Friday, May 13, 2011

The Absence of Tyranny

"...unless these departments be so far connected and blended, as to give to each a constitutional control over the others, the degree of separation which the maxim requires, as essential to a free government, can never in practice be duly maintained." -James Madison, No.48, The Federalist

All men are born with a depraved sin nature inherited from Adam and his fall in the Garden of Eden.  All men are desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9), and their righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah64:6).  All men are prone to weaknesses, whether physical or spiritual.  Moreover, because all men are sinners, all men make mistakes, even as did our founding fathers when they drew up the Constitution of the United States.  Because of their reassuring faith in God, and their abiding wisdom in making the thirteen colonies into thirteen independent states, we see that they were both wise and knowledgeable.  We as a country have been great because of the principles our founding fathers laid forth.  Still yet, they were men—sinners—who made mistakes just like everybody else.  They were not exempt from sin or error, as we will soon learn.  Although they realized that liberty always has danger—from within and out—they were not perfect and did not draw up a perfect Constitution.  Benjamin Franklin, one of the constitutional delegates, realized this from the beginning.  As he stated:

"I am apprehensive, therefore—perhaps too apprehensive—that the Government of these States may in future times end in a monarchy.  But this catastrophe, I think, may be long delayed, if in our proposed system we do not sow the seeds of contention, faction, and tumult, by making our posts of honor places of profit."

Thomas Jefferson also realized that man is frail and weak.  Speaking of this subject, he said, "Let no more be said of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."

"The founders of our republics have so much merit for the wisdom which they have displayed, that no task can be less pleasing than that of pointing out the errors into which they have fallen. A respect for truth, however, obliges us to remark, that they seem never for a moment to have turned their eyes from the danger to liberty, from the overgrown and all-grasping prerogative of an hereditary magistrate, supported and fortified by an hereditary branch of the legislative authority. They seem never to have recollected the danger from legislative usurpations, which, by assembling all power in the same hands, must lead to the same tyranny as is threatened by executive usurpations." -James Madison, No.48, The Federalist

A look at history will show that in every nation that has ever been in existence, power corrupts.  Even if the governmental ruler acknowledged God as Supreme Ruler over all, a lust for power in the hearts of men always destroyed what peace there might have been.  Man has always desired power, and he will usually do anything to get what his heart desires.  Before the founding of Jamestown in 1607, nation after nation had risen only to fall as the seeds of corruption entered in.  From the beginning when the serpent tempted Eve, mankind wanted to be as gods, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:4), which, put candidly, is a desire to be as God, or better yet, above Him.  The building of the tower of Babel displays this in Genesis 11.  Man in his naive, finite little mind thought he could reach unto heaven and make himself a name in the earth (v.4).  Psalm 14:1 says that a fool declares in his heart, "There is no God."  Truly, only a fool would utter such a statement.  A simple glance at creation, the work of God's hands, will set the record straight.  All  men in their heart of hearts do know down deep that God exists (Romans 1:18-23).  Their rebellious nature stubbornly refuses to give Him glory and honor.  Instead, they continue to battle God, imagining in their foolish hearts that they can win.  This is the struggle in today's world.  We have seen men like Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Fidel Castro, and others who are as the fool described in Psalm 14.  They somehow visualize a utopian world free from chaos and greed, but without God.  They see fanatical man (themselves) dominant in power as the god of the universe.
The United States was a different story.  Unlike the fallible Roman Empire, unlike the bloody French government of the 17 and 1800s, our founding fathers believed in the One True God.  They understood that man could never rule over the King of kings and Lord of lords; that instead He rules them.  They grasped the fact that the Bible as God's Word is the law which man should live by—not man himself, not man's word, but God's, because He is the Creator of all things who has all authority and power both in heaven and in earth (Matthew 28:18).  They limited man’s power by binding him down with the chains of the Constitution, as Thomas Jefferson precisely said.  Nevertheless, mistakes occurred in spite of their careful meticulousness.

