Monarchy: The Popery of Government for a Biblically aware People; Government a Moral Reflection of the People; Natural Law will always be the “King” of a Free People


Paine

“in America THE LAW IS KING. For as in absolute governments the King is Law, so in free countries the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other.” – Thomas Paine

If Divine Providence endows, and even our own very existence naturally comes with certain, unalienable rights and duties, how can any attempt to infringe on those be considered not only tyranny, but blasphemy? If our Rights are truly God-given, than how could any infringement on those rights by anyone, let alone another human peer on this Earth which claims to be a “king,” be considered anything less than blasphemy?

Ancient Israel, as recorded in the Bible, had a system that was based on the rule of law, which law was not supposed to be changed by any mortal man, and which was administered by judges and the elders, or “leaders,” of the various tribes. They were promised  peace and prosperity as long as they remembered the Lord that saved them from bondage in Egypt. They were told that the Lord Himself was their “King,” in a sense, and was recognized as the Supreme Judge of this World. The understanding of this history saturated american thought in the revolutionary era.

Thomas Paine, the author of Common Sense, stated in that very influential pamphlet:

“Government by kings was first introduced into the world by the Heathens, from whom the children of Israel copied the custom. It was the most prosperous intention of the Devil ever set on foot for the promotion of idolatry. The Heathens paid divine honors to their decreased kings, and the Christian world hath improved on the plan, by doing the same to their living ones. How impious is the title of sacred majesty applied to a worm, who in the midst of his splendor is crumbling to dust! As the exalting of one man so greatly above the rest cannot be justified on the equal rights of nature, so neither can it be defended on the authority of scripture…

{I}t was held sinful to acknowledge any being under {the title of ‘King’} but the Lord of Hosts. And when a man seriously reflects on the idolatrous homage which is paid to the persons of kings, he need not wonder that the Almighty, ever jealous of his honor, should disapprove of a form of government which so impiously invades the prerogative of heaven. Monarchy is ranked in scripture as one of the sins of the Jews…

In fact, he goes on to state: “Monarchy in every instance is the Popery of government.”

Popery was known as the abusing of scripture for political exploitation.

In the Old Testament, the Book of Judges documents an instance of Israel forgetting the Lord, and subsequently being in bondage to the Midianites. A man named Gideon, “a mighty man of valour,” is visited by an angel and called to deliver Israel from bondage. As the story goes, with the help of amazing divine intervention, Gideon leads them to victory over the Midianites. At that point, Israel’s reaction revealed their own short-sightedness, which very well could have been part of the original problem to begin with:

“Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian.” (Judges 8:22)

O the irony of a people choosing someone to fill an intrinsically tyrannical position, thus implying a recognition of their own sovereignty in their eyes (to say nothing of God’s), and then having the audacity  to not only make that poor decision for themselves, but to subject the unborn of future generations to the same decision. As if that was their choice to make to begin with! As Thomas Jefferson pointed out so well in a letter to James Madison, that “one generation of men” does not have a right “to bind another,” any more than one nation of  living men has a right to bind another. (Sept. 6, 1789)

Gideon wisely replied to this assertion, thus forgetting their actual King, the Lord of Hosts, whom Gideon recognized as the reason for victory:

“And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: The Lord shall rule over you.” (Judges 8:23)

With this passage in mind, isn’t it apparent how ridiculous the claim was, that the monarchies of Europe often championed, that they received their “divine right” to rule over other fellow human beings, as “biblically proven,” from Adam and his “kingship” over the Earth? Is their any wonder why, at this point, their was such pressure and resistance to the availability of the Bible for the subjected common man?

Thomas Paine’s commentary on this verse, as found in Common Sense, is very well stated: “Words need not be more explicit; Gideon doth not decline the honor, but denieth their right to give it; neither doth he compliment them with invented declarations of his thanks, but in the positive style of a prophet charges them with disaffection to their proper Sovereign, the King of Heaven.”

Ancient Israel ignored Gideon’s advice, and this led to much bloodshed and other societal trauma.

