POLITICAL SERMONS FROM PASTORS IN THE FOUNDING ERA
Pastor Roger Anghis
April 6, 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
West continues to expound on what is a government that has usurped its God given power and authority and has gotten into the realm of tyranny and then he reiterates that it is the ob ligation of the people to oppose and remove that government if necessary. “What has been said is, I apprehend, abundantly sufficient to show that tyrants are no magistrates, or that whenever magistrates abuse their power and authority to the subverting the public happiness, their authority immediately ceases, and that it not only becomes lawful, but an indispensable duty to oppose them ; that the principle of self-preservation, the affection and duty that we owe to our country, and the obedience we owe the Deity, do all require us to oppose tyranny.” (Emphasis mine)
There is no room for tyranny in any God fearing society. When those in authority go beyond the boundaries set by God then there is an obligation for the people to remove those offenders. Thomas Jefferson stated: “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.” He believed that it was not just the right of the people but their obligation to not allow those in authority to go beyond the boundaries of the Constitution. Each Colony had their own Constitution that had no provisions for the type of government that Britain had established in Massachusetts. If it was not stopped in Massachusetts it would spread to all Thirteen Colonies. This was what the pastors were preaching to stop. Their liberties and freedoms were at stake and these pastors were bound and determined to keep the fires burning in the hearts and the minds of the people for the liberties that they had lived by for many years and were being threatened in Massachusetts.
West tells his audience, the Massachusetts House of Representatives, that it is the people that are to be the judges who will determine when rulers have become tyrannical: “If it be asked, “Who are the proper judges to determine when rulers are guilty of tyranny and oppression? “ I answer, the public. Not a few disaffected individuals, but the collective body of the state, must decide this question; for, as it is the collective body that invests rulers with their power and authority, so it is the collective body that has the sole right of judging whether rulers act up to the end of their institution or not. Great regard ought always to be paid to the judgment of the public. It is true the public may be imposed upon by a misrepresentation of facts; but this may be said of the public, which cannot always be said of individuals, viz., that the public is always willing to be rightly informed, and when it has proper matter of conviction laid before it its judgment is always right.” (Emphasis mine)
West again asserts that the only power that authorities have is derived from the people. It is only when those chosen by the people act in accordance with the boundaries prescribed to them by scripture that the people are to be submitted to that authority. It is when those in authority step outside those boundaries that the people no longer are required to submit but are required to remove those that have overreached their authority: “This account of the nature and design of civil government, which is so clearly suggested to us by the plain principles of common sense and reason, is abundantly confirmed by the sacred Scriptures, even by those very texts which have been brought by men of slavish principles to establish the absurd doctrine of unlimited passive obedience and non-resistance, as will abundantly appear by examining the two most noted texts that are commonly brought to support the strange doctrine of passive obedience. The first that I shall cite is in 1 Peter 2:13, 14: "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man,"— or, rather, as the words ought to be rendered from the Greek, submit yourselves to every human creation, or human constitution the Lord's sake, whether it be to the king as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well." Here we see that the apostle asserts that magistracy is of human creation or appointment; that is, that magistrates have no power or authority but what they derive from the people; that this power they are to exert for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well; i. e., the end and design of the appointment of magistrates is to restrain wicked men, by proper penalties, from injuring society, and to encourage and honor the virtuous and obedient. Upon this account Christians are to submit to them for the Lord's sake ; which is as if he had said. Though magistrates are of mere human appointment, and can claim no power or authority but what they derive from the people, yet, as they are ordained by men to promote the general good by punishing evil-doers and by rewarding and encouraging the virtuous and obedient, you ought to submit to them out of a sacred regard to the divine authority ; for as they, in the faithful discharge of their office, do fulfill the will of God, so ye, by submitting to them, do fulfill the divine command.” (Emphasis mine)
Notice that West points out more than once that the authority is from the people and that those in authority are to adjudicate according to the precepts and principles of God. What they were seeing in his day was the usurpation of those chosen by the people by the crown and the will of the people was ignored. What we are seeing today is similar but those that have been elected by us are ignoring the will of the people and ignoring the Constitution as well. West goes on to state that when this happens it is our obligation to replace these people with ones that will act according to God’s precepts: “If the only reason assigned by the apostle why magistrates should be obeyed out of a regard to the divine authority is because they punish the wicked and encourage the good, it follows, that when they punish the virtuous and encourage the vicious we have a right to refuse yielding any submission or obedience to them ; i. e., whenever they act contrary to the end and design of their institution, they forfeit their authority to govern the people, and the reason for submitting to them, out of regard to the divine authority, immediately ceases ; and, they being only of human appointment, the authority which the people gave them the public have a right to take from them, and to confer it upon those who are more worthy.
So far is this text from favoring arbitrary principles, that there is nothing in it but what is consistent with and favorable to the highest liberty that any man can wish to enjoy; for this text requires us to submit to the magistrate no further than he is the encourager and protector of virtue and the punisher of vice; and this is consistent with all that liberty which the Deity has bestowed upon us.” (Emphasis mine)
These pastors set the guidelines that we as Christians are to follow concerning who we put into authority over us and how those in authority are to act. They were facing a situation in his day where the crown had come in and taken over the government and today we have a government that is of the government for the government and not the people. We are now obligated to remove them and replace them with people that will govern in accordance to God’s precepts.
Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers
Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), pp. 286-287.
2. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p. 287.
3. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), pp. 287-288.
4. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), pp. 288-289.
© 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