[The God-given Right of Resistance/Revolution]
This passage is in some respects the more remarkable for the connection in which we find it. A series of brief, unstudied, and fervent exhortations to various social duties is interrupted by a piece of profound philosophy on the nature of civil society and the foundation and functions of civil government. Other duties are sufficiently enforced by a word of exhortation, or by an added word of quotation from the Old Testament Scriptures. But when the duty of subjection to existing authority in the State is touched, there seems to be, in the Apostle's thought, a necessity of making that duty more intelligible by exhibiting the foundation on which it rests. It seems as if he were unwilling to have his readers act, in such a matter, blindly, or with a merely implicit trust in his superior wisdom.
He would have them understand the ground or reason of the duty. He would have them accept and obey that precept, not slavishly, but freely.
I have called this passage "a piece of profound philosophy." Yet let me not dishonor the word of God by seeming to place it on a level with human speculation. The sagacity with which the Apostle, in these few brief sentences, exhibits and illustrates, so effectively, a subject on which philosophers have so often and so greatly stumbled, is a sagacity enlightened and guided by the Holy Spirit. His philosophy is good common sense; and as such it commends itself to every unprejudiced and attentive mind. It is profound, because it gives the religious view of a subject which atheism and irreligion cannot understand.
The precept at the beginning of this passage follows very naturally after what the Apostle has just been saying. He has been exhorting his readers to retaliate none of the wrongs inflicted on them; to avoid all unnecessary reproach by taking care that their conduct shall be such as will commend itself to the moral sense of all men; and to live peaceably with all men, so far as they can without sinful compliances and compromises. He has been warning them not to take the work of punishment into their own hands when they are wronged; and reminding them of God's justice, he has exhorted them to overcome evil with well-doing. In this connection, another thought is necessary to the complete explanation of what has been said. He who undertakes to right his own wrongs by inflicting punishment on those who injure him, is himself an offender against established government; and this thought brings into view the established government at Home. . That was a pagan government. Nero was emperor. Many of the believers at Rome were Jews. All of them acknowledged Christ as their king, the king of kings and lord of lords. They were citizens in the new kingdom of God on earth, and their names were enrolled in Heaven. Their ideas of the kingdom of God which Christ had set up in the world, could not but be modified to some extent by the traditionary conceptions which the Jews had derived from the Old Testament. Must they whom God had chosen—they, whom Christ had redeemed to himself, a peculiar people of his own—they, whose rule of life was the high and holy law of God—be subject to a pagan government? Yes, says the Apostle, "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers." This is one way in which you are to overcome evil with well-doing. "Let every man be submissive to the authorities above him. For there is no authority but from God; and the authorities which now are, have been set in their place by God, therefore he who sets himself against the authority resists the arrangement of God, and they who resist, will bring condemnation on themselves. For magistrates are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Wilt thou be fearless of their authority? Do what is good, and thou shalt have its commendation. For the magistrate is God's minister (or servant) to thee for good. But if thou doest evil, be afraid; for not without reason does he bear the sword, for he is God's servant, a vindicator (a dispenser of justice) to execute the penalty upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore you must needs submit, not only because of the penalty, but for conscience' sake. For it is even on this account that ye pay tribute; for they are God's officers, and his service is the end for which they are employed. Pay, therefore, to all what is due to them, tribute, or the direct tax on persons, to those who are authorized to receive it, excise or the taxes on goods, to the lawful collectors, respect or deference to those who represent the majesty of justice, honor to all who are to be honored."
These few sentences, written to illustrate the duty of subjects at Rome, in the reign of the fifth Caesar, are equally applicable to the duty of all who live under any form of government in any age. The universal Christian doctrine of allegiance to civil government, is summed up in this passage. And yet the doctrine, as here summed up, is presented not in the guarded accuracy of a scientific statement, but only in such hints and outlines as are sufficient for a candid and conscientious mind. Here, as elsewhere in the Scriptures, if is easy for the heedless to misunderstand, or for the perverse to misrepresent the word of God. The exposition of this passage is the more important because of the misrepresentation to which it has been, and is, so often subjected. On the one hand, it is cited by devout believers in despotism, who make it the divine warrant for "the right of kings to govern wrong," and for the right of the strong to oppress the weak. On the other hand, it is adduced by the adversaries or contemners of the Bible, to prove that the Christian religion teaches the slavish and abhorred doctrine of absolute obedience to power.
