June 15, 1215 A.D.– The Barons of England force King John–vassal of the Pope and successor of William the Bastard, who conquered Britain for the papacy– at point of sword, to sign the Great Charter, promising freedom and due process of law.
The Papacy was at the zenith of its power. The Fourth Lateran Council was on the verge of rubber-stamping every decree of Pope Innocent III without question or debate.
“This was the first time that the papacy came into collision with modern liberty. It shuddered in alarm, and the shock was violent. Innocent swore (as was his custom), and then declared the Great Charter null and void, forbade the king under pain of anathema to respect the liberties which he had confirmed, ascribed the conduct of the barons to the instigation of Satan, and ordered them to make apology to the king, and to send a deputation to Rome to learn from the mouth of the pope himself what should be the government of England. This was the way in which the papacy welcomed the first manifestations of liberty among the nations, and made known the model system under which it claimed to govern the whole world.
“The priests of England supported the anathemas pronounced by their chief. They indulged in a thousand jeers and sarcasms against John about the charter he had accepted:—’This is the twenty-fifth king of England—not a king, not even a kingling—but the disgrace of kings—a king without a kingdom—the fifth wheel of a wagon—the last of kings, and the disgrace of his people!— I would not give a straw for him Fuisti rex nunc fex, (once a king, but now a clown.)” John, unable to support his disgrace, groaned and gnashed his teeth and rolled his eyes, tore sticks from the hedges and gnawed them like a maniac, or dashed them into fragments on the ground.
“The barons, unmoved alike by the insolence of the pope and the despair of the king, replied that they would maintain the charter. Innocent excommunicated them. ‘Is it the pope’s business to regulate temporal matters?’ asked they. ‘By what right do vile usurers and foul simoniacs domineer over our country and excommunicate the whole world?’
The pope soon triumphed throughout England. His vassal John, having hired some bands of adventurers from the continent, traversed at their head the whole country from the Channel to the Forth. These mercenaries carried desolation in their track: they extorted money, made prisoners, burnt the barons’ castles, laid waste their parks, and dishonored their wives and daughters. The king would sleep in a house, and the next morning set fire to it. Blood-stained assassins scoured the country during the night, the sword in one hand and the torch in the other, marking their progress by murder and conflagration. Such was the enthronization of popery in England. At this sight the barons, overcome by emotion, denounced both the king and the pope: “Alas! poor country!” they exclaimed. “Wretched England! And thou, O pope, a curse light upon thee!”
“The curse was not long delayed. As the king was returning from some more than usually successful foray, and as the royal wagons were crossing the sands of the Wash, the tide rose and all sank in the abyss. This accident filled John with terror: it seemed to him that the earth was about to open and swallow him up; he fled to a convent, where he drank copiously of cider, and died of drunkenness and fright.” –J. H. Merle D’Aubigne, History of the Reformation of the 16th Century, vol. 5, book 17, chapter 5.
The struggle went on. John Wicliffe, William Tyndale, Hugh Latimer, Edward Coke, William Blackstone, Oliver Cromwell, William Penn, John Locke, and many others would take up the battle and move England closer to liberty.
In 1773, we see the beginning of the end of the Great Charter. In this year, the Pope suppressed the Jesuit Order, and nearly all nations in Europe united in expelling this exceedingly deceitful, power-hungry, ruthless element.
However, King George III–the monarch who precipitated the American Revolution immediately thereafter–chose to offer the disbanded, suppressed Order a safe haven in England. So, of course, they came in droves–known now as “Redemptorists” and other things.
Soon, we see the fruits of their labors. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the various elements of the Magna Carta were expunged from the English legal system. Today, all but 3 have been removed, and we see these remaining elements being marginalized and relegated to the ash-heap of history.
But, as long as God is still on His throne in heaven, and the Bible shines its light on the darkness of tyranny, liberty will live on in the hearts of men and women, and the battle will go on.
While England was setting its feet in the path that would very slowly and surely lead to the tyranny we see today, America took Magna Carta to heart, along with the lessons of the intervening 560 years. The printing press had placed the Bible in nearly every home, and the wilderness had given space for the good seed to grow. We see it bear fruit in the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution of the United States.
Like Magna Carta, the papacy abhorred these founding documents, and for many years it was illegal to possess a copy of them in Latin America.
“There are many who are disposed to attribute any fear of Roman Catholicism in the United States to bigotry or childishness. Such see nothing in the character and attitude of Romanism that is hostile to our free institutions, or find nothing portentous in its growth. Let us, then, first compare some of the fundamental principles of our government with those of the Catholic Church.
