Saturday, June 1, 2013

How James Guthrie And William Govan Defined Liberty

W.J. Seaton sums it up:
 'In many ways, once we have read the sketch of James Guthrie, we have read the book, for his is the story of all the covenanters'
The Staple Act of 1663 & 1699  together with the Test Act, which triggered Scots-Irish immigration to America, make it perfectly clear why Scots-Irish anger boiled over when the English tried this game again in the 18th century with the Stamp Act:
'At the outbreak of the Revolution in 1775 the Scots-Irish, in interesting contrast to many of their Scottish cousins, were among the most determined adherents of the rebel cause.'
Ross Douthat asked this week What is Reform Conservatism? and concluded:
'what people who use the term mostly have in mind, I think, are those of us who think that the American right’s biggest problem, both politically and practically, lies in economic policy'
 This obviously clashes with Rand Paul's call for inclusiveness and emphasis on his eco-friendly lifestyle.

Rand Paul's message at the Lincoln Dinner in Iowa, allthough deliberately ignored by Byron York and willfully distorted by Craig Robinson was very clear:
"We’re an increasingly diverse nation, and I think we do need to reach out to other people that aren’t like us, don’t look like us, don’t wear the same clothes, that aren’t exactly who we are”
And:
 "We need the passion of Patrick Henry, ‘Give me liberty or give me death!’”
American right's biggest problem does not lie in economic policy, but in a shallow understanding of what Liberty means. When Rand Paul refers to Patrick Henry, we are reminded of William Govan and James Guthrie,  according to Cromwell "the short little man who could not bow", who were executed in Glasgow 1 June 1661:
'Guthrie's farewell letter (1 June 1661) to his wife shows great strength of character. At eleven o'clock the same day he signed a paper to dispose of the rumour that he was willing to retract. At dinner he called for cheese, saying his physicians had forbidden it, but he was beyond the need of such precautions. He spoke at the scaffold for about an hour, leaving a copy of his speech to be given to his son when he came of age. Opportunities of escape, he said, he had rejected, as flight might be taken as an admission of guilt. At the last moment he "raised the napkin from his eyes", and lifted up his voice for the covenants.'
We should reread Andrew Clarkson's Plain Reasons for Presbyterians Dissenting(1731), George Gillespie´s Aaron´s Rod Blossoming (especially chapter IV), add to it Benjamin Franklin's Plain Truth from 1747 and think how Benjamin Rush encouraged Thomas Paine to publish Common Sense in 1776.

Liberty never meant just economic freedom as  George Whitefield said in 1765
'My heart bleeds for America. There is a plot against both your civil & religious liberties & they will be lost'
´Liberty is the nurse of riches, literature and heroism´ says John Witherspoon in Lecture XII (Moral Philosophy) on Civil Society.

 The skulls of James Guthrie and William Govan on the Nether Bow and West Ports in Edinburgh reminded Scottish dissenters for 27 years that they would have to fight for their civil and religious liberties. As Samuel Finley, grandson of 1658 Glasgow University graduate, said in a sermon in 1757
'they who expect divine knowledge without studying Scripture; the Holy Spirit, without Prayer; saving blessings, without attending on gospel ordinances; or Deliverance from temporal enemies, without Fighting against them, discover their deep Ignorance of Scripture, of Reason, and the Whole scheme of divine government'
Kentucky Senator James Guthrie was a descendant of Reverend James Guthrie.

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