Richard Baxter on Validity of Government Forbidding Worship Assemblies in Times of Pestilence

For Lord’s Day, April 5, 2020

Dear Saints,

This week’s e-devotion and preparation for Sabbath worship comes to us again via our brother Mike Delgado’s sleuthing.  I share below what he forwarded to me by Puritan Richard Baxter on whether there are times we may omit Sabbath worship if forbidden by the government (of course, online assemblies would not have been a temporary resource as they are for us now).  Let me highlight a few things from his comments below:

“It is one [appropriate and valid] thing to forbid [public church assemblies] for a time, upon some special cause, (as infection by pestilence …

“If the magistrate for a greater good, (as the common safety,) forbid church-assemblies in a time of pestilence … it is a duty to obey him.”

We briefly considered Romans 13:1-10 last week for our submission to the government in such unusual times with a sermon by Dr. Martin Luther.  Let us close tonight meditating on Rev. Richard Baxter’s words with 1 Peter 2:13-16 as our Scripture selection:

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.

Here is the larger quote and context:

May the Lord bless us all as we prepare to worship Him together in the Spirit via the webcast.

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant