Category Archives: History

Some more quotations from Jonah Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism”

More important than socializing industry was nationalizing the people for the war effort. “Woe be to the man or group of men that seeks to stand in our way, ” Wilson threatened in June 1917. Harking back to his belief that “leaders of men” must manipulate the passions of the masses, he approved and supervised one of the first truly Orwellian propaganda efforts in Western history (109).

One of [George Creel, the head of the Committee on Public Information]’s greatest ideas […] was the creation of an army of nearly a hundred thousand “Four Minute Men.” Each was equipped and trained by the CPI to deliver a four-minute speech at town meetings, in restaurants, in theaters — anyplace they could get an audience — to spread the word that the “very future of democracy” was at stake (110).

[Clarence Darrow said], “Any man who refuses to back the President in this crisis is worse than a traitor.” Darrow’s expert legal opinion, it may surprise modern liberals to know, was that once Congress had decided on war, the right to question that decision evaporated entirely […]. Once the bullets fly, citizens lose the right to even discuss the issue, publicly or privately; “acquiescence on the part of the citizen becomes a duty” (111).

But nothing that happened under the mad reign of Joe McCarthy remotely compares with what Wilson and his fellow progressives foisted on America. Under the Espionage Act of June 1917 and the Sedition Act of May 1918, any criticism of the government, even in your own home, could earn you a prison sentence […]. In Wisconsin a state official got two and a half years for criticizing a Red Cross fund-raising drive. A Hollywood producer received a ten year stint in jail for making a film that depicted British troops committing atrocities during the American Revolution. One man was brought to trial for explaining in his own home why he didn’t want to buy Liberty Bonds (114).

Hard numbers are difficult to come by, but it has been estimated that some 175,000 Americans were arrested for failing to demonstrate their patriotism in one way or another. All were punished, many went to jail (117).

In 1919, at a Victory Loan pageant, a man refused to stand for the national anthem. When “The Star-Spangled Banner” ended, a furious sailor shot the “disloyal” man three times in the back. When the man fell, the Washington Post reported, “the crowd burst into cheering and handclapping.” Another man who refused to rise for the national anthem at a baseball game was beaten by the fans in the bleachers. In February 1919 a jury in Hammond, Indiana, took two minutes to acquit a man who had murdered an immigrant for yelling, “To Hell with the United States” (116).

The rationing and price-fixing of the “economic dictatorship” required Americans to make great sacrifices, including the various “meatless” and “wheatless” days common to all of the industrialized war economies in the first half of the twentieth century. […] Americans were deluged with patriotic volunteers knocking on their doors to sign this pledge or that oath not only to be patriotic but to abstain from this or that “luxury.” […] “Supper, ” [Herbert Hoover] complained, “is one of the worst pieces of extravagance that we have in this country.”

via trying to grok: THE WAR EFFORT.

Like I said, we were demon possessed and have forgotten about it.

In my opinion, Goldberg sometimes forgets what he has remembered, but that is a post for another day. Totally awesome book.

We were demon possessed, and have forgotten about it.

From Wikipedia:

The Blue Eagle, a blue-colored representation of the American thunderbird, with outspread wings, was a symbol used in the United States by companies to show compliance with the National Industrial Recovery Act. It was proclaimed the symbol of industrial recovery on July 20, 1933 by Hugh Samuel Johnson, the head of the National Recovery Administration.[1][2][3]

The design was sketched by Johnson, and based on an idea utilized by the War Industries Board during World War I.[1][3] The eagle holds a wheel, symbolizing industry, in its right talon, and bolts of lightning in its left talon, symbolizing power.[4]

All companies that accepted President Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s Re-employment Agreement or a special Code of Fair Competition were permitted to display a poster showing the Blue Eagle together with the announcement, “NRA Member. We Do Our Part.”[1][2][3] Consumers were exhorted to buy products and services only from companies displaying the Blue Eagle banner.[1][3] According to Johnson,

“When every American housewife understands that the Blue Eagle on everything that she permits into her home is a symbol of its restoration to security, may God have mercy on the man or group of men who attempt to trifle with this bird.” [5]

On September 5, 1935, following the invalidation of the compulsory code system, the emblem was abolished and its future use as a symbol was prohibited.

According to Jonah Goldberg:

Not surprisingly, victims of the Blue Eagle received little sympathy in the press and even less quarter from the government. Perhaps the most famous case was Jacob Maged, the forty-nine-year-old immigrant dry cleaner who spent three months in jail in 1934 for charging thirty-five cents to press a suit, when the NRA had insisted that all loyal Americans must charge at least forty cents. Because one of the central goals of the early New Deal was to create artificial scarcity in order to drive prices up, the Agricultural Adjustment Administration ordered that six million pigs be slaughtered. Bountiful crops were left to rot. Many white farmers were paid not to work their land (which meant that many black tenant farmers went hungry). All of these policies were enforced by a militarized government.

