From Athens BC To Washington DC . . .
Perspective on the News
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Jack Kinsella - Omega Letter Editor
In the mid-eighteenth century, a Scottish lord named Alexander Fraser Tytler took upon himself the ponderous task of writing; ''The Universal History of the World; From the Creation of the World to the Beginning of the Eighteenth Century.''
That would be a ponderous task today, in the 21st century, even with the benefit of the internet, public libraries, and word processing and desktop publishing software. But when Lord Woodhouselee took on the project at the University of Edinburgh in the mid 18th century, he did so using featherpen and inkwell.
His "Universal History of the World" is so-called because it presents a broad overview of the history of mankind as viewed from a single perspective, in much the same way that the first five books of the Bible present the universal history of mankind as a whole, from creation to the time of Moses.
Having researched and studied the history of the world from creation to his own time, and having committed it to paper by pen and ink and in his own hand, Lord Alexander Fraser Tytler had, by the time his project was completed, as clear a view of the patterns of history as any man alive at the time.
Lord Woodhouselee studied the rise and fall of the great democracies of history from Athens to Rome and to the countless efforts throughout history from the Magna Carta forward and viewed the concept of democracy as;
His point wasn't that democracy was bad, but rather, that people are.
Tytler makes an observation here that for reasons that escape me completely, totally escapes the purveyors of "reason" as they argue the universal goodness of man. He notes that which is visible in an infant.
If goodness and morality is learned behavior, then it follows that man's foundational state is one of complete depravity. It then follows, reasons Lord Woodhouselee, that while democracy is a wonderful theory, it's fundamental flaw is that people aren't good enough for it to flourish.
Tytler wasn't an enemy of democracy, but rather, an observer of history. He recognized individual exceptions to the rule, and argued that democracy, although flawed, was "best adapted to produce, though not the most frequent, yet the most striking, examples of virtue in individuals," no doubt referring to the newly-born Republic of the United States.
Tytler cited the historical examples of the Greeks and Romans. Both began as republics of equal virtue but gradually, as the people eased into periods of comfort and safety, the republican form of government began to slide into what became a pure democracy, comporting to the description of democracy given by the Lord Jesus of Laodicea in Revelation 3:14.
A republic is the forerunner of a democracy, says Tytler, and a democracy is a republic as it enters into its death throes.
The United States started life as a republic. William Blackstone was an 18th century British jurist whose commentaries set forth two main categories of common law; the law of nature and the law of revelation.
His "Commentaries on the Laws of England" established a sort of Common Law 'Bible' for the United States from the time of the Founding Fathers.
James Wilson, one of the signers of the Constitution and one of the first five Supreme Court justices, looked to Blackstone's 'Commentaries' to form his decisions both in Congress and on the bench.
Blackstone explains that the law of nature establishes a rule of moral conduct based on God’s law, which recognizes man as created in the image of God.
This rule of moral conduct imposes a rule of action upon man that includes duties to God, self, and neighbor.
Government has the authority to pass laws that set forth a rule of civil conduct only, and such laws must be in accordance with the law of nature. Such laws would make certain actions 'malum in se' or, 'bad in and of itself'.
Blackstone argues that the role of government is not to enumerate rights, but to protect those rights already imparted to every individual by God.
His common law model establishes that the duty of government is to commend what is right and prohibit what is wrong.
Blackstone defined the word 'law' as it applies to government in his Commentaries, calling it,
Are you with me so far? Blackstone's Commentaries outlined the duties and responsibilities of government in a Constitutional Republic.
The difference, Blackstone explains, is that the US Constitution creates the powers that exist according to Divine Revelation, whereas in other countries, the existing powers determine the nature of the constitution.
In the American republic, then, there were "principles which did not change" and which were "certain and universal in their operation upon all the members of the community", which were the principles of Biblical natural law.
For example, Blackstone's Commentaries explained:
So, in the final analysis, a republic is a form of government ruled by the rule of human law as subordinate to Divine Law, whereas in a democracy the rule of the people is supreme.
I read an article at The Blaze this morning that followed a blogger named Anne Sorock describing a scene outside a Chick-Fil-A in Chicago at the Chick-Fil-A "Kiss In" event.
According to Sorock, gay activists began engaging — then harassing – a “homeless street preacher” who was reading his Bible outside of the restaurant.
Later, Sorock asked the man why he believes he was targeted by the group.
And so, which one of these two guys above do you think votes Democrat?
At the close of the Constitutional Convention, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin what type of government the Constitution was bringing into existence. Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
If only . . . (sigh)