PRINCIPLES OF THE ISRAELITE MONARCHY ENSHRINED IN
THE BILL OF RIGHTS AND THE ACT OF SETTLEMENT

 

TH E British Israel World Federation and the Loyal Orange Institution of England as bible-believing Protestants who love our Queen and country share many values in common. Indeed, in the 1930s, we enjoyed a close fellowship in our common membership at that time of the United Protestant Council. It is therefore a privilege for me as Grand Chaplain of the Grand Orange Lodge of England to share with you our concerns at this time in respect of the recent declared intention of the Government to, as opportunity affords them, change the terms of the Act of Settlement.

It. is not by chance that today the Act of Settlement of 1701 and by association, the Bill of Rights of 1689 is under threat as never before by the enemies of the nation state within for uniquely amongst the Protestant monarchies of the world, that of the British family of nations reflects the biblical model of kingship. However the enemies of this divinely inspired legislation may attempt to deceive us and misrepresent themselves as the friends of democracy, the reality is that for over 300 years, it has safeguarded the liberties of this nation.

In I Samuel Chapter 8, verse 5, we read that the Israelites told Samuel, "make a king to judge us like all the nations". Samuel was distressed but in verse 7, God reassured him "they have not rejected thee but they have rejected me that I should not rule over them" - and yet God does appoint a King over them and blesses that King and in him, the Institution of the Israelite monarchy. Why is that? There is a subtle but critical difference between what the Israelites asked for and what God granted them which is not clear in the English. In verse 5, Israel petitions Samuel for a "king like all the nations" The word they use for king is "Melek" and a Melek is an absolute ruler. The word is used of God himself in Psalm 95 - "for the Lord is a great God and a great King above all Gods" and it is similarly incorporated into the name of the husband of Naomi in the book of Ruth - "Elimelech" which means "God is King".

The divine principle is clear. In Israel only God is to be Melek and so when Samuel anoints Saul as King in Chapter10, verse 1, he anoints him not a "Melek"
but a "Nagid", a Prince; not an absolute ruler but one who is accountable to God through God's prophet and to the people. It was these two characteristics which defined the Israelite monarchy and set it apart from those of the surrounding nations who were idol worshippers in rebellion against God. It is that same accountability to God and the people which characterises the British monarchy as defined in the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement. In the success of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, God greatly blessed this nation with a ruler who recognised that biblical principle that a Sovereign must be accountable to his people for the way in which he rules.

Critics who would seek to dismiss the differences between the office of "Melek" and "Nagid" delight in pointing out that at Gilgal, Saul was later acclaimed "Melek" by the Israelites. That is correct but far from indicating that the use of these words in the inspired scriptures is not significant, the actions of the Israelites at Gilgal in devolving upon Saul a monarchical authority which rightfully belongs to God only confirms His earlier condemnation of them to Samuel "they have not rejected thee but they have rejected me". At Gilgal they showed themselves continuing resolute in their determination to reject God's gift of an accountable monarchy and to substitute it with their own unaccountable system. One can only wonder to what extent their action had a catastrophic impact on the character of Saul which led ultimately to his abandonment by God and the destruction of his house? Was his vanity, inflamed by this sycophancy of the Israelites a factor in his
subsequent continual disobedience to God's commands and his final rejection?

A careful consideration of the nature of the Israelite monarchy reveals it to have two key characteristics. Firstly, an Israelite sovereign could only become such by the acclamation and approbation of the people; there was no "divine right" of succession nor a right to the exercise of tyrannical authority after succession.

Secondly, even after his coronation, the Israelite people retained a right to overthrow a wicked King. Indeed, if we look at the deposition of Rehoboam and his replacement by Jeroboam, it is clear that not only are the Israelites shown to have this right but I Kings Chapter 12 verse 23 reveals that in so acting, they were discharging God's will.

Now the significance of this to the character of the British Constitutional Monarchy and its impact on the events which ultimately led to the Glorious Revolution cannot be overstated. In the person of Charles I in his insistence that he was accountable to no one but God we see characterised at its most blatant the wicked doctrine of the "divine right of kings" and a claim to the authority of a Melek. It was a claim which Charles II built upon and a power which James II was tyrannical in the exercise of until he was overthrown. It is a doctrine in which the Stuarts were always supported by the Church of Rome, and that for one reason only - a Roman Catholic Melek will always accept the claims of the Pope to be the visible representative of God on earth.

In consequence he will do exactly as the Pope directs him, and that to the detriment of his people and to the free course of the gospel in the nation.

In contrast, in the Institution of Constitutional Monarchy as championed by a divinely enlightened KingWilliam III and Queen Mary II, we have a system of rule analogous with that of the Israelite monarchy and the biblical office of "Nagid". Thus was replayed in our own nation this fierce conflict between two diametrically opposed concepts of Kingship.

