“We have rebelled against God. We have lost the true spirit of Christianity, though we retain the outward profession and form of it….By many, the Gospel is corrupted into a superficial system of moral philosophy, little better than ancient Platonism….My brethren, let us repent and implore the divine mercy. Let us amend our ways and our doings, reform everything that has been provoking the Most High, and thus endeavor to obtain the gracious interpositions of providence for our deliverance….
“If God be for us, who can be against us? The enemy has reproached us for calling on (God’s) name and professing our trust in Him. They have made a mock of our solemn fasts and every appearance of serious Christianity in the land…May our land be purged from all its sins! Then the Lord will be our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble, and we will have no reason to be afraid, though thousands of enemies se themselves against us round about. May the Lord hear us in this day of trouble….We will rejoice in His salvation, and in the name of our God, we will set up our banner!”
Quite the rousing speech, don’t you think? Most of you would probably be a bit surprised by the who, when and where of those words. Most probably think that sounds like something some radical right wing fanatic would be preaching in his radical right wing church in the last year or two crying out against the evils of our day. But that’s not the case. This is actually part of an address that was given on May 31, 1775. It was given in the halls of the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts. In fact, the man giving the address was there at the invitation of that Congress. And he wasn’t some radical preacher. He was actually the sitting president of Harvard College, Samuel Langdon.
Imagine that. A college president, speaking to a state legislature, speaking about turning back to a true faith in Jesus Christ and seeking God’s blessings and providential care. Amazing, isn’t it? And what’s truly amazing is that this was not an anomaly in the early days of our nation’s history. In fact, this was much more the norm than any exception, both in the political realm and the educational world.
Consider this. Read some of the original words of a couple of state constitutions. The Delaware State constitution reads: “Every person, who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust…shall…make and subscribe to the following declaration, to wit: ‘I do profess faith in God the father, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed forever more, and I do acknowledge the Holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.’”
My goodness. There are some churches today who wouldn’t make that requirement for membership, let alone a state legislature. Or how about another one? Here is part of the original Pennsylvania State Constitution:
“And each member [of the legislature], before he takes his seat, shall make and subscribe the following declaration…: ‘I do believe in one God, the Creator and Governor of the universe, the rewarder of the good and the punisher of the wicked, and I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine Inspiration.’”
Or how about this, from the State Constitution of North Carolina: “No person, who shall deny the being of God, or the truth of the [Christian] religion, or the divine authority either of the Old or New Testaments, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of this State, shall be capable of holding any office, or place of trust or profit in the civil department, within this State.”
If North Carolina held to that, or any state, I wonder how many of their current state leaders would be still allowed to serve. And again, that wasn’t just the dominant ideology in the political spectrum, it was the same in our educational institutions. For example:
The original mottoes of Harvard were: “For Christ and the Church,” and “For the Glory of Christ.” Part of Harvard’s original rules stated: “Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life, and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.”
Likewise, Yale was founded in order “to plant, and under the Divine blessing, to propagate in this wilderness the blessed reformed Protestant religion.” When classes began there, Yale required: “the Scriptures…morning and evening [are] to be read by the students at the times of prayer in the school.” Now, we can’t pray or read the Bible in schools.
Truly amazing, isn’t it? And yet, how many of us knew about that? How many have heard those things. Today we’re told that the truly Christian founders of our nation were a small minority, that most were deists or mere religionists. We’re told that Christianity was never the dominate worldview of our nation or its government. In fact, we’re told today by our own president that this is in fact not a Christian nation; and he repeatedly leaves out the words “under God” when referring to or saying our nation’s pledge. Actually, Samuel Langdon’s words would be appropriate today, wouldn’t they? Today (Sunday) I began the morning message with these same words. We then picked up in our study of Luke 12 to consider the parable of the rich fool in verses 13ff. You may wonder what the two have to do with each other. Simply this: The parable there warns us of the dangers of covetousness, and we are reminded that prosperity in general ought to be kept in its proper perspective. And I think this is the key issue for our nation. If you turn on the news, or pick up a paper, we are told time and again that the biggest problem facing our nation is an economic one. And I’ll admit that we may be facing some real economic challenges. But the truth is, our nation is still one of the most prosperous in the world, and in fact it’s because of our ill handling of that prosperity that we are in the condition we are today. The real issue for our nation isn’t our economics, it’ our very soul. Look no further than the continued removal of all things God from the public arena; look no further than the ongoing slaughter of innocent children through abortion; look no further than the recent decision in New York to declare same sex couples living together in sinful sodomy to be a marriage. Our nation’s soul is in jeopardy. We were talking about this at home, and my son made a profound statement. As I mentioned that our problem was not the economy but our nation’s soul, he said, “if our nation’s soul was right, we wouldn’t be in this debt problem to begin with.” Pretty profound. If we were living right before God, we wouldn’t be in the situation we’re in. And this parable speaks to that very issue. I’m not the world’s greatest preacher, or even the best in our town probably. But this message is dear to my heart and I’d like to share it with you. If you want to hear the rest of this sermon, click the link below. I’m not promising world class stuff, but the message itself is important I believe, and so here it is (if you’ve read this far, you already know the opening, so you can fast forward a bit if you want)