Sluice Box Adventures
Believing Bible Study in the 21st century
The Perfect Government
Psalms 12:6-7 "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever."
1 Thessalonians 2:13 "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe."
The Perfect Government
Old Paths Baptist Mission © 2020 Richard St.James
VI. The United States of America
After the centuries of world domination by the Gentile kings, the people chafed, and moaned, under the reign of their sinful, selfish leaders enamored with self. The people suffered, as Israel suffered, under the bondage of Pharaoh.
Exodus 2:23: “And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage.”
The people who came to the North American continent in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were looking for something different than the monarchical government … a king in a kingdom.
They were terrified also of both these: an aristocracy [or oligarchy] and a democracy.
The oligarchical form of government always degenerates into MOB RULE!
This fear was borne out within seven years of the ratification of the United States Constitution by the actions of the Committee of Public Safety in France in the Reign of Terror [1793 – 1794].
Watch out for the elitists; watch out for the committees!!!
During the Reign of Terror, at least 300,000 people were arrested; 17,000 were officially executed, and perhaps 10,000 died in prison or without trial.
It demonstrated that:
1. People are turbulent.
2. People are given to change.
3. People seldom judge correctly.
4. People waver over an issue.
5. People are unstable in their ways.
Remember an aristocracy or oligarchy is a rule by few … a committee.
They also knew that they didn’t want a democracy because of what was in man.
These men “knew what was in man” because they believed the Bible [John 2:24].
These men envisioned a government based on checks and balances with which to impede evil men because they saw through faith in God’s word what was in man [EVIL].
Democracy = rule by many
The people who came to these shores were different; they believed God’s BOOK – THE BIBLE.
So, these people searched the SCRIPTURES as those people searched the SCRIPTURES in Thessalonica as recorded in Acts chapter seventeen!
“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” [Acts 17:11]
They fastened on to a particular verse in the BIBLE which is located in the book of Isaiah chapter thirty-three. Here it is:
Isaiah 33:22: “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.”
· The LORD the JUDGE
· The LORD the LAWGIVER
· The LORD the KING
The three branches of Government are comprised of the legislative branch, the executive branch, and the judicial branch, and have their roots in God’s Scripture [Isaiah 33:22].
This government could be said to be an aggregate of a monarchy, an aristocracy and a democracy.
Believing God that man is a sinner, they believed this government to be formulated was to acknowledge the need that these three branches identified here [the executive, the legislative and the judicial] are to have built within and outward of them a system of checks and balances so as to impede the erosion of the individual freedoms endowed to them of God.
"These and many other matters which might be
noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to
the mass of organic utterances that this is a
What follows here is a narrative of the boldest attempt to implement this form of government [Isaiah 33:22] that ever has been tried. When a group of men that fear God congregate for the purpose of framing a government to govern a people according to the word of God there will ensue the fruit of many good things among a people.
The following men were the delegates from the twelve states (Rhode Island didn't send a delegation) that met in Philadelphia in 1787 to draft a new constitution. The resulting document was signed by 39 of the 55 delegates on September 17, 1787. William Jackson also signed the document as secretary of the convention in attestation of the document's validity.
1. John Blair
2. James Madison
3. George Washington
4. Nicholas Gilman
5. John Langdon
6. Nathaniel Gorham
7. Rufus King
8. William Samuel Johnson
9. Roger Sherman
10. Alexander Hamilton
11. David Brearly
12. Jonathan Dayton
13. William Livingston
14. William Paterson
15. George Clymer
16. Thomas Fitzsimmons
17. Benjamin Franklin
18. Jared Ingersoll
19. Thomas Mifflin
20. Gouvernor Morris
21. Robert Morris
22. James Wilson
23. Richard Bassett
24. Gunning Bedford, Jr.
25. Jacob Broom
26. John Dickinson
27. George Read
28. Daniel Carroll
29. Daniel Jenifer
30. James McHenry
31. William Blount
32. Richard Dobbs Spaight
33. Hugh Williamson
34. Pierce Butler
35. Charles Pinckney
36. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
37. John Rutledge
38. Abraham Baldwin
39. William Few, Jr.
The fear of God was in these men: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” [Proverbs 9:10]
These founding fathers had vision because they believed the BIBLE: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” [Proverbs 29:18]
From this list of thirty-nine men we will focus on one man … the man George Washington. [Note: All these men were imbued with the fear of God as George Washington.]
