Homage to the Constitution

The Constitution of the United States of America is the greatest political document ever written. It is not only my firm belief, but a codified tenet of my faith, that the U.S. Constitution was literally inspired by Almighty God and that the Founding Fathers were inspired, honest, wise, and honorable men raised up by the Lord for the purpose of establishing the first free nation in modern times. This short article is written in homage of that sacred document – that wise political charter which has guaranteed our God-given rights for 229 years.

On September 17, 1787, the Constitutional Convention finished crafting the Constitution. As the convention separated, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin what type of government that esteemed body had given to the federated States then in existence. Famously, the old sage is said to have replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” Under the Constitution, the States were unified under a common government – a limited government that protected individual rights and States’ rights. Or, as Article Four of the document says, the Constitution guaranteed “to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.”

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The British statesman William Gladstone famously remarked that the Constitution was “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.” Truly, the U.S. Constitution is the greatest political document ever given to the world. The American Founding Fathers constituted the most incredible, eminent, and powerfully wise group of statesmen ever to exist together at one period in earth’s history.

Of Thomas Jefferson, my personal favorite Founding Father, President John F. Kennedy said the following, which demonstrates the wisdom of these men. At a 1962 dinner for Nobel Prize winners, President Kennedy mused:

“I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

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My heart feels full when I reflect on the wisdom and nobility, the virtue and majesty, the power and honor of the Founding Fathers. In my Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a passage of sacred revelation from our Lord and Master Jesus Christ informs us:

“Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.

“And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:79-80).

It is my testimony that the Lord in fact did raise up the Founding Fathers, that they were in truth wise and honorable men, and that the work of their hands – the Constitution of the United States – is an inspired work. Furthermore, another modern revelation from the Lord declares:

“And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.

“Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;

“And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil” (Doctrine and Covenants 98:5-7).

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“One Nation Under God” by Jon McNaughton

Perhaps these verses help you understand how seriously regard the U.S. Constitution and the glorious principles it contains. To my mind, anything not in harmony with the Constitution’s principles is not only wrong or mistaken, but evil. I take very seriously the oath that our representatives in government swear. I believe they should be held accountable to the People for that oath. Severe punishment – not mere impeachment – is due for those who violate their oaths of office and trample the principles of our Heaven-inspired Constitution.

It is one thing, however, to love the Constitution; but how well do we know it? In an address titled “The Constitution – A Heavenly Banner,” President Ezra Taft Benson once asked an audience these pointed questions:

“It is now two hundred years since the Constitution was written. Have we been wise beneficiaries of the gift entrusted to us? Have we valued and protected the principles laid down by this great document? . . . .

“We must learn the principles of the Constitution and then abide by its precepts. Have we read the Constitution and pondered it? Are we aware of its principles? Could we defend it? Can we recognize when a law is constitutionally unsound?”

Have you read the Constitution lately? Do you understand its principles? Can you recognize when our presidents, representatives, judges, and others violate its principles? Are the candidates for political office in harmony with constitutional principles? If you do not know the Constitution, how can you claim to love and defend it? If you do not comprehend the purpose of the Constitution, the republican form of government it guarantees, and the God-given natural rights it protects, how can you claim to love our Republic and fight for our Freedom?

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James Wilson, one of the greatest legal minds amongst our Founding Fathers, made this true statement:

“Were I called upon for my reasons why I deem so highly of the American character, I would assign them in a very few words—That character has been eminently distinguished by the love of liberty, and the love of law. . . .

“But law and liberty cannot rationally become the objects of our love, unless they first become the objects of our knowledge. The same course of study, properly directed, will lead us to the knowledge of both. Indeed, neither of them can be known, because neither of them can exist, without the other. Without liberty, law loses its nature and its name, and becomes oppression. Without law, liberty also loses its nature and its name, and becomes licentiousness. In denominating, therefore, that science, by which the knowledge of both is acquired, it is unnecessary to preserve, in terms, the distinction between them. That science may be named, as it has been named, the science of law.

“The science of law should, in some measure, and in some degree, be the study of every free citizen, and of every free man. Every free citizen and every free man has duties to perform and rights to claim. Unless, in some measure, and in some degree, he knows those duties and those rights, he can never act a just and an independent part.”

I defy any American to claim he is a true patriot and a true friend to Liberty if he does not understand the principles of the U.S. Constitution and defend them. You cannot love what you do not know or comprehend. You cannot protect that which is not planted firmly in your heart, soul, and mind.

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I urge you to read the Constitution – or reread it if you have not lately – and internalize its principles. Learn to love it. Gain a witness of its truth. Express gratitude to the Almighty for establishing the Constitution and to your forefathers who spilled their blood to give you the Liberty – severely curtailed today as it may be – that you enjoy on a daily basis.

