Monday, September 15, 2014

Edward VI and the Regulative Principle of the State

Edward VI (1537-1553), Protestant King of England and Ireland from 1547-1553, "The British Josiah" & "The Most godly King of England"

Edward VI and the First Table of the Law

In his "Royal Injunctions," Edward VI, king of England, mirrors the Old Testament theocracy in his enforcement of the First Table of the Lawincluding by advocating the advancement of God's honor and true religion, and by opposing idolatry and Sabbath-breaking.[1] To give one example, the Injunctions state:
[T]o the intent that all superstition and hypocrisy, crept into divers men's hearts, may vanish away, they [ecclesiastical persons] shall not set forth or extol any images, relics, or miracles, for any superstition or lucre, nor allure the people by any enticements to the pilgrimage of any saint or image: but reproving the same, they shall teach that all goodness, health and grace, ought to be both asked and looked for only of God, as of the very author and giver of the same, and of none other.[2]

True ministers of God rule by Scripture alone

During his coronation, Edward VI, upon being brought three swords representing his three kingdoms, said that one sword was missing: the Bible.[3] He added,

That book is the sword of the Spirit, and to be preferred before these swords. That ought in all right to govern us, who use them for the people's safety by God's appointment. Without that sword we are nothing, we can do nothing, we have no power. From that we are what we are this day. From that we receive whatsoever it is that we at present do assume.
He that rules without it, is not to be called God's minister, or a king. Under that we ought to live, to fight, to govern the people, and to perform all our affairs.[4]

And so for Edward VI, Scripture, and Scripture alone, is the only legitimate source of law for governing the people, as rulers must use it "to perform all [of their] affairs."

[Note that Edward VI uses the term "we"—a term sometimes used by English kings in the place of "I."]   


[1] The Royal Injunctions of Edward VI (Transc. Grafton's Edition, 1547). Cited in W. H. Frere and W. P. M. Kennedy, eds., Visitation Articles and Injunctions: Volume II: 1536-1557 (London: Longmans Green & Company, 1910), 114-116, 124-126. See more here.
[2] Ibid., 115.
[3] Unknown author, Writings of Edward the Sixth, William Hugh, Queen Catherine Parr, Anne Askew, Lady Jane Grey, Hamilton, and Balnaves: Volume 3: of British reformers (London: Religious Tract Society, 1831), 6.
[4] Cited in Ibid.

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