Saturday, December 29, 2007
Let it be known, the Founding Fathers rejected all other ancient republics institutions for law and liberty.
"Sparta, Rome, and Carthage...These examples, though as unfit for the imitation, as they are repugnant to the genius, of America, are, notwithstanding, when compared with the fugitive and turbulent existence of other ancient republics, very instructive proofs of the necessity of some institution that will blend stability with liberty. I am not unaware of the circumstances which distinguish the American from other popular governments, as well ancient as modern; and which render extreme circumspection necessary, in reasoning from the one case to the other."
James Madison, Federalist #63
The First Amendment only prohibits the first and second commandments; its idea is only to protect freedom of conscience. All other aspects of religion and morality are left to the states.
In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the general [federal] government.
Thomas Jefferson, Second Inaugural Address, 1805
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain
Unconstitutional on both freedom of religion and free speech grounds.>
This civil prohibition against blasphemy and profanity drawn from the Decalogue continued well beyond the Founding Era. It subsequently appeared in the 1784 laws in Connecticut, the 1791 laws of New Hampshire, the 1791 laws of Vermont, the 1792 laws of Virginia, the 1794 laws of Pennsylvania, the 1821 laws of Maine, the 1834 laws of Tennessee, the 1835 laws of Massachusetts, the 1836 laws of New York, etc.
Judge Zephaniah Swift, author in 1796 of the first legal text published in America, explained why civil authorities enforced the Decalogue prohibition against blasphemy and profane swearing: Crimes of this description are not punishable by the civil arm merely because they are against religion. Bold and presumptuous must he be who would attempt to wrest the thunder of heaven from the hand of God and direct the bolts of vengeance where to fall. The Supreme Deity is capable of maintaining the dignity of His moral government and avenging the violations of His holy laws. His omniscient mind estimates every act by the standard of perfect truth and His impartial justice inflicts punishments that are accurately proportioned to the crimes. But short-sighted mortals cannot search the heart and punish according to the intent. They can only judge by overt acts and punish them as they respect the peace and happiness of civil society. This is the rule to estimate all crimes against civil law and is the standard of all human punishments. It is on this ground only that civil tribunals are authorized to punish offences against religion.
In 1824, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (in a decision subsequently invoked authoritatively and endorsed by the U. S. Supreme Court ) reaffirmed that the civil laws against blasphemy were derived from divine law. The court then noted that its State's laws against blasphemy had been drawn up by James Wilson, a signer of the Constitution and original Justice on the U. S. Supreme Court: The late Judge Wilson, of the Supreme Court of the United States, Professor of Law in the College in Philadelphia, was appointed in 1791, unanimously by the House of Representatives of this State to "revise and digest the laws of this commonwealth. . . . " He had just risen from his seat in the Convention which formed the Constitution of the United States, and of this State; and it is well known that for our present form of government we are greatly indebted to his exertions and influence. With his fresh recollection of both constitutions, in his course of Lectures (3d vol. of his works, 112), he states that profaneness and blasphemy are offences punishable by fine and imprisonment, and that Christianity is part of the common law. It is vain to object that the law is obsolete; this is not so; it has seldom been called into operation because this, like some other offences, has been rare. It has been retained in our recollection of laws now in force, made by the direction of the legislature, and it has not been a dead letter.
4.Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy
Again,unconstitutional on free exercise grounds.>
First is the inclusion in the U. S. Constitution of the recognition of the Sabbath in Art. I, Sec. 7, Â¶ 2, stipulating that the President has 10 days to sign a law, "Sundays excepted." The "Sundays excepted" clause had previously appeared in the individual State constitutions of that day, and therefore, when incorporated into the U. S. Constitution, carried the same meaning that had been established by traditional usage in the States. That meaning was then imparted into the constitutions of the various States admitted into the Union subsequent to the adoption of the federal Constitution.
