Covenants, Part II - Centralized Authority or Free Dominion
In Part I of Constitutions we saw that the people were “not a party” to the United States Constitution. We also saw that Free Americans already living on their own land and untaxed were very much opposed to the constitution and had it been put to a vote of the people it would have failed to pass.
These landed freemen in America working in their fields, building their homes, caring for their families, being there for the members of their community, and righteous in their generations were the true forefathers of the American republic.
How could a document like the Constitution, that was so unpopular with the true forefathers of a nation, become the law of the land ruling over those people in every aspect of their lives?
It could not happen in a room full of delegates. It could not happen by the acquiescence of the states. It would not happen over night and it could not be done by legislation. It was done as it has always been done.
“The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.” Edmund Burke
Centralized Authority or Free Dominion
It is clear that the people did not wish the constitution to be ratified or signed. It is clear that many able men opposed it. Some people have studied the federalist papers which were written by those in favor of that constitution. Few have read the anti-federalist papers written by the men in opposition to this new written Constitution offered to the States.
If the people did not want the Constitution, why? And what did they want and what did they fear and oppose that would accompany or follow such a document?
More than anything it was the centralization of government and its power to exercise authority that the people feared. They had begun to understand another form of government. A government of individual responsibility and resulting rights had been discovered in the burden of their common hardships and sacrifices. Their loose confederation and voluntary union had worked well for the essential needs during the conflict with the Kings usurpation.
“Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people, whose breasts he has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue.”1
Life was hard in America and those who worked hard could prosper. The few cities had been built by their own hands but for the most part people came for the land. The common dangers and disasters compelled a common cooperation. There had been many trials recorded in the recollection of their own history and they brought back a remembrance of the ways of the ancients when there was no king and everyman did what was right in his own eyes.2
The crossing alone, if not the hardships upon arrival, thinned out the rift-raft of Europe. Literacy was high among Americans because they needed to read the Bible to confirm their faith and that knowledge only whetted their appetite for more. They had to study and learn everything about the agriculture, sciences, history and law. If anything was going to be done they had to do it themselves, make it themselves, solve the problems themselves, and they did just that.
Did those brave souls who crossed the ocean and tested themselves against the wilderness with their own sweat and blood know or learn something we have forgotten again? Did their hardship and suffering give them an understanding that our affluence and pride has blinded us to? If this is true have we traveled down an old road to new tyranny? If so, what is the road back and how do we find it? Men often equate affluence with freedom, comfort with liberty, and pride with nobility and virtue.
These early Americans had realized they had been deceived about the gospel of Christ and in their study of history they were reminded that Caesar “Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient Freedom.”3
But in every gathering of men there is an Augustus, Herod, or Cain willing and waiting to rise to some place of power. And once men have created an office of power men like Lemech, Constantine, and modern rulers will fill those offices.
No tyrant rises to power on his own but is raised on the shoulders of thousands of little tyrants who seek power over their own neighbor and brother. They serve themselves a little more than they serve others. They place scales on the eyes of men with praise but secretly in their own hearts they seek advantage and profit through positions of prominence and power.
“These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling [words], having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.” Jude 1:16
The investiture of power within forms of centralized government have been a painful propensity of the fallen nature of mankind from the beginning of his history. But the assumption that centralized government power has been the predominant or most successful form of government is imprecise.
In The Enterprise of Law, Dr. Bruce Benson shows that, in fact, “our modern reliance on government to make law and establish order is not the historical norm.” The historical norm was customary law which, spontaneously created and voluntarily obeyed. It provided law and order in all early societies and free societies throughout history. It often included written guidelines to aid in the understanding of law but these guidelines should not be construed as statutory.
Statute is from the Latin statūtus, past participle of statuere, meaning to set up, from the Latin status, meaning position; In Law a statute is “an enactment made by a legislature and expressed in a formal document.” But in International Law it is an instrument annexed or subsidiary to an international agreement, as a treaty.”
Among freemen “The contract makes the law”.4
While, “The law (jus) is the rule of right; and whatever is contrary to the rule of right is an injury,”5 we find that “human laws (lex, leges) are born, live, and die.”6 Customary law was the law between men and was entirely dependent upon individual and collective virtue. Contracts, Covenants and Constitutions always alter the free status of men. The more bonds you create to secure your freedom the less free you are.
