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Forbidden Alliances


Concerning Associations and Confederacies with Idolaters, Infidels,
Heretics, or Any Other Known Enemies of Truth and Godliness
By George Gillespie

While I have occasion to speak of human covenants, it shall not be
unprofitable to speak somewhat to that question so much debated, as
well among divines as among politicians and lawyers, whether a
confederacy and association with wicked men, or such as are of
another religion, be lawful, yea or no. For answer whereunto
shortly, let us distinguish, (1) civil covenants; (2)

ecclesiastical, sacred or religious covenants; (3) mixed covenants,
partly civil, partly religious.[1] The last two, being made with
wicked men, and such as differ in religion from us, I hold to be
unlawful, and so do the best writers.[2]

When the Israelites are forbidden a covenant with the Canaanites,
special mention is made of their gods, altars, images, Ex. 23:32;
34:13-14; Judges 2:2, that no such superstitious, unlawful worship
might be tolerated. As for civil covenants, if they be for commerce
or peace, which were called [Gk.] spondai, they are allowed,
according to the scriptures, Gen. 14:13; 31:44; 1 Kings 5:12; Jer.
29:7; Rom. 12:18. Such covenants the Venetians have with the Turks,
because of vicinity; such covenants also Christian emperors of old
had sometimes with the pagans. It was the breach of a civil covenant
of peace with the Turks that God punished so exemplarily in
Uladyslaus, king of Hungary.

But if the civil covenant be such a covenant as the Greeks called
[Gk.] summaxia, to join in military expeditions together, of this is
the greatest debate and controversy among writers.[3] For my part, I
hold it unlawful, with diverse good writers; and I conceive that,
Ex. 34, God forbids not only religious covenants with the
Canaanites, but even civil covenants, verse 12, and conjugal
covenants, verse 16; which is also Junius' opinion, in his analysis
upon that place.

The reason for the unlawfulness of such confederacies are brought:
1. From the law, Ex. 23:32; 34:12,15; Deut. 7:2. Yea, God makes this
a principal stipulation and condition, upon their part, while he is
making a covenant with them, Ex. 34:10,12; Judg. 2:1-2. And lest it
should be thought that this is meant only of those seven nations
enumerated [in] Deut. 7, the same law is interpreted of four other
nations, 1 Kings 11:1-2; so that it is to be understood generally
against confederacies with idolators and those of a false religion.
And the reason of the law is moral and perpetual, viz., the danger
of ensnaring the people of God. Therefore they were forbidden to
covenant either with their gods or with themselves; for a
conjunction of counsels and familiar conversations (which are
consequents of a covenant) draws in the end to a fellowship in
religion.

2. From disallowed and condemned examples; as Asa's covenant with
Benhadad, 2 Chron. 16:1-10, and Ahaz's covenant with the kings of
Assyria, 2 Kings 16:7,10; 2 Chron. 28:16-23. And should it be
objected, "These are but examples of covenants with idolatrous
heathens, there is not the like reason to condemn confederacies and
associations with wicked men of the same religion," I answer, (1) It
holds a fortiori [with stronger reason] against confederacies with
such of the seed of Jacob as had made defection from true religion;
for Grotius (de Jure Belli et Pacis [Concerning the Law of War and
Peace], lib. 2, cap. 15, num. 9) notes, God would have such to be
more abominated than heathens, and to be destroyed from among their
people, Deut. 13:13. (2) We have in other scriptures examples which
meet with that case also; for Jehoshaphat's confederacy with Ahab, 2
Chron. 18:3, with 2Chron. 19:2, and after with Ahaziah, 2 Chron.
20:35, are condemned, which made Jehoshaphat (although once
relapsing into that sin) yet afterwards mend his fault, for he would
not again join with Ahaziah when he sought that association the
second time, 1 Kings 22:49. So Amaziah, having associated himself in
an expedition with the Israelites, when God was not with them, did,
upon the prophet's admonition, disjoin himself from them, and take
his hazard of their anger, 2 Chron. 25:7-10. Lavater upon the place,
applying that example, notes this as one of the causes why Christian
wars with the Turks had so ill success. Why, says he, consider what
soldiers were employed: this is the fruit of associations with the
wicked.

3. These confederacies proceed from an evil heart of unbelief; as is
manifest by the reasons which are brought against Ahaz's league with
Benhadad, 2 Chron. 16:7-9, and by that which is said against the
confederacy with the king of Assyria, Isa. 8:12-13; for as Calvin
upon the place notes, the unbelievers among the people, considering
their own inability for managing so great a war, thought it
necessary to have a confederacy with the Assyrians; but this was
from faithless fears, from want of faith to stay and rest upon God
as all-sufficient.

4. If we must avoid fellowship and conversation with the sons of
Belial (except where natural bonds or the necessity of calling ties
us), Ps. 6:8; Prov. 9:6; 24:1; 2 Cor. 6:14-15; and if we should
account God's enemies our enemies, then how can we join with them,
and look upon them as friends?

Now as to the arguments which used to be brought for the contrary
opinion, first it is objected that Abraham had a confederacy with
Aner, Eshchol, and Mamre, Gen. 14:13; Abraham with Abimelech, Gen.
21:27, 32; and Isaac with Abimelech, Gen. 26; Jacob with Laban, Gen.
31:44; Solomon with Hiram, 1 Kings 5:12. Answer. (1) It cannot be
proved that those confederates of Abraham, Isaac and Solomon were
either idolators or wicked. Laban, indeed, was an idolator, but
there are good interpreters who conceive that Abraham's three
confederates feared God, and that Abimelech also feared God, because
he speaks reverently of God, ascribes to God the blessing and
prosperity of these patriarchs. It is presumed, also, that Hiram was
a pious man, because of his epistle to Solomon, 2 Chron. 2:11.
However, (2) those confederacies were civil, either for commerce or
for peace and mutual security, that they should not wrong one
another, as that with Laban, Gen. 31:52; and with Abimelech, Gen.
26:28-29, which kind of confederacy is not controverted.
It is objected, also, that the Maccabees had a covenant with the
Romans and Lacedmonians, 1 Mac. 8; 12:1-2. Answer. (1) That
covenant is disallowed by many good writers, yet it is observed from
the story that they had not the better but the worse success, nor
the less but the more trouble following it. (2) The story itself, 1
Mac. 1:11, tells us that the first motion of a confederacy with the
heathen in those times proceeded from the children of Belial in
Israel.

