An American Pastor’s Polemic on Politics

Dear Saints,

While I was caring for Abraham while he was sick this Lord’s Day, I was afforded time to finish my reading of William S. Plumer’s, Jehovah-Jirah: A Treatise on Providence. The book has been a dear friend to me and covers a surprising range of things. Before I close the covers of this volume from the late 1800s, I wanted to share with you parts of his last two chapters, “Providence Over Nations”, and “National Judgments”, in which this American Presbyterian pastor calls upon his country to take heed. Do these words not resonate within our own nation’s political state and trajectory?

God’s Providence Over Nations, Chapter XVII

In general men think far too little of God’s providence over nations …

There are but few men in the world possessed of any considerable wisdom in the management of political affairs …

A pure despotism is the simplest form of government in the world. In it the will of one man decides everything. The moment men depart one step toward constitutional freedom, the government becomes complex. The more freedom, the more difficult it is to understand and adjust the balances of the Constitution and the laws under it …

Men who might understand what ought to be done for a nation’s good are often vain, cruel and sordidly selfish. When wisdom degenerates into cunning, and political acts are cautiously constructed to secure the elevation of their authors, their very gifts are a curse … They often pander to the sins of the nation. Their appeals are to the worst passions of the human breast. Their practice is never better than their principles …

… oftentimes public opinion is more powerful than any statute …

Surely then there is need for the insteppings of Jehovah to guide and govern nations ; nations generally ; each nation in particular. Truly God is their only hope …

What prosperous nation hath not waxed fat and kicked against the Lord? …

When God afflicts any nation let its inhabitants reverently bow before him and humbly submit to his chastisements. Let good men pray and trust in the providence of God. He can deliver them and their nation out of all their troubles …

We should guard against becoming violent partisans in the state, to which we belong … let not good men associate with lewd fellows of the baser sort in their howlings against law and order … Let God’s people be very careful how they participate in a revolution …

The character of agitator is anti-christian …

The world never understands Christian character. With it gospel humility is meanness, faith in the testimony of God is fanaticism, firmness is dogged stubbornness …

… what can be done with men, who have no magnanimity? Many refuse to draw any distinction between the ravings of fanaticism, and the purest and most humble piety. Mobs have often pronounced themselves patriotic ; but is there no difference between a mob and a band of patriots? And is there no difference between the enlightened, humble, unswerving piety of a true Christian, and the wild, lawless radicalism, which sometimes rises up, not from religion, but from the bottomless pit, and assumes the garb of piety to screen or to sanctify its abominations? …

… true piety has always secured good conduct in subjects and citizens, and made them blessings to the land they inhabited …

Quoting an unnamed Anglican writer: … it is the modern fashion to feed delightfully on the fruit, and then revile, if not curse, those who planted and watered it. How often have the best men been cast out of church establishments, and then charged with the sin of schism.

Providence Punishes Nations for Their Sins, Chapter XVIII

God’s providence is over both persons and nations. In this world retribution to persons is imperfect, for they will be dealt with hereafter. But nations exist here only. Whatever rewards or punishments they receive must be temporal …

Sins are national, either by their prevalence among a people, or by being sanctioned by national authority. When the law-making power of a country decrees unrighteousness and frames wickedness by a law ; when its executive power is wielded for cruelty, or favoritism ; when the judges of a land are corrupt, and justify the guilty and condemn the innocent, then a fearful reckoning is not far off. So when iniquity abounds in the members of a nation, its punishment is near …

But the Scriptures make it very clear that nothing is more offensive to God than the rejection of his Gospel by a people …

Great favors impose great obligations. The greater the mercy, the greater the responsibility …

In every land some refuse the yoke of Christ. Sometimes many do it secretly. But when the hostility is bold and aversion rises to the point of malignity, and opposition builds up adverse systems, and all this with the clear light shining, a nation has reached an appalling crisis …

Sometimes this rejection is accompanied by anti-christian legislation …

Sometimes a people go further and cruelly persecute all who oppose their wicked course …

In his History of Redemption, Edwards says: “We read in Scripture of scare any destruction of nations but that one main reason given for it is, their enmity and injuries against God’s church, and doubtless this was one main reason of the destruction of all nations by the flood.” …

Men sometimes reject the Gospel by making a hypocritical profession of it …

This public opinion, perverted, is potent for mischief. It knows no limits. It has no checks as every written law has. It can make hypocrites faster than the apostles made converts …

To such a people Jesus said: ‘The kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing for the fruits thereof.’ Matt. xxi. 43. …

Isaiah 60:12: For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.

