Richard Baxter versus the Pope

Some highlights from Richard Baxter's 'Against the Revolt to a Foreign Jurisdiction'

In Against the Revolt to a Foreign Jurisdiction, Richard Baxter argues forcefully against the encroachment of the Papacy into the ecclesiastical and civil jurisdiction of England. Quite apart from any particular errors of the Roman Catholic Church, he argues that their chief and most foundational error is the very nature of the Papacy: it is a claim to much more power than God, by either natural law or Scripture, has entrusted to any one man.

Christ alone as universal ruler

A key principle for Baxter is that there can be no claim to universal civil power or to universal pastoral power by any man, other than by Christ himself:

Christ only is the Head, the King, and Law-giver, and Judge of the whole World: The Law of Nature, and sacred inspired Apostolical Scriptures, are his only Universal Law. Pastors by the Word, and Princes by the Sword (conjoined where it may be) rule under him only in their several Provinces. [Baxter, Foreign Jurisdiction, 3]

So each pastor and each prince may exercise rule according to their respective offices in some limited portion of the world: this pastor rules over this church, that prince rules over that nation. But Baxter rejects the idea that either a pastor or a prince could enjoy either or both kinds of power on a global scale: the ceiling on any legitimate civil or church power is at the national level. In this sense, Richard Baxter was a nationalist.