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.
Langdon brings to the front the character of the politicians of his day which is something that today’s preachers need to do but fail at miserably. He calls for them to perform their duty as the Constitution of each Colony calls for or they should be removed. “If the great servants of the public forget their duty, betray their trust, and sell their country, or make war against the most valuable rights and privileges of the people, reason and justice require that they should be discarded, and others appointed in their room, without any regard to formal resignations of their forfeited power.
It must be ascribed to some supernatural influence on the minds of the main body of the people through this extensive continent, that they have so universally adopted the method of managing the important matters necessary to preserve among them a free government by corresponding committees and congresses, consisting of the wisest and most disinterested patriots in America, chosen by the unbiased suffrages of the people assembled for that purpose in their several towns, counties, and provinces.” (Emphasis mine)
His reference to the corrupt politicians was primarily towards the government set in place by the British that had dissolved the government that the people of the Colonies had established. We today, however, have put in place through our elections, though many of those races are questionable at best, people of questionable character and others that have not been properly vetted, the president included. New York City just elected an avowed communist as mayor and the governor of New York has just declared that if you are pro-life, pro-gun and conservative a ”there is no place in New York for you.” If that isn’t 180º from what the Founders believed I don’t know what is. Daniel Webster once stated: “There is no nation on earth powerful enough to accomplish our overthrow. Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter: from the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence. I must confess that I do apprehend some danger. I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct; that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men and become the instruments of their own undoing.”
Langdon freely addressed corrupt politicians where today most pastors are afraid to say anything political for fear of offending someone. As I have told my congregation over the years ‘ If you preach the truth someone will always get offended, but that should never stop anyone from preaching the truth.” Political correctness is usually 100% wrong and should be avoided like the plague.
Langdon believed that the government that the Colonies had established was modeled after scripture and was secured in that same scripture. Those that were in power that were removed by the British were of godly character. He believed that God would help restore that government: “Who knows but in the midst of all the distresses of the present war to defeat the attempts of arbitrary power, God may in mercy restore to us our judges as at the first, and our counselors as at the beginning ? (Isaiah 1-26)
On your wisdom, religion, and public spirit, honored gentlemen, we depend, to determine what may be done as to the important matter of reviving the form of government, and settling all necessary affairs relating to it in the present critical state of things, that we may again have law and justice, and avoid the danger of anarchy and confusion. May God be with you, and by the influences of his Spirit direct all your counsels and resolutions for the glory of his name and the safety and happiness of this colony. We have great reason to acknowledge with thankfulness the evident tokens of the Divine presence with the former congress, that they were led to foresee present exigencies, and make such effectual provision for them. It is our earnest prayer to the Father of Lights that he would irradiate your minds, make all your way plain, and grant you may be happy instruments of many and great blessings to the people by whom you are constituted, to New England, and all the united colonies.” (Emphasis mine)
The governor that Britain had placed in power in Massachusetts, Governor Gage, had mocked the local preachers for declaring that God was with them in their resistance against the British: “Governor Gage, in his proclamation of June 12, 1775, a few days after Dr. Langdon's sermon was preached, said: "To complete the horrid profanation of terms and of ideas, the name of God has been introduced in the pulpits to excite and justify devastation and massacre."
Langdon’s belief that God was with them was confirmed not just in this statement but in the results of the battle he mentions: “Let us praise our God for the advantages already given us over the enemies of liberty, particularly that they have been so dispirited by repeated experience of the efficacy of our arms; and that, in the late action at Chelsea, when several hundreds of our soldiery, the greater part open to the fire of so many cannon, swivels, and muskets, from a battery advantageously situated,—from two armed cutters, and many barges full of marines, and from ships of the line in the harbor,—not one man on our side was killed, and but two or three wounded; when, by the best intelligence, a great number were killed (105) and wounded (165) on the other side, and one of their cutters was taken and burnt, the other narrowly escaping with great damage.*
If God be for us, who can be against us? The enemy has reproached us for calling on his name, and professing our trust in him. They have made a mock of our solemn fasts, and every appearance of serious Christianity in the land. On this account, by way of contempt, they call us saints ; and that they themselves may keep at the greatest distance from this character, their mouths are full of horrid blasphemies, cursing, and bitterness, and vent all the rage of malice and barbarity. And may we not be confident that the Most High, who regards these things, will vindicate his own honor, and plead our righteous cause against such enemies to his government, as well as our liberties? O, may our camp be free from every accursed thing! May our land be purged from all its sins ! May we be truly a holy people, and all our towns cities of righteousness” (Emphasis mine)
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Langdon credits God for the low injury rate to the Americans and the high injury rate to the British. He also credits the fact that it was because the British had mocked the fasts and their calling upon God for help. These statistics were repeated during World War II in our fight against the Japanese on Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Saipan and other.
As with most of the pastors in the Founding Era, Langdon addressed the political things of the day. If today’s pastor would do the same sticking to the biblical principles that the Founders established we would be able to easily turn America back to God, but so many are more afraid of the government that of God. Bid mistake! Huge! They will regret that decision.
Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers
Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), pp. 252-253.
2. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p. 257.
3. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p. 257.
© 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