The Stamp Act Congress believed kings were divinely authorized

Now when I say divinely appointed, I mean in the sense of Romans 13:1-4 “Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have its approval. For government is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For government is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong.” and in 1 Peter 2:1-14 “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.” Do notice, however, that both Apostles add a caveat about governments doing good for those who do good and punishing those who do wrong. The idea that “divine right of kings” meant that kings could do whatever they want is not biblical. That is an idea from the so-called enlightenment anti-theists that tried to discredit everything that had a Christian basis.

Now on to the Stamp Act Congress of 1765.

DECLARATION OF RIGHTS

The members of this congress, sincerely devoted, with the warmest sentiments of affection and duty to His Majesty’s person and government, inviolably attached to the present happy establishment of the Protestant succession, and with minds deeply impressed by a sense of the present and impending misfortunes of the British colonies on this continent; having considered as maturely as time would permit, the circumstances of said colonies, esteem it our indispensable duty to make the following declarations, of our humble opinions, respecting the most essential rights and liberties of the colonists, and of the grievances under which they labor, by reason of several late acts of Parliament.

Notice that even though they are asserting their rights, they do so with the respect due the king. The “present happy establishment of the Protestant succession refers to the fact that this is King George III who has ascended to the throne upon his father’s death. The members of Congress are “sincerely devoted”and have the “warmest sentiments of affection and DUTY to His Majesty’s person and government.”

1st. That His Majesty’s subjects in these colonies owe the same allegiance to the crown of Great Britain that is owing from his subjects born within the realm, and all due subordination to that august body, the Parliament of Great Britain.

2d. That His Majesty’s liege subjects in these colonies are entitled to all the inherent rights and privileges of his natural born subjects within the kingdom of Great Britain.

Here they call themselves subjects and liege subjects. Now a subject is someone who is simply subject to the rule of someone else. A liege subject, however, is in a mutual bond. The liege subject obeys and serves the ruler and the liege ruler sustains and defends the subject.It is a mutually beneficial allegiance. This specific use of the term liege links their ideas to those of Romans and 1 Peter.

The Declaration of Rights closes with this:

Lastly, That it is the indispensable duty of these colonies to the best of sovereigns, to the mother-country, and to themselves, to endeavor, by a loyal and dutiful address to His Majesty, and humble application to both houses of Parliament, to procure the repeal of the act for granting and applying certain stamp duties, of all clauses of any other acts of Parliament whereby the jurisdiction of the admiralty is extended as aforesaid, and of the other late acts for the restriction of the American commerce.

Again they mention duty and also qualify that it is to the best of sovereigns, a term they apply to the current king out of respect and because they believe a good king would give them what they want, the repeal of the Stamp Act.

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