Not too long ago I posted on my Facebook wall a statement explaining how I have come to treasure various colonial preachers and their sermons. Men like Jonathan Edwards, Jonathan Mayhew, George Whitefield, and Cotton Mather whose sermons and teachings greatly impacted the lives and thoughts of America’s founders. Indeed, “[t]here is not a right asserted in the Declaration of Independence which had not been discussed by the New England clergy before 1763” .
Those preachers of yesteryear weren’t afraid, unlike many in today’s pulpits, with the exception of a few, including my good friend Pastor David Whitney, to call out the Church and civil government when they were not in accord with God’s Word or God’s Law. Rev. Samuel West was another colonial pastor who wasn’t afraid to speak out against tyranny. Indeed, he said:
From hence it follows that tyranny and arbitrary power are utterly inconsistent with and subversive of the very end and design of civil government, and directly contrary to natural law, which is the true foundation of civil government and all politic law. Consequently, the authority of a tyrant is of itself null and void…. As magistrates have no authority but what they derive from the people, whenever they act contrary to the public good, and pursue measures destructive of the peace and safety of the community, they forfeit their right to govern the people.
When was the last time you heard a pastor preach a sermon explaining that when public servants act “contrary to the public good, and pursue measures destructive of the peace and safety of the community, they forfeit their right to govern the people”?
Sadly, much of the Church in America today, at least from the pulpits, is too worried about the tax code and not sufficiently concerned with preaching and teaching all of God’s Word. In addition to anxiety over the IRS 501C3 status, many pastors today are apprehensive about preaching against immorality and widespread sin in America because of their distress for the 3 B’s – bricks, bodies and bucks, which is to say how big of a building they have for church services, how many warm bodies are showing up for church services and how much will they collect during tithes and offerings. It is no wonder that America is financially bankrupt; we have been spiritually and morally bankrupt for many years.
America’s decline doesn’t rest fully on pastors. Husbands and fathers throughout the country are failing to live up to their God given responsibility of teaching and leading their families in worship and in God’s Word. This neglect of husbands and fathers causes their family to suffer, which directly impacts the self-government of family members. If we expect to see a righteous change in civil government, we must first see righteous changes in self-government, family government and church government.
The Bible states where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty . It’s time for us to do more than simply talk about liberty; we must start living liberty. True revival comes from the Lord, and until we get ourselves, our families and the Church right with God we won’t see revival in America. Truly, a nation that wants to be blessed by God must be in covenant with God, following His Word and His Law. America, it’s time we turn to God; it’s time we renew our covenant with God; and it’s time we start living liberty according to His Word and His Law.
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1. Alice M. Baldwin, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution (1928).
2. Rev. Samuel West, Being the Anniversary for the Election of the Honorable Council for the Colony (May 29, 1776).
3. 2 Corinthians 3:17