The historical understanding of this clause was summarized in 1912 by the Supreme Court of Missouri which, expounding on the meaning of this provision in its own State constitution and in the U. S. Constitution, declared:It is provided that if the Governor does not return a bill within 10 days (Sundays excepted), it shall become a law without his signature. Although it may be said that this provision leaves it optional with the Governor whether he will consider bills or not on Sunday, yet, regard being had to the circumstances under which it was inserted, can any impartial mind deny that it contains a recognition of the Lord's Day as a day exempted by law from all worldly pursuits? The framers of the Constitution, then, recognized Sunday as a day to be observed, acting themselves under a law which exacted a compulsive observance of it. If a compulsive observance of the Lord's Day as a day of rest had been deemed inconsistent with the principles contained in the Constitution, can anything be clearer than, as the matter was so plainly and palpably before the Convention, a specific condemnation of the Sunday law would have been engrafted upon it? So far from it, Sunday was recognized as a day of rest.
The second point establishing the impact of the fourth commandment of the Decalogue on American law is seen in the civil process clauses of the early State legal codes which forbade legal action on the Sabbath. For example, an 1830 New York law declared: Civil process cannot, by statute, be executed on Sunday, and a service of such process on Sunday is utterly void and subjects the officer to damages. Similar laws may be found in Pennsylvania in 1682 and 1705, Vermont in 1787, Connecticut in 1796, New Jersey in 1798, etc. In the Federal Era and well beyond, states continued to enact and reenact Sabbath laws. In fact, the States went to impressive lengths to uphold the Sabbath.
For example, in 1787, Vermont enacted a ten-part law to preserve the Sabbath; in 1791, Massachusetts enacted an eleven-part law; in 1786, Virginia enacted a law written by Thomas Jefferson and sponsored by James Madison; in 1798, New Jersey enacted a twenty-one-part law; in 1799, New Hampshire enacted a fourteen-part law; in 1821, Maine enacted a thirteen-part law; etc.
5. Honour thy father and thy mother
A good idea, in most cases, but a law requiring it would be unconstitutional and outside the purview of government. You can't legally enforce an individual's feelings toward their parents.>
In 1934 Louisiana appeals court:" ˜Honor thy father and thy mother,' is as much a command of the municipal law as it is a part of the Decalogue, regarded as holy by every Christian people. ˜A child," says the code, ˜whatever be his age, owes honor and respect to his father and mother.'"
Other courts have made similar declarations, all confirming that the fifth commandment of the Decalogue was an historical part of American civil law and jurisprudence.
Biblical Law is the Foundation of our Republican Government.
This one is obviously constitutional, and is a part of our legal system. But it's also found in EVERY legal system, even those that have nothing to do with the bible or Christianity.>
"The opinion that human reason left without the constant control of Divine laws and commands will . . . give duration to a popular government is as chimerical as the most extravagant ideas that enter the head of a maniac. . . . Where will you find any code of laws among civilized men in which the commands and prohibitions are not founded on Christian principles? I need not specify the prohibition of murder, robbery, theft, [and] trespass."
A 1932 Kentucky Appeals Court:"The rights of society as well as those of appellant are involved and are also to be protected, and to that end all forms of governments following the promulgation of Moses at Mt. Sinai has required of each and every one of its citizens that "Thou shalt not murder." If that law is violated, the one guilty of it has no right to demand more than a fair trial, and if, as a result thereof, the severest punishment for the crime is visited upon him, he has no one to blame but himself."
There are yet many more declarations by our people affirming the sixth commandment into our laws.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery
Another one that is a good idea, but not constitutional if legally enforced. Adultery is a moral wrong, but it's a private matter between individuals.>
Vermont Laws of 1787 "Whereas the violation of the marriage covenant is contrary to the command of God and destructive to the peace of families: be it therefore enacted by the general assembly of the State of Vermont that if any man be found in bed with another man's wife, or woman with another's husband, . . . &c
For example, in 1898, the highest criminal court in Texas declared that its State laws on adultery were derived from the Decalogue: The accused would insist upon the defense that the female consented. The state would reply that she could not consent. Why? Because the law prohibits, with a penalty, the completed act. "Thou shalt not commit adultery" is our law as well as the law of the Bible.