Lastly, it may be objected that persons discontented, and of broken
fortunes, were gathered to David, and that he received them, and
became a captain unto them, 1 Sam. 22:2. Answer. (1) Some think (and
it is probable) they were such as were oppressed and wronged by
Saul's tyranny, and were therefore in debt and discontented, and
that David, in receiving them, was a type of Christ, who is a refuge
for the afflicted, and touched with the feeling of their
infirmities. (2) Whoever they were, David took care that no profane
nor wicked person might be in his company, Ps. 101; yea, Ps. 34:11
(which was penned at the time when he departed from Achish and
became captain of those four hundred men), he says to them, "Come,
ye children, hearken unto me; I will teach you the fear of the
Lord." (3) I shall bring a better argument from David's example
against joining such associates in war as are known to be malignant
and wicked: Ps. 118:7, "The Lord taketh my part with them that help
me, therefore I shall see my desire upon them that hate me;" Ps.
54:4, "The Lord is with them that uphold my soul." Upon this last
place, both Calvin and Gesnerus observe that, although David's
helpers were few and weak, yet God being in them and with them, his
confidence was that they should prove stronger than all the wicked.
He intimates also, that if he had not known that God was with his
helpers, leading and inspiring them, he had looked for no help by
them 2 Chron. 15:7-8. That David's helpers in the war were looked
upon as sincere, cordial, and stirred up of God, may farther appear
from 1Chron. 12, where David joins with himself, fidos homines qui
idem cum sentirent (says Lavater on the place): "faithful men of his
own mind." He adds that they were such as hated Saul's impiety and
injustice, and loved David's virtue. Vict. Strigelius calls them
fideles amicos: "faithful friends." The text itself tells us that
diverse of them joined themselves to David while he was yet in
distress, and shut up in Ziklag, ver. 1 (which was an argument of
sincerity); also, that some of Benjamin (Saul's own tribe) adjoined
themselves to David, and the Spirit came upon Amasai, who by a
special divine instinct spoke to assure David of their sincerity,
ver. 2, 16, 18. They also who joined themselves with David after
Saul's death, ver. 23, were not of a double heart, but of a "perfect
heart," ver. 33, 38; and they all agreed that the first great
business to be undertaken should be religion, the bringing back of
the ark, 1 Chron. 13:3-4.

This point of the unlawfulness of confederacies with men of a false
religion is strangely misapplied by Lutherans against confederacies
with us, whom they call Calvinists. So argues Tarnovius, Trac. de
Fderib. But we may make a very good use of it; for as we ought to
pray and endeavour that all who are Christ's may be made one in him,
so we ought to pray against, and by all means avoid fellowship,
familiarity, marriages, and military confederacies with known wicked
persons, and such as are of a false or heretical religion. I shall
branch forth this matter in five particulars, which God forbade to
his people in reference to the Canaanites and other heathens, which
also (partly by parity of reason, partly by concluding more
strongly) will militate against confederacies and conjunctions with
such as, under the profession of the Christian religion, do either
maintain heresies and dangerous errors, or live a profane and wicked
life.

1. God forbade all religious covenants with such, and would not have
his people to tolerate the gods, images, altars, or groves of
idolaters, Ex. 23:32; 34:12-13; Deut 7:2-5; Judg. 2:2. And although
the letter of the law mentions this in reference to the Canaanites,
yet the best reforming kings of Judah applied and executed this law
in taking away the groves and high places abused by the Jews in
their superstition. And what marvel? If such things were not to be
tolerated in the Canaanites, much less in the Jews. Theodosius[3] is
commended for his suppressing and punishing heretics.
2. God forbade familiar conversation with these heathens, that they
should not dwell together with his people, nay, not in the land with
them, Ex. 23:33, lest one of them, being familiar with an Israelite,
might call him to a feast, and make him eat of things sacrificed to
idols, Ex. 34:15. Compare this with Judg. 1:21; Ps. 106:35. Now the
apostle lays much more restraint upon us from conversing, eating,
and drinking with a scandalous Christian, 1 Cor. 5:11, than with a
pagan or unbeliever, 1 Cor. 10:27. There is a conversing and
companying with wicked persons which is our affliction, not our
fault; that is, when we cannot be rid of them, do what we can, 1Cor.
5:10 which is an argument against separating and departing from a
true church, because of scandalous persons in it. The apostle gives
this check to such: go where they will, they shall find scandalous
persons all the world over. There is, again, a conversing and
companying with wicked persons which natural and civil bonds, or
near relations, or our calling, ties us unto, as between husband and
wife, parent and child, pastor and people, magistrate and those of
his charge. But wittingly and willingly to converse and have
fellowship with heretical or profane persons, whether it be out of
love to them and delight in them, or for our own interest or some
worldly benefit, this is certainly sinful and inexcusable. If we
take care of our bodily safety, by flying the company of such as
have the plague; yea, if we take care of the safety of our beasts,
and would not, to our knowledge, suffer a scabbed or rotten sheep to
infect the rest; shall we not much more take care of our own and
neighbors' souls, by avoiding (and warning others to avoid) the
fellowship of the ungodly, whereby spiritual infection comes?
Remember, it was but a kind visit of Jehoshaphat to Ahab which was
the occasion of engaging him into a confederacy with that wicked
man, 2 Chron. 18:2-3.