Read more and a lot worse here.

The Reformers’ New Perspective

Peter J. Leithart » Blog Archive » Calvin’s New Perspective.

Others were saying this?

How about Heinrich Bullinger:

And indeed one may easily get in trouble here unless one proceeds on the royal highway. For those people who consider only the conditions of the covenant and in fact disregard the grace and promise of God exclude infants from the covenant. It is true that children not only do not observe the terms of the covenant but also do not even understand these terms. But those who view only the sacrament, ceremony, or sign of the covenant count some in the covenant who are really excluded. But if you consider each one separately, one at a time, not only according to the conditions of the covenant but also in terms of the promise or the mercy of God, and the age and reason of a person, then you will realize that all those who believe from among the Jews and the Gentiles are the descendants of Abraham with whom the Lord made the covenant. In the meantime, however, their offspring, that is, their children, have by no means been excluded from the covenant. They are excluded, however, if having reached the age of reason they neglect the conditions of the covenant.

In the same way, we consider children of parents to be children and indeed heirs even though they, in their early years, do not know that they are either children or heirs of their parents. They are, however, disowned if, after they have reached the age of reason, they neglect the commands of their parents. In that case, the parent no longer calls them children and heirs but worthless profligates. They are mistaken who boast about their prerogatives as sons of the family by virtue of birth. For he who violates the laws of piety toward parents is no different from a slave; indeed, he is lower than a slave, because even by the law of nature itself he owes more to his parents. Truly this debate about the seed of Abraham has been settled for us by the prophets and the apostles, specifically that not everyone who is born of Abraham is the seed of Abraham, but only he who is a son of the promise, that is, who is faithful, whether Jew or Gentile. For the Jews have already neglected the basic conditions of the covenant, while at the same time they glorified themselves as the people of God, relying on circumcision and the fact that they were born from the parent Abraham. Indeed, this error is denied and attacked not only by Christ along with the apostles but also by the entire body of the prophets (The One and Eternal Testament or Covenant with God, in Fountainhead of Federalism: Heinrich Bullinger and the Covenantal Tradition, Charles S. McCoy and J. Wayne Baker [Louisville, KY: W/JKP, 1991], 106).

That’s a start.

Moral law = faith and repentance: thus spake Zacharias Ursinus

Circumcision bound those who observed it to keep the whole ceremonial, judicial, and moral law; baptism binds us to the moral law only, or which is the same thing, to repentance and faith.

Source: The Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism by Zacharias Ursinus (page 376; emphasis added)

See also page 350:

The sacraments are used lawfully, when the faithful, or such as are converted observe the rites which God has instituted, as signs of grace, and pledges of his will to them. It may be said to consist in these three things: 1. In observing in their purity the rites which God has instituted. Those things which Anti-Christ has added must be removed, and those which have been thrown aside must be restored. This institution of Christ must be retained in its purity. 2. When those observe these rites, for whom God instituted them. None but christians, who by profession of faith, and repents ance are members of the church ought to observe the sacraments. ” If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest be baptized.” ” And were baptized confessing their sins.” (Acts 8: 37. Math. 3: 6.) 3. When the sacraments are observed with the design for which they were instituted. If any of these conditions are wanting, or if any of the rites are changed, and another design substituted without divine authority; or if the signs be received without faith, it is manifest that the sign and the thing signified do not continue united according to divine appointment. Of those who receive the sacraments it is said: ” Circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law,” &c. (Rom. 2: 25.)

Get that? Sacraments without faith is the same as circumcision without keeping the law.

Murray Rothbard’s testimony about Ludwig Von Mises as an exile teacher in the US

…So in this state, Mises comes to the United States, he’s penniless, he’s about 60 years old or so. He starts writing in a new language, and he can’t get an academic post. This is the eternal blot on academia. This is a situation where every Marxist and semi-Marxist and three-quarter Marxist was getting cushy top chairs at Harvard and Princeton and whatever, and Mises couldn’t find an academic post, and he finally got one at NYU as a visiting professor with a salary paid for by outside businessmen and foundations. Same thing happened to Hayek. Hayek’s salary at the University of Chicago was never paid for by Chicago; it was paid for by outside business groups.

As a result, Mises was scorned, the dean was against him, the dean advised people not to take his courses and things like that. He was in a fantastically miserable situation, and yet–and here’s where I come into the picture; I get to know him at this point–when he started a seminar at NYU.

