Summary: This sermon examines our Christian heritage, the separation of Church and state and its effects on American Society since 1962.
The 4th of July is a special day in our country but not just for the signing of the declaration. Many special things have happened on this day.
Three American presidents died on the Fourth of July, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe. And if you want to get down to it, Monroe was ready to die several days before but doctors kept him alive with drugs just long enough so that he could die on the fourth of July. Why did they do that? Because the fourth of July meant something.
Calvin Coolidge was born on that day in 1872. West Point opened, July 4th 1802. Stephen Foster was born on July 4th.
The song "America" was sung for the first time on July 4th, 1832 in Boston. Alaska and Hawaii both became states on the fourth of July. Slavery was abolished in the state of New York on July the fourth 1845.
And in that great document delivered on July the 4th, 1776, we read of a belief that all people have rights given by the creator of Mankind.
The document only has 1321 words, it takes just eight minutes to read, and God is mentioned four times, twice at the beginning and twice at the end.
And the purpose of the declaration was to separate us officially from the repression and authority of England. And the very act of signing the declaration said to the world that I am a traitor to my native country of England. I am a criminal, a fugitive from London’s Justice.
Who were the men who were willing to sign? Of the 56 men who signed it two were twenty years of age, sixteen were in their thirties, twenty in their forties, eleven in their fifties, six in their sixties, and one, Benjamin Franklin, over 70.
All but two were married. Each had an average of 6 children. 24 were lawyers, 9 were merchants, 14 were farmers, 4 were doctors, and one was a preacher.
Were not talking about low life, drifters, rebels. We’re talking about educated, civilized men who were willing to sacrifice everything for a cause that they believed in. And history shows us that they paid the price for that bravery.
When Carter Braxton of Virginia, signed the Declaration of Independence, he was a wealthy planter and trader; but following his signing his ships were destroyed and to pay his debts, he lost his home and all of his property and in the end he died in rags.
Thomas McKean of Delaware was so harassed by the enemy that he was forced to move his family five times in five months. He served in Congress without pay, his family in poverty and in hiding.
Vandals looted the properties of Ellery and Clymer and Hall and Gwinnett and Walton and Hayward and Rutledge and Middleton.
Thomas Nelson, Jr. of Virginia raised two million dollars in his own name to help fund the war. After the War, he personally paid back the loans, wiping out his entire estate; he was never reimbursed by his government. And in the final battle for Yorktown, Nelson, urged General Washington to fire on Nelson’s own home, then occupied by the enemy. He died bankrupt.
Francis Lewis had his home and everything destroyed, his wife imprisoned--she died within a few months.
Richard Stockton, who signed the Declaration, was captured and mistreated, and his health mortally broken. And then his estate was pillaged.
John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside while she was dying; their thirteen children fled in all directions for their lives. His fields and gristmill were laid waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves and returned home after the War to find his wife dead, his children gone, his properties gone. He died a few weeks later of exhaustion and a broken heart.
Of the 56 signers of the Declaration, few were long to survive. Five were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.
Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured.
And though few of them benefited from their bravery, and most lost everything they owned, not one recanted his original declaration of independence. These men were courageous and valiant and brave and because of them and others, we have the privilege of being here today, and living in the greatest country in the world. We are a great nation.
As we said, today marks 228 years since our Founding Fathers gave us our national birth certificate. We continue to be the longest on-going Constitutional Republic in the history of the world and we need to understand that blessings such as these are not by chance or accidental. They are blessings of God.