February 6, 1889
THE Scripture says that “the powers that be are ordained of God.” How is it done? Is it direct and miraculous, or providential? Jeremiah 27:1-8 shows that the power of Nebuchadnezzar as king of Babylon was ordained of God. Did God send a prophet or a priest to anoint him king? or did he send a heavenly messenger, as to Moses and Gideon? Not at all. Nebuchadnezzar was king because he was the son of his father, who was king. How did his father become king? Thus: In 625 B.C. Babylonia was but a province of the empire of Assyria, and Media was another. Both revolted at once. The king of Assyria gave Nabopolassar command of a large force, sent him to Babylonia to quell the revolt, while he himself led other forces into Media, and put down the insurrection there. Nabopolassar did his work so well in Babylonia that the king of Assyria rewarded him with the command of that province, with the title, king of Babylon. Thus we see Nabopolassar received his power from the king of Assyria. The king of Assyria received his power from his father, Asshurbanipal. Asshurbanipal received his from his father, Esarhaddon. Esarhaddon received his from his father, Sennacharib. Sennacharib, from his father, Sargon, and Sargon received his from the troops in the field, otherwise from the people. Thus we see that the power of the kingdom of Babylon and of Nebuchadnezzar the king, or of his son, or of his son’s son, was simply providential, and sprung ultimately from the people.
Take, for instance, Queen Victoria, queen of Great Britain. How did she become so? Simply by the fact that she was the first in the line of succession when William the Fourth died. Through one line she traces her royal lineage to William the Conqueror. But who was William the Conqueror? He was a Norman chief who led his forces into England in 1066 and established his power there. How did he become a chief of the Normans? The Normans made him their chief, so that in that line it is clear that the power of Queen Victoria sprung from the people.
Take the other line. The house that now rules Britain, represented in Victoria, is the House of Hanover. Hanover is a province of Germany. How did the House of Hanover get into England? When Queen Anne died, the line of succession was George of Hanover, who became king of England under the title of George the First. How did he receive his princely dignity? Through his lineage; from Henry the Lion, son of Henry the Proud, who received the Duchy of Saxony from Frederick Barbarossa, in 1156. Henry the Lion, son of Henry the Proud, was a prince of the House, of Guelph, of Suabia. The father of the House of Guelph was a prince of the Allemanni, who invaded the Roman Empire and established their power in what is now Southern Germany, and were the origin of what is now the German nation and empire. But who made this man prince? The savage  tribes of Germany. So that in this line also the royal dignity of Queen Victoria springs from the people.
Besides this the imperial power of Queen Victoria as she now reigns is circumscribed, limited by the people. It has been related, and we have seen it in print, although the story may not be true, yet it will serve to illustrate the point, that on one occasion Gladstone, while Prime Minister and head of the House of Commons, took a certain paper to the queen to be signed. She did not exactly approve of it, and said she would not sign it. Gladstone spoke of the merit of the act, but the queen declared she would not sign it. Gladstone replied, “Your majesty must sign it.” “Must sign it!” exclamed the queen, “Must sign it! Do you know who I am? I am the queen of England!” Gladstone calmly replied, “Yes, your majesty, but I am the people of England.” And she had to sign it. The people of England can command the queen of England. The power of the people of England is above that of the queen of England. She, as queen, is simply the representative of their power.
They are not personal sovereigns in themselves who are referred to in the words, “The powers 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 sovereigns 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.
We have before shown that 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 now 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, by a religious amendment. 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. J.