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Posts Tagged ‘Christian Patriots’

 

“The whole meaning of history is in the proof that

there have lived people before the present time

whom it is important to meet” (1).

 

I greatly enjoy meeting the heroes of history and hope you do, too.

One such hero, a founding father of America, is remembered more for his words than his deeds–words such as:

 

“Give me liberty or give me death.”

 

His name: Patrick Henry, born May 29, 1736. (His birthday is this Sunday.)

 

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But what brought Patrick Henry to that pivotal moment in history and that immortal statement? What influence did he carry afterwards?

A bit of exploration revealed the following:

Patrick Henry’s education and faith began at home, under the guidance of his college-educated father and his namesake-uncle, an Episcopal minister. Uncle Patrick’s teaching, example, and encouragement helped instill in young Patrick the Christian virtues that would impact his entire life.

As Henry grew into manhood, he transitioned from business to law to government. He was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1765.

Soon after, Great Britain established the Stamp Act, which required almost everything printed in the American colonies to be inscribed on specially stamped paper, available only from agents of the British crown–with the payment of a hefty tax.

Henry spoke eloquently against the Stamp Act: “If this be treason, make the most of it,” he challenged. The Virginia Stamp Act Resolutions passed, and those with pro-British leanings did consider the action treasonous.

 

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In 1774, Patrick Henry was elected to the First Continental Congress. Delegates met to determine a course of action for the colonies, in response to Great Britain’s offenses: taxation without representation, searches and seizures without probable cause, confiscation of firearms, and more.

On March 23, 1775, Henry rallied the Second Virginia Convention, calling them to arms against advancing British troops. England was already at war against the colonies, he reasoned. Then Henry concluded with those famous, rousing words:

 

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(“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet

as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?

Forbid it, Almighty God!

I know not what course others may take;

but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”)

 

No doubt such eloquent and impassioned words held the delegates spellbound. But more astounding still? Henry had not prepared a speech for that day; he held no notes in his hands.

Another surprise for most of us: Henry spoke of God throughout that speech, and quoted from the Bible.  In one short paragraph, he used eight scriptural phrases.

 

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Other examples include:

  • “Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace—but there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14). The war is actually begun! 
  • “The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone” (Eccl. 9:11). 
  • “There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us” (2 Chron. 32:8).

 

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Remember, his speech was delivered with no notes. These verses and many more were imprinted in Henry’s memory.

On many occasions during the war that ensued, he encouraged the beleaguered soldiers to pray for divine intervention, reminding them that:

 

“…the same God whose power divided the Red Sea for the deliverance of Israel,

still reigns in all of his glory, unchanged and unchangeable…” (3).

 

The American Revolution officially began April 19, 1775 at the Battle of Lexington and dragged on for  eight long years.  At first, Henry served in the military, as commander-in-chief of the Virginia militia.  But in 1776, Henry shifted his attention from the military to governmental aspects of the war and the development of a new nation.

In fact, governmental affairs were to be his main focus from that time forward. Henry served five terms as governor of Virginia and as a representative in the state legislature.

Yet it was not his accomplishments that he prized most.

 

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(“Being a Christian…is a character which I prize

far above all this world has or can boast” (4).

 

After Henry’s death, this note was found, containing truth just as appropriate for today as in 1799:

 

“Whether this [the American Revolution] will prove a blessing or a curse

will depend upon the use our people make of the blessings

which a gracious God hath bestowed on us.

If they are wise, they will be great and happy.

If they are of a contrary character, they will be miserable.

Righteousness alone can exalt them as a nation [Proverbs 14:34].

Reader! – whoever thou art, remember this! –

and in thy sphere practice virtue thyself and encourage it in others.

–P. Henry” (5).

 

Patrick Henry certainly practiced Christian virtue himself, and is still encouraging it—in those who will listen.

 

Notes:

(1) Eugene Rosenstock Huessy, Speech and Reality, Argo Books, 1970, p. 167.

