.
The Coronation Oath is not taken by the monarch merely as an individual. We have a Constitutional Monarchy. A BBC website sums this up quite compactly: “In Britain the sovereign is the Chief Executive of the constitutional monarchy which governs the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, constitutional monarchy being the name given to the partnership between the Crown and Parliament, in which the Crown has executive authority and Parliament has legislative authority”. Subject to all the limitations imposed by the law of the land the monarch is in a real sense the embodiment of the authority of the state and this arrangement was introduced to provide stability in the nation. When the Monarch takes the Coronation Oath it is in effect the nation itself which is making the affirmations which it contains. Whether the monarch’s coronation commitment is religious or irreligious, Protestant, Roman Catholic, multi-faith or other, is not a merely personal matter, for that commitment is the commitment of the executive branch of our government.
In accordance with the terms of the Union between Scotland and England, previous Acts of the Parliaments of each kingdom, and the constitutional basis upon which the monarch occupies the throne of the United Kingdom, the faith to be upheld by the state, represented by the monarch in Parliament, is that of the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Thirty-Nine Articles, or Calvinistic Protestant Christianity.
This was an English Act and we have to ask if it has relevance to Scotland and to the United Kingdom. During a discussion of the Act of Settlement in the House of Lords in 2002 the then Lord Chancellor was asked if the Act’s provisions had been extended to Scotland. His reply was: “Yes. The provisions of the Act of Settlement 1701 relating to the succession to the monarchy of the United Kingdom were extended to Scotland by Article II of the Treaty of Union with Scotland, incorporated in the Union with Scotland Act 1706” (Hansard). The Scottish Parliament’s Act Ratifying and Approving Treaty of Union of the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, January 16, 1707, endorsed these provisions and required that the Monarch should be a Protestant. The Protestant Religion and Presbyterian Church Act 1707 was adopted as “a fundamental and essential condition of any Treaty or Union to be concluded betwixt the two Kingdoms without any alteration thereof or derogation thereto in any sort for ever... in all time coming”.
The Act for Securing the Protestant Religion and Presbyterian Church Government, which was the basis of the Treaty of Union, at Edinburgh, January 16, 1707, provided that it was to be a fundamental condition of the Treaty of Union between England and Scotland “that the true Protestant religion, as presently professed within this kingdom, with the worship, discipline, and government of this Church, shall be effectually and unalterably secured”. It also provided “that the foresaid true Protestant religion, contained in the above-mentioned Confession of Faith, with the form and purity of worship presently in use within this Church, and its Presbyterian government and discipline... shall remain and continue unalterable”. And it provided “that after the decease of her present Majesty (whom God long preserve) the Sovereign succeeding to her in the royal government of the kingdom of Great Britain, shall in all time coming, at his or her accession to the Crown, swear and subscribe, that they shall inviolably maintain and preserve the foresaid settlement of the true Protestant religion.... a fundamental and essential condition of the said treaty or union in all time coming”.
Given the legislation passed in Scotland prior to the Union of 1707 and the insistence of the Scottish Parliament on a Protestant constitution for nation and throne, as in The Declaration of the Estates of the Kingdom of Scotland, containing the Claim of Right, and the Offer of the Crown to their Majesties King William and Queen Mary, April 11, 1689, the claim seems justified that “the Act of Union simply incorporated both England’s and Scotland’s Protestant Constitutions, and so established the Protestant Constitution and Succession for Great Britain as a Kingdom” (H. Westfold, British Church Newspaper, 10/10/08).
Government statements on the subject fail to acknowledge that there are constitutional arrangements which cannot be changed without destroying the identity of the nation. Professor David Walker, Regius Professor of Law in Glasgow University, 1958-1990, put forward, in The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland, 2007, the position that the Treaty of Union is a Treaty in International Law and that except where it makes provision for changes in specific articles in the light of changed circumstances its articles are permanent and Parliament does not have legal power to amend or repeal them. The articles relating to the Protestantism of the Throne are framed in a way which makes clear that they are intended to be perpetual. The independent bodies consenting to the Treaty have ceased to exist and these articles are fundamental to the existence of the resultant united entity. The search for British identity which seems to be exercising the minds of so many is a search in vain until one comes the common constitutional commitment of all parts of the United Kingdom to the Protestant Faith, with all the religious, political and social consequences of that commitment. Whatever constitutional entity would result from the repeal of the Act of Settlement would not be the entity which came into existence with that Act at its foundation.
