THE experiment of making an acknowledgment of the sovereignty of God in the fundamental law of a commonwealth, which a large party in this country is so anxious to try, is not a new one. Not to mention the attempts of former times, made by the nations of the old world, to administer the laws of God by the machinery of the State, we have an example in the constitution of the Southern Confederacy, set up in our own time. It affords a fair illustration of the practical utility of the scheme proposed. The preamble of that constitution said:—
“We, the People of the Confederate States, each State acting in its sovereign and independent character, in order to form a permanent Federal Government, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity—invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God—do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Confederate States of America.”
This is not so full a recognition of God’s sovereignty as political religionists want put into the national Constitution to-day, but it was not void of practical effect. It declared that “we, the people,” included the Government set up upon the Constitution, invoked “the favor and guidance of Almighty God;” hence only those were included who were willing to make this religious acknowledgment, which was in itself a confession of faith in the sovereignty and providence of God. The atheist and agnostic were not recognized at all, and could properly have no share in the government, nor claim protection under it.
The preamble of the United States Constitution makes no allusion to God; and as between the two, upon the theory that such an acknowledgment is binding upon the nation, and that to omit it is a sin calling for divine retribution, providence should certainly have favored the Confederate government in its contest for separation from the Union.
But what was the result? Every person knows. The constitutional acknowledgment of God availed nothing. The Almighty did not recognize it. And such an acknowledgment is of no more value to-day than it was in the time of the war.
If God had desired a government to be set up which recognized his sovereignty in its fundamental law, he could have perpetuated the Confederate government. And that he let it go down, is plain evidence that he did not wish it perpetuated. But religious hobby-riders refuse to learn anything from experience.