…How did he act? It was magnificent, I couldn’t believe it. He was cheerful, was never bitter, never said an unkind word about anything, any person, and very sweet, and it was just a magnificent experience…

The Canons of the Council of Orange (529 AD) via

CANON 1. If anyone denies that it is the whole man, that is, both body and soul, that was “changed for the worse” through the offense of Adam’s sin, but believes that the freedom of the soul remains unimpaired and that only the body is subject to corruption, he is deceived by the error of Pelagius and contradicts the scripture which says, “The soul that sins shall die” (Ezek. 18:20); and, “Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are the slaves of the one whom you obey?” (Rom. 6:16); and, “For whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved” (2 Pet. 2:19).

CANON 2. If anyone asserts that Adam’s sin affected him alone and not his descendants also, or at least if he declares that it is only the death of the body which is the punishment for sin, and not also that sin, which is the death of the soul, passed through one man to the whole human race, he does injustice to God and contradicts the Apostle, who says, “Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned” (Rom. 5:12).

CANON 3. If anyone says that the grace of God can be conferred as a result of human prayer, but that it is not grace itself which makes us pray to God, he contradicts the prophet Isaiah, or the Apostle who says the same thing, “I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me” (Rom 10:20, quoting Isa. 65:1).

CANON 4. If anyone maintains that God awaits our will to be cleansed from sin, but does not confess that even our will to be cleansed comes to us through the infusion and working of the Holy Spirit, he resists the Holy Spirit himself who says through Solomon, “The will is prepared by the Lord” (Prov. 8:35, LXX), and the salutary word of the Apostle, “For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).

CANON 5. If anyone says that not only the increase of faith but also its beginning and the very desire for faith, by which we believe in Him who justifies the ungodly and comes to the regeneration of holy baptism — if anyone says that this belongs to us by nature and not by a gift of grace, that is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit amending our will and turning it from unbelief to faith and from godlessness to godliness, it is proof that he is opposed to the teaching of the Apostles, for blessed Paul says, “And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). And again, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). For those who state that the faith by which we believe in God is natural make all who are separated from the Church of Christ by definition in some measure believers.

CANON 6. If anyone says that God has mercy upon us when, apart from his grace, we believe, will, desire, strive, labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, or knock, but does not confess that it is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or the strength to do all these things as we ought; or if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, “What have you that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7), and, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10).

CANON 7. If anyone affirms that we can form any right opinion or make any right choice which relates to the salvation of eternal life, as is expedient for us, or that we can be saved, that is, assent to the preaching of the gospel through our natural powers without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who makes all men gladly assent to and believe in the truth, he is led astray by a heretical spirit, and does not understand the voice of God who says in the Gospel, “For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), and the word of the Apostle, “Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5).

CANON 8. If anyone maintains that some are able to come to the grace of baptism by mercy but others through free will, which has manifestly been corrupted in all those who have been born after the transgression of the first man, it is proof that he has no place in the true faith. For he denies that the free will of all men has been weakened through the sin of the first man, or at least holds that it has been affected in such a way that they have still the ability to seek the mystery of eternal salvation by themselves without the revelation of God. The Lord himself shows how contradictory this is by declaring that no one is able to come to him “unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44), as he also says to Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 16:17), and as the Apostle says, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3).

CANON 9. Concerning the succor of God. It is a mark of divine favor when we are of a right purpose and keep our feet from hypocrisy and unrighteousness; for as often as we do good, God is at work in us and with us, in order that we may do so.

CANON 10. Concerning the succor of God. The succor of God is to be ever sought by the regenerate and converted also, so that they may be able to come to a successful end or persevere in good works.

CANON 11. Concerning the duty to pray. None would make any true prayer to the Lord had he not received from him the object of his prayer, as it is written, “Of thy own have we given thee” (1 Chron. 29:14).

CANON 12. Of what sort we are whom God loves. God loves us for what we shall be by his gift, and not by our own deserving.

CANON 13. Concerning the restoration of free will. The freedom of will that was destroyed in the first man can be restored only by the grace of baptism, for what is lost can be returned only by the one who was able to give it. Hence the Truth itself declares: “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

CANON 14. No mean wretch is freed from his sorrowful state, however great it may be, save the one who is anticipated by the mercy of God, as the Psalmist says, “Let thy compassion come speedily to meet us” (Ps. 79:8), and again, “My God in his steadfast love will meet me” (Ps. 59:10).

CANON 15. Adam was changed, but for the worse, through his own iniquity from what God made him. Through the grace of God the believer is changed, but for the better, from what his iniquity has done for him. The one, therefore, was the change brought about by the first sinner; the other, according to the Psalmist, is the change of the right hand of the Most High (Ps. 77:10).

