POLITICAL SERMONS FROM PASTORS IN THE FOUNDING ERA
Pastor Roger Anghis
August 4, 2013
Dr. Jonathan Mayhew - UNLIMITED SUBMISSION AND NON-RESISTANCE TO THE HIGHER POWERS. Sermon preached in the West Meeting House in Boston on January 30, 1749
This message was preached because of the belief in that day that an absolute obedience to those in authority was required by scripture. Mayhew did a three part series of which this is the third, that discussed in detail what he believed, and rightly so, to be the Biblical position was concerning this. It is believed that this series was a major part of the birth of desire for independence. The peoples spirits were awoken to a concept not seen in any government in history and as these teachings and many more like them were brought forth that arousal for freedom gathered intensity and was concentrated toward one goal, independence from England!
Instead of submitting to the authority, the King of England, they began to show resistance to his laws and directives, The results of this resistance was what is called “The Shot Heard Around the World”, the Battle of Lexington Green, the battle that started America’s fight for independence that was finally decided in America’s favor in 1783.
In his explanation for doing a subject of this nature from the pulpit Mayhew explained:
“The ensuing Discourse is the last of three upon the same subject, with some little alterations and additions. It is hoped that but few will think the subject of it an improper one to be discoursed on in the pulpit, under a notion that this is preaching politics, instead of Christ. However, to remove all prejudices of this sort, I beg it may be remembered that " all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." Why, then, should not those parts of Scripture which relate to civil government be examined and explained from the desk, as well as others? Obedience to the civil magistrate is a Christian duty; and if so, why should not the nature, grounds, and extent of itbe considered in a Christian assembly?”
Today’s churches believe that the church should not enter into the political realm. That is a result of the churches refusal to stand against the Johnson Gag Order of 1954. Most pastors today do not even know that the church was at one time deeply involved in the politics of America. Their absence is one of the reasons that we have so much corruption today not just in Washington, but in every State and at every level.
One of the main points that Mayhew talks about is the results of tyranny. He comments on his belief of tyranny: “Tyranny brings ignorance and brutality along with it. It degrades men from their just rank into the class of brutes; it damps their spirits; it suppresses arts; it extinguishes every spark of noble ardor and generosity in the breasts of those who are enslaved by it; it makes naturally strong and great minds feeble and little, and triumphs over the ruins of virtue and humanity.”
Mayhew say what absolute power over people had done not just the people but to those in power. He understood the phrase ‘Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’
Mayhew began his sermon using Scripture that is commonly referred to when talking about submission to government, Romans 13:1-8 - Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance
of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
(3) For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
(4) For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
(5) Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
(6) For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
(7) Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
(8) Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
In verse 2 it states that by resisting those in power you resist God Himself but you also notice that in verse 3 it states that rulers are not a terror to good works. Mayhew’s sermon will point out that even though a person is in power that person is not always there doing good. I refer to the book of Acts, chapter 4 when Peter and John were brought before the high Priest after healing the man at the Gate Beautiful. The high priests governed the Jews and had given them a direct order to stop preaching in the Name of Jesus. Both Peter and John basically told them No! Acts 4:18 “And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right
in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.
(20) For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
In Mayhew’s day there had been many uprisings that had either driven out a tyrannical ruler or he had been killed. King Charles I had been beheaded, Tarquin had been chased out of Rome and was replaced by Julius Ceasar, King James II was forced from England and replaced By William III of Orange in December of 1688. He comments on the idea of forcefully opposing and removing those that are not ruling favorably for the people. He states: “But, in opposition to this principle, it has often been asserted that the Scripture in general, and the passage under consideration in particular, makes all resistance to princes a crime, in any case whatever. If they turn tyrants, and become the common oppressors of those whose welfare they ought to regard with a paternal affection, we must not pretend to right ourselves, unless it be by prayers, and tears, and humble entreaties. And if these methods fail of procuring redress, we must not have recourse to any other, but all suffer ourselves to be robbed and butchered at the pleasure of the "Lord's anointed," lest we should incur the sin of rebellion and the punishment of damnation ! —for he has God's authority and commission to bear him out in the worst of crimes so far that he may not be withstood or controlled.
Now, whether we are obliged to yield such an absolute submission to our prince, or whether disobedience and resistance may not be justifiable in some cases, notwithstanding anything in the passage before us, is an inquiry in which we all are concerned; and this is the inquiry which is the main design of the present discourse.” (Emphasis mine)
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Mayhew continued to explain his position: “But that unlimited obedience of any sort cannot be argued merely from the indefinite expressions in which obedience is enjoined, appears from hence, that expressions of the same nature frequently occur in Scripture, upon which it is confessed on all hands that no such absolute and unlimited sense ought to be put.” (Emphasis mine)
One cannot assume that God would demand that a Christian be 100% subservient to authority that is completely opposed to His Word and directives. This is why Peter and John had no problem telling the high priest that they would not follow his order to no preach in the Name of Jesus.
Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers
Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p. 47.
2. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p. 51.
3. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p. 63.
4. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p. 64.
© 2013 Roger Anghis - All Rights Reserved
Pastor Roger Anghis is the Founder of RestoreFreeSpeech.org, an organization designed to draw attention to the need of returning free speech rights to churches that was restricted in 1954.
President of The Damascus Project, TheDamascusProject.org, which has a stated purpose of teaching pastors and lay people the need of the churches involvement in the political arena and to teach the historical role of Christianity in the politics of the United States. Married-37 years, 3 children, three grandchildren.
Web site: RestoreFreeSpeech.org