3. God forbade conjugal covenants or marrying with them, Ex. 34:16;
Deut. 7:3. The rule is the same against matching with other wicked
persons, whether idolaters or professing the same religion with us.
We read not of idolatry, or any professed doctrinal differences in
religion between the posterity of Seth and the posterity of Cain,
yet this was the great thing that corrupted the old world, and
brought on the flood, that the children of God joined themselves in
marriage with the profane, Gen. 6:1-3. Jehoram married not an
heathen, but the daughter of Ahab; but it is marked, he did evil as
did the house of Ahab. And what is the reason given for this? "For
the daughter of Ahab was his wife," 2 Kings 8:18; and, by and by,
ver. 27, the like is marked of Ahaziah, the son of Jehoram, who "did
evil in the sight of the Lord as did the house of Ahab; for he was
the son-in-law of the house of Ahab." The apostle Peter supposes
that Christians marry such as are "heirs together of the grace of
life," 1 Pet. 3:7; see also Prov. 31:30.

4. God forbade his people to make with the Canaanites foedus
deditionis [a treaty of surrender], or subactionis [of subjugation],
or (as others speak) pactum liberatorium [a deliverer's agreement];
he would have his people show no mercy to those whom he had destined
to destruction, Deut. 7:2. Herein Ahab sinned, by making a brotherly
covenant of friendship with Benhadad when God had delivered him into
his hand, 1 Kings 20:32-34. So, in all Christian commonwealths, the
magistrate, God's vicegerent, ought to cut off all such evil doers
as God's word appoints to be cut off. David's sparing of Joab and
Shimei, being partly necessitated thereto, partly induced by
political reasons (whereof he repented when he was dying, nor could
his conscience be at ease till he left a charge upon Solomon for
executing justice upon both Joab and Shimei, 1 Kings 2:5-9), are no
good precedents or warrants to Christian magistrates to neglect the
executing of justice. It is a better precedent which David resolves
upon more deliberately, Ps. 101:8, "I will early destroy all the
wicked of the land, that I may cut off all wicked doers from the
city of the Lord." Mark this all, of what degree or quality soever,
without respect of persons, and that early, and without delay.
Lastly, and even Joab himself was so far punished by David, that he
was cast out of his place and command, 2 Sam. 19:13; 20:4.
5. The law is also to be applied against civil covenants, not of
peace or of commerce, but of war; that is, a league offensive and
defensive, wherein we associate ourselves with idolaters, infidels,
heretics, or any other known enemies of truth or godliness, so as to
have the same friends or enemies. A covenant of peace or commerce
with such may happen to be unlawful in respect of some
circumstances, as when peace is given to those rebels, murderers,
incendiaries in the kingdom, who, by the law of God, ought to be
destroyed by the hand of justice; or when commerce with idolaters is
so abused, as to furnish them with the things that they are known to
make use of in their idolatry. But as for [Gk.] summaxia, a
confederacy engaging us into a war with such associates, it is
absolutely, and in its own nature, unlawful; and I find it condemned
by good writers of the popish party, of the Lutheran party, and of
the orthodox party. Some of all these are before cited.

What holiness God required in the armies of Israel, see Deut.
23:9-14. We may well argue, as Isidorus Pelusiota does (lib. 3,
epist. 14), if the law was so severe against such uncleannesses as
were not voluntary, how much less would God suffer such as did
voluntarily and wickedly defile themselves. It is marked as a part
of Abimelech's sin, Judg. 9:4, that he "hired vain and light persons
which followed him." God would have Amaziah to dismiss an hundred
thousand men of Israel, being already with him in a body, and told
him he should fall before the enemy if these went with him, because
God was not with them, 2 Chron. 25:7, etc. If they had not yet been
gathered into a body, it had been much to abstain from gathering
them, upon the prophet's admonition; but this is much more, that he
sends them away after they are in a body, and takes his hazard of
all the hurt that so many outraged soldiers could do to him or his
people; and indeed they did much hurt in going back, ver. 13. Yet
God regarded Amaziah's obedience with a great victory.

In the last age, shortly after the begun reformation in Germany,
this case of conscience, concerning the unlawfulness of such
confederacies, was much looked at. The city of Strasbourg, anno
1629, made a defensive league with Zurich, Bern, and Basil.[4] Qui
et vicini erant, et dogmate magis conveniebant, says Sleidan: "they
were not only neighbors, but of the same faith and religion."
Therefore they made a confederacy with them. About two years after,
the Elector of Saxony refused to take into confederacy those
Helvetians,[5] because although they were powerful, and might be
very helpful to him, yet they differing in religion concerning the
article of the Lord's supper, he said he durst not join with them as
confederates, lest such sad things might befall him as the scripture
testifies to have befallen those who, for their help or defence,
took any assistance they could get. The rule was good in itself,
although, in that particular case, misapplied.

The very heathens had a notion of the unlawfulness of confederacies
with wicked men; for, as Vict. Strigelius, on 2 Chron. 25, notes out
of schylus' tragedy entitled Seven to Thebe, Amphiaraus, a wise and
virtuous man, was therefore swallowed up in the earth, with seven
men and seven horses, because he had associated himself with Tydeus,
Capaneus, and other impious commanders, marching to the siege of
Thebe.

Lastly, take this reason for further confirmation: as we must do all
to the glory of God, so we must not make wars to ourselves, but to
the Lord; hence, "the book of the wars of the Lord," Num. 21:14, and
"the battle is not ours, but the Lord's" [cf.] 1 Sam. 25:28; 2
Chron. 20:15. Now, how shall we employ them that hate the Lord to
help the Lord? Or how shall the enemies of his glory do for his
glory? Shall rebels and traitors be taken to fight in the king's
wars? Offer it to your governor, as it is said, Mal. 1:8, see if he
would take this well.

