by Charles Clough

"It may be a reflection on human nature that such devices [separation of powers proposed in the Constitution] should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself."

Thus wrote James Madison in 1788 as he advocated ratification of the U. S. Constitution and who would later sponsor the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. Along with that generation of the US founding fathers, Madison was well aware of the dangers of civil power given the condition of human nature. While we can quibble with him over his generic and benign evaluation of angels, we certainly can admire his concise statement of the "great difficulty" in framing a government. ...

Series:2012 Chafer Theological Seminary Bible Conference
Duration:1 hr 16 mins 19 secs