The Lex Rex 4 All blog focused on the basic premise that Law is King and not vice versa.
Centuries ago the concepts of the Vicar of Rome and vox dei, the Pope was the vicarious personage of as well as the voice of God on Earth grew into the King is law, and thus his word is law.
From Wikipedia – “Lex, Rex” is a book by the Scottish Presbyterian minister Samuel Rutherford (1600?-1661). The book was published in 1644 with the English subtitle “The Law is King”. Published in response to Bishop John Maxwell‘s “Sacro-Sanctum Regus Majestas”, it was intended to be a comprehensive defence of the Scottish Presbyterian ideal in politics. The book defends the rule of law and the lawfulness of defensive wars (including pre-emptive wars) and advocates limited government and constitutionalism in politics and the “Two Kingdoms” theory of Church-State relations (which advocated distinct realms of church and state but opposed religious toleration). Rutherford’s Lex, Rex utilizes arguments from Scripture, Natural Law and Scottish law, and along with the sixteenth century Vindiciae contra tyrannos, it attacked royal absolutism and emphasized the importance of the covenant and the rule of law (by which Rutherford included Divine Law and Natural Law as well as positive law). After the Restoration, the authorities cited Rutherford for high treason, but his death intervened before the charge could be tried. Lex, Rex itself was burned in Edinburgh (the Scottish capital) and St. Andrews (where Rutherford had been principal of the university) and in 1683 Oxford University included it in what ended up being the last official book-burning in England.
The attack on absolutism, the defence of the rule of law and the emphasis on the importance of the covenant made Lex, Rex a precursor to the social contract idea, and helped pave the way for the political theory of John Locke”
I read Lex Rex in my twenties. Last year, I read another book – The Law by Frederick Bastiat. It felt as though it could be taken from today newspapers in its relevance.
The concept of arbitrary, capricious authoritarian rule of one, a group, or a mob is nothing new, It is as old as mankind. But the idea of self rule, of having a government so constructed as to allow the maximum personal freedom, now that, that is a new idea to mankind. It is the definition of American exceptional-ism -not that US citizens are better than anyone (we’re not); our exceptional-ism is in our nation’s birth came from our Declaration to the rest of the world that we believe in the ideal of all persons being equal and that government exists solely by the consent of those for whom it is to serve and protect. What is lawful is that which promotes and protects each and every individual’s personal life, liberty and property. All else is a measure of despotism and unlawful rule.
Our President once opined the our Constitution is merely a charter of “negative liberties, describing what the government may not do to you. But it does not describe what the government should do for you.” He was accurate on his first observation – it does describe rather precise limitations on what government can or cannot do. However, he missed the import of the preamble which clearly describes what is should do:
“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Our Founders placed limitations on government so we may secure the blessings of liberty. They understood a just government derives its authority from the people for whom it is organized. Its sole purpose is as outlined above. The very thing that makes government a necessity is at the same time what requires it be constrained and limited in scope. Our rights are not bestowed arbitrarily by government; rather government serves those for whom it is formed, to defend the unalienable, inherent rights of each and every individual it is established for.
“Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.” — Thomas Paine