This letter was sent to the English Churchman to balance off a number of letters and articles claiming that the English Church of the Reformation had become corrupt and the rebellion of Oliver Cromwell and the Enlightenment philosophy of Samuel Rutherford put England back on the Reformation path.

 

Men of Two Natures


     Sir: Both Oliver Cromwell and Samuel Rutherford were not gods but men of two natures. Today, Protestants are re-discovering Cromwell ‘warts and all’ and are beginning to realise that Rutherford had a similar verrucosis. Indeed, the political and religious carbuncles that Cromwell had were partly due to the contagious state of Rutherford’s own. Of course, Rutherford said many fine things, so did Cromwell and so did Charles I, especially in his posthumous bestseller amongst the Puritans, Eikon Basilike (Royal Portrait), which broke the back of the rebellion, causing former rebels to return to Reformed piety. Rutherford’s works, however, have been highly vetted by pseudo-Reformed editors, leaving readers ignorant of the intolerance, sedition, tyranny, lawlessness and obnoxiousness in them. Furthermore, Rutherford is treated by Antinomian politico-religious extremists as a saintly martyr for being punished for crimes condemned by all civilized societies though Rutherford’s own case-law justice was arbitrary and merciless. When Cromwell’s Westminster Assembly sat, each member had Rutherford’s Lex Rex in his hands. This first major work of the Enlightenment, published 150 years before Tom Paine’s similar ideas, makes Hobbes’ Leviathan seem like an evangelical manifesto. It reintroduces the teaching of Plato and Aristotle which our Reformers had rejected and makes the light of nature and the divine rights of man the voice of God. Thus, Rutherford teaches that Christ’s words, “Love thy neighbour as thyself” have validity only if the Christian thinks his neighbour follows the light of nature. If not, the Christian is free to murder him. Cromwell at first bowed to Rutherford’s and Henderson’s Radicalism and that scandalously intolerant, anti-Christian Solemn League and Covenant with its Trent-long anathema-list of punishments for non-acceptance. Mercifully, the Assembly’s seditious Counter-Reformation bubble burst but Cromwell’s equally evil purge of Presbyterianism began. Though Cromwell diplomatically rejected the crown, he was given full royal powers by the ravaged Rump Parliament which fostered his megalomania and imagined eschatological role. Alarmed, the Presbyterian regicidal turncoats begged Charles II to return and save Commonwealth Britain from disaster! At the Restitution, Charles found the Presbyterians self-destroyed by their Arianism and squabbles with the Congregationalists in England and the rival warring bands, leagues and covenants in Scotland. They broke all agreements with Charles and rejected, aided by a Parliament still encumbered by Cromwell’s legislation, Charles’ Edict of Toleration and his enormous concessions to them.