POLITICAL SERMONS FROM PASTORS IN THE FOUNDING ERA
Pastor Roger Anghis
December 1, 2013
December 15, 1774
By William Gordon
Pastor of the Third Church in Roxbury
This sermon was given at an event called the Boston Thursday Lecture. This event was founded by Reverend John Cotton in 1633. Even though its main purpose was a ministerial gathering the event was often used to discuss political and social issues. According to the Daily Free Press of the Boston University Faneuil Hall is still used today for discussions of social issues 380 years after its founding.
All through the Founding Era we see that it was the pastors that continued to keep the fire of freedom burning in the hearts of the people. This is why the British labeled the pastors the Black Robe Regiment and when captured by the British were treated more harshly than a regular soldier. In the Introduction of my book Defining America’s Exceptionalism I stated: “Many believe that the church was silent during the Revolutionary War but the ones who taught the people about fair taxation, inalienable rights, the right to own property, choosing the people who are in authority over you and everything else they fought for were the preachers. The British called them the Black Regiment, for the black robes they wore. They were many of the military leaders and many went to Congress after the war. When the British captured a soldier that they knew was a preacher he was treated harsher than a regular soldier because it was the preacher that kept the fire of revolution going in the hearts of the people.”
The pastors would keep before the eyes of the people the freedoms that they should have and the freedoms that the British had either taken from them or refused to let them have. Gordon expressed this stating: “The distresses that the late acts have already occasioned are many and great, and too well known to require an enumeration ; and yet, could we be secure of a speedy relief in the permanent redress of our grievances, we should soon forget them. But we have our fears lest they should be only the beginning of sorrows, and are in doubt whether we may not be called to experience the horrors of a civil war, unless we will disgrace our descent, meanly submit to the loss of our privileges, and leave to posterity — the many millions that shall people this continent in less than a century — bonds and fetters.” (Emphasis mine)
We have to remember the occasion for this sermon was at a time when the British had come into Boston, removed all the judges that the people had put in place, removed all elected officials and the governor and replaced them with those that were loyal to the crown and not the people of Boston or even the Colonies. Rights and privileges they had enjoyed were removed and done away with. Reverend Gordon was calling on the people to NOT take lying down the theft of their God given rights. He issued a subtle challenge to them stating: “The important day is now arrived that must determine whether we shall remain free, or, alas! be brought into bondage, after having long enjoyed the sweets of liberty. The event will probably be such as is our own conduct. Will we conform, to the once exploded but again courtly doctrines of passive obedience and non-resistance, rather than hazard life and property— we may have the honor of burning under the heats of summer and freezing under the colds of winter in providing for the luxurious entertainment of lazy, proud, worthless pensioners and placemen.” (Emphasis mine)
Reverend Gordon went on to declare that opposing the latest usurpation by the British crown in the affairs of the people could be dangerous but also declared that that opposition would be a standard set for upcoming generations to look to for guidance and courage. “Will we make our appeal to Heaven against the intended oppression—venture all upon the noble principles that brought the House of Planover into the possession of the British diadem, and not fear to bleed freely in the cause, not of a particular people, but of mankind in general —we shall be likely to transmit to future generations, though the country should be wasted by the sword, the most essential part of the fair patrimony received from our brave and hardy progenitors —the right of possessing and of disposing of, at our own option, the honest fruits of our industry.” (Emphasis mine)
Reverend Gordon gave full expectancy of the results of opposing the British to regain the freedoms that had been removed. But at the same time he substantiated the need of such actions in order to live in liberty, the liberty that God had called all mankind to live in. “However, it is alarming to think that, through the mistaken policy of Great Britain, and the absurd notion of persisting in wrong measures for the honor of government, we may be obliged to pass through those difficulties, and to behold those scenes, and engage in those services that are shocking to humanity, and would be intolerable but for the hope of preserving and perpetuating our liberties. Our trade ruined, our plantations trodden down, our cattle slain or taken away, our property plundered, our dwellings in flames, our families insulted and abused, our friends and relatives wallowing and our own garments rolled in blood, are calamities that we are not accustomed to, and that we cannot realize but with the utmost pain ; and yet we must expect more or less of these should we be compelled to betake ourselves to the sword in -behalf of our rights.” (Emphasis mine)
In this message Reverend Gordon compares the religious state of the people in comparison to the religious state of the pilgrims when they first started to settle in America in the early 1600’s. As is true today in comparison to the people today to those in the mid 18th Century, they lacked the dedication to their faith that the early settlers had. But even at that their faith was strong. In the mid 18th Century whole towns would close down and attend church and the messages brought forth were an average 4 hours in length. That is almost four times today’s typical service.
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His message then would talk about the pressing events of the day as this message addresses the usurping of the British of the local government and freedoms they had enjoyed and not just the desire to get them back but the declaring that these rights are God given and should be fought for. Today’s pastors, for the most part, won’t address the issues of the day unless it is something that would be considered politically correct like abortion being a right or homosexuality being a viable alternative lifestyle. These pastors will get what is spoken of in Matthew 7:23 “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” We have become a society where the preacher refuses to preach anything that might upset anyone. The preachers in the Founding Era were not afraid to preach the truth. Truth is the only thing that will change anything. Their tenacity to not go along with the flow nor the British Parliment and to preach the uncompromised Word of God became the foundation for the Revolution. From my book Defining America’s Exceptionalism: “These pastors from the beginning of the colonization of America in 1606 were responsible for the intellectual foundation that had been laid concerning the type of self-government that the people of America had adopted. Its roots were in scripture concerning all aspects of the self-government system.”
The pastors of today will need to take a similar role if we are ever to turn America around for as the church goes, so goes the nation.
Roger Anghis, Defining America’s Exceptionalism, (Westbow Press,
2012), p. viii-ix.
2. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p. 205.
3. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p. 205.
4. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p. 206.
5. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), pp. 206-207.
7. Roger Anghis, Defining America’s Exceptionalism, (Westbow Press, 2012), p. 136.
© 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