CANON 16. No man shall be honored by his seeming attainment, as though it were not a gift, or suppose that he has received it because a missive from without stated it in writing or in speech. For the Apostle speaks thus, “For if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose” (Gal. 2:21); and “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men” (Eph. 4:8, quoting Ps. 68:18). It is from this source that any man has what he does; but whoever denies that he has it from this source either does not truly have it, or else “even what he has will be taken away” (Matt. 25:29).

CANON 17. Concerning Christian courage. The courage of the Gentiles is produced by simple greed, but the courage of Christians by the love of God which “has been poured into our hearts” not by freedom of will from our own side but “through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5).

CANON 18. That grace is not preceded by merit. Recompense is due to good works if they are performed; but grace, to which we have no claim, precedes them, to enable them to be done.

CANON 19. That a man can be saved only when God shows mercy. Human nature, even though it remained in that sound state in which it was created, could be no means save itself, without the assistance of the Creator; hence since man cannot safe- guard his salvation without the grace of God, which is a gift, how will he be able to restore what he has lost without the grace of God?

CANON 20. That a man can do no good without God. God does much that is good in a man that the man does not do; but a man does nothing good for which God is not responsible, so as to let him do it.

CANON 21. Concerning nature and grace. As the Apostle most truly says to those who would be justified by the law and have fallen from grace, “If justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose” (Gal. 2:21), so it is most truly declared to those who imagine that grace, which faith in Christ advocates and lays hold of, is nature: “If justification were through nature, then Christ died to no purpose.” Now there was indeed the law, but it did not justify, and there was indeed nature, but it did not justify. Not in vain did Christ therefore die, so that the law might be fulfilled by him who said, “I have come not to abolish them, but to fulfil them” (Matt. 5:17), and that the nature which had been destroyed by Adam might be restored by him who said that he had come “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

CANON 22. Concerning those things that belong to man. No man has anything of his own but untruth and sin. But if a man has any truth or righteousness, it from that fountain for which we must thirst in this desert, so that we may be refreshed from it as by drops of water and not faint on the way.

CANON 23. Concerning the will of God and of man. Men do their own will and not the will of God when they do what displeases him; but when they follow their own will and comply with the will of God, however willingly they do so, yet it is his will by which what they will is both prepared and instructed.

CANON 24. Concerning the branches of the vine. The branches on the vine do not give life to the vine, but receive life from it; thus the vine is related to its branches in such a way that it supplies them with what they need to live, and does not take this from them. Thus it is to the advantage of the disciples, not Christ, both to have Christ abiding in them and to abide in Christ. For if the vine is cut down another can shoot up from the live root; but one who is cut off from the vine cannot live without the root (John 15:5ff).

CANON 25. Concerning the love with which we love God. It is wholly a gift of God to love God. He who loves, even though he is not loved, allowed himself to be loved. We are loved, even when we displease him, so that we might have means to please him. For the Spirit, whom we love with the Father and the Son, has poured into our hearts the love of the Father and the Son (Rom. 5:5).

CONCLUSION. And thus according to the passages of holy scripture quoted above or the interpretations of the ancient Fathers we must, under the blessing of God, preach and believe as follows. The sin of the first man has so impaired and weakened free will that no one thereafter can either love God as he ought or believe in God or do good for God’s sake, unless the grace of divine mercy has preceded him. We therefore believe that the glorious faith which was given to Abel the righteous, and Noah, and Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and to all the saints of old, and which the Apostle Paul commends in extolling them (Heb. 11), was not given through natural goodness as it was before to Adam, but was bestowed by the grace of God. And we know and also believe that even after the coming of our Lord this grace is not to be found in the free will of all who desire to be baptized, but is bestowed by the kindness of Christ, as has already been frequently stated and as the Apostle Paul declares, “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” (Phil. 1:29). And again, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). And again, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and it is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). And as the Apostle says of himself, “I have obtained mercy to be faithful” (1 Cor. 7:25, cf. 1 Tim. 1:13). He did not say, “because I was faithful,” but “to be faithful.” And again, “What have you that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7). And again, “Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (Jas. 1:17). And again, “No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven” (John 3:27). There are innumerable passages of holy scripture which can be quoted to prove the case for grace, but they have been omitted for the sake of brevity, because further examples will not really be of use where few are deemed sufficient.

According to the catholic faith we also believe that after grace has been received through baptism, all baptized persons have the ability and responsibility, if they desire to labor faithfully, to perform with the aid and cooperation of Christ what is of essential importance in regard to the salvation of their soul. We not only do not believe that any are foreordained to evil by the power of God, but even state with utter abhorrence that if there are those who want to believe so evil a thing, they are anathema. We also believe and confess to our benefit that in every good work it is not we who take the initiative and are then assisted through the mercy of God, but God himself first inspires in us both faith in him and love for him without any previous good works of our own that deserve reward, so that we may both faithfully seek the sacrament of baptism, and after baptism be able by his help to do what is pleasing to him. We must therefore most evidently believe that the praiseworthy faith of the thief whom the Lord called to his home in paradise, and of Cornelius the centurion, to whom the angel of the Lord was sent, and of Zacchaeus, who was worthy to receive the Lord himself, was not a natural endowment but a gift of God’s kindness.