That same James Wilson quoted earlier gave a speech in on October 6, 1787, when the question of the newly proposed Constitution was being debated. He made this statement:

“After all, my fellow-citizens, it is neither extraordinary or unexpected that the constitution offered to your consideration should meet with opposition. It is the nature of man to pursue his own interest in preference to the public good, and I do not mean to make any personal reflection when I add that it is the interest of a very numerous, powerful and respectable body to counteract and destroy the excellent work produced by the late convention. All the officers of government and all the appointments for the administration of justice and the collection of the public revenue which are transferred from the individual to the aggregate sovereignty of the States, will necessarily turn the stream of influence and emolument into a new channel. Every person, therefore, who enjoys or expects to enjoy a place of profit under the present establishment, will object to the proposed innovation; not, in truth, because it is injurious to the liberties of his country, but because it affects his schemes of wealth and consequence. I will confess, indeed, that I am not a blind admirer of this plan of government, and that there are some parts of it which, if my wish had prevailed, would certainly have been altered. But when I reflect how widely men differ in their opinions, and that every man (and the observation applies likewise to every State) has an equal pretension to assert his own, I am satisfied that anything nearer to perfection could not have been accomplished. If there are errors, it should be remembered that the seeds of reformation are sown in the work itself and the concurrence of two-thirds of the Congress may at any time introduce alterations and amendments. Regarding it, then, in every point of view, with a candid and disinterested mind, I am bold to assert that it is the best form of government which has ever been offered to the world.”

While a group of self-serving men opposed the Constitution, noble minds – Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Wilson, and others – understood that it was the best document that could be given to People of the United States. No other system has surpassed it in wisdom. No other governmental system has offered so many people so many opportunities nor protected so many rights and reserved so much power to the individual. Truly, only a body of men inspired by the Spirit of God and Light of Christ could have produced the U.S. Constitution.

With James Wilson, “I am bold to assert” that the Constitution “is the best form of government which has ever been offered to the world.” I urge you to learn about and to teach the precepts of the Constitution to your family. Only by a revival of true constitutionalism – not libertine-style libertarianism or socialism or any other system of thinking – can we restore our Republic and preserve our rights.

If you do not know where to turn to understand the Constitution, look no further. I will give not several sources that will give you everything you need to comprehend the majesty of the Constitution and the wisdom of the men who wrote it.

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I do not hesitate for an instant to say that the greatest book ever written on the meaning of the U.S. Constitution is The Making of America by the great W. Cleon Skousen. You can find this book, and supplementary material, at the National Center for Constitutional Studies website. You will find numerous materials published by the NCCS which will enlighten your mind, teach you the true character of some of the eminent Founding Fathers, and give you the tools to teach your family about constitutional government.

Furthermore, I recommend W. Cleon Skousen’s book The Majesty of God’s Law to discover the Biblical origins of the Constitution’s principles. William J. Federer and David Barton have also done tremendous work in showing, through primary sources, the religious foundation upon which the American political system was built. Such books include: The Ten Commandments and their Influence on American Law by Federer and Original Intent by Barton.

Whatever sources you choose to study, make sure they are rooted in the words and teachings of the Founding Fathers. It was they who, under the inspiration of God, crafted the Constitution and put its revolutionary principles into motion. It was they who earned Freedom for America and gave to world the most glorious example yet known of what a free nation looks like. I honor them and revere their name. I revere, cherish, and love the fruit of their hands; namely, The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

Let us be true patriots and true constitutionalists. Let us follow in the mode of Jefferson, Wilson, Adams, Washington, Madison, and others as we labor to reestablish constitutional government here in the United States of America which, even with her serious flaws, is still unquestionably the greatest nation on earth. The American People have the greatest potential of any People. But we cannot do it alone – we must have God’s help. We must, like our forefathers, turn to Christ for help. If we do so, we will be forgiven as a People, our land will be healed, and our constitutional government fully restored (Isaiah 1:4-20; 2 Chronicles 7:14). If we do not turn back to the Lord and obey the laws of His Gospel, John Adams’ statement will continue to come to pass year after year. Said he:

“Statesmen my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. . . . The only foundation of a free Constitution, is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People, in a greater Measure, than they have it now, They may change their Rulers, and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty.—They will only exchange Tyrants and Tyrannies” (John Adams to Zabdiel Adams, June 21, 1776).

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I pray that we will each turn our hearts to the Lord and the Constitution He inspired and caused to be established by the hands of truly good men, and to initiate a new American Revival in our own families so that, eventually, America might be restored. Always keep the Constitution and its sacred principles in mind. The Constitution with its rule of law, its guarantee of a republican form of government, its limited scope and powers, its preservation of the People’s power, and its emphasis on rights, is the key feature of what is sometimes referred to as the American Gospel of Liberty.

Let us be zealous disciples of the Gospel of Liberty now and forever. Let us remember the Constitution and defend it. Let us, like our forefathers, swear to never relinquish our rights, and to fight to regain those which have been lost through apathy and carelessness. As Patrick Henry trumpeted all those years ago:

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”(Patrick Henry, speech, March 23, 1775).

Zack Strong,

September 17, 2018.