In the light of the text, then, and of that common sense to which the text appeals, we may inquire what is the duty which the subject or individual citizen owes to government in the civil state—what are the grounds or reasons of that duty—and what limitations of it are taken for granted in the text, or implied in the nature of the case. The answer to these inquiries will be a sufficient exposition of the text.
I. What is the duty here discussed? How is it defined or described?
1. It is a duty binding equally on all. "Let every soul be subject to the higher powers." In the Roman empire of that day, the government was a simple despotism. From the emperor down to the meanest functionary, there was a gradation of authority. The emperor alone had no higher power above him, save only the majesty of God. Under that system, the spirit of the Christian faith would have every individual hold himself in due subjection to such authorities as were above him. Under such a civil constitution as ours, by which the various authorities are, to a great extent, coordinate and mutually accountable, and by which the Chief Magistrate of a State or of the Union is as really a subject as the humblest individual in the community, the rule certainly loses none of its importance.
2. The duty is represented as a religious duty. "Ye must needs be subject not only for wrath, but for conscience' sake." That sort of subjection to government which aims only to avoid the penalty of the law, is not enough. A serious and conscientious allegiance belongs to the character of a true Christian.
3. The duty includes not only a quiet subjection to government, and the payment of all legal exactions, but also a just reverence toward those who are invested with authority. "Render, therefore, to all their dues, tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor." There are men, who would resent any imputation on their integrity or honor, yet deem it right to evade, if they can, their portion of those taxes for the purposes of government which are designed to come equally upon all. Such evasions, from the greatest to the least, violate the Christian rule of allegiance to government. The principle which they involve, strikes at all law, and would subvert all government. But the spirit of the Apostle's teachings in this matter, goes farther still. There is a certain reverence due to those who, in their various stations, stand before the people as representing the majesty of law and government. Honor and veneration may be due to the individual as a man, on account of his tried virtue, his distinguished talents, or his eminent services; but the reverence here spoken of, is due to the magistrate without consideration of what the man is, in his private character; and if that magistrate is Nero, or George the Fourth, he is nevertheless to be respected as a magistrate till the government passes from his hands.
4. The duty must be rendered to "the powers that be;" in other words, to the government actually established and performing the functions of government. Christianity does not prescribe any form of civil government as necessary to allegiance on my part. It does not send me back to the records to learn whether the government under which I am living was set up by fraud and violence, or was established with the intelligent and free consent of the people. Its principle is that which has now passed into the law of nations—the principle which recognizes always the government de facto. If I find a government actually performing the functions of a government, my obligation to be subject for conscience' sake is complete. Do you doubt this? What was the government which Paul had in his thoughts when he said, "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers?" The world never saw a despotism more complete. Every man held his privileges, his property, his life, at the pleasure of the Emperor. The origin of that government was not the intelligent and free determination of the people; it was usurpation built upon violence and cemented by fraud, less than a century had gone by since the establishment of that despotism, when Paul said of it, "Let every soul be subject to the higher powers."
II. We proceed to the question, What does the Apostle suggest concerning the grounds of this duty?
1. The great basis of the duty of allegiance to civil government, is the truth that government in society is an institution of God's appointment.