The Act of Settlement and all the related legislation arose from the painful realisation that Romanism is destructive not only of true religion but also of true freedom.
4. Moves to remove it from the Statute Book
We can only note some of the more significant or typical events of the last decade in the move towards the destruction of the Protestant Constitution of our nation and throne.
In December 2000 the Guardian newspaper initiated a campaign to take action against the perceived discrimination against non-Protestants and women in the law governing succession to the Crown. The Scottish Parliament had already taken a lead. At the time Alex Salmond said: “Exactly one year ago, the Scots Parliament - on the motion of the SNP - unanimously passed a resolution calling for repeal of this discriminatory piece of legislation, but the House of Lords supported it remaining in place. This 18th century relic has no place in the 21st century. It is high time that the Westminster Parliament recognised that any form of religious discrimination is no longer acceptable”.
When this Act was being discussed in the House of Lords in 2002 the then Lord Chancellor indicated that the Government had no plans to legislate in this area. He maintained that “where legislation could have far-reaching effects on our historical constitutional arrangements, both in the United Kingdom and in the Commonwealth, it is a good principle - I would recommend to your Lordships - to consider legislative change only where it can be maintained that there is clear and pressing need for change”. While he did not think that there was any general public interest in repeal the Government would monitor any ongoing debate.
During the 2004-05 Session of Parliament a member proposed a Bill “to make provision about succession to the Crown and about Royal marriages”. This proposed that in determining the line of succession to the Crown no account would be taken of gender, the exclusion of persons marrying papists would cease and the Royal Marriages Act 1772, which excluded descendants of princesses who married into foreign families, would be repealed. Perhaps in a rather ham fisted attempt to get round the complexities arising from the fact that the Monarch reigns in other independent nations also it was stipulated that any resultant Act would extend only to the United Kingdom. This bill was withdrawn when the Government promised to block its progress.
After his election, the present First Minister of Scotland undertook, in the Scottish Catholic Observer, to try to persuade Gordon Brown to incorporate in his proposed Bill of Rights the removal of the Act of Settlement from the Statute Book. He asserted that even if there was to be no Bill of Rights this Act which secures the Protestant character of the Throne should be repealed, “because it is a blot on our culture”. It appears that Mr Salmond has been campaigning on this issue for a number of years and that he promised Cardinal O’Brien to use his influence to this end, which no doubt explains why the Roman hierarchy in Scotland supported the Scottish Nationalists in the last election and why the Cardinal is now advocating an extension of the powers of the Scottish Parliament.
On 25th March 2008 the Secretary of State for Justice made a statement in the House of Commons on the Government’s programme for Constitutional Renewal. Jim Devine, the MP for Livingston, asked him to include provision for the abolition of the Act of Settlement “because it discriminates directly against Roman Catholics. That is legalised sectarianism, which has no role to play in the 21st century”. Mr Straw, speaking for the Prime Minister, said: “Because of the position that Her Majesty occupies as head of the Anglican Church, this is a rather more complicated matter than might be anticipated. We are certainly ready to consider it, and I fully understand that my honourable Friend, many on both sides of the House and thousands outside it, see that provision as antiquated” (Hansard).