As for the objections from scripture, they are before answered.
There are many other exceptions of men's corrupt reasoning, which
may yet be easily taken off, if we will receive scripture light.
That very case of Jehoshaphat's confederacy with Ahab takes off many
of them; for although (1) Jehoshaphat was a good man, and continued
so after that association, not drawn away into idolatry, nor
infected with Ahab's religion, but only assisting him in a civil
business. (2) Ahab lived in the church of Israel, which was still a
church, although greatly corrupted, and he was no professed hater of
God (only he had professed to hate Micaiah, the man of God); yea,
lately before this, he appeared very penitent; and some think
Jehoshaphat now judged charitably of Ahab, because of that great
humiliation and repentance of his, which God did accept so far as to
reward it with a temporal sparing mercy, 1 Kings 21, at the end.
Then follows immediately, chap. 22, Jehoshaphat's association with
him; although Jehoshaphat was also joined in affinity with Ahab,
Ahab's daughter being married to his son. (3) The enemy was the king
of Assyria; and Jehoshaphat does not join with a wicked man against
God's people, but against the infidel Assyrians; even as Amaziah was
beginning to join with those of the ten tribes against the Edomites.
(4) The cause seems to have been good, as Carthusian on 1 Kings
20:3, and Lavater upon 2Chron. 19:2 note;[6] for Ramoth Gilead was a
city of refuge pertaining to the Levites in the tribe of Gad, and
should have been restored by the king of Assyria to Ahab according
to their covenant, 1 Kings 20:34. Daneus brings that same example of
Ahab's going up against Ramoth Gilead to prove that it is just to
make war against those who have broken covenant with us. (5)
Jehoshaphat's manner of proceeding was pious in this respect, that
he said to Ahab, "Inquire, I pray thee, of the word of the Lord
today;" and again, "Is there not here a prophet of the Lord
besides," he inquires ultra [further], and seeks all the light he
could there have, in point of conscience, from prophets of the Lord;
which makes it probable that those four hundred prophets did not
profess, or were not known to Jehoshaphat, to be prophets of Baal,
but were looked upon as prophets of the Lord, as Cajetan thinks;
therefore they answer also in the name of the Lord, "the Lord shall
deliver it." It is not likely that Jehoshaphat would desire the
prophets of Baal to be consulted, or that he would harken to them
more than to the prophet of the Lord, Micaiah. Yet, in this he
failed extremely, that he had too far engaged himself to Ahab before
inquiring at the word of the Lord. However, it seems he was, by this
inquiring, seeking a fair way to come off again. (6) Jehoshaphat's
end was good. Martyr, on 1 Kings 22, thinks Jehoshaphat entered into
this confederacy with Ahab for the peace and safety of his kingdom,
and to prevent a new war between Judah and Israel, such as had been
between Asa, his father, and Baasha, king of Israel; for which end
also Carthusian, on 1Kings 22, thinks that Jehoshaphat took Ahab's
daughter to his son.

Yet notwithstanding of all this the prophet Jehu says to him, 2
Chron. 19:2, "Shouldest thou help them that hate the Lord?" The
Septuagint reads, "hated of the Lord," which comes all to one thing.
And lest it should be thought a venial or light matter, he adds,
"Therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord." So that from
this example we learn, that let us keep ourselves unspotted from the
false religion or errors of those with whom we associate. Let wicked
men seem never so penitent, and our relations to them be never so
near; let the common enemy be an infidel; let the manner of
proceeding be never so pious, and the end also good; yet all this
cannot excuse nor justify confederacies and associations with wicked
and ungodly men. And if God was so angry at Jehoshaphat when there
were so many things concurring as might seem to excuse or extenuate
his fault, it being also in him a sin of infirmity only, and not
without a reluctance of conscience, and a conflict of the spirit
against the flesh (which Pareus, upon 1 Kings 1:22, does well
collect from his desire of inquiring at the word of the Lord, that
he might have occasion to come off), how much more will God be angry
with such as go on with a high hand in trespass, casting his word
behind them, and hating to be reformed?

If it be further objected, that we are not able without such
confederacies and help to prosecute a great war alone, this also the
Holy Ghost has beforehand answered, in the example of Ahaz's
confederacy with the king of Assyria; for he had a great war to
manage, both against the Assyrians, and against the king of Israel,
2 Kings 16:7; also against the Edomites and Philistines, 2 Chron.
28:16-18. Yet, although he had so much to do, this could not excuse
the confederacy with the Assyrian. He should have trusted to God,
and not used unlawful means. God can save by few, as well as by
many. Yea, sometimes God thinks not fit to save by many, Judg. 7. It
shall not be the strength of battle to have unlawful confederates,
but rather to want them, Ex. 23:22.

If it be said it is dangerous to provoke and incense many wicked men
by casting them off, this is plainly answered from the example of
Amaziah, and the hundred thousand men of Israel with him of which
[we spoke] before. If, furthermore, objection be made, that we must
be gentle and patient towards all, and in meekness instruct those
that oppose themselves, 2 Tim. 2:24-25. Answer. (1) Yet he bids us
turn away from the wicked, chap. 3:5. We ought in meekness to
instruct even him that is excommunicate, 2 Thess. 3:15, yet we are
there warned, ver. 14, to have no company with him. (2) The angel of
the church at Ephesus is at once commended both for his patience,
and that he could not bear them which were evil [Rev. 2:2].
I shall add five distinctions which will take off all other
objections that I have yet met with.

