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Affluent Investor | June 23, 2017

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How Colonial America’s Pulpit Built Our Union on the Foundation of Natural Law

Scene at the Signing of the Consitutation of the United States (Painted by Howard Chandler Christy) (1940)

Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States (Painted by Howard Chandler Christy) (1940)

Under the American Compact it is stated that the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle Americans to specific and timeless unalienable rights; Fundamental rights and Fundamental law. These rights, articulated as Natural Law, established the moral standard for the new Union. Natural Law had been the standard arising out of colonial America for many decades tracing back to the Pilgrims and Puritans. Unfortunately, and to much anguish in America today, the standard of Natural Law seem all but vanished from our present day. But the clergy of colonial America, and particularly, the rising Revolutionary generation, burned with fire on the Biblical foundation of Natural Law and its unconditional support to the American polity.

In her extensive 1928 study of colonial clergy, Dr. Alice Baldwin reveals that the early American clergy called liberty a Fundamental, or Natural, Law. Dr. Baldwin reports that Reverend John Wise in 1717 and Jared Eliot in 1738 preached about “civil liberty was a natural right,” that it was a fundamental right or law under God.[1] Dr. Baldwin also discloses in her analysis how deeply spiritual and Biblical these clergy believed the role of civil government was and saw it directly as an offspring of scriptural commands. She concluded that the clergy of New England understood the “conception of a covenant or compact as the foundation of divine and human relations [was] of basic importance in New England thought.”[2] This belief was the genesis of America’s constitutional governance; that a compactual covenant of a social compact and constitution was a societal agreement with God. Christ’s Law brought liberty, and

“those liberties were sacred, a part of the ‘divine constitution’…This law of God, natural [revelation] and written [revealed], was not only moral but also rational, and God expected obedience not so much because of His authority as because of its reasonableness and the benefits to be derived therefrom.”[3]

Throughout the colonies many people, upon the separation from King George and Parliament definitively understood, and declared, their return into the state of nature. Therefore, by their own consent and conscience they could enter into a state of civil government which would uphold their liberty given to them by God. They refused to remain under any government, reports Dr. Baldwin, which had them or put them in “a state inconsistent with their natural and inherent rights.” In December 1776 in a meeting of several towns in New Hampshire they refused to send delegates to the existing government because

“it is our humble opinion, that when the Declaration of Independency took place, the colonies were absolutely in a state of nature, and the powers of government reverted to the people at large.”[4]

The many documents repeated these arguments unceasingly, and the towns grew more defiant and more determined to have the principles of government in which they believed put into effect…Several [towns] refused to pay taxes and raised what money they needed for their own use.[5]

The Revolution against England was under way, but it was fought on many fronts – the towns, cities, and counties waged war against tyranny of governance, and unleashed the sword of truth wielding Fundamental Fights under Natural Law. The Colonial pulpits had trained their people very well, they utterly understood their role in the state of nature. The Americans saw the war of independence as a calling from Scripture. In this they grounded their resistance, just as did Moses and the Israelites, and that made it a war with a “holy-cause,” and their appeal was to Heaven.[6]

“This law of nature was an unwritten law,” writes Dr. Baldwin in 1928, in reference to the New England pulpits, “The revelation in the Old and New Testaments helped to make clear the law of nature and to disclose its full extent.”[7] In 1741 Pastor Solomon Williams of Lebanon, Connecticut stated,

“There never was, nor is there any Wisdom among men, but what is communicated from God; nor is there any Law of Nature, or Rule of Nature and Moral wisdom, which we speak of, as implanted in the Mind of man, but what is found in the Bible, and cultivated and improved by that Revelation.”[8]

Natural Law was God’s Law to Colonial America and proclaimed by their clergy. “There was no conflict in their minds between the divine and natural law. They were the same.”[9] Dr. Baldwin writes, “As [the New England clergy] founded their theology and church polity upon the law of God as revealed in the natural law and the written word, so from the law of God they developed their political theories.”[10]

In turn, this breaking and return to the state of nature Biblically allowed for independence. “There is scarcely a sermon of these and later years,” writes Dr. Baldwin, “which does not emphasize the necessity of union, and many newspaper articles urging it were written by ministers.” Many of these pastors, at a prophetic level, saw “America of the future, a great free country, a refuge to the oppressed of all nations, a golden land of Liberty.” [11] “From this day,” preached Reverend Jonas Clark on the anniversary of the battle of Lexington, “will be dated the Liberty of the World.”[12] Reverend Clark was prolific, as that day became known as the shot heard around the world. Shot continues to be heard to this day.

In 1770 Reverend John Lathrop of Boston’s Old North Church stated in a sermon on the Boston Massacre that “The voice of thy brother’s blood cryeth unto me from the ground.”[13] Lathrop, as did many of Colonial clergy, believed that if government failed in its purpose of upholding liberty, it must be abolished and a better government established. Many of the clergy were pushing for a separation from England. In 1772 an anonymous pastor wrote in an article in the Boston Gazette

“that the Americans would be justified in the sight of Heaven and before all nations of mankind, in forming an independent government of their own.”[14]

It is as if this clergyman was paraphrased by Jefferson himself in the Declaration of Independence just four years later.

