More than one of you have faced a challenge from your college professors or spiritual mentors that the War of Independence was “throwing off the government that God has placed upon you.” Some good theologians do take that position according to Daniel 2:21, “He changeth the times and the seasons: He removeth kings, and setteth up kings …” A similar reference to this is, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God…” (Romans 13:1-2).
I would agree, ~ IF the King of England had been proceeding according to written law.
Following the British “Glorious Revolution” of 1688 and the ascension of William and Mary as joint monarchs, the proposal to draw up a declaration of subjects’ rights and liberties was made in the House of Commons. The completed declaration was enacted in an Act of Parliament and codified as the English citizens’ Bill of Rights in 1689. Among the “ancient rights and liberties” asserted were “the right of the subject to petition the king and prosecutions for petitioning are illegal” as well as “subjects may have arms for their defense suitable to their conditions and allowed by law” and “excessive bail and fines shall not be required and cruel and unusual punishments are not to be inflicted.” There was an internal change of constitution following the excesses of James II.
These laws protected the citizens’ right to petition the King without fear of retribution. He and his subordinates were repeatedly violating this and the citizens’ right to freedom.
One hundred years later, Edmund Burke (1729–1797), a British statesman and orator, commented on this internal change of the British constitution by saying, “The Revolution was made to preserve our ancient indisputable laws and liberties, and that ancient constitution of government which is our only security for law and liberty.” He opposed the King’s efforts to suppress American independence.
For years our Founding Fathers tried to negotiate reasonableness, but the British response was an iron fist, including the placing of troops on the coast. Eventually negotiations between the colonists and the King collapsed. Written like a legal brief, the Declaration of Independence detailed how their rights as British citizens were being violated. They are “… taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments” (Declaration of Independence).
“The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position” (President George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796).
Government employees are servants of the people who are the sovereigns under God over government. The American Declaration of Independence and citizens’ Bill of Rights, added later to the Constitution, provides the God-honoring design for government, and the Constitution is the tool for implementing that design.
Americans concurred with written law resting upon the English references to the Laws of Nature. It is the governing character of the Laws of Nature such as humility, the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments, that lead to success. This is the sure foundation upon which man’s right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” rests. Called “virtue” by America’s Founding Fathers, the impartial and divine element frees man to do what is right. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17).
I identify with and support the several Norris ancestors who fought for independence. Keep up the good work as students, my children. I love you.
Image: Grandma and Grandpa Norris stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, 1952
~ D. Norris