The Vindication of Constantine | Christianity Today

Many evangelicals view the fourth-century conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine as an unfortunate chapter in church history, one that sabotaged the purity of the early church and ushered in the corrupt Middle Ages. Peter J. Leithart believes this version of church history is a myth. In Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom (IVP Academic), Leithart shows that the early church was not as united as we think, nor was Constantine the villain many have made him out to be.

Along the way, Leithart teases out contemporary implications regarding the church’s role in the world, implications that distance him from scholars like John Howard Yoder. Defending Constantine could have been called Dismantling Yoder, for although Leithart’s primary purpose is to vindicate Constantine, he devotes significant effort to pointing out the cracks in Yoder’s Anabaptist perspective on Christendom.

Read the rest: The Vindication of Constantine | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.

Preface to the Second Edition to John Williamson Nevin’s The Anxious Bench

In coming before the public with a Second edition of the Anxious Bench, it seems proper to introduce it with a short Preface.

The publication, as was to be expected, has produced considerable excitement. At least half a dozen of replies to it, shorter or longer, have been announced in different quarters, proceeding from no less than five different religious denominations. Various assaults, in addition to this, have been made upon it, from the pulpit; to say nothing of the innumerable reproaches it has been required to suffer, in a more private way.

All this however, calls for no very special notice, in return. I am sorry to say, that of all the published replies to the tract, which have come under my observation, not one is entitled to any respect, as an honest and intelligent argument on the other side. In no case, has the question at issue been fairly accepted and candidly met. I do not feel myself required at all then, to enter into a formal vindication of the tract, as assailed in those publications. I consider it to be in itself, a full and triumphant answer to all they contain against it, in the way of objection or reproach. If permitted to speak for itself, by being seriously and attentively read, it may safely be left to please its own cause. In such circumstances, it would be idle to enter into a controversial review of the manifold misrepresentations, to which it has been subjected. The only proper reply to them, is a republication of the tract itself.

With the reproaches that have been showered upon me personally, in different quarters, I have not a I lowed myself to be much disturbed. I had looked for it all beforehand; knowing well the spirit of the system, with which I was called to deal. I knew of course, that I should be calumniated as an enemy to revivals, and an opposer of vital godliness. But I felt satisfied at the same time, that the calumny would in due season correct itself, and recoil with disgrace on the heads of those from whom it might proceed. It has begun to do so already, and will continue to do so, no doubt, more and more.

Some have wondered, that I did not take more pains to define my position with regard to revivals, by writing a chapter on the subject, so as to cut off occasion for the reproach now mentioned. But this would have been, in some measure to justify and invite the wrong, which it was proposed to prevent. There is gross insolence in the assumption, that a man should at all need to vindicate himself in this way, in venturing to speak against the system of New Measures. And then, it is not by formal protestations, when all is done, that the point, in any such case, can be fully settled. A chapter on revivals would be of little account in my tract, if my own character, and the whole spirit of the tract itself, were not such as to show an honest zeal in favor of serious religion. The publications which have come out in reply to it, all affect an extraordinary interest in the subject of revivals, exhibited often with a very blustering air; but in the case of some of them, this pretension is utterly belied, to all who have the least amount of spiritual discernment, by the tone of feeling with which they are characterized throughout. They carry in them no savor at all of the wisdom, that cometh from above, no sympathy whatever with the mind of Jesus Christ. The remark is made of some of these publications, not of the whole of them indiscriminately.

Nor would any special protestation in favor of revivals be of much account, to guard the tract from being perversely used, by those who are in fact opposed to this precious interest. The only true and proper provision against such abuse must be found, if it exist at all, in the general spirit of the tract itself. Let this be right, and it must be considered enough. It may be perverted still; but men can pervert the bible too, if they please.

Fears have been expressed, that in the present position of the German Churches particularly, the publication may operate disastrously upon the interests of vital godliness. But in my own view, there is no good reason for any such fears. I believe its operation has been salutary already, and trust it will be found more salutary still, in time to come. It has engaged attention extensively to the subject of which it treats, and is likely to go farther than anything that has appeared before, in correcting the confusion and mystification, in which it has been so unhappily involved, in certain parts of the country, to the great prejudice of religion. It may be hoped now, that the subject of New Measures will be so examined and understood, that all shall come to make a proper distinction, between the system of the Anxious Bench, and the power of evangelical godliness, working in its true forms. In the case of the German Churches, this would be a result of the very highest consequence. If the present tract may open the way for its accomplishment, its mission will be one in which all the friends of true religion in these Churches will have occasion to rejoice.