"It is agreed on all sides, that the powers properly belonging to one of the departments, ought not to be directly and completely administered by either of the other departments. It is equally evident, that neither of them ought to possess, directly or indirectly, an overruling influence over the others in the administration of their respective powers. It will not be denied, that power is of an encroaching nature, and that it ought to be effectually restrained from passing the limits assigned to it. After discriminating, therefore, in theory, the several classes of power, as they may in their nature be legislative, executive, or judiciary; the next, and most difficult task, is to provide some practical security for each, against the invasion of the others. What this security ought to be, is the great problem to be solved." -James Madison, No.48, The Federalist

There is a danger in any society where liberty is dominant, no matter how cautious the planning or specific the vigilance.  God will always have enemies, man will always be weak, and Christians will always make mistakes.  We cannot help these basics of life, but something can be done.  We can fight (both figuratively and literally) in battle against God's enemies, we can place the most exemplary and commendable men in offices of government (1 Timothy 3:1-13), and we can, through Christ's help, make right our mistakes.  Because perfectness in man will never be on earth, we must do what we can to the best of our ability through Christ (Philippians 4:13).  We must be vigilant, we must be strong, but above all else, we must put our trust completely in Christ.

"In a government where numerous and extensive prerogatives are placed in the hands of a hereditary monarch, the executive department is very justly regarded as the source of danger, and watched with all the jealousy which a zeal for liberty ought to inspire. In a democracy, where a multitude of people exercise in person the legislative functions, and are continually exposed, by their incapacity for regular deliberation and concerted measures, to the ambitious intrigues of their executive magistrates, tyranny may well be apprehended, on some favourable emergency, to start up in the same quarter. But in a representative republic, where the executive magistracy is carefully limited, both in the extent and the duration of its power; and where the legislative power is exercised by an assembly, which is inspired by a supposed influence over the people, with an intrepid confidence in its own strength; which is sufficiently numerous to feel all the passions which actuate a multitude; yet not so numerous as to be incapable of pursuing the objects of its passions, by means which reason prescribes; it is against the enterprising ambition of this department, that the people ought to indulge all their jealousy, and exhaust all their precautions." -James Madison, No.48, The Federalist

Our government, as intended by the Constitution, is composed of an executive, judicial, and legislative body.  They were created in such a way to complement each other as a just weight and balance of power.  Power was not given to one only, nor was one given too much power above the others.  Their powers, though separate and distinct, were made and given in such a way that each would be accountable to the others—like a conscience—so no one with a big head would overstep his boundaries.  Unfortunately, man once again in his lust for power and control did just that by crossing the forbidden line.  Not many years after the Constitution was put into effect, James Madison expressed his deep concern over what seemed flagrant defiance of the Constitution's law.  As he said in The Federalist Paper, No.48, paragraphs 10-14:

"A great number of laws had been passed violating, without any apparent necessity, the rule requiring that all bills of a public nature shall be previously printed for the consideration of the people; although this is one of the precautions chiefly relied on by the constitution against improper acts of the legislature.

"The constitutional trial by jury had been violated; and powers assumed which had not been delegated by the constitution.

"Executive powers had been usurped.

"The salaries of the judges, which the constitution expressly requires to be fixed, had been occasionally varied; and cases belonging to the judiciary department, frequently drawn within legislative cognizance and determination.

"Those who wish to see the several particulars falling under each of these heads, may consult the journals of the council which are in print. Some of them, it will be found, may be imputable to peculiar circumstances connected with the war: but the greater part of them may be considered as the spontaneous shoots of an ill constituted government."

Already we see opposition to God-ordained law.  It happened fast, to be sure, but so did opposition to God in the Garden of Eden.  Because of man’s weakness for power, our political paradise was lost.  This struggle will be one that will last until Christ's second coming.  Many men will attempt to overthrow God and liberty under His law.  However, Christ will be victorious in making His enemies His footstool (Psalm 110:1)

“All the powers of government, legislative, executive, and judiciary, result to the legislative body. The concentrating these in the same hands, is precisely the definition of despotic government. It will be no alleviation that these powers will be exercised by a plurality of hands, and not by a single one. One hundred and seventy-three despots would surely be as oppressive as one. Let those who doubt it, turn their eyes on the republic of Venice. As little will it avail us that they are chosen by ourselves. An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one which should not only be founded on free principles, but in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among several bodies of magistracy, as that no one could transcend their legal limits, without being effectually checked and restrained by the others. For this reason, that convention which passed the ordinance of government, laid its foundation on this basis, that the legislative, executive, and judiciary departments, should be separate and distinct, so that no person should exercise the powers of more than one of them at the same time. But no barrier was provided between these several powers. The judiciary and executive members were left dependent on the legislative for their subsistence in office, and some of them for their continuance in it. If, therefore, the legislature assumes executive and judiciary powers, no opposition is likely to be made; nor if made, can be effectual; because in that case, they may put their proceeding into the form of an act of assembly, which will render them obligatory on the other branches. They have accordingly, in many instances, decided rights which should have been left to judiciary controversy; and the direction of the executive, during the whole time of their session, is becoming habitual and familiar.” -Thomas Jefferson, “Notes on the state of Virginia,” (p. 195).

