Continental Congress

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The Whole Earth Trembled When he Walked

Our title was the conclusion of an individual regarding Brig. General Andrew Lewis upon seeing him.  Fully six feet tall, there was a ruggedness about him that arrested every man’s opinion.  He was just the person needed to settle accounts with those native Americans who were troubling the Scot-Irish settlers in Virginia, and making it hard to not just live in this new land on their farms, but also worship the God of their fathers in colonial America.

Andrew Lewis was born in Ireland in 1720.  When he was eleven years of age, his parents, John and Margaret Lewis, came  first to  Cumberland County in Pennsylvania, and then south into the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  They were the first settlers in Augusta County, Virginia, and Presbyterian to the core.  Andrew grew up on the farm and somewhere in the 1740’s married Elizabeth, from which seven children were born over the years.  He was involved in the defense of the homeland in that he was an officer of the Augusta militia.

When the French and Indian war came, he became a captain in Col. George Washington’s regiment.  Wounded at Fort Necessity south of present day Pittsburgh  when it surrendered with Col Washington as commanding officer, he continued on after being exchanged.  Promoted to Major, he oversaw the frontier fortifications along the river of Pennsylvania and Ohio.  Against Fort Duquesne, he was captured again, and sent as a prisoner of war to Quebec, where he was not released until 1759, when he went home to Virginia.

The rising threat of war with Great Britain brought him into a position of importance again.  Assigned by the Continental Congress to protect Virginia, he was raised in rank to Brig. General.   These colonial warriors fought on two fronts.  Not only did they fight the British on the coast of Virginia, but they also fought the Indians on the west of Virginia.

In the fall of 1774, General Andrew Lewis raised the largest number of men — over one thousand militia — ever raised up to that time in American history.  Their purpose was to once and forever stop the Indian raids against American settlers during this vital period of history.   It would be no easy task.  Starting on September 11, 1774, this collection of regiments from Virginia began a forced march of over one hundred miles to the Ohio River.  In what has been billed the first battle in the American War for Independence, the great majority of troops under General Lewis were Presbyterians from congregations of the Presbytery of Hanover.  It was like the church militant going out to do battle.

The results of this battle will be told in a future devotional on October 11.  But for now, it is clear that only a fearless leader like Andrew Lewis could lead such a mighty force into the wilderness to give liberty and freedom once and for all time for the Presbyterian pastors and people of Virginia.

Words to live by:  Colonial America was very much of a trowel and sword project.  One the one hand, it was necessary to build up the land.  On the other hand, it became necessary to defend what you had started to build.  Some settlers had found it too difficult to build and fight at the same time, so they were leaving to find fertile ground closer to Philadelphia.  Pastors like Samuel Davies were calling upon them to rise up and fight the good fight of faith.  Sword and trowel; trowel and sword — both were needed in the present battle.  And Andrew Lewis was God’s man for both of these endeavors.  God continues to need leaders who will stand in the gap.  Will you offer yourself as one?

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Nothing spectacular in word

We might not have even noticed William Floyd in history had he not been in place and time a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was like countless others in the early history of our nation. From a family which had emigrated from the old country,  this time from Wales, William Floyd was born in Brookhaven, Long Island in 1734.  Despite the prominence of the parents, he received no academic education outside the home, and only the barest of education in the home. The eldest son with seven younger brothers and sisters, at age 20, he found himself as the owner of the estate of  his parents when both of them died within two months of each other.

Not interested in political matters up to the time of the American Revolution, he busied himself in military matters, even reaching that rank of Major General in the New York militia. But when the issues of separation from England were brought to the fore in the mid seventeen hundreds, he entered the political fray. His fellow Long Islanders sent him as their representative as a delegate to the Continental  Congress in 1774. Indeed, with the exception of one year when the State of New York needed his presence in state government, William Floyd represented his constituents at succeeding congresses until 1783.

Now, it is true, there were no passionate speeches which have been handed down to us in the mighty decisions of Congress with his name attached to it. But he was the first of New York representatives who signed his name and sacred honor to the Declaration of Independence. For that, we should recognize him.

Certainly the British troops recognized him as a true American, and what he had done in Philadelphia. Occupying New York City during the revolution, the troops drove  his family into exile for seven years to Connecticut. They then treated  his fine estate as a barracks for their soldiers and animals.  He was one of the signers who almost was bankrupted by their excesses. After that war was over, he was still being recognized by his friends by being sent as a delegate to the First United States Congress in 1789 – 1791.

During this whole time, he was a faithful member of the South Haven Presbyterian Church in New York. In 1802, he helped to incorporate it, even named officers.  He in turn, along with another gentleman, examined and chose four trustees, among them his son. He helped out in the next couple of years to examine those interested in joining the church membership rolls.

He moved eventually to western New York to begin again, with a new wife since his first wife  had died. At the ripe old age of eighty-seven years, he died on August 4, 1821.  He is buried in the Presbyterian cemetery.

Words to Live By:
Some Christians are not known for their extrovert personalities, but simply do God’s will quietly and faithfully.  Many believers might not even know of their presence in their congregations or organizations, but they are there nonetheless.  They are the stalwarts of the congregation, and happy is the church where they are found.  Search them out.  Get to know them.  Encourage them by your words.  And thank God for their existence.  They keep your church going in the work of the Lord.

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A Colossal Monument for a Spiritual Giant

Standing twenty feet tall and weighing thousands of pounds, and located in the nation’s second-largest city park (Fairmount Park, in Philadelphia, comprises 4,618 acres), the colossal monument to the Rev. Jonathan Witherspoon is a monument to Presbyterianism. Erected on the centennial of our nation onOctober 20, 1876, it is a beautiful work of art, as the New York Times article described it.

On the North side of the monument is a quotation from John Witherspoon.  It states, “For my own part, of prospectus I have some, of reputation more; that reputation is staked, that property is pledged on the issue of this contest.  And although these gray hairs must soon descend into the sepulchre, I would infinitely rather that should descend thither by the hand of the executioner than desert at this crisis the sacred cause of my country.”

The south side of the monument is the quotation from Leviticus 20:10 which is found on the Liberty Bell at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. It says “proclaim liberty  throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

The east side reads: “John Witherspoon, D.D., LL.D; a lineal descendant of John Knox; born in Scotland; February 5, 1722; ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church 1745; President of the College of New Jersey, 1768–94; the only clergyman in the Continental Congress; a signer of the Declaration of Independence; died at Princeton, NJ November 15, 1794″

The west side states that “this statue erected under the authority of a committee appointed by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America, July 4, 1876.”

On the bottom is the brief statement that “this pedestal is the gift of the Presbyterians in Philadelphia and vicinity.”

Its unveiling was done by D.W. Woods, Esq., a grandson of John Witherspoon, plus various ministers, the governor of New Jersey, and a representative of Princeton Theological Seminary.

Words to live by:  We remember the first act of Joshua upon crossing the Jordan River was to take twelve rocks from that water barrier and set them up on the bank.  He wanted a glorious report to the second generation about the Lord’s person and power in accomplishing the entrance into the promised land.  This was similar to the monument to John Witherspoon.  It placed the focus upon the God of providence in bringing this spiritual giant to America for such a time as then, to train ministers for the nation and a nation for the people.  God continues to work His wonders today in church and state.  Recognize them, and praise God for them.

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Presbyterians in Southwest Virginia Declare Independence from England

In September of 1774, the first Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to protest some British laws which were deemed to be injurious to the people of the American colonies. One of them had been to deem all territory north of the Ohio River to Quebec, a Roman Catholic province. With that protestation, these early risings of independence sent petitions to their British rulers, urging at the same time that the people of the colonies take action by boycotting certain British goods. All over the colonies, committees came together to discuss their collective responses to this call.

On January 20, 1775, a group of people representing southwest Virginia, met in the town of Abington, Virginia. A committee was formed, made up primarily of Presbyterians in two churches pastored by Charles Cummings. Their names deserve to be mentioned, as they were the key Presbyterian laymen of that area. They were, along with their rank, Colonel William Christian, Colonel William Preston, Captain Stephen Trigg, Major Arthur Campbell, John Montgomery, James McGavock. William Campbell, Thomas Madison, Daniel Smith, William Russell, Evan Shelby, and William Edmundson.

