Principles of Freedom
By Dinah Lundell
One of the most amazing aspects of the American story is that while the nation’s founders came from widely divergent backgrounds, their fundamental beliefs were virtually identical. They quarreled bitterly over the most practical plan of implementing those beliefs, but rarely, if ever, disputed about their final objectives or basic convictions.
These men came from several different churches or no church at all. They ranged in occupation from farmers to presidents of universities. Their social background included everything from wilderness pioneering to the aristocracy of landed estates. Their economic origins included everything from frontier poverty to opulent wealth.
How can we explain their remarkable unanimity in fundamental beliefs? Perhaps the explanation will be found in the fact that they were all remarkably well read, and mostly from the same books. The debates in the Convention and the writings of the Founders reflect a far broader knowledge of religious, political, historical, economic, and philosophical studies than would be found in any cross-section of American leaders today!! Such a sad reflection.
The thinking of Cicero, Thomas Hooker, Coke, Montesquieu, Blackstone, John Locke and Adam Smith salt-and-peppered their writings and their conversations. They were careful students of the Bible, especially the Old Testament. The teachings of Jesus were held in universal respect and admiration.
They knew the histories of the Greeks, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, and English. Their breadth of knowledge concerning nation building is phenomenal. I believe Godly inspired.
Principles of Freedom
1. The only reliable basis for sound government and just human relations is Natural Law.
2. A free people cannot survive under any constitution unless they remain virtuous and morally strong.
There were violent debates during 1775 and 1776, over the issue of morality. The question of independence was, are the American people sufficiently “virtuous and moral” to govern themselves?
3. The most promising method of securing a virtuous and morally stable people is to elect virtuous leaders.
…you shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers . . . Exodus 18:21
4. Without religion, the government of a free people cannot be maintained.
Article 3: Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and means of education shall forever be encouraged. Basic American Documents, Littlefield, Adams & Co. 1953.
5. All things were created by God, therefore upon Him all mankind are equally dependent, and to Him they are equally responsible.
The Founders vigorously affirm throughout their writings that the foundation of all reality is the existence of the Creator, who is the designer of all things in nature and the promulgator of all the laws which govern nature. Human reasoning and his abilities to create come directly from the reasoning mind of God.
6. All men are created equal.
There are scores of ways that humans are not equal, but they must be equal in Three ways – *Treated as Equals under the law, *under the sight of God, in the *protection of their rights. It is the task of the general public and all public officials to see that each mans rights are not trampled. (The United States’ history shows some glaring failures and some huge successes in the protection of these rights.)
7. The proper role of government is to Protect Equal Rights, not provide equal things.
The Founders felt that America would become prosperous because the engines of industry would create all kinds of jobs and training for the middle class, whose excellence and motivation made more wealth, for more jobs. America also became the most compassionate nation, setting up hospitals, schools, helps for those in extreme poverty. Key words in American ethics were work hard, save, and help others. B Franklin found that government largesse made people dependent and more likely to take up crime.
8. Men are Endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.
We know by instinct that the Rights vouch safe for us are the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. All men have those rights. (Except, in the case of infants who are are killed, generation after generation. May our gracious God have mercy.)
9. To protect Man’s rights, God has revealed certain principles of Divine Law, or Divine Duty.
William Blackstone pointed out that God “is a being of infinite wisdom . . . and has established eternal, immutable laws of good and evil. That we should live honestly, should hurt nobody, and should render to everyone his due.’ Jefferson refers to these as Unalienable Duties to be in public and in private what you claim to be.
10. The God given right to govern in the affairs of men is vested in the sovereign authority of the whole people.
King Charles II beheaded Algernon Sidney in 1683 for saying that there is no divine right of kings to rule over the people. Sidney insisted that the right to rule is actually in the people and therefore no person can rightfully rule the people without their consent.
To be continued in next issue.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★