The Key to America’s Success

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, May 2, 2017 0 comments

by Bill Fortenberry

Most historians claim that our founding fathers derived the idea of a republican government from the example of history and the teachings of the enlightenment. But in a discourse delivered before the New York Historical Society, Gouverneur Morris, the very man who penned the words of the Constitution, said that the republican form of government is taught in the Bible and that it was the “form of government which God himself had established” in the nation of Israel.

“The reflection and experience of many years have led me to consider the holy writings, not only as most authentic and instructive in themselves, but as the clue to all other history ... Here is a profound lesson of political wisdom, given long before Aristotle's Ethics, very long before Machiavel's Discources on the first Decade of Livy, and still longer before Montesquieu's Spirit of Laws. When the last of these authors, in sprightly repetition of his predecessors, tells us that virtue is the principle of republics, he offers human testimony to confirm divine authority. That form of government which God himself had established, that code of laws which God himself had promulgated, those institutions which infinite wisdom had provided, in special relation to the climate, soil, and situation of the country, to the genius, temper, and character of the people, became intolerable from the prevalence of vice and impiety. ... There must be religion. When that ligament is torn, society is disjointed, and its members perish. The nation is exposed to foreign violence and domestic convulsions. Vicious rulers, chosen by a vicious people, turn back the current of corruption to its source.”

Morris was not the only one of our founding fathers to make this claim. Dr. Rush also wrote of the Biblical foundation of the republican model of government in his “Defence of the Use of the Bible in Schools.” Dr. Rush wrote:

“In contemplating the political institutions of the United States, I lament, that we waste so much time and money in punishing crimes, and take so little pains to prevent them. We profess to be republicans, and yet we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government, that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity, by means of the bible; for this divine book, above all others, favours that equality among mankind, that respect for just laws, and all those sober and frugal virtues, which constitute the soul of republicanism.”

Nor were the founding fathers alone in their recognition of the republican form of government as that which is most clearly taught in the Scriptures. As Morris pointed out, the Baron of Montesquieu also recognized the republican principles of the Bible. He wrote that:

“The Christian religion, which ordains that men should love each other, would, without doubt, have every nation blest with the best civil, the best political laws; because these, next to this religion, are the greatest good that men can give and receive.”

Later in the same book he concluded that:

“The Catholic Religion is most agreeable to a Monarchy, and the Protestant to a Republic.”

And nearly five hundred years prior to the writings of Montesquieu, the Dominican priest Thomas Aquinas described the republican nature of the government of ancient Israel. He wrote:

“The best form of government is in a state or kingdom, where one is given the power to preside over all; while under him are others having governing powers: and yet a government of this kind is shared by all, both because all are eligible to govern, and because the rulers are chosen by all. For this is the best form of polity, being partly kingdom, since there is one at the head of all; partly aristocracy, in so far as a number of persons are set in authority; partly democracy, i.e. government by the people, in so far as the rulers can be chosen from the people, and the people have the right to choose their rulers. Such was the form of government established by the Divine Law.”

These facts shed a great deal of light on some of the statements that Benjamin Franklin made in his request for prayer at the Constitutional Convention. As part of his fabled speech, Franklin admitted:

“We have gone back to ancient history for models of Government, and examined the different forms of those Republics which having been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution now no longer exist. And we have viewed Modern States all round Europe, but find none of their Constitutions suitable to our circumstances.”

How many times have you read Franklin’s speech and just glossed over these words? Franklin was saying that our nation’s founders sought for a model government among all the records of secular history and could not find one. Franklin then proceeded to his conclusion of:

“We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel.”

Franklin’s request for daily prayers was voted down because the Convention did not have any money to pay for a minister to lead the prayers, but tucked away within his request, we find yet another confirmation that our nation was founded on the political principles taught in the Bible. Morris, Rush, Franklin, and many others repeatedly assure us that the success of our nation hinges directly on our willingness to follow their example of following the Bible.

(This blog post was adapted from Hidden Facts of the Founding Era by Bill Fortenberry.)

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