It is common with modern politicians or political philosophers, Christian and atheistical, religious and irreligious—and equally common with the herd of politicians who are not philosophers—to argue as if civil government were exclusively a human institution; as if the natural state of man were not society, and subjugation to government, and dependence on his fellow-men, but wild solitude, a freedom from all restraint and rule, and a savage independence; and as if society were formed only by these supposed savages, these human brutes, coming together, and, for the sake of mutual protection and convenience, agreeing to give up their natural rights and some part of their natural freedom, and thus establishing society and a government, to which belong all those rights and powers (and no other rights or powers than those) which the wild and independent individuals have consented to part with. Such reasoners are in the habit of deducing, or attempting to deduce, all the rights and powers of government, and all the duties of citizens or subjects from this imaginary "social compact"—as if truths, the most indispensable to the welfare of mankind, were to be held only by way of inference from an absurd and acknowledged lie. Reasoning in this way—reasoning from the supposition that all the rights and powers of government, or of society, reside, primarily and naturally, in the individual, and are transferred by the individual to the government for a consideration—they have attempted to prove that no government has a right to inflict death on any offender, because, forsooth, no individual, even in a state of nature, has a right to inflict death upon himself. By the same rule, they may prove that government has no right to imprison criminals; for surely no man has a right to shut himself up in a gloomy dungeon, when he might be so much happier somewhere else. And by the same rule, they might go on to prove that government has no right to punish at all; for how can any man, in that supposed state of nature, have a right to inflict pains and torments on himself?
But the Apostle's reasonings about the rights of government, and the duties of the governed, proceed upon a different theory. "There is no power (no authority or right to govern) but of God. The powers (authorities) that exist, are ordained of God. Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, (authority,) resisteth the ordinance (arrangement or institution) of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves condemnation." Then, as to the question whether the lawful magistrate has a right to punish, and to punish with the sword—"He beareth not the sword in vain, for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath (a righteous dispenser of punishment) upon him that doeth evil." Such is the Christian doctrine of our allegiance to the government established over us in the providence of God.
2. Another view of the ground of this duty is suggested by the Apostle. Government, as God's institution, is designed not for the benefit of those who happen to wield it, but for the public good, and for the protection and welfare of every individual.
One great vice—perhaps the greatest—of a monarchical or aristocratic scheme of government, is, that those who hold the power are likely to regard their power not as a trust committed to them for the common benefit of all, but as their property, to be held and employed for their own pleasure and advantage and the advantage of those whom they may choose to favor. And so far as the government in a republic comes to be administered, first by one victorious part and then another, on the same principle—the principle that this power is a possession of those who happen to be invested with it, and may therefore be used for their benefit—so far the government becomes a despotism under the sacred forms of liberty.
In opposition to such abuses, the Christian theory of government teaches that the powers of government, under whatever constitution, and in whatever hands, are powers delegated from the great fountain of all power, the throne of the eternal God, not for the benefit of princes or parties, but for the benefit of the people governed, including every individual subject. And however unfortunate or unbalanced may be the constitution of that government—however unprincipled and selfish may be the men by whom that government is administered—so long as it is a government in fact, so long as it performs, even imperfectly, the necessary functions of government, so long the individual subject is to yield his obedience.
I know not how to illustrate the point now in hand, better than in the words of Richard Baxter, writing on this very question of the duty of subjects, at a time when his own native England was hideously misgoverned, and when he and those with him would "live godly in Christ Jesus," were suffering persecution in the name of the government. "Perhaps you will think it strange," says he, "that I say to you that I think there are not very many rulers, no, not tyrants and persecutors so bad, but that the godly that live under them do receive from their government more good than hurt; and though it must be confessed that better governors would do better, yet almost the worst are better than none. And none are more beholden to God for magistrates than the godly are, however none suffer so much by them in most places of the world. My reason is, (1,) because the multitude of the needy and the dissolute prodigals, if they were all ungoverned, would tear out the throats of the more wealthy and industrious, and turn all into a constant war. And hereby all honest industry would be overthrown, while the fruit of men's labors were all at the mercy of every one that is stronger than the owner; and a robber can take away all in a night which you have been laboring for many years, or may set all on fire over your heads; and more persons would be killed in these wars by those that sought their goods, than tyrants and persecutors use to kill. (2.) And it is plain that in most countries, the universal enmity of corrupted nature to serious godliness would inflame the rabble, if they wore but ungoverned, to commit more murders and cruelties upon the godly than most of the persecutors in the world have committed. As many volumes as are written of tho martyrs who have suffered by persecutors, I think they saved the lives of many more than they murdered."* See, then, what meaning there is in the Apostle's words, when he says, with the government of Nero in his mind, "Rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil." For "he [the ruler] is the minister of God to thee for good."