“In the most corrupt state, the most laws.”7
Society is born out of the family which is the institution of God. All power rests first with the family. Those who understand the rule of right understand “That which bars those who have contracted will bar their successors also.”8 This is why when God took the people out of Egypt he warned them to make no contracts with the people that would bring them back under the ruling judges of a government like Egypt.
“Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:” Exodus 34:12
Every society needs a form of law to settle disputes because all men do not walk in virtue. It is important that systems of resolution remain close to the people where responsibility may be exercised. But natural prejudice requires a broader range of appeal to prevent injustice.
Customary law had precisely the same status and served the same purpose as the state-created law which we take for granted today. The commonly-held belief that law and and what we often call government today developed together is mistaken.
“Good men hate to sin through love of virtue; bad men through fear of punishment.”9
Customary law was the result of well established precepts, procedures, practices, and patterns within a particular setting of society. It is passed down from generation to generation or between states and nations.
International law has developed between states over time by the practices and accepted precepts of a customary law known as the Law of Nations. Without an understanding of and an adherence to these precepts of law diplomacy would be impossible and chaos would reign. The same is true of people who live in voluntary systems of government. They have common practices and procedures used in case of disputes and to prevent injustice.
While a nation is composed of families, a family is not a nation. To remain free families must bind themselves by means other than contract.
This earlier volunteer government was composed of free people. These individuals understood the need for law and community. Yet, despite the success of such systems they often fall into decay and under tyranny. Centralized governments do the same but with more universal corruption and universal oppression, though for the same cause of amour-propre and jealousy, apathy and avarice which is the absence of virtue.
“The Superior man thinks always of virtue; the common man thinks of comfort.”10
Early Israel, Roman and Teuton republics, and later Saxon, Frank and Christian republics of the first millennium were originally patriarchal governments of the people, by the people, and for the people steeped in individual freedom, rights and responsibility. All eventually became subjects of ruling classes.
“We estimate men as great not by their wealth but by their virtue.”11
These early predominant systems of freedom was based on voluntarism, brotherhood and the exercise of personal responsibility to your neighbor by daily choice. It was not based on forcing your neighbor to support the will of leaders nor the majority rule by vote. It was based on love of neighbor and daily attendance to the weightier matters of law, justice, mercy and faith in a loving God. People were not compelled to join it nor support it through forced taxation.
“However, everyone was involved, and the system was respected and sustained, because customary law successfully provided both protection and arbitration at minimum cost. It evolved spontaneously, without state involvement, for the simple reason that there was no state.”12
In truth, the state and the law rested in the hands and hearts of the individual free man and his family unit. Their status remained unencumbered except by their own conscience. The virtue of the people was the fountainhead of justice. If there was not justice in their hearts and minds, then there was not justice in the land.
“Before the Norman conquest of England in 1066 the people were the fountainhead of justice. The Anglo-Saxon courts of those days were composed of large numbers of freemen and the law which they administered, was that which had been handed down by oral tradition from generation to generation. In competition with these non-professional courts the Norman king, who insisted that he was the fountainhead of justice, set up his own tribunals. The judges who presided over these royal courts were agents or representatives of the king, not of the people; but they were professional lawyers who devoted most of their time and energy to the administration of justice, and the courts over which they presided were so efficient that they gradually all but displaced the popular, non-professional courts.”13
Love for each other in the community exercised by mutual charity and hope was the only social insurance available. People were bound together as a brotherhood and community and by the common wisdom of gathering together.
When people relinquish or acquiesce their God given responsibility to minister justice to their neighbor to more mercenary professionals, they also lose one aspect of the mystery of their own success as a free society.
Why would the people do this?
“For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” 2 Peter 2:18-22
Today we are taught that the history of man is the history of centralization of governmental power. It is common to believe that without that central power men fall into violent selfish anarchy. This is true for those who are not men and women of virtue and honor. Such virtuous people if they come together should be able to form a government based on the perfect law of liberty. They would have to set aside, pride and greed, self-righteousness and selfishness. They would have to be as much or more concerned about their neighbor’s rights than their own. They would