My contention is the Declaration of Independence, thus the basis of this country's existence, is founded by interposition, through what Founding Father John Witherspoon called abdication. The framers contend King George forfeited his right to rule the colonies by breaking the scriptural covenant, they believed, God had made with them and the King.
Witherspoon, the pre-eminent scholar of the Founding Fathers, understood the Declaration of Independence was not a revolt:
"On the part of America, there was not the most distant thought of subverting the government or of hurting the interest of the people of Great Britain; but of defending their own privileges from unjust encroachment; there was not the least desire of withdrawing their allegiance from the common sovereign till it became absolutely necessary - and indeed, it was his [King George III] own choice."-The Works of John Witherspoon, (Edinburgh: J. Ogle, 1802), Vol. III, p. 42, "The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men", May 17,1776.
The abdication was carried out by a process called: interposition; a change of government made by lesser magistrates within the government. This theory was begun by John Calvin, and promoted by his successors.
"For when popular magistrates have been appointed to curb the tyranny of kings..So far am I from forbidding these officially to check the undue license of kings, that if they connive at kings when they tyrannise and insult over the humbler of the people, I affirm that their dissimulation is not free from nefarious perfidy, because they fraudulently betray the liberty of the people, while knowing that, by the ordinance of God, they are its appointed guardians."-Institutes of the Christian Religion
It is true, Reformed theology of the Protestant Reformation picked up where Catholic Scholasticism of Thomas Aquinas, and Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) left off. Yet, if a minority of Catholics used PRIMARILY Natural Law to promote Republican government; risking their lives I might add, the reformers turned the world upside down, by directly linking Republican government to the scriptures. Yes, Aquinas' Summa may have quoted scripture, but he, and the schoolmen, had little effect; their efforts, somewhat exaggerated, emphasized Aristotle's Greek Philosophy, instead of "right reason" from the scriptures, ultimately, their church doctrine contradicted their nobel efforts.
Some of the leading tracts by Protestants from the Reformation period that had wide and enduring political impact in support of liberty: The Right of Magistrates (1574) by Theodore Beza, The Rights of the Crown of Scotland (1579) by George Buchanan, Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos (1579) by Phillipe du Plessis Mornay, Politica (1603) by Johannes Althusius, and Lex Rex (1644) by Samuel Rutherford.
The Reformers believed in "Covenant Theology," that God made with Israel in I Samuel 12:17,25, applied to them, giving protection and blessing for obedience:
Is it not wheat harvest to day? I will call unto the LORD, and he shall send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking you a king..But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.Important to note, this doctrine may not be enumerated in the New Testament, and should not be confused that the framers adhered to this doctrine for salvation. However, the Founding Fathers believed it.
It isn't a stretch to claim all the signers of the Declaration of Independence adhered to this covenant theology. John Adams quoted Vindiciae contra tyrannos, and noted that Calvin's successor, "[Theodore] Beza explained his doctrines with great pomp of eloquence." Even Thomas Jefferson may have believed it. A monarch's violation of unalienable rights is grounds for separation from the covenant; hence, the monarch is a representative of the people, bringing judgment to the people. The below quote may be out of the particular context, however, the principle applies; that God will judge nations for breaking the covenant [wickedness]:
"And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever . . . ."- Notes on the State of Virginia.
TJ also believed our unalienable rights come from the Bible:
"Well aware that the opinions and belief of men depend not on their own will, but follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to their minds; that Almighty God hath created the mind free, and manifested his supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments, or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion . . . ."[bold face mine]-A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, Section I.
This holy author had zero to do with other religions, or Roman, or Greek philosophy. The Father of our country, George Washington wrote Jesus Christ is the holy author of our religion [Christianity]:
"I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristicks of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation." [italics mine]-Washington's Farewell to the Army, June 8th, 1783.
With this in mind, TJ wrote the DOI was founded on:
"..the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversation, in letters, printed essays, or in the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, &c..."-to Henry Lee, May 8, 1825.
No doubt the "&c" includes the Bible, and Reformation Literature. Covenant theology in the Declaration, is specifically enumerated in the Scriptures, only inferred from Natural Law. Yet, Algernon Sidney is only one out of those names who advanced biblical covenant theology. Furthermore, Sidney said, "he preferred to be classified as a Calvinist or a Puritan rather than be associated with the ideas of Archbishop Laud." Locke secularized his social contract and based the contract on reason.
Is there a doubt the Revolution was based on scripture? Our first Professor of the Law of Nature, (James Wilson), understood Natural Law cannot contradict Divine Law. Thus, the "Atlas of Independence":
"The gallant Struggle in America, is founded in Principles so indisputable, in the moral Law, in the revealed Law of God, in the true Constitution of great Britain, and in the most apparent Welfare of the Nation as well as the People in America, that I must confess it rejoices my very Soul."-John Adams second "Clarendon" letter as printed in the Boston Gazette, 20, Jan. 1766.
In 1776, the two most respected and famous founding fathers were, John Dickinson, and Samuel Adams, who declared our rights are from the Scriptures:
"Kings or parliaments could not give the rights essential to happiness... We claim them from a higher source -- from the King of kings, and Lord of all the earth."-John Dickinson, An Address to the Committee of Correspondence in Barbados, 1766.
Important to note, Benjamin Franklin agreed with Adams, and supported The Rights of the Colonists:
"II. The Rights of the Colonists as Christians.-Samuel Adams, The Report of the Committee of Correspondence to the Boston Town Meeting.
These may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institutes of the great Law Giver and Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament." [italics mine]
November 20, 1772.
The sum of my argument declares the evidence supports: the Revolution, and Declaration of Independence, thus, the formation of the United States, is based on Covenant theology, found in the pages of scripture, brought to light by the Protestant Reformers.