Freedom is Never Really Free!
July brings us to the celebration of our nation’s birth. The Psalmist wrote, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD” [Psalm 33:12]. On July 4th, 1776 our Founding Fathers signed our nation’s birth certificate. Thirteen independent colonies united to became thirteen states. They cast off the yoke of British rule and formed a new nation. Over the course of the next several years, these thirteen states, their militias, and the Continental Army engaged in military action against the British Empire in order to secure our independence and the rights, freedoms, and liberties you and I continue to enjoy today and cherish.
The Irish statesmen, Edmund Burke (1729-1791) wrote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” In 1776, by the will of Almighty God, the Sons of Liberty fulfilled their vision of a new nation, a nation ruled by laws and not by tyrants. These good men, possessed by a vision of liberty and yearning for self-government, assumed the responsibility to do something for themselves and their prosperity. They determined that the time had come, and by the grace of God they gave birth to a new nation conceived in liberty. Yet, the freedoms we celebrate this month came with great cost and the preservation of these freedoms continue to cost our nation dearly.
Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence. Fifty-six men each counted the cost. They placed their fortunes, reputations, and lives on the line for freedom. In the end, the price they paid cost them dearly. Five signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured to death. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in military service for freedom and another had two sons captured. Nine of the fifty-six fought and died from wounds or hardships resulting from the War for Independence. These men signed the Declaration of Independence and did so fully counting the cost as they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honour to secure freedom for themselves and for unnumbered generations to come!
Such are the stories of sacrifice during the America War for Independence. The men who established our nation were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken, educated, and hopeful of a bright and different future. Many possessed ample individual security but they valued liberty even more. Standing tall and unwavering, they affirmed these words, “For the support of this Declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour.”
The struggle begun by our Founding Fathers continued throughout our nation’s history and it still continues today. The fight to preserve the freedoms we hold dear, the vision of a Constitutional Republic, the way of life handed down to us continues to face opposition every single day from enemies that are both foreign and domestic.
You see, freedom is never really free! It always comes with a price. Our nation has endured wars and rumors of wars. We have been divided and we have been united. We have struggled and we have experienced peace. We are not perfect, but we remain a nation truly blessed by God.
A number of years ago Alexis de Tocqueville, a Frenchman, came to the United States to travel and see for himself what had made America great. As a result, he penned these words: “In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions. But in America I found they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country … I have toured America, and I have seen most of what you offer. I’ve seen the riches of the fields and the wealth of your mines. I’ve seen your industrial might, the beauties of the rivers, the streams, the lakes, and the grandeur of the mountains. I’ve noticed the abundance of the forests and the marvelous climate with which you are blessed ... In none of these things did I see the cause for the greatness of America. It wasn’t until I went into your churches that I saw the reason for America’s greatness. America is great because America is good; and as long as America is good, America will be great. [But] if America ever ceases to be good, [she] will cease to the great.”
In his book Liberty: The American Revolution, Thomas Fleming wrote about the beginning of the American struggle for Independence. He listed the important influence of Christianity and the Gospel by recording the number of churches alive and well in the Colonies at that time. He found, “749 Congregational Churches, 485 Presbyterian Churches, 457 Baptist Churches, 406 Anglican, 328 Dutch or German Reformed, 240 Lutheran, and 56 Roman Catholic churches in the Colonies. In addition there were 200 Quaker meetinghouses and 5 synagogues.” The Judeo-Christian foundation of America is without question. It is the very foundation upon which our nation is built. It is an historic fact that America was established as a religious nation – yes, a nation founded upon the Judeo-Christian ethic alone!
As the thirteen colonies began to unite and throw off the yoke of British rule, Horace Walpole proclaimed, “There is no use crying about it! Cousin America has run off with a Presbyterian parson.” He was referring to John Witherspoon of Princeton, the only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence.
As a country, we have survived internal and external conflicts. We have been victorious in two World Wars and numerous other conflicts. We have seen the deaths of thousands of our sons and daughters, who, like our Founding Fathers, treasured freedom more than their own lives. We experienced the horror of 9/11 and other such acts of terrorism against our vision of freedom and liberty.
In 1790, Irish orator John Philpot Curran said, “It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance.” Today, men and women continue to embrace the essence of these words as their Founding Fathers before them. They willingly step forward to defend and protect that which they love most.
Recently the price of freedom hit close to home. Only weeks ago we watched the news and witnessed the tragic fate of nine brave men serving in our nation’s Air Guard. They were doing their duty. They were protecting our way of life. They were serving our country as their C-130 crashed on Highway 21 in Port Wentworth, taking the lives of all nine men. Such is the cost of freedom.
July 4th is not a religious holiday. It is a day of secular celebration, but that celebration should include a special thanksgiving to Almighty God for the nation we call home. Freedom is never really free. It always costs someone something. We, the recipients of freedom and liberty, need to thank our Heavenly Father for those who have and continue to defend and protect our liberties, rights, and freedoms!
As citizens of the Kingdom of God and this great nation so blessed, our marching orders come from the King of kings and the LORD of lords. They are revealed to us in Holy Scripture and they call us to “Stand Firm” as the people of God in this world. Our duty is to glorify Him and to enjoy Him and all His many blessings, both spiritual and temporal.
Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Like the saints of old, may God give us thankful hearts and strength to “Stand Firm” upon His most gracious gifts of spiritual and political freedoms. Happy birthday and may God continue to bless America!
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