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of." This first amendment was adopted in 1789, by the first Congress that ever met under the Constitution. In 1796 a treaty was made with Tripoli, in which it was declared (Article II.) that "the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion." This treaty was framed by an exCongregationalist clergyman, and was signed by President Washington. It was not out of disrespect to religion or Christianity that these clauses were placed in the Constitution, and that this one was inserted in that treaty. On the contrary, it was entirely on account of their respect for religion, and the Christian religion in particular, as being beyond the province of civil government, pertaining solely to the conscience, and resting entirely between the individual and God. It was because of this that this nation was Constitutionally established according to the principle of Christ, demanding of men only that they render to Cæsar that which is Cæsar's, and leaving them entirely free to render to God that which is God's, if they choose, as they choose, and when they choose; or, as expressed by Washington himself, in reply to an address upon the subject of religious legislation:
"Every man who conducts himself as a good citizen, is accountable alone to God for his religious faith, and should be protected in worshiping God according to the dictates of his own conscience."
We cannot more fitly close this chapter than with the following tribute of George Bancroft to this principle, as embodied in the words of Christ, and in the American Constitution:
"In the earliest States known to history, government and religion were one and indivisible. Each State had its special deity, and often these protectors, one after another, might be overthrown in battle, never to rise again. The Peloponnesian War grew out of a strife about
an oracle. Rome, as it sometimes adopted into citizenship those whom it vanquished, introduced in like manner, and with good logic for that day, the worship of their gods. No one thought of vindicating religion for the conscience of the individual, till a voice in Judea, breaking day for the greatest epoch in the life of humanity, by establishing a pure, spiritual, and universal religion for all mankind, enjoined to render to Cæsar only that which is Cæsar's. The rule was upheld during the infancy of the gospel for all men. No sooner was this religion adopted by the chief of the Roman empire, than it was shorn of its character of universality, and enthralled by an unholy connection with the unholy State; and so it continued till the new nation, the least defiled with the barren scoffings of the eighteenth century, the most general believer in Christianity of any people of that age, the chief heir of the Reformation in its purest forms,when it came to establish a government for the United States, refused to treat faith as a matter to be regulated by a corporate body, or having a headship in a monarch or a State.
"Vindicating the right of individuality even in religion, and in religion above all, the new nation dared to set the example of accepting in its relations to God the principle first divinely ordained of God in Judea. It left the management of temporal things to the temporal power; but the American Constitution, in harmony with the people of the several States, withheld from the Federal Government the power to invade the home of reason, the citadel of conscience, the sanctuary of the soul; and not from indifference, but that the infinite Spirit of eternal truth might move in its freedom and purity and power."History of the Formation of the Constitution, last chapter.
Thus the Constitution of the United States as it is, stands as the sole monument of all history representing the principle which Christ established for earthly government. And under it, in liberty, civil and religious, in enlightenment, and in progress, this nation has deservedly stood as the beacon-light of the world, for a hundred years.
THE POWERS THAT BE.
IN support of the doctrine that civil government has the right to act in things pertaining to God, the text of Scripture is quoted which says, "The powers that be are ordained of God." This passage is found in Rom. 13:1. The first nine verses of the chapter are devoted to this subject, showing that the powers that be are ordained of God, and enjoining upon Christians, upon every soul in fact, the duty of respectful subjection to civil government. The whole passage reads as follows:
"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid: for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake. For, for this cause pay ye tribute also; for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Owe no man anything, but to love one another; for he that loveth another
hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet: and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
It is easy to see that this scripture is but an exposition of the words of Christ, "Render to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's." In the Saviour's command to render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, there is plainly a recognition of the rightfulness of civil government, and that civil government has claims upon us which we are in duty bound to recognize, and that there are things which duty requires us to render to the civil government. This scripture in Romans 13 simply states the same thing in other words: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”
Again, the Saviour's words were called out by a question concerning tribute. They said to him, "Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cæsar, or not?" Rom. 13:6 refers to the same thing, saying, “For, for this cause pay ye tribute also; for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing." In answer to the question of the Pharisees about the tribute, Christ said, "Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's." Rom. 13:7, taking up the same thought, says, "Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor." These references make positive that which we have stated, that this portion of Scripture (Rom. 13: 1-9) is a divine commentary upon the words of Christ in Matt. 22: 17-21.
In the previous chapter we have shown by many proofs that civil government has nothing to do with anything that pertains to God. If the argument in that chapter is
sound, then Rom. 13: 1-9, being the Lord's commentary upon the words which are the basis of that argument, ought to confirm the position there taken. And this it does.
The passage in Romans refers first to civil government, the higher powers, not the highest power, but the powers that be. Next it speaks of rulers, as bearing the sword and attending upon matters of tribute. Then it commands to render tribute to whom tribute is due, and says, "Owe no man any thing; but to love one another; for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law." Then he refers to the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth commandments, and says, "If there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
There are other commandments of this same law to which Paul refers. Why, then, did he say, "If there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"? There are the four commandments of the first table of this same law, -the commandments which say, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me; Thou shalt not make any graven image, or any likeness of any thing; Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain ; Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy." Then there is the other commandment in which are briefly comprehended all these, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength."
Paul knew full well of these commandments. Why, then, did he say, "If there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"? Answer. Because he was writing concerning the words of the Saviour which relate to our duties to civil government.