POLITICAL SERMONS FROM PASTORS IN THE FOUNDING ERA
Pastor Roger Anghis
December 22, 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.
Most of today’s preachers would preach peace at all costs and to abide by the rules of the crown is biblically required. But the pastors of the Founding Era looked at it quite differently. They fully understood that freedoms and liberties were from God and not government and any attempt by the government to restrict or remove those freedoms was a direct attack on the religious rights and freedoms of the people and the pastors would not stand for that infringement. If God gave it, man could not take it away and if man tried to take it then the pastors would fight that infringement. Understand also that the preference was a peaceful solution to the problem but the return of the liberties God gave man was the end result and a war was not out of the question.
Reverend Gordon stated: “The want of field artillery will not be much nor long felt under a commander that has skill to avoid being attacked, and to choose his ground for attacking, in a country with which he is perfectly acquainted, and where every inhabitant, even the children, are standing spies upon all the motions of an adversary. But, as I earnestly beg of Heaven that the redress of our grievances may be obtained without fighting, I shall not dwell longer upon this point, and proceed to mention those other favorable circumstances, of a pacific kind, that remain to be specified, — such as the generous donations made for the poor of Boston ; the union of the colonies ; the prevailing harmony and unanimity among the individuals composing the grand congress; their approbation of the opposition given by this colony to the acts for altering their ancient form of government; their association respecting trade, and the like ; the readiness of the people to conform to it ; and the intrepid conduct of the southern inhabitants in preventing the introduction of any more teas among them.
These are favorable circumstances, beyond what the most sanguine friends of liberty expected; that appear to be of the Lord's doing, and are marvelous in our eyes; that, if foretold, would have been deemed morally impossible by those who are still inimical to them, though evidencing a wonderful interposition of Providence ; and that may justly encourage us, as well as keep us from fainting, especially when taken in connection with that spirit of prayer and humiliation which has discovered itself in different places on occasion of the times. Would to God there was more of this! Did it abound universally, we should have greater ground of encouragement by much; for the fervent prayers of the humble, penitent, and returning avail with God, through the mediation of the Lord Jesus. However, from what there is, and the other favorable circumstances, we are warranted to expect that at length, in the exercise of prudence, fortitude, and piety, we shall get well through our difficulties.” (Emphasis mine)
Though Reverend Gordon preached peaceable means of correcting the wrong that had been done to the Colonists he also preached that they should give no ground and the ground lost should at all costs be regained and that it was prudent to prepare for armed conflict if necessary. “We must prudently fall in with the measures recommended by the congress, that so we may not be reported to other colonies as disregarders of them, whereby first a jealousy may be produced, and then a disunion effected.
We must promote unanimity among ourselves, peace and good order, that we may not be represented as desirous of confusion in hopes of making an advantage of it. We should let the laws of honor and honesty have their full weight with us, that we may fall under no reproach for abusing the present suspension of human laws. We should diligently provide for the worst, and be upon our guard, that we may not be suddenly stripped of those appurtenances, the loss of which will be severely felt should we be called upon, by a dire necessity, to make our appeal to Heaven. I have been ready at times to infer, from the military spirit that hath spread through the continent, that though we are to be saved, it is not to be without the sword, or, at least, the strong appearance of it, unless Infinite Wisdom (which we shall heartily rejoice to find is the case) should be in this way preparing the colonies for cooperating with the parent state, after that matters in dispute have been settled to satisfaction, in some important struggle with a common enemy ; and therein, by giving her effectual assistance, for wiping away the reproaches that interested calumny and malice have thrown upon them, and for confirming an eternal friendship. But is it the awful determination of Heaven that we shall not retain our liberties without fighting, let no one despair.” (Emphasis mine)
Keep in mind that by this time the British had begun to use military force to bring the Colonists back under the total control of the crown. On September 1, 1774 the British General Gage had seized that gunpowder supply stored at Charlestown which was referred to as the ‘first indication of hostile intentions’ and had attempted to destroy the gunpowder supply at Concord in April of 1775. It was this conflict where the ‘shot heard around the world’ was fired. This is when the Colonists began siege of Boston that lasted until March of 1776 keeping the British troops contained in Boston and not allowing reinforcements nor supplies for the British troops. They did, however, get supplies to the Colonists in Boston. Each of the Colonies would supply what they could for the citizens of Boston.
Reverend Gordon continued with his call for liberty by declaring that whatever is needed to attain the rights of liberty be prepared for. First was to go before God and seek Him and His will and then prepare to do what it would take to regain their liberty. “Let us be but brave, and we may promise ourselves success. Do we join piety to our prudence and fortitude; do we confess and repent of our sins, justify God in his so trying us, accept of our punishment at his hands without murmuring or complaining; do we humble ourselves, amend our ways and doings, give up ourselves to God, become a holy people, and make the Most High our confidence, — we may hope that he will be on our side; and " if the Lord is for us, what can men do unto us? Have we the God of hosts for our ally, we might bid adieu to fear, though the world was united against us.
Let us, then, be pious, brave, and prudent, and we shall —some of us, at least—have room for thanksgivings, not merely for promising appearances, but for actual deliverance out of present difficulties, though it should not be till we have been conversant with the din of arms and the horrors of war. But should the country be wasted for a few years, and a number of its inhabitants be destroyed, ere the wished-for salvation is granted, how soon, after having secured its liberties, will it regain its former prosperity; yea, become far more glorious, wealthy, and populous than ever, through the thousands and ten thousands that will flock to it, with riches, arts, and sciences, acquired by them in foreign countries!” (Emphasis mine)
Always believing that they were on God’s side in their fight for liberty and that once that freedom was fully attained, though at a possible high cost of lives and resources, that the nation would rebound under the prosperity that God would allow them become because of their dedication to Him. Gordon even spoke of how this epic battle for the right to live under the liberties granted by God would be a beacon of God’s liberties throughout the world.
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Reverend Gordon concluded his sermon with this statement: “And how will the surviving inhabitants and their posterity, together with refugees who have fled from oppression and hardships, whether civil or sacred, to our American sanctuary, daily give thanks to the Sovereign of the universe that this general asylum was not consumed! How oft will they, with raptures, think upon that noble exertion of courage that prevented it, celebrate the praises of those that led and suffered in the common cause, and with glowing hearts bless that God who owned the goodness of it, and at length crowned it with success! Hallelujah. The Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” (Emphasis mine)
Reverend Gordon was assured through his faith and knowledge of God that the path they had taken was the correct path and it was the path that God had set America on. He also believed that as long as they kept God in the forefront their freedom would be won.
The lessons today’s church could learn from the churches in the Founding Era could change the direction of this nation from a socialist government control society to a nation that once again would be the envy of the world.
Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers
Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p.224.
2. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p. 225.
3. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p. 226-227.
4. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p. 227-228
© 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