8. Thou shalt not steal
This is the second one that is obviously constitutional, but also found in every legal system regardless of the religious system that may have initially spawned it. A universal imperative that would be part of the law even if the bible never existed.>
The laws regarding theft that indicate their reliance on divine law and the Decalogue are far too numerous even to begin listing. Perhaps the simplest summation is given by Chancellor James Kent, who is considered, along with Justice Joseph Story, as one of the two "Fathers of American Jurisprudence." In his classic 1826 Commentaries on American Law, Kent confirmed that the prohibitions against theft were found in divine law:To overturn justice by plundering others tended to destroy civil society, to violate the law of nature, and the institutions of Heaven.
In 1951, the Louisiana Supreme Court acknowledged the Decalogue as the basis for the unchanging civil laws against theft: In the Ten Commandments, the basic law of all Christian countries, is found the admonition "Thou shalt not steal."
There are many other examples demonstrating this commandment into our laws.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour
Some have interpreted this to be analagous to our perjury laws, but nothing in the text indicates that. It's talking about lying in general, not in a legal sense during court proceedings. And while lying may be wrong, it's not legally wrong except in specific circumstances - perjury and libel/slander. Under our system, most instances of lying would be covered by the first amendment free speech clause.>
The 1924, the Oregon Supreme Court declared:No official is above the law. "Thou shalt not bear false witness" is a command of the Decalogue, and that forbidden act is denounced by statute as a felony.
There are many other examples to show this commandment was incorporated into American civil law and jurisprudence.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
Not only unconstitutional, it would require the ability to read minds.>
John Adams, one of only two individuals who signed the Bill of Rights, also acknowledged the importance of this commandment, declaring: The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If "Thou shalt not covet" and "Thou shalt not steal" were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.
Many courts have also acknowledged the importance of this provision of the Decalogue. For example, in 1895, the California Supreme Court cited this prohibition as the basis of civil laws against defamation. In 1904, the Court of Appeals in West Virginia cited it as the basis of laws preventing election fraud. In 1958, a Florida appeals court cited it as the basis of laws targeting white-collar crime. And in 1951, the Oregon Supreme Court cited this Decalogue prohibition as the basis of civil laws against modern forms of cattle rustling.
There are numerous other examples that all affirm that the tenth commandment of the Decalogue did indeed form an historical part of American civil law and jurisprudence.
All the framers believed religion and morality are mandatory in our society: William Findley, a soldier in the Revolution and a U. S. Congressman, who declared:[I]t pleased God to deliver on Mount Sinai a compendium of His holy law and to write it with His own hand on durable tables of stone. This law, which is commonly called the Ten Commandments or Decalogue, . . . is immutable and universally obligatory. . . . [and] was incorporated in the judicial law."
The law given from Sinai was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code; it contained many statutes . . . of universal application-laws essential to the existence of men in society, and most of which have been enacted by every nation which ever professed any code of laws. . . . Vain, indeed, would be the search among the writings of profane antiquity . . . to find so broad, so complete and so solid a basis for morality as this Decalogue lays down."
John Quincy Adams
Justice William Paterson, a signer of the Constitution placed on the Supreme Court by President George Washington, declared: Religion and morality . . . [are] necessary to good government, good order, and good laws.
Justice Joseph Story, later appointed to the Supreme Court by President James Madison, similarly declared:I verily believe Christianity necessary to the support of civil society. One of the beautiful boasts of our municipal jurisprudence is that Christianity is a part of the Common Law. . . . There never has been a period in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying its foundations. (emphasis added)
Dewitt Clinton, the Framer who introduced the 12th Amendment, also declared:The laws which regulate our conduct are the laws of man and the laws of God. . . . The sanctions of the Divine law . . . cover the whole area of human action.
