POLITICAL SERMONS FROM PASTORS IN THE FOUNDING ERA
Pastor Roger Anghis
August 11, 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
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.
(2) 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.
Jonathan Mayhew is going into great detail to explain what he believes to be the proper understanding of these verses in the thirteenth chapter of Romans. In believing that these are not ‘absolutes’ that vary not he states: “But who supposes that the apostle ever intended to teach that children, servants, and wives, should, in all cases whatever, obey their parents, masters, and husbands respectively, never making any opposition to their will, even although they should require them to break the commandments of God, or should causelessly make an attempt upon their lives ? No one puts such a sense upon these expressions, however absolute and unlimited. Why, then, should it be supposed that the apostle designed to teach universal obedience, whether active or passive, to the higher powers, merely because his precepts are delivered in absolute and unlimited terms ?” (Emphasis mine)
One has to understand that there is, for the Christian, one absolute and that is obedience to God’s Word. If a government requires that you violate your faith then resistance must be made. He states this truth in this statement: “If it be said that resistance and disobedience to the higher powers is here said positively to be a sin, so also is the disobedience of children to parents, servants to masters, and wives to husbands, in other places of Scripture. But the question still remains, whether, in all these cases, there be not some exceptions. In the three latter it is allowed there are ; and from hence it follows, that barely the use of absolute expressions is no proof that obedience to civil rulers is in all cases a duty, or resistance in all cases a sin.” (Emphasis mine)
Mayhew continues to point out that absolute obedience to all in authority without exception is not what should be understood, but there are exceptions. He states: “There is, indeed, one passage in the New Testament where it may seem, at first view, that an unlimited submission to civil rulers is enjoined: "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake." "To every ordinance of man. However, this expression is no stronger than that before taken notice of with relation to the duty of wives: "So let the wives be subject to their own husbands in everything'' But the true solution of this difficulty (if it be one) is this : “By every ordinance of man" is not meant every command of the civil magistrate without exception, but every order of magistrates appointed by man, whether superior or inferior ; for so the apostle explains himself in the very next words: "Whether it be to the king as supreme, or to governors, as unto them that are sent," etc. But although the apostle had not subjoined any such explanation, the reason of the thing itself would have obliged us to limit the expression "every ordinance of man" to such human ordinances and commands as are not inconsistent with the ordinances and commands of God, the Supreme Lawgiver, or with any other higher and antecedent obligations.” (Emphasis mine) Again we see that the absolute is the ‘ordinances and commands of God’. These are the only absolutes that we should be concerned with.
Understand that we have people on both sides of the spectrum. There were, in Paul’s day, Jews who did not feel that they were subject to anyone’s laws but God’s. Today we see muslims that believe that they are only subject to shariah law, no matter where they live. An imam in Texas stated that any muslim in America was above the laws of this nation and can live like they were in a shariah compliant nation. We also have, as Paul did in his day, those that refused to resist the prevailing government in any manner. Today we have people that refuse to resist the attempts of the government to take away our constitutional rights believing that it is wrong to oppose those in authority. This is what happened in 1954 when then Senator Lyndon Johnson took the church out of the political arena with an unconstitutional ‘gag order’. No church opposed it and it has become the law of the land and held the church down not allowing its influence in the political arena to be felt. In the last few years pressure has been put on the IRS to enforce that law but they won’t because they know if it ever goes to court, it will be deemed unconstitutional.
God’s intent for our civil government, and our Founders believed this to be true, was for the government to protect the rights that came only from God; Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Today our government ignores that principle and is attempting to control every aspect of our life. This is making government our god and to do that they have to take away the true God. This is what the USSR did in 1917. It didn’t work out very well for them and it won’t work out well for us either.
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Thomas Jefferson said that the people need to keep the spirit of resistance close to them: “And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?” “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” “The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere.”
Here even Jefferson states that resistance is necessary to keep government honest. We have not had enough resistance against the government’s attempts to override the Constitution and do whatever it wants. If we don’t resist we surrender.
Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers
Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p. 66
2. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p. 66
3. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p.67
© 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