I posted online a couple of days ago what I see as the irony of the 4th of July: that our forefathers fought for independence from a tyrannical government in order to freely serve God; an event celebrated today by a people fighting for independence from God while submitting to an increasingly tyrannical government. Sort of makes you wonder what those founders would think of things today.
Regardless, we do have a memorable and, for the most part, godly heritage in this country. As much as we have distanced ourselves from that, as much as some want to deny it, we have a solid Christian heritage in this nation. Not that we ever were truly a completely Christian nation; not that we have ever had some corner on the market as the unique people of God as a nation. But we do have a rich heritage that we as Christians can celebrate.
For example, in 1802 a Massachusetts Grand Jury was appointed by Judge Nathaniel Freeman. In his instructions to that jury, Judge Freeman stated: “The laws of the Christian system, as embraced by the Bible, must be respected as of high authority in all our courts and it cannot be thought improper for the officers of such government to acknowledge their obligation to be governed by its rule…” He said, “[Our government] originating in the voluntary compact of a people who in that very instrument profess the Christian religion, it may be considered, not as republic Rome was, a Pagan; but a Christian republic.” Imagine a judge saying something like that today.
Or how about this one. Henry Wilson, who served both as a US Senator and as Vice President under Ulysses S. Grant, said this: "Men who see not God in our history have surely lost sight of the fact that, from the landing of the Mayflower to this hour, the great men whose names are indissolubly associated with the colonization, rise, and progress of the Republic have borne testimony to the vital truths of Christianity." Haven't seen that in a text book lately, have you?
Of course, then there are the more well known quotes by the more well know founders. Washington's declaration that "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible." In fact, William Federer's book America's God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations (where all the above can be found) actually contains 30 pages of words from our first President which show his belief that this national experiment was founded on biblical principles.
But most folks know about Washington and company. I wanted to add a couple of lesser known quotes from maybe lesser known individuals to remind us that the majority of leaders in our nation's early history felt this way. Not all. And not all were perfect examples of Christian ideals. But by and large folks at one time recognized the spiritual heritage of our nation. It's so sad to see that slipping away.
Again, I'm not one of those guys who equates America with "God's Chosen People." There is a distinct difference between this nation and the Kingdom of God. I am happy to be a citizen of both, but I know my citizen in the Kingdom takes precedence, and is mine regardless of what happens in this country.
Still, it's sad to see a nation so richly blessed by God, to be given such a wonderful Christian heritage, and we just trample it under foot. To enjoy so many rich freedoms, purchased by the blood of men and the grace of God, and we ignore both.
All that is simply to say this. On this Independence Day, may we truly appreciate what all went into finding that independence. May we thank God for His grace. May we honor the faith principles of the men and women who fought for that independence. Regardless of where we are now and where we may end up in the years ahead, may we ever be thankful for the hand of God at work in the lives of those American heroes who truly believed in God and Country; beliefs which are the foundation of who we are, like it or not.
Happy Fourth of July everyone.