But instead of lending their help to secure this most desirable object, the friends of the Anxious Bench seem concerned, to maintain as long as possible the very mystification, that stands in its way. They tell us, we must not speak against New Measures, because this term is made to include, in some parts of the country, revivals and other kindred interests and then, when we propose to correct this gross mistake, by proper instruction, they set themselves with all their might to counteract the attempt, and insist that the people shall be suffered to confound these different forms of religion as before. Those who act thus, are themselves enemies in fact to the cause of revivals. From no other quarter, has it been made to suffer so seriously. Its greatest misfortune is, that it should lie at the mercy of such hands.

It is with a very bad grace, that reference is made occasionally by some, to the idea of a foreign spirit in the tract, as related to the German Churches. It is in full sympathy with the true life of these Churches, as it stood in the beginning. The charge of seeking to force a foreign spirit on them, lies with clear right against the other side. The system of New Measures has no affinity whatever, with the life of the Reformation, as embodied in the Augsburg Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism. It could not have found any favor in the eyes of Zuingli or Calvin. Luther would have denounced it, in the most unmerciful terms. His soul was too large, too deep, too free, to hold communion with a style of religion so mechanical and shallow. Those who are actively laboring to bring the Church of Luther, in this country, into subjection to the system, cannot be said to be true to his memory or name. The challenge, Why are you a Lutheran ? is one which they would

do well seriously to consider. It is most certain, that the interest they are pushing forward, in this view, is not Lutheranism, in any sense that agrees with the true historical life of the Church. It involves a different theory of religion, that stands in no fellowship with the views, either of the fathers and founders of the Church, or of its most evangelical representatives in modern Germany. It is another element altogether that surrounds us, in the writings of such men as Olshausen, Tholuck, Sartorius, and Neander. The system in question, is in its principle and soul neither Calvinism nor Lutheranism, but Wesleyan Methodism. Those who are urging it upon the old German Churches, are in fact doing as much as they can, to turn them over into the arms of Methodism. This may be done, without any change of denominational name. Already the life of Methodism, in this country, is actively at work among other sects, which own no fellowship with it in form. So in the present case, names may continue to stand as before; but they will be only as the garnished sepulchers of a glory, that belonged to other days.

But is not Methodism, Christianity? And is it not better that the German Churches should rise in this form, than not rise at all 1 Most certainly so, I reply, if that be the only alternative. But that is not the only alternative. Their resurrection may just as well take place, in the type of their own true, original, glorious life, as it is still to be found enshrined in their symbolical books. And whatever there may be that is good in Methodism, this life of the Reformation I affirm to be immeasurably more excellent and sound. Wesley was a small man as compared with Melancthon. Olshausen, with all his mysticism, is a commentator of the inmost sanctuary in comparison with Adam Clark. If the original, distinctive life of the Churches of the Reformation, be not the object to be reached after, in the efforts that are made to build up the interests of German Christianity, in this country, it were better to say so at once openly and plainly. If we must have Methodism, let us have it, under its own proper title, and in its own proper shape. Why keep up the walls of denominational partition, in such a case, with no distinctive spiritual being to uphold or protect? A sect without a soul, has no right to live. Zeal for a separate denominational name, that utters no separate religious idea, is the very essence of sectarian bigotry and schism.

In opposing the Anxious Bench, I mean no disrespect of course to the many excellent men, in different Churches, who have given it their countenance. This has been done by some of the best ministers in the land, for whom I entertain the very highest regard. Not a few are to be found, who themselves condemn their own former judgment, in so doing ; which does not imply surely any want of proper self-respect. The system of the Anxious Bench, in its full development, is one which these persons have always disapproved; only they have not considered this particular measure to be a part of the system. That this should be the case need not seem strange; for in the view of the measure here taken, it is supposed to be in its simple form, on the bright side of this system, and close upon the boundary that separates it from the territory of truth. The tract exhibits the measure in this view, not as the origin of the system historically, not as necessarily conducting in all cases to worse things that lie beyond; but as constitutionally involving the principle of those worse things, under the least startling form, and legitimately opening the way for their introduction, if circumstances should permit. It would seem to show the correctness of this view, that while the answers to the tract protest against it, as a false and arbitrary classification, they all conform to it notwithstanding^ in spite of themselves, in a practical way. They defend the use of the bench as the Thermopylae of New Measures; and their argument, such as it is, has just as much force to justify the system in full, as it has to justify this measure in particular. An effort is made indeed to mystify the subject, by dragging into connection with it interests of a different order altogether ; but still it is plain enough, that this is done with violence, and the controversy falls back always in the end, to its proper limits.

