Who would our Founders endorse for president today? What would they look for in elected officials?
On May 26, 1790, I believe we were given some answers to those questions, before an auspicious audience such as Massachusetts Governor, former President of the Constitutional Congress and signer of the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock, and Lieutenant Governor and another signer of the Declaration of Independence, Samuel Adams, as well as the then entire legislature of both governmental Massachusetts’ Houses.
Rev. Daniel Fosters’ inspirational address to these magistrates is a must read for anyone concerned with the future of our country and criteria for properly appointed representatives. Pay particular attention to the end of his message where he speaks to each of those listed above.
A primer for the presidency
Foster was a New Braintree pastor, who was invited to deliver a sermon before the newly-elected officials – a governmental tradition in the founding years of our Republic.
The words he shared that day were not only stirring but reflective of a general consensus and credo of what citizens (not just clergy) expected of their legislative leaders. Its components still contain what I would call a primer for the election of the presidency or any other chosen representative.
Such an elementary leadership text would include, but not be exclusive to, the following:
”Select and prefer Christians”
For Foster and our Founders, government is a ”divine appointment,” an ordained institution of God, and ”an important mean of delivering us from the evils of the apostasy; and designed to prepare us for the more encouraging restraints the gospel enjoins.” As such, it too has Jesus Christ, not some nebulous and neutered god, as its head.
He being commissioned by the Father to manage the great affairs of Empire, as well as of Zion. “Yet have I set my King upon my holy Hill of Zion.” – “The government shall be upon his shoulders.”
Subsequently, governmental leaders are to be regarded as ministers or servants of God, unless they refrain from obeying and executing his laws.
And as magistrates are honored by Christ, and act under his banner, they should be careful to be his glory, and support his religion in the world. … If they rule for God, and for good to the people, they are to be subjected to, otherwise, “we ought to obey God, rather than men.”
Foster warned, ”If religion is not honored and supported by men in places of public trust, the glory of the Lord will soon depart, and the fire of God be scattered over the city.”
Though the Framers opposed the reign of kings or priests, they advocated and intermingled their Christian faith and politics. As John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States, wrote to Jedidiah Morse on Feb. 28, 1797, “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers. And it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest, of a Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”
Lead by ”wisdom”
The key text of Foster’s sermon was Proverbs 8:16 in the Bible, “By Me princes rule, and nobles, all who judge rightly.” ”In the text, the person speaking is doubtless Jesus Christ,” Foster unabashedly declared, pointing out that he is Wisdom personified and the God upon whom governmental leaders should lean.
The text leads us to speak of civil government, as ordained of God, in the hands of the mediator; of civil rulers, as holding their commission and authority under Christ; of their duty and dignity as his Ministers, and of the duty and privilege of the people under their administration.
Unlike today, no politician then would have ever even thought of Foster’s words as religiously pejorative or prejudice, for Christianity was the only religion upon which our Republic was founded. It was clergy, not imams, who were called to speak before legislatures. Even Jefferson did not propose a separation between mosque and state, just as he could never have imagined a democracy in which its congressmen were sworn into government upon a Quran.
Upholding three primary duties
According to Foster, in order to rule rightly, governmental leaders are to maintain three chief obligations:
- It is their duty to uphold the kingdom of Christ, which consists in “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
- It is the duty of Christian rulers, to preserve and secure to the people, their liberties and properties. (Which I’m certain included their national borders!)
- The Christian ruler will hear the complaints, and redress the grievances of the people he governs.
Can you imagine if our present governmental leaders were obliged to these codes of conduct? Civility just might be obtained by civil government!
The attention Christian rulers pay to religion in their hearts, and in their government, will be their support when they are called to lay down their commission, and their lives; it will brighten the scene before them, and embalm their memories when they are dead. … Religion is, and ever has been, considered the glory of a people; as it insures the favor and protection of Heaven.”
Who should be our next president?
Foster’s message was welcomed with a rousing reception among this esteemed Massachusetts’ collection of America’s Founders, 14 years after the Declaration of Independence and the same year that Rhode Island completed the 13-state, three-year ratification of the United States Constitution.
The spirit of those proceedings, as well as the remaining Founding Fathers, still beckon us to raise our criteria for electing governmental leaders beyond charisma, articulation, education, and background experience. They call us to appoint godly men and women.
As a guest host on Fox’s ”Hannity & Colmes” a couple weeks ago, I made known my desire for Newt Gingrich to run for president, a prospect WND reported on a few years ago. Many since have asked me, ”Why Newt?” In short, because despite personal past shortcomings, I believe Newt is a Republican as they used to be and, even more, meets the criteria established by men of old, evidenced in his books, ”Rediscovering God in America” and ”Winning the Future.” He’s by no means a perfect man or candidate, but I think one of few true conservative Republicans remaining. I don’t condone his indiscretions of the past, but, as with other leaders even in Scripture, I also don’t condemn him from ever running for an office again because of them.
In an age where the left are going right and the right going left, we need someone at the helm of our country who holds to old-fashioned values but can still lead into a bold new age. I believe Newt or someone like him could fit the bill. At this point, I’d love to see him run. And if not? I’ll be measuring the candidates by ”Our Founders’ recommendations for president.”
In the words of Rev. Foster, ”This is the way to have the presence, and blessing of God with them, and upon their administration.”