"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God." -Romans 13:1

Many times this verse is quoted by congressmen, senators, representatives, mayors, judges, and other such men in positions of power whenever a Christian opposes their leadership.  Hypocritically, they throw these words back in our faces to silence, subject, and humiliate us.  After all, if God said it, we as Christians are to obey it.  Whoever is in power at the moment we are to obey, and no ifs, ands, or buts about it.  The problem is that the rest of the chapter is not read.  God ordained governmental rulers as His ministers and bearers of the sword.  Many think that Christians are to blindly follow (with no opposition) whomever may be in power, even to the extent that Christians are persecuted, their heads are cut off, they are burned at the stake, fed to lions, and thousands upon thousands annihilated.  Many believe that "whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation" (v.2).  Many tyrannical rulers cruelly take advantage of "feeble" Christians because of a misconstrued idea about Christianity in appliance to government affairs.  What these Christians do not realize is that rulers are not to be "a terror to good works, but to the evil" (v.3).  While evil rulers do hold office under God's ultimate rule, they are not of God.  God does not know them because there is no wicked way in Him.  Those who oppose God, Christians are to oppose.

"God ordained government for our benefit and blessing.  When government becomes a curse, a means of slavery, thieving and fraud, it is not in the will of God." -Pastor John Weaver, The Christian and Romans 13 Civil Government.  

No king, president, governor, or any type of ruler has the right, power, or authority to go against God's law.  As Romans 13 says, God delegates all power and authority which man possesses to them.  Therefore, every ruler is accountable to God.  There comes a time when the people have to say enough is enough and resist their rulers.  We cannot go contrary to God's will, so if our ruler disobeys God, we have the right to oppose him.

"Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God." -Thomas Jefferson

"It appears that the constitution had been flagrantly violated by the legislature in a variety of important instances." -James Madison, No.48, The Federalist

To rebel against biblical authority is wrong; however, resisting tyrannical law is not rebellion.  There must be a distinction between the two.  There is no obligation or command in the Bible to submit to ungodly leaders.  On the contrary, God demands we submit first to Him, and in accordance to His law, to biblical government.  In an absence of tyranny there is freedom; but power corrupts those who are weak and greedy, those who are afraid to stand up for what is right  We as observant Christians must be prepared every day, in every situation.  We have had many blatant violations of the Bible and the Constitution, but that does not mean we are to let our country continue down this path of destruction.  Let our words echo those of Nathan Hale who said, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."  We indeed have a life to live and give for our country.  The question is, will we give it?

"The conclusion which I am warranted in drawing from these observations is, that a mere demarkation on parchment of the constitutional limits of the several departments, is not a sufficient guard against those encroachments which lead to a tyrannical concentration of all the powers of government in the same hands." -James Madison, No.48, The Federalist

In the words of James Madison above, I leave you with this thought: indeed, ink on paper is not enough to control the minds and actions of men and the "encroachments which lead to tyrannical concentration of all the powers of government in the same hands."  We must be responsible, we must be vigilant, and we must always fight against those who oppose God.  Let us not be weak and disgraced; rather, let us take a stand for liberty and truth.  No excuses or denials will save us.  Only God can save us through His might and power.  Sometimes power corrupts even the best of men, sometimes corrupt power seems very powerful and victorious, but we must keep fighting against evil that threatens to destroy all the good in this world.  We must continue to uphold Christ's Crown and Covenant!  If we have nothing worthwhile to live for, then why do we continue to live?  As in the Marxist/atheistic worldview, man has nothing to live for.  Conversely, according to Christian principles, Christ is everything for which we have to live.  The choice is simple: liberty or death, righteousness or evil, subjection or command, God or Satan, victory or defeat.  Do you want to live or die, especially concerning your eternal life?  The choice is yours.

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