‘Ancient Principles’ Birthed the Greatest Nation the World Has Ever Known
By Trevor Thomas
From the article,
in order to persuade his fellow delegates to vote in favor of the Constitution, Samuel Langdon, a distinguished theologian and scholar, delivered an “election sermon” entitled, The Republic of the Israelites an Example to the American States.
After beginning by quoting Deuteronomy 4:5-8 in his sermon, Langdon noted,
[T]he Israelites may be considered as a pattern to the world in all ages; and from them we may learn what will exalt our character, and what will depress and bring us to ruin. Let us therefore look over their constitution and laws, enquire into their practice, and observe how their prosperity and fame depended on their strict observance of the divine commands both as to their government and religion.
Langdon then gave an account of how Moses, upon the wise counsel of his father-in-law Jethro, “the priest of Midian,” set up a republican form of government, with representatives (“leaders,” “rulers,” “judges,” depending on the biblical translation) from groups of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. In addition, 70 elders, or wise-men — a type of national Senate as described by biblical and Jewish scholars — were selected by Moses and approved by the consent of the people.
A government thus settled on republican principles, required laws; without which it must have degenerated immediately into aristocracy, or absolute monarchy. But God did not leave a people, wholly unskilled in legislation, to make laws for themselves: he took this important matter wholly into His own hands, and beside the moral laws of the two tables, which directed their conduct as individuals, gave them by Moses a complete code of judicial laws.