POLITICAL SERMONS FROM PASTORS IN THE FOUNDING ERA
Pastor Roger Anghis
December 29, 2013
Sermon preached by Samuel Langdon, a Congregational minister and President of Harvard College, to the Massechusetts Congress on the 31st day of May 1775. Because this sermon was given on the anniversary of the election for counselors it is referred to as an ‘election sermon’.
title of the sermon is:
Government Corrupted by Vice and Recovered by Righteousness.
Isaiah 1:26 – And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counselors as at the beginning; afterward thou shalt be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city.
As Pastor Langdon begins his sermon he exhibits the biblical principles that were brought over by the pilgrims in 1620. Upon arriving they signed one of the most famous documents in American history and that is the Mayflower Compact. In this Compact they declared what their purpose was in settling in the New World. As I state in my book, Defining America’s Exceptionalism: “Many have stated that it was for economic gain that America began to be populated and there is a portion of truth about that because of the vast untapped resources that were available in America, but when you study the charters for each settlement and the Constitutions of the colonies, there is one glaring truth that the revisionist historians refuse to acknowledge and that is their number one purpose for coming to America was to ‘propagate the Christian religion’. They wanted the freedom to worship how they believed they were supposed to and to spread the gospel to the inhabitants of the new land. This is proven by the Mayflower Compact which was written before they disembarked from the ship.” (Emphasis mine)
Within the precepts of the Christian religion the pilgrims understood that their liberties and freedoms did not come from government but from God. In England and Holland where the original pilgrims came from there were government directive as to which religion they were to participate in and the government also determined how they would participate. The pilgrims believed in operating as the Bible instructed them to and the foundations of this compact became the foundation of our government 150 years later. It was these principles that were preached from the pulpits of America from 1620 that led to the final fight for freedom in 1776.
Langdon begins his sermon stating these principles: “Shall we rejoice, my fathers and brethren, or shall we weep together, on the return of this anniversary, which from the first settlement of this colony has been sacred to liberty, to perpetuate that invaluable privilege of choosing from among ourselves wise men, fearing God and hating covetousness, to be honorable counsellors, to constitute one essential branch of that happy government which was established on the faith of royal charters ? On this day the people have from year to year assembled, from all our towns, in a vast congregation, with gladness and festivity, with every ensign of joy displayed in our metropolis, which now, alas ! is made a garrison of mercenary troops, the stronghold of despotism.” (Emphasis mine)
Langdon is again reminding the people of the biblical mandate found in Exodus 18:21 concerning the character of the people whom they are to elect for leaders over the people. He also states that the British government has turned to an almost totalitarian type of rule over the Colonies stating ‘our metropolis, which now, alas ! is made a garrison of mercenary troops, the stronghold of despotism.‘
He points to the need for the leaders to be chosen representatives of the people for a proper form of government and strongly reminds the people that those that were now exercising their power over the people had removed the leaders originally chosen by the people and put unelected men in their place that were loyal to the crown and not to the inhabitants of the colonies having their own personal interests in mind over the interests of the colonists; “We have lived to see the time when British liberty is just ready to expire,—when that constitution of government which has so long been the glory and strength of the English nation is deeply undermined and ready to tumble into ruins, —when America is threatened with cruel oppression, and the arm of power is stretched out against New England, and especially against this colony, to compel us to submit to the arbitrary acts of legislators who are not our representatives, and who will not themselves bear the least part of the burdens which, without mercy, they are laying upon us.
The most formal and solemn grants of kings to our ancestors are deemed by our oppressors as of little value ; and they have mutilated the charter of this colony, in the most essential parts, upon false representations, and new-invented maxims of policy, without the least regard to any legal process. We are no longer permitted to fix our eyes on the faithful of the land, and trust in the wisdom of their counsels and the equity of their judgment; but men in whom we can have no confidence, whose principles are subversive of our liberties, whose aim is to exercise lordship over us, and share among themselves the public wealth,—men who are ready to serve any master, and execute the most unrighteous decrees for high wages,—whose faces we never saw before, and whose interests and connections may be far divided from us by the wide Atlantic, —are to be set over us, as counselors and judges, at the pleasure of those who have the riches and power of the nation in their hands, and whose noblest plan is to subjugate the colonies, first, and then the whole nation, to their will.” (Emphasis mine)
It is obvious that Langdon believed in the right of the people to govern themselves, as scripture has declared, and that the inhabitants of the Colonies should resist any attempt by England to take away their God given rights. His concern being that the benefits of the land belonged to the people who worked the land and not to some arbitrary government on the other side of the Atlantic. The men that had replaced the elected leaders chosen by the people had no interest in the wellbeing of the Colonies but of their own personal gain. This is one of the reasons why so many risked life and limb to travel to the New World, to remove themselves from the tyranny of the establish governments of Europe which did not afford the individual person the rights that God had deemed they should live by. The Colonists believed that government should be limited to ensuring the rights that are given by God and not a whole lot more.
The men put into authority by the crown were exercising absolute authority over the Massachusetts colony. Langdon describes part of the usurping of the rights of the people and declaring the actions of the British soldiers and the men sent to govern them were as an armed robber attempting to steal a man’s money but is in turn shot by the victim, making the point that an armed resistance to the actions of the crown was a legitimate recourse: “That we might not have it in our power to refuse the most absolute submission to their unlimited claims of authority, they have not only endeavored to terrify us with fleets and armies sent to our capital, and distressed and put an end to our trade,—particularly that important branch of it, the fishery,—but at length attempted, by a sudden march of a, body of troops in the night, to seize and destroy one of our magazines, formed by the people merely for their security, if, after such formidable military preparations on the other side, matters should be pushed to an extremity.
By this, as might well be expected, a skirmish was brought on; and it is most evident, from a variety of concurring circumstances, as well as numerous depositions both of the prisoners taken by us at that time and our own men then on the spot only as spectators, that the fire began first on the side of the king's troops. At least five or six of our inhabitants were murderously killed by the regulars at Lexington before any man attempted to return the fire, and when they were actually complying with the command to disperse ; and two more of our brethren were likewise killed at Concord bridge, by a fire from the king's soldiers, before the engagement began on our side. But, whatever credit falsehoods transmitted to Great Britain from the other side may gain, the matter may be rested entirely on this: that he that arms himself to commit a robbery, and demands the traveller's purse by the terror of instant death, is the first aggressor, though the other should take the advantage of discharging his weapon first, and killing the robber.” (Emphasis mine)
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Langdon is setting the stage for his defense on the ground of a biblical right to be self governed and giving proof of the British violations of the people’s right that have been guaranteed by God. It is these types of sermons that kept the biblical rights of the people before the eyes of the people reminding them that they are to not stand for these rights to be taken away. These pastors knew that throughout history it was because the individual person had not been made aware of their God given rights that had brought about the tyranny that Europe and the rest of the world experienced. It was the pastors belief that a nation that operated under the principles of God would be a nation that was free, prosperous and under the divine protection of God Himself.
Roger Anghis, Defining America’s Exceptionalism, Westbow Press
2011, pp. 7-8.
2. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p. 235.
3. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), pp. 235-236.
4. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), pp. 236-237.
© 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