WISDOM FROM SCRIPTURE
“Listen now to [me]; I will counsel you, and God will be with you… choose able men from all the people–God-fearing men of truth who hate unjust gain–and place them… to be their rulers… If you will do this, and God so commands you, you will be able to endure. and all these people also will go to their [tents] in peace.” Ex. 18:19-23 AMP
“Choose wise, understanding, experienced, and respected men… and I will make them heads over you.” Deut. 1:13 AMP
“Uprightness and right standing with God (moral and spiritual rectitude in every area and relation) elevate a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Prov. 14:34 Amp
“When the [uncompromisingly] righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked man rules, the people groan and sigh.” Prov. 29:2 AMP
“They set up kings, but not from Me [therefore without My blessing]…” Hos. 8:4 AMP
“That the hypocrite reign not, lest the people be ensnared.” Job 34:30
WISDOM FROM THE FOUNDERS
“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” — John Quincy Adams
“When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers, ‘just men who will rule in the fear of God.’ [Exodus 18:21] The preservation of government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty; if the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded. If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws.” — Noah Webster, History of the United States (New Haven: Durrie & Peck, 1832), pp. 336-337, 49.
“Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” — John Jay (1745-1829), Original Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, President of the American Bible Society
“But neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man.” — Samuel Adams
“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.” — Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907), Vol. IV, p. 256, in the Boston Gazette on April 16, 1781.
“Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust be men of unexceptionable characters. The public cannot be too curious concerning the character of public men.” — Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907), Vol. III, p. 236-237, to James Warren on November 4, 1775.
“In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate – look to his character… When a citizen gives his suffrage [vote] to a man of known immorality he abuses his trust; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor, he betrays the interest of his country.” — Noah Webster, Letters to a Young Gentleman Commencing His Education to which is subjoined a Brief History of the United States (New Haven: S. Converse, 1823), pp. 18, 19.
“Those who wish well to the State ought to choose to places of trust men of inward principle, justified by exemplary conversation… [And t]he people in general ought to have regard to the moral character of those whom they invest with authority either in the legislative, executive, or judicial branches.” — John Witherspoon, The Works of John Witherspoon Edinburgh: J. Ogle, 1815), Vol. IV, pp. 266, 277.
“Impress upon children the truth that the exercise of the elective franchise is a social duty of as solemn a nature as man can be called to perform; that a man may not innocently trifle with his vote; that every elector is a trustee as well for others as himself and that every measure he supports has an important bearing on the interests of others as well as on his own.” — Daniel Webster, The Works of Daniel Webster (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1853), Vol. II, p. 108, from remarks made at a public reception by the ladies of Richmond, Virginia, on October 5, 1840.
“Governments, like clocks, go from the motion men give them; and as governments are made and moved by men, so by them they are ruined too. Wherefore governments rather depend upon men than men upon governments. Let men be good and the government cannot be bad… But if men be bad, let the government be never so good, they will endeavor to warp and spoil it to their turn… [T]hough good laws do well, good men do better; for good laws may want [lack] good men and be abolished or invaded by ill men; but good men will never want good laws nor suffer [allow] ill ones.” — William Penn quoted from: Thomas Clarkson, Memoirs of the Private and Public Life of William Penn (London: Richard Taylor and Co., 1813) Vol. I, p.303.
“Now more than ever the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature… [I]f the next centennial does not find us a great nation… it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.” — James A. Garfield, The Works of James Abram Garfield, Burke Hinsdale, editor (Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1883), Vol. II, pp. 486, 489, “A Century of Congress,” July, 1877.
WISDOM FROM FOUNDING ERA CLERGY
“Consider well the important trust… which God… [has] put into your hands… To God and posterity you are accountable for [your rights and your rulers]… Let not your children have reason to curse you for giving up those rights and prostrating those institutions which your fathers delivered to you… [L]ook well to the characters and qualifications of those you elect and raise to office and places of trust… Think not that your interests will be safe in the hands of the weak and ignorant; or faithfully managed by the impious, the dissolute and the immoral. Think not that men who acknowledge not the providence of God nor regard His laws will be uncorrupt in office, firm in defense of the righteous cause against the oppressor, or resolutely oppose the torrent of iniquity… Watch over your liberties and privileges – civil and religious – with a careful eye.” — Matthias Burnett, Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Norwalk, An Election Sermon, Preached at Hartford, on the Day of the Anniversary Election, May 12, 1803 (Hartford: Printed by Hudson & Goodwin, 1803), pp. 27-28.