III. But does Christianity teach the odious doctrine of servile, unlimited, unquestioning obedience to mere power? Are there no limitations, express or implied, which circumscribe the duty of subjection to those who, in the providence of God, are permitted to wield the power of government? This is a question which must be met and answered in any just exposition and explanation of the text.
Looking, then, at the point now proposed, we perceive at once that all relative and social duties have their limitations, not easily defined, perhaps, in all cases, but yet so distinct that some general principles may be stated without difficulty. The duty of obedience to parents, natural and sacred as it is in the eyes of all men, is not without its limitations. A parent may so conduct himself in that relation as to forfeit his natural right to the obedience and respect of his children. If you ask me to say, precisely, in what circumstances this forfeiture takes place, and the children are in whole or in part exempted from obedience, I can easily state some strong case of parental unfaithfulness or incompetency, in which, so far as obedience is concerned, the bond of filial obligation is dissolved. From the statement of such cases, we may deduce some general principles by which the duty of filial obedience shall be defined. And yet a thousand cases may be proposed, in which the application of these principles is difficult, and in which the question, whether to obey or disobey, may perplex the judgment and the conscience. So of the duty now in question. This is not the only duty, the chief end of man; and therefore it is limited by coordinate or higher duties. In some clear cases, the boundaries of this duty seem palpable, while in other cases,
* Baxter, Practical Works, vi, 50, 51. Ed. 1830.
and those perhaps more numerous, the limitations are not easily traced. Some general principles, however, may he briefly stated.
1. There is a sacred right of private judgment, concerning the laws and the administration of the law, and concerning the character and conduct of the magistrate. Every old prophet, speaking as he was moved by the Holy Spirit, is an example of this. Our Lord himself, in his denunciation of Herod, and of the scribes and Pharisees who domineered in Jerusalem, is an example of this. Peter and his associates in the Apostleship, when they boldly testified against the act of government and public policy by which the Messiah had been put to death, "Him ye have taken and with wicked hands have crucified and slain,"—were examples of this. The right of private judgment in the face of clergy and synod, council and assembly— the right of private judgment on all traditions, all dogmas, all expositions of the word of God, and on the personal and official acts of all religious teachers—is essential to truth and holiness, and the life of religion in the church. Just so the right of private judgment in the face of kings and governors, judges and parliaments—the right of private judgment on laws, treaties, constitutions, judicial decisions, and the persons and actions of all invested with authority—is essential to justice, to freedom, to stability and progress in the State.
2. It is right not to obey when obedience is necessarily and directly a violation of God's law. The government may command me, as the government of Pagan Rome commanded the primitive Christians, to perform acts of idolatry. It may command me, as the government of Egypt commanded the enslaved Hebrews, to destroy the lives of my own children. It may command me, as the government of the High Priest and Council in Jerusalem commanded the Apostles, "not to speak at all, nor preach in the name of Jesus." In all such cases, I may turn upon the authority which presumes to command me, and say, " We ought to obey God rather than men."
In the application of this principle, it is not enough that the law or command is itself contrary to the will of God, and implies guilt in those from whose power it proceeds ;—that which I am commanded to do, must be that which cannot be done without sin on my part. I may suffer wrong at the hands of the government, but I must not do wrong though all the potentates of earth require it of me. For example, in this country we have no doubt that the British constitution, with its subjection of the Church to the State, with its mischievous hereditary distinctions, with all its arrangements to effect and perpetuate an unequal distribution of wealth, is contrary to right principles of government, and therefore contrary to the will of God. But all this is far from dissolving the obligation of the subject to recognize and obey the powers that actually exist. The subject may live under that system, may be obedient to the laws, may "render to all their dues, tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor," and yet not be responsible for the constitution or the government under which he lives. But if that government forbids him, as it forbade our fathers, to worship God otherwise than in conformity with the dictates of arbitrary power, it becomes not only his right, but his duty, to disobey the prohibition.