The Scotsman, on 17th November 2008, claimed that “The SNP pledge to use the Act of Settlement as a tool to gain independence has been dealt a blow after it was revealed that Gordon Brown proposed to repeal the law within the next 18 months. Plans to amend the 1701 Act, which prevents Catholics from inheriting the Crown and bars any royal who marries a Catholic from the succession, unless he or she renounces their faith, were under way earlier this year.... It is now understood that ministers have informed the Queen that changes are now under ‘active consideration’ and likely to be brought forward in the next 18 months. Prince Charles is believed to have been consulted. The move is seen as a deliberate ploy by the Prime Minister to prevent Alex Salmond from using the issue to draw Catholic voters to the independence cause. The First Minister had pledged to bring forward legislation into the Scottish Parliament leading to a referendum on separation in 2010. A senior government source said even an undefined pledge to remove the legislation could have repercussions. He said: ‘He only has to promise to remove the anti-Catholic discrimination embedded in the Act of Settlement to win over a large section of the community which - especially in the west of Scotland - have so far been most resistant to Scottish independence.’ The Catholic Church in Scotland has been a long-standing and vocal critic of the legislation, described by Cardinal Keith O’Brien as ‘arcanely offensive’. The likelihood of the Act’s repeal was raised in September this year [i.e. 2008]. However, at the time a Downing Street spokesman had said that to amend and repeal the discriminatory parts of the Act would be a complex undertaking. Mr Salmond welcomed the move, saying, ‘The Act of Settlement is an 18th-century anachronism that has no place in a modern 21st-century constitution. The SNP first raised the issue over a decade ago and the Scottish Parliament united in 1999 to call for this long over-due reform. I hope that the Prime Minister follows through at last and consigns it to the dustbin of history’. The legislation is one of the surviving vestiges of the Glorious Revolution introduced to secure the Protestant succession that was installed by parliamentarians and led by William of Orange following the overthrow of the Catholic monarch James II of England and VII of Scotland”.
The Scotsman on 10th December, 2008, under the heading ‘Straw leads new drive to change the Act of Settlement’, wrote: “The government is ‘working hard’ on plans to change the Act of Settlement, which bars Roman Catholics becoming king or queen, a Cabinet minister said yesterday. The Scottish Secretary, Jim Murphy, said that the Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, was in charge of efforts to alter the 307-year-old Act, which also prevents the monarch from marrying a Catholic. The East Renfrewshire MP said: ‘It’s wrong to have a settled constitutional position that discriminates.... I’ve spoken to Jack about it and he is leading on it. He is putting an awful lot of work into it. He is working hard and is pretty focused on it’. But Mr Murphy did not envisage any change in the law before the next general election. ‘I’d like to see change. It’s important we make progress before the next general election, but the truth is it won’t be changed by then’, he said”.
Labour MP and former Roman Catholic priest, David Cairns, taking advantage of typically ill-advised remarks of the Archbishop of Canterbury, stated that the repeal of the Act of Settlement would trigger the process for the disestablishment of the Church of England. Cairns said: “It is simply untenable in this day and age that should the heir to the throne want to marry a Roman Catholic he would have to renounce his rights. It is absurd.... If Prince William married a Catholic what happens if their children are Catholic? You cannot have a Roman Catholic head of the Church of England”. The shadow Justice Secretary commented: “The Government are pulling blindly at the wires of the constitution without having a clue about what they might disconnect. You would think they would have something better to do at this time than indulge themselves in another round of constitutional vandalism”. A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice claimed that the Government remains committed to the legal establishment of the Church of England with the monarch as its supreme governor and that bringing about changes to the law on succession would be a complex undertaking. The Government was examining this area but had no immediate plans to legislate (The Telegraph, 21 December 2008).
No doubt political reasons make the Government wish to repeal the requirement for a Protestant monarchy, though the perception of legal and constitutional difficulties has prevented them from doing so before now. Possibly the repeated postponing of firm action to remove this Act and its related legislation, while intimating intentions to do so early in the next government, is not only to secure the support of many secular and Roman Catholic voters and to avoid the difficulties involved in the process but in the hope that this will be brought about through time by the dictates of Europe on the basis of some anti-discrimination law. Roman Catholic prelates, the First Minister of Scotland who seeks to woo Roman Catholic voters and to break up the Union, those who wish to thoroughly secularise the national institutions and secure the disestablishment of religion and especially of churches professing the Reformed Faith, those opposed in principle to the monarchy and those caught up in the destructive multi-faith craze, ensure that the debate is ongoing and call for the repeal of this requirement. Those indifferent to such matters see no reason to resist such repeal.
