Limited Government

The Bible has a lot to say about government. In fact, it limits the role of government to a very few responsibilities which include the prosecution of criminals and the protection of the population from its enemies. Romans 13 specifically addresses this question.

For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.4 For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.5 (Romans 13: 3-5)


ThomasJefferson, Danger From A Powerful Central Government



when all government shall be drawn to Washington as the center of power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated. Thomas Jefferson,

Your favor of the 7th is just nowreceived.  The letter to which it refers was written by me with the soleview of recommending to the study of my fellow citizens a book which Iconsidered as containing more genuine doctrines on the subject of ourgovernment, and carrying us back more truly to its fundamental principles, thanany one which had been written since the adoption of our Constitution.

As confinedto this object, I thought, and still think, its language as plain andintelligible as I can make it.  But when we see inspired writings made tospeak whatever opposite controversialists wish them to say, we cannot ourselvesexpect to find language incapable of similar distortion.  My expressionswere general ;  their perversion is in their misapplication to aparticular case.

To testthem truly, they should turn to the book with whose opinion they profess tocoincide.  If the book establishes that a State has no right to tax themoneyed property within its limits, or that it can be called, as a party, tothe bar of the federal judiciary, then they may infer that these are myopinions.  If no such doctrines are there, my letter does not authorizetheir imputation to me.

It haslong, however, been my opinion, and I have never shrunk from its expression,(although I do not choose to put it into a newspaper, nor, like a Priam inarmor, offer myself its champion,) that the germ of dissolution of our federal governmentis in the constitution of the federal judiciary ;  an irresponsible body,(for impeachment is scarcely a scare-crow,) working like gravity by night andby day, gaining a little to-day and a little to-morrow, and advancing itsnoiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall beusurped from the States, and the government of all be consolidated into one.

To this I am opposed; because, when all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in greatthings, shall be drawn to Washington as the centre of all power, it will renderpowerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become asvenal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.  It willbe as in Europe, where every man must be either pike or gudgeon, hammer oranvil. 

Ourfunctionaries and theirs are wares from the same work-shop;  made of thesame materials, and by the same hand.  If the States look with apathy onthis silent descent of their government into the gulf which is to swallow all,we have only to weep over the human character formed uncontrollable but by arod of iron, and the blasphemers of man, as incapable of self-government,become his true historians.

But letme beseech you, Sir, not to let this letter get into a newspaper. Tranquility, at my age, is the supreme good of life.  I think it a duty,and it is my earnest wish, to take no further part in public affairs;  toleave them to the existing generation to whose turn they have fallen, and toresign the remains of a decaying body and mind to their protection.

The abuseof confidence by publishing my letters has cost me more than all other pains,and makes me afraid to put pen to paper in a letter of sentiment.  If Ihave done it frankly in answer to your letter, it is in full trust that I shallnot be thrown by you into the arena of a newspaper.  I salute you withgreat respect.

Thomas Jefferson, ToCharles Hammond, August 18, 1821



Statism vs Individual

Statism vs Individual