We may refer to a more palpable example. The constitution of the Roman empire, in the time of the Apostles, was one great complication of public and political injustice; yet, under that constitution, Christianity said, "Let every soul be subject to the higher powers, for the existing powers are established in God's providence." The imperial power might exact, at will, unreasonable and oppressive taxes, to be consumed in profligate waste, in idolatrous and cruel pomps, in the bloody work of crushing dependent nations who might be struggling for their lost liberty; but Christ says, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's;" and the Apostles say, "Let every soul be subject." But when any power, imperial or local, for bids the utterance of God's word, Christ and his Apostles guided by his Spirit, are ready to die rather than obey. Whenever the existing powers, not satisfied with doing wrong themselves, command us to do what righteousness and the God of righteousness forbid us to do, the only Christian or manly answer is, "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye."
3. Laws and commandments are not binding when they proceed from men not actually invested with authority. The government which I am to obey, is none other than that of "the powers that are." A law not proceeding from the legislative power, is no law. A judicial decree or decision, not proceeding from those actually invested with judicial authority, binds no man. The question in regard to the obligation of any pretended law is, not whether this law is just, or politic, or reasonable, but whether it proceeds from an actual law-giving power—in other words, whether it is really the law of the land. According to this principle, 'when that which has been a government loses the power of protecting those who have been its subjects; when it is no longer able to enforce obedience to law; when it can no longer protect the community from an invading enemy or from domestic violence; when the power by which the ends of government have been secured, has actually and manifestly passed into other hands; then the government which was, has ceased to be, and with it have ceased the obligations by which the subjects were held to obedience.
4. There may be a partial or entire disorganization of society, when the question arises, Where are the powers that exist? and no conclusive answer can immediately be given. When a conquering power sweeps away old laws and magistracies, and by a victorious violence establishes new, there may be an interval, more or less extended, when the one power is superseding the other, and the obligation of subjection to either power is doubtful. So when a revolution takes place by internal violence, there may arise a similar perplexity. In a government consisting (as governments in which there is any security for freedom must consist) of various departments, one department may come into conflict with another, each making an appeal to arms, and the subject may be at a loss to decide where his obedience is due, for the reason that there is no government sufficiently established to come within the principle laid down in the text.
In all such cases—when a violent revolution is in progress— when government is disorganized—when society is taking a new form, and coming under new institutions—the rule which requires subjection to the powers that are, has no application. To which of the conflicting powers the individual shall subject himself in such a case, or whether he shall stand in some neutral position and wait for the decision of the conflict, must be determined by other considerations. The citizen, in such a case, must ask himself how he, without violating other and higher duties, can most effectually promote the common welfare, the end for which government is divinely instituted. And here we are beginning to touch upon certain principles of duty to the State, which are higher and more comprehensive than the principle of subjection to our existing government Let me therefore say,—
5. It is right to resist and overthrow an existing government, when that government becomes subversive of the ends for which government exists, and the opportunity and means are at hand, which give a reasonable ground of confidence that a better government may be established. The right of revolution, and of insurrection in order to revolution, in extreme cases, is one which it was not for the New Testament to reveal, and on which the writers of the New Testament had no occasion to insist. The Christians of that age were too few, numerically—too inconsiderable in respect to influence—too much the objects of general suspicion—too much exposed to the gusty violence of popular hatred—to have anything to do with such a work as that of political revolution in any circumstances. Therefore, though Home and all the provinces groaned under the profligate tyranny of the then reigning emperor, Paul had no occasion to inform the Christians at Rome respecting the means by which that despotism might be subverted, and a just government established in its place. He needed only to enjoin upon them the duty of obedience to authorities actually existing. The right of those to whom God has given the power and capacity to reform an utterly base and pernicious government, even by the sword, when no other method can be used effectually, is a right, the sense of which is too deeply seated in the human soul to be suppressed.