John Haldane, Professor of Philosophy in St Andrews, who is a Consultant to the Pontifical Council for Culture, suggests that “half a millennium on from the Reformation, there appears the prospect of the restoration of the supremacy of Roman Christianity in these islands and beyond.... In the past few decades, interesting things have been happening which offer prospects of some reintegration of Christianity” (The Scotsman, 16th January 2008). The “supremacy” of Romanism and the “reintegration of Christianity” go together in the mindset of political Roman Catholics. In the meantime secularists, who repudiate the moralistic pronouncements of Rome and the place of religion generally in public life, and Romanists, whose religion requires the avowed subjection of the State to the Roman Pontiff, are content to work together towards their opposing ends by getting rid of the constitutional requirement for a Protestant throne and the establishment of churches professing the Reformed Faith.
5. Its relevance for today
The relevance of the Act of Settlement and related constitutional arrangements for today lies in the unchanging nature of truth and in the unchanged nature of Romanism. In spite of Cardinal O’Brien’s gibe, there is nothing arcane, secretive or mysterious about the reasons for the Act of Settlement. Our nation spent centuries in the bondage and darkness of Romanism and suffered greatly from the attempts of rulers in league with Rome and other alien powers to bring her back into that bondage and darkness after having experienced the liberating and enlightening power of the truth. Romanism has not changed fundamentally for the better. The parallel threat from Islam, the fact that it is often the representatives of Rome who appear in the media as defending Christian morality when the trumpets of our professedly Protestant clerics make an uncertain sound, and the love we have for the souls of our Roman Catholic neighbours who sometimes show a kind of respect for divine things not common in society, should not blind us to the fact that Romanism is the same anti-Christian, blasphemous and soul-destroying system from which the Reformation delivered us.
The Reformed Protestant faith has a view of the relation between Church and State quite different from that of other religions which acknowledge earthly authorities from beyond the nation, with claims upon the allegiance of magistrates or rulers and ambitions to convert states to their own political ideologies and religious beliefs. That is one of the reasons for the rejection of Romanism by our forebears. The claims of the pope to the allegiance of sovereigns and nations have not diminished. It might do our political leaders good, even from a purely political point of view, to read John Cornwell’s attempt to supply answers to questions raised “about the role of the papacy in the history of the twentieth century” in his Hitler’s Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII (Viking, 1999). Romanism and Islam both aim at the subjugation of Britain to their creeds. The removal of the requirement that our constitutional monarch be a Protestant and should not marry a Romanist would lead to the disestablishing not just of churches but of the Reformed creeds which they profess. It would be the end of our commitment as a nation to the religion of the Bible and an end to our professed national allegiance to the God of the Bible.
The multi-cultural and multi-faith approach to national identity as opposed to the current legal establishment of the Reformed Faith as expounded in the Articles and Confessions of the national churches is an affront to the God of truth and is destructive of what is foundational to what made this nation what it was. The single most significant contributory factor in the unity, security and prosperity of these islands has been the common commitment of the constituent nations to the Protestant Constitution and Throne. As this has declined so has meaningful understanding of what it is to “be British”. The Biblical and Protestant constitution of our nation and throne has been foundational to the values and freedoms which have characterised our nation and which are already seriously eroded as the nation departs in spirit and in practice from what is still the legal commitment. Christian absolutes are denied. It has become politically incorrect to acknowledge that Protestant Christianity gave our nation the character which made it a haven for fugitives from tyranny elsewhere and for those who wished to improve their situation in life. It has also become politically incorrect to affirm that as Protestant Christianity is progressively undermined in Church and State we lose the vitality to resist the pressures from non-Christian sources which will take from our nation the very liberties which allow them their freedom to practise and propagate their religions. The result of practically reducing the Christian and Protestant Faith of the nation to the level of other religions will eventually be the inability of those adhering to the Bible to assert the exclusive claims of Christianity in a way which implies the essential falsehood of these religions and their gods, prophets and advocates. Christians motivated by concern for truth, for the honour of the one living and true God, for the good of souls on the way to eternity and for the well-being of our society will be liable to be condemned either as guilty of religious hatred or of racism or of homophobia.