1. Distinguish between a confederacy which is more discretive and
discriminative, and a confederacy which is more unitive. And here is
the reason why covenants of peace and commerce, even with infidels
and wicked persons, are allowed, yet military associations with such
disallowed. For the former keeps them and us still divided as two;
the latter unites us and them as one, and embodies us together with
them. For Thucidides defines [Gk.] summaxia to be such a covenant as
makes us and our confederates to have the same friends and
enemies;[7] and it is mentioned by writers as a further degree of
union than [Gk.] spondai, or covenants of peace.

2. Distinguish between endeavor of duty, and the perfection of the
things which answers that exception: "O, then, we must have an
army all of saints (it should be said) without any known wicked
person in it." Now, even as it is our duty to endeavor a purging of
the church from wicked and scandalous persons, yet, when we have
done all we can, the Lord's field shall not be perfectly purged from
tares till the end of the world, Matt. 13. So when we have done all
that ever we can to avoid wicked persons in an expedition, yet we
cannot be rid of them all; but we must use our utmost endeavors that
we may be able to say, "It is our affliction, not our fault."
3. Distinguish between some particular wicked persons here and there
mixing themselves with us, and between a wicked faction and
malignant party. The former should be avoided as much as possible,
but much more a conjunction with a wicked faction. David would by no
means meet and consult with the [Heb.] kahal meregnim, "the assembly
of malignants." Neither did he only shun to meet and consult with
"vain persons," who openly show and betray themselves, but even
"with dissemblers," or (as the Chaldee) "with those that hide
themselves, that they may do evil," Ps. 26:4-5. We can know better
how to do with a whole field of tares, in which no wheat is, than we
can do with tares growing here and there among the wheat.
4. Distinguish between such a fellowship with some wicked persons as
is necessary (which is the case of those that are married, and of
parents and children) or unavoidable, which is the case of those
whose lot it is to cohabit in one town, or in one family, in a case
of necessity, travelling, or sailing together distinguish, I say,
between these and an elective or voluntary fellowship with wicked
men, when love to them, or our own benefit, draws us thereunto. We
neither loose natural bonds, nor require impossibilities, but that
we keep ourselves pure, by not choosing or consenting to such
fellowship.

5. Distinguish between infidels, heretics, wicked persons repenting,
and those who go on in their trespass. Whatever men have been, yet
as soon as the signs of repentance and new fruits appear in them, we
are ready to receive them into favour and fellowship. Then, indeed,
the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the cow and the bear shall
feed, their young ones shall lie down together; meaning such as were
wolves, leopards, bears, and now begin to change their nature. Not
so with the obstinate, contumacious and impenitent, who still remain
wolves, etc.

Let us now, (1) examine ourselves, whether there be so much
tenderness of conscience in us as to close with those scripture
truths, or whether we are still in a way of consulting with flesh
and blood. (2) Be humbled for former miscarriages and failings in
these particulars, and for not walking accurately according to these
scripture rules. (3) Beware for the future; remember and apply these
rules when we have to do with the practice of them.
And that I may drive home this nail to the head, I add (beside what
was said before) these reasons and motives: First, it is a great
judgment when God "mingleth a perverse spirit" in the midst of a
people, Isa. 19:14. Shall we then make that a voluntary act of our
own which the word mentions as a dreadful judgment? With this
spiritual judgment is oftentimes a temporal judgment, as 2 Chron.
16:9; 20:37; 28:22; so Hos. 5:13; 7:8, compared with chap. 8:8-9,
where their judgment sounds forth their sin as by an echo. The
Chaldee paraphrase, in the place last cited, says, "The house of
Israel is delivered into the hands of the people whom they loved."
Secondly, remember what followed upon God's people mingling
themselves with the heathen, Ps. 106:35, "They were mingled among
the heathen, and learned their works." Hos. 7:8: "Ephraim, he hath
mixed himself among the people" that is, by making confederacies
with the heathen (as Luther expounds the place), and by seeking
their help and assistance, Hos. 5:13. But what follows? "Ephraim is
a cake not turned," hot and overbaked in the nether [lower] side,
but cold and raw in the upper side. This will prove the fruit of
such confederacies and associations to make us zealous for some
earthly or human thing, but remiss and cold in the things of Christ:
to be too hot on our nether side, and too raw on the upper side.
Whereas not mingling ourselves with the wicked, we shall, through
God's mercy, be like a cake turned; that heat and zeal which was
before downward shall now be upward, heavenward, Godward.
Let it also be remembered how both Ahaz, 2 Kings 16:10, and Asa
himself, 2 Chron. 16:10 (though a good man), were drawn into other
great sins, upon occasion of these associations with the enemies of
God and his people. This sin will certainly ensnare men in other
sins. It is well said by Calvin, upon Ezek. 16:26, that as we are
too prone of ourselves to wickedness, so when we enter into
confederacies with wicked men we are but seeking new temptations,
and, as it were, a bellows to blow up our corruptions. As wine,
being mixed with water, loses of its spirits; and white, being mixed
with black, loses much of its whiteness; so the people of God, if
once mixed with wicked enemies, shall certainly lose of their purity
and integrity.

Thirdly, as these unlawful confederacies draw us both into great
judgments and great sins, so into great security and stupidity under
these great plagues and sins, which will make the estate of such to
be yet worse, Hos. 7:9. After Ephraim's mixing himself among the
people, it is added, "Strangers have devoured his strength, and he
knoweth it not; yea, grey hairs are here and there upon him, yet he
knoweth it not." Although his confederates have distressed him, and
not strengthened him, and although there may be observed in him
diverse signs of a decaying dying condition, yet he knows it not,
nor takes it to heart. The same thing is insisted upon, ver. 11,
"Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to
Egypt, they go up to Assyria." He is as void of understanding as a
silly dove, whose nest being spoiled, and "her young ones taken from
her" (which the Chaldee paraphrase adds for explication's cause),
yet she still returns to those places where, and among those people
by whom, she has been so spoiled: so Israel will still be meddling
with those that have done him great hurt.

