POLITICAL SERMONS FROM PASTORS IN THE FOUNDING ERA
Pastor Roger Anghis
February 16, 2014
Preached before the Honorable Council, And the honorable House of Representatives of the Colony of the Massachusetts-Bay, in New-England. MAY 29th, 1776.
Being the Anniversary for the Election of THE honorable COUNCIL FOR the Colony. By Pastor Samuel West of Dartmouth.
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, Isaiah 4:26:
Their children also shall be as aforetime, and their congregations shall be established before me, and I will punish all that oppress them : and their nobles shall be of themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them, Jeremiah 30:20- 21.
As free and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of GOD, 1 Peter 2: 16.
The beast that thou sawest, shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition : and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast. Revelation 17:8.
As with the other sermons discussed in this series this sermon is connected to the usurping of the Colonial government established by the people of Massachusetts by the British Parliament. A proclamation was made concerning the resolving of the problem with Britain. Note in this proclamation that a day of thanksgiving with religious worship was called for by the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Oh, that we would see that today.
FOR A PUBLIC THANKSGIVING.
“Although, in consequence of the unnatural, cruel, and barbarous Measures adopted and pursued by the British Administration, great and distressing Calamities are brought upon our oppressed Country, and on this Colony in particular; we feel the dreadful Effects of Civil War, by which
America is stained with the Blood of her valiant Sons, who have bravely fallen in the laudable Defence of our Rights and Privileges; — Our Capital, once the Seat of Justice, Opulence, and Virtue, is unjustly wrested from its proper Owners, who are obliged to flee from the Iron Hand of Tyranny, or are held in the unrelenting Arms of Oppression ; — Our Seaports greatly distressed, and Towns burnt by the Foes, who have acted the Part of barbarous Incendiaries. And although the wise and holy Governor of the World has in his righteous Providence sent Droughts into this Colony, and wasting Sickness into many of our Towns, yet we have the greatest Reason to adore and praise the Supreme Disposer of Events, who deals infinitely better with us than we deserve; and, amidst all his judgments, hath remembered Mercy, by causing the Voice of Health again to be heard amongst us : Instead of Famine, affording to an ungrateful People a Competency of the Necessaries and Comforts of Life; in remarkably preserving and protecting our Troops when in apparent Danger, while our Enemies, with all their boasted Skill and Strength, have met with Loss, Disappointment, and Defeat; — and, in the Course of his good Providence, the Father of Mercies hath bestowed upon us many other Favors, which call for our grateful Acknowledgments. Therefore, We have thought fit, with the Advice of the Council and House of Representatives, to appoint THURSDAY, the Twenty-third Day of November Instant, to be observed as a Day of Public THANKSGIVING, throughout this Colony; hereby calling upon Ministers and People to meet for religious Worship on said Day, and devoutly to offer up their unfeigned Praises to Almighty GOD, the Source and benevolent Bestower of all Good, for his affording the necessary Means of Subsistence, though our Commerce has been prevented, and the Supplies from the Fishery been denied us.” (Emphasis mine)
It was following this proclamation that Pastor Samuel West delivered this message to that very House of Representatives that had called for the day of Thanksgiving. Pastor West lays a foundation of what is good and evil and defines what that foundation is built on, the Word of God: “The Deity has also invested us with moral powers and faculties, by which we are enabled to discern the difference between right and wrong, truth and falsehood, good and evil : hence the approbation of mind that arises upon doing a good action, and the remorse of conscience which we experience when we counteract the moral sense and do that which is evil.
This proves that, in what is commonly called a state of nature, we are the subjects of the divine law and government; that the Deity is our supreme magistrate, who has written his law in our hearts, and will reward or punish us according as we obey or disobey his commands. Had the human race uniformly persevered in a state of moral rectitude, there would have been little or no need of any other law besides that which is written in the heart, —for everyone in such a state would be a law unto himself. There could be no occasion for enacting or enforcing of penal laws; for such are " not made for the righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly, and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for men-stealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to" moral rectitude and the happiness of mankind. The necessity of forming ourselves into politic bodies, and granting to our rulers a power to enact laws for the public safety, and to enforce them by proper penalties, arises from our being in a fallen and degenerate state.” (Emphasis mine)
Note that Pastor West identifies that we are subject only to divine law and a government that is based on divine law. The government that was removed by the British months before was that type of government. The members of the Colonies had established those in authority that abided by divine law. All laws in America at that time were based on biblical law and principles. The British Crown had removed that government and was attempting to establish the rules of a monarchy which did not take into account the will of the people but mostly it did not address the will of God either. This is what the Colonists were strongly against.
He points out that scripture calls for submission to government but that government must be a good government that is submitted only to divine law: “Nor has Christianity been deficient in this capital point. We find our blessed Saviour directing the Jews to render to Caesar the things that were Cesar's ; and the apostles and first preachers of the gospel not only exhibited a good example of subjection to the magistrate, in all things that were just and lawful, but they have also, in several places in the New Testament, strongly enjoined upon Christians the duty of submission to that government under which Providence had placed them. Hence we find that those who despise government, and are not afraid to speak evil of dignities, are, by the apostles Peter and Jude, classed among those presumptuous, self-willed sinners that are reserved to the judgment of the great day. And the apostle Paul judged submission to civil government to be a matter of such great importance, that he thought it worth his while to charge Titus to put his hearers in mind to be submissive to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work ; as much as to say, none can be ready to every good work, or be properly disposed to perform those actions that tend to promote the public good, who do not obey magistrates, and who do not become good subjects of civil government.” (Emphasis mine)
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With this foundation laid out Pastor West moves to the exact design of the civil government he has talked about. His purpose here is to clarify the difference between a good and a corrupt government with the intent of declaring the British government installed in Massachusetts over the government established by the Colonists as the corrupt government.
Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers
Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), pp. 264-265.
2. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), pp. 269-270.
3. Pulpit of the American Revolution, John W. Thorton, The Federalist Papers Project, (Gould and Lincoln, Boston), p. 271.
© 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