28 Principles That Helped Build America – Chapter 22 – Principle #22

A Free People Should be Governed by Law and not by the Whims of Men


Proverbs 8:12-16 “I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion. To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have understanding and power. By me kings reign and rulers make laws that are just; by me princes govern, and all nobles who rule on earth.”


Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”


If we are not governed by law, then we will find that nothing is fixed and in such a society nothing is dependable. Everything will be in a state of flux.


Our Founding Fathers saw Law as “rule of action” that was binding on the ruler as it was upon the people themselves. They saw that this would give society stability and provide for people the ability to make plans for the future. It was John Locke who said: “Freedom of men under government is to have a standing rule to live by, common to everyone of that society, and made by the legislative power elected in it.”


Under this type of system, both for the present as well as future, a framework provided people a high degree of freedom from fear and therefore the freedom to act. The Founding Fathers realized that without the protection of the Law there can be no liberty. It is like John Locke said that if a society cannot provide a code of fixed and enforceable laws that he might as well have stayed in the jungle. John Adams agreed with this when he said: “No man will contend that a nation can be free that is not governed by fixed laws.”


Evidently Aristotle who said that “even the best of men in authority are liable to be corrupted by passion” disagreed with his mentor, Plato, who believed that people should be governed “by the few” who would rule according to scientific principles and make decisions on the spot to force the people to do what is good for them.


Isn’t this what we are seeing today with the dictatorships we have in the world? I mentioned before about the man I met in Denmark who after being gone for almost 20 years had come back to Denmark from Canada telling me that he was scared because he saw a government (socialism) that was telling him what was best for him. Isn’t this what we find today with the “progressives” in our own country, the elite who think that they know what is best for us? This is why we need to tie these people down with the restraints of our Constitution!


Like our Founding Fathers we need to realize that Law is not merely a code of negative restraints and prohibitions. They “considered Law to be a system of positive rules by which they could be assured of enjoying their rights and the protection of themselves, their families, and their property.” It is like the Ten Commandments that God gave us to protect us so that we can live a peaceful and prosperous life. But today in our society we have the removing of the Ten Commandments and also we have those who want to do away with the Constitution too. The result will be utter chaos.


One last thing that the Founding Fathers understood that people will have confidence in the law only to the extent that they can understand it and realize that it will have a permanence which will not continually be changed.


Thomas Jefferson resigned from Congress in 1776 to go back to Virginia and volunteer for the task of rewriting the state laws so that when independence came there would be a legal system that the people could understand and support. Perhaps this type of housecleaning is needed today to improve our own code of laws and regulations.


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