POLITICAL SERMONS FROM PASTORS IN THE FOUNDING ERA
Pastor Roger Anghis
November 10, 2013
December 15, 1774
By William Gordon
Pastor of the Third Church in Roxbury
The ‘Committee of Correspondence’ had been established and had garnered an immense amount of support in the Colonies specifically from the churches. The fire had been sparked for liberty, sparked by the pastors of the day and was being fanned all along the Atlantic coast.
The Sons of Liberty, acting on their belief that God Himself was behind their cause, as He surely was, began to kindle that fire in every corner of the Colonies: “The rapid course of events in 1774 electrified the Sons of Liberty. The arrogance of the ministry, and the severity and abruptness of their acts in Parliament, were met by a spirit of stern defiance, and there swept along the Atlantic shores of the American colonies such a chorus for liberty as was never heard before in national tragedy. The Provincial Congress, — representatives of freemen, — assembled now, not by virtue of paltry parchments from blasphemous " sacred Majesty, "but by charter from the Almighty, to whom they make solemn appeal, "assumes every power of a legal government; for"— says General Gage — "their edicts are implicitly obeyed throughout the continent." They "resolve," and the treasury is supplied; to their call for "immediate defense," minutemen, armed hosts, come with alacrity from peaceful life, the artisan from his shop, the farmer from his plough, the fisherman from his shallop, the lawyer from his brief, the merchant from his ledger, and the chaplain from his parish — from field and flood they proffer all for liberty, and matron and maid, with eager hands and hearts, help them to their holy duty.” (Emphasis mine)
The leaders of the Colonies believed that government had one major purpose and it wasn’t to tax the people into poverty, nor restrict them in their freedoms of religion or commerce, but was to protect the people concerning the God given rights all men were to enjoy and these are the points that the pastors of the Founding Era would always keep before the eyes of the people ensuring that they would never forget nor lose the desire for independence.
As the fire for independence was fanned the momentum was like that of a snowball rolling down hill. It got bigger and rolled faster as it went: “Dr. Joseph Warren wrote to Josiah Quincy in November, 1774 : " It is the united voice of America to preserve their freedom, or lose their lives in defense of it. Their resolutions are not the effects of inconsiderate rashness, but the sound result of sober inquiry and deliberation. I am convinced that the true spirit of liberty was never so universally diffused throughout all ranks and orders of people, in any country on the face of the earth, as it now is through all North America." Of the state documents of the General Congress at Philadelphia, Chatham, in the House of Lords, said : " For myself, I must declare and avow, that in all my reading and observation, — I have read Thucydides, and have studied and admired the master states of the world, — that for solidity of reasoning, force of sagacity, and wisdom of conclusion, under such complication of circumstances, no nation or body of men can stand in preference to the General Congress at Philadelphia."
The Provincial Congress, assembled at the meeting-house in Concord, October 13, 1774, in a message to Governor Gage, signed by John Hancock, President, said, " that the sole end of government is protection and security of the people. Whenever, therefore, that power which was originally instituted to effect these important and valuable purposes is employed to harass, distress, or enslave the people, in this case it becomes a curse rather than a blessing; .... and we request that you immediately desist from the fortress now constructing at the south entrance into the town of Boston, and restore the pass to its natural state." To which the governor answered: "The fortress, unless annoyed, will annoy nobody ; . . . and I warn you of the rock you are upon, and require you to desist from such illegal and unconstitutional proceedings." (Emphasis mine)
The concept that the churches in the Founding Era were the complacent churched we have for the most part today has no foundation in facts. Even the English ministers were involved in trying to keep the British troops encourage for their cause, but it was directed more towards loyalty to the king more than loyalty to the requisites of God as the American pastors did. The ‘tory’ churches expressed their thought concerning the events of the day commenting specifically on the involvement of clergy in the fight for independence: “Letters of the famous tory churchman, Peters, of Connecticut, were laid on the President's table. One, dated September 28, said : " Six regiments are coming over from England, and sundry men-of-war. So soon as they come, hanging work will go on. Destruction will attend first the seaport towns The lintel ' sprinkled on the sidepost will preserve the faithful," i. e., the Episcopalians. On the first of October he wrote to Rev. Dr. Auchmuty, of New York: "The"— Episcopal — " churches in Connecticut must fall a sacrifice, very soon, to the rage of the Puritan mobility, if the old serpent, that dragon, is not bound. . . . Spiritual iniquity rides in high places, with halberts, pistols, and swords. See the proclamation I sent you by my nephew, on their pious Sabbath day, the fourth of last month, when the preachers and magistrates left the pulpit, etc., for the gun and drum, and set off for Boston, cursing the king and Lord North, General Gage, the bishops and their cursed curates, and the Church of England." (Emphasis mine)
Even the patriot pastors were not immune to those that believed, as some do today, that the church is not to be involved in any kind of armed resistance to authority even when it involves the enforcing of the principles that God has called us to live by. This sermon created quite a stir among those back in England: “This sermon excited the indignation of "the king's friends," one of whom, "a friend to peace and good order," published "observations" upon it as "daring and treasonable, . . . absurd and impertinent, . . . a firebrand of sedition, . . . audacious and wicked ; "so awful to "every honest man, every virtuous citizen," that "to let it pass disregarded would argue an inattention to the welfare of the public wholly inexcusable." "Where could this reverend politician, . . clerical disclaimer, . . Christian sower of sedition, . . notable empiric, . . warfaring priest, . . ordained leader, . . this church-militant general, . . have learnt to preach up doctrines of sedition, rebellion, carnage, and blood? Not, I am sure, from the merciful divulger of his religion, for he only taught the precepts of peace and forgiveness. . . . I most heartily wish, for the peace of America, that he and many others of his profession would confine themselves to gospel truths." (Emphasis mine)
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Today a pastor that took the stand that Reverend Gordon took would probably receive the same kind of comments that he received, however history has proven that his stand was the proper stand to make. It was proper in his day and it is just as proper today. In fact it is what is needed today to wake the people up to what we are losing; our rights, our heritage, our future.
Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers
Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), pp. 195-196
2. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), pp. 196-197
3. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p. 197
4. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), pp. 198.
© 2013 Roger Anghis - All Rights Reserved
Pastor Roger Anghis is the Founder of RestoreFreeSpeech.org, an organization designed to draw attention to the need of returning free speech rights to churches that was restricted in 1954.
President of The Damascus Project, TheDamascusProject.org, which has a stated purpose of teaching pastors and lay people the need of the churches involvement in the political arena and to teach the historical role of Christianity in the politics of the United States. Married-37 years, 3 children, three grandchildren.
Web site: RestoreFreeSpeech.org