Eye

I.3 Deism Is the Means by Which the People Claim Their Rights

Liberty

The Original
State of Nature

Truths known to the people in nature are grasped prior to government. By “prior to,” I do not mean prior in time, but prior in being. Nature precedes government in the same way that a cause precedes its effect.

In that state prior to all written law, the people know that they possess certain inalienable rights. One such right is the freedom of the people to govern themselves freely. Reason exercises self-governance through its grasp of an unwritten order of law inscribed into nature: “the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God.” When a people enter into government, they seek to bring the written law of their new political order into harmony with that unwritten law of nature. We carried out this momentous act through the drafting of the U.S. Constitution.

∆    ∆    ∆

Liberty

Supremacy of the
Laws of Nature

The laws of nature do not cease to exist when government is first founded. Neither does the state of nature vanish into nothingness. Both continue as they did before.

The appearance of government may be compared to the putting on of clothes. When we clothe ourselves, our bodies do not disappear, but are simply covered over. In the same way, when we put on government, the state of nature does not disappear, but is covered over with the written law. Whether that written law is just or not depends on whether it conforms to the laws that God has inscribed into nature.

When written laws follow nature, they enable us to secure the blessings of happiness; when they do not, they make it impossible for us to achieve what is good.

∆    ∆    ∆

Liberty

Constitutions Must
Follow Nature

Nature is the standard of all human justice. For example, we know that murder is wrong by nature, regardless of whether it is forbidden by the written law. For many years, our nation allowed one man to own another, but that did not make slavery just. Clearly, the standard of the written law precedes government in nature.

In a republic, the people enact written laws in order to secure the rights that belong to them prior to government in nature. If the written law does not achieve this aim, then it is unjust. Similarly, if the Constitution, the highest written law of the land, does not secure the natural rights of the people, then government as a whole is unjust. Constitutions are just when they follow the moral order that God has made evident to reason in nature.

∆    ∆    ∆

 

 

 

 

BACK
American Deist © 2012 ‒ 2013 Edward J. Furton
NEXT