December 22, 2011
Chapter 31: Of Synods and Councils
5. Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or, by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate.Robert Shaw says this:
While our Confession denounces any Erastian interference of the civil magistrate in matters purely spiritual and Ecclesiastical, it no less explicitly disavows all Popish claims, on the part of the synods and councils of the Church, to intermeddle with civil affairs, unless by way of petition, in extraordinary cases, or by ray of advice, when required by the civil magistrate. Our Reformers appear to have clearly perceived the proper limits of the civil and ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and to have been very careful that they should be strictly observed. "The power and policy ecclesiastical," say they, "is different and distinct in its own nature from that power and policy which is called civil power, and appertainseth to the civil government of the commonwealth; albeit they be both of God, and tend to one end, if they be rightly used, viz., to advance the glory of God, and to have godly and good subjects." "Diligence should be taken, chiefly by the moderator, that only ecclesiastical things be handled in the Assemblies, and that there be no meddling with anything pertaining to the civil jurisdiction." Church and State may co-operate in the advancement of objects common to both; but each of them must be careful to act within its own proper sphere-- the one never intermeddling with the affairs which properly belong to the province of the other.