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Back to Table of Contents, A Declaration of Universal Rights

Article 5 — Civil Government

Section 1: People, The Source Of Power

To secure the immutable rights of men, God institutes civil government among them, leaving to their consent the formation and organization of its just powers. Consequently, civil power is vested in, and derived from, the people; that civil officers are their trustees and servants, and at all times amenable to them.

This article concentrates on civil power, broadly speaking. It is structured on the biblical jurisdiction of civil government noted in Romans 13:4. God created and gave civil government the authority and power to pun­ish wrongdoers. Civil government "is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer."

I Peter 2:13 defines civil government's jurisdiction in the same way. "Submit yourself for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men ... to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right."

Several points should be noted. Civil government's power is the power of an agent, not that of a principle. Therefore, all civil power is limited. Second, civil power extends only to the punishment of certain wrongful acts and never ideas. Third, civil government must not ignore the due process requirements noted in Article 2.

Section 1 affirms that God provides a place for the people in selecting the form of government. It is not a "fait accompli Exodus 19:8 indicates that God recognized civil power was not a one way proposition, but was built upon the consent of the governed to compact among themselves and with the civil government they organized.

Civil government is an agent of the people. It is, however, an agent of the people who are under God's au­thority. They are agents themselves. Section 1 states Romans 13:4 in the positive manner. The purpose of civil government is to punish those who impair the inalienable rights which God gives all men, thus, the phrase "to secure the immutable rights of men."

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