FREE government is a divine institution. It did not originate among men, but is the very government of heaven itself. It came down to earth as a gift from God.
The government of God has the appearance of a monarchy; yet it is not a monarchy, as monarchies are understood here. It is in reality “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Lincoln’s famous definition describes no government more perfectly than the divine government, and only in the divine government is his definition fully realized.
The incontrovertible proof of this is seen in the fact that the kingdom of God will include no individual who is not able perfectly to govern himself. Every individual who fails in this respect will be shut out of that kingdom, and solely for that reason. This power of perfect self-government being then a necessary qualification for each individual under the government of God, it can only be that each individual is to exercise this power, and so perfectly to govern himself, in that kingdom.
So thoroughly unlike God is everything that is arbitrary and despotic,—so far is he from desiring to be an autocratic ruler over his creatures—that he will tolerate nothing of this character in his universe. He will shut out of it everything that is contrary to free thought, free speech, and free action.
“Government of the people, by the people, and for the people” on this earth, is little more than a theory; it has never been realized in the past, and is not to-day. The Republic of the United States is based upon this theory of government; but in it the theory falls very far short of realization. The Republic is permeated with despotism in every part. The trouble is that so few of the people are able to govern themselves. No individual who cannot govern himself is fit to govern other people; and his participation in the government tends rather to infringe the rights and liberties of the people than to preserve them. Every slave of passion or ambition is a natural despot.
The purpose of the gospel in the earth is to restore, to all who will receive it, the power of self-government which was lost by the fall in Eden, and thus to prepare subjects for that real “government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” which the Creator is ere long to set up.