Perhaps the best reflection of the collective belief of the Framers that religion was not to be excluded from civil society is enactment of the Northwest Ordinance, one of the four organic laws of the United States. That law, passed in 1789 by the same Congress that framed the Bill of Rights, declared:
Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
"On this topic the gospel is explicit. It commands us to obey the higher powers or ruler. It reminds us that “he beareth not the sword in vain”; that “he is the minister of God, and a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” Now, if he is not to bear the sward in vain, it follows that he is to use it to execute wrath on evildoers, and consequently to draw blood and to kill on proper occasions. As to the second species of warfare, it certainly is as reasonable and as right that a nation be secure against injustice, disorder, and rapine from without as from within; and therefore it is the right and duty of the government or ruler to use force and the sword to protect and maintain the rights of his people against evildoers of another nation. The reason and necessity of using force and the sword being the same in both cases, the right or the law must be the same also."
As the framers believed in liberty of conscience, so they believed in freedom of oppression, and injustice.
The Scottish Enlightenment was more radical than that of Europe, because of its denial of the supernatural by Scots such as David Hume, and Francis Hutcheson. Because of this denial, we can exclude from this group, all the Founding Fathers, including John Locke, and the European Christian Theologians, who, without a doubt, believed in the supernatural. So what is enlightenment thought?
It is rule where reason is the ultimate standard, where man is the ultimate arbiter of truth. The other aspect of enlightenment thought that secularists apply to the framers is freewill; that this freedom of conscience originated out of the rationale of man's reason. Nothing could be farther from the truth, which is why the Founding Fathers rejected such utter nonsense.
The proof that the Founding Fathers rejected the enlightenment(rationalism) is their acceptance of the supernatural, and their understanding that freewill in man comes from the Bible, not from the mind of rationalist philosophers like David Hume, who, our framers, including Thomas Jefferson, rejected.
In my opinion, as well as that of Christian Theologians, including: John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, Richard Hooker, John Witherspoon, Samuel von Pufendorf and Martin Luther; freewill, is laden throughout the New Testament, with The Saviour, Jesus Christ the greatest promoter of this fact. Contrary to the opinion of John Calvin, who, with the others affirmed Political Liberty, but denied Spirtual Freewill.
"A Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to every one...Yea, the more of a Christian any man is, to so many the more evils, sufferings, and deaths is he subject, as we see in the first place in Christ the first-born, and in all His holy brethren."
Martin Luther-On Christian Freedom, 1520
"When a man-made law is imposed upon the soul to make it believe this or that as its human author may prescribe, there is certainly no word of God for it. If there is no word of God for it, then we cannot be sure whether God wishes to have it so, for we cannot be certain that something which he does not command is pleasing to him."
Martin Luther, Luther's Works, Christian in Society II, Vol, 45, 1523. edited by Jaroslav Pelikan et al)
"By this procedure no one is compelled to believe, for he can still believe what he will; but he is forbidden to teach and to blaspheme."
(LW, Vol. 13, 61-62) edited by Jaroslav Pelikan et al
Here James Madison affirms Luther's leading the way in governments removal on the mind of man:
It illustrates the excellence of a system which, by a due distinction, to which the genius and courage of Luther led the way, between what is due to Caesar and what is due God, best promotes the discharge of both obligations. The experience of the United States is a happy disproof of the error so long rooted in the unenlightened minds of well-meaning Christians, as well as in the corrupt hearts of persecuting usurpers, that without a legal incorporation of religious and civil polity, neither could be supported.