Fourthly, we find that such confederacy or association, either with
idolaters or known impious persons, is seldom or never recorded in
the book of God without a reproof, or some greater mark of God's
displeasure put upon it. If it were like the polygamy of the
patriarchs, often mentioned and not reproved, it were the less
marvel to hear it so much debated. But now, when God hath so
purposely set so many beacons upon those rocks and shelves, that we
may be aware of them, O why shall we be so mad as still to run upon
them? It was reproved in the time of the judges, Judg. 2:1-3. It was
reproved in the time of the kings. Ahab's covenant with Benhadad;
Asa's covenant with Benhadad; Ahaz's confederacy with the Assyrian;
Jehoshaphat's association, first with Ahab, then with Amaziah;
Amaziah's association with those hundred thousand men of Ephraim,
when God was not with them all these are plainly disallowed and
condemned. Moreover, that reproof, Jer. 2:18, "And now, what hast
thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? Or
what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of
the river?" the Chaldee has thus: "What have ye to associate with
Pharoah king of Egypt? And what have ye to do to make a covenant
with the Assyrian?" Again, after the captivity, Ezra 9, the Jews'
mingling of themselves with the heathen is lamented.

Fifthly, the great and precious promises of God may encourage us so
as we shall never say to the wicked, "a confederacy." For, upon
condition of our avoiding all such confederacies and conjunctions,
God promises never to break his covenant with us, Judg. 2:1-2, and
to receive us as his sons and daughters, 2 Cor. 6:14, 16-18.
Sixthly, it is one of God's greatest mercies which he has covenanted
and promised, "I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them
that transgress against me," Ezek. 20:38. Why should we then forsake
our own mercy, and despise the counsel of God against our souls?
Seventhly, as it was Asa's experience, 2 Chron. 16:7-8, so it has
been in our own. God has done his greatest works for us when we were
most unmixed with such men.

There is another objection which at the writing hereof I have met
with. It is David's confederacy and association with Abner, 2 Sam.
3:12-13, and with Amasa, 2 Sam. 19:13, whom, according to agreement,
he made general of his host, 2 Sam. 20:4, although both of them had
been David's enemies and borne arms against him, Abner being also
scandalous both for his whoredom, 2 Sam. 3:7, and his treachery
against Ishbosheth in aspiring to the crown (which is collected from
his going in unto Saul's concubine, as Absalom did unto David's
afterward). Yea, for that he had borne arms against David, when he
knew that God had sworn to make David king, and so against the light
of his conscience, 2 Sam. 3:9, 18.

Answer. 1. Peter Martyr, commenting upon these places, disallows
David's practice in both these cases, especially his league with
Abner. Should we follow these two examples, not being allowed or
commended in scripture? Or should we not rather avoid such
confederacies, because of many examples thereof plainly condemned in
the word of God?

2. Whatsoever may be conceived to be allowable or excusable in these
examples of David, yet it cannot be applied except in like cases.
When David covenanted with Abner he was but king of Judah. Abner
undertakes to bring about all Israel to him, and that he should make
him reign over all the tribes, whereas otherwise there was no
appearance of David's subduing of all the other tribes but by a long
and bloody war. Again, when David covenanted and capitulated with
Amasa, he was in a manner fled out of the land for Absalom, 2 Sam.
19:9, and was forced to abide in the land of Gilead beyond Jordan,
fearing also (as interpreters observe)[8] that the men of Judah,
having strengthened Jerusalem and kept it with a garrison for
Absalom, and having done so much in assisting Absalom against David,
should grow desperate in holding out against him, hoping for no
mercy. Therefore he is content to make Amasa general of his army,
upon condition that he would cause the men of Judah to bring him
back to Jerusalem, which Amasa moves the men of Judah to do, 2Sam.
19:14. For it was done by his authority, as Josephus also writes;[9]
nor could it be done without his authority, for Absalom and
Ahitophel being dead, Amasa had the whole power and sole headship of
that army, and of all that faction that had followed Absalom.
Now, then, let them that will plead for the lawfulness of
confederacies with wicked persons from these examples of David first
make the case alike, that is, that the wicked one have the power of
an army, and of a great part of the body of the kingdom, to make
them either continue in rebellion and enmity or to come in and
submit. Next let it be remembered, that both Abner and Amasa did a
great service (which was most meritorious at the hands of men) for
the good, peace, and safety of king and kingdom. And they did it at
that time also when David was but weak, and they had power enough to
have continued a war against him, which is a very rare case, and far
different from the case of such as have done and are doing all that
they can to pervert and mislead thousands of the people of God,
instead of reducing many thousands to obedience, as Abner and Amasa
did.

3. There are some other answers proper to the one case and the
other. There is nothing in the text to prove that David made such a
covenant with Abner as the Greeks call [Gk.] summaxia, or that he
covenanted to make him general of his army (as afterwards he
covenanted with Amasa), for at that time he could have no other
color of reason for casting Joab out of his place, as afterwards he
had. Therefore, I understand with Sanctius, that the league which
Abner sought from David was fdus pacis, "a covenant of peace."
Jerome reads, fac mecum amicitias: "make friendship with me," for
before they had been enemies, so that this league is not of that
kind which is chiefly controverted.

As for Amasa, I shall not go about (as some have done) to excuse or
extenuate his fault in joining with Absalom, as not being from any
malice or wicked intention against David his uncle; but there is
some probability that Amasa was a penitent and hopeful man. Sure
David had better hopes of him than of Joab; and if it be true which
Josephus writes,[10] that before David sent Zadock and Abiathar to
the men of Judah, and to Amasa, frequent messages came from them to
the king, desiring to be received into his favour; however, Amasa
being willing and ready to do so much for David, when he might have
done so much against him; David, as he could not do his business
without him, so he had some ground to hope well of him, considering
withal, that Amasa was not set upon this business by any offence or
displeasure at the other party, as Abner was.

