Principle #3 – The Most Promising Method of Securing a Virtuous and Morally Stable People is to Elect Virtuous Leaders.
Proverbs 29:2 “When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.”
Exodus 18:21 “But select capable men from all the people — men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain — and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.”
It was Samuel Adams who said: “But neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man.”
We need to elect men and women who have proven experience, knowledge, training and mostly – character. In one of our presidential elections it was actually asked if character really matters. The thought was that if the person was able to manipulate, had a charismatic personality and was able to have a dominating presence that would be the man or woman for office. How wrong that thinking is!
The Founding Fathers recognized this fallacy because they recognized human nature and the bent towards evil. They wanted to develop a system that would bring to the forefront the wisest, most experienced men/women; ‘men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain.’
Madison went on to say: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”
The Founding Fathers recognized that at that time in Europe the ruling class had an artificial aristocracy consisting of the elite because of their birth or wealth that had neither virtue nor experience. What Jefferson and the Founding Fathers wanted was what they called a “Natural Aristocracy” consisting of men/women of noble character: freemen and women of virtue, experience and patriotism; men/women who rise to public office on their own merit, experience, wisdom and not on birth or wealth. This type of Natural Aristocracy would be open to all, but “inheritable by none.”
The Founding Fathers recognized that the Creator who formed man for the ‘social state’ would also give man what is needed in wisdom and virtue in order to manage well. In the Old Testament when the Children of Israel came out of Egypt and formed a country what did they look for? “Capable men from all the people — men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain.” Exodus 18:21
A question in my mind is: In the 21st century today are we any different? In the Old Testament we have God’s people – Israel – looking for men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain, but Peter tells us in 1 Peter that we the church, are the people of God. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10
Are we unable to find men/women who, like God told Moses when a new nation was being born, find men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain?
I am not talking about a theocracy, but about finding capable men/women to fill our public offices who are men/women of godly character. Is that impossible; not just here in the United States, but also in other countries?
At this writing I just received a letter from a brother in West Africa who was asking for help in building the church and the nation. I think the two go together – church and nation.
One of the greatest threats that our Founding Fathers saw was that the most reliable, best qualified people would refuse to run for public office thinking that others should but not themselves. Men like Samuel Adams and his cousin John Adams sacrificed their fortunes to serve in politics. George Washington’s salary was $25,000 per year, but he refused it, because he saw that the two dangers facing public office were avarice (greed and materialism) and (self) ambition.
Much more could be said as our Founding Fathers wrote quite extensively on this subject, but what comes to mind is what Jesus said in Matthew 9:37-38. “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’”
Should we not be asking God to raise up capable men from all the people — men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain? We have not, because we ask not.