John Witherspoon shocked the national pulpits with preaching ‘Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men’ in 1776. This sermon should shock, rock and cause pulpits to stumble while the people repent and find this as a call to action as Joab said in 2 Sam. x. 12. “Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people and for the cities of our God, and let the Lord do that which is good in his sight.” To this, Witherspoon writes in his first conclusion to the hearers and readers:
‘…what I have here in view is to point out to you the concern which every good man ought to take in the national character and manners, and the means which he ought to use for promoting public virtue, and bearing down impiety and vice. This is a matter of the utmost moment, and which ought to be well understood, both in its nature and principles. Nothing is more certain than that a general profligacy and corruption of manners make a people ripe for destruction. A good form of government may hold the rotten materials together for some time, but beyond a certain pitch, even the best constitution will be ineffectual, and slavery must ensue. On the other hand, when the manners of a nation are pure, when true religion and internal principles maintain their vigour, the attempts of the most powerful enemies to oppress them are commonly baffled and disappointed. This will be found equally certain, whether we consider the great principles of God’s moral government, or the operation and influence of natural causes.’ – page 15
I have mentioned this sermon in past programs. In light of last week, I was bothered as to why Madison would reject his foundational Orthodox teaching under Witherspoon for the humanism and secularism of Locke and Voltaire. The personal answer of Madison is no where to be found. We learned last week and from many historians that Madison was private in his theology. Yet, as Koty revealed last week, Madison provided great insights of his beliefs by his writings and rhetoric during the Constitutional Convention and beyond.
As I delve into The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men, it is obvious that the seemingly tragic events and political mayhem is out of control. The enemies of Liberty are devouring all that is good, righteous, just and Constitutional. You will learn, if you do not already know, that all things are in the control of Providence. As Witherspoon will present, when the godless are dominant and in leadership, vile occurrences happen.