On the occasion of the commemoration of the signing of the Constitution, on 17 September 1787, some 232 years ago, we pause to remember the significance of that event and its implications for modern patriots.
The American colonists had been gathering to this continent, starting with the establishment of Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in the New World on May 14, 1607, followed by the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts, on November 11, 1620. From the outset, though they were loyal English subjects, many had a profound sense of mission in this New World setting.
As historian John Fiske wrote:
“[The first colonists] believed that they were doing a wonderful thing. They felt themselves to be instruments in accomplishing a kind of “manifest destiny.” Their exodus [from Europe] was that of a chosen people who were at length to lay the everlasting foundation of God’s kingdom upon earth . . . This steadfast faith in an unseen ruler and guide was to them a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. It was of great moral value. It gave them clearness of purpose and concentration of strength, and contributed towards making them, like the children of Israel, a people of indestructible vitality and aggressive energy.” (Fiske, The Beginnings of New England, pp. 304-5)
From this beginning, the colonists went on to free themselves of England’s rule and then to do something that had never been done since the outset of governments, they created their own form of government, founded on the novel concept that the government should answer to the people, rather than the other way around. They felt God’s hand in their endeavor from the outset, especially during the War for Independence. They felt that God had given this gift, not just to them but to the whole world.
John Adams wrote:
“I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in Providence for the illumination of the ignorant, and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth.” (Quoted in Conrad Cherry, God’s New Israel, p. 65)
As American life, under its new constitution, got underway, George Washington remarked:
“The United States enjoys a scene of prosperity and tranquility that could hardly have been hoped for.” (Letter to Catherine Macaulay Graham, 19 July 1791; John C Fitzpatrick, The Writings of George Washington)
British Statesman, William Gladstone was right when in 1878 he described the U.S. Constitution as “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.”
Today, as a people, we still claim allegiance to the Constitution and our elected leaders routinely swear an oath to uphold it, but beyond that, things have changed. We have only to see the public dialog in the media and in the current political debates to see how far we have slipped from the principles of the Constitution as intended by its framers. Socialism is openly admired and advocated by some of our current political leaders, and its precepts have been creeping into our laws at an ever-increasing rate.
Abraham Lincoln saw this drift in his day. To the question: “How shall we fortify against [a loss of our liberty]?” he replied:
“The answer is simple. Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well-wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular the laws of this [constitution]. As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor . . . In short, let [the Constitution] become the political religion of the nation.”
In 2004, Congressman Butch Otter, wrote a letter to his fellow legislators, with a gift of a DVD of the award-winning feature film, A More Perfect Union. (This film was made under the direction of the Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution.) In part, Representative Otter’s letter reads:
Most of you likely have heard the old saying, “You have to stand for something or you will fall for anything.”
Well, I like to take it a little further than that. Standing for “something” is fine, but standing for what is right and true and eternal is a much firmer foundation, and offers a much better chance of preventing a fall.
There are a few things in this life that reliably provide that kind of foundation. One is God. Another is family. And, here in the United States of America, the Constitution is another.
As Ezra Taft Benson so eloquently put it in his treatise, “The Proper Role of Government”, “I believe that the Constitution of the United States was prepared and adopted by men acting under inspiration from Almighty God; that it is a solemn compact between the peoples of the States of this nation, which all officers of the government are under duty to obey; that the eternal moral laws expressed therein must be adhered to or individual liberty will perish.”
The Constitution has been, throughout my career in public life, the standard by which I assess timeless wisdom and true virtue. It has become a beacon of hope and opportunity for individuals and nations the world over. It is our birthright as a citizen, and our legacy for generations yet unborn.
Please accept this invitation to learn more about the principles upon which America was founded, and upon which each of us still depends as we seek to “secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
So what can be done?
- We can inform ourselves at election time in order to make wise choices at the ballot box. We are under divine mandate to choose good, honest, and wise men to represent us. Only through such men will our Constitution and our liberties be revered and preserved.
- We can correctly inform ourselves as to current events by going beyond the mainstream media. It is difficult to find truly conservative news sources, but they are out there. The best lens through which to view current issues and candidates is an understanding of the foundational principles of liberty as envisioned by the men God raised up to give us our Constitution. Some of those sources are:
- Holy Scripture (The Founders’ most trusted source of the ideas for good government was the Bible, especially the book of Deuteronomy. See David Barton’s, America’s Godly Heritage)
- A More Perfect Union (available through the National Center for Constitutional Studies)
- The Proper Role of Government, Ezra Taft Benson
- The Making of America, W. Cleon Skousen
- The 5000 Year Leap, W. Cleon Skousen
- Of course, the Constitution of the United States itself. There are many current writings which draw on original sources to help us understand the intent and content of the Constitution. Some of these would be the National Center for Constitutional Studies, the CATO Institute, the Idaho Freedom Foundation, the Madison Liberty Institute, and others.
3. We can do what the Founders did, as proposed by Benjamin Franklin in the Constitutional Convention:
“I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberation be held in this assembly every morning.”
Let us rededicate ourselves to the freedom fight in our day. This is the same fight that gave birth to our nation over two centuries ago, but in reality, it is the same fight that has existed since the beginning of time. It is the struggle between man’s higher nature which recognizes the inalienable right to a moral agency for himself and others and man’s lower nature which consistently gives way to the tendency to unrighteous dominion over his fellows.
It is for that reason that we cannot neglect allegiance to that Being who has ever encouraged us toward man’s higher nature through the principles of Christianity, upon which our nation was founded. As John Quincy Adams stated:
“The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”
Fellow patriots, may we not neglect our sacred duty to preserve these principles through our study, our prayer, and our works in freedom’s cause.
Dr. Jud Miller is a retired physician with more than four decades of medicine under his belt. A fourth-generation Idahoan, Dr. Miller has great respect for the U.S. Constitution and the origins of our form of government. He considers himself both a fiscal and social conservative and has taught cottage classes on the principles of good government in the tradition of the Founding Fathers. Jud and his wife Catherine have five adult children, 29 grandchildren, and are proud to call Southeastern Idaho home.