The recent guest post by DVM prompted me to finally put together a short pointer and intro to what I think (as did John Adams) what was the most important writing, in fact a sermon, that got our War for Independence from Great Britain going. It was titled:
“A Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission And Non-Resistance To The Higher Powers: With some Reflections on the Resistance made to King Charles I. And On The Anniversary of his Death: The Substance of which was delivered in a SERMON preached in the West Meeting-House in Boston the LORD’S-DAY after the 30th of January, 1749|50.” (Titles were pretty long back then.)
It can be found in the book, “The Pulpit Of The American Revolution: or, the Political Sermons of the Period of 1776. With A Historical Introduction, Notes And Illustrations. By John Wingate Thornton, A.M., Boston: Gould and Lincoln, 1860.” which is available at books.google.com. I first stumbled across this treasure while while researching for a paper I was writing for law school several years ago. Strangely enough, not only has it NOT been purged by the PTB, it has even been updated since then. (My copy was digitized from the Harvard Library, and not OCR’d, not well at least.) The latest version is from The University of Michigan and appears to be fully searchable.
You can get it at books.google.com. just search for “the pulpit of the american revolution.”
With regards to the first and flagship sermon in this book, in one of John Adams’ papers he says, “…particularly a sermon, in 1750, on the 30th of January,…It was read by everybody;-celebrated by friends, and abused by enemies. (Id., at 45)
This sermon is an exegetical lesson on the text of Romans 13 – the same text that tyrants throughout the ages have attempted to use to convince churches and parishioners to bow at their feet regardless of the insane and evil dictates they tried to pile onto the people. Hitler notably used it. Our own government within the last couple years has tried to get pastors to preach their own submissionist “interpretation.”
Mayhew lays it out perfectly, along with its application to Britain’s “Glorious Revolution.”
Let’s be honest here. Our current churches are watered down, not on fire regarding the current political conditions in this Union of Sovereign States. It was not always like this, as the sermons in this book demonstrate. It took just longer than 26 years from the time this sermon was delivered until the Colonies ratified the Lee Resolution on July 2, 1776 (satisfying Colonial Law) and the subsequent publishing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 (satisfying British Law, specifically under the Magna Carta.) Generally, it took about 11 years for James Otis to renounce his position and deliver his objection to the Writs of General Assistance. (John Adams referred to him as “The Midwife to Liberty.) Five more years for the Committees of Correspondence to be conceived of. Ten more years for us to say, “enough.”
Where are we now?
Step it up pastors. Start asking questions people.
“My people perish for a lack of knowledge;” Hosea 4:6
“In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:9
I could go on for hours, waxing polemical, but I will restrain myself until a later time.
Prepare to take cover.
Note: The pastor and author of this sermon, Dr. Jonathan Mayhew, only 30 at the time he delivered the sermon, was also instrumental in our fight for independence. Dr. Mayhew suggesested to James Otis the idea of committees of correspondence in a letter dated June 8th, 1766, the text of which is printed at pages 44-45 of this book.