TO F. L. SCHAEFFER Montpellier, Dec. 3rd ,1821
If anyone has granted freedom of conscience to the people, it is Christian people. Luther believed in freedom of conscience, but affirmed the penalties for breaking Biblical Law. I disagree with Luther's proposed penalties apart from murder. The Founding Fathers' upholding of the second table of the law, minus the tenth commandment, is obvious and right; the first two commandments cannot be mandated, yet alone, are contrary to freedom of conscience; the just punishments to the crimes, made by the framers, I concur with.
Another interesting aspect to the enlightenment theory, as applied to the morality, and penalty to the minds of the Founding Fathers, had a non-existent effect. The Bible trumped enlightenment thought, with the death penalty for adultery not lessened until the 1780's. The fact is, the death penalty "was standard for a laundry list of crimes--from adultery to murder, from arson to stealing horses." Robbery and Counterfeiting were also capital offenses.
The Death Penalty: An American History by Stuart Banner
Contrary to enlightenment philosophers, here are some of Jesus' words affirming freewill:
"But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
"And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life."
"I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever:"
"Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."
"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink."
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death."
"And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?"
This is just one book of the Bible; Paul, James, Luke, Jude, and Peter affirmed the same doctrine. The Bible teaches freewill for salvation; practically all of the founding fathers believed this doctrine, as well as the early church fathers, and Christian Theologians.
Pufendorf, on the Bible's superiority, and man's reason:
"For this reason in Scripture too the law is said to be "written in the hearts" of men. [Romans, ii, 15.]...so that man would not be sociable either, if not imbued with religion; and since reason alone cannot go further in religion than in so far as the latter subserves the promotion of peace and sociability in this life. For, in so far as religion promotes the salvation of souls, it proceeds from a special divine revelation."
CHAPTER III On Natural Law, THE TWO BOOKS ON THE DUTY OF MAN AND CITIZEN ACCORDING TO THE NATURAL LAW
Pufendorf believed, as did the framers, man's reason could not save anyone, or reveal who God is.
The founders employed freedom of conscience into Political Liberty, the system John Witherspoon taught James Madison and other students at Princeton.
Witherspoon's students included, in addition to a president and vice-president of the United States, nine cabinet members, twenty-one senators, thirty-nine congressmen, three justices of the Supreme Court, and twelve state governors. Five of the nine Princeton graduates among the fifty-five members of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 were students of Witherspoon.
Witherspoon, John Locke, the Christian Philosophers, and our founding fathers, received the politically couched freedom of conscience from the Bible, not from enlightenment philosophers.
Here, Witherspoon affirms, total depravity, the supernatural, original sin, and Supreme Authority of Scripture:
"When I say it is a supernatural change, I mean that it is what man cannot by his own power effect without superior or divine aid. As we are by nature in a state of enmity against God, so this is what we cannot "of ourselves" remove or overcome. The exercise of our own rational powers, the persuasion of others, the application of all moral motives of every kind, will be ineffectual, without the special operation of the Spirit and Grace of God." John Witherspoon, Works, Section IV http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&id=07Ji84GdfMAC&dq=the+works+of+john+witherspoon&printsec=frontcover&source=web&ots=XxXlSuuHCf&sig=leZSRSgk3I-CqQk3VJf8vHcZumw#PPA14,M1Thomas Aquinas spoke of Natural Law, primacy of reason in human affairs, five-hundred years before Deist Benjamin Franklin. Man's reason, freedom of conscience, science, and Natural Law are Biblical concepts; ascribing these theories to the enlightenment is false. Enlightenment theory, denied the supernatural, nothing more.
As to the doctrine of the New Birth(being born again) as a child of God, its reference is in John 3:7-8:
"Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth...so is every one that is born of the Spirit."
All the founding fathers that learned at Princeton, James Madison referenced earlier, was taught this New Birth that Jesus speaks of. Princeton alum, Benjamin Rush(1760), who served in the Adams, Jefferson, and Madison administrations, was taught the same thing:
"But inhabiting this earthly body is the body spiritual, immortal, the essence of our Heavenly Father, which expressed the Holy Spirit. It is the awakening of this Spirit which our Saviour refers to when He tells us that we must be born again." Benjamin Rush, The Road to Fulfillment, The Law of New Birth, p.85, Harper & Brothers, 1942, New York and London.
As far as morality goes, Rush was only against the death penalty, not because of enlightenment humanitarism, but to make punishment more efficient, and better.
No doubt, there are countless other framers who believed this doctrine, including ministers: Robert Treat Paine, Lyman Hall, and Abraham Baldwin.
Belief in predestination, espoused by John Calvin, seems to be adhered to by a small percentage of founding fathers, freewill, was the pervading viewpoint. The use of philosophical language by Born Again Founding Fathers, proves the language was common by everyone, not evidence of belief in heterodoxy.
Friday, December 21, 2007
"When our founding fathers put their signatures on the Declaration of Independence, those 56 brave people, most of whom, by the way, were clergymen, they said that we have certain inalienable rights given to us by our creator, and among these life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, life being one of them."
Were most of the Signers clergymen? The answer is No, but by Webster's definition of what constitutes a minister of the Gospel, there are at least three. J.L. Bell, at his blog, “Boston 1775" identifys only one: John Witherspoon.
Of course, Republican Candidate Mike Huckabee's statement is incorrect, showing his knowledge of history. Going back to the foundation of our country, with the inclusion of the Signers of the Articles of Association, and Confederation, there may be more.
Signer of the Declaration of Independence Robert Treat Paine was a minister, no matter how long his tenure:
Robert G. Ferris (editor), Signers of the Declaration: Historic Places Commemorating the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, published by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service: Washington, D.C. (revised edition 1975), page 115-116:
"A clergyman turned lawyer-jurist, Robert Treat Paine"
"He acted as chaplain of the troops on the northern frontier in 1755 and subsequently preached in the pulpits of the regular clergy in Boston and vicinity."
Webster's in 1828, supports my description of Paine:
ORDA''INED, pp. Appointed; instituted; established; invested with ministerial or pastoral functions; settled.
CHAPLAIN, n. 1. An ecclesiastic who has a chapel, or who performs service in a chapel. The king of Great Britain has forty-eight chaplains, who attend, four each month, to perform divine service for the royal family. Princes also, and persons of quality have chaplains, who officiate in their chapels.
2. A CLERGYMAN who belongs to a ship of war, or to a regiment of land forces, for performing divine service.
It is true, Paine departed from Christianity and became a unitarian, this point being irrelevant, as Paine was orthodox while helping to form the nation.
Signer of the Declaration Lyman Hall was a minister:
"In 1749 he began preaching in Bridgeport and adjacent towns. Young and immature, he probably entrapped himself in the middle of a liberal-conservative schism and in some way alienated his congregation. But repentance brought quick reinstatement from dismissal in 1751, and for a couple of years he temporarily filled vacant pulpits."
Robert G. Ferris (editor), Signers of the Declaration: Historic Places Commemorating the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, published by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service: Washington, D.C. (revised edition 1975), pages 65-67
"Hall graduated from Yale College in 1747 and studied theology with his uncle, Rev Samuel Hall (1695-1776; Yale 1716) in Cheshire, CT. In 1749, he was called to the pulpit of Stratfield Parish (now Bridgeport, CT). His pastorate was a stormy one"
Constitution Signer Abraham Baldwin was a minister:
"He graduated in 1772. Three years later, he became a minister and tutor at the college. He held that position until 1779, when he served as a chaplain in the Continental Army."
Being called and licensed to preach is sufficient to being considered a minister, the strict interpretation of being "ordained" is a cop out. The greatest preacher of the Great Awakening, Jonathon Edwards, preached for years without being ordained.
How many more founding fathers were ministers of the Gospel?
