POLITICAL SERMONS FROM PASTORS IN THE FOUNDING ERA
Pastor Roger Anghis
February 23, 2014
Preached before the Honorable Council, And the honorable House of Representatives of the Colony of the Massachusetts-Bay, in New-England. MAY 29th, 1776.
Being the Anniversary for the Election of THE honorable COUNCIL FOR the Colony. By Pastor Samuel West of Dartmouth.
And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counselors as at the beginning : afterward thou shalt be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city, Isaiah 4:26:
Their children also shall be as aforetime, and their congregations shall be established before me, and I will punish all that oppress them : and their nobles shall be of themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them, Jeremiah 30:20- 21.
As free and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of GOD, 1 Peter 2: 16.
The beast that thou sawest, shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition : and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast. Revelation 17:8.
Pastor West has laid down a foundation for the type of government that God requires and points out that the British have dissolved the government that was established by the Colonists and replaced it with a government that benefits only the monarch, the King of England. He then begins to go into detail of the government God intends man to live under: “In order, therefore, that we may form a right judgment of the duty enjoined in our text, I shall consider the nature and design of civil government, and shall show that the same principles which oblige us to submit to government do equally oblige us to resist tyranny; or that tyranny and magistracy are so opposed to each other that where the one begins the other ends. I shall then apply the present discourse to the grand controversy that at this day subsists between Great Britain and the American colonies.” (Emphasis mine)
You will notice that Pastor West refers to ‘the law of nature’ many times. This is a phrase taken from John Locke and is a reference to the laws that have been established by God in scripture. This was established further after the Revolutionary War by James Wilson who was one of the six Founders that signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He spoke at the Constitutional Convention 168 times and was the first law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and was appointed Justice on the Supreme Court by George Washington in 1789. Wilson believed that all law must rest on natural or divine law. He saw no separation between religion (Christianity) and law and believed that the two were intertwined:
Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is divine. . . . Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, mutual assistants. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other.
Pastor West then begins to describe the basis of the magistrates authority and the boundaries of our duty to obey those in authority: “That we may understand the nature and design of civil government, and discover the foundation of the magistrate's authority to command, and the duty of subjects to obey, it is necessary to derive civil government from its original, in order to which we must consider what " state all men are naturally in, and that is (as Mr. Locke observes) a state of perfect freedom to order all their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave or depending upon the will of any man." It is a state wherein all are equal, — no one having a right to control another, or oppose him in what he does, unless it be in his own defense, or in the defense of those that, being injured, stand in need of his assistance.” (Emphasis mine)
The new British government established was one that demanded control over the people. It is actually not very different from the government that we have today in America with all its rules and regulations and requirement of using the government healthcare system, their attempt to disarm Americans, for their own good of course, and the list goes on and on. We used to have a ‘free’ free market system but the Obama administration has added almost 120,000 new regulations to that ‘free market’ system that has stifled job growth and any kind of economic recovery for the last five years. It is this kind of ‘governing’ that the Colonists were resisting in 1776. It is what we need to be resisting today.
Pastor West continues with the description of the kind of laws that govern man: “The law of nature gives men no right to do anything that is immoral, or contrary to the will of God, and injurious to their fellow-creatures ; for a state of nature is properly a state of law and government, even a government founded upon the unchangeable nature of the Deity, and a law resulting from the eternal fitness of things. Sooner shall heaven and earth pass away, and the whole frame of nature be dissolved, than any part, even the smallest iota, of this law shall ever be abrogated; it is unchangeable as the Deity himself, being a transcript of his moral perfections. A revelation pretending to be from God, that contradicts any part of natural law, ought immediately to be rejected as an imposture; for the Deity cannot make a law contrary to the law of nature without acting contrary to himself,— a thing in the strictest sense impossible, for that which implies contradiction is not an object of the divine power.” (Emphasis mine)
One should remember that when the pilgrims came to America it was primarily for the reason of religious liberty all other reasons were secondary. The government that they established had its foundation based on biblical principles and biblical law. Under that law there were individual freedoms to work at what you wanted to work at instead of government telling you what you had to do. They had freedom to worship how they wanted to. In Britain they were forced to not only attend the Church of England but were taxed to support that church. This did not set well with the Colonists. To allow one’s self to violate what you believed was God’s directives concerning worship and conducting your own personal life and how you conducted your business was not going to be tolerated. Also keep in mind that it was the preachers that had taught the Colonists those principles so it was only natural that when Britain removed the established government that were in many cases designed by the pastors and instigated the rule of law that was in England and considering that virtually all that were in America at that time had been raised under the New World’s form of government this freedom was not going to be taken from them: “The doctrine of non-resistance and unlimited passive obedience to the worst of tyrants could never have found credit among mankind had the voice of reason been hearkened to for a guide, because such a doctrine would immediately have been discerned to be contrary to natural law.
In a state of nature we have a right to make the persons that have injured us repair the damages that they have done us; and it is just in us to inflict such punishment upon them as is necessary to restrain them from doing the like for the future,—the whole end and design of punishing being either to reclaim the individual punished, or to deter others from being guilty of similar crimes. Whenever punishment exceeds these bounds it becomes cruelty and revenge, and directly contrary to the law of nature.” (Emphasis Mine)
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Pastor West also noted in the previous statement that it was the teaching that unlimited obedience to authority was the cause of many of the world’s problems in past times. He also speaks of the brutality towards the people that had been part of almost all governments in Europe for centuries that the people had no recourse which was not a biblical way to govern. England had just re-established that form of government and the people nor the pastors were going to allow it to continue. The preachers began to attack the loss of freedom with vengeance and they would not stop until America was completely free from Britain’s control.
1. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist
Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p. 272.
2. Roger Anghis, Defining America’s Exceptionalism, (Bloomington: Westbow Press, 2012), p. 159.
3. James Wilson, The Works of the Honorable James Wilson, Bird Wilson, editor, (Philadelphia: Bronson and Chauncey, 1804), Vol. I, pp. 104-106, “Of the General Principles of Law and Obligation.”
4. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), pp. 272.
5. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), pp. 273-274
6. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p. 274
© 2014 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