No virtue, no peace
The wickedness of the unregenerate human heart has been on full display all across the country lately. Riots, looting, destruction, and threatening intimidation are just what we should expect when we give it free rein. A populace unbridled by a high regard for religion and morality, which has been steadily eroding over the past half-century, will find their freedoms eroding as well.
Our Founding Fathers warned us of what we are witnessing today, none more clearly than our second president, John Adams.
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” (1)
“[This] Form of Government…is productive of every Thing which is great and excellent among Men. But its Principles are as easily destroyed, as human nature is corrupted…A Government is only to be supported by pure Religion or Austere Morals. Private, and public Virtue is the only Foundation of Republics.” (2)
The necessity of religion and morality to a truly free country was recognized and addressed by many of our wise founders and statesmen, and was even written into the Northwest Ordinance. Article 3 states:
Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged.” (3)
George Washington hammered home the point in his farewell address.
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens.” (4)
Signer of the Declaration of Independence and abolitionist Dr. Benjamin Rush recognized the fundamental relationship between religion and freedom.
“The only foundation for…a republic is to be laid in Religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.” (5)
No religion. No virtue. No liberty. Many of our wisest leaders have made the connection and warned the citizenry to believe it for the survival of the country. I have more of their words to share, but I’ll close this post with wisdom from Daniel Webster.
“Lastly, our ancestors established their system of government on morality and religious sentiment. Moral habits, they believed, cannot safely be trusted on any other foundation than religious principle, nor any government be secure which is not supported by moral habits…Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens.” (6)
(1) William J. Federer, America’s God and Country: Encyclopedia Of Quotations (St. Louis: Amerisearch, Inc., 2000) pp. 10-11.
(2) Ibid, p. 12.
(3) Ibid, p. 153.
(4) Ibid, p. 661.
(5) Ibid, p. 543.
(6) Ibid, p. 669.