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Pastor Jesse Crutchley | Millersville, Maryland
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Severn Run EP Church (PCA)
1624 Millersville Road
Millersville, Maryland 21108
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Not So Self-Evident Truths
Posted by: Severn Run EP Church (PCA) | more..
48,540+ views | 290+ clicks

[Image: Marching Off, 2013, JA Van Devender]

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.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,

that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these areLife, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Perhaps the single most important secular document any human hand has ever composed and it is fundamentally seditious and, as far as Britain rightly considered it, treason.

What would motivate a people, outwardly prosperous, with no few advantages accruing to them from their status as citizens of the most powerful nation on earth, to declare themselves no longer such, but rather to align themselves against the full fury of that nation and place their own lives in immediate danger? What would be worth the pitting of family member against family member, community against community, people against their lawful king?

In another age... in a time long ago... what it took was an idea. It took an incredible vision of a free and just society in which the people were ultimately responsible for themselves and in which no sub-set of the population, by right of birth and privilege, was to be accorded special authority and elevation over their fellow citizens. It took a view of mankind, under God, as being served by their government rather than the opposite.

There must be order... not chaos... not absolute individual freedom, but an order that was established by the "consent of the governed". It was a vision of a people, who understood the responsibilities of freedom and recognized that only an educated, moral, and essentially religious people, can long maintain such a social order. It was the understanding that humanity, in its highest attainment, is social, moral, prudent and free. But to govern itself, these democratic and republican ideas must be inherent in the culture, they must be communicated to rising generations and the zeal that inspired revolution must be maintained as a national ethic.

The alternative is tyranny, perhaps benevolent, perhaps not, but ultimately absolute.

These truths are not so self-evident anymore, or so it appears. The 'freedom' which Jefferson and his compatriots understood as self-evidently desirable is a concept far removed from what is commonly understood as 'freedom' today. The perversion of the language has proceeded apace and "freedom" is more commonly understood today as being "freedom from want", "freedom from responsibility", "freedom from poverty", or other such qualifications. The Founding Fathers would have considered such ideas ludicrous and any who propounded them as insane.

In order to be "free of want... poverty... responsibility" a person must, inevitably be the ward of some entity or other person whose object is to furnish the requisite conditions for that person to be "free" in that sense. The Founders rightly saw that such a person is no longer "free" at all but rather bound by their own selfishness in bonds of absolute dependence on the person or entity doing the providing. Slavery can be accomplished with bonds of steel or bonds of velvet, but it is still slavery.

The Founders rightly understood that in order for "freedom from want, etc." to be furnished there must be an ruling elite who has control of the resources and under some sense of Noblesse Oblige will, from its own moral imperative, be oriented to furnish that condition to those under them. There was an entire social order that existed for 500 hundred years based on that idea. It was Feudalism and its ultimate outworking was the very system that the Declaration was designed to oppose.

Freedom and guaranteed security are mutually exclusive concepts. Security can be gained by a free people but the moment they assent to the promise that it will be "guaranteed" by someone and submit to whatever resulting laws and binding order is imposed, they have ceased to be free.

The Declaration of Independence is a revolutionary document. It was revolutionary in 1776 and, if it and its essential ideas were embraced again, it would be revolutionary today.

I wonder if this country will ever again gain the moral consensus, integrity and zeal, to embrace freedom once more.

...whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

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