Not many years after the date of the text, when the profligate misgovernment of Nero had reached its utmost height—when many of the individuals to whom Paul's epistle was directed, had been sacrificed to the capricious malice of the emperor, by methods of the most horrible cruelty; dressed in the skins of beasts and torn to pieces by dogs, or encased in pitch, and burned alive, to illuminate the public gardens at night—when Paul himself had shed his blood on the sands of the Campagna, under the sentence of Nero—when all men, trembling with fear, wondered if Heaven had no justice to inflict on such a criminal—an order went forth from Nero, secretly, for the assassination of Galba, who at that time held a military command in Spain. The intended victim was a venerable man, illustrious by birth, by his long and blameless career of public service, and by the honors which he had won from successive emperors, He knew that the tyrant, whose malice, insane as it was, dared not attempt to put him to death under any pretense of justice, had issued the order for his murder. He knew that the Senate, and all the intelligence and virtue and industry of the metropolis and of the empire, were ready to take sides with him. He felt that the hour had come, and that fate had marked him as the man for the hour. He felt that the government, which was thus playing the assassin and seeking his life, had ceased to answer the ends of government; he saw that there was no possibility of any peaceful remedy, or of any remedy at all by any process of law; he believed that in his own resources, and in the sympathies and groans and indignation of the universal Roman empire, he had the power to introduce a new order of things; and so, yielding to the importunity of those who saw in him the hope of a better day, he raised the standard of revolution, and marched upon Rome with his legions. In the statement of this illustration from history, there is an appeal to the moral sense—an appeal to which no human soul can give but one response. And that response involves the whole theory of the extreme right of resistance to an existing power; or, in other words, the right of insurrection and revolution, as a last resort, when there remains no other. Of that right, Paul had no occasion to speak in the text. Any allusion to it would have been impertinent to his object and to the circumstances of those whom he was addressing. His silence, therefore, gives no testimony against the existence of such a right; and implies no prohibition of the exercise of that right, in God's name, whenever the emergency arises in which its exercise is called for. The right is one which needs no formal revelation. God himself reveals it, written ineffaceably in the instincts and impulses of the human soul. The instance which I have just given from history, illustrates the whole subject. No sane man can deny that Galba was right. Why was he right? First, because the government which he undertook to resist in arms, had ceased to answer the ends of government; and instead of affording protection against wrong, had virtually made war upon the people. Secondly, because there was no prospect, and no visible possibility of any remedy in the peaceful course of'law. And thirdly, because he had the power to put down the stupendous wrong, and to establish government and justice. Had either of these three conditions been wanting in that instance, the verdict which the moral sense of every human soul now pronounces so distinctly, would have been reversed.
In bringing this exposition to a close, let me ask you to remember,
I. The sacredness of civil and political duties. The duties of a magistrate, acting as God's servant in the establishment and support of peace and order in the commonwealth, and of all the interests of society, and especially acting as God's servant in the awful function of dispensing justice, are sacred duties—duties not to men only, but to God, the judge of all— duties to be performed in holy sympathy with God's beneficence and justice. The duties which the individual member of the State owes, as a subject, to the law, to the magistrate, and to society, are in like manner holy, among the highest and holiest of human responsibilities.
The duties of a citizen in a free commonwealth, his political duties, his duties as partaking in the acknowledged and established sovereignty of the people, his duties as having a voice in the election of magistrates, and in the determination of all questions of public policy, are in like manner sacred, and are to be performed not blindly, nor passionately, nor carelessly, but with an awed and trembling sense of the grandeur of the trust, and with prayer to God for his guidance and his blessing.
II. Let me ask you also to remember the duty of the people in a free commonwealth, to place over themselves, in all the posts of magistracy, men whom they can honor. Oh, what a crime is that against God's institution of government, then a free people, misled by faction, and yielding their judgment to the arts of demagogues, exalt to the high place s of magistracy and of public trust, men whom they cannot honor if they would! How great the crime against society and against God when men who ought to be despised, and who cannot but be despised for their ignorance, their incompetence, their passions, or their vices, are invested—not by the accident of birth, but by the heedlessness of a free people—with the high and awful trust of government!
[THE NEW ENGLANDER. No. LVII. FEBRUARY, 1857.]
And the God-given Right of Resistance/Revolution is by no means just mere conjecture. To Wit:
"Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness [which] they have prescribed; To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and [that] they may rob the fatherless! And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation [which] shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory? Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand [is] stretched out still."--Isaiah 10:1-4
"Deck thyself now [with] majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty. Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one [that is] proud, and abase him. Look on every one [that is] proud, [and] bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place. Hide them in the dust together; [and] bind their faces in secret. Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee."--Job 40:10-14
"For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. [Let] the high [praises] of God [be] in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand; To execute vengeance upon the heathen, [and] punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD."--Psalms 149:4-9