I love the celebration of our nation’s independence. I get to do wonderful research on the amazing stories that have come out of our nation’s battles against tyranny, and the spread of liberty to the world for this article and my sermons. I found this excerpt in the insightful book The Light and the Glory by Marshall and Manuel (Baker Book House, © 1977, pp. 290).
“During the Revolutionary War there was a proud tradition among America’s ministers to lead in the fight against tyranny and for liberty. During the battles of Lexington and Concord, Chelsea’s minister, Philips Payson, captured two British supply wagons singlehandedly (History by Bancroft, Chap. 7, pp 307). John Craighead raised a company of militia from his parish and himself led them off to join Washington in New Jersey, where it was recorded that he “fought and preached alternately” (Presbyterians and the Revolution by W.P. Breed, pp. 85). So numerous were the fighting pastors the Tories referred to them as “the black regiment,” and blamed them for much of the resurging zeal of the Colonial troops. One of the most colorful examples is what happened in the staid Lutheran church in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The 37-year-old pastor, Peter Muhlenberg, delivered a stirring sermon on the text, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
He reached the end of his sermon and said a solemn prayer, and then continued to speak. “In the language of the Holy Writ, there is a time for all things. There is a time to preach and a time to fight.” He paused, and then threw off his pulpit robe to reveal to the startled congregation the uniform of a colonel in the Continental Army. “And now is the time to fight!” he thundered and then he called out, “Roll the drum for recruits!” The drums rolled, and that same afternoon he marched off at the head of a column of three hundred men. His regiment was to earn fame as the 8th Virginia, and Muhlenburg was to distinguish himself in a number of battles, rising to the rank of brigadier general, in charge of Washington’s first light infantry brigade” (from The Founding Faith by George Cornell, Associated Press, © 1976).
Thanks to the inspiration of God, and the faithfulness of the founding fathers, our Constitution and Bill of Rights guide our free nation as the greatest government ever conceived by humans. Their recognition that humans are sinful, and therefore power needs to be spread among many is the inspiration of our system of checks and balances. Today we argue about so many things, but the system of checks and balances allows for us to keep the power of sinful humanity in check. I believe it was inspired by God to allow those early framers of the constitution the solution to leadership by sinful human beings. They knew they didn’t want to have a king (even though many offered the position of king to George Washington). But they struggled to find a way to govern themselves that would provide Godly guidance when the leaders struggled with human temptations of power, greed, and prestige. Throughout our history American have become rightly concerned whenever they feel that system of checks and balances has been weakened. I believe God has always been there to help correct us when we have moved away from liberty. As long as we trust in God as a nation I believe He will always be there as we debate the issues of the day.
As you celebrate Independence Day ask your guests what it is about faith in God that allowed this nation to thrive so quickly, just 200 years, to world dominance? Say prayers this week that our soldiers will be protected, and return home safely to their families when they finish their tours of duty defending our freedom and liberty.
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