Sunday, July 06, 2008

Independence Day Autographs

I love history . . . and I love America!

Thought I'd share a little of both as we move beyond our 4th of July celebration weekend!

We live in a a day and age where we almost have to defend our patriotism. I'm certainly not suggesting that America is above reproach. Far from it. But a few years ago I did extensive research for a sermon series on our spiritual heritage. And I walked away with a renewed sense of destiny. There is so much revisionist history out there that we tend to forget that a lot of our Founding Fathers were motivated by their faith in Christ.

Just thought I'd share some backstory about some of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence. Most Americans know next to nothing about these fifty-six heroes who pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to the cause of freedom.

John Witherspoon was an ordained minister and authored several books of sermons, as well as editing America's first family Bible published in 1791.

Charles Thomson served as Secretary of Congress and was a Biblical scholar. He helped edit the first American translation of the Greek Septuagint into English.

Charles Carroll, the last of the fifty-six signers to pass away at the age of 95 in 1832, wrote out his declaration of faith at the age of eighty-nine ~ On the mercy of my Redeemer I rely for my salvation, and on His merits; not on the works I have done in obedience to His precepts.

Another Founding Father, Benjamin Rush, is considered the "Father of American Medicine." He personally trained three thousand medical students. Dr. Rush also founded "The First Day Society" which was the precursor to the Sunday School movement, as well as founding America's first Bible society. It was Benjamin Rush who said the Constitution was "as much the work of Divine Providence as any of the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament were the effects of divine power."

Francis Hopkinson was a church music director and edited one of the first hymnals printed in America in 1767. He also set 150 psalms to music. Roger Sherman is the only Founding Father to sign all four of America's Founding documents: the Articles of Association in 1774, the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the Articles of Confederation in 1778, and the U.S. Constitution in 1787.

Roger Sherman was also a theologian. He wrote a personal creed that was adopted by his church:

I believe that there is one only living and true God, existing in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the same in substance, equal in power and glory. That the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are a revelation from God, and a complete rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him.

I could share story after story, but the bottom line is this: many, if not most, of our Founding Fathers were motivated by their Faith in Christ. They wrote sermons and creeds and hymns. They founded Bible Societies and Sunday Schools. They served God's purposes in their own generation.

By the way, five signers were captured and tortured during the Revolutionary War. Twelve signers had their homes ransacked and burned. Two signers lost sons to the war they declared. Two signers had sons become prisoners of war. And nine signers fought in the war and died from wounds or hardships of war.

Hope that adds a dimension of gratitude to our recent 4th of July celebrations!

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