National law of the harvest
By Steve Farrell
There is a Christian church in America that contends, as did many of our Christian forefathers, that America "is a choice land; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and captivity, and from all other nations under heaven; if they but serve the God of this land, who is Jesus Christ." (1) An interesting tenet.
Over the years, thousands of Christians of various denominations have expressed similar sentiments in letters to this writer. Political liberty, they believe, is not merely the product of a superior political system – but rather a gift from God, a gift contingent upon the level of faith and fidelity to a few fixed laws and to the Author of those laws. Trample on this gift and this gift will be, as they say, "history."
On one level, this is a matter of natural law. Benjamin Franklin observed: "Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt, they have more need of masters." (2)
But it is also a matter of religious principle. As Paul put it, "be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." (3)
Christians call this the Law of the Harvest. Economists know it as the free market. It is also known as "the Law of Restoration." We read, "Do not suppose … that [men] shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness."
That is, sooner or later, one way or another, men and women are rewarded or punished according to their works – and despite wishes or claims or appearances to the contrary, never is the reward or punishment to "a state opposite to [our] nature," but always to a state consistent with it. As one chooses good, good returns; as one chooses evil, then evil. "[T]hat which [we] send out shall return again unto [us]." (4)
Everyone knows it. Even the kid on the street repeats the mantra, "What goes around comes around!" But we need more than kids on the streets parroting common sense; we need men and women in government and other positions of influence who will stand up and declare that what-goes-around-comes-around is valid and that this principle applies not just to individuals but also to nations.
A letter to the editor published in the Sept. 17, 1764, issue of the Boston Gazette, did just that when it asserted:
This was common belief two centuries ago. God, in his wisdom, chooses to delay the full brunt or blessing of individual rewards and punishments to the hereafter; nations reap here and now based on collective performance.
Consistent with this assertion we read, "if the time comes that the voice of the people [the majority] doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come." (6) And from Job: "If they obey and serve [God], they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in [pleasantness]. But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge." (7)
Modern man generally has a hard time seeing the connection, if he sees it at all. A century and a half ago, the connection was already blurring for many – so thought President Lincoln. In a proclamation calling for a national fast day on March 30, 1863, he reflected:
Lincoln referred to two great national sins, pride and ingratitude, two trigger points for so many others like slavery, factionalism, religious intolerance and, finally, bare-knuckled, bloodcurdling warfare between former brethren.
One may call the Civil War a political war or a moral war – but Lincoln may have put his finger on the ultimate cause of that war when he asked:
How can we ignore this probing question, even today? Lincoln, like Franklin, like the writer in the Boston Gazette, like the scriptural authorities, was willing to admit and affirm that the Law of the Harvest is real. Said Lincoln, "[W]e know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world."
How presumptuous to think otherwise. And so, he added:
He next pleaded with America, North and South, to turn to God and repent. "It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness." (8) The war raged on, however; and one can't help but believe that there were lessons yet to be learned, as Lincoln reflected elsewhere.
Eighty-eight years earlier – nearly to the day – a young christian Thomas Paine foresaw a day of reckoning for any nation that embraced slavery. Paine predicted: "I firmly believe the Almighty … will curtail the power of Britain." Why?
Paine understood one could only strike against the order of God so far and for so long before God would intervene. And "man trade" was that sort of extreme sin —"an unnatural commodity!" he called it — the kind of which makes open war on Nature and the plan of God for man, and in its wake encourages so many other extremes and unnatural acts. Paine numbered them:
Reason and conscience were crushed. One of the greatest sins of all, Paine believed, was this:
And answer they would.
Perhaps prophetically, he continued:
These things all occurred, as Paine predicted. Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution began the legislative process in the United States Paine was calling for from Britain, as it demanded the prohibition of the importation of slaves starting in 1808. But America dragged her feet in finishing the job, our nation split over the issue, and in time it was settled in a most unpleasant manner. Not surprisingly, America's system of government, especially the principle of local and state government has suffered ever since for the rank hypocrisy, ingratitude and pride of a large number of her citizens and states.
Is there, then, a national Law of the Harvest? Does a nation pay for its collective sins? In answer, some will say sin has always been with us, and so what of it? And the retort is, well of course; but do we not cross the line in our time, as we did with slavery, when we place laws on the books which promote, encourage, legitimize and even glorify sin, and others which simultaneously discourage, deligitimize, and even scorn virtue? Ought not such policies be firmly rejected by all men and women of faith and reason as extreme and dangerous? Is there not any sense that a nation that promotes sin and suppresses faith has entered upon a path similar to those which raise hammer and sickle against "the Redeemer's Cause, and the happiness of men"? Does a day of reckoning await America?
President John Adams once observed, quoting Proverbs, "Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." (10)
Perhaps we can learn from such men – before it is too late. For the day of harvest, like the rising and setting of the sun, is sure to come.
1. Ether 2:12, Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1989.
2. Smyth, Writings of Benjamin Franklin, 9:569.
3. Galatians 6:7, King James Version, “The Holy Bible.”
4. Alma 41:10-15, Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
5. Hyneman, Charles S. and Lutz, Donald S. “American Political Writing during the Founding Era, 1760–1805, Volume I,” Indianapolis, Liberty Press 1983, p. 38.
6. Mosiah 29:27, Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
7. Job 36:11-12, King James Version, “The Holy Bible.”
8. Abraham Lincoln. “The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln,” ed. Roy P. Basler.
9. Van der Weyde, William M (editor). “The Life and Works of Thomas Paine,” Volume II, New Rochelle, New York, Thomas Paine National Historical Association, 1925, pgs. 1-10. The essays are “A Serious Thought,” October 18, 1775; and “African Slavery in America,” March 8, 1775, as they appeared in the Pennsylvania Journal. Paine, who many falsely assume was never a Christian (because they’ve only read or heard about his big mistake, “The Age of Reason,” which he wrote in France, and neglect his best work and writing while in America), saw the need to eventually preach what he called, “the Divine Religion,” of Christianity, as did the “Primitive Christians,” … “not only to the slaves here, but the Africans in their own countries,” as part of our national duty and penance to these “injured people!” Miraculously African Americans embraced Christianity despite the poor example of so many Christians.
10. John Adams, “Works of John Adams,” Vol. IX, p. 172. “Messages and Papers of the Presidents, John Adams,” vol. 1, p. 274-276. “A Proclamation by President John Adams,” March 6, 1799.
Steve Farrell is one of the original pundits at Silver Eddy Award Winner, NewsMax.com (1999–2008), associate professor of political economy at George Wythe University, the author of the highly praised inspirational novel "Dark Rose," and editor in chief of The Moral Liberal.