We will begin with the following record which will show the inner thoughts of George Washington who more than anyone else typified the kind of men living in the times shortly before and during the years of the formulation of the government of the United States of America.
George Washington’s inner conscientiousness of sin and the need for the work of God’s grace through Jesus Christ in a person is shown in his own testimony as follows.
“A 24-page prayer book, entitled "Daily Sacrifice," is credited to have been handwritten by George Washington in 1752.” 5
“WEDNESDAY MORNING....Almighty and eternal Lord God, the great Creator of heaven and earth, and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; look down from heaven, in pity and compassion upon me Thy servant, who humbly prostrate myself before Thee, sensible of Thy mercy and my own misery; there is an infinite distance between Thy glorious majesty and me, Thy poor creature, the work of Thy hand, between Thy infinite power, and my weakness, Thy wisdom, and my folly, Thy eternal Being, and my mortal frame, but, O Lord, I have set myself at a greater distance from Thee by my sin and wickedness, and humbly acknowledge the corruption of my nature and the many rebellions of my life.
“I have sinned against heaven and before Thee, in thought, word & deed; I have contemned Thy majesty and holy laws. I have likewise sinned by omitting what I ought not. I have rebelled against light, despised Thy mercies and judgements, and broken my vows and promises; I have neglected the means of Grace, and opportunities of becoming better; my iniquities are multiplied, and my sins are very great. I confess them, O Lord, with shame and sorrow, detestation and loathing, and desire to be vile in Thine.
“I humbly beseech Thee to be merciful to me in the free pardon of my sins, for the sake of Thy dear Son, my only Saviour, Jesus Christ, who came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance; be pleased to renew my nature and write Thy laws upon my heart, and help me to live, righteously, soberly and godly in this evil world; make me humble, meek, patient and contented, and work in me the grace of Thy Holy Spirit.
“Prepare me for death and judgement, and let the thoughts thereof awaken me to a greater care and study to approve myself unto Thee in well doing.
“Bless our rulers in church & state. Help all in affliction or adversity - give them patience and a sanctified use of their affliction, and in Thy good time, deliverance from them; forgive my enemies, take me unto Thy protection this day, keep me in perfect peace, which I ask in the Name and for the sake of Jesus. Amen.” 6
George Washington “knew what was in man” because he believed the Bible [John 2:24].
George Washington envisioned a government based on checks and balances with which to impede evil men because he saw through faith in God’s word what was in man [EVIL].
Next, we see God’s supernatural intervention in preserving George Washington’s life for a purpose … so that he can be used in the formulation of a nation – the United States of America.
“The account of George Washington at the Battle at the Monongahela was included in student textbooks in America until 1934. During the French and Indian War, George Washington fought alongside British General Edward Braddock. On July 9, 1755, the British were on the way to Fort Duquesne, when the French surprised them in an ambush attack.
“The British, who were not accustomed to fighting unless in an open field, were being annihilated. Washington rode back and forth across the battle delivering General Braddock's orders. As the battle raged, every other officer on horseback, except Washington, was shot down. General Braddock was mortally wounded, at which point the troops fled in confusion. On Sunday night, July 13, 1754, General Braddock died and Washington, under cover of night, read the funeral service over him by the light of a torch.” 7
“After the battle, on July 18, 1755, Washington wrote from Fort Cumberland to his brother, John A. Washington:
“As I have heard, since my arrival at this place, a circumstantial account of my death and dying speech, I take this early opportunity of contradicting the first, and of assuring you, that I have not as yet composed the latter.
But by the All-Powerful Dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me!”8
“Fifteen years later, Washington and Dr. Craik, a close friend of his from his youth, were traveling through those same woods near the Ohio River and Great Kanawha River. They were met by an old Indian chief, who addressed Washington through an interpreter:
“I am a chief and ruler over my tribes. My influence extends to the waters of the great lakes and to the far, blue mountains.
I have traveled a long and weary path that I might see the young warrior of the great battle. It was on the day when the white man's blood mixed with the streams of our forests that I first beheld this Chief.
I called to my young men and said, mark yon tall and daring warrior? He is not of the red-coat tribe - he hath an Indian's wisdom, and his warriors fight as we do – himself alone exposed.
Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies. Our rifles were leveled, rifles which, but for you, knew not how to miss - `twas all in vain, a power mightier far than we, shielded you.
Seeing you were under the special guardianship of the Great Spirit, we immediately ceased to fire at you. I am old and soon shall be gathered to the great council fire of my father’s in the land of shades, but ere I go, there is something bids me speak in the voice of prophecy:
Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man [indicating Washington], and guides his destinies - he will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire. I am come to pay homage to the man who is the particular favorite of Heaven, and who can never die in battle.” 9
“An Indian warrior who was in that battle declared: Washington was never born to be killed by a bullet! I had seventeen fair fires at him with my rifle, and after all could not bring him to the ground!” 10
“On July 8, 1755, Mary Draper Ingels had been kidnapped from her home in Draper Meadows, Virginia by a band of Shawnee Indians. In her biography she recorded her escape in mid-winter and her nearly one-thousand-mile trek back home. At one point during her captivity, she overheard a meeting that the Shawnee had with some Frenchmen. They described in detail the British defeat in the battle of Monongahela at Duquesne, and how the Indian Chief Red Hawk claimed to have shot Washington eleven times, but did not succeed in killing him.”11
Next, we see George Washington actively working to restrain sin in the inception of our nation and to promote its morality.
“On February 2, 1756, in a letter to Governor Dinwiddie, Colonel Washington wrote from Alexandria, Virginia:
‘I have always, so far as was in my power, endeavored to discourage gambling in camp, and always shall while I have the honor to preside there.”12
“On April 18, 1756, in a letter to Governor Dinwiddie, Colonel George Washington wrote from Winchester, Virginia:
‘It gave me infinite concern to find in yours by Governor Innes that any representations should inflame the Assembly against the Virginia regiment, or give cause to suspect the morality and good behaviour of the officers....
I have, both by threats and persuasive means, endeavored to discountenance gambling, drinking, swearing, and irregularities of every kind; while I have, on the other hand, practiced every artifice to inspire a laudable emulation in the officers for the service of their country, and to encourage the soldiers in the unerring exercise of their duty.”13
“In June of 1756, Colonel George Washington issued the following order while at Fort Cumberland: Colonel Washington has observed that the men of regiment are very profane and reprobate. He takes this opportunity to inform them of his great displeasure at such practices, and assures them, that, if they do not leave them off, they shall be severely punished. The officers are desired, if they hear any man swear, or make use of an oath or execration, to order the offender twenty-five lashes immediately, without a court-martial. For the second offense, he will be more severely punished.” 14
“On June 17, 1775, three thousand British troops, under General William Howe's command, charged from Bunker Hill to attack the colonial soldiers on Breed's Hill, led by Colonel William Prescott. Amos Farnsworth, a corporal in the Massachusetts Militia, made this entry in his diary immediately after the Battle of Bunker Hill:
‘We within the entrenchment...having fired away all ammunition and having no reinforcements...were overpowered by numbers and obliged to leave....I did not leave the entrenchment until the enemy got in. I then retreated ten or fifteen rods.
Then I received a wound in my right arm, the ball going through a little below my elbow, breaking the little shellbone. Another ball struck my back, taking a piece of skin about as big as a penny.
But I got to Cambridge that night.... Oh the goodness of God in preserving my life, although they fell on my right and on my left! O may this act of deliverance of thine, O God, lead me never to distrust thee; but may I ever trust in thee and put confidence in no arm of flesh!”15
“On July 13, 1775, Governor Jonathan Trumbull wrote from Lebanon, Connecticut, to General George Washington, who had recently been placed in command of the Continental Army:
‘The Honorable Congress have proclaimed a Fast to be observed by the inhabitants of all the English Colonies on this continent, to stand before the Lord in one day, with public humiliation, fasting, and prayer, to deplore our many sins, to offer up our joint supplications to God, for forgiveness, and for his merciful interposition for us in this day of unnatural darkness and distress.
They have, with one united voice, appointed you to the high station you possess. The Supreme Director of all events hath caused a wonderful union of hearts and counsels to subsist among us. Now therefore, be strong and very courageous.
May the God of the armies of Israel shower down the blessings of his Divine Providence on you, give you wisdom and fortitude, cover your head in the day of battle and danger, add success, convince our enemies of their mistaken measures, and that all their attempts to deprive these Colonies of their inestimable constitutional rights and liberties are injurious and vain.”16
Next, we see George Washington in fervent antirecessionary prayer to God for others.
