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The title continues:
"Wherein are properly stated and ascertained, the true nature and extent of the moral power of civil society and magistracy, legislative and executive. The just instituted authority of magistrates. The inviolableness of just human laws and constitutions in general, and particularly those of Scotland. The natural and unalienable rights of individuals in, or with respect to civil society. And the true causes from which a moral relation flows, and upon which a moral obligation is founded, etc. Against the truly factious and immoral doctrine of John Thomson (Burger Associate) minister of the gospel at Donaghclony in Ireland... maintained in his pretended confutation of the principles of the Reformed Presbytery, in a pamphlet entitled The Presbyterian Covenanter displayed in his political Principles, and the Imposter detected. To which is subjoined by way of appendix, A vindication of the constitution of the Reformed Presbytery, and of the character, ministerial mission and authority of the Rev. Mr. John M'Millan Senior, deceased, from the groundless cavils of Mr. W.W. and Seceders. By his son. The whole being humbly offered as an apologetical representation and defence of the principles of the said Presbytery, and of their people, commonly known by the names of Old Dissenters, Cameronians, etc. against the injurious charges and false imputations cast upon them, first by the established church of Scotland, and then by the Secession."
Goold, in his The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Scotland: Its Origin and History 1680-1876, writes of Thorburn and this book,
"He was a man of studious habits, and his 'Vindiciae Magistratus,' in defence of the principles of his Church against the attacks of the Secession, though lacking the popular style of the writings of some of his brethren, was not inferior to any of them in thorough grasp of the truth, and power of argument. Lord Kames characterized it as the 'best defences of Whig principles;' and the late Rev. Dr. A. M'Leod, of New York, himself a man of distinguished ability, declared that he was more indebted to Mr. Thorburn, of Pentland, than to any other man living or dead."
Upon his death Erskine said, "And he is gone! one of our greatest divines."
Goold also notes of Thorburn that "a large amount of work developed on him in connection with the preparation of the 'Judicial Act' (i.e. The Act, Declaration and Testimony for the Whole of Our Covenanted Reformation--RB), so large that he had to be freed for some time from his work as a preacher."
He "was the theologian of his Church; and in 1785 he was unanimously appointed to be Tutor in Divinity to the students of the Church."
This has been called one of the best books ever written on the biblical view of the civil magistrate -- don't miss it!
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