Liberty

And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. (Leviticus 25:10)

Liberty. Dictionary.com defines “liberty” as freedom from arbitrary or despotic government control, external or foreign rule, or from control, interference, obligation, restriction or hampering conditions. It is the power of right doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.

The Webster’s Dictionary 1828 – Online Edition – published nearer the time of our nation’s founding – defines it more precisely, and its definition includes our leading verse. The 1828 Webster’s says that “liberty” is freedom from restraint and applicable to the body, or to the will, or mind. It is the power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, except from the laws of nature. It goes on to say that this liberty is abridged by the establishment of government. This governmental abridgment is necessary and expedient for the safety and interest of the society, state or nation. However, a restraint of natural liberty not necessary or expedient for the public, is tyranny or oppression. “Civil liberty” is an exemption from the arbitrary will of others, which exemption is secured by established laws, which restrain every man from injuring or controlling another. Hence the restraints of law are essential to civil liberty. The liberty of one depends not so much on the removal of all restraint from him, as on the due restraint upon the liberty of others. “Religious liberty” is the free right of adopting and enjoying opinions on religious subjects, and of worshiping the Supreme Being according to the dictates of conscience, without external control. More follows, but for now this will suffice.

It is worth noting that the modern definition makes no mention of “natural law” or the “laws of nature.” Nor does it mention the “Supreme Being” and the “free right” to religious liberty. It is easy to see why using the modern definition to interpret our founding documents dampens the meaning to words like freedom, liberty and the laws of nature and nature’s God.

In the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, the Founders appealed to “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” They affirmed that “these truths” are “self-evident that all Men are created equal … they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

From where did such a notion arise? Arguably, such ideas were adopted from enlightened philosophers of the time, who borrowed from the ancient Greek philosophers. However, it goes beyond that. These laws ultimately come from “Nature’s God.” The “Creator” created “all men” equal, and He “endowed” them with inherent rights that cannot be taken away – they are “unalienable.”[1]

God does as He pleases. “For I am the LORD: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days, O rebellious house, will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord GOD” (Ezekiel 12:25, emphasis mine). God is Creator. “For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:18, emphasis mine). God created man in His image (Genesis 1:27). God first gave man the “breath of life (Genesis 2:7), and “endowed” him with the attribute of autonomy that He Himself possesses. Hence, “liberty,” i.e., “freedom,” is a God-like attribute inherent to man that cannot be taken away. Therefore, those who would deprive another of “Life” (even unborn life) violate the “Law of Nature” and are called murderers, and likewise, those that would deprive another of “Liberty” (autonomy) violate the “Law of Nature’s God,” and are called tyrants.

The pursuit of happiness is a gift that comes from God. “For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee” (Psalm 128:2, emphasis mine). From the beginning, work has been both a curse and a blessing. “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19, emphasis mine). The Preacher says, “I know that there is no good in [the sons of men], but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13, emphasis mine). Because man bears the image of the Creator, he too creates, from his mind through his hands, that which brings him joy and happiness. “But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17, emphasis mine). Indeed, God views in dishonor those who will not work; the Bible calls such “sluggards.” “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat” (Proverbs 13:4, emphasis mine). “The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing” (Proverbs 20:4, emphasis mine). Paul reminded the Thessalonians, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10, emphasis mine).

Work is the means by which we “pursue happiness,” and by which we obtain private property. It is a gift of God. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, are the Laws of Nature that are derived from Nature’s God. They belong to all men[2] equally. The fact that ancient and modern philosophers tout these “laws” (as if conceived by their own intellect), is that they, whether they give assent to God or not, carry within themselves the image of God. We can thank God that these noble and lofty ideals found sanctuary in the founding documents of our nation. Liberty comes from God alone. “… happy is that people, whose God is the LORD (Psalm 144:15), and “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Notes:


[1]  This is why the Muslim religion that adheres to Sharia Law is incompatible with American Law, i.e., the Constitution of the United States of America.

[2]  By “men,” I mean mankind or humankind, male and female. I reject the political correctness that has invaded the English language whereby we must overly complicate the language by such as, he/she, his/hers, men/women, etc.

Leave a comment

Filed under Creation, Current Events, Holidays, Origins, Theology

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s