“In 1777 while the American army lay at Valley Forge, a good old Quaker by the name of Potts had occasion to pass through a thick wood near headquarters. As he traversed the dark brown forest, he heard, at a distance before him, a voice which as he advanced became more fervid and interested.
‘Approaching with slowness and circumspection, whom should he behold in a dark bower, apparently formed for the purpose, but the Commander-in-Chief of the armies of the United Colonies on his knees in the act of devotion to the Ruler of the Universe!
At the moment when Friend Potts, concealed by the trees, came up, Washington was interceding for his beloved country. With tones of gratitude that labored for adequate expression he adored that exuberant goodness which, from the depth of obscurity, had exalted him to the head of a great nation, and that nation fighting at fearful odds for all the world holds dear....
Soon as the General had finished his devotions and had retired, Friend Potts returned to his house, and threw himself into a chair by the side of his wife. ‘Heigh! Isaac!’ said she with tenderness, "thee seems agitated; what's the matter?"
"Indeed, my dear" quoth he, "if I appear agitated 'tis no more than what I am. I have seen this day what I shall never forget. Till now I have thought that a Christian and a soldier were characters incompatible; but if George Washington be not a man of God, I am mistaken, and still more shall I be disappointed if God does not through him perform some great thing for this country."17
The testimony of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg as to George Washington believing God’s words and his trust in the Son of God, Jesus Christ:
“Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, pastor of the Lutheran church near Valley Forge and one of the founders of the Lutheran Church in America, noted concerning General Washington:
‘I heard a fine example today, namely, that His Excellency General Washington rode around among his army yesterday and admonished each and every one to fear God, to put away the wickedness that has set in and become so general, and to practice the Christian virtues. From all appearances, this gentleman does not belong to the so-called world of society, for he respects God's Word, believes in the atonement through Christ, and bears himself in humility and gentleness. Therefore, the Lord God has also singularly, yea, marvelously, preserved him from harm in the midst of countless perils, ambuscades, fatigues, etc., and has hitherto graciously held him in His hand as a chosen vessel.’18
“On May 5, 1778, upon receiving news that France had joined the War on the side of the Colonies, General Washington issued the order from his headquarters at Valley Forge:
‘It having pleased the Almighty Ruler of the Universe propitiously to defend the cause of the United American States, and finally by raising us up a powerful friend among the Princes of the earth, to establish our Liberty and Independence upon a lasting foundation; it becomes us to set apart a day for gratefully acknowledging the Divine Goodness, and celebrating the event, which we owe to His benign interposition.
The several brigades are to be assembled at nine o'clock to-morrow morning, when their Chaplains will communicate the intelligence contained in the Postscript of the Gazette of 22nd inst., and offer up a thanksgiving, and deliver a discourse suitable to the occasion.”19
We have next, George Washington’s prayer of supplication for his country.
“Washington's Prayer for the United States of America appears on a plaque in St. Paul's Chapel in New York City and at Pohick Church, Fairfax County, Virginia, where Washington was a vestryman, 1762-84:
‘Almighty God; We make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy Holy protection; and Thou wilt incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field.
‘And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation.
‘Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”20
“On May 10, 1786, George Washington wrote from Mount Vernon to Marquis de Lafayette:
‘Your late purchase of an estate in the colony of Cayenne, with a view of emancipating the slaves on it, is a generous and noble proof of your humanity. Would to God a like spirit would diffuse itself generally into the minds of the people of this country.”21
“George Washington took the oath of office, Thursday, April 30, 1789, on the balcony of Federal Hall, in New York City, with his hand upon an open Bible.
In addition to the Presidential Oath of Office, as prescribed in the Constitution, Washington added a phrase which, though not mandatory, has been used by every President since: So help me, God.” 22
George Washington’s Inaugural Address by fervent supplications for God’s eternal rules of order and right is as follows:
“Following the ringing of church bells, explosion of artillery and deafening applause, President George Washington proceeded to Federal Hall, at Wall and Nassau Streets, to deliver his Inaugural Address to both Houses of Congress.”23
“It would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes; and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge.
‘In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States.
Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their United government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted cannot be compared with the means by which most governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage.
