The Source of Republican Government

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, March 7, 2017 0 comments

by Bill Fortenberry

There has been much speculation over the years about the source of our founders’ ideas regarding republican government. Where did they get the idea that our government should be “of the people, by the people and for the people”? Where did the concept of a separation of powers come from? Who came up with the theory that government should be instituted by a social compact? The answer to each of these questions is that our founders discovered all of these ideas within the pages of Scripture.

In the fall of 1780, Rev. Samuel Cooper was invited to preach a sermon before the governor and the legislature of Massachusetts on the day that the Constitution of Massachusetts was put into effect. This was one of the most widely read sermons in America, and it presented a theme that was commonly acknowledged in our nation at that time. Rev. Cooper proclaimed that:

“The form of government originally established in the Hebrew nation by a charter from heaven, was that of a free republic, over which God himself, in peculiar favour to that people, was pleased to preside. It consisted of three parts; a chief magistrate who was called judge or leader, such as Joshua and others, a council of seventy chosen men, and the general assemblies of the people. Of these the two last were the most essential and permanent, and the first more occasional, according to the particular circumstances of the nation. Their council or Sanhedrim, remained with but little suspension, through all the vicissitudes they experienced, till after the commencement of the christian æra. And as to the assemblies of the people, that they were frequently held by divine appointment, and considered as the fountain of civil power, which they exerted by their own decrees, or distributed into various channels as they judged most conducive to their own security, order, and happiness, is evident beyond contradiction from the sacred history. Even the law of Moses, though framed by God himself, was not imposed upon that people against their will; it was laid open before the whole congregation of Israel; they freely adopted it, and it became their law, not only by divine appointment, but by their own voluntary and express consent. Upon this account it is called in the sacred writings a covenant, compact, or mutual stipulation...

“To mention all the passages in sacred writ which prove that the Hebrew government, tho’ a theocracy, was yet as to the outward part of it, a free republic, and that the sovereignty resided in the people, would be to recite a large part of its history...

“Such a constitution, twice established by the hand of heaven in that nation, so far as it respects civil and religious liberty in general, ought to be regarded as a solemn recognition from the Supreme Ruler himself of the rights of human nature. Abstracted from those appendages and formalities which were peculiar to the Jews, and designed to answer some particular purposes of divine Providence, it points out in general what kind of government infinite wisdom and goodness would establish among mankind.”

At the time that Rev. Cooper presented this sermon, Benjamin Franklin was serving in Europe as our ambassador to France. Franklin obtained a copy of this sermon and wrote a letter back to Rev. Cooper expressing his hearty agreement with it and laying out his plan to have it translated and distributed throughout France. Here’s what Franklin wrote about this sermon:

“Your excellent Sermon gave me abundance of Pleasure, and is much admired by several of my Friends who understand English. I purpose to get it translated & printed at Geneva at the End of a Translation of your new Constitution. Nothing could be happier than your Choice of a Text, & your Application of it. It was not necessary in New England where everybody reads the Bible, and is acquainted with Scripture Phrases, that you should note the Texts from which you took them; but I have observed in England as well as in France, that Verses and Expressions taken from the sacred Writings, and not known to be such, appear very strange and awkward to some Readers; and I shall therefore in my Edition take the Liberty of marking the quoted Texts in the Margin.”

The implications of this statement are astounding! First, we have Benjamin Franklin, the man that most historians label as a Deist, expressing his desire to have a sermon translated and published in France at his own cost. Then, we have the fact that the sermon which the supposedly deistic Franklin wanted to publish was a sermon claiming that the principles of American government came directly from the pages of Scripture. Added to that is the fact that Franklin was familiar enough with his own Bible and with the principles of government taught in the Bible to be able to add all the verse references which Rev. Cooper left out. And to top it all off, the Constitution of Massachusetts which Rev. Cooper praised as being founded on the Bible was single handedly written by another founder – John Adams. It’s no wonder that this particular statement from Franklin has never made it into the history books.

Can you imagine how different our current government would be if we had been taught the principles presented in Rev. Cooper’s sermon? Can you imagine the impact that these principles could have on our future if we begin sharing them now? I, for one, am determined to share these principles as often as I can. In fact, the Lord has allowed me to start a new ministry presenting these principles in churches across our land. Are you willing to help? You can begin by reading my free booklet “We the People: The Biblical Precedent for Popular Sovereignty.” Then start sharing what you learn with others. With the Lord’s help, we can make a true difference in the course of our nation.

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