The abuse of a thing, it is said, is no argument against its proper use; and therefore the object, in the present case, should be to reform and regulate, rather than to abolish. To this I reply, the whole system contemplated in the tract is an abuse, from which it is of the utmost importance that the worship of the sanctuary, and the cause of revivals, should be rescued. Belonging as it does to this system, then, and contributing to its support, the Anxious Bench is a nuisance, that can never be fully abated except by its entire removal. Its tendencies, as shown in the tract, are decidedly bad, without any compensation of a solid kind. It may be used with moderation ; but it will stand still in the same relation to the system it represents, that moderate drinking holds to intemperance in its more advanced forms. Popery started, in the beginning, under forms apparently the most innocent and safe. What might seem to be, for instance, more rational and becoming than the sign of the cross, as used by Christians, on all occasions, in the early Church ? And yet, when the corruptions of Rome were thrown off by the protestant world, in the 16th century, this and other similar forms were required to pass away with the general mass. And why is it that the sign of the cross, as once used, is now counted a dangerous superstition, not to be permitted among protestants? Simply, because it falls naturally over to that vast system of abuses, of which it forms a part in the Romish Church. Thus it represents that system, and furnishes a specimen of it constitutionally, under the most plausible shape. Such is the position of the Anxious Bench, as a particular measure, in the general case now under consideration. It is just as easy to conceive of a judicious and salutary use of the sign of the cross, as it is to conceive of a judicious and salutary use of the anxious bench ; and I have no doubt at all, but that the first has been owned and blessed of God full as extensively, to say the least, as this has ever been the case with the last.

In the long run, who cares about the certainty of law!

How the Athenians tried to protect their freedom from their democracy:

Law-making was the business of popular legislative assemblies, and the general rules laid down in written form by those assemblies were contrasted with the arbitrary orders of tyrants. But the Greeks, and particularly the Athenians, were to realize fully in the second half of the fifth and in the fourth century before Christ the grave inconveniences of a law-making process by means of which all the laws were certain (that is, precisely worded in a written formula), but nobody was certain that any law, valid today, could last until tomorrow without being abrogated or modified by a subsequent law. Tysamenes” reformation of the Athenian constitution at the end of the fifth century offers us an example of a remedy against this inconvenience that could be usefully pondered by contemporary political scientists and politicians. A rigid and complex procedure was then introduced in Athens in order to discipline legislative innovations. Every bill proposed by a citizen (in the Athenian direct democracy every man belonging to the general legislative assembly was entitled to present a bill, whereas in Rome only the elected magistrates could do so) was thoroughly studied by a special committee of magistrates (nomotetai) whose task was precisely that of defending the previous legislation against the new proposal. Of course, proponents could freely argue before the general legislative assembly against the nomotetai in order to support their own bills, so that the whole discussion must have been based more on a comparison between the old and the new law than on a simple oration in favor of the latter.

But this was not the end of the story. Even when the bill had been passed at last by the assembly, the proponent was held responsible for his proposal if another citizen, acting as a plaintiff against the proponent himself, could prove, after the law had been approved by the assembly, that the new legislation had some grave defects or that it was in irremediable contradiction with older laws still valid in Athens. In that case, the proponent of the law could be legitimately tried, and the penalties could be very serious, including the death sentence, although, as a rule, unfortunate proponents suffered only fines. This is not a legend. We know all this from Demosthenes’ accusation against one of these unfortunate proponents named Tymocrates. This system of fining proponents of unsuitable legislation was not in opposition to democracy, if we mean by that word a regime in which the people are sovereign and if we admit that sovereignty means also irresponsibility, as it does in many historical interpretations of it.

We must infer that the Athenian democracy at the end of the fifth century and during the fourth century before Christ was obviously not satisfied with the notion that the certainty of the law could be equated simply with that of a precisely worded formula in a written text.

Through Tysamenes’ reform, the Athenians discovered at last that they could not be free from the interference of the political power only by obeying the laws of today; they also needed to be able to foresee the consequences of their actions according to the laws of tomorrow.

This is, in fact, the chief limitation of the idea that the certainty of the law can be simply identified with the precise wording of a written rule, whether general or not.

But the idea of the certainty of the law has not only the above-mentioned sense in the history of the political and legal systems of the West. It has also been understood in a completely different sense.
The certainty of the law, in the sense of a written formula, refers to a state of affairs inevitably conditioned by the possibility that the present law may be replaced at any moment by a subsequent law. The more intense and accelerated is the process of law-making, the more uncertain will it be that present legislation will last for any length of time. Moreover, there is nothing to prevent a law, certain in the above-mentioned sense, from being unpredictably changed by another law no less “certain” than the previous one.