Festival of Freedom

“My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!” – Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, June 17, 1785.

The United States of America is the greatest nation on earth! With all of our numerous flaws and serious disruptions and contentions, this Republic is still, without question, the best nation in the world and the last hope for mankind. No other country has as much raw potential as the United States. And certainly no other nation has as glorious a heritage of Freedom, rule of law, and godly society as does America. We are a blessed land with a special mission to fulfill.

In order to fulfill our singular mission, however, we must recognize and be grateful for our unsurpassed blessings, embrace our unique American heritage, revive the principles and ideals enshrined in our founding documents, and press forward in faith. We must defend our faith, families, and Freedom against all attacks – both from within and from without. We must imbibe the same spirit our forefathers possessed that caused them to risk life and limb to forge a free nation. Independence Day is the perfect time to do just that.

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During an Independence Day oration in 1826, George Bancroft referred to this exceptional holiday and stated:

“The festival which we keep is the festival of freedom itself – it belongs not to us only but to man. All the nations of the earth have an interest in it, and humanity proclaims it sacred!”

Independence Day is not just another day. It is a special day; a sacred day. It was the opening of a new epoch. This holy day marks the founding of the first free nation in modern times – a nation which grew from its humble beginnings to become the greatest nation in recorded history. America is not just another nation, and her birthday is not just another day.

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In 1796, a full generation before Bancroft delivered his oration, John Lathrop gave an Independence Day address wherein he affirmed:

“Liberty descended from Heaven on the 4th of July, 1776. . . .

“The first promulgation of the Gospel of Liberty was the declaration of American independence . . . the Americans were elected by God to redeem from bondage the miserable victims of arbitrary power.”

America was the vessel which the Lord designed to carry Liberty to a safe harbor. When fifty-six men signed their names to the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and proclaimed their reliance upon “the protection of Divine Providence,” Freedom began to burst forth. America is the modern birthplace of Liberty and has remained its sole incubator for 242 years. Truly, Independence Day is no ordinary day.

John Quincy Adams, in an Independence Day speech delivered in 1837, rhetorically asked:

“Why is it that next to the birthday of the Savior of the world, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day?”

He went on to provide the answer:

“Is it not that in the chain of events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? – that it forms a leading event in the progress of the gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? – that it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfillment of the prophecies announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Savior and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets six hundred years before?”

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To our forefathers, the birth of America was not a raucous “rebellion,” but a sacrosanct religious event. It was an act of Providence. It was a fulfillment of ancient Biblical prophecy. So many profound miracles poured forth from Heaven that General George Washington, in the heat of the conflict with tyrannical Britain, wrote to a fellow general that:

“The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations” (George Washington to Thomas Nelson, August 20, 1778).

Speaking in 1793, just a few years after Washington penned his letter, Elias Boudinot told an audience gathered for their Independence Day celebration the following:

“The late revolution . . . is big with events that are daily unfolding themselves and pressing in thick succession to the astonishment of a wondering world!

“It has been marked with the certain characteristic of a Divine overruling hand in that it was brought about and perfected against all human reasoning and apparently against all human hope – and that in the very moment of time when all Europe seemed ready to be plunged into commotion and distress.

“Divine Providence, throughout the government of this world, appears to have impressed many events with the undoubted evidence of His own almighty arm.”

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On April 30, 1789, newly elected President George Washington delivered his First Inaugural Address. In it, he stated:

“[I]t would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.”

Through the intervention of Almighty God, the American Republic came into being. Without His divine aid, our War for Independence would have floundered, our Founding Fathers would have been hanged as traitors, the U.S. Constitution would have never come into being, and America would have been once more subjected to European tyranny. Yet, God did intervene, America did win her bid for Independence, and the Founding Fathers went on to draft the U.S. Constitution under inspiration and set America on the path to unrivaled greatness.

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Today, how many of us stop to remember and express gratitude for the Lord’s hand in our nation’s birth and progress? How many of us truly comprehend how significant Independence Day was in the course of world history? How many of us understand the great mission America has been given – the mission of preaching the Gospel of Liberty to mankind? How few of us thank our God for His bountiful blessings upon this special land!

As Americans, we are unique. The eyes of the world are, and truly have been, upon us. No other People has a history and a heritage like we do. No other nation boasts such a large group of Founding Fathers so thoroughly brilliant, honorable, and wise. No other nation has founding documents as inspired as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. No other country anywhere witnessed such conspicuous intervention by Deity in its founding. The American Republic is not just another nation, and her birthday is not just another day.

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Be proud to be an American. Be proud of your unmatched heritage of Freedom. Feel honored you were born here in the cradle of Liberty and that you have the privilege of participating in this ongoing struggle. Defend your faith, family, and Freedom against all attacks. Cherish the history of the American founding and the memory of the men who sacrificed so much for this Republic. And never take for granted this special day, this Independence Day, this festival of Freedom. Long Live Liberty!

Zack Strong

July 1, 2018.