The Colonial ministers, especial rolling into the late 1760s and early to mid-1770s, were simply on fire with the Spirit of the Revolution. They were often yielding significantly more recruits for militia than recruiting officers. “In the months before the battle of Lexington, minister after minister, as if in preparation for the coming struggle,” writes Dr. Alice Baldwin, “called upon the men to be of stout heart and good courage, ready to wield the sword of the Lord.” One patriotic pastor, Samuel Eaton of Harpswell, Maine, delivered a fiery sermon declaring, “Cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from Blood.” As a result over forty men volunteered.[15] The Colonial pulpits were on fire – the fire of freedom, liberty and independence.

“We worship Jesus from our heart.”[16] From God to the heart of each individual citizen in the Shining City Upon the Hill, the Great Experiment of American Exceptionalism is forged. If We the People labor with liberty in our hearts, we will not labor in vain. The light from the city built upon a hill will not be hidden, but shine out to the world. “The cause of America is, in a great measure, the cause of all mankind.”[17] Only for the world to discover that the city itself is even more brilliant and impressive than the light emanating from it. As Tocqueville discovered, this is because liberty and God dwell there. Ronald Reagan expounded,

“[W]e achieved so much, prospered as no other people on earth, it was because here, in this land, we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before.”[18]

“Here we dwell in a land of light, a region of liberty,” preached Pastor Amos Adams in 1767, “…religious liberty is one of the most precious jewels on earth.”[19]

 

[1] Alice M. Baldwin (Joel McDermon, ed.), 2014 (originally published in 1928), The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution (originally titled, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution), (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press), pp. 59-63, also reference Footnote 1, pp. 59-60.

[2] Alice M. Baldwin (Joel McDermon, ed.), 2014 (originally published in 1928), The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution (originally titled, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution), (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press), p. 19.

[3] Alice M. Baldwin (Joel McDermon, ed.), 2014 (originally published in 1928), The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution (originally titled, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution), (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press), p. 22, referenced from colonial sermons from the mid-1700s.

[4] Alice M. Baldwin (Joel McDermon, ed.), 2014 (originally published in 1928), The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution (originally titled, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution), (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press), p. 191.

[5] Alice M. Baldwin (Joel McDermon, ed.), 2014 (originally published in 1928), The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution (originally titled, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution), (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press), p. 191 and footnote 60.

[6] Alice M. Baldwin (Joel McDermon, ed.), 2014 (originally published in 1928), The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution (originally titled, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution), (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press), p. 215.

[7] Alice M. Baldwin (Joel McDermon, ed.), 2014 (originally published in 1928), The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution (originally titled, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution), (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press), p. 21.

[8] Alice M. Baldwin (Joel McDermon, ed.), 2014 (originally published in 1928), The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution (originally titled, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution), (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press), p. 21, see footnote 14.

[9] Alice M. Baldwin (Joel McDermon, ed.), 2014 (originally published in 1928), The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution (originally titled, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution), (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press), pp. 38-39, see footnote 22.

[10] Alice M. Baldwin (Joel McDermon, ed.), 2014 (originally published in 1928), The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution (originally titled, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution), (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press), p. 21. Also see p. xi.

[11] Alice M. Baldwin (Joel McDermon, ed.), 2014 (originally published in 1928), The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution (originally titled, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution), (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press), p. 167, also see footnote 48 and pages 167-168 for a list of pastors and their sermons.

[12] Alice M. Baldwin (Joel McDermon, ed.), 2014 (originally published in 1928), The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution (originally titled, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution), (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press), p. 168, Footnote #48.

[13] Alice M. Baldwin (Joel McDermon, ed.), 2014 (originally published in 1928), The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution (originally titled, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution), (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press), p. 141.

[14] Alice M. Baldwin (Joel McDermon, ed.), 2014 (originally published in 1928), The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution (originally titled, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution), (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press), p. 145.

[15] Alice M. Baldwin (Joel McDermon, ed.), 2014 (originally published in 1928), The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution (originally titled, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution), (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press), p. 158-159.

[16] Pastor Jay Harvey, October 20, 2013, “Christianity 101,” sermon series, (Pendleton Christian Church, Pendleton, IN), [http://pendcc.org/media.php?pageID=115].

[17] Thomas Paine, 1995 (originally published in 1776), Common Sense, (Barnes & Noble Books: New York: NY), p. xxvii.

[18] John Gabriel Hunt (Ed.), 1997, “Ronald Reagan: First Inaugural Address, January 20, 1981,” The Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents: From George Washington to George W. Bush, (New York, NY: Gramercy Books), p. 474.

[19] Amos Adams, December 3, 1767, “Religious Liberty an invaluable Blessing,” referenced in Alice M. Baldwin (Joel McDermon, ed.), 2014 (originally published in 1928), The New England Pulpit and the American Revolution (originally titled, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution), (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press), p. 136.

Jim Huntzinger began his career as a manufacturing engineer with Aisin Seiki (a Toyota Group company and manufacturer of automotive components) when they transplanted to North America to support Toyota. Over his career he has also researched at length the evolution of manufacturing in the United States with an emphasis on lean’s influence and development. In addition to his research on TWI, he has extensively researched the history of Ford’s Highland Park plant and its direct tie to Toyota’s business model and methods of operation.

Huntzinger is the President and Founder of Lean Frontiers and a graduate from Purdue University with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering Technology and received a M.S. in Engineering Management from the Milwaukee School of Engineering. He authored the book, Lean Cost Management: Accounting for Lean by Establishing Flow, was a contributing author to Lean Accounting: Best Practices for Sustainable Integration.

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