6. The action which we should take
Our nation has been delivered from many plots to subvert the religion established at the Reformation, but not only are these deliverances forgotten, the religion preserved is now generally despised among us and the reasons for resistance to the ambitions of Rome have been forgotten. It is very difficult to know what ought to be done to alert the nation to its danger and to preserve what yet remains, however nominal, of national commitment to the truth of the Bible.
One sad feature of the situation is that the official voices of the established Protestant Churches in the United Kingdom which to some extent have the ear of the media and the politicians have little if anything to say in the way of proclaiming Biblical truth in the face of creeping, if not galloping, secularisation, Romanising and Islamisation. There is also often among those who do have regard for the truth either an ignorant complacency or a feeling of helpless despondency. Perhaps we need to be awakened ourselves to realise that the judgments primarily to be feared are not economic or military or environmental but being given over to success in breaking in sunder and casting away the bands and cords which have bound us to the King of kings - a judgment under which we are increasingly coming as a nation.
Our greatest requirement, it almost need not be said, is for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God, bringing repentance, revival and reformation to the churches and through them awakening to many souls at present without any sense of sin or felt need of Christ - and a consequent leavening of society with the fear of God. Undoubtedly those who are concerned at our situation should be seeking the grace of prayer and be diligent at the Throne of Grace.
A correspondent to the British Church Newspaper recently wrote: “We need to remind Her Majesty that her family occupy the Throne specifically to defend the Protestant freedoms of this nation”. As a matter of interest, he went on to say: “it is also worth pondering how we might help counter the ignorant and shallow propaganda of secular humanism that hates Holy Scripture so much that it cannot appreciate that all our liberties, both religious and civil, rest on the Protestant Christian religion.... The proposed changes if implemented would mark such an affront to and rejection of God it would remove us decisively from His protection - monarchy, nation and churches” (E. W. Wilson, British Church Newspaper, 10/10/09).
We need to start flooding the Government and our MPs and MSPs with representations on the subject as well as pleading at the Throne of Grace. With so few MPs and MSPs taking a Christian stand in matters of religion, morals and education, concerned citizens may feel disfranchised and disillusioned. We should, however, persist in communicating our concerns to these persons and the parties they represent and seek to commit our case to Him by whom kings reign and princes decree justice, and in whose hand is the heart of the king (Proverbs 8:15; 21: 1). The Christian citizen in a constitutionally Christian land has the civil right and Christian duty to use his citizenship to seek to bring legitimate pressure to bear upon those in positions of authority to exercise their functions in a way which will allow us to “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:2).
The Church of Christ will survive and prosper whatever the political and social conditions, but “the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish” (Isaiah 60: 12). The identity, morality, freedom and security of the nation depend on genuine commitment to the Protestantism which the agitators wish to remove from its constitutional basis.
“Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10: 3, 4).
This article is the substance of an Address given to the Inverness Branch of the Scottish Reformation Society, 19th January 2009 by Rev Hugh M Cartwright, Edinburgh.
SCOTTISH REFORMATION SOCIETY
The Scottish Reformation Society was founded in 1851, following a protest against the re-establishment of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in England. The original constitution of the Society set out its objectives as being “to resist the aggressions of Popery; to watch the designs and movements of its promoters and abettors; and to diffuse sound Scriptural teaching and information on the distinctive tenets of Protestantism and Popery”.
To these aims, the Society has maintained and promoted a faithful witness to the present time. A quarterly magazine, The Bulwark, is committed to the same principles as the Society and the material is drawn from a wide source of Reformed teachers and writers past and present.
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