4. Even as this example, so far as concerns the laying aside and
casting off of Joab, and not preferring his brother Abishai in his
room (both of them being guilty of Abner's blood, 2 Sam. 3:30, and
both of them being too hard for David), helps to strengthen that
which I have been pleading for.

The point being now so fully cleared from scripture there is the
less reason to argue contrariwise from human examples[11] in
Christian states and commonwealths. The word of God must not stoop
to men's practices, but they to it. Yet even among those whose
examples are alleged for the contrary opinion there want not
instances for cautiousness and conscientiousness in choosing or
refusing confederates, as, namely, among the Helvetians or Swiss.
They of Zurich and Bern, when once reformed, renounced their league
made before with the French king for assisting him in his wars, and
resolved only to keep peace with him, but would not continue the
league of [Gk.] summaxia, or joining with him in his wars.[12]
And whatsoever were the old leagues about three hundred years ago
mutually binding those cantons each to other for aid and succour,
and for the common defence of their country, and for preservation of
their particular rights and liberties, and for a way of deciding
controversies and pleas between men of one canton and of another
(which leagues are recorded by those that write of that
commonwealth) yet after the reformation of religion, there was so
much zeal on both sides, that it grew to a war between the popish
and the protestant cantons, wherein, as the popish side strengthened
themselves by a confederacy with Ferdinand the emperor's brother; so
the protestant side, Zurich, Bern and Basil, entered into a
confederacy, first with the city of Strasbourg, and shortly
thereafter with the landgrave of Hesse, that thereby they might be
strengthened and aided against the popish cantons.[13] The
differences of religion put them to it to choose other confederates.
Nevertheless, I can easily admit what Lavater judiciously observes
upon Ex. 16:26-29, that covenants made before true religion did
shine among a people are not to be rashly broken; even as the
believing husband ought not to put away the unbelieving wife, whom
he married when he himself was an unbeliever, if she be willing to
abide with him. Whatsoever may be said for such covenants, yet
confederacies with enemies of true religion, made after the light of
reformation, are altogether inexcusable.

Peradventure some have yet another objection: "This is a hard
saying," say diverse malignants; "we are looked upon as enemies if
we come not in and take the covenant, and when we are come in and
have taken the covenant, we are still esteemed enemies to the cause
of God and his servants." Answer. This is just as if those traitors,
covenant breakers, and other scandalous persons, from which the
apostle bids us turn away, 2 Tim. 3:5, had objected: "If we have no
form of godliness we are looked upon as aliens, and such as are not
to be numbered among God's people; yet now when we have taken on a
form of godliness, we are in no better esteem with Paul, but still
he will have Christians turn away from us." Yea, it is as if workers
of iniquity, living in the true church, should object to Christ
himself: "If we pray not, if we hear not the word, etc., we are not
accepted, but rejected for the neglect of necessary duties; yet when
we have prayed, heard, etc., we are told for all that, 'Depart from
me, ye workers of iniquity, I never knew you.'" Men must be judged
according to their fruits, according to their words and works, and
course of living; and if any who have taken the covenant show
themselves in their words and actions to be still wicked enemies,
our eyes must not be put out with their hand at the covenant.
If any disaffected shall insist and say, "But why, then are we
received both to the covenant and to the sacrament?" Answer.1. If
any known malignant, or complier with the rebels, or with any enemy
of this cause, has been received, either to the covenant or
sacrament, without signs of repentance for the former malignancy and
scandal (such signs of repentance, I mean, as men in charity ought
to be satisfied with), it is more than ministers and elderships can
answer for, either to God or the acts and constitutions of this
national church. I trust all faithful and conscientious ministers
have laboured to keep themselves pure in such things. Yea, the
General Assembly has ordained, that such known compliers with the
rebels, and such as did procure protections from the enemy, or keep
correspondence and intelligence with him, shall be suspended from
the Lord's supper till they manifest their repentance before the
congregation. Now if any, after signs and declaration of repentance,
have turned again to their old ways of malignancy, their iniquity be
upon themselves, not upon us.

2. Men are no otherwise drawn or forced into the covenant than into
other necessary duties. Nay, it ought not to be called a forcing or
compelling. Are men forced to spare their neighbor's life, because
murder is severely punished? Or are men compelled to be loyal,
because traitors are exemplarily punished? There may, and must be, a
willingness and freeness in the doing of the contrary duty, although
great sins must not go away unpunished. Men are not compelled to
virtue because vice is punished, else virtue were not virtue. Those
that refuse the covenant, reproach it, or rail against it, ought to
be looked upon as enemies to it, and dealt with accordingly. Yet, if
any man were known to take the covenant against his will, he were
not to be received.

3. These two may well stand together: to censure the contempt or
neglect of a duty, and withal to censure wickedness in the person
that has taken up the practice of the duty. If any Israelite would
not worship the true God he was to be put to death, 2 Chron. 15:13;
but withal, if worshipping the true God, he was found to be a
murderer, and adulterer, etc., for this also he was to be put to
death. The General Assembly of this church has appointed that such
as, after admonition, continue in an unusual neglect of prayer, and
the worship of God in their families, shall be suspended from the
Lord's supper till they amend. Yet, if any man shall be found to
make family worship a cloak to his swearing, drunkenness, adultery,
or the like, must these scandalous sins be uncensured, because he
has taken upon him a form of godliness? God forbid. It is just so
here. Refusers of the covenant, and railers against it, are justly
censured; but withal, if wickedness and malignancy be found in any
that have taken the covenant, their offence and censure is not to be
extenuated, but to be aggravated.

