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On the Right to Rebel against Governors

The honors that have been paid to arbitrary princes have often been very hypocritical and insincere. Tyrants have been flattered in their vices, and have often had an idolatrous reverence paid them. The worst princes have been the most flattered and adored; and many such, in the pagan world, assumed the title of gods, and had divine honors paid them. This idolatrous reverence has ever been the inseparable concomitant of arbitrary power and tyrannical government; for even Christian princes, if they have not been adored under the character of gods, yet the titles given them strongly savor of blasphemy, and the reverence paid them is really idolatrous. What right has a poor sinful worm of the dust to claim the title of his most sacred Majesty? Most sacred certainly belongs only to God alone,–for there is none holy as the Lord,–yet how common is it to see this title given to kings! And how often have we been told that the king can do no wrong! Even though he should be so foolish and wicked as hardly to be capable of ever being in the right, yet still it must be asserted and maintained that it is impossible for him to do wrong!

The cruel, savage disposition of tyrants, and the idolatrous reverence that is paid them, are both most beautifully exhibited to view by the apostle John in the Revelation, thirteenth chapter, from the first to the tenth verse, where the apostle gives a description of a horrible wild beast| which he saw rise out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his heads the names of blasphemy. By heads are to be understood forms of government, and by blasphemy, idolatry; so that it seems implied that there will be a degree of idolatry in every form of tyrannical government. This beast is represented as having the body of a leopard, the feet of a bear, and the mouth of a lion; i.e., a horrible monster, possessed of the rage and fury of the lion, the fierceness of the bear, and the swiftness of the leopard to seize and devour its prey. Can words more strongly point out, or exhibit in more lively colors, the exceeding rage, fury, and impetuosity of tyrants, in their destroying and making havoc of mankind? To this beast we find the dragon gave his power, seat, and great authority; i.e., the devil constituted him to be his vicegerent on earth; this is to denote that tyrants are the ministers of Satan, ordained by him for the destruction of mankind.

Wild beast. By the beast with seven heads and ten horns I understand the tyranny of arbitrary princes, viz., the emperors and kings of the Eastern and Western Roman Empire, and not the tyranny of the Pope and clergy; for the description of every part of this beast will answer better to be understood of political than of ecclesiastical tyrants. Thus the seven heads are generally interpreted to denote the several forms of Roman government; the ten horns are understood of the ten kingdoms that were set up in the Western Empire; and by the body of the beast it seems most natural to understand the Eastern, or Greek Empire, for it is said to be like a leopard. This image is taken from Daniel vii. 6, where the third beast is said to be like a leopard. Now, by the third beast in Daniel is understood, by the best interpreters, the Grecian Monarchy. It is well known that John frequently borrows his images from Daniel, and I believe it will be found, upon a critical examination of the matter, that whenever he does so he means the same thing with Daniel; if this be true (as I am fully persuaded it is), then, by the body of this beast being like a leopard in the Revelation of John, is to be understood the Eastern, or Greek Empire, which was that part of the old Roman Empire that remained whole for several ages after the Western Empire was broken into ten kingdoms. Further: after the beast was risen it is said that the dragon gave him his seat. Now, by the dragon is meant the devil, who is represented as presiding over the Roman Empire in its pagan state; but the seat of the Roman Empire in its pagan state was Rome. Here, then, is a prophecy that the emperor of the East should become possessed of Rome, which exactly agrees with what we know from history to be fact; for the Emperor Justinian’s generals having expelled the Goths our of Italy, Rome was brought into subjection to the emperor of the East, and was for a long time governed by the emperor’s lieutenant, who resided at Ravenna. These considerations convince me that the Greek Empire, and not the Pope and his clergy, is to be understood by the body of the beast, which was like a leopard. And what further confirms me in this belief is, that it appears to me that the Pope and the papal clergy are to be understood by the second beast which we read of in Revelation xiii. 11-17, for of him it is said that “he had two horns like a lamb.” A lamb, we know, is the figure by which Jesus Christ is signified in the Revelation and many other parts of the New Testament. The Pope claims both a temporal and spiritual sovereignty, denoted by the two horns, under the character of the vicar of Jesus Christ, and yet under this high pretence of being the vicar of Jesus Christ, he speaks like a dragon; i.e., he promotes idolatry in the Christian Church, in like manner as the dragon did in the heathen world. To distinguish him from the first beast, he is called (Revelation xix.) “the false prophet that wrought miracles;” i.e., like Mahomet, he pretends to be a lawgiver, and claims infallibility, and his emissaries endeavor to confirm this doctrine by pretended miracles. How wonderfully do all these characters agree to the Pope! Wherefore I conclude that the second, and not the first beast, denotes the tyranny of the Pope and his clergy.

