Virtue And Freedom

There has been a long-standing effort of anti-Christian scholars and propagandists to de-Christianize America.   Many Christians have been misled by disinformation generated by anti-Christian writers who attempt to obscure or deny the Christian nature of our heritage, attempting to rob the American people of the Godly vision of reality, civil government, and law which our forefathers possessed.

The story of Christianity in America is one of the most astonishing chapters in the annals of the world. America is a Christian nation, first in name, and secondly because of the many elements of a pure Christianity which have given it character and shaped its destiny. It is the land of a free conscience and of free speech, the land of noble charities and of manifold and earnest efforts for the elevation and welfare of the human race.

The most powerful empires of the past perished because they were wanting in a principle strong enough and spiritual enough to resist the self-destructive energies of human nature.   Today the American people stand at a cross road. Will they continue the founding principles of our great nation or will they go the way of the pagan?

William Smith, Provost of the College at Philadelphia, preached on June 23, 1775, a sermon on American affairs, a sermon that is still relevant today, from which the following extracts are taken.

You are now engaged in one of the greatest struggles to which freemen can be called. You are contending for what you conceive to be your constitutional rights, and for a final settlement of the terms upon which this country may be perpetually united.

Look back with reverence. Look back to the times of ancient virtue and renown. Look back to the mighty purposes which your fathers had in view when they traversed a vast ocean and planted this land. Recall to your minds their labors, their toils, the perseverance, and let a divine spirit animate you in all your actions.

Look forward also to a distant posterity. Figure to yourselves millions and millions to spring from your loins, who may be born freemen or slaves. . .Think that on you it may depend whether this great country, in ages hence, shall be filled and adorned with a virtuous and enlightened people, enjoying liberty and all its concomitant blessings, together with the religion of Jesus as it flows uncorrupted from his holy oracle, or covered with a race of men more contemptible than the savages that roam the wilderness, because they once knew the things which belong to their happiness and peace, but suffered them to be hid from their eyes.

And while you thus look back to the past and forward to the future, fail not, I beseech you, to look up to God, the rock of your salvation. As the clay in the potter’s hands, so are the nations of the earth in the hands of Him, the everlasting God. He lifteth up, and he casteth down. He resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. He will keep the feet of His saints. The wicked shall be silent in darkness, and by strength shall no man prevail.

The bright prospects of the gospel, a thorough veneration of the Saviour, a conscientious obedience to His divine laws, faith in His promises, and the steadfast hope of immortal life through Him – these only can support a man in all times of adversity as well as prosperity. You might more easily strike fire out of ice than stability or magnanimity out of crimes. . .Mercies may often be held forth to us in the shape of sufferings; and the vicissitudes of our fortune, in building up the American fabric of happiness and glory, may be various and checkered.

But let not this discourage you. Yea, rather let it animate you with a holy fervor, a divine enthusiasm, ever persuading yourselves that the cause of virtue and freedom is the cause of God upon the earth, and that the whole theatre of human nature does not exhibit a more August spectacle than a number of freemen, in dependence upon Heaven, mutually binding themselves to encounter every difficulty and danger in support of their native and constitutional rights and for transmitting them holy and unviolated to their posterity.

It was this principle that inspired the heroes of ancient times, that raised their names to the summit of renown and filled all succeeding ages with their unspotted praise. It is this principle too that must animate your conduct if you wish your names to reach future generations, conspicuous in the roll of glory; and so far as this principle leads you, be prepared to follow – whether to live or to death.

I have long been possessed with a strong and even enthusiastic persuasion that Heaven has great and gracious purposes towards this continent, which no human power or human device shall be able finally to frustrate. Mistaken plans of policy may distress us for a while, and perhaps sorely check our growth; but if we maintain our own virtue, if we cultivate the spirit of liberty among our children, if we guard against the snares of luxury, venality, and corruption, the genius of America will rise triumphant and that with a power at last too mighty for opposition. This country will be free for ages to come, a chosen seat of freedom, arts and heavenly knowledge; which are now either drooping or dead in most countries of the Old World.

One thing further let me add: that without order and just subordination there can be no union in public bodies, however much you may be equals on other occasions, yet all this must cease in a united and associated capacity. . .It had been better never to have lifted a voice in your country’s cause than to betray it by want of union, or to leave worthy men, who have embarked their all for the common good, to suffer or stand unassisted. . . By every method in your power, and in every possible case, support the LAWS of your country.

O Lord, be gracious unto us; we have waited for thee. Be thou our arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. O thou hope of Israel, the Saviour thereof in time of need, thou art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name; Leave Us Not. Give us one heart and one way, that we may reverence thee forever, for the good of ourselves and our children after us. . .

Inspire us with a high and commanding sense of the value of our constitutional rights; may a spirit of wisdom and virtue be poured down upon us all, and may our representatives, those who are delegated to devise and appointed to execute pubic measures, be directed to such as thou in thy sovereign goodness shalt be pleased to render effectual for the salvation of a great empire and reuniting all its members in one sacred bond of harmony and public happiness! Grant this, O Father, for thy Son Jesus Christ’s sake, to whom with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, be glory, honor and power, now and forever. AMEN

Source: The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, by Benjamin F. Morris

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