Later on in the tale of ancient Israel, Samuel the Prophet, who is once again exhorting Israel to remember the Lord and to forsake other gods, is approached by the people once again. Interestingly enough, Samuel had made his sons judges in Israel, and his sons became corrupt judges. Now, this is obviously a legitimate issue that should have been addressed. Corrupt judges are tyrannical and do actually violate rights. Instead of ruling in justice, they do the opposite in ignoring and perpetrating injustice. But once again, their shortsightedness brought about a historical response, or “solution” that was worse than the problem. A supposed cure that ended up worse than the disease.

“Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in they ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations

But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.

But the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” (1 Samuel 8: 4-7)

The Lord then tells Samuel to “protest solemnly” to their decision, and even alludes to the irony of Israel embracing Him, the Lord, long enough to be saved and freed from bondage in Egypt, only to come to the land set aside for them and embrace tyranny and bondage there. It is as if the ancient nation of Israel simply would not fully embrace the responsibilities of freedom, and would much rather prefer even the problems that come with tyranny over the growth and progression that comes with freedom. They preferred the supposed “tranquility of servitude,” over the “animating contest of freedom.” At the end of the day, it is less work to defer self-responsibility and merely complain of someone else’s blunder as the source of one’s own problems, than to accept responsibility for one’s self.

What did they say following Samuel’s warning?

“Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.” (1 Samuel 8:19-20)

It is apparent that tyranny came as a result of ancient Israel’s rejection of personal responsibility, and self-government. A shallow desire to be ruled by men, than by Law.  Thus, is there any question about the Biblical teaching that rejection of self-government and personal responsibility is a rejection of the Lord Himself? Ancient Israel wanted someone to “fight their battles.” (Ironically not realizing the fact that the king would obviously do this through them, the people, anyway). Tyranny came afterward as a symptom, it was not the cause. Government officials did not somehow force them to reject these things. The government reflected this disposition and mindset once the battle had already occurred within the people themselves. This principle, like all true principles, remains true today.

In fact, is there a direct correlation between these instances of the people demanding a king right around the times when the prophets were warning the people of the destruction that will come due to their general apostasy from the Lord Himself and His commandments? It is as if the rejection of the purpose of government in civil society is often the symptom of a losing battle in society’s members and their choosing not to properly exercise their right to self-government.

Unfortunately, this also includes inherently the selfishness of rejecting the environment that would be more free and conducive towards a better life for future generations. This is, essentially, criminal conduct towards future generations by making it only a matter of time before future people come into the world without the rights given to them by God being honored in their respective civil societies. It is a shortsighted selfishness that all should avoid.

On the part of ancient Israel, this was a total forsaking of the duty corresponding with everyone’s right to self-government; to allow others to govern themselves so long as they do not infringe palpably on their own ability to do so. Due to this mentality so prominent in our mortal world, many are not even given a chance to taste freedom, let alone progress towards whatever concept of virtue and prosperity they would choose for themselves, had they had the chance.

The irony of their reasoning for a king should be extremely apparent. A nation of people, who become great due to their rejection of the mainstream follies found so prominently throughout the world, reject, ostensibly for acceptance (“a king to judge us like all the other nations”), the very principles that led to that greatness. But, even with a simple math problem, you cannot change one addend, and still get the same sum. You cannot have the same result when you reject the causes of that result.

Is there a lesson here that would relate to America today? How many champion the greatness of America, yet, when it comes down to it, reject, and sometimes even despise the principles that made that condition even possible? How many in this country are actively choosing to rely on their “kings” in government, at any level, instead of asserting their own personal responsibility?

Samuel the Prophet, in his final warning before appointing the people a king, which warnings were ultimately rejected and then subsequently realized in the historical record, are a good example of prophecy merely being the statement of the natural result of an action. Merely the stating of an understanding of the principle of cause and effect.

