Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.—Habakkuk 2.4.

[The U.S. Constitution Weighed in the Balance.]

THE U.S. CONSTITUTION

WEIGHED IN THE BALANCE.

Excerpted from:

THE

REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN.

VOL. VII.

MARCH, 1843.

No. I.

X

TrueCovenanter.com Editor's Introduction.

This article, representative of the true and historic Reformed Presbyterian position concerning Civil Government and the fundamental defects of the U.S. Constitution, was first printed in the Reformed Presbyterian Magazine in 1843 (as indicated above,) and again re-printed in 1858, in Volume 22, issue 10, of the same periodical.  It is heartily recommended today, as equally relevant, and just as Biblical as at the time of its first publication. It is true, Slavery is no longer a legal practice in the United States, in the form it was during the 1800’s, but it is also true that the defects of the constitution relating to that institution, remain in the document, some being unaltered even by amendment, and all of them as a testimony to the fact that the American religion still teaches that the “We the people” of the United States are able to make such institutions legitimate or illegitimate, right or wrong, by the exercise of their collective will.  It is also true, that however tyrannical the practice of slavery was in early U.S. history, the murderous practice of abortion, presently legalized by national conspiracy against the most helpless and defenseless members of the nation, will in the present day implicate the Laws and Constitution of the United States—The Supreme Law of the Land—with far more serious violation of the Divine Law than did the institution of Slavery a few generations ago.  Besides these barbaric institutions, the outrage done against the Divine Majesty, in a pretentious attempt to overturn his law by the provisions of the U.S. Constitution concerning matters of religion, justice, the qualifications of governors, the purposes of government, and the supreme authority of the Son of God, can never make that document a respectable or allowable instrument of government in the eyes of a Christian.

2010.12.18.

The Christian is required to prove all things in order that he may hold fast that which is good.  His attention, however, will be directed principally to those things in which he is expected to bear an active part; and these will claim his investigation in proportion to their importance.  The constitutions of the churches and nations occupy a conspicuous place in these investigations, and the constitution of the church and of the nation in which he is placed, claim a prominent place among those of the churches and the nations.  To the conscientious christian of every denomination in these United States, the constitution of the national government cannot fail to be a subject of deep interest.  The object of this essay is to assist those who have no better means of investigation, in proving the moral character of that instrument.  No labored argument is intended; but merely to put the balance of the sanctuary into the reader’s hand, and assist him in adjusting it, that he may perform the weighing himself.  The several objectionable articles of the constitution are placed in juxtaposition with collateral articles from the scriptures, and both presented at one view.  The several articles here presented ought to be examined in their respective connexions; and every man should try to do his own thinking.—Without {20} denying that there are many things in the constitution of the United States, which for the matter of them are good, we leave to others the more agreeable service of collating them with the divine law in the same manner.

I.—The objects proposed in its formation.

Constitution.

Preamble.—We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.




Divine Law.

Hos. 8.4. They have set up kings, but not by me; they have made princes, but I knew it not.

1 Cor. 10.31. Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

Col. 3.17. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Lev. 25.10. Proclaim liberty throughout all the land; unto all the inhabitants thereof.

 

The profession of the reformed churches in relation to civil government is, that it is an ordinance of God; instituted for his own glory, as well as for the good of man; but the glory of God is none of the ends set forth in this instrument.  The words “justice,” and “liberty,” in the preamble sound well: a stranger to the circumstances under which they were written, could find nothing amiss in them; but any person acquainted with the rudiments of American history, will see that the grand ideas usually associated with these words, are very much restricted by the qualification “ourselves;” and we the people of the United States in administering this justice and securing this liberty to ourselves, exclude from the same privileges millions of our fellow men.  The divine law requires justice for all without exception, and liberty for all except criminals: Deut. 16.20, “That which is ALTOGETHER just shalt thou do.”  Isa. 58.6, “Undo the heavy burdens—let the oppressed go free—break EVERY yoke.”

If any one doubt the applicability of the above quotation from Leviticus, let him ascertain who first made the application.  The words are inscribed on the great bell which was rung at the first reading of the Declaration of Independence—an instrument not borrowed, but cast for the occasion; and this verse of Leviticus cast in raised letters when it was cast.—This bell is not among the relics of antiquity; but to this day {20} serves as the bell of the city clock on the old state house in the city of Philadelphia.

II.—The representation.

Constitution.

Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3. Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons.




Divine Law.

Psalm 115.16. The heaven, even the heavens are the Lord’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.

Ezek. 47.22. Ye shall divide it by lot for an inheritance unto you, and to the strangers that sojourn among you; and they shall be unto you as born in the country among the children of Israel; they shall have inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel.

And it shall come to pass, that in what tribe the stranger sojourneth, there shall ye give him his inheritance, saith the Lord God.

Acts 17.26. And hath made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth.

