by John M. Otis
author of "Danger in the Camp: An Analysis and Refutation of the Heresies of the Federal Vision"and "Preaching and the Victory of the Gospel"
As we approach the eve of the elections and as a minister of the gospel, I am duty bound to direct the people of God to what the Scripture says about civil rulers and our duties in placing men in office. I have some tremendous quotes from the famous Noah Webster on voting, which every Christian should take to heart. Yes, this is the Noah Webster of Webster’s dictionary. If you don’t have his 1828 edition, you should get it.
It was customary in colonial America for ministers to give Election Day sermons. Why? They understood that the Lord Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords and has sovereign rights over the world. In Scripture, there is no dichotomy in obedience to God’s law in terms of the family, church, and state. The political sphere is no neutral sphere. While there is a biblical separation of church and state, meaning that each are separate spheres of ministry, both are subject to God’s law. The modern argument often advanced in the notion of the separation of church and state erroneously advocates that the state is neutral in terms of supporting God’s moral law. This is clearly false. Scripture abundantly commands civil rulers to “kiss the Son” or perish (Psalm 2). Moreover, the church is not under the state’s authority; it is a separate institution, which has a prophetic role to counsel and admonish the state when it is unfaithful to God’s law. This is why there were Election Day sermons.
The following are three great quotes from the renowned Noah Webster:
The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scripture ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. All the miseries and evil men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.
In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate -- look at his character. It is alleged by men of loose principles, or defective views of the subject, that religion and morality are not necessary or important qualifications for political stations. But the scriptures teach a different doctrine. They direct that rulers should be men who rule in the fear of God, men of truth, hating covetousness. It is to the neglect of this rule that we must ascribe the multiplied frauds, breaches of trust, speculations and embezzlements of public property which astonish even ourselves; which tarnish the character of our country and which disgrace our government. When a citizen gives his vote to a man of known immorality, he abuses his civic responsibility; he not only sacrifices his own responsibility; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country.
When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers, 'just men who will rule in the fear of God.' The preservation of [our] government depends on the faithful discharge of this Duty; if the citizens neglect their Duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the Laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizen will be violated or disregarded. If [our] government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the Divine Commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the Laws.
These views were common in old America, and were indicative of a nation that in many ways was desirous to serve the ruler of the universe. But, it is a view that has greatly been eroded in our present time. We are reaping what we have sown as a nation.
Do not think that the storms of recent years and the most recent one that devastated the Northeast are coincidences. God, as the Scripture says, rides on the clouds to do His most Holy will. Our nation is already in judgment, and unless we repent, it will only get worse. One of the most common dictums today is – “God bless America.” But why should God bless a nation that repeatedly mocks His name, advocating the murder of innocent children by abortion and by increasingly giving credence to homosexuality? Why should God bless America when the most conspicuous presidential candidates today both are found inadequate in terms of being biblically qualified for this high civil office? If God brought severe judgment to His covenant nation, Israel, why should we think modern America should escape His most severe judgments?
Christians, follow the advice of Noah Webster when you vote this coming Tuesday. You don’t have to and shouldn’t choose the lesser of two evils. Vote your Christian principles as Noah Webster admonished.
And pray for a revival in our time!