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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Sermon That Helped Ratify the U.S. Constitution (Taken From "The Miracle and Magnificence of America")

On December 6, 1787, by unanimous consent, Delaware became the first state to ratify the new Constitution. New Jersey and Georgia soon followed, also by unanimous consent. On December 12, 1787, by a vote of 46 to 23, Pennsylvania approved the Constitution. In 1788, Connecticut, Massachusetts (by a close 187 to 168 vote), Maryland, and South Carolina made it eight states. New Hampshire was the state that put the Constitution into effect.

Christian ministers played no small role in the matter. Samuel Langdon was a distinguished theologian and scholar. He graduated from Harvard in 1740, went on to become a prominent Congregational minister, and was president of Harvard University from 1774 to 1780. He was also a delegate to the New Hampshire convention that ratified (by the slim margin of 57 to 46) the U.S. Constitution in 1788. New Hampshire was the last of the necessary nine states needed to ratify the Constitution. In order to persuade his fellow delegates to vote in favor of the U.S. Constitution, Langdon delivered an “election sermon” entitled, The Republic of the Israelites an Example to the American States.

After beginning by quoting Deuteronomy 4:5-8 in his sermon, Langdon noted,
[T]he Israelites may be considered as a pattern to the world in all ages; and from them we may learn what will exalt our character, and what will depress and bring us to ruin. Let us therefore look over their constitution and laws, enquire into their practice, and observe how their prosperity and fame depended on their strict observance of the divine commands both as to their government and religion.
Langdon then gave an account of how Moses, upon the wise counsel of his father-in-law Jethro, “the priest of Midian,” set up a republican form of government, with representatives (“leaders,” “rulers,” “judges,” depending on the biblical translation) from groups of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. In addition, 70 elders, or wise-men—a type of national Senate as described by biblical and Jewish scholars—were selected by Moses and approved by the consent of the people.

Langdon added,
A government thus settled on republican principles, required laws; without which it must have degenerated immediately into aristocracy, or absolute monarchy. But God did not leave a people, wholly unskilled in legislation, to make laws for themselves: he took this important matter wholly into His own hands, and beside the moral laws of the two tables, which directed their conduct as individuals, gave them by Moses a complete code of judicial laws.
Langdon goes on to describe how this republican form of government helped the nation of Israel grow from a “mere mob” (if only the eighteenth century French had taken notice) to a “well regulated nation, under a government and laws far superior to what any other nation could boast!” After detailing Israel’s later struggles—they would eventually “[neglect] their government, [corrupt] their religion, and [grow] dissolute in their morals”—Langston exhorted his fellow citizens to learn from the nation of Israel.
That as God in the course of his kind providence hath given you an excellent constitution of government, founded on the most rational, equitable, and liberal principles, by which all that liberty is secured which a people can reasonably claim, and you are empowered to make righteous laws for promoting public order and good morals; and as he has moreover given you by his son Jesus Christ, who is far superior to Moses, a complete revelation of his will, and a perfect system of true religion, plainly delivered in the sacred writings; it will be your wisdom in the eyes of the nations, and your true interest and happiness, to conform your practice in the strictest manner to the excellent principles of your government, adhere faithfully to the doctrines and commands of the gospel, and practice every public and private virtue. By this you will increase in numbers, wealth, and power, and obtain reputation and dignity among the nations: whereas, the contrary conduct will make you poor, distressed, and contemptible.
On September 21, 1788 the Constitution and the new government of the United States went into effect. Just over three years later, the Bill of Rights would be added. By 1790, when Rhode Island, by a vote of 34 to 32, joined the Union, it was unanimous.

On July 4, 1837, in a speech delivered in the town of Newburyport, Massachusetts, John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams, and the sixth U.S. President, proclaimed,
Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the World, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day? Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth?
Witnessing the events of the Revolution as a boy, and no-doubt hearing from his father of the raucous debates that gave us the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and then going on to serve his country in many various capacities, John Quincy Adams saw that Christmas and Independence Day were fundamentally linked. He understood well that the Founders took the principles that Christ brought to the world and incorporated them into civil government. This is what makes the U.S. government so distinctive, why it has been so durable, and why, to this day, we are the greatest nation the world has ever known.

Happy Independence Day!

