Politics Drawn From Holy Scripture – Jacques Benigne Bossuet

jacques-benigne-bossuet“God is the King of kings; it is for him to instruct them and to rule them as its ministers. Listen, then, Monseigneur, to the lessons which he gives them in his Scripture, and learn from him the examples on which they must base their conduct.

Besides the other advantages of Scripture, it also enjoys this one, that it takes up the history of the world from its earliest origins, and shows us by this means, better than all other histories, the original principles which have formed empires.

No history reveals better the goodness and the badness of the human heart, what sustains and what overturns kingdoms; what religion can do to establish them, and impiety to destroy them.

The other virtues and the other vices are also shown in their natural characters in Scripture, and nowhere else does one see such clear evidence of their true effects.

There one sees the government of a people whose legislator was God himself; the abuses which he reprimanded and the laws which he established – which comprise the finest and just polity that ever was.

All that Sparta, all that Athens, all that Rome – or, to go back to the beginning, all that Egypt and the best-governed states – had by way of wisdom, is nothing in comparison to the wisdom which is contained in the law of God, from which other laws have taken their best features.

Moreover, there was never a finer constitution, than that under which you will see the people of God.

Moses, who formed it, was instructed in all the divine and human wisdom with which a great and noble genius can be embellished; and this inspiration only brought to the last degree of certainty and perfection, what had been only sketched in the usages and the knowledge of the wisest of all the empires and their greatest ministers – such as the patriarch Joseph, like him inspired by God.

Two great kings of this people, David and Solomon, the one a warrior, the other pacific, both excellent in the art of governing, will give you examples of it not only in their lives, but also in their precepts: the one in his divine poetry, the other in the lessons which eternal wisdom dictated to him.

Jesus Christ will teach you, by himself and by his apostles, all that can make states happy; his Gospel renders men more fit to be good citizens on earth, as it teaches them by that means to render themselves worthy of becoming citizens of heaven.

God, in fine, by whom kings reign, forgets nothing that may teach them to reign well. The minsters of princes, and those who have a part under their authority in the government of states and in the administration of justice, will find in his word lessons which only God could give them. It is a part of Christian morality to form the magistrature by his laws: God wills to decide everything, that is to say, to give decisions for all states; and more especially for that on which all others depend.

This, Monseigneur, is the greatest of all objects that can be proposed to men, and they cannot be too attentive to the rules upon which they will be judged by an eternal and irrevocable sentence. Those who believe that piety enfeebles politics will be confounded; and that which you shall behold is truly divine.”

– Jacques Benigne Bossuet, Politics Drawn From Holy Scripture


– Lucas G. Westman

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