October 29, 1896
THEY are not personal sovereigns in themselves who are referred to in the words “The power that be are ordained of God.” It is the governmental power, of which the sovereign is the representative, and that sovereign receives his power from the people. Outside of the theocracy of Israel there never has been a ruler who has justly ruled on earth, whose dignity was not derived from the people, either express, or permissive. It is not any particular sovereign whose power is ordained of God, nor any particular form of government. It is the genius of government itself. The absence of government is anarchy. Anarchy is only governmental confusion. But the Scriptures say, “God is not the author of confusion.” God is the God of order. He has ordained order, and he has put within man himself that idea of government, of self protection, which is the first law of nature, which organizes itself into forms of one kind or another, wherever men dwell on the face of the earth; and it is for men themselves to say what shall be the form of government under which they shall dwell. One people has one form; another has another.
This genius of civil order springs from God; its exercise within its legitimate sphere is ordained of God, and the Declaration of Independence simply asserted the eternal truth of God when it said, “Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Whether it be exercised in one form of government or another, it matters not. The governmental power and order thus ordained is of God.
If the people choose to change their form of government, it is the same power still, and is to be respected still. The power is still ordained of God in its legitimate exercise, in things pertaining to men and their relation to their fellowmen; but no power, whether exercised through one form or another, is ordained of God in things pertaining to God, nor has it anything whatever to do with men’s relations toward God.
The Constitution of the United States is the only form of government that has ever been on earth that is in harmony with the principle announced by Christ, demanding of men only that which is Cesar’s and refusing to enter in any way into the field of man’s relationship to God. This Constitution sprung from the principles of the Declaration of Independence, and on this point simply asserts the truth of God.
The American people do not appreciate to the one hundredth part the value of the Constitution under which they live. They do not honor in any fair degree the noble men who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, that these principles might be our heritage. All honor to those noble men. All integrity to the principles of the Declaration of Independence. All allegiance to the Constitution as it not is, under which we live, which gives to Cesar all his due, and leaves men to render to God all that they, instructed by the word of God, guided by their own conscience enlightened by the Spirit of God, may see that he requires of them.
May the sweet face of Heaven shine in infinite pity upon the poor deluded souls who think they are doing God service in their efforts to subvert the Constitution, and men’s liberties under it. And may Heaven’s twice blessed mercy be on and about the poor people who have respect for Jesus Christ and their right to worship God, when these people shall have accomplished their purpose.—A. T. Jones.