Rutherford's Free Disputation, though scarce (with maybe only a few copies of the actual book left in existence), is still one of his most important works. Though Rutherford is affectionately remembered in our day for his Letters, or for laying the foundations of constitutional government (against the divine right of kings) in his unsurpassed Lex Rex, his Free Disputation should not be overlooked -- for it contains the same searing insights as Lex, Rex. In fact, this book should probably be known as Rutherford's "politically incorrect" companion volume to Lex, Rex. A sort of sequel aimed at driving pluralists and antinomians insane.
Written against "the Belgick Arminians, Socinians, and other Authors contending for lawlesse liberty, or licentious Tolerations of Sects and Heresies," Rutherford explains the undiluted Biblical solution to moral relativism, especially as it is expressed in ecclesiastical and civil pluralism! (Corporate pluralism being a violation of the first commandment and an affront to the holy God of Scripture). He also deals with conscience, toleration, penology (punishment), and the judicial laws, as related to both the civil and ecclesiastical realms. The fundamentals of religion, how covenants bind us, the perpetual obligation of social covenants (with direct application to the Solemn League and Covenant and the covenant-breaking of Cromwell and his sectarian supporters), whether the punishing of seducing teachers be persecution of conscience, and much more are also included in this classic Covenanter book.
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