Happy Independence Day
On this Independence Day, we reflect on what freedom means to us as Bible-believing Presbyterians. Among all the benefits which we enjoy as Christian citizens of this nation, chief among them we know to be the freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience, as regulated by His Word, the Bible. Our freedoms are granted us, not by the government, but by the God whom we serve. May he continue to be so gracious toward us; may the judgment due our sins be averted by His mercy.
It was on this day, July 4, 1814, that the Rev. Daniel Dana delivered a sermon in commemoration of American independence. It would be difficult to present the entire sermon, but his closing words remain strikingly appropriate for us today:—
Further; let us learn the true source of national prosperity and happiness. Inspiration declares it in a word. RIGHTEOUSNESS exalteth a nation. Another lesson, it is true, has been taught in Europe. Modern philosophy, trampling on this sacred maxim, and the book which contains it, undertook to diffuse happiness among the nations, and to regenerate the world, by a system of rank atheism. The experiment has been made. And now behold the result. Read it in that scene of blood, of devastation, of varied, accumulated misery, which Europe has exhibited for more than half an age. What loud and solemn warning is thus given to the world! And how emphatically is this warning addressed to us as a people! For we have but too readily caught the contagion of European infidelity and licentiousness. As a nation, we have forsaken the God of our fathers; and He has forsaken us. We have disobeyed His voice; and He has suffered us to walk in our own infatuated counsels. We have trampled on the holy maxims and precepts of His word; and we are now reaping the bitter fruits of transgression. My hearers, if there by any hope for our agonized and bleeding country, it must spring from repentance; deep, thorough, general repentance and reformation. Without this, peace itself, should it come to us, would scarcely be a blessing. Returning prosperity would but too probably harden us in sin, and precipitate us in the downward path of ruin. Oh, shall we not, as a people, humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God? Shall we not, while His judgments are made so manifest, come and worship before Him, and glorify His name, and hallow His sabbaths, and keep His judgments, and His ordinances? Might but this be the issue of our calamities, our present despondency would vanish, and hope, like lightning in the gloom of midnight, would again cheer our disconsolate nation.
To conclude : we may see what is the only remedy for the sins and miseries of our restless world. It is the gospel. It is real Christianity. The gospel while it reconciles man to God, sets him at peace with his brother man. It subdues those turbulent passions of the soul, whence wars and contentions arise. Thus it cuts off the streams, by drying up the fountain. It inspires the dispositions of kindness, compassion, forbearance, equity and universal love. Did it every where prevail, in its purity and power, the world would be in perfect peace. Mankind would constitute one affectionate, united, happy family. Earth would resemble heaven. How inspiring the thought, that such a delightful period is promising in the infallible word; that is hastening on; and that even the darkest, direst events that pain the heart, shall help to introduce it! O come, Lord Jesus, come quickly! DESIRE OF NATIONS! Ascend thy universal throne! Sway thy resistless sceptre! Heal a bleeding world!
[excerpted from A Discourse delivered in Newburyport, July 4, 1814, in commemoration of American Independence, and of the Deliverance of Europe, by the Rev. Daniel Dana, pastor of a church in Newburyport. An original print copy of Rev. Dana’s sermon is preserved at the PCA Historical Center.]