July 04, 2012

The Declaration of Independence [All American Series, Part 4 of 10]

II Samuel 23:3
"The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God."

The fear of God is a character every king, every president, every leader among men ought to have, administering justice to their subjects, ruling not only according to the laws of the land, but, most importantly, according to the law of God. He must have his fear before their eyes, and acting with a view to God's honor and glory. To whom these leaders are accountable, they should rule with gentleness and humanity, considering they are men, and not brutes, they rule over.

Believers shall forever enjoy covenant blessings; and God the Father and the Son shall be forever glorified. Thus pardon, righteousness, grace, and eternal life, are secured as the gift of God through Jesus Christ. There is an infinite fullness of grace and all blessings treasured up in Christ, for those who seek His salvation (Matt. 6:19-24).


Biblical Foundations of Freedom

In the lead up to the American Revolution, widely circulated sermons linked the revolution to the teachings of the Bible. Throughout the colonies, dissenting Protestant congregations (Congregationalist and Presbyterian) as well as Baptist congregations preached Revolutionary themes in their sermons, while most Church of England (ie, Anglican) ministers preached loyalty to the King. Religious motivation for fighting tyranny reached across socioeconomic lines to encompass rich and poor, men and women, frontiersmen and townsmen, farmers and merchants.

In 1750, Jonathan Mayhew preached:

"There is one very important and interesting point which remains to be inquired into: namely, the extent of that subjection to the higher powers, which is here enjoined as a duty upon all Christians. Some have thought warrantable and glorious, to disobey the civil powers in certain circumstances; and, in cases of very great and general oppression, when humble remonstrances fail of having any effect; and when the publick welfare cannot be otherwise provided for and secured, to rise unanimously even against the sovereign himself, in order to redress their grievances; to vindicate their natural and legal rights: to break the yoke of tyranny, and free themselves and posterity from inglorious servitude and ruin."

from "A Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers"

Indeed, Thomas Jefferson came upon Mayhew's sermon in one of many leaflets that were distributed around the colonies. It influenced his thinking as he drafted the Declaration.

Furthermore, John Adams, the second president of the United States, said this -
"The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God."

Don't be fooled by the liberal media or liberal higher "educators" of academia. Of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, 52 were avowed Christians.


Self-Evident Truths

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

from the Declaration of Independence

While these self-evident truths for the signers were not the same as revealed truth as found in Holy Scripture, they are still "endowed" to all men by God the Creator. In theological language, they would be considered part of common grace, whereas for the believing Christian, the Bible comes under special or revealed grace. Thus, the Bible tells us that the rain falls equally on the just and the unjust, and in similar fashion, all men are endowed with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Almighty God must be assumed, because without Him, how could one explain that all men are so endowed?

John Locke influenced Thomas Jefferson to pen these ideas into the great document of the Declaration of Independence. Here's a Lockeian quote -

"God hath certainly appointed government to restrain the partiality and violence of men."

While Locke argued that individuals should be free to make choices about how to conduct their own lives as long as they do not interfere with the liberty of others, it must be stressed that true liberty comes from serving the Lord Jesus Christ. And, the best form of government is limited government that enshrines (and doesn't condition) freedoms. In turn, limited government ensures that the citizen may freely worship God without outside interference and consequence. Locke therefore believed liberty should be far-reaching. Jefferson adopted John Locke's theory of natural rights to provide a reason for revolution. He then went on to offer proof that revolution was necessary in 1776 to end King George's tyranny over the colonists. It was evident to the signers of the Declaration that the king did not rule in the fear of God.

Read the entire Declaration of Independence here. You can also read summaries on the document here.


Chutes and Ladders

Independence and liberty are intertwined. The opposite of these is tyranny, something of which the current President of the United States seems to favor and practice feverishly with each passing day (almost like Satan in his final days, see Rev. 12:12). Yet, his talk doesn't line up with his walk when it comes to opportunities for every American.

For someone who speaks of ladders of opportunites as much as President Barack Obama does, he doesn’t seem to understand how these rather simple contraptions work. Ladders—whether real or symbolic of opportunity—don’t automatically advance all those who step on them. Only those who put in the effort to climb get to the top.

What President Obama seems to have in mind when he talks about ladders of opportunity and success, are really escalators: everyone just hops on and we all get to the same place with no effort on our behalf. His ideal is not equal opportunity, but equal outcome. In the real world, that is not a feasible reality. It's a pipe dream.

Perhaps the “escalator of success” would be a more fitting term. Or in keeping with his newfound fixation on fairness, how about “the fairness escalator”? Then again, it doesn’t quite have the same ring as “ladder of opportunity.” So the president has stuck with an expression that instantly resonates with voters.

Conspicuously absent from all this ladder talk, though, is the slightest suggestion that we can perhaps create our own opportunities. Nor will you find any acknowledgment of the virtues necessary to climb one’s way to the top: hard work, perseverance, fortitude, prudence and a real desire to get there. After all, some may fall down and will need to pull themselves back up again.

Or, rather than escalators, which requires standing up and that takes a gargantuan effort for lazy pikes on the left, a chute would be more apropo. All that's required is sitting down, which is what they do exquisitely well already.


Finally, Think On These Things

Those who know the holy law of God and the extent of his own sinfulness, perceive and conclude just how needful his own salvation is. You can call it a declaration of dependence. It is therefore all his desire, all his hope, all his dreaming that Christ indeed save him from his wretched condition. Why? Because man is totally dependent on Him for everything. When that reality sinks in his heart, then in striking comparison, all earthly objects lost their attractions and he is willing to give them up, or to die and leave them, that he might enjoy full happiness in Christ (Ps. 73:24-28).

Think on these things, Pilgrim. Have you drawn the same conclusion about your pitiful and hopeless state of affairs? If so, do something about it while you can, while there's still time. Here's how: The Plan of Salvation.

On this Independence Day, pray for a removal of Government as god from our country and a revival in every heart across this Great Land.

Sources: History.com; ushistory.org; heritage.org, Encyclopedia Brittanica, National Review; Locke, John. Two Treatises on Government. London: Printed for R. Butler, etc., 1821; Mayhew, Jonathan. A Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers. University of Nebraska Press.

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