Calvinism: The Origin And Safeguard Of Our Constitutional Liberties1 -- By: Abraham Kuyper

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 052:207 (Jul 1895)
Article: Calvinism: The Origin And Safeguard Of Our Constitutional Liberties1
Author: Abraham Kuyper

Calvinism: The Origin And Safeguard Of Our Constitutional Liberties1

Rev. Abraham Kuyper

The ability of a plant to live depends on the root from which it springs. He who would guarantee our liberty to us should know where it originated and be able to tell whence it came. This requires a simple knowledge of history; hence the character of this paper is purely scientific.

Our field of inquiry is determined by general and well-known facts. It needs no proof at our hand, that in com-

parison with Europe liberty has no name in Africa or Asia. In Europe no one will look for the cradle of liberty in Russia or in Turkey, in Spain or Austria. One would even hesitate to do this in Italy and the northern kingdoms, in Germany or France. Whoever, on the other hand, boasts of England, Holland, Switzerland, and America as being countries of political liberty, is assured of universal approval. These geographic lines coincide with the chronological. From Reformation times to the French Revolution, political liberty is claimed and tried almost exclusively by England, Holland, Switzerland, and America; and after the revolution of 1789 the acclimation of a still broader liberty has thus far been tried in vain outside of these four nations. There is good reason to extend to these four powers a special patent of fitness for political liberty. The origin of our liberty is not found outside of their domain.

Whence comes this favorable exception?

Bancroft, the celebrated historian of America, says: “The fanatic for Calvinism was a fanatic for liberty.” De Tocqueville testifies: “America’s liberty considers Christianity the guardian angel of her struggle and victory, the cradle of her life, the divine source of her right.” In his recent work “L’Angleterre politique et sociale,” Auguste Laugel declares, “The doctrinaires of France derived liberty from an idea. In England, however, religious liberty was mother of all political liberty. The Holy Bible has set the Englishman free, by making him submit to its Authority.” Groen van Prinsteren, who also as an historian is a corypheus among us, wrote only recently that “In the Calvinistic Reformation according to the Holy Scriptures lies the origin and safeguard of these blessings, of which 1789 gave us the deceptive promise and the pitiable caricature.”

Hence the origin of our liberty is found in Calvinism. This solution commends itself to us already by so much that in the four above-named countries the Reformation bore a se-

verely Calvinistic stamp, an...

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