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Promises of change made by revolutionaries in 18th-century France and 20th-century Russia were said to bring about a new world order that would arise Phoenix-like from the dead ideas of the past. Give us power and time and the bloody mess that’s today will fade in memory as we look forward to a glorious future. Promises, promises.

When America’s founders called for change, they did it in terms of universally held principles that had as their source God’s law, both special and natural revelation, as English Jurist William Blackstone (1723–1780) made clear:

“This law of nature, being co-eval with mankind and dictated by God Himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times: no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this; upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws; that is to say, no human laws should be suffered [permitted] to contradict these.”

There were certain principles that could not be set aside even for the most claimed utopian promises. In addition, these governing principles had been tested in the crucible of history.