Summary: What we often forget is that in declaring their independence from England, our Founding Fathers made an equally bold Declaration of Dependence upon Almighty God. (PowerPoints Available - #306)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
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ILL. Tomorrow the United States will be celebrating a crucial moment in the history of our nation - the signing of the Declaration of Independence. And as we look back at that event we need to realize that it was a very dangerous decision for each man who dared to sign it.
In fact, as John Adams signed he said, "Whether we live or die, sink or swim, succeed or fail, I stand behind this Declaration of Independence. And if God wills it, I am ready to die in order that this country might experience freedom."
A. It was that kind of patriotism which led men, armed with little more than hunting rifles, to engage in battle with what was then the most powerful nation in the world.
This decision to declare their independence from England was not easily nor hastily decided. Even though they lived in the colonies they were English citizens & they felt they should enjoy the same rights & privileges that any free-born Englishman enjoyed back in England.
After all, it was their ancestors who, a few centuries earlier, had risen against the unjust & dictatorial rule of King John & forced him to sign the Magna Carta, the "Great Charter" establishing the rights of the common man & limiting the power of the King over them.
But over a period of a few years King George began to ignore all that as far as the American colonies were concerned. And it wasn't long until oppressive taxes & regulations were beginning to make their lives miserable.
When they complained, King George sent troops & declared martial law. Public protests were put down by force & dissenting voices silenced. And more laws which they considered "intolerable" were enacted.
Sometimes things got out of hand - especially in Boston. One day a crowd was yelling at a royal tax collector, & he fired at them - killing an 11-year-old boy.
Another time a squad of soldiers was trying to break up a crowd of tax protestors. Someone gave the command to fire - & 5 of the protestors were killed. The news spread quickly about this "Boston Massacre."
And just 14 months before the Declaration of Independence was written, armed conflict actually broke out in the Battle of Lexington & Concord between colonial Minutemen & British Regular army troops. Casualties for both sides that day totaled 366 either killed or wounded.
B. Emboldened by what they considered a victory, Colonial militias then laid siege to Boston which led, 2 months later, to the Battle of Bunker Hill. The Colonial militia lost 400 men in that battle. And their siege of Boston was lifted.
ILL. Meanwhile, It was during this time of conflict that Patrick Henry, the fiery patriot from Virginia, gave his famous speech before the Virginia Provincial Convention. Here is how he concluded his speech:
"Three million people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, & in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us.
"Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the Destiny of nations, & who will raise up friends to fight our battle for us. The Battle, sir, is not to the strong alone, it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.
"Besides, sir, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat, but in submission & slavery. Our chains are forged. Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! …
"Gentleman may cry peace, peace, but there is no peace. The war has actually begun! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle?
"What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains & slavery? Forbid it, almighty God!
"I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death."
Many of our forefathers paid a terrible price in the Revolutionary War, but finally they won the victory so that you & I might be citizens of this "land of the free & home of the brave."
PROP. But what we often forget is that in declaring their independence from England, our forefathers made an equally bold “Declaration of Dependence” upon Almighty God.
Yes, that is what I said, in the very beginning of our nation, our forefathers boldly declared their dependence upon God.
I. THEY DECLARED THEIR DEPENDENCE UPON GOD
A. But we weren't the first nation to do that. At another crucial moment in history, as the people of Israel were preparing to enter the land that God had promised to them, Moses told them,