These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me I trust in thinking, that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free Government can more auspiciously commence....
The foundations of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens and command the respect of the world.
I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my country can inspire, since there is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness....
We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained; and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered as deeply, perhaps finally, staked of the experiment intrusted to the hands of the American people....
I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the Benign Parent of the Human Race, in humble supplication that, since He has been pleased to favor the American people with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquillity, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of government for the security of their union and the advancement of their happiness, so His divine blessings may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.”24
The record of the United States Senate acknowledges and adores the Great Arbiter of the universe – God.
“On May 7, 1789, the U.S. Senate delivered the following address to President George Washington and Vice-President John Adams:
‘We, the Senate of the United States, return you our sincere thanks for your excellent speech delivered to both Houses of Congress....
‘When we contemplate the coincidence of circumstances and wonderful combination of causes which gradually prepared the people of this country for independence; when we contemplate the rise, progress, and termination of the late war, which gave them a name among the nations of the earth, we are with you unavoidably led to acknowledge and adore the Great Arbiter of the universe, by whom empires rise and fall. A review of the many signal instances of divine interposition in favor of this country, claims our most pious gratitude; and permit us, sir, to observe, that, among the great events which have led to the formation and establishment of a Federal Government, we esteem your acceptance of the office of the President as one of the most propitious and important....
We feel, sir, the force and acknowledge the justness of the observation that the foundation of our national policy should be laid in private morality. If individuals be not influenced by moral standards, it is vain to look for public virtue....
We commend you, sir, to the protection of Almighty God, earnestly beseeching him long to preserve a life so valuable and dear to the People of the United States, and that your administration may be prosperous to the nation and glorious to yourself.”25
“On September 19, 1796, in his Farewell Address, President George Washington said:
‘Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to the grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that Heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained - that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue....
The name of AMERICAN, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same Religion, Manners, Habits, and political Principles....
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens.
The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked where is the security for prosperity, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in the Courts of Justice?
And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
Tis substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of Free Government. Who that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric? ...
Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and Morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it? ... Can it be, that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a Nation with its virtue? ...
Though, in reviewing the incidents of my Administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend.
I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that after forty-five years of my life dedicated to its service, with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the Mansions of rest.”26
George Washington warns us in his Farewell Address that there is a “spirit of encroachment” within man that tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments into one to create a real despotism.
spirit of encroachment = ends with despotism
“Of note are other passages from Washington's Farewell Address, delivered September 19, 1796:
‘In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, it occurs as matter of serious concern, that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties.... One of the expedients of Party to acquire influence, within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other Districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heart burnings which spring from these misrepresentations.
And of fatal tendency...to put, in the place of the delegated will of the Nation, the will of a party; - often a small but artful and enterprising minority....They are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the Power of the People and to usurp for the themselves the reins of Government; destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion....
One method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the Constitution, alterations which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown.... It is indeed little else than a name, where the Government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction....
I have already intimated to you the danger of Parties in the State....Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of Party, generally.
This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its roots in the strongest passions of the human Mind. It exists under different shapes in all Governments, more of less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form it is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy....
Domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissention, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.
But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an Individual...[who] turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty....Ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. - It opens the doors to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the Government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus, the policy and the will of one country, are subjected to the policy and will of another....
It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free Country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective Constitutional spheres; avoiding in the exercise of the Powers of one department to encroach upon another.
The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates the human heart is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position.
The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power; by dividing and distributing it into different depositories, and constituting each the Guardian of the Public Weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them.
If in the opinion of the People, the distribution or modification of the Constitutional powers be in any way particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit which the use can at any time yield....
Avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of Peace to discharge the Debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear....
In the execution of such a plan nothing is more essential than that permanent...attachments for other [countries] should be excluded....The Nation, which indulges towards another...an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave....It makes the...Nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition and other sinister and pernicious motives.
A passionate attachment of one Nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favourite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest, in cases where no real common interest exist, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and Wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification: It leads also to concessions to the favorite Nation of priviledges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the Nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal priviledges are withheld:
And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens...facility to betray, or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity: gilding with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption or infatuation.
As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent Patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public Councils! Such attachment of a small or weak, towards a great and powerful Nation, dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.
Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence, (I conjure you to believe me fellow citizens) the jealously of a free people to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government.
