The Laws Of Nature And Nature’s God

Our Founders “…pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

 “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence…” Embedded in that vital document were several references to that divine Providence. One such reference is to  “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” 

Controversy now rages over the meaning of that statement. Secularists attribute to Thomas Jefferson a secular meaning. The best way to understand it is to consider Jefferson’s source. Jefferson was a student of Henry St John Lord Bolingbroke of England.  He first began studying Lord Bolingbroke’s writings at the age of fourteen. Jefferson quoted him more than any source.

Lord Bolingbroke provided a very specific definition for this phrase.   

In a letter to Alexander Pope, Lord Bolingbroke wrote the following words which were to become the basis for Jefferson’s opening paragraph of the Declaration of Independence: “You will find that it is the modest, not the presumptuous enquirer, who makes a real, and safe progress in the discovery of divine truths. One follows nature, and nature’s God; that is, he follows God in his works, and in his word.”

According to Lord Bolingbroke, the law of nature’s God is the Law which is found in God’s Word.  This was the definition which was intended by Jefferson, and this was the manner in which his words were understood by our forefathers.  The law of nature’s God upon which our nation was founded is nothing less than the Bible itself.

Our Declaration of Independence was at once a declaration of independence from England, and a declaration of dependence upon God.

We have drifted a dramatic distance from the well understood eighteenth century meaning of dependence upon God. We have so hotly pursued happiness we have neglected quality of life and an understanding of true liberty. We have sold our birthright for a “mess of pottage,” and are now beginning to taste the bitter menu afforded by such neglect. 

There is yet hope for renewal if we will respond as George Washington admonished the people of his day: “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear them from heaven, and will forgive their sins and heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7:14)