Chapter 30 - Of the Magistracy
THE MAGISTRACY IS FROM GOD. Magistracy of every kind is instituted by God
himself for the peace and tranquillity of the human race, and thus it should
have the chief place in the world. If the magistrate is opposed to the Church,
he can hinder and disturb it very much; but if he is a friend and even a member
of the Church, he is a most useful and excellent member of it, who is able to
benefit it greatly, and to assist it best of all.
THE DUTY OF THE MAGISTRATE. The chief duty of the magistrate is to secured and
preserve peace and public tranquillity. Doubtless he will never do this more
successfully than when he is truly God-fearing and religious; that is to say,
when, according to the example of the most holy kings and princes of the people
of the Lord, he promotes the preaching of the truth and sincere faith, roots out
lies and all superstition, together with all impiety and idolatry, and defends
the Church of God. We certainly teach that the care of religion belongs
especially to the holy magistrate.
Let him, therefore, hold the Word of God in his hands, and take care lest
anything contrary to it is taught. Likewise let him govern the people entrusted
to him by God with good laws made according to the Word of God, and let him keep
them in discipline, duty and obedience. Let him exercise judgment by judging
uprightly. Let him not respect any man's person or accept bribes. Let him
protect widows, orphans and the afflicted. Let him punish and even banish
criminals, impostors and barbarians. For he does not bear the sword in vain
Therefore, let him draw this sword of God against all malefactors, seditious
persons, thieves, murderers, oppressors, blasphemers, perjured persons, and all
those whom God has commanded him to punish and even to execute. Let him suppress
stubborn heretics (who are truly heretics), who do not cease to blaspheme the
majesty of God and to trouble, and even to destroy the Church of God.
WAR. And if it is necessary to preserve the safety of the people by war, let him
wage war in the name of God; provided he has first sought peace by all means
possible, and cannot save his people in any other way except by war. And when
the magistrate does these things in faith, he serves God by those very works
which are truly good, and receives a blessing from the Lord.
We condemn the Anabaptists, who when they deny that a Christian may hold the
office of a magistrate, deny also that a man may be justly put to death by the
magistrate, or that the magistrate may wage war, or that oaths are to be
rendered to a magistrate, and such like things.
THE DUTY OF SUBJECTS. For as God wants to effect the safety of his people by the
magistrate, whom he has given to the world to be, as it were, a father, so all
subjects are commanded to acknowledge this favor of God in the magistrate.
Therefore let them honor and reverence the magistrate as the minister of God;
let them love him, favor him, and pray for him as their father; and let them
obey all his just and fair commands. Finally, let them pay all customs and
taxes, and all other such dues faithfully and willingly. And if the public
safety of the country and justice require it, and the magistrate of necessity
wages war, let them even lay down their life and pour out their blood for the
public safety and that of the magistrate. And let them do this in the name of
God willingly, bravely and cheerfully. For he who opposes the magistrate
provokes the severe wrath of God against himself.
SECTS AND SEDITIONS. We, therefore, condemn all who are contemptuous of the
magistrate - rebels, enemies of the state, seditious villains, finally, all who
openly or craftily refuse to perform whatever duties they owe.
We beseech God, our most merciful Father in heaven, that he will bless the
rulers of the people, and us, and his whole people, through Jesus Christ, our
only Lord and Savior; to whom be praise and glory and thanksgiving,for all ages.