Real Patriots, who may resist the intriegues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.
The Great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign Nations, is in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible....
Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none.... Hence therefore it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties.... Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European Ambition, Rivalship, Interest, Humour or Caprice?
`Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent Alliances with any portion of the foreign world.... (I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy) ....
Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, on a respectably defensive posture.... 'Tis folly in one Nation to look for disinterested favors from another...it must pay with a portion of its Independence for whatever it may accept....
There can be no greater error than to expect, or calculate upon real favours from Nation to Nation. 'Tis an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard....
In offering to you, my Countrymen these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression, I could wish....to warn against the mischiefs of foreign Intriegue.” 27
George Washington exhorted his adopted son to fulfill the obligations that God has laid upon him in order to produce happiness in his life which would act to benefit his fellow man.
“On November 28, 1796, from Philadelphia, President Washington wrote to his adopted son, George Washington Parke Custis:
‘The assurances you give me of applying diligently to your studies, and fulfilling those obligations which are enjoined by your Creator and due to His creatures, are highly pleasing and satisfactory to me. I rejoice in it on two accounts; first, as it is the sure means of laying the foundation of your own happiness, and rendering you, if it should please God to spare your life, a useful member of society hereafter; and secondly, that I may, if I live to enjoy the pleasure, reflect that I have been, in some degree, instrumental in affecting these purposes.”28
George Washington on the logic of life:
“It is impossible to account for the creation of the universe, without the agency of a Supreme Being. It is impossible to reason without arriving at a Supreme Being.
‘Religion is as necessary to reason, as reason is to religion. The one cannot exist without the other. A reasoning being would lose his reason, in attempting to account for the great phenomena of nature, had he not a Supreme Being to refer to.” 29
George Washington, then zeros in on how critical God and the Book are … to rightly govern a people:
“George Washington is attributed as having stated:
‘It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” 30
As Washington saw it man’s sin is the root problem to all trouble and sin always leads to tyranny:
“The blessed Religion revealed in the Word of God will remain an eternal and awful monument to prove that the best Institutions may be abused by human depravity; and that they may even, in some instances, be made subservient to the vilest of purposes.” 31
Even at the end of his life George Washington revealed in his Last Will, an awe in God’s Name and a desire to see all men free. George Washington believed all men should be free!
“In his Last Will and Testament, George Washington stated:
‘In the Name of God, Amen...
All my debts, of which there are but few, and none of magnitude, are to be punctually and speedily paid....
To my dearly beloved wife, Martha Washington, I give and bequeath the use, profit, and benefit of my whole estate, real and personal, for the term of her natural life....
Upon the decease of my wife it is my will and desire that all slaves whom I hold in my own right shall receive their freedom....
And to my mulatto man, William, (calling himself William Lee), I give immediate freedom, or, if he should prefer it (on account of the accidents which have befallen him, and which have rendered him incapable of walking, or of any active employment), to remain in the situation he now is, it shall be optional in him to do so: In either case, however, I allow him an annuity of thirty dollars during his natural life, which shall be independent of the victuals and clothes he has been accustomed to receive, if he choose the last alternative; but in full with his freedom if he prefers the first: - and this I give him, as a testimony of my sense of his attachment to me, and for his faithful services during the Revolutionary War.” 32
Thus, we have seen displayed the inner man of George Washington in all of the preceding.
Now, for a glimpse into another founding father, that of Thomas Jefferson.
Let Thomas Jefferson testify in defense of himself as to what he truly believed concerning the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Thomas Jefferson was not a deist.
“DEIST, n. One who believes in the existence of a God, but denies revealed religion, but follows the light of nature and reason, as his only guides in doctrine and practice; a freethinker.”
“On April 21, 1803, President Thomas Jefferson wrote to Dr. Benjamin Rush, who was also a signer of the Declaration of Independence:
‘My views...are the result of a life of inquiry and reflection, and very different from the anti-christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity, I am, indeed, opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others.” 33
“Continuing in his letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush, April 21, 1803, President Thomas Jefferson wrote of Jesus:
‘His system of morals...if filled up in the style and spirit of the rich fragments He left us, would be the most perfect and sublime that has ever been taught by man....He corrected the deism of the Jews, confirming them in their belief of one only God, and giving them juster notions of His attributes and government....