Copyright 2018, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor is the author of the The Miracle and Magnificence of America
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Monday, July 2, 2018

The Marriage “Precedent”

There’s “precedent” and then there’s precedent. It seems for Maine’s Senator Susan Collins—who’s never been considered a conservative and is the very definition of a RINO—precedent is everything, except when it isn’t. According to Townhall recently,
Maine's moderate Republican Senator Susan Collins told CNN's Jake Tapper today that she would not be supporting a Supreme Court nominee who has “demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade” because, in her mind, that would be a justice who does not respect established precedent.
Collins added,
I want a judge who will apply the law to the facts of the case with fidelity to the Constitution. Roe v. Wade is a constitutional right that is well established, and no less an authority than Chief Justice Roberts said that repeatedly at his confirmation hearing.
Because, you know, when you are killing the most helpless and innocent among us, you’re supposed to think “fidelity to the Constitution.” A long-time U.S. Senator—especially one who is so often called upon concerning the same moral issues, should not be so careless with her words. Roe v. Wade is not a right in and of itself but rather is a court case that found a “right” that, prior to 1973, had escaped every previous jurist in the history of the U.S. judicial system.

In getting their perverse agenda into law, if only today’s liberals would limit themselves to things that are actually “constitutional.” Even the pro-slavery Americans of the 18th century were willing to get their way via the Constitution. And legal slavery was forever ended in the United States constitutionally, via an amendment, not by the mere ruling of a judge or a majority of judges.

But winning elections and actually achieving law the way our founders intended has proven far too difficult for liberals and the party they own. Thus, the courts have long been a favorite tool of the modern left. Don’t get me wrong, though. As November, 2016 well demonstrates, liberals love to win elections—and hate to lose them! Because so many of them have made a god of government, liberals very much enjoy obtaining all the political power possible, whether legislative, executive, or judicial, and they are loathe to see it in the hands of those opposed to their perverse agenda.

As most today well know, much of what modern liberals hold dear was achieved because of the efforts of rogue judges who happened to find in the U.S. Constitution what had so long escaped so many others (because, of course, it was never really there). Liberals look at the Constitution like an NBA referee: based on who’s playing the game, the rules are changed. Of course, liberals wouldn’t describe it as such; they simply justify this foolish mental and moral gymnastics by claiming a “living Constitution.”

As the late, great Justice Antonin Scalia—who repeatedly stood against such nonsense—said, “the Constitution is not an organism, it is a legal document…(it) is an enduring document but not a ‘living’ one, and its meaning must be protected and not repeatedly altered to suit the whims of society.”

And once liberals magically find a “right” in the Constitution—and thus, “make law”—we’re supposed to revere said law because of “precedent.” How absurd. If “precedent” really mattered to anyone with a sound legal and moral mind, Obergefell v. Hodges would’ve been laughed out of the courtroom in 30 seconds.

The vast majority of states that actually took the trouble to deal with marriage legislatively —including even Collins’ home state of Maine—overwhelmingly voted to establish the biblical definition of marriage as law. In other words, when actually put to a vote, 31 states in the U.S.—including very liberal states such as Maine and California—soundly rejected same-sex “marriage.” How’s that for “precedent?” By one single vote in the U.S. Supreme Court (Good Riddance, Justice Kennedy!), liberals wiped this away.

One might argue that “precedent” in the legal sense is a judicial term that refers to the rulings of a higher court. As legaldictionary.net notes,
In the modern legal system, the term precedent refers to a rule, or principle of law, that has been established by a previous ruling by a court of higher authority, such as an appeals court, or a supreme court.
Of course, there is no higher court than the one led by Him who made us. Dr. Martin Luther King alluded to this in his letter from the Birmingham jail. He noted, “[T]here are two types of laws: There are just and there are unjust laws.” And we agree with Dr. King, who agreed with Saint Augustine that, “An unjust law is no law at all.”

Dr. King also reminds us of the difference:
A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.
For human beings, there is no law more “eternal” than that which defines marriage. As I’ve often noted before, marriage is the oldest institution in the history of humanity—older than God’s covenant with the nation of Israel, older than The Law, older than the church. Marriage is one of the earliest truths revealed by God. As the first three chapters of Genesis reveal, before we were even aware of the preciousness of life—because there was no death—humans were made aware of what is a marriage.

Additionally, whenever Jesus, or any other of the New Testament writers—who often used marriage as an illustration of the relationship between Jesus and His church—spoke of marriage, it was always as the union of one man and one woman. Whether life, marriage, and the like, there’s nothing with more precedent than the eternal truth. We would all—especially U.S. Senators and those on the highest courts in our land—do well to remember such.

(See this column at American Thinker and The Black Sphere.)

Copyright 2018, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor is the author of the The Miracle and Magnificence of America
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com