What do we believe about the role of civil government?

23:1 God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates, to be, under Him, over the people, for His own glory, and the public good: and, to this end, hath armed them with the power of the sword, for the defence and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evildoers (Rom 13:1-4; 1 Pet 2:13, 14).

23:2 It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate, when called thereunto (Prov 8:15, 16; Rom 13:1, 2, 4); in the managing whereof, as they ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth (2 Sam 23:3; Psa 2:10-12; 82:3, 4; 1 Tim 2:2; 1 Pet 2:13); so for that end, they may lawfully now, under the New Testament, wage war, upon just and necessary occasion (Matt 8:9, 10; Luke 3:14; Acts 10:1, 2; Rom 13:4; Rev 17:14, 16).

23:3 The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the Word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven (2 Chr 26:18 with Matt 18:17 and 16:19; Rom 10:15; 1 Cor 4:1, 2; 12:28, 29; Eph 4:11, 12; Heb 5:4): yet he hath authority, and it is his duty, to take order, that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire; that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed; all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed; and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed (Lev 24:16; Deut 13:5, 6, 12; 2 Kin 18:4; 23:1-26; 1 Chr 13:1-9; 2 Chr 15:12, 13; 34:33; Ezra 7:23-28; Psa 122:9; Isa 49:23). For the better effecting whereof, he hath power to call synods, to be present at them, and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God (2 Chr 19:8-11; 29:1-30:27; Matt 2:4, 5).

23:4 It is the duty of people to pray for the magistrates (1 Tim 2:1, 2), to honour their persons (1 Pet 2:17), to pay them tribute and other dues (Rom 13:6, 7), to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority, for conscience’ sake (Rom 13:5; Titus 1:3). Infidelity, or difference in religion, doth not make void the magistrates’ just and legal authority, nor free the people from their due obedience to them (1 Pet 2:13, 14, 16): from which ecclesiastical persons are not exempted (1 Kin 2:35; Acts 25:9-11; Rom 13:1; 2 Pet 2:1, 10, 11; Jude 8-11), much less hath the Pope any power or jurisdiction over them in their dominions, or over any of their people; and, least of all, to deprive them of their dominions, or lives, if he shall judge them to be heretics, or upon any other pretence whatsoever (2 Thes 2:4; Rev 13:15-17).