Last October, at the Wichita, Kansas, Reform Convention, Rev. J. M. Armour, of Sterling, Kansas, delivered an address, in which he inveighed against the idea of “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” and maintained that “Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed,” in the following manner:—
“If government be of man,—if it be the mere will of the people,—why should I stand in awe of it? I do not. I cannot look with awe and reverence upon the decisions and mandates of neighbor Jones, for I know that he is not the source of law to me; he is but my equal. Now if he and Smith agree to say what I shall do, must I recognize in Jones and Smith my rightful rulers? the government that I ought to respect and obey? Nay; if Jones and Smith and Brown agree to lay down the law for me, I am still unsubdued. I will assert my right…. Nay, let millions of men, each of them my equal, command what is wrong or what is right, and their commands can never inspire in me profound reverence. Their will cannot be law to me…. It is but the Jones, Smith, and Brown power at best. Multiply it by the millions, it is the Jones, Smith, and Brown power still. Its will is not law. It has no authority but what belongs to brute force. Neither God nor my conscience bind me to obey the will of a million any more than one of my neighbors.”—Christian Statesman, Dec. 13, 1883.
The same doctrine was held in the Cleveland National Convention. Rev. A. M. Milligan said:—
“Nor is the consent of the majority sufficient. One man cannot consent for another. Three-fourths of the people cannot consent for the remaining fourth. Forty-nine million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine people cannot consent for the fifty-millionth man.”
Again Mr. Armour said:—
“Any command by whomsoever issued, that has not the sanction and approval of God, is not only not binding upon those to whom it is addressed, but they to whom such command comes are solemnly bound to disobey and resist… So all men owe it to themselves to obey no command but such as, traced to its source, has a divine sanction.”
From these plain and forcible declarations, it would naturally be supposed that the National Reform party expect that the Religious Amendment will be adopted so entirely unanimously that there will not be one single dissenting voice. Because by the foregoing they plainly allow that if there shall be the fifty-millionth man who holds their work or their laws to be not of God, that “fifty-millionth man” is not bound to obey, but “solemnly bound to disobey and resist” the authority of their Government under the Religious Amendment. And the unanimous voice of the other “forty-nine million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine” “cannot consent for” him.
But if the National Reform party means this, where then is the efficacy of their movement? “Aye! there’s the rub;” they don’t mean it; for proof of which, now see character in “their Government.” Please observe, “their (?) Government.” Christian Statesman, November 1, 1881, editorial.
“This Amendment of the Constitution means that a majority of the people of this land shall first believe the principles embodied there; and so believe them that their views shall crystallize into the form of law, and that in its most potent form.” Please observe, “most potent.” See Statesman, December 20, 1883, page 1.
“How is the Amendment to be carried out practically? … A majority must decide.”—Id., Feb. 21, 1884.
So, then, if the Government be purely civil and secular, it is only the Jones, Smith, and Brown power at best, though it be multiplied by “millions.” But if it call itself Christian and religious, it is instantly clothed with “divine right.” Neither God nor conscience binds us to “obey the will of a million any more than one,” unless that “million” call itself Christian. “The consent of the majority is not sufficient,” provided that majority shall not call itself Christian. “Any command, by whomsoever issued, that has not the sanction and approval of God, is to be solemnly disobeyed and resisted,” unless said command should be issued by a power calling itself Christian. But if the power choose to call itself Christian, though every act be the opposite of Christian principle; though it transcend by a “higher law” the sum of all Christian duty, yet if it only call itself Christian, then if it be a majority it “must decide,” and exact obedience to its “views” by the “most potent form of law.”
How ingenuous! How magnanimous! How eminently Christian! How pre-eminently charitable the National Reform party is, to be sure!!
A. T. J.