We should not forget however that claims to the "divine right of kings", although most clearly articulated by the Stuarts did not originate with them and the consequences for British Protestants of those pretensions by earlier Sovereigns were demonstrated many times in the years prior to 1688 and particularly in the demonic savagery of "bloody Mary" Tudor towards those whom she consigned to death by burning and to other unspeakable tortures for their allegiance to the Word of God. Is it any wonder that there came a time in our nation's history when in echo of the 10 Tribes, we too said:

"what portion have we in David and neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel !"

It was to enshrine in law the difference between a "Melek" and a "Nagid" that the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement were embedded into our constitution and indeed two titles analogous with those words, "Jacobite" and "Williamite" were used to describe respectively the supporters of the House of Stuart and the supporters of the successors of King William III in the 60 years which followed the Glorious Revolution. The particular protection the Bill of Rights gives is that it defines the conditions of succession and it reads as follows.

"And whereas it hath beene found by experience that it is inconsistent with the safety and welfaire of this protestant kingdome to be governed by a popish prince or by any King or Queene marrying a papist the said lords spirituall and temporall and commons doe further pray that it may be enacted that all and every person and persons that is are or shall be reconciled to or shall hold communion with the see or church of Rome or shall professe the popish religion or shall marry a papist shall be excluded and be for ever uncapeable to inherit possesse or enjoy the crowne and government of this realme and Ireland and the dominions thereunto belonging or any part of the same or to have use or exercise any regall power authoritie or jurisdiction within the same [And in all and every such case or cases the people of these realmes shall be and are hereby absolved of their allegiance.]"

The duty this legislation imposes upon the British "Nagid" is that in addition to preventing the him (or her) from being or marrying a Catholic, he must declare, at the first day of the meeting of the first parliament after his accession, or at the Coronation whichever occurs first, that he is a faithful Protestant. If he does not do this, then he is debarred from succession to the throne and deposes himself. The Orange Institution is uncompromising in its loyalty to the British monarchy but that loyalty has always been and will always remain conditional upon that monarchy's recognition to be bound by the terms of the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement. Thus in it's earliest Constitutions, the Orange Institution's allegiance to the Sovereign of the day was defined as being "as long as he shall maintain the "Protestant Ascendancy". Its loyalty to Her Majesty's illustrious house remains unswerving today in 2009 but it continues conditional upon that house BEING PROTESTANT.

It might be thought from the above that the Bill of Rights was sufficient safeguard for the British Constitutional Protestant Monarchy for all successive generations
and that no further legislation would have been necessary. However, despite the apparent uncompromising robustness of the declarations made in it, it was not comprehensive with regard to the Protestant Succession as being vested in the heirs of Queen Mary, then in the heirs of the Princess Ann of Denmark (later Queen Anne) and finally in the heirs of King William III. It did not consider a succession which all three of those lines failed and it was primarily to address that omission that in 1701 the Act of Settlement was enacted. This widened the scope of the succession to include the next closest Protestant line in descent from King James I, the heirs of his Granddaughter, "that most Excellent Princess Sophia Electress and Duchess Dowager of Hanover."

Part II of the Act then restates the condition that all and every person who may succeed to the British throne but who is reconciled to the Church of Rome or who shall marry a Papist is barred from the right of succession under the terms of the Bill of Rights.

The Act of. Settlement is thus shown to have been from its enactment, the foundation of the British Constitutional Monarchy and through that monarchy, the bulwark of the British system of constitutional and accountable government. It continues to provide protection against the pretensions of any monarch who would seek to arrogate tyrannical authority to himself, it enables the monarch as the Head of the British State to limit the power and actions of elected Governments who
would seek to exceed their electoral mandate and it guards us against the aspirations of those who seek to replace the British monarchy with an elected Head of State. Is there any wonder that federalists, secularist, atheists, and humanists hate it with such venom for it defines and enshrines the divinely appointed character of the British Monarchy and through it, the peculiar blessing which God has bestowed upon our United Kingdom and the unique role in the world which He has appointed to the British family of nations.

Is it by chance that Britain has been a blessing to the world wherever it has been its destiny to found new nations? From the lush greenery of New Zealand to the veld of Africa, from the deserts of Australia to the arctic wastes of Canada, in all climates and extremes of terrain and temperature, great nation states have arisen from nothing to become key players on the world stage. What did the founders of those nations all have in common? They shared an allegiance to the British motherland and to her values and they shared an unswerving loyalty to the British Sovereign but there was something more, an understanding of Scripture which we continue to subscribe to today - a recognition that the British Family of nations are a special people, called of God to a role in the world which no other nation can fulfil.

(This article was written by the Revd Richard Harvey, Grand Chaplain of the Grand Orange Lodge of England for the magazine "The Covenant Nations".)

FOOTNOTE:- Whilst the British-Israel connection is held by many believers it is not found in any of the Reformed Confessions of Faith and it is not a tenant of
Orangeism.

Courtesy of The Orange Banner UK

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