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cumstances would be unlawful. Theright of revo. lution could never exist, since it would never be consistent with the divine right of “the powers that be.”
The only admissible construction of Paul's language is that which makes all governments “ the ordinance of God” in the general providential sense, and that, too, simply because they exist, and for no other reason and in no other sense. Whether they are rightful and whether the people by virtue of their inherent sovereignty may displace them even by force are questions of natural reason, which the Bible does not undertake to decide. Human forces, under the general providence of God, without miracles, without inspiration, and without any divine selection of the form of government or of the ruler are left to settle the question as to what governments men shall live under and as to what persons shall conduct them. The result is the providential “ ordinance of God,” whether it be the government of a Nero, or that of Great Britain, or that of the United States.
Our revolutionary Fathers, in working out this providential problem, assumed that the right of government was a right inherent in them as a civil community, and not in the king of England; and hence, they assumed that it was their right not only to determine the form and objects of the government under which they should live, but also to appoint their own rulers. Their theory was that government in its principles and the ruler in his official powers are of God providentially when they are practically of the people. We can think of no better or more equitable way to secure
“ the ordinance of God” than to have the people establish it for themselves and invest it with their own authority. This is good theology and good democracy at the same time.
Moreover, all the considerations for obedience to the civil magistrate, founded on conscience and penalty, apply quite as forcibly when he is the choice of the people, derives his powers from the people, and acts in virtue of their delegated authority as they do when a Nero is the magistrate. In neither case does he possess any divine prerogative which is not common to all men in the relations in which they exist and act. He is simply a magistrate, and, as such, the creature of natural causes operating under the providential superintendence of God. Being such, he has certain powers to exercise and certain duties to perform. Precisely the same principles apply to a bank clerk, or the manager of an insurance company, and indeed, to all men. Any theory which makes the civil ruler specially the elect of God and the legate of the skies is a mere pretense, unsustained by history, with the single exception of the Jewish theocracy.
The doctrine of democracy is that the ruler represents the sovereignty of the people. The doctrine of theocracy is that he represents the sovereignty of God. The former, and not the latter, is the doctrine upon which the civil and political institutions of this country are founded. Every officer of law is the creature of the popular will; and government, in its form and in the persons who administer it, depends at last upon a prevalent public opinion expressed according to certain prescribed methods. The body politic rules itself by subjecting itself to the regulation of law and employing governmental agents for the expression of its will. Such is the theory of American democracy, and it necessarily excludes the theory of any right in the ruler other than that which the people bestow. He is a citizen,
, exercising their authority while in office by their will, and no longer.
This great principle of popular sovereignty, while true of the National Government, is also expressly affirmed by most of the State constitutions in respect to the governments organized under them. Thus the constitutions of Alabama (I. 3); of Arkansas (I. 1); of California (I. 2); of Connecticut (I. 2); of Florida (Declaration of Rights, I); of Iowa (I. 2); of Kansas (Bill of Rights, 2); of Kentucky XIII. 4); of Nevada (I. 2); of New Jersey (I. 2), and of Ohio (I. 2), expressly declare that “all political power is inherent in the people.” The constitutions of Missouri (I. 4); of North Carolina (I. 2), and of South Carolina (I. 3.), state the same doctrine by declaring that “all political power is vested in and derived from the people.” The constitution of Vermont (I. 6), says : “ That all power being origi : nally inherent in and consequently derived from the
people, therefore, all officers of government, whether legislative or executive, are their trustees and servants, and at all times in a legal way accountable to them.” The constitution of Massachusetts (I. 5) declares that “all power residing originally with the people, and being derived from them, the several magistrates and officers of government vested with authority, whether legislative, executive or judicial, are the substitutes and agents, and are at all times accountable to them."
There are examples of the doctrine as to the rights of the officers of government that pervades all the State constitutions. Like the Constitution of the United States, they utterly ignore and virtually exclude the whole theory of any special divine right as being vested in the civil ruler. His authority is entirely representative, and the people, and the people only, form the party represented. He is not the vicegerent of God, and acts under no commission or inspiration from Heaven ; but is simply the trustee or agent of the people for the purposes specified in the trust. The people have a right to govern themselves according to the rules of law, and, in order to the convenient and practical exercise of this right, they delegate a portion of their own powers to the officers of law, not only choosing these officers, either directly or indirectly, but also prescribing their duties. Such is the American theory of civil government. It is a theory which has the whole power of the people behind it, and would be defended at any sacrifice.
CHRISTIANITY AND THE COMMON LAW.
The first judicial declaration that “ Christianity is parcel of the laws of England” was made by Sir Matthew Hale. Lord Mansfield subsequently modified the statement by saying that “the essential principles of revealed religion are part of the com
law.” Lord Campbell, in his “Lives of Chief-Justices,” explains the language as simply meaning that the law will not permit the essential principles of revealed religion to be ridiculed and reviled. The English Commissioners on Criminal Law, in their sixth report (1841) express the opinion that the maxim does not “supply any reason in favor of the rule that arguments may not be used against Christianity,“ provided it be not done in such a manner as to endanger the public peace by exciting forcible resistance."
Archbishop Whately, in his preface to his “ Elements of Rhetoric,” says that he had never met with any one who could explain” to him the meaning of the maxim ; yet he did not understand it as implying "the illegality of arguing" against the established religion of Eugland. Thomas Jefferson, in an Appendix to his “ Reports of Virginia Cases” says that the declaration of Sir Matthew Hale was not at the time of its