(2) The Founders’ Bible, p. 1734

3) http://www.christianhistorysociety.com

(4) www.faithofourfathers.net

(5) The Founders’ Bible, p. 957

 

Sources:

www.christianhistorysociety.com

www.faithofourfathers.net

The Founders’ Bible, Shiloh Road Publishers, 2012

www.patrickhenrycenter.com

www.wallbuilders.com

 

Art credits:  www.wikitree.com; http://www.thinkershirts.com; http://www.patriotpost.us; ce-wiki.wikispaces.com; http://www.azquotes.com http://www.thefederalistpapers.org.)

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(In honor of the beginning of another school year)

Have you ever tackled a long-term project that lasted five or ten years? How about twenty years?

And as part of that undertaking, did you learn twenty-eight languages?

Few if any of us could answer yes to those questions. But at least one person of history could: Noah Webster (1758-1843).

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Webster was a student at Yale during the Revolution. But he left school twice to fight in battle. Upon graduation he became an attorney and a schoolteacher. It was the latter position that prompted him to write textbooks for many disciplines, including: spelling, grammar, history, geography, government, agriculture, economics, meteorology, medicine, zoology, and morality. (Whew!) He earned the title, “Schoolmaster of America”, as a result of advancing education in the fledgling country.

And then, of course, there is his iconic dictionary, the project that took twenty years to complete. As part of his research for that volume, he learned the twenty-eight languages mentioned above, including Anglo-Saxon and Sanskrit. Webster also traveled to England and France in order to access ancient works in their libraries that were not available in America.

Once completed, Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language contained 70,000 words. Not only were the etymology, pronunciations, and definitions included for every word, he added a sample sentence of how each word should be properly used.   Many of his examples came from the Bible.

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Webster also dedicated the work to God: “To that great and benevolent Being…who has sustained me…and given me strength and resolution.”

As if all those textbooks and a meticulously researched dictionary weren’t enough for one lifetime, Noah tackled yet another project, a modern-language Bible. This volume he was able to complete in just five years, taking advantage of all he had learned about words while developing the dictionary.

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Why did Webster feel another translation of the Bible was warranted? He explained in the preface to his Common Version of the Holy Bible (1833):

 

“The Bible is the chief moral cause of all that is good and the best

corrector of all that is evil in human society—the best book for

regulating the temporal concerns of men and the only book that

can serve as an infallible guide to future felicity [happiness].”

 

No doubt there are many who would refute those remarks by saying, “That’s just one man’s opinion.”

But when, for example, the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule are applied, who can argue that society does not benefit?

Noah Webster also credited Christian principles for the civil liberties enjoyed in the world:

 

“Almost all the civil liberty now enjoyed in the world owes its

origin to the principles of the Christian religion…the religion

which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and

His apostles, which enjoins humility, piety, and benevolence;

which acknowledges in every person a brother, or a sister, and

a citizen with equal rights. This is genuine Christianity, and to

this we owe our free constitutions of government.”

(from Webster’s History of the United States, 1832)

 

Again, can it be argued that a religion which encourages humility, piety, benevolence, fairness and equality is bad for society?

It is for these reasons Webster believed that a Christian education was beneficial:

 

Any system of education…which limits instruction to the arts

and sciences and rejects the aids of religion in forming the

characters of citizens, is essentially defective. In my view, the

Christian religion is the most important and one of the first

things in which all children under a free government ought

to be instructed.”

(from a letter to David McClure, October 25, 1836)

 

Webster also gave this advice to civic students which is appropriate for every citizen:

 

When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for

pubic officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God

commands you to choose for rulers just men who will rule in

the fear of God (Exodus 18:21).

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If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men

in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be

made not for the public good so much as for selfish or local

purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to

execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on

unworthy men; the rights of the citizens will be violated or

disregarded. 

(from The History of the United States, “Advice to the Young”)

 As we begin the countdown to Election Day, 2016, I find Noah Webster’s advice to be just as applicable today as it was then.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.biography.com; http://www.wikipedia.org; http://www.baumanrarebook.com; http://www.buzzquotes.com.)

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