POLITICAL SERMONS FROM PASTORS IN THE FOUNDING ERA
Pastor Roger Anghis
January 26, 2014
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’.
The 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.
Can we say we are innocent of crimes against God? No, surely. It becomes us to humble ourselves under his mighty hand, that he may exalt us in due time.
This part of Langdon’s sermon could be preached in every church in America today. As he calls America itself to repentance from turning away from God and His principles, which is nothing compared to how we have turned away from God in today’s society. “But, alas! have not the sins of America, and of New England in particular, had a hand in bringing down upon us the righteous judgments of Heaven? Wherefore is all this evil come upon us? Is it not because we have forsaken the Lord? Can we say we are innocent of crimes against God? No, surely. It becomes us to humble ourselves under his mighty hand, that he may exalt us in due time. However unjustly and cruelly we have been treated by man, we certainly deserve, at the hand of God, all the calamities in which we are now involved. Have we not lost much of that spirit of genuine Christianity which so remarkably appeared in our ancestors, for which God distinguished them with the signal favors of providence when they fled from tyranny and persecution into this western desert? Have we not departed from their virtues? Though I hope and am confident that as much true religion, agreeable to the purity and simplicity of the gospel, remains among us as among any people in the world, yet, in the midst of the present great apostasy of the nations professing Christianity, have not we likewise been guilty of departing from the living God? Have we not made light of the gospel of salvation, and too much affected the cold, formal, fashionable religion of countries grown old in vice, and overspread with infidelity? Do not our follies and iniquities testify against us?” (Emphasis mine)
Just as in Langdon’s day we have gone much further in the wrong direction from God. Our acceptance of abortion upon demand, our acceptance of people living together without the benefit of marriage, our acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle just to name a few things that we have done that in Langdon’s day was unheard of.
Langdon believed that it was proper to preach about how the government had gone from the principles that their ancestors established over one hundred and fifty years before: “Is it not a fact, open to common observation, that profaneness, intemperance, unchastity, the love of pleasure, fraud, avarice, and other vices, are increasing among us from year to year? And Lave not even these young governments been in some measure infected with the corruptions of European courts? Has there been no flattery, no bribery, no artifices practiced, to get into places of honor and profit, or carry a vote to serve a particular interest, without regard to right or wrong? Have our statesmen always acted with integrity, and every judge with impartiality, in the fear of God? In short, have all ranks of men showed regard to the divine commands, and joined to promote the Redeemer's kingdom and the public welfare? I wish we could more fully justify ourselves in all these respects. If such sins have not been so notorious among us as in older countries, we must nevertheless remember that the sins of a people who have been remarkable for the profession of godliness, are more aggravated by all the advantages and favors they have enjoyed, and will receive more speedy and signal punishment; as God says of Israel : " You only have I known of all the families of the earth, therefore will I punish you for all your iniquities.” (Emphasis mine)
Langdon is sincere in his call to return to the principles of God. As with Israel of old there would be a time when they were strong for the things of God, but then they would fall away and their enemies would take them captive until they called out to God. In the days of Gideon this was true and then they were brought out of captivity but when he died they went back to serving other god’s and were oppressed by their enemies again. Langdon saw the Colonies begin to drift in the wrong direct and believed that the oppression from the British was judgment from God, which may have some merit to it, but in any event he was still standing for the liberties that they had come to America to enjoy and this action by the British was a violation of their God given rights. “Let me address you in the words of the prophet: "
Israel! return unto the Lord thy God, for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity." My brethren, let us repent, and implore the divine mercy; let us amend our ways and our doings, reform everything which has been provoking to the Most High, and thus endeavor to obtain the gracious interpositions of Providence for our deliverance. If true religion is revived by means of these public calamities, and again prevails among us,—if it appears in our religious assemblies, in the conduct of our civil affairs, in our armies, in our families, in all our business and conversation, — we may hope for the direction and blessing of the Most High, while we are using our best endeavors to preserve and restore the civil government of this colony, and defend America from slavery. Our late happy government is changed into the terrors of military execution. Our firm opposition to the establishment of an arbitrary system is called rebellion, and we are to expect no mercy, but to yield property and life at discretion. This we are resolved at all events not to do, and therefore we have taken up arms in our own defense, and all the colonies are united in the great cause of liberty.” (Emphasis mine)
Langdon reminds his listeners that their rights are God given not government given. We need to remind some people today that this is the case. There are too many today that have no problem with the government dictating our rights. It has never been this way in America and I will not be quite when the federal government tries to take more and more control of the lives of Americans. Langdon also called the people to stand up to the liberty grabbing British: “But how shall we live while civil government is dissolved? What shall we do without counsellors and judges? A state of absolute anarchy is dreadful. Submission to the tyranny of hundreds of imperious masters, firmly embodied against us, and united in the same cruel design of disposing of our lives and subsistence at their pleasure, and making their own will our law in all cases whatsoever, is the vilest slavery, and worse than death.
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Thanks be to God that he has given us, as men, natural rights, independent on all human laws whatever, and that these rights are recognized by the grand charter of British liberties. By the law of nature, any body of people, destitute of order and government, may form themselves into a civil society, according to their best prudence, and so provide for their common safety and advantage. When one form is found by the majority not to answer the grand purpose in any tolerable degree, they may, by common consent, put an end to it and set up another, — only, as all such great changes are attended with difficulty and danger of confusion, they ought not to be attempted without urgent necessity, which will be determined always by the general voice of the wisest and best members of the community.” (Emphasis mine)
Landon calls for the use of arms to regain the liberties that have been breached by the British crown. Not many pastors today would take a stand like that. He preached that the Colonies needed to repent from their move away from God and then return to the values established by their ancestors, which are directly out of the Bible. Too many pastors today are politically correct and won’t preach what the people need to hear. If not reversed this will be our downfall.
Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers
Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p. 249.
2. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), pp. 249-250.
3. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p. 251.
4. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), pp. 251-252.
© 2014 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