Such a horrible monster, we should have thought, would have been abhorred and detested of all mankind, and that all nations would have joined their powers and forces together to oppose and utterly destroy him from off the face of the earth; but, so far are they from doing this, that, on the contrary, they are represented as worshipping him (verse 8): “And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him,” viz., all those “whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life”, i.e., the wicked world shall pay him an idolatrous reverence, and worship him with a godlike adoration. What can in a more lively manner show the gross stupidity and wickedness of mankind, in thus tamely giving up their just rights into the hands of tyrannical monsters, . . . and in so readily paying them such an unlimited obedience as is due to God alone?

We may observe, further, that these men are said (verse 4) to “worship the dragon”;–not that it is to be supposed that they, in direct terms, paid divine homage to Satan, but that the adoration paid to the beast, who was Satan’s vicegerent, did ultimately centre in him. Hence we learn that those who pay an undue and sinful veneration to tyrants are properly the servants of the devil; they are worshipers of the prince of darkness, for in him all that undue homage and adoration centres that is given to his ministers. Hence that terrible denunciation of divine wrath against the worshippers of the beast and his image: “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation, and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and the smoke of their torment ascendeth for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and who receive the mark of his name.”ß We have here set forth in the clearest manner, by the inspired apostle, God’s abhorrence of tyranny and tyrants, together with the idolatrous reverence that their wretched subjects are wont to pay them, and the awful denunciation of divine wrath against those who are guilty of this undue obedience to tyrants.

ß Rev. xiv. 9, 10.

Does it not, then, highly concern us all to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Heaven hath made us free, and to strive to get the victory over the beast and his image–over every species of tyranny? Let us look upon a freedom from the power of tyrants as a blessing that cannot be purchased too dear, and let us bless God that he has so far delivered us from that idolatrous reverence which men are so very apt to pay to arbitrary tyrants; and let us pray that he would be pleased graciously to perfect the mercy he has begun to show us by confounding the devices of our enemies and bringing their counsels to nought, and by establishing our just rights and privileges upon such a firm and lasting basis that the powers of earth and hell shall not prevail against it.

Under God, every person in the community ought to contribute his assistance to the bringing about so glorious and important an event; but in a more eminent manner does this important business belong to the gentlemen that are chosen to represent the people in this General Assembly, including those that have been appointed members of the Honorable Council Board.

Honored fathers, we look up to you, in this day of calamity and distress, as the guardians of our invaded rights, and the defenders of our liberties against British tyranny. You are called, in Providence, to save your country from ruin. A trust is reposed in you of the highest importance to the community that can be conceived of, its business the most noble and grand, and a task the most arduous and difficult to accomplish that ever engaged the human mind–I mean as to things of the present life. But as you are engaged in the defence of a just and righteous cause, you may with firmness of mind commit your cause to God, and depend on his kind providence for direction and assistance. You will have the fervent wishes and prayers of all good men that God would crown all your labors with success, and direct you into such measures as shall tend to promote the welfare and happiness of the community, and afford you all that wisdom and prudence which is necessary to regulate the affairs of state at this critical period.

Honored fathers of the House of Representatives: We trust to your wisdom and goodness that you will be led to appoint such men to be in council whom you know to be men of real principle, and who are of unblemished lives; that have shown themselves zealous and hearty friends to the liberties of America; and men that have the fear of God before their eyes; for such only are men that can be depended upon uniformly to pursue the general good.