The warnings, outlined in 1 Samuel 8, included hints at impressment, or a draft used for unjust wars, lots of burdensome taxation, oppression, and “legal plunder,” often for the King’s own personal benefit. The warnings included bribery, corruption,  and the kings’ living parasitically on the population. This is to say nothing of monarchs being often rulers driven by their own passions, views, bigotries, etc. instead of merely upholding Law. They have been almost unanimously examples of abuse of power.

Look around today. Even here in America, where the civil governments of this land were founded on the self-evident principles of unalienable rights being inherent in mankind, where it was founded on the rule of law, and not rule of men,  we are seeing tyranny all around us. But all too often, even the people that are aware of this merely deal with the symptoms, rather than the disease. Both should be countered, but we are only going to fight in vain if we do not recognize the root of the problem.

The root of the problem is a nearly complete apostasy of the principles of freedom, the principles underlying the Constitutions of this land, and the rejection of personal responsibility. A rejection of not only the understanding of rights, but of the exercising of those rights, especially when it is most inconvenient, and the personal enforcement of those rights’ corresponding duties towards other people.

John Adams famously stated that:

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

This quote is often misused. It is often used in a way that somehow “promotes” a bill which “promotes” some religion or form of morality, or a principle that runs contrary to a correct understanding of the proper role of government. It is often used in a way that somehow divorces freedom itself away from the so-called “moral issues” of our time. Isn’t freedom itself the moral issue of all time? Aren’t the rights of man the ultimate civic virtue in relation to society itself? How could any issue be more important than this, since the entire purpose of society’s own existence was the further protection and security of our unalienable rights?

A truly moral people will uphold the Constitution and protect and enforce everyone’s rights and duties. A moral people will not oppress one another, and sustain, even via silent acquiescence, the tyranny that could even impact a small portion of a population. A moral person asserts his/her right to self-government, and will pursue his own happiness, while simultaneously respecting that right in other people, regardless of the difference of the paths other people choose to follow and beliefs they choose to hold. A moral person understands the natural sanctity of the right of conscience and will not promote, via government force, “moral” measures outside of the general morality of the protection of rights, and the punishment of actual crime or the enforcement of one’s societal duties. A moral person does not knowingly attempt to ever live at the expense of someone else, even when that plunder is masked in the robes of “legality.”

Those who have been heretofore unaware of these principles should learn and attempt to apply. Those aware of these principles need to do more, and live it more. The time has come for leaders, and not just commentary on facebook from the peanut gallery. The time is, and forever will be: Now.

Noting this tendency in many people that will strive to live at the expense of other people, it should be extremely apparent how foolish it truly would be to rely on people themselves to govern other men. Principles don’t change, while people do. Thus, the only stable civil government based on unchanging principles would be to base their written laws on those unchanging and even unwritten principles. Thus, the Rule of Law should be, and ever will be the governing maxim in a free society, if those Laws truly reflect “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” This requires merely obedience for a desired result, not definition and bureaucratic interposition for applicability in human civilization. In other words, this requires merely recognition of what already is, instead of using government as the tool for some to attempt to bring about what they feel should be.

Thomas Jefferson put it succinctly:

“In questions of power…let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” (Kentucky Resolutions of 1798)

Thus, since true principles never change, while mortal man does, why should we ever jeopardize ourselves, let alone future generations, to the whims of man instead of the rule of Law? Why not, when it is in everyone’s best interest simultaneously, should we reject personal initiative and responsibility, over the hollow promises of supposed “security” of the nanny state?

This author prays and yearns for the day that the sentiment of America will once again agree with these words from the extremely influential revolutionary pamphlet Common Sense:

“But where, says some, is the King of America? I’ll tell you. Friend, he reigns above, and doth not wreak havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Britain. Yet that we may not appear to be defective even in earthly honors, let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the charter; let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far we approve of monarchy, that in America THE LAW IS KING. For as in absolute governments the King is Law, so in free countries the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other. But lest any ill use should afterwords arise, let the crown at the conclusion of the ceremony, be demolished, and scattered among the people whose right it is.”

But, ultimately, it is entirely up to us.

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