Thus, the certainty of the law, in this sense, could be called the short-run certainty of the law. Indeed, there seems to be a striking parallel in our day between short-run types of provisions in matters of economic policy and the short-run certainty of the laws that are enacted to secure these provisions. In a more general way, the legal and political systems of almost all countries today could be defined in this respect as short-run systems, in contrast to some of the classic long-run systems of the past. The famous dictum of the late Lord Keynes that “in the long run we shall all be dead” could be adopted as the motto of the present age by future historians. Perhaps we have become increasingly accustomed to expect immediate results from the enormous and unprecedented progress in the technical means and scientific devices developed to perform many kinds of tasks and to achieve many kinds of results in material ways. Undoubtedly, this fact has created for many people who ignore or try to ignore the differences the expectation of immediate results also in other fields and in regard to other matters not dependent at all on technological and scientific progress.

I am reminded of a conversation I had with an old man who grew plants in my country. I asked him to sell me a big tree for my private garden. He replied, “Everybody now wants big trees. People want them immediately; they do not bother about the fact that trees grow slowly and that it takes a great deal of time and trouble to grow them. Everybody today is always in a hurry,” he sadly concluded, “and I do not know why.”

Lord Keynes could have told him the reason: people think that in the long run they will all be dead. This same attitude is also noticeable in connection with the general decline in religious belief that so many priests and pastors lament today. Christian religious beliefs used to emphasize, not the present life of man, but a future one. The less men believe now in that future world, the more they cling to their present life, and, believing that individual life is short, they are in a hurry. This has caused a great secularization of religious beliefs at the present time in the countries of both the Occident and the Orient, so that even a religion as indifferent to the present world as Buddhism is being given by some of its supporters a mundane “social,” if not, in fact a “socialist,” meaning. A contemporary American writer, Dagobert Runes, says in his book on contemplation, “Churches have lost the touch of the Divine and turned to book reviews and politics.”

This may help to explain why there is now so little attention given to a long-run conception of the certainty of the law or indeed to any other long-run conception that relates to human behavior. Of course, this does not mean that short-run systems are, in fact, more efficient than long-run ones in achieving the very ends that people endeavor to attain by devising, say, a new miraculous full-employment policy or some unprecedented legal provision or simply by asking from growers big trees for their gardens.

The short-run concept is not the only notion of the certainty of the law that the history of political and legal systems in the countries of the West presents to a student patient enough to recognize the principles that underlie institutions.

Bruno Leoni, Freedom & the Law, chapter 4, “Freedom & the Certainty of Law”

James Buchanan on Edward Fisher’s Marrow of Modern Divinity

The Marrow controversy in Scotland was a protest against alleged Antinomianism, on the one side, and a reaction against real Neonomianism, on the other. It was occasioned by the republication in this country of a work entitled ‘The Marrow of Modern Divinity,’ which had been written by Edward Fisher, an Independent, and published in 1647 with the approbation of Caryl, Burroughs, and Strong. It was assailed by Principal Hadow, of St. Andrews, in a work entitled ‘The Antinomianism of the Marrow Detected:’ and Mr. Hog, of Carnock, with the brethren who concurred with him in recommending the book, were cited to appear before the Church Courts, and ultimately forbidden to teach the doctrines contained in it. This Act of Assembly gave rise to a keen and protracted controversy, and ultimately led, in concurrence with other causes, to the secession of some of the ablest and best ministers of the Church. The discussion involved many important points of doctrine, but it mainly turned on a question of fact,—the one party affirming, and the other denying, that certain Antinomian errors were contained in Fisher’s work,—while these errors were equally rejected by both. In so far as it related merely to that fact, the controversy could have no permanent importance; and it would have resembled that which was waged between the Jansenists and the Jesuits, whether certain propositions, which were equally disclaimed by. both parties, were contained in Jansen’s ‘Augustinus,’—or that between the Neonomians and their opponents in England, whether certain doctrines, which were disclaimed by both parties, were taught in the writings of Dr. Crisp.

In regard to this question of fact, in the case of the ‘Marrow,’ we shall only say, that a book which is held even by its admirers to require explanatory or apologetic notes, may be fairly presumed to contain some unguarded expressions, which might be understood in a sense dangerous to some part of the scheme of divine truth; and that this remark applies equally to Fisher’s ‘Marrow of Modern Divinity,’ which was annotated by Thomas Boston, and to Dr. Crisp’s ‘Sermons,’ which were annotated by Dr. Gill.