The precepts of philosophy, and of the Hebrew code, laid hold of actions only. He pushed his scrutinies into the hearts of man, erected his tribunal in the region of thoughts, and purified the waters at the fountainhead....
Of all the systems of morality, ancient and modern, which have come under my observation, none appear to me so pure as that of Jesus.” 34
Thomas Jefferson “knew what was in man” because he believed the Bible [John 2:24].
Thomas Jefferson also envisioned a government based on checks and balances with which to impede evil men because he saw through faith in God’s word what was in man [EVIL].
Earlier we heard from John Witherspoon. Now, we have yet more of the witness from this founding father, John Witherspoon.
Hear his powerful voice in his testimony of the dangers of trusting in, or the boasting of, the arm of flesh of sinful men. John Witherspoon only trusted in God.
“Witherspoon, John (February 5, 1723-November 15, 1794), was an American Revolutionary patriot and clergyman. Born in Scotland, being a descendant of John Knox on his mother's side, John Witherspoon's influence as an educator was widely felt in America. He signed the Declaration of Independence and was a member of the Continental Congress. He was a primary proponent of separation of powers insisting on inclusions to check and balance the power of government.
He served on over 120 Congressional committees, including: the Board of War, the Committee on Secret Correspondence, or Foreign Affairs, and the Committee on Clothing for the Army.
As president of Princeton University, 1768-94, he graduated 478 students who directly shaped America, including: James Madison, who served eight years as Secretary of State and eight years as U.S. President; Aaron Burr, Jr., who was a U.S. Vice-President; 3 U.S. Supreme Court justices; 10 Cabinet members; 13 state governors; 21 U.S. Senators; 39 U.S. Representatives; and 114 ministers.” 35
“Through his students, John Witherspoon's views were reflected in our Constitution, as 9 (one-sixth) of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention were graduates of Princeton University: Gunning Bedford Jr. of Delaware; David Brearley of New Jersey; William Richardson Davie of North Carolina; Jonathan Dayton of New Jersey; William Churchill Houston of New Jersey; James Madison of Virginia; Alexander Martin of North Carolina; Luther Martin of Maryland; and William Paterson of New Jersey.” 36
“On May 17, 1776, the same day the Continental Congress declared a National Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer, Reverend John Witherspoon delivered a sermon at Princeton University entitled "The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men," in which he stated:
‘While we give praise to God, the Supreme Disposer of all events, for His interposition on our behalf, let us guard against the dangerous error of trusting in, or boasting of, an arm of flesh....
If your cause is just, if your principles are pure, and if your conduct is prudent, you need not fear the multitude of opposing hosts.
What follows from this? That he is the best friend to American liberty, who is most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind.
Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not to call him an enemy of his country.” 37
John Witherspoon propounded that true religion and civil liberty are inseparably tied:
“It is in the man of piety and inward principle, that we may expect to find the uncorrupted patriot, the useful citizen, and the invincible soldier. - God grant that in America true religion and civil liberty may be inseparable and that the unjust attempts to destroy the one, may in the issue tend to the support and establishment of both.”38
Now, in the matter of the human conscience, Witherspoon linked temporal property to the freedom of conscience. “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.” [Acts 24:16]
“John Witherspoon championed against “tyranny of conscience,” citing: ‘There is not a single instance in history, in which civil liberty was lost, and religious liberty preserved entire....If therefore we yield up our temporal property, we at the same time deliver the conscience into bondage .... [Governments are to] defend and secure rights of conscience in the most equal and impartial manner....” 39
This right of conscience frees a person to pursue his hearts delight in the things of this life upon this earth. The physical things meet the spiritual things here. They are linked!
He is free to do what? He is free to pursue happiness. His garners being full and his oxen being healthy is connected to his heart seeking after God. This is where true happiness is found. “Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.” [Psalm 144:15]
John Witherspoon in this vein pressed his message of these “ancient rights” [the freedom of conscience] to his natural kin – the Scottish people living America.
“John Witherspoon continually crusaded for freedom, not only by circulating a letter urging ministers to support independence,” 40
… “but also, by publishing a sermon beseeching Scotsmen to insist on their "ancient rights" against Britain, entitled: "Address to the Natives of Scotland residing in America." 41
Witherspoon speaks next of the danger of moral bankruptcy [this rottenness] bringing God’s judgment upon our land.