After discussion together, they as a body sent an address to the Second Continental Congress, soon to meet, which included the following words:

“We by no means desire to shake off our duty or allegiance to our lawful sovereign, but on the contrary, shall ever glory in being the loyal subjects of a Protestant prince descended from such illustrious progenitors, so long as we can enjoy the free exercise of our religion as Protestants and our liberties and properties as British subjects. But if no pacific measures shall be proposed or adopted by Great Britain, and our enemies will attempt to dragoon us out of those inestimable privileges which we are entitled to as subjects, and to reduce us to slavery, we declare that we are deliberately and resolutely determined never to surrender them to any power upon earth, but at the expense of our lives.”

Here was no wild-eyed statement of revolution, but rather a carefully formulated statement of subjection to lawful authority, as long as the latter did not seek to take away the rights and privileges of its citizens, and thereby make them little more than slaves. It was thought that the wording of this declaration was essentially that of Presbyterian pastor Charles Cummings.

They were sent to the Second Continental Congress as the spirit of southwest Virginia with regards to the important issues of liberty and justice for all.

Words to Live By: “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22 (ESV);

“For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.” Proverbs 24:6 (ESV)

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This Day in Presbyterian History:

The Whole Earth Trembled When he Walked

Our title was the conclusion of an individual regarding Brig. General Andrew Lewis upon seeing him.  Fully six feet tall, there was a ruggedness about him that arrested every man’s opinion.  He was just the person needed to settle accounts with those native Americans who were troubling the Scot-Irish settlers in Virginia, and making it hard to not just live in this new land on their farms, but also worship the God of their fathers in colonial America.

Andrew Lewis was born in Ireland in 1720.  When he was eleven years of age, his parents, John and Margaret Lewis, came  first to  Cumberland County in Pennsylvania, and then south into the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  They were the first settlers in Augusta County, Virginia, and Presbyterian to the core.  Andrew grew up on the farm and somewhere in the 1740’s married Elizabeth, from which seven children were born over the years.  He was involved in the defense of the homeland in that he was an officer of the Augusta militia.

When the French and Indian war came, he became a captain in Col. George Washington’s regiment.  Wounded at Fort Necessity south of present day Pittsburgh  when it surrendered with Col Washington as commanding officer, he continued on after being exchanged.  Promoted to Major, he oversaw the frontier fortifications along the river of Pennsylvania and Ohio.  Against Fort Duquesne, he was captured again, and sent as a prisoner of war to Quebec, where he was not released until 1759, when he went home to Virginia.

The rising threat of war with Great Britain brought him into a position of importance again.  Assigned by the Continental Congress to protect Virginia, he was raised in rank to Brig. General.   These colonial warriors fought on two fronts.  Not only did they fight the British on the coast of Virginia, but they also fought the Indians on the west of Virginia.

In the fall of 1774, General Andrew Lewis raised the largest number of men — over one thousand militia — ever raised up to that time in American history.  Their purpose was to once and forever stop the Indian raids against American settlers during this vital period of history.   It would be no easy task.  Starting on September 11, 1774, this collection of regiments from Virginia began a forced march of over one hundred miles to the Ohio River.  In what has been billed the first battle in the American War for Independence, the great majority of troops under General Lewis were Presbyterians from congregations of the Presbytery of Hanover.  It was like the church militant going out to do battle.

The results of this battle will be told in a future devotional on October 11.  But for now, it is clear that only a fearless leader like Andrew Lewis could lead such a mighty force into the wilderness to give liberty and freedom once and for all time for the Presbyterian pastors and people of Virginia.

Words to live by:  Colonial America was very much of a trowel and sword project.  One the one hand, it was necessary to build up the land.  On the other hand, it became necessary to defend what you had started to build.  Some settlers had found it too difficult to build and fight at the same time, so they were leaving to find fertile ground closer to Philadelphia.  Pastors like Samuel Davies were calling upon them to rise up and fight the good fight of faith.  Sword and trowel; trowel and sword — both were needed in the present battle.  And Andrew Lewis was God’s man for both of these endeavors.  God continues to need leaders who will stand in the gap.  Will you offer yourself as one?

Through the Scriptures:  Ezekiel 1 – 3

Through the Standards:  The second petition of the Lord’s Prayer as found in the Shorter Catechism

WSC 102 — “What do we pray for in the second petition?
A.  In the second petition, (which is, Thy kingdom come,) we pray, That Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed; and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced, ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it; and that the kingdom of glory may be  hastened.”

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