“…From year to year be careful in the choice of your representatives and the higher powers [offices] of government. Fix your eyes upon men of good understanding and known honesty; men of knowledge, improved by experience; men who fear God and hate covetousness; who love truth and righteousness, and sincerely wish for the public welfare… Let not men openly irreligious and immoral become your legislators… If the legislative body are corrupt, you will soon have bad men for counselors, corrupt judges, unqualified justices, and officers in every department who will dishonor their stations… Never give countenance to turbulent men, who wish to distinguish themselves and rise to power by forming combinations and exciting insurrections against government…” — “The Republic of the Israelites, an Example to the American States,” by Samuel Langdon, Concord, New Hampshire, 1788)
“Those who rule over others must be just, ruling in the fear of God. They ought to be so in their private capacity; maintaining a care to exhibit in their conduct towards all they are concerned with, a fair transcript of that fundamental law of the religion of Jesus, as well as eternal rule of natural justice. They must be just in their use of power; confining it within the limits prescribed in the constitution they are under. Whatever power they are vested with ’tis delegated to them according to some civil constitution. And this, so long as it remains the constitution, they are bound in justice to conform themselves to: To be sure, they ought not to act in violation of any of its main and essential rights…” — Rev. Charles Chauncy, May 27, 1747, Boston
“The Church must take right ground in regard to politics… The time has come that Christians must vote for honest men, and take consistent ground in politics, or the Lord will curse them. They must be honest men themselves, and instead of voting for a man because he belongs to their party, Bank or Anti-Bank, Jackson or Anti-Jackson, they must find out whether he is honest and upright, and fit to be trusted. They must let the world see that the church will uphold no man in office, who is known to be a knave [a base, unscrupulous swindler], or an adulterer, or a Sabbath-breaker, or a gambler. Such is the spread of intelligence and the facility of communication in our country, that every man can know for whom he gives his vote. And if he will give his vote only for honest man, the country will be obliged to have upright rulers. All parties will be compelled to put up honest man as candidates. Christians have been exceedingly guilty in this matter but the time has come when they must act differently, or God will curse the nation, and withdraw his Spirit. As on the subject of slavery and temperance, so on this subject, the church must act right or the country will be ruined. God cannot sustain this free and blessed country which we love and pray for unless the Church will take right ground. Politics are a part of a religion in such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to the country as a part of their duty to God. It seems sometimes as if the foundations of the nation are becoming rotten, and Christians seem to act as if they think God does not see what they do in politics. But I tell you, he does see it, and he will bless or curse this nation according to the course they take.” — From “Lectures on Revival of Religion” by Rev. Charles Grandison Finney, 1835
WISDOM FROM OTHER SOURCES
“The qualifications of a candidate should not be issue-oriented as much as character-oriented. They should be ‘able’ and ‘experienced’ men of course for the position which they seek. Beyond that, Scripture says they should be men who ‘fear God,’ that is, they should be Christians, as affirmed by John Jay. They should also be ‘men of truth’ and ‘wise and discerning’ men. This means that they should be Christians with the Biblical worldview — men who reason from absolute truth, not human wisdom. Many candidates may claim to be Christians but do not hold to a Biblical worldview. Former President Jimmy Carter was example of a Christian whose mind was unrenewed by Scripture and thus reasoned and governed from a ‘humanistic’ worldview. Finally, Scripture says that our representatives must ‘hate dishonest gain.’ This means that beyond a correct worldview, they must have Christian character, a godly home life, and pure motives.” — From page 265 of “America’s Providential History” by Mark A. Beliles and Stephen K. McDowell of Providence Foundation
Know any other maxims from Scripture or history on this topic? Feel free to share them in the comments section below. We’d love to see them!