They were, as a whole, a most unusual assortment of individuals. For what they did on that day long ago was not potentially dangerous, as we sometimes remember, but several of them actually paid the price for their boldness, as well.
Nine of them, for instance, died of wounds or hardships suffered during the long and bloody conflict with the enemy. Another five were captured or imprisoned, a fate almost worse than death because of the brutality which they then endured. The houses of twelve men were burned to the ground, and seventeen lost everything that they owned.
What was surely the hardest of all to take, however, was that the retribution for their actions fell not just upon themselves, but upon the ones whom they loved. For the wives, sons, and daughters of several were killed, jailed, mistreated, persecuted, or left penniless. One was even driven from his wife’s deathbed and subsequently suffered the greatest pain of all, the loss of all of his children.
And all of it was simply because each of them signed their names to a piece of paper. A paper which dared to not only challenge the mightiest empire in the world at the time, but to question the fundamental convictions about how a society is structured, as well. For the declaration which they made spoke of higher ideals and greater loyalties than subjugation to any earthly king or power:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights…”
Those who signed that proclamation were thus branded as traitors and everyone of them was hunted. Their enemies even tried to bribe them back, offering immunity, freedom, rewards, property, and their lives to break their pledged oaths and take the King’s protection.
But the amazing truth is that even in the darkest hours, not a single one of those who signed the American Declaration of Independence defected or changed their stand. Instead, they chose to forfeit their fortunes and their futures, but never their honor or the cause in which they believed– freedom, liberty, and justice for all.
To be sure, they were not perfect men and their vision was far too narrow and even myopic when it came to the rights of minorities and women. But they nevertheless understood that though the cost of caring for the common good may be high, it is yet worth pursuing.
Two hundred and forty-one years later,we still enjoy the fruit of their sacrifice. As we celebrate yet another Fourth of July, perhaps it is time thus that we begin to put aside the partisanship and consider how to join together once more in the common cause that is America.
Likewise, when you sit down tomorrow at the table and say grace over all of your grilled goodies, perhaps it’s worth giving thanks to God as well for those extraordinary patriots whose signatures cost them so much in order to give us even more.
Your posts are always according to the teachings of Jesus, as this lay person understands. For that I appreciate and express a note of gratitude.
Further, as understood by this lay person, Jesus taught love and compassion for all of humanity. And further, taught that humanity should show the same for the animals of the Earth and respect dominion over the Earth.
Recently, Steven Hawking stated that we MUST colonize other planets for survival of the human species, given events and trends. To that end, I remember walking Riki to school one day, where she asked “Dad are their life forms on other planets?” I replied that given my discussion with climatologists at NASA, the probability is nearly 1 that there are and that many would be advanced to where humanity is today, that there are just too many stars with too many Class M planets for humanity to be here alone, and that there is no reason to believe that God could or would not have other children. Then, Riki asked the big question, “If so, why don’t they present themselves?” My response was simply “Would you?” Humanity is an irrational and hateful species that has been provided direction by the Son of God, yet we do not listen.
Those brave men that wrote the Declaration of Independence brought forth a new path for humanity, a path that is in line with the teachings of Jesus, in my opinion. This is while, they were also wise enough to know that the only way these ideals would survive is by separation of church and state, again as taught by Jesus, in my opionin.
For Jesus and for those who gave so much in the Declaration, let us show love and compassion to one another. Let us reject the current reversal to hate and division which is obviously based in greed and power. Let us recognize that the United States of America (corporation or republic) is losing its way to hate and division for the attainment of greed and power; and to that end, if we can recognize that it is love and compassion which were taught by Jesus and our founding fathers, then we can reject the current push of hate and division, a path that can be defeated with love and compassion.
Thank you Dr. Temple.
Pastor Temple, thank you for your sermon this past Sunday and for your thought provoking posts. Have a safe and blessed 4th.
Great post and even better sermon. Thanks for clarifying that the founding fathers were not deeply Christian as a whole, yet embraced the importance of God and belief. For a further explanation of their worldviews I highly recommend Eric Metaxas’ If You Can Keep It. He well portrays just how bodacious it was to think a country could adopt self-government. More importantly, his section on freedom was outstanding. He posits that freedom cannot exist unless it is based in virtue. And virtue is groundless absent faith. And there is no true faith without freedom. And so it goes.
Wise words. Thankyou for reminding us.
Bob and Kathe