Monday, December 17, 2007
The people of Geneva were the ones who wanted to execute Servetus, the same people who kicked Calvin out of Geneva in 1537. Calvin did not want to execute him, but the evidence seems to indicate, he was forced into going along with the sentence. Calvin was not the final authority in Geneva.
The truth is, although Calvin had some hand in the arrest and imprisonment of Servetus, he was unwilling that he should be burnt at all. "I desire," says he, "that the severity of the punishment should be remitted." "We wndeavored to commute the kind of death, but in vain." "By wishing to mitigate the severity of the punishment," says Farel to Calvin, "you discharge the office of a friend towards your greatest enemy." "That Calvin was the instigator of the magistrates that Servetus might be burned," says Turritine, "historians neither anywhere affirm, nor does it appear from any considerations. Nay, it is certain, that he, with the college of pastors, dissuaded from that kind of punishment."
It has been often asserted, that Calvin possessed so much influence with the magistrates of Geneva that he might have obtained the release of Servetus, had he not been desirous of his destruction. This however, is not true. So far from it, that Calvin was himself once banished from Geneva, by these very magistrates, and often opposed their arbitrary measures in vain. So little desirous was Calvin of procuring the death of Servetus that he warned him of his danger, and suffered him to remain several weeks at Geneva, before he was arrested. But his language, which was then accounted blasphemous, was the cause of his imprisonment. When in prison, Calvin visited him, and used every argument to persuade him to retract his horrible blasphemies, without reference to his peculiar sentiments. This was the extent of Calvin's agency in this unhappy affair.
It cannot, however, be denied, that in this instance, Calvin acted contrary to the benignant spirit of the Gospel. It is better to drop a tear over the inconsistency of human nature, and to bewail those infirmities which cannot be justified. He declared he acted conscientiously, and publicly justified the act.
Foxes Book of Martyrs
That Calvin justified the execution was wrong, and contrary to the Law of Nature, but, in my humble opinion, his guilt was only manifested by the people's thirst for blood. This event would never have happened if Calvin had authority of the situation, as his writings indicate. The unfortunate actions of Christians should not be used against Christianity, no matter who supported that action. The blasphemies, no doubt, stirred up the city to fever pitch; the question of correct punishment is thus pondered.
Monday, December 3, 2007
"It is a striking Representation of that Struggle which I believe always happens, between Virtue and Ambition, when a Man first commences a Courtier. By a Courtier I mean one who applies himself to the Passions and Prejudices, the Follies and Vices of great Men in order to obtain their Smiles, their Esteem and Patronage and consequently their favours and Preferments. Human Nature, depraved as it is, has interwoven in its very Frame, a Love of Truth, Sincerity, and Integrity, which must be overcome by Art, Education, and habit, before the Man can become entirely ductile to the Will of a dishonest Master. When such a Master requires of all who seek his favour, an implicit Resignation to his Will and Humour, and these require that he be soothed, flattered and assisted in his Vices, and Follies, perhaps the blackest Crimes, that Men can commit, the first Thought of this will produce in a Mind not yet entirely debauched, a Soliloqui, something like my Motto -- as if he should say -- The Minister of State or the Governor would promote my Interest, would advance me to Places of Honour and Profitt, would raise me and my family to Titles and Dignities that will be perpetuated in my family, in a Word would make the Fortune of me and my Posterity forever, if I would but comply with his Desires and become his Instrument to promote his Measures. -- But still I dread the Consequences. He requires of me, such Complyances, such horrid Crimes, such a Sacrifice of my Honour, my Conscience, my Friends, my Country, my God, as the Scriptures inform us must be punished with nothing less than Hell Fire, eternal Torment. And this is so unequal a Price to pay for the Honours and Emoluments in the Power of a Minister or Governor, that I cannot prevail upon myself to think of it. The Duration of future Punishment terrifies me. If I could but deceive myself so far as to think Eternity a Moment only, I could comply, and be promoted. Such as these are probably the Sentiments of a Mind as yet pure, and undifiled in its Morals, and undifiled in its Morals. And many and severe are the Pangs, and Agonies it must undergo, before it will be brought to yield entirely to Temptation. Notwithstanding this, We see every Day, that our Imaginations are so strong and our Reason so weak, the Charms of Wealth and Power are so en [enchanting]chanting, and the Belief of future Punishments so faint, that Men find Ways to persuade themselves, to believe any Absurdity, to submit to any Prostitution, than rather than forego their Wishes and Desires. Their Reason becomes at last an eloquent Advocate on the Side of their Passions, and [they] bring themselves to believe that black is white, that Vice is Virtue, that Folly is Wisdom and Eternity a Moment."