 

The distinction here made between “free persons” and “all other persons,” is an example of the kind of justice established, and of the extent of liberty secured to our precious selves! “All other persons” means slaves.

Here are two new injuries inflicted on the slave besides the old one of depriving him of liberty.  First, he is reckoned at the value of only three-fifths of a man; although dignified with the name “person,” he is forty per cent below the estimation in which we hold “ourselves.”  Secondly, the political weight of this three-fifths, is put into the scale with the master, making him something above par in political value, because he is a tyrant.  Even among “ourselves,” the slave-holder stands pre-eminent; so that the slaveholding States have a much greater representation in the general government, in proportion to the number of persons actually represented, than the free states; which preponderance always has acted, and may reasonably be expected always to act against the interests of the slave, and in open violation of the great principle of the divine law, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”  And is in opposition to the special provisions made by the same law for the stranger.  Lev. 24.22, “Ye shall have one manner {22} of law, as well for the stranger as for one of your own country.”  Num. 15.16, “One law and one manner shall be for you and for the stranger that sojourneth with you.”

III.—The Slave Trade.

Constitution.

Article 1, Section 9, Clause 1. The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress, prior to the year eighteen hundred and eight; but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.




Divine Law.

Exod. 21.16. And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.

Ezek. 27.13. They traded the persons of men and vessels of brass in thy market.  Ver. 27. Thy riches, &c. shall fall into the midst of the seas in the day of thy ruin. Ver. 36, Thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt be any more.

Rev. 18.10. Alas, alas, that great city, Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.  Verse 11, No man buyeth her merchandize any more.  Verse 13, Sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.

 

The term importation is used only in relation to property; and here we have importation of men, women, and children, and a tax levied on such importation, dignifying them with the name of “persons,” and in reality treating them as property.  The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof, he has given it to the children of men.  See the title deed, Gen. 1.28-30, where the Creator makes over to man the right of property in certain articles there specified; but no mention is made of property in his fellow man.  After man had lost this right by sin, it was renewed by the Redeemer; but in the renewed charter as it is presented, Gen. 9.1-3, there is no mention of this new species of property.  Even to this day the right of property in man seems to be among the imperfect rights.  Under this clause of the Constitution the nefarious slave trade was legalised for more than twenty years.  It is not true, what some assert, that this is now a dead letter since the year 1808; for the slaves imported under this provision, and their children, are still held as property, and their cries are entering into the ears of the God of Sabaoth.  The property “imported” under this clause has never yet been cleared.  The holders have “duty” to pay in the court of heaven. {23}

IV.—Qualifications of officers.

Constitution.

Article 1, Section 2, Clause 2. No person shall be a representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty-five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not when elected, be an inhabitant of the state in which he shall be chosen.

Section 3, Clause 3. No person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the age of thirty years, and been nine years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state for which he shall be chosen.

Article 2, Section 1, Clause 3. No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident of the United States.

Article 6, Clause 3. But no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office of public trust under the United States.




Divine Law.

Exod. 18.21. Moreover, thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness, and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.

Deut. 1.13. Take ye wise men and understanding, and I will make them rulers over you.

Job 34.17. Shall even he that hateth right govern? and wilt thou condemn him that is most just?

Psalm 2.10. Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings; be instructed ye judges of the earth.

Prov. 28.15. As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.  Verse 16. The prince that wanteth understanding is also a great oppressor: but he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days.

Eccl. 4.13. Better is a poor and a wise child, than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.

Isa. 65.20. But the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.

Exod. 20.3. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Lev. 26.27. And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me; then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury.

2 Kings 10.29. The sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin—the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan.

Deut. 17.15. Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose.

Psalm 4.3. But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself. {24}

Rom. 13.4. For he is the minister of God.

Psalm 14.1. The fool hath said in his heart there is no God.

 

The constant practice of “the people,” in choosing rulers, especially to the higher offices, is sufficient comment on these passages.

V.—Induction into office.

Constitution.

Article 2, Section 1, Clause 7. Before he (the President) enter on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation:—

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Article 6. Clause 3. The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the State Legislatures, and all Executive and Judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution.




Divine Law.

Deut. 31.7. And Moses called unto Joshua and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of good courage; for thou must go with this people unto the land which the Lord hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it.  Verse 8, And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee; fear not, neither be dismayed.

2 Sam. 5.3. So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the Lord.

2 Kings 11.12. And he brought forth the king’s son, and put the crown upon him, and gave him the testimony, &c.  Verse 17. And Jehoiada made a covenant between the Lord and the king and the people, that they should be the Lord’s people; between the king also and the people.

Hosea 8.4. They have set up kings, but not by me; they have made princes, and I knew it not.

 

According to these sections of the Constitution, an officer may be inducted into the highest office of the nation without any reference to the King of nations; not even in the oath is there any reference to the Lord of the whole earth; and supposing that there were a reference contained or implied in the oath, even this can be dispensed with: “I do solemnly swear or affirm.” {25}

VI.—The pardoning power.

