ON this date 200 years ago, the delegates who participated in creating the Constitution of the United States ended their session. In recognition of the tremendous contribution this, the oldest federal constitution in the world, has made, it seems appropriate to think about the rule of law and what it means for mankind. Human progress is largely dependent on obedience to law. If people did not obey traffic laws, for example, there would be chaos. The same is true for other laws that touch our lives. Many of these provisions can be traced back to one of the oldest sets of laws on the books, namely the Ten Commandments. ``Thou shalt not kill'' and ``Thou shalt not steal''1 are terse statements of divine law that have been central to human law over the centuries.
The system of checks and balances for which the Constitution is noted illustrates to a degree the concept articulated by Christ Jesus -- and inherent in the Ten Commandments -- that we should love our neighbor as ourselves. The rights given to individuals, states, and the separate branches of government are meant to ensure that our neighbor -- as well as we ourselves -- will have recourse in the event of injustice.
Yet wonderful as the Constitution is, there are times when people have needed to reach for a higher authority -- the moral and spiritual law that exists undiluted in the Bible.
In an address given in 1899, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, wrote: ``A coroner's inquest, a board of health, or class legislation is less than the Constitution of the United States, and infinitely less than God's benign government, which is `no respecter of persons.' Truth crushed to earth springs spontaneously upward, and whispers to the breeze man's inalienable birthright -- Liberty.''2
Man, under the government of God, is free. He expresses the perfection of the divine nature. He is the spiritual likeness of God, inseparable from his Maker, and can be obedient only to Him. He knows only the rule of God, good, and is satisfied.
This man is your real selfhood and mine, governed wisely and lovingly by the one creator, whose justice is unopposable. But we need to prove this, step by step, by living in harmony with divine law. This statement of Mrs. Eddy's is a specific guide: ``Mankind will be God-governed in proportion as God's government becomes apparent, the Golden Rule utilized, and the rights of man and the liberty of conscience held sacred.''3
From a spiritual standpoint we see that our rights are more than those protected by a political document. The Bible's rules for living, as expressed by Christ Jesus, show us how we and all mankind can achieve liberty from the oppression of sickness, sin, and other forms of limitation. As Paul put it in a letter to the Corinthians, ``Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.''4
That ``Spirit of the Lord'' is evidenced whenever we strive to live in a Christlike manner -- to express love toward those in need or even those we don't understand. It's evidenced when we stand up for what is right even if we lose friends as a result. It is also present in the mother who faithfully nurtures her child, guiding him or her toward obedience to God; the businessman who behaves ethically; the dedicated teacher who helps students break down the barriers of limitation by recognizing something of their unlimited potential.
True liberty is not found in the license to do anything one pleases. Rather it is found in the security of knowing that obedience to God brings with it the protection of His law and that this law will prevail.
The writers of the Constitution ended their Preamble by expressing the desire that the document would ``secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.'' Through our prayers and our efforts to express ``the Spirit of the Lord,'' our liberty will rest not on human laws, excellent as they may be, but on the divine law that is the original, undiluted source of man's liberty.
1Exodus 20:13, 15. 2The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 128. 3Ibid., p. 222. 4II Corinthians 3:17. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Thou art near, O Lord; and all thy commandments are truth...every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever. Psalms 119:151,160