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Rutherford: Lex Rex (1644)


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Lex Rex, along with Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos and Locke’s 1st Treatise of Government, was responsible for the utter destruction of the divine right of kings as a political concept in Western civilization. In the turbulent times that were 17th century England, both the English monarchy and the Church of England underwent significant change, often brought about by bloody means. Rutherford’s text was written at the height of conflict, when he spoke not only against monarchy as a form of government, but also spoke against both Roman Catholicism and the Church of England, in favor of the independence of the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland. For his trouble, the publication of Lex Rex was banned, and it was even made criminal to possess a copy. Rutherford himself was condemned to die, although he died of natural causes before sentence could be carried out.

Based on the 1644 edition. All footnotes are included and have been converted to chapter end notes. Paragraph breaks have been added and spelling has been modernized. Questions 1-44, 335 pages, with chapter bookmarks. Available in .pdf file format for reading on your PC, e-reader, tablet or smart phone. This is a fully digital edition of this work – it is not a hard copy publication or facsimile edition.This electronic edition © Copyright 2005 Lonang Institute.  Click here to view this book in its entirety.

“Wherever God appointed a king he never appointed him absolute, and a sole independent angel, but joined always with him judges, who were no less to judge according to the law of God than the king. And in a moral obligation of judging righteously, the conscience of the monarch and the conscience of the inferior judges are equally under immediate subjection to the King of kings; for there is here a coordination of consciences, and no subordination, for it is not in the power of the inferior judge to judge, quoad specificationem, as the king commands him, because the judgment is neither the king’s, nor any mortal man’s, but the Lord’s.”    Samuel Rutherford, from Lex Rex (Law Is King, or The Law and the Prince), 1644.

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