Constitution.

Article 2, Section 2, Clause 1. He shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons, for offences against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.




Divine Law.

Num. 35.31. Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, who is guilty of death; but he shall be surely put to death.  Verse 33. For blood it defileth the land; and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.

 

Cases of murder may arise among the cases which belong to the judicial power of the United States; according to the 2d section of the 3d article.

VII.—Crediting records and judicial proceedings.

Constitution.

Article 4, Section 1. Full faith and credit shall be given in each state, to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.




Divine Law.

Isa. 8.12. Say ye not, a confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, a confederacy.

Psalm 50.18. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, &c.

1 Tim. 5.22. Neither be partaker of other men’s sins.

 

According to the above provision of the Constitution, a deed executed, or law passed on the Sabbath, in one State, is to be held valid in another State, provided it be among the public records; and judicial decisions declaring that such and such men, women, and children, are the property of their fellow men, with other like transactions, are all to be held as valid, bona fide, in every State.

VIII.—Fugitive Slaves.

Constitution.

Article 4, Section 2, Clause 3. No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.




Divine Law.

Deut. 23.15. Thou shalt not deliver up unto his master, the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee:  Verse 16. He shall dwell with thee even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best; thou shalt not oppress him.

Isa. 16.3. Hide the outcasts; {26} bewray not him that wandereth.  Verse 5. And in mercy shall the throne be established.

Psalm 82.3. Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy.  Verse 4. Deliver the poor and needy; rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

 

IX.—Pertinacity in wickedness.

Constitution.

Article 5. Provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article.




Divine Law.

Jer. 5.26. They lay wait as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men.

Jer. 8.5. They hold fast deceit, they refuse to return. Verse 6. I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright; no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done?

Eph. 4.28. Let him that stole, steal no more.

 

One of the clauses referred to here which might not be amended, is the one which protected the slave trade for more than twenty years.  So well was this trap set, to catch men, that if the nation had repented during the twenty years, the Constitution would have prevented the breaking off sins by righteousness, and iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor African. [Dan. 4.27.]

X.—The Supreme Law.

Constitution.

Article 6, Clause 2. This Constitution and the laws of the United States, which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land: and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.




Divine Law.

Deut. 17.18. And it shall be when he sitteth on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law, in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: and it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life, &c.

Josh. 1.8. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night; that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein.

Isa. 8.20. To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

 

The Divine Law is here formally rejected: it is not the supreme law of the land; any incidental references to it in the course of legislation can be of little avail so long as there {26} is another law supreme.  The person swearing to support this Constitution must take it as it is, namely, “the SUPREME law of the land.”

XI.—Religion of the nation.

Constitution.

Amendments. Article 1. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof.




Divine Law.

Deut. 6.15. Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.—Verse 16. Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people, which are round about you.  Chapter 7.5. But thus shall ye deal with them, ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves and burn their graven images with fire.  Chapter 12.30. Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them; and that thou inquire not after their gods.  Verse 31. Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God.

1 Kings 18.21. How long halt ye between two opinions?  If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.

Psalm 72.11. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him, all nations shall serve him.

Micah 4.2. And many nations shall come and say, Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.

Rev. 11.15. The kingdoms of this world, are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.   Compare Psalm 2.1,2,3.

 

XII.—Gross and radical defects.

Constitution.

The Constitution makes no mention of the Creator in any form: nor of the Redeemer, the governor of the nations; nor of the Scriptures, the only rule, the supreme law of nations; nor of the Church, the great object of God’s providence, for whose special benefit, nations are organized, preserved, and dashed to pieces.




Divine Law.

Psalm 2.10. Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth; serve the Lord with fear; &c.

Psalm 9.17. The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.

John 5.23. That all should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.

Isa. 34.1. Come near ye nations to hear.  Verse 16. Seek ye out of the book of the Lord and read.

Deut. 32.8. When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.

Isa. 43.3. I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Sheba for thee.  Verse 14. For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and have {27} brought down their nobles, and the Chaldeans whose cry is in the ships.  Chapter 60.12. For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.  Verse 16. Thou shalt also suck the milk of nations, and shalt suck the breasts of kings: and thou shalt know that I the Lord am thy Saviour, and thy Redeemer the mighty one of Jacob.

 

O! believer—child of God, if you have sworn to support this Constitution, or if you are tempted to do so, be entreated for your soul’s sake, if you would not be found to fight against God—be entreated to read and study these passages in their respective connexions, tremble at such threatenings as the following, and pray God if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. [Acts 8.22.]

Jer. 9.9. “Shall I not visit them for these things? saith the Lord; shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?”  Chapter 10.10. “But the Lord is the God of truth, he is the living God and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.”

Rev. 19.15. “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword that with it he should smite the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; and he treadeth the wine-press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.  And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, and LORD OF LORDS.”

Does not this nation need a Saviour, and a great one?

R. H.