In our previous post we saw that civil governments are to provide an “hospitable abode to the church” which is a singular institutional entity organized by Jesus Christ with a specific political and catholic structure. This is strictly a positive duty in Christ’s Kingdom of Grace regarding nations joining the Church corporately, not how magistrates set public policy in relation to the law of God. Additionally, we saw that proper Establishment is not Erastianism and it is not an Ecclesiocracy and that “it is not just reasoning, to argue from the abuse of any thing, against its use.” In this post we will demonstrate the Establishment Principle from many prophecies of Scripture.
Establishment of Religion in Prophecies
“And the Lord shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his Name shall be one” (Zech. 14:9).
“All idolatry and superstition shall be abolished, and there shall be one God, one faith, and one religion” (Geneva Bible note, Zech 14:9).
The great Scottish preacher Thomas M’Crie (1772-1835) demonstrates that the Scriptures are replete with references to the national establishment of religion:
The whole tenor of the declarations, promises, and predictions of the Old Testament, lead to the conclusion that Christianity shall be owned, countenanced, and supported in a national way. God addresses the nations in a collective capacity, reproves them for their idolatry, and calls them to his worship (Isa. 34:1; 41:1, 21-29). He proposes Christ, as his anointed servant, to them (Isa. 42:1); declares that he has given him the nations for his inheritance, and that he shall inherit them all (Ps. 2:8; 82:8; Isa. 52:15; 55:5). Christ addresses himself, not only to individuals, but to whole islands (Isa. 44:1); nations join themselves to him (Isa. 2:2; Micah 4:1-2; Zech. 2:11; 8:20-22), bless themselves, and glory in him (Jer. 4:2); all nations and dominions serve him (Dan. 7:14, 27). They consecrate all things in them, and employ them in his service (Isa. 60:6-12; Zech. 14:20-21); he owns these nations as his, and blesses them, while he breaks in pieces and wastes others (Ps. 33:12; 145:15; Isa. 19:25; Ps. 2:9, 12; Isa. 60:12).
[footnote] The force of the argument arising from these and similar predictions, is such that Mr. Edward Williams, although an Independent, acknowledges that they imply a national profession and establishment of Christianity. In answer to the objection, ”If the above prophecies refer to national conversions, does not that lead to national churches?” he replies, “That a national establishment, if well ordered, appears more agreeable to the prophetic passages we have been considering than the antipaedobaptist plan; nay, more agreeable to the general tenor of revelation.”
The Geneva Bible (1599) contains study notes which were greatly influenced by John Calvin and John Knox, and was the Bible of choice for many influential Protestant and Puritan clergy and theologians. Its study notes for Isaiah 60 do not interpret the passage in an allegorical, spiritualized way, as the Amillennialists do, e.g. verses 12-13, “God hath given all power and authority here in earth for the use of his Church, and that they which will not serve and profit the same, shall be destroyed. There is nothing so excellent which shall not serve the necessity of the Church.” The notes demonstrate that this passage is prophesying that the visible Church will be buttressed and promoted on earth. Christianity will not be countenanced as a set of abstract propositions, it will be countenanced through the divine institution of the Church as the gospel spreads and entire nations are converted by the power of the Holy Spirit while the reprobate who persecute the Church, rather than repent, bow the knee to Christ, and join the Kingdom of Grace, are beaten down by the iron rod of Christ (Ps. 2:9; Rev. 12:5; 19:15).
“Such as are Princes and Nobles shall protect and promote religion; shall honour and cherish her ministers; procure necessary support for her schools and seminaries; defend and agent the cause of the church; and without offering violence to consciences, shall, according to the rule of the gospel, employ their authority and means for the increase and enlargement of the church.”
Campegius Vitringa, comments on Isaiah 60:10.
In describing the glory of the Church in the latter days it is said, “the kings of the earth did bring their glory and honour into it, and they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it” (Rev. 21:24, 26). Campegius Vitringa (1659-1722) comments:
“Then also Princes, Kings, Emperors, shall serve Christ and his church, shall bring their glory, majesty, and power into it; that is, shall convert them to her use and advantage: They shall publicly celebrate the true religion, honour its ministers, and by their authority and power maintain and defend the same; which the church hath already experienced in part from the time of Constantine, and lately from the period of the Reformation; and partly has yet to look for. There is a reference here to Isaiah 60:10-11, and 49:22, 25. It appears very clearly from this place that this vision refers to the state of the church on earth. Pious princes and kings, in the state of perfection, shall not bring their glory to her, but shall receive it. The titles and external prerogatives, which distinguish men in civil and sacred societies, shall be there abolished. . . The meaning is, that whatever is eminent, beautiful, splendid, or praise-worthy among the nations, shall be consecrated to the use of the church of Christ. The command of wealth and of earthly prerogatives, the gifts of erudition, prudence, eloquence; the dignity of Nobles, the majesty of Kings and Princes, shall promote the interests of the Church.”
Anacrisis Apocalypseos Joannis Apostoli, pgs. 1215-1216.
“And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me” (Is. 49:23).
“That a right about sacred things belongs to the magistrate is proved… 2. From the titles and appellations given to the magistrate in Scripture as (a) when they are called “nursing father” of the Church (Is. 49:23; 60:10); not only to procure for her temporal goods, but what is far more necessary, spiritual and heavenly goods [i.e. “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” (WCF 23:3)]. (b) They are called “gods” (Ps. 82:6) because they bear the mark of his power and rule over the people in his name. By his authority, they ought therefore to conduct themselves as vicars of God, promoting his glory above all things and taking care that their subjects pay him the due tribute and tax for his lawful and true worship.”
Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, book three, pg. 317.
“‘Kings shall be thy nursing-fathers‘ is a similitude which imports the most tender care, the most endearing solicitude; not mere protection, but active and unwearied nourishment and support. If, according to the opinions of some, the best thing the state can do is to let her alone, to leave her to herself, to take no interest in her concerns, it is difficult to see how this view can be reconciled with the figure of a nurse, the duties of whose office would certainly be ill discharged by such a treatment of her feeble charge.”
William Symington, Messiah the Prince, pg. 130.
Old Testament prophesies often speak about the Church in old covenant terminology, such as Zion, Jerusalem, the City of David, Israel, Jacob, Judah, the Temple, the Tabernacle, etc.
So shall the heathen people fear
the Lord’s most holy name;
And all the kings on earth shall dread
thy glory and thy fame.
When Zion by the mighty Lord
built up again shall be,
In glory then and majesty
to men appear shall he.
(Psalm 102:15-16, SMV)
“Of the church of the New Testament it was prophesied, that God would give them one way as well as one heart (Jer. 32:39); that there shall not only be one Lord, but his name one (Zech. 14:9). We are exhorted to walk by the same rule, so far as we have attained; that is, to study uniformity, not diversity, in those things which are agreed upon to be good and right (Phil. 3:16). Doth not the Apostle plainly intimate and commend an uniformity in the worship of God (1 Cor. 14:27, 33, 40; 1 Cor. 11)? . . . Doth not the same Apostle, besides the doctrine of faith and practical duties of a Christian life, deliver several canons to be observed in the ordination and admission of elders and deacons, concerning widows, concerning accusations, admonitions, censures, and other things belonging to church policy, as appeareth especially from the epistles to Timothy and Titus? And (1 Cor. 16:1-2) he will have an uniformity between the churches of Galatia and of Corinth in the very day of putting forth their charity, etc.”
George Gillespie, Miscellany Questions, ch. 15, pgs. 199-200.
All kings upon the earth that are
shall give thee praise, O Lord,
When as they from thy mouth shall hear
thy true and faithful word.
Yea, in the righteous ways of God
with gladness they shall sing:
For great’s the glory of the Lord;
who doth for ever reign.
(Psalm 138:4-5, SMV)
“The calling of the Gentiles and the discipling of all nations by the gospel of Christ (Matt. 28:19), of whom it is said that “all kings shall fall down before him” (Ps. 72:11).”
Matthew Henry, commenting on Psalm 138:4-5.
But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord (Num. 14:21).
“When the church of God, with all its choicest influences, shall fill the earth; —then shall the promise before us be gloriously realized. This will be emphatically, “the glory of the Lord;”—the glory of his power; the glory of his holiness; the glory of his love… O how glorious shall this fallen world be, when all the nations which compose it shall be “just, fearing God;” when those who are nominally “the people of God, shall be all righteous” (Isa. 60:21).”
Samuel Miller, The Earth Filled with the Glory of the Lord (1835)
Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession (Ps. 2:8).
“He is heir of all things as Mediator, for the heathen and all the ends of the earth are given Him for an inheritance (Ps. 2:8); but that is only Church-wise; He shall have a catholic Church gathered out of all nations, and all kings, and people, and tongues, and languages shall be made to serve Him.”
George Gillespie, Aaron’s Rod Blossoming, pg. 94.
Many additional passages could be examined which clearly teach that the nations will one day bow the knee to Christ and enter His Kingdom of Grace, the visible Church, and that governments will support and uphold the Church as Christ has instituted Her, but we will let the following speak for themselves:
The just shall flourish in his days,
and prosper in his reign:
He shall, while doth the moon endure,
abundant peace maintain.
His large and great dominion shall
from sea to sea extend:
It from the river shall reach forth
unto earth’s utmost end.
They in the wilderness that dwell
bow down before him must;
And they that are his enemies
shall lick the very dust.
The kings of Tarshish, and the isles,
to him shall presents bring;
And unto him shall offer gifts
Sheba’s and Seba’s king.
Yea, all the mighty kings on earth
before him down shall fall;
And all the nations of the world
do service to him shall.
. . .
Men shall be blessed in him, and blessed
all nations shall him call.
(Psalm 72:7-11, 17, SMV)
The kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ (Rev. 11:15).
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before him (Ps. 22:27).
From the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place shall incense be offered unto my name, and a pure offering; for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts (Mal. 1:11).
And I will gather all nations, and tongues, and cause them to come and see my glory (Isa. 66:18).
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it (Isa. 2:2).
The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing; the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, and the excellency of Carmel and Sharon; they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God (Isa. 35:1, 2).
And the kingdom, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; and all dominions shall serve and obey him (Dan. 7:27).
He shall say to the North, Give up; and to the South, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth (Isa. 43:6).
His way shall be known upon earth, and his saving health among all nations (Ps. 67:2).
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it (Isa. 40:5).
Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hands unto God (Ps. 68:31).
The isles shall wait for his law (Isa. 13:4).
He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth (Zech. 9:10).
All the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God (Isa. 52:10).
We see not yet all things put under Him (Heb. 2:8).
But he must reign, until all enemies shall be put under his feet (1 Cor. 15:25).
At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that he is Christ to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 1:10, 11).
For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14)
In part three we will illustrate, on a practical and spiritual level, why and how Reformation must occur prior to, and in harmony with, any establishment of religion. Lastly, in part four we will look at the dangers of ecumenical latitudinarianism to the unity of the Church and answer objections regarding persecution and liberty of conscience.