Government exists in the very nature of the existence of intelligent creatures. For the very term “creature” implies the Creator; and as certainly as any intelligent creature is, he owes to the Creator all that he is. And, in recognition of this fact, he owes to the Creator honor and devotion supreme. This, in turn, and in the nature of things, implies subjection and obedience on the part of the creature; and this is the principle of government.
Each intelligent creature owes to the Creator all that he is. Accordingly, the first principle of government is, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.”
This is pronounced by the Lord to be the first of all the commandments. It is not the first of all the commandments because it was the first one that was ever given; but simply because it exists in the very nature and existence of every intelligent creature, and so inheres in the nature of things as soon as a single intelligent creature exists.
It is, therefore, the first of all the commandments, simply because it is but the expression of the inherent obligation in the first relationship which can possibly exist between creature and Creator. It is the first in the nature, the circumstances, and the existence of created intelligences.
It is the first of all the commandments in the supreme and most absolute sense. It inheres in the nature and the relationship of the first intelligent creature, and stands as complete in the case of that one alone as though there were millions; and stands as complete in the case of each one in the succession of future millions as in the case of the first intelligent creature, as he stood absolutely alone in the universe. No expansion, no multiplication of the number of the creatures beyond the original one, can ever in any sense limit the scope or meaning of that first of all commandments. It stands absolutely alone and eternally complete, as the first obligation of every intelligent creature that can ever be. And this eternal truth distinguishes individuality as an eternal principle.
However, just as soon as a second intelligent creature is given existence, an additional relationship exists. There is now not only the primary and original relationship of each to the Creator, for both owe equally their existence to the Creator, but also an additional and secondary relationship of each to the other.
This secondary relationship is one of absolute equality. And in the subjection and devotion of each to the Creator, in the first of all possible relationships, each of these honors the other. Therefore, in the nature of things, in the existence of two intelligent creatures, there inheres the second governmental principle, mutuality of all the subjects as equals.
And this principle is expressed in the second of all the commandments, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” This is the second of all the commandments, for the like reason that the first is the first of all the commandments: it exists and inheres in the nature of things and of intelligences just as soon as a second intelligent creature exists. And also, like the first, this is complete and absolute the moment that two intelligent creatures exist, and it never can be expanded nor can it be modified by the existence of the universe full of other intelligent creatures.
Each, himself, alone, in his own individuality, is completely subject and devoted first of all to the Creator; because to Him he owes all. And in this subjection and devotion to the Creator first of all, each honors every other intelligent creature as his equal: as equally with himself occupying his place in the design of the Creator, and responsible individually and only to the Creator for the fulfillment of that design. Therefore out of respect to the Creator, to his neighbor, and to himself, he loves his neighbor as himself. And this second eternal truth, equally with the first distinguishes individuality as an eternal principle.
This is original government. It is also ultimate government; because these are first principles complete and absolute; and because they eternally inhere in the nature and relationships of intelligent creatures. And this government, which is at once original and ultimate, is simply self-government—self-government in rationality and in God. For it is only the plainest, simplest dictate of rationality that the intelligent creature should recognize that to the Creator he owes all; and that, therefore, subjection and honor are the reasonable dues from him to the Creator. It is likewise a simple dictate of reason that, since his neighbor equally with himself owes all to the Creator, his neighbor must be respected and honored in all this as he himself would desire to be respected and honored in it.
It is also the simple dictate of rationality that, since these have all been created, and in their existence owe all to the Creator, this existence with all its accompaniments in the exercise of abilities and powers should be ever held strictly in accordance with the will and design of the Creator. Because it is still further the simple dictate of reason that the Creator could never have designed that the existence, the faculties, or the powers of any creature should be exercised contrary to His will or outside of His design. Therefore it is the simplest, plainest dictate of rationality that this original and ultimate government, which is self-government, is self-government under God, with God, and in God. And this is truly and only true self-government.
God has created all intelligences absolutely free. He made man, equally with other intelligences, to be moral. Freedom of choice is essential to morals. To have made an intelligence unable to choose would have been to make it incapable of freedom. Therefore, He made man, equally with other intelligences, free to choose; and He ever respects that of which He is the Author the freedom of choice.
When, in the exercise of this freedom of choice, an intelligence chooses that his existence, with its consequent faculties and powers, shall be spent strictly subject to the will and within the design of the Creator, and so, indeed, with the Creator and in the Creator, this is in the truest sense strictly and truly self-government.
And when the service, the worship, and the allegiance, of each intelligence is to be rendered entirely upon his own free choice, this reveals on the part of God, the Supreme and true Governor, the principle of government with the consent of the governed.
Thus the divine government as it relates to both the Governor and the governed, the Creator and the creature, is demonstrated as well as revealed to be government of perfect freedom; and of perfect freedom because of perfect individuality.
Through sin man lost his freedom and therefore his individuality. But in the gift of Christ all was restored. “He hath sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives.” “Christ suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.”
Christ Jesus, therefore, came from Heaven unto the world to bring back to man, and to bring man back to, what man had lost. Individuality was the Creator’s supreme gift. In the fall, this was lost. In the gift of Christ the day that man sinned, the gift of individuality was restored to man.
In the long ages of sinful and imperial despotism from Cain to Tiberius Caesar, men had been so continually and systematically oppressed that they had been robbed of every vestige of individuality. Then Christ came into the world in human flesh as man, and through every phase of human experience established the individuality of man upon its own original and eternal basis. Matt. 25:15. Therefore, without Christianity in its original and native purity there cannot be true individuality.
But in the interests of despotism the very name of Christianity was perverted. And through long ages of ecclesiastical imperialistic tyranny men were again systematically robbed of every vestige of individuality. In the Reformation, God again restored men to Christianity and individuality. But Protestantism hardened in forms and creeds; and every form and denomination of Protestants has denied, and done all that it could to destroy, Christian liberty and individuality. And now, through denominational, national, international, and world federation and confederation in religion and of religions, again ecclesiastical imperialistic despotism will work with all worldly power, deceiving signs, and lying wonders, systematically to rob man finally of every vestige of individuality.
But Christianity in its supreme gift of individuality, as always before, will now and finally triumph over all. Rev. 15:2, 3. And Christianity triumphing through individuality, in the nature of the case, does it now as always before only in and through the blessed individual: the individual under God and with God, the individual maintaining in perfect sincerity the Divine Right of Individuality in Religion, and Religious Liberty Complete.
Individuality, bear in mind always: not individualism: for it is distinctly and eternally an “ity”; never an “ism.”
00- Individuality in Religion – Book Contents and Introduction
01 – Individuality in Religion – As Related to Autocracy
02 – Individuality in Religion – As Related to the Supremacy of Law
03 – Individuality in Religion – As Relates to Church and State
04 – Individuality in Religion – As Related to the Church itself
05 – Individuality in Religion – As Between Individuals
06 – Individuality in Religion – God and Caesar
07 – Individuality in Religion – Recapitulation
08 – Individuality in Religion – Individuality the Supreme Gift
09 – Individuality in Religion – Sunday Legislation