POLITICAL SERMONS FROM PASTORS IN THE FOUNDING ERA
Pastor Roger Anghis
March 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
Previously West laid out the reasons why submission to the elected authority was necessary and then we saw that he was setting the stage for why we also have not just the right but the duty to disobey that same authority, when that authority stopped governing as God had intended for them to govern. He referenced an occasion where those in authority began to unduly oppress the people and there was no course for redress that is was under those circumstances that the people not only had the right but a duty to separate themselves from the ‘parent state’ and form a government that would address the liberties that they believed were given to man by God. “When either of the aforesaid cases takes place, and more especially when both concur, no rational man, I imagine, can have any doubt in his own mind whether such a people have a right to form themselves into a body politic, and assume to themselves all the powers of a free state. For, can it be rational to suppose that a people should be subjected to the tyranny of a set of men who are perfect strangers to them, and cannot be supposed to have that fellow-feeling for them that we generally have for those with whom we are connected and acquainted; and, besides, through their unacquaintedness with the circumstances of the people over whom they claim the right of jurisdiction, are utterly unable to judge, in a multitude of cases, which is best for them ?” (Emphasis mine)
West begins to describe the types of government that is known at that in history and points out the good and bad aspects. Notice that his main point is that there must be fair representation for the people. A government can’t be all one sided on the side of the government. He states: “Permit me, however, to say, that an unlimited, absolute monarchy, and an aristocracy not subject to the control of the people, are two of the most exceptionable forms of government: firstly, because in neither of them is there a proper representation of the people ; and, secondly, because each of them being entirely independent of the people, they are very apt to degenerate into tyranny.
However, in this imperfect state, we cannot expect to have government formed upon such a basis but that it may be perverted by bad men to evil purposes.” (Emphasis mine)
The pastors of the Founding Era were a group of men who were very direct and concise in what they believed and what they taught. They didn’t think twice about what they taught from the pulpit because government had restrictions on what could be said. If, as in the case West is referencing here, the liberties of the people were threatened, immediate action was to take place to insure the continuance of those liberties. “Having thus shown the nature, end, and design of civil government, and pointed out the reasons why subjects are bound to obey magistrates, —viz., because in so doing they both consult their own happiness as individuals, and also promote the public good and the safety of the state, —I proceed, in the next place, to show that the same principles that oblige us to submit to civil government do also equally oblige us, where we have power and ability, to resist and oppose tyranny ; and that where tyranny begins government ends. For, if magistrates have no authority but what they derive from the people ; if they are properly of human creation ; if the whole end and design of their institution is to promote the general good, and to secure to men their just rights, — it will follow, that when they act contrary to the end and design of their creation they cease being magistrates, and the people which gave them their authority have the right to take it from them again;
This is a very plain dictate of common sense, which universally obtains in all similar cases; for who is there that, having employed a number of men to do a particular piece of work for him, but what would judge that he had a right to dismiss them from his service when he found that they went directly contrary to his orders, and that, instead of accomplishing the business he had set them about, they would infallibly ruin and destroy it ?” (Emphasis mine) West states the case for the right of the people to remove those in authority if they over step their bounds for the office they hold. This is a good lesson for us today as we see the present administration constantly over stepping the authority given to it by the Constitution. When that overreach occurred in West’s day, they immediately began to prepare to correct the situation.
“If, then, men, in the common affairs of life, always judge that they have a right to dismiss from their service such persons as counteract their plans and designs, though the damage will affect only a few individuals, much more must the body politic have a right to depose any persons, though appointed to the highest place of power and authority, when they find that they are unfaithful to the trust reposed in them, and that, instead of consulting the general good, they are disturbing the peace of society by making laws cruel and oppressive, and by depriving the subjects of their just rights and privileges.” (Emphasis mine)
West is laying the ground work for the stand that he believes the States must make to ensure that the freedoms and liberties of America remain intact even though it will have to be done by force.
Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers
Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p. 282.
2. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), pp. 282-283.
3. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), pp. 283-284.
© 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