“In his “Pastoral Letter,” he explained: ‘Universal profligacy makes a nation ripe for divine judgements and is the natural means of bringing them to ruin; reformation of manners is of the utmost necessity in our present distress.” 42
“As a convention delegate from the colony of New Jersey, Rev. Witherspoon argued in favor of separation from England, declaring: ‘Gentlemen, New Jersey is ready to vote for independence. In our judgement, the country is not only ripe for independence, but we are in danger of becoming rotten for the want of it, if we delay any longer!” 43
Next in his “Thanksgiving Sermon” he beseeches Americans everywhere, and in every way to live to the glory of God. The manner of this glory is found in this way: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” [Galatians 2:20]
“After the peace treaty was negotiated with England, John Witherspoon delivered his “Thanksgiving Sermon,” entreating Americans to live for:
‘The Glory of God, the public interest of religion and the good of others, [as] civil liberty cannot be long preserved without virtue. [A Republic] must either preserve its virtue or lose its liberty.” 44
Conclusion: Virtue and liberty are found together! They are the natural friends that will bring a nation, or a people to right thoughts – to health: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” [Philippians 4:8]
“An insight into John Witherspoon's convictions can be gleaned from the sermons he presented while pastor of Laigh Kirk in Paisley, Scotland, from 1757 to 1768, which included:
“The Absolute Necessity of Salvation through Christ.” 45
“Inquiry into the Scripture Meaning of Charity,” which he described as ‘an ardent and unfeigned love to others and a desire of their welfare, temporal and eternal ... [with] the deepest concern for their dangerous state." 46
“The Trial of Religious Truth by Its Moral Influence,” using the text “By their fruits ye shall know them.” 47
“John Witherspoon's beliefs can be seen in his statements:
‘The character of a Christian must be taken from Holy Scriptures...the unerring standard.” 48
“Fly also for forgiveness to the atoning blood of the great Redeemer...” 49
“Press every hearer to a sincere concern for his own soul's salvation.” 50
“The doctrine of divine Providence is very full and complete in the sacred oracles.” 51
“In his Lectures on Divinity, Witherspoon enumerated: Religion is the grand concern of us all...the salvation of our souls in the one thing needful.” 52
“In regards to man's need for redemption, Reverend John Witherspoon explained:
‘The corruption of our nature...is the foundation-stone of the doctrine of redemption. Nothing can be more absolutely necessary to true religion, than a clear conviction of the sinfulness of our nature and state....
Men of lax and corrupt principles take great delight in speaking to the praise of human nature, and extolling its dignity, without distinguishing what it was at its first creation, from what it is in its present fallen state. But I appeal from these visionaries reasoning’s to the history of all ages, and the inflexible testimony of daily experience. Candid attention, either to past history of present state of the world, but above all, the ravages of lawless power, out to humble us in the dust....
The evil of sin appears from every page of the sacred oracles.... The history of the world is little else than the history of human guilt....
Nothing is more plain from scripture, or better supported by daily experience, than that man by nature is in fact incapable of recovery without the power of God specially interposed.” 53
“In reflecting on “conscience,” Reverend John Witherspoon delineated:
There remains so much of God written on the conscience of even the most profligate....
It pleased God to write his law upon the heart of man at first. And the great lines of duty, however obscured by their original apostasy, are still so visible as to afford an opportunity of judging what conduct and practice is or is not agreeable to its dictates.
Such authority hath natural conscience still in man that it renders those...inexcusable in the sight of God (Rom. 1:20-2:14). But it is of importance in the present argument to observe, that everyone is able to pass a far surer judgement on the moral character of another, than his own. The pollution of the heart brings a corrupt bias on the judgement, in the man's own case.... In determining the character of others, this bias is less sensibly felt.” 53
“Reverend John Witherspoon, who had lost two sons in the Revolutionary War, was the epitome of a patriot.” 54
After his wife died in October of 1789, he re-entered politics, heading up a committee in the New Jersey legislature to abolish slavery.” 55
“A true son of liberty. So he was. But first, he was a son of the Cross.” 56
For John Witherspoon it was this way: “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” [Galatians 6:14]
Again, John Witherspoon “knew what was in man” because he believed the Bible [John 2:24].
Again, John Witherspoon also, envisioned a government based on checks and balances with which to impede evil men because he saw through faith in God’s word what was in man [EVIL].