Friday, August 20, 2010

Ways and Means

I do not profess to be an authority or historian regarding the Kings and Queens of England or the growth of the UK Parliamentary system, or the government of the USA , or Canada. There is a common thread connecting each of those realms, inasmuch they have all had or do have a committee of Ways and Means as a legislative arm of government.

Thankful for information gleaned from UK and USA government websites I can set before you a potted version of events of how and for what purpose Ways and Means came into being and what one can gather from the Bible of its message on Ways and Means.

In 1066 William the Conqueror invaded England at Normans Bay near Hastings in Sussex and defeated King Harold. He subjected the realm to a new form of government by dividing the land into areas that his nobles controlled. Further changes came when King John in 1215 signed the Magna Carta introducing new liberties accepting that no freeman could be punished except through the law of the land, a right which is still in existence today, and that the King himself was subject to law.

Magna Carta influenced later institutional documents such as the United States Constitution. So a Parliamentary system was developing, tweaked here and there along the way until the reign of Charles 1st. Charles was not popular because of his close connection with the Church of Rome and raising taxes for himself and the Church. In 1628 Parliament pressured the King to sign a Petition of Right, which denied the King to raise taxes without the consent of Parliament. The following year he dissolved Parliament and began an eleven-year autocratic rule known as ‘The Eleven Years of Tyranny’, in which Puritans were persecuted. They were imprisoned, whipped, ears cut off, noses slit, cheeks branded with a red-hot iron (‘Oliver Cromwell: Freedoms Friend or Foe’ Peter Richards). This led to a civil war between the Roundheads led by Oliver Cromwell and the Cavaliers being the Kings army. Charles lost and was executed in 1649. Cromwell abolished the Monarchy and established a Republic called the Commonwealth of England, which lasted about ten years and reverted to Monarchy in 1660 with Charles the second returning from exile in France to reign.

Wikipedia says, The Committee of Ways and Means, in effect between 1641 and 1967, was the body responsible for proposing changes in taxation to Government. Any Minister could make proposals to the committee. The Chairman of Ways and Means, which was an appointed role, presided over the Committee.

The Committee of Ways and Means was abolished in 1967 and the responsibility for all fiscal matters, including taxation, now rests with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. However, the position of Chairman of Ways and Means still exists since the Chairman may take the place of the Speaker in that individual's absence. Traditionally, the title of Chairman of Ways and Means is conferred on the Deputy Speaker of the House. It is an appointed position resulting from a motion tabled at the beginning of each Parliament by the Leader of the House. The Chairman of Ways and Means has two deputies: the 1st and 2nd Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means. Thus there are three Deputy Speakers who may take the place of the Speaker.

The USA still has a Ways and Means committee that determines how and for what purpose revenue is raised. I have sought to set out some historical facts relating to human government in the matter of raising taxes, whether for King or Country, some of which were despotic and cruel. Space forbids me to comment upon the future despot named ‘The Beast’ who will have total control of the world’s finances, to the point that no person will be able to buy or sell without his mark on their person.

God has His ways and means that differ greatly from man’s ways. Isaiah 55:8 reads, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Men place money as their greatest need whereas God says that salvation from the penalty of sin is their greatest need and He has provided ways and means for this to take place. Sometimes He uses Creation to speak to people to make them aware that the Eternal God of Heaven and Earth exists and that we are accountable to Him. Other occasions He speaks directly through His Word, the Bible, and folk discover how to be saved. The Holy Spirit works in the World convicting men and women about their sin and brings them to Christ. All these ways lead to one way, the only way of salvation, which is Jesus Christ. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”.

The means that God uses to reconcile sinners back to Himself is by the sacrifice of His own Son on the cross, Romans 8:32 says, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” If we come God’s way, through Christ, and believe that His death is sufficient to deal with all the guilt of our lives then at that moment we belong to a new realm, we become the children of God and enter the Kingdom of God.

God’s ways and means are impeccable; they bring sinners who are far off from Him into a close, personal and eternal relationship with Himself. Never to be succeeded, or need to be changed, because they are perfect.

2Sam.14:14 says, “For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him.” God bless.

Written by Stan Burditt, Northampton


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