Let us not think we may treat the Gospel as we please and yet be safe …

God is in history. Let the people of America be no exception to this call … Let us not trust in man to preserve us … Let us all beware of a morbid excitability of temper. “The mock heroic falsetto of stupid tragedy” will create a thirst for the horrible, till at last our people will gloat over scenes of carnage … What shall be the future character of the busy millions of America …? …

… if any people learn habitually to slight offered mercy their future course will open an Iliad of calamities, appalling to the stoutest heart. The prophetic roll of such a country’s history is written within and without with lamentations, and mourning, and woe …

Let each man remember his own awful responsibility to God. The way that nations rise in worth, or sink in ruin, is by the individuals, who compose them, walking humbly with God or renouncing their portion in Jacob. Aggregated masses are the sum of the good or ill inwoven into the character of their component parts. The union of good men is right, and it is strength. Let every man rule his own heart. He is the best patriot, who walks most according to the moral law and the example of Christ, and who most fervently implores the blessing of heaven on his people and country …

Psalm 33:12: Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

Proverbs 14:34: Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.

People of America! Beware how you trifle with sin, how you make light of God’s authority, and revel in iniquity …

But some are hopeless cases. Nothing moves them. God chastises them, but they make their hearts harder than adamant. He invites them by mingled words of entreaty and of authority, but they pass heedlessly along …

Yet no signs of devouring wrath now strike their or our senses. Earthquakes, it is said, are preceded by an unusual stillness in nature …

God calls the whole nation to repentance … Will not all, individually, turn and live? …

If the nation repents, it will be by each man bewailing his sins, believing in Christ, and so fleeing from the wrath to come. “GOD NOW COMMANDETH ALL MEN EVERYWHERE TO REPENT.” OBEY, AND LIVE.

I close with something Plumer wrote in an earlier chapter: “Public opinion often errs. Individual judgments are as often erroneous … He that judgeth us is the Lord.”

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant

Don’t Throw Away Your Vote to Pragmatic Politics

Dear Saints,

As you know, I’m up in the mountains on respite with the children and will not be able to vote tomorrow for the next president of the United States of America. Frankly, I’m disgusted with the candidate options, and if I was able to vote I would write in a name that was clearly Christian and should be on the ballot to vote my conscience with a vission for the future.

I had jotted down these notes a little while ago with intent to share them with you during the presidential debates.  I’d still like to send them real quick from the Shaver Lake, CA, library before we head out for the night (no wifi access otherwise).

While I recognize whomever God puts in office is of Him and then we will need to “honor the king” (1 Pet. 2:17), that doesn’t mean we need to be pressured to put him (or her as the case may be) there.

These words by Gordon H. Clark, in Reason, Religion, Revelation, resonated with me thinking about where our country has gotten with politics and parties represented by the candidates presented to us for our next president.

Clark writes on p. 47: “… consistency and profundity are not the prerequisites of popularity.”  Does this not ring true in consideration of how “we the people” get what we deserve with our present representation?  The political scene is a sign of the times for our nation of what “we the people” have become (are not the candidates alarmingly too much like us as a nation and church?).  Clark also writes, “ … moral convictions and moral education, based on law and right, can be consistently grounded on Biblical revelation.  On the other hand, contemporary American humanism like pagan antiquity neither has this ground for morality nor does it unexceptionally recognize these laws” (pp. 151-2).  This needs to be meditated on before you vote …

… along with these: “Can …. A philosophy that repudiates revelation … provide a justification for any of the Ten Commandments?  Are not those humanists who still oppose murder and theft living on the Christian capital inherited from their Puritan ancestors?” (p. 152).  They are less and less, yet we keep putting them in office and then wonder why our nation is more and more aggressively pagan.

Some “conservative” talking heads are seriously pressuring us to not “throw away our vote”, but let me encourage you to cast a vote with the future in view that says “give me this kind of guy or don’t get my vote for your nonsense candidates any longer” or our children will suffer the same fate as did the early church with the fall of Rome all around them as it was taken over by barbarians.

May we always vote in a way that calls on our country to provide leadership that will reflect Psalm 33:12: Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD …  Let us do our duty in witnessing to Christ’s right to rule this nation in how we vote and how this nation would ever be changed for the better, and let us leave the outcome in His hands.  For to try and take things into our own hands cowering to pragmatic pressure will get “we the people” more of what we these unprincipled persons deserve–and that will destroy us as a people.

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant