The American Colonies
The American Enlightenment: How modern philosophers affected education, Christianity, and society. SOME OF THE TOPICS COVERED: *Ivy League schools. *God, Freemasons, the Illuminati. *The new Rational Christianity. *The "arch scoundrel" Voltaire. *Rousseau: superstar philosopher. *Diderot, the "hairbrained eccentric". *The influential John Locke. *Western civilization's new foundation. *Blackstone's "bible of American lawyers". (6 pages)
THE AMERICAN COLONIES
Not all Puritans in Britain wanted to overthrow the government as did Sir Edward Coke and Oliver Cromwell. A minority of them, therefore, decided to Take a hike! or pilgrimage, and for that reason were called Pilgrims. They knew that other Christians, like the Maccabees, Barabbas, Coke, and Cromwell, believed in “fighting for a better world” by resisting the authorities God had put over them, but the Pilgrims decided to follow the example of Joseph and Mary by moving to a location they found more suitable.
When the Pilgrims landed in America in 1620, their intent was to glorify their authorities, heavenly and earthly, as evidenced by the Mayflower Compact: “In the name of God, Amen. We…loyal subjects of our dread sovereign lord, King James, by the grace of God…King, Defender of the Faith, etc… Having undertaken for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith and honor of our king…”
They made a good effort to establish a Christian society and a Biblical lifestyle. Their society was – like that of any family – communal, as if they really did believe they were all brothers and sisters in Christ. But alas, no government in the Devil’s kingdom – even a government attempting to rule in accordance with the Bible – will remain pure. In order to do so, a government would need to be given by God some land, the authority to rule it (dominion), and His help in preserving it.
The Massachusetts Bay Colony decided the governor’s duty included only rules found in Scripture. (It is OK to establish societal rules and laws not in Scripture, as long as they don’t violate Scripture or become religious traditions that are later regarded as sins.) The governor was to promote a Christian community and punish any church or individual found walking contrary to the word of God. The early Christian colonizers, however, did not understand the Biblical doctrine of dominion, and therefore even though they gave the colony their best shot they eventually ran into problems.
In spite of the vast ocean the Pilgrims had put between them and Europe they had unknowingly brought the worst part of Europe with them – philosophy. And some Pilgrims began to lobby for a democratic form of government. In response to these Enlightened Pilgrims, John Cotton, a famous preacher from that colony said, “Democracy, I do not concede that ever God did ordain as a fit government either for church or commonwealth. If the people be governors, who shall be governed? As for monarchy and aristocracy, they are both of them clearly approved and directed in Scripture [Pv 8:15,16].” And the first governor of the colony, John Winthrop, said, “We have no warrant in Scripture for democracy. A democracy is the meanest [poorest, lowest] and worst of all forms of government.”
In Connecticut the Scriptures were used when establishing capital crimes. Therefore the death penalty was assigned for worshipping a false god, witchcraft, intentional blasphemy, murder, bestiality, homosexuality, adultery, rape, kidnapping, a child over sixteen cursing or smiting his parents, and a child who was determined to be incorrigible past the sixteenth birthday.
Once the colonies were established they began to attract the slovenly Christians who had avoided the pioneering phase of colonizing because of the hard work involved. A higher percentage of these newcomers were Enlightened and soon began complaining about their Bible-based society. Their demands for religious freedom and a more secular society brought the closet liberals out into the open. Rev. Nathaniel Ward of Massachusetts Bay Colony addressed the evils of religious freedom: “There is no worse evil than mistaken liberty… Frederick, duke of Saxon, said he had rather the earth should swallow him up quick [alive] than he should give a toleration to any opinion against any truth of God. He that is willing to tolerate any religion besides his own either doubts his own or is not sincere in it… The state that will give liberty of conscience in matters of religion must also give liberty of conscience and action in their moral laws.”
But the colony was edging towards toleration and even separation of church and state. A meeting held to decide if a preacher could be a magistrate resulted in a unanimous (!) No. The colony even took the unusual step of putting education, poor relief, marriage laws, etc., solely in the hands of secular officials. But freedom from religion wasn’t happening fast enough for some Christians such as Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson, who fomented civil unrest. They were kicked out of the colony and went and founded Rhode Island. Williams had been an associate of Oliver Cromwell’s and was, like Cromwell, politically ambitious.
Roger Williams (1603-1683) wandered from colony to colony because he was not really looking for a place to live, he wanted a place to rule. He was an Enlightened Christian who said, “The sovereign, original, and foundation of civil power lies in the people…people may erect and establish whatever form of government seems to them most meet… This is clear not only in Reason, but in the experience of all commonwealths where the people are not deprived of their Natural Freedom by the power of tyrants.” He was a preacher who became the first governor of Rhode Island. He drifted from religion to religion and finally became a Seeker. Seekers didn’t know what to believe so they sat in silence at their “worship services” waiting for God to send a prophet who could tell them what to do. This group had no doctrine and gave rise to the Society of Friends – the Quakers.
TRAIN UP A CHILD IN THE WAY HE SHOULD GO
The colonies grew, prospered, became more secular, and adopted toleration. Colleges were set up. The language of higher education was Latin, and students were required to study – you guessed it – Latin translations of Greek philosophy. A “classical education” was considered essential to becoming a “gentleman.” A gentleman’s education included literature, art, aesthetics, mathematics, the newly emerging scientific method and thought, poetry, and a heavy emphasis on “classical letters”, which was Greek philosophy with its concept of “scholarly purity” (secular thinking unencumbered by Christianity). Hence a gentleman was “a man of letters.”
Yale, Harvard, and Princeton were some of the early Protestant educational institutions. They had a symbiotic relationship with Enlightened Protestantism. The Protestant denominations thought the Age of Reason was a Godsend because they saw it as the main factor in their split from Catholicism – and anything that got them out from under the Vatican had to be good. Protestants believed Reason was a Christian safeguard that would prevent them from becoming bound in religious superstition like Catholicism, keep their doctrine pure, and establish a Christian society that honored God by conforming to Nature’s Laws. To them pagan Greek Reason and its resultant Enlightenment were the tools God used to free them from the Dark Age mythology of pagan Roman Catholicism. And again, they did not consider pagan Greek philosophy to be pagan; it was universal truth the Greeks happened to discover first. That is why Protestantism placed such importance on a “classical education” in its schools. Their schools, in turn, produced Enlightened preachers and pewsters who viewed the dramatic changes in religion, government, and society as positive trends that needed to continue. This in turn gave rise to even more Protestant colleges such as Brown, Rutgers, Dartmouth, and the University of Pennsylvania. All of these schools considered it their primary responsibility to produce what had been called Rational Christians but were now referred to as Enlightened Christians.
As education became a major shaper of society the various curriculums were unified. This unification was started by Thomas Clap, president of Yale. One of the supporters of this standardized education was Francis Alison, a Presbyterian preacher who taught at the University of Pennsylvania. Alison wrote, “I have seen proposals to unite the several colleges on this continent in the same plan of education. This proposal was made by Mr. President Clap and deserves serious consideration. There ought to be more care taken to prepare boys than is now used in preparing them to recite Virgil, Tully, and the Greek Testament, and sufficient understanding of Latin, Greek, and English to write at least grammatically, if not elegantly. Euclid’s elements and algebra should be taught carefully. And philosophy should be a business of greater care than is now the common practice, because without this branch of knowledge we shall be ill able to defend our holy Christian religion; to understand the Rights of mankind; or to explain and enforce the duties which we owe to God, our neighbors, and ourselves. I would, as a friend of learning, recommend that you engage Gentlemen and gospel ministers of more ‘enlarged views’ to engage in this reformation. I will count it a favor to receive, and will punctually answer your letters, especially while you are active in promoting the Cause of Liberty, Virtue, and Learning.”
Princeton, which was founded in 1746 by two prominent Great Awakening Protestant preachers, wanted to educate Christians in order to produce “refined sentiments, noble principles”, and to encourage both moderation and toleration by the inculcation of “Rational” living: “The utmost care is taken to encourage Rational Christian behavior in the students. Enthusiasm on the one hand, and profaneness on the other, are equally guarded against and meet with the severest checks.” These Protestant educational institutions all taught that Natural Law put democratic authority in the hands of the people.
Satan’s use of educational institutions to indoctrinate all future generations was brilliant. He knew humans infected with Equality would Naturally gravitate towards his ideology, overthrow powerful monarchies, and install democracies. Educational institutions were just another way to spread the forbidden-fruit ideology of the pagan Greek philosophers. First it was scholarship that infected Europe’s elite – such as Augustine and Aquinas – with Reason. Then educated religious leaders like John Calvin used grassroots movements to “reform” religions, governments, and societies. And now formal educational institutions train up our children to think and act according to that which is right in their own eyes. When looking back at the humble beginnings of Reason among the Greek philosophers and tracing its development over many centuries into the most widespread and powerful ideology on the planet, we can’t help but wonder how it could have been so successful at toppling powerful monarchies in so many countries. For example, two of the last powerful, Bible-believing kings on earth, James and Charles, who actively despised democracy (which caused King James to write a book defending monarchy), were so frustrated by their inability to stop the swelling influence of Enlightened Christians that they jailed the Andrew Melvilles, fired the Sir Edward Cokes, and allowed activist Puritans to move away to North America and set up colonies – hoping the problem would go away. But it didn’t…because the problem wasn’t really the people themselves – it was the ideology/doctrine they believed. Understanding the power of ideology, John Maynard Keynes wrote, “The power of vested interests [such as powerful kings] is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas.” He also said, “Ideas shape the course of history.” When we reflect upon the history-shaping power of the people when their actions are motivated by ideologies that are right in their own eyes, we get a glimpse of why Ro 8:7 says the carnal mind is enmity against God; why God said King Saul’s democratically-conceived good idea in 1 Sa 15:18-25 was “rebellion” and “witchcraft”; why King David executed the young man for merely believing it was OK to kill an evil monarch (page H2-7); why the Lord Jesus Christ says tradition makes the word of God of none effect (Mk 7:13); and why it is so important for us to learn correct doctrine. This spiritual war will be won by those Christians who are motivated by what God says in His Book – not by Christians who are motivated by morality, Reason, religious tradition, conservative values, and what they honestly think is right.
One of the “minor uncertainties” of the era was who God is. He was no longer unquestionably the God of the Bible. He might be, but then again He might not be. It wasn’t really known what kind of entity He might be. But one thing was sure, the truth about Him would be revealed as Reason discovered more truths from Natural Law. Many of the brightest intellects of the day rejected the existence of God. Their intellectual honesty and fortitude allowed them to do what men of lesser genius and strength of character could not do – act on that which they believed was proven truth. Since Reason and Natural Law were true, it must follow that supernatural beings, events, and miracles simply did not exist because they – by definition – weren’t Natural; they violated the Laws of Nature, which simply couldn’t be done – even by God. But that kind of intellectual honesty and strength was, and is, rare. Lesser men, including most of the American founding fathers, were afraid to openly confess their philosophical convictions in a largely unenlightened society that was going through a religious “Great Awakening.” So these timid Gentlemen kept what they believed was the truth mostly to themselves by using vague terms in public such as Nature’s God, Providence, the Almighty, the Creator, etc. Some of the founding fathers were definitely deists. (A deist was a man of any denomination who got his beliefs about the Creator from neither his church nor the Bible; his god was the one revealed only by Reason, and ruled only by Natural Law. In other words, a deist accepted the Greek philosophers as true prophets of the god who revealed his gospel of Natural Law through the self-evident teachings of Reason.) A few of the founding fathers were Christians. In most cases they were closet agnostics who grew up going through the motions in Enlightened Protestant churches in a “Christian” society – and they weren’t about to come out of the closet. In their speech, actions, and thoughts they were even less “Christian” than were the old “Christian Rationalists” we discussed – who were all Roman Catholic.
Many of the American founding fathers found Enlightened fellowship in Freemasonry, an offspring of the Illuminati. The Illuminati was founded by a group of “Freethinkers.” Illuminated and Free just meant Enlightened independence, and Freethinkers were merely activists who wanted to spread the Enlightenment and build (as in the word Free-masons) democratic societies and governments based on Reason. They believed all beliefs – including religious beliefs – should be based exclusively upon scientific knowledge and Reason, and therefore should never be affected by outside influences such as authority structures and the Bible. Obviously, their zeal to overthrow the status quo and establish a new horizontal world order of Enlightened democracies made them Natural enemies of the prevailing religious beliefs and social conservatism that supported the world’s vertical structure of authority, patriarchy, and monarchy that was established back in the beginning. Because the Illuminati and Freemasonry are secret organizations they have generated controversy, but they are no different from other Enlightened organizations that worship Reason and individual equality, and that despise monarchy and religious faith – including the religious belief in the unscientific and unproven existence of the supernatural spiritual realm. That’s why Freemasonry worshipped “the [Reasonable] Architect of the [Enlightened] Universe”; and its loyal members who were striving to build a new Enlightened horizontal world order included George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, James Otis, the Marquis de Lafayette, Richard Henry Lee, James Madison, Israel Putnam, Paul Revere, Arthur St. Clair, Frederick Von Steuben, Dr. Joseph Warren, William Paterson, and Alexander Hamilton. Freemasonry offered the ritual and the mystery of pagan religion without the “enthusiasm and bigotry” of Christianity. Doctrinally it was a blend of Reason and the “beliefs” of tolerant Seekers, and it conformed to the Enlightened ideal of the new scientific religion.
This was the new better Christianity. It was respectable. The Enlightened Christian was a gentleman, a Renaissance man, universal, sophisticated, cosmopolitan, and Rational. His religious beliefs were no longer based on a literal reading of the inspired word of God; they were based on theological compilations derived from archeology, history, Reason, morality, critical readings of manmade Bible versions, commentaries, and Greek and Hebrew dictionaries. By using the tools provided by Reason – science, inventions, medicine, industry, literature, education, and progress – he was helping to build a smarter, more equitable, godlier civilization than had ever existed. Just as Aquinas had rescued Christianity from intellectual ridicule by marrying it to Reason, the new Enlightened Christian was leading the world out of darkness by putting Reason into action. For example, in 1758 Nathaniel Ames, who was a household name as famous for his Almanac as Franklin was for his, reveals this Enlightened view that the “arts and sciences” were the “light of the Gospel.” (Remember, they believed the “light” of the Gospel was Reason/philosophy, which was spread by the “arts and sciences” of modern Enlightened educational curriculums. Hence, an educated Gentleman was a “man of letters” – such as a B.A. degree (Bachelor of Arts), a B.S. degree (Bachelor of Science), a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy), etc.) He said, “As the celestial light of the Gospel was directed here by the finger of God, it will drive the long night of heathenish darkness from America as the Arts and Sciences tour from hence over the Appalachian Mountains to the western ocean. And as they march through the vast land the wild beasts will forever cease their obscene howl and instead the stones and trees will dance together at the Music of Orpheus.” (Orpheus was a figure in Greek mythology, of course.) Bearing gifts of philosophical fruits in order to lead mankind into Enlightened Reason’s “celestial light” was now part of Christianity. This Enlightened zeal can be seen a century later in a popular Xmas carol, We Three Kings of Orient Are, written in New York in 1857 by Rev. John Henry Hopkins. The strange use of the present-tense words “still proceeding” reveal the carol to be using the famous long-ago faith-based journey to symbolize the modern Reason-based journey into the realm of self-evident knowledge: “Bearing gifts we traverse afar, field and fountain, moor and mountain…Westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect light.” In the song, the Xmas star doesn’t guide us to itself; it guides us to the perfect light of Reason. Four years later, that “perfect light of Reason” inspired the popular Battle Hymn of the Republic. Rejoicing over the fact that American Christians, guided by the principles of the Enlightenment, were “trampling out the vintage” of slavery and monarchy with the “terrible swift sword” of warfare, the hymn proclaims: “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord [as manifested by the acceptance and spread of His glorious Reason]…As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men Free…Our God is marching on.”
Perhaps no hymn does more to show how much Patriotism and Liberty had become part of American Christianity than America, written at theology school by Rev. S.F. Smith in 1832: “My country, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of Liberty, of thee I sing…Let Freedom ring…Sweet Freedom’s song…Our father’s God to Thee, Author of Liberty…Long may our land be bright, with Freedom’s holy light.” But these popular Enlightened hymns have gotten me about a century ahead of myself.
Back in the mid 1700s, the founding fathers had no idea that Christianity would embrace Reason rather than be buried by it. But they were well aware that two of the biggest obstacles to their efforts to build a Rational society were the appalling stupidity of the Christian masses, and old-fashioned enthusiastic Christianity. For example, George Washington (no towering intellect himself) referred to these ordinary people as “the grazing multitude”; John Adams called them “the common Herd of Mankind”; Alexander Hamilton used “the unthinking populace”; and Thomas Jefferson called them “hackneyed rascals.” Other terms they used included “cattle,” “Idiots,” “a mist of ignorance,” and “the unthinking mob.” The following quote expresses the sentiment of the majority of the f-ing fathers: “Despite the best efforts of Enlightened institutions to spread orthodox Christianity and Reason, many ordinary people still believe in spirits and devils.” As we will see, there were a number of Bible-believing Christians who proved to be irritants to the Cause of Rebellion because they not only still believed in spirits and devils, they also believed God commands longsuffering obedience to froward government – not rebellion.
Because of the rapid spread of Enlightened Christianity – and its resultant secular society – the social fruits of Enlightenment are commonly referred to as “the rise of modern paganism.” The f-ing fathers’ generation was fascinated with the ancient republics of Athens and Rome. They could not get enough of this “classical republicanism.” They dressed up in Roman togas, they quoted the classics, they named their slaves after Greek and Roman philosophers, they used examples from mythology in everyday speech, they modeled their government after pagan democracies, and they gave names taken from pagans to their government buildings and governmental bodies. Of the books on their library shelves at home, the Greek and Roman classics outnumbered all other titles and topics combined. They read, studied, took notes, researched, and wrote about the classics in the same way you and I daily devote a major portion of our time to studying the Bible. Why did they do that? Because in philosophy they believed they’d found the pearl of great price, and they were looking for wisdom, guidance, and instruction on how to live and how to rule society. The other books in their libraries they were required to have for professional or church reasons. But the classics were their passion; they wanted them, indeed, they believed they needed them.
Some of the “guiding lights” of the day who influenced the f-ing fathers with their philosophical works will be briefly reviewed. Like all men who believed in Reason, these philosophers were sophists doing the best they could without the guiding light of God’s Holy Truth.
Francois Voltaire (1694-1778) was a French philosopher and leader of the Enlightenment. Because he was an ex-con (he was imprisoned many times) he hated unenlightened monarchy and was a fan of British democracy-limited monarchy. He believed democracies needed an Enlightened monarch in order to offset the “idiocy of the masses.” Although he was, as any true Rationalist and Skeptic, a deist, he also believed the masses need a “god” as a moderating influence, and he is famous for saying, “If God did not exist, He would have to be invented.” Voltaire’s extreme desire to rid society of the evils of religion and absolute monarchy produced in him an impatient and ruthless intellectual thoroughness that resulted in his motto about religious enthusiasm: “Crush the infamous thing!” He was speaking intellectually; he detested physical violence. He visited England early in life and was strongly influenced by John Locke. Although he was a deist and spoke of “God”, he was, like many Enlightened scholars of his day, strongly opposed to Biblical Christianity because it is contrary to the Laws of Nature as revealed by human Reason. Voltaire urged leaders of society to take positive action to reform society and make it Enlightened and free of the blinding influences of enthusiastic Christianity. He joined Ben Franklin as a member of Freemasonry. Enthusiastic American Christians frequently derided the Christianity-hating Thomas Jefferson by comparing him to Voltaire. When Voltaire died, Mozart (the composer) wrote, “The arch-scoundrel Voltaire has finally kicked the bucket.” His detractors took delight in ridiculing him as a philosopher because he never had an original thought – just like all the other philosophers.
Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) was a philosopher and a superstar of his day. He was born in Geneva, where his education consisted solely of studying Calvinist philosophy-laden sermons and Greek biographies. As a young man he moved to France, moved in with a woman who used up her wealth to pay for his continuing education, renounced Calvinism, and converted to Catholicism. After a while he abandoned the woman (who then died in poverty), moved back to Geneva, and reconverted to Calvinism. Upon returning to France after a few years, Rousseau lived with another woman and fathered five children from 1746 to 1752 – all of whom he unapologetically gave to an orphanage as soon as they were born.
Rousseau taught that man in his ancient Natural state was pure and was only corrupted by the societies he created. In other words, since modern man is a product of his corrupt environment, modern society needed to be changed by us corrupt men in order to produce the kind of uncorrupt societies that even the “pure” men of antiquity couldn’t create. (This idiotic, contradictory nonsense caused scholars, both Calvinist and Catholic, to renounce him.) He said Natural Equality among pure men had been upset when they invented agriculture, private property, and commerce – which fed their self-interest/greed and made them want to increase their own wealth at the expense of others. Therefore, the power needed to be taken away from the corrupt ruling few and be restored to the pure masses where it belongs. Accordingly, the purpose of government is to establish and protect that ancient unspoiled Natural Equality (that produced evil men who created corrupt societies).
Considering himself to be an expert on rearing children, Rousseau taught that young children are pure and uncorrupted and should be allowed to develop without “oppression” from their society-corrupted parents so the children can mature “Naturally” – like the evil, corrupt-society-producing men above did. (Yes, this famous philosopher who had so much influence on modern society, was, like many of the other famous philosophers, a very messed-up individual.) In appreciation for his huge contributions to our Enlightened free society, the United States named a peak and a mountain range after him.
Rousseau wrote The Social Contract in 1762. It was built upon the assumption that Locke’s writings were valid. In this work Rousseau said when the ruler breaks the “social contract”, the people have an obligation for the good of society to rebel against him. The problem with any form of democracy, Rousseau realized, was in the very majority that comprised it. He agreed with other thinkers, most notably the outspoken Plato, who taught that most people are stupid. Rousseau theorized that the moronic majority of citizens, whether they are “pure” or corrupted by society, are so stupid they need a constitution and a system of laws to keep them from self-destruction. He thought, because the masses tend toward religious superstition, that claims should be made for the divine inspiration of the constitution in order to encourage its unquestioned acceptance by the dim-witted multitude. He also believed it was necessary to find a substitute for anything you took from society. Therefore, when monarchy was removed, in order to replace all the “God save the king” devotion and loyalty, the government must promote loyalty to the State itself as if it were a person. Rousseau is the father of modern patriotism, and today love for, loyalty to, and devout pledges of allegiance to an inanimate flag have become almost as common in the democratic world as love for, loyalty to, and devout pledges of allegiance to an inanimate wafer in the Roman Catholic world – for which Protestants call Catholics idolaters.
Denis Diderot (1713-1784) was a popular and influential philosopher, philanderer, and author of idiotic stories that made women’s vaginas mouths that could speak. In spite of the fact that he came from a devout Catholic family, he was anti-Christian. He drifted into atheism as a result of his studies. Atheism was largely unpopular among the masses, but Diderot traveled in elite circles away from the masses. Most scholars of his time remained “Christian” on Sundays but were skeptics the rest of the week. The opposite of a Christian skeptic was a Christian enthusiast. Since enthusiasts tended to be unenlightened, they were branded as irrational and superstitious, and were thought to be hindrances to the building of a modern Enlightened society, and thorns in the side of progress. Scholars and philosophers, including Diderot, universally despised that kind of Christianity.
Diderot espoused radical changes to society for the good of mankind and defended the legitimacy of revolution if necessary to effect these changes. Diderot and his friend, Voltaire, were favorites of Catherine the Great of Russia. She corresponded with Diderot and gave him financial support. Like many other educated monarchs, she had democratic leanings: “I have set great store by philosophy because I have always had an oddly Republican soul. I admit that it may be something of a phenomenon to find a soul of this temper in a person having the limitless power of my position…” However, she lost respect for philosophy when Diderot visited her for several months. In getting to know him she realized he was just “a harebrained eccentric, a dreamer, a charlatan.” And when she saw how undisciplined and chaotic the masses became in democracies, she rejected Enlightened forms of government.
Because Diderot is appreciated as a major figure of the Age of Reason who succeeded in his intention “to change the common way of thinking”, he has been named one of history’s hundred greatest men.
John Locke (1632-1704) was an English Whig (pro-democracy), Calvinist, and philosopher who predated other influential philosophers who were closer to the time of the American f-ing fathers. But – perhaps because he was English – Locke had the most influence. His influence was boosted by the fact that he was the most popular apologist for the democratic Glorious Revolution of 1688 when William and Mary overthrew her father. Locke’s Puritan father fought for Oliver Cromwell in the Civil War against King Charles I and may have been one of the many who took the Engagement Oath. John Locke witnessed the public hanging of Cromwell’s corpse and the disgrace and humiliation his father suffered when British society embraced the tenants of the Oxford Decree (page H10-15). Locke despised the Oxford Decree because he was an Enlightened Christian who believed Christianity had proven to be a flawed and inadequate foundation for society. He believed Christianity should be retained as a religion but not as the foundation of civilization. As an apologist for the Glorious Revolution he would vindicate his father, ingratiate himself with the current generation of democratic elite, and help prevent future resurgences of the unenlightened religious superstition that had disgraced his father with the Oxford Decree. His success was phenomenal.
The new foundation for civilization, Locke said, should be Natural Law. If that were the case the resulting democracy would get its framework of laws from the peoples’ Reason, be administered by the people, and be for the peoples’ benefit. Locke, who was a student of Greek philosophy, admired Plato and René Descartes and was influenced by the Greek Epicureans who stressed living by sight (using the physical senses to gather truth) and the importance of “Happiness.” He is credited with helping to lay the foundation of Reason for modern science, establishing the Age of Reason in both Britain and France, and inspiring the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution. He helped draft a constitution for the new American colony of North Carolina, which granted freedom of religion – something that quickly became a cherished principle among Enlightened Christians. He was supposedly a Christian who loved the Lord, but because he believed the Bible often contradicted the new, increasingly-fashionable higher power of Natural Law, he treated the word of God the same way Sir Edward Coke in his antiquarian “research” treated the Magna Carta and other old documents – he used various Rational methods to de-emphasize what it said in order to uncover its “hidden treasures of Natural Law.” This allowed him to show that God does not really favor monarchy as one might gather from the Bible – because the deity’s Natural Laws actually promote democratic forms of government. Locke favored a constitutional republic. He believed God’s Natural Law was the underlying principle of the “social contracts” of government. (The earliest references to these “social contracts” are in the dialogues of Plato – Locke’s idol.) The fact that self-interest was the main motivation when forming a social contract showed the value and importance of Self as a foundation upon which to build a better society. This was supported by the fact that “what seems Natural” agreed with what was “self-evident” because, Locke argued, that is exactly what “Divine Providence” intended. In this way “self-interest” was validated as a motivator for individual actions which, compounded, would produce a great society with Natural checks and balances. For example, when two girls want to divide a cake, self-interest and distrust result in a miniature social contract as the girls agree to an “I’ll cut, you choose” system of checks and balances that ensures an equitable outcome. In other words, Locke believed greed would regulate Christian society better than the selfless Christian love taught in the Bible. Locke’s ideas would later inspire Adam Smith to invent capitalism, in which self-interest was the motivator and regulator of the economy. (The invention of capitalism was not a big step because capitalism is a Natural by-product of democracy; you cannot have democracy without capitalism.)
Because rearing and educating children has such a major impact on society, Locke wrote Some Thoughts on Education, which was to have an immediate influence on education, and a gradual effect on the rearing of children. Parents were advised in their relationship with their children not to base their authority on fear like God does. Instead of enforcing obedience as a parent/monarch, Locke said parents should democratically reason with children, “for as years increase, Liberty must come with them.” Locke’s contemporary, Lord Chesterfield, a prominent Enlightened statesman and Christian, went so far as to say parents should make children their “equals” and “friends” because “I never saw a froward child mended by whipping.” A social commentator of the era observed: “Nothing is so common as to hear parents say that to curb their children is to spoil their genius. Everyone calls Solomon barbarous and a damned fool when he said spare the rod and spoil the child.” Increasingly, “Christian love” was being changed to mean pacifistic tolerance. And thanks to Reason, we were now much smarter than the Holy Bible. Yes, the Bible had been good in its day, but that day was past.
The Enlightened teachings of Locke and Rousseau about rearing children have borne fruit: Today in the United States, state-run welfare agencies believe parents are unfit if they teach their children “to be obedient and compliant” (an actual quote). The unspoken implication (and widespread practice) is that children should be allowed to be willful and independent. This liberation of children even extends to saying grace at home before meals: Many parents no longer require their young children to bow their heads and participate when the rest of the family says grace – because the toddlers “should be allowed to formulate their own beliefs.”
Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780) was another superstar who greatly influenced the American f-ing fathers. Blackstone was an English lawyer, antiquarian, and member of Parliament who was famous for his Commentaries on the Laws of England. He was an Enlightened student of philosophy, a big fan of Locke and Grotius, and an active propagandist and campaigner – sometimes deceitfully so – for Natural and Common Law. (Technically speaking, Natural Law and Common Law are different. Natural Law is the invisible, unwritten Law of the way life ought to be that Nature or Nature’s God programmed into people. Common Law is derived from Natural Law, is sometimes written down, and is used as a traditional regulator by society. Practically speaking, however, Natural Law and Common Law are so closely related the terms are often used interchangeably. They were promoted as the foundation of “human liberties” and “human rights.”)
In 1753 Blackstone delivered the first recorded scholastic lectures on English law. He used dignified language and an authoritative speaking style to deliberately disguise the contradictions, absurdities, and true origins of the English legal system. He falsely represented England’s legal code as orderly, logical, respectable, and authoritative, all while carefully concealing its true foundation – the ancient pagan philosophers. Ignoring pagan philosophy as the one and only source and foundation for everything about the legal system, he vaguely made the legal system seem to be the modern embodiment of the Laws of Nature. For example, instead of openly referring to “pagan precedents” he referred to “the custom of the realm from time immemorial” in order to make it seem established, official, and authoritative. Almost no one in the legal system would bother to seriously question Natural Law until about seventy-five years later.
The work that made Blackstone famous, Commentaries on the Laws of England, was first published in 1765 and was an instant, smashing success in Britain and the North American colonies. In fact, in America where Enlightened Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Calvinists greatly outnumbered members of the colonial Church of England, Blackstone’s Commentaries was in even greater demand than it was in England because of the American Protestants’ ravenous hunger for secular literature that “justified” rebellion. In England Blackstone’s book was merely a revered textbook and reference. In the colonies – and later in the young United States – it was the bible of law, and was used to build the government of the United States and its legal system.
Blackstone authoritatively declared that all laws, including statute laws, were valid only if they conformed to Natural Law. Because the members of Parliament were presumed to be Enlightened enough to use Reason without other corrupting influences (such as greed, religion, and politics) when making laws, it had to be concluded that Parliamentary laws conformed with Natural Law – because if not they wouldn’t be valid. This Reasoning was believed by Whigs to support their pro-democratic/anti-monarchy platform.
Blackstone was not a thinker. He got all of what he said from Locke and other “precedents” who, in turn, had gotten their ideas from the same Greek philosophers who provided Pontius Pilate with his snappy little specious retort, and whose influence had been unsuccessfully fought against by the Maccabees. In fact, Blackstone’s mental capabilities were well known to his fellow Parliamentarians. Those who’d read his book couldn’t believe the man whose ill-thought-out legal arguments on the floor of Parliament that often contradicted his Commentaries was in fact its author.
But Commentaries continued to be a success because Blackstone did have an impressive writing style and because for years there simply was no other legal reference available. In substance, Commentaries shows Blackstone had a poor grasp of even the most elementary concepts of law. He used language that blurred (perhaps intentionally) the distinction between the Laws of Nature and the laws of God, which was easy to do because the two were believed to be one and the same. The result was his content appealed to the Enlightened and his language appealed to naïve Christians who lacked discernment. If a Christian who thought Reason was good and who knew nothing about Blackstone or his agenda, were to read Commentaries he would not only think it was good Christian material, he’d also be pleased to find it supported Martin Luther’s teaching that political involvement (and democracy) was part of Christianity.
Blackstone was nothing but a highly successful propagandist for the secular, self-evident Reasoning of Natural Law. For example, read these gems from Commentaries: “As man depends absolutely upon his Maker for everything, it is necessary that he should in all points conform to his Maker’s will. This will of his Maker is called the Law of Nature. These laws laid down by God are eternal, immutable laws of good and evil to which the Creator Himself conforms in all dispensations… this Law of Nature, being co-equal with mankind and dictated by God Himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other law. It is binding over the entire globe in all countries at all times. No human laws are of any validity if contrary to this.” As you can see, Blackstone, anything but an original thinker, got much of this from Hugo Grotius. You can also see how his language would appeal to enthusiastic – but unthinking – Christians; and his content would appeal to secular humanists – such as his teaching that in both Old and New Testament dispensations God never performed the super-Natural miracles the Bible says He did because He must conform to His Laws of Nature.
Sometimes Blackstone’s book is so imbecilic as to make the reader wonder if he mindlessly copied or miscopied things about which he had no understanding, such as when he wrote people have rights, and things also have rights. Scholars believe this error to be the result of his inability to grasp technical, but basic, terms of ancient Roman law.
By the mid 1800s both Blackstone and Natural Law were discredited. In spite of the fact that the U.S. f-ing fathers used many terms and phrases from Commentaries when they wrote the Constitution, today’s lawyers no longer study his works because it is now known he was inept. His life’s work was meaningless even when he wrote it because Natural Law has always been nothing but pagan mythology – it simply does not exist. However, Commentaries remains in print because many Christians still buy it. It and Webster’s old Dictionary remain popular among Christians who worship the f-ing fathers, democracy, the Constitution, and political activism as “Christian” because both Blackstone’s and Webster’s use of religious language makes today’s Christians think these men were “spiritual.” To give you an idea of how popular Blackstone remains among ignorant and/or Enlightened Christians, read these two separate 21st century reviews:
Every American lawyer ought to read Blackstone’s Commentaries. Not that the law it contains is still reliable, although much of it is. But for the big picture, the history of the development of the English common law, he remains an indispensable source. The American founding fathers grew up with Commentaries, and these four volumes were indispensable for a Colonial gentleman’s education. In reading them, you will gain a new understanding of the meaning of the Constitution of the United States. As Blackstone develops the law, he sets it against the backdrop of the British struggle against arbitrary rule by the King, the seventeenth century wars of religious fanaticism, and England’s long battle to win freedom from the power of the papacy. To read Blackstone is to learn what the founding fathers thought and feared, and what they wrote the Constitution to guard against.
Once referred to as the “bible of American lawyers,” Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England shaped the principles of law in both England and America when its first volume appeared in 1765. Commentaries became the most essential knowledge that every lawyer needed to acquire. For the next century law remained what Blackstone made of it. Commentaries was a product of the intellectual and social values of the eighteenth century and its notions of Reason, Nature, and the Sublime. It illustrates all the elegance, social values, and internal contradictions of the Age of Reason.
Because the discredited Commentaries had such a direct influence on the shaping of our secular nation, nobody today wants to indirectly badmouth our republic and its legal system by referring to Blackstone as the “Father of Modern Law” – even though he is just that. To do so might cause more people to research him, realize our nation is founded on elements of discredited pagan philosophy, and rekindle the roaring debate that went on in legal and governmental circles during the mid 1800s. In legal circles, therefore, Blackstone is quietly ignored. (There is, however, some evidence that Commentaries’ value as a historic and legal “precedent” may be causing a resurgence in its use.)
Blackstone was a man of no intellect, no grasp of law, and no integrity. He was suckered by the ancient Sophists, and became a sophist himself in the usual and basest meaning of the word: Sophist: A professional teacher who, while professing to teach skill in reasoning, makes his points with ingenious and specious language rather than sound arguments. Even the encyclopedias have nothing good to say about him. But he is nevertheless a pillar of modern, secular, Western civilization.
Have ears that hear...
and endure to the end, comrades!