My reverend fathers and brethren in the ministry will remember that, according to our text, it is part of the work and business of a gospel minister to teach his hearers the duty they owe to magistrates. Let us, then, endeavor to explain the nature of their duty faithfully, and show them the difference between liberty and licentiousness; and, while we are animating them to oppose tyranny and arbitrary power, let us inculcate upon them the duty of yielding due obedience to lawful authority. In order to the right and faithful discharge of this part of our ministry, it is necessary that we should thoroughly study the law of nature, the rights of mankind, and the reciprocal duties of governors and governed. By this means we shall be able to guard them against the extremes of slavish submission to tyrants on one hand, and of sedition and licentiousness on the other. We may, I apprehend, attain a thorough acquaintance with the law of nature and the rights of mankind, while we remain ignorant of many technical terms of law, and are utterly unacquainted with the obscure and barbarous Latin that was so much used in the ages of popish darkness and Superstition.

To conclude: While we are fighting for liberty, and striving against tyranny, let us remember to fight the good fight of faith, and earnestly seek to be delivered from that bondage of corruption which we are brought into by sin, and that we may be made partakers of the glorious liberty of the sons and children of God: which may the Father of Mercies grant us all, through Jesus Christ. AMEN.

1 comment

  1. Tarik Hodge
    HIUS 221-B21

    Letter to the editor
    There was this family, who like many had an occasion to disagree from time to time. One day the whole family sat around the table and began to eat the meal. One of the five teenagers were against hunting for he declared it to be barbaric and so horrible to the poor animal as he ripped the chicken leg from its thigh as he slurped down a glass of juice to wash the torn flesh down his throat.

    Oh, hear ye the word of this traitor! No more eloquent, more beautiful than a young harlot in a lovely dress; for her words are lovely but her experiences has worn her health less than whole…beware! “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation”. (MindTap) (Thomas Jefferson, 1776)
    While Mr. Jefferson pens a most eloquent argument for his cause, he fails to witness the irony falling from his lips, the false premise on the table with which he rests his parchment imbued with hypocrisy in every word with. For example: according to (MindTap) The human events to wit he basis his rational for leaving are enshrined in the description of a “Tyrannical King” what’s more tyrannical than a slaveowner? This king demands high taxes in exchange for happiness. How happy are the Indians upon whose land the build, whose children they devoured and whose civilization they reduced to nothing? They were sent to colonize a land, kill off a people for the benefit of the nation that sponsored them (subjects of the crown from which they originated). Second false premise is that they are a people denied of basic freedom. Not to belabor the point of irony, so heavy the weight of a feather is as an elephant sitting on a coffee table. His unmitigated gall to demand freedom in the name of God while “denying” freedom of men (created by God) knows no boundary.
    Events…these events he be cries so great the sound of victim-hood, whilst his slaves are building the wealth of his posterity with the burdens of the lash on their backs. This insolent child-like cry for independents as he sits in the home of the Indians whose children rotten corps feed the worms. How dare he cry righteous indignation as he pens the words of treason, declaring God to be his witness? For the very God that he so eloquently calls on as a witness to the plight of his poor helpless comrades has he well stated, “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft” and obedience (of which no less doth he demand so great of those in chains) is better than sacrifice! (1 Samuel 15:22)
    This letter of treason is vast proof that lies and truth flow indeed from same fountain, these words so well spoken and so dimly viewed when looking upon the “savages” in the Indian and the “brute beast” in the African whilst their bed be warmed by the gentle touch of the broken “Bedwarmer” breed for servitude. With this irony writes he thus: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator…” One cannot help but wonder that upon reading these very words that this same document declared the Indian man a “Savage” and justified the hanging of the murder rape and torcher of the African. These are people who murdered millions of people and they are complaining about the taxes? This is nothing more than an opportunity for high treason. Like insolent adolescents complaining and demanding while in their parents’ house eating their parent’s food, wearing their parents’ clothes and relying on the strength of their parents as ungrateful teenagers.
    Oh, my tears flow for ravenous wolf kicked by the dear he tears apart. Irony, you invade a man’s house steal his land eat his food like vermin bring diseases that kill him lie cheat him out of everything and he is the savage and you are the godly person.

    This was without doubt treason by reason of greed.

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