I had been but very short in the handling of this question, if new
objections coming to my ears had not drawn me forth to this length.
And now I find one objection more. Some say the arguments before
brought from scripture prove not the unlawfulness of confederacies
and associations with idolaters, heretics, or profane persons of the
same kingdom, but only those of another kingdom.
Answer. 1. Then, by the concession of those that make the objection,
it is at least unlawful to associate ourselves with any of another
kingdom who are of a false religion, or wicked life.

2. If familiar fellowship, even with the wicked of the same kingdom
be unlawful, then is a military association with them unlawful; for
it cannot be without consulting, conferring, conversing frequently
together. It were a profane abusing and mocking of scripture to say,
that we are forbidden to converse familiarly with the ungodly of
another kingdom, but not with the ungodly of the same kingdom; or
that we are forbidden to marry with the ungodly of another kingdom,
but not with the ungodly of the same kingdom. For what is this, but
to open a wide gate upon the one hand, while we seem to shut a
narrow gate upon the other hand?

3. Were not those military associations, 2 Chron. 19:2; 25:7-8,
condemned upon this reason, because the associates were ungodly,
haters of the Lord, and because God was not with them? Now, then, a
quatenus ad omne [from the particular to the general], the reason
holds equally against associations with any of whom it can be truly
said, they are ungodly, haters of the Lord, and God is not with them.
4. God would have the camp of Israel altogether holy and clean,
Deut. 23:9-14. Clean from whom? Not so much from wicked heathens
(there was not so much fear of that) as from wicked Israelites.
5. Says not David, "I will early destroy all the wicked of the
land," Ps. 101:8, and "Depart from me all ye workers of iniquity,"
Ps. 6:8? How can it then be imagined that he would make any of them
his associates and helpers in war?

Amandus Polanus, Comment. in Ezek. 16:26-28: "One who censures the
prostitution of the church, that is idolatry or false doctrine, and
associations with the impious, is no heretic, is no schismatic, is
not being ungrateful toward the mother church; otherwise, even
Ezekiel, along with Jeremiah and the other prophets, would have been
a heretic, a schismatic, or an ingrate."[14]

Footnotes for Forbidden Alliances

1. Zeperus, de Pol. Mos., lib. 6, cap. 4; Pelargus in Deut. 7:1-3;
Pareus in Gen. 14; Rivetus in Ex. 23:32; Tarnovius, Tract. de
Fderibus.
2. See Victor. Strigel. in 7 Paralip. 25, 2; also Zeperus, Pelargus,
Tarnovius, ubi supra; Lavater in 2 Paralip. 25; and in Ezek. 6:26;
P. Martyr, Loc. Com., clas. 4, cap. 16; Num. 23; and Comment. in 1
Reg. 15:17, etc. The same thing is held by Tostatus in 3 Pag. 22:3.
3. Socrates, Hist., lib. 5, cap. 10.
4. Sleid. Com., lib. 7, p. 106.
5. Ibid, lib. 8, p. 127: De Helvetiis in foedus recipiendis, quod
civitates valde cupiebant, Saxo per Legatos respondent, quoniam de
cna Dom. diversum sequantur dogma non sibi licere societatem cum
ipsis ullam coire: quanti sit ipsorum conjunctio, propter vires
atque potentiam, non se quidem latere, sed eo sibi minime
respiciendum esse, ne tristis inde sequatur exitus, quod iis
accidisse, Scriptura testatur, qui muniendi sui causa, cujusque modi
prsidiis usi fuissent. ["About taking the Swiss into treaty, which
the cities vehemently desired, Saxony answers through ambassadors
that since they follow a different doctrine of the Lord's Supper, he
may not allow himself to join in any alliance with them: it does not
escape him how much their friendship might mean, on account of their
numbers and power; but he must have regard for that least of all,
lest the tragic result follow from it which scripture records
happened to those who, for the sake of fortifying themselves, had
used any assistance at hand."]
Vide etiam, p. 113: Quod si Zuingliani faterentur errorem atque
desisterent, comprehendi etiam in hac pace sin minus, tum
deserendos, nec auxilii quicquam eis communicandum, neque fdus ullum
cum ipsis faciendum esse. Et infra, lib. 9, p. 156: Et recipiendos
esse placet in hoc foedus (Smalcaldicum) qui velint atque cupiant,
modo, Doctrinam August propositam in comitiis profiteantur, et
sortem communem subeant. [See also p. 113: "And if the Zwinglians
confessed and left off their error, they could be included in this
peace, but if not, then they were to be held abandoned, and no aid
must be shared with them at all, nor could any treaty be made with
them." And below, lib. 9, p. 156: "And it is agreeable that they are
to be accepted into this treaty (the one at Smalcald), whoever
wishes and desires it, provided they confess in assembly the
Augsburg Doctrine and submit to a public decision."]
6. Polit. Christ., lib. 7, cap 1.
7. Keckermann. de Repub. Spart., disp. 4, lib. 2, cap. 20.
8. Sanctius et Corn. a Lapide in 2 Sam. 19.
9. Antiq. Jud., lib. 7, cap. 10.
10. Antiq., lib. 7, cap. 10.
11. See Mr. Fox, Acts and Monuments, Vol. 2, p. 869-870.
12. See The Estates, Principalities, and Empires of the World,
translated by Grimston, pp. 364-70.
13. Acts and Monuments, ubi supra, p. 872; Sleid. Com., lib. 7, pp.
106, 110, 120.
14. [Gillespie originally cited this passage in Latin: Qui ecclesi
scortationem, hoc est idololatriam vel falsam doctrinam, et
confederationes cum impiis reprehendit, non est hereticus, non est
schismaticus, non est ingratus adversus matrem ecclesiam: Alioquin
etiam Ezekiel cum Jeremi, aliisque prophetis, fuisset hereticus,
aut schismaticus, aut ingratus.]







 

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