JOHN ADAMS Diary, FEB, 9TH, 1772. ADAMS PAPERS.
Adams again, affirming original sin:
"Thus we are equally obliged to the Supream Being for the Information he has given us of our Duty, whether by the Constitution of our Minds and Bodies or by a supernatural Revelation. For an instance of the latter let us take original sin. Some say that Adams sin was enough to damn the whole human Race, without any actual Crimes committed by any of them. Now this Guiltis brought upon them not by their own rashness and Indiscretion, not by their own Wickedness and Vice, but by the Supream Being. This Guilt brought upon us is a real Injury and Misfortune because it renders us worse than not to be, and therefore making us guilty upon account of Adams Delegation, or Representing all of us, is not in the least diminishing the Injury and Injustice but only changing the mode of conveyance."
John Adams diary August 15, 1756.
This affirmation on total depravity was not reversed until after he left office. Adams' belief in original sin is also consistent with his view on the inferiority of man's reason.
"The passions and appetites are parts of human nature as well as reason and the moral sense. In the institution of government it must be remembered that, although reason ought always to govern individuals, it certainly never did since the Fall, and never will till the Millennium; and human nature must be taken as it is, as it has been, and will be."
John Adams, 1787, Defence, 3:289, 479. Cf., Cited by Michael Novak, On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding (San Francisco, CA: Encounter Books, 2002).
Clearly in this quote, ADAMS believes man's reason is inferior to God's direct revelation, and always will be. He believes man is corrupted because of sin, not partially corrupted. A partial corruption of man is illogical; a little leaven leavens the whole lump. To rely on a flawed program for ultimate truth is a chimerical idea.
Here also, is a quote from James Madison supporting the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of which includes: That God came to earth, in the form of human flesh, born of a virgin, died for the sins of the world, and rose from the dead for our justification. This Gospel, James Madison is defending; proof of his adherence to it, is found in his Memorial and Remonstrance.
"Does not the exclusion of Ministers of the Gospel, as such, violate a fundamental principle of liberty, by punishing a religious profession with the privation of a civil right? Does it not violate another article of the plan itself, which exempts religion from the cognizance of Civil power? Does it not violate justice, by at once taking away a right and prohibiting a compensation for it? Does it not, in fine, violate impartiality, by shutting the door against the Ministers of one religion and leaving it open for those of every other?" James Madison, August 23, 1785 to John Brown, (Kentucky) Papers of James Madison.
It would seem strange for Madison to affirm the truth of Christianity in his Memorial, and deny the Gospel, which he here, is supporting.
Man's reason is inefficient for absolute truth, because of its corruption by the sinful nature, this, Adams surely believed. Man's reason is flawed, and with no direct authority to adhere to, it is foolish to think the conscience can be the basis of ultimate truth. Of course, the framers, except Jefferson, Franklin, and maybe Washington, at the forming of our nation, believed the Bible is superior to man's conscience. Along with Madison, Adams' university training did not teach him man's conscience is superior to God's word, but the opposite; only later, their unfortunate relationship with Thomas Jefferson, however mislead, corrupted their beliefs.These quotes show without a doubt his meaning of the Law of Nature was The God of the Bible, what he believed after he left office need not be shown.