“The Constitution of the United States guarantees liberty of conscience. Nothing is dearer or more fundamental. Pope Pius IX, in his Encyclical Letter of August 15, 1854, said: `The absurd and erroneous doctrines or ravings in defense of liberty of conscience are a most pestilential error–a pest, of all others, most to be dreaded in a state.’ The same pope, in his Encyclical Letter of December 8, 1864, anathematized `those who assert the liberty of conscience and of religious worship,’ also ‘all such as maintain that the church may not employ force.’
“The pacific tone of Rome in the United States does not imply a change of heart. She is tolerant where she is helpless. Says Bishop O’Connor: ‘Religious liberty is merely endured until the opposite can be carried into effect without peril to the Catholic world.’. . . The archbishop of St. Louis once said: ‘Heresy and unbelief are crimes; and in Christian countries, as in Italy and Spain, for instance, where all the people are Catholics, and where the Catholic religion is an essential part of the law of the land, they are punished as other crimes.’. . .
“Every cardinal, archbishop, and bishop in the Catholic Church takes an oath of allegiance to the pope, in which occur the following words: ‘Heretics, schismatics, and rebels to our said lord (the pope), or his aforesaid successors, I will to my utmost persecute and oppose.'”–Josiah Strong, Our Country, ch. 5, pars. 2-4.
The great struggle is between the Bible and Popery; between Lex Rex, and Rex Lex; between the divine right of God to man’s service, and the “Divine Right of Kings” to do wrong, to defraud God of His lawful subjects and their services.
Just to add a piece of modern discussion to this assessment, look at the following, dated May 19, 2015:
“Top Vatican adviser Jeffrey Sachs says that when Pope Francis visits the United States in September, he will directly challenge the ‘American idea’ of God-given rights embodied in the Declaration of Independence…. The United States, Sachs writes in the Jesuit publication, America, is ‘a society in thrall’ to the idea of unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But the ‘urgent core of Francis’ message’ will be to challenge this ‘American idea’ by ‘proclaiming that the path to happiness lies not solely or mainly through the defense of rights but through the exercise of virtues, most notably justice and charity.’ ” –http://www.westernjournalism.com/vatican-adviser-says-americas-founding-document-is-outmoded-reveals-global-game-plan/
Such “virtue” as the Pope demands, reaches its climax in kissing his toe. “Justice,” in burning heretics; and “charity,” in transferring the wealth that has resulted from following Bible principles, to those who can neither benefit from, nor retain, that wealth, while killing the goose that laid the golden egg. “Rights” are your privilege of being interfered with by the Church and the State, while minding your own business and seeking to help others. (All “rights” mentioned by the papacy and the U.N. require government action.)
By contrast, the Bible focuses on personal obedience to God. This is true virtue. Justice is found in obeying the law of God–do not murder, steal, lie, or pervert marriage. Children obey their parents, older children care for the aging. Don’t covet or envy.
The biblical definition of “rights” is based on God’s law. No government interference is needed unless one hurts somebody by breaking the law. It is your right to do right, and you never have a “right” to do wrong. Neither does a king.
Let us recall the words of Rudyard Kipling, and two other sages:
“At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
What say the reeds at Runnymede?
The lissom reeds that give and take,
That bend so far, but never break,
They keep the sleepy Thames awake
With tales of John at Runnymede.
“At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
Oh, hear the reeds at Runnymede:
‘You musn’t sell, delay, deny,
A freeman’s right or liberty.
It wakes the stubborn Englishry,
We saw ’em roused at Runnymede!
“When through our ranks the Barons came,
With little thought of praise or blame,
But resolute to play the game,
They lumbered up to Runnymede;
And there they launched in solid line
The first attack on Right Divine,
The curt uncompromising “Sign!’
They settled John at Runnymede.
“At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
Your rights were won at Runnymede!
No freeman shall be fined or bound,
Or dispossessed of freehold ground,
Except by lawful judgment found
And passed upon him by his peers.
Forget not, after all these years,
The Charter signed at Runnymede.’
“And still when mob or Monarch lays
Too rude a hand on English ways,
The whisper wakes, the shudder plays,
Across the reeds at Runnymede.
And Thames, that knows the moods of kings,
And crowds and priests and suchlike things,
Rolls deep and dreadful as he brings
Their warning down from Runnymede!”
“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.”
“In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” –Thomas Jefferson