This week, we celebrate the 240th birth day of our Constitutional Republic. Our founders laid down the immutable principles for the foundation of our civil government in that great document we call the Unanimous Declaration of Independence. It was a document of secession; many are surprised to hear that, but that’s what it was: they were seceding from the government of Great Britain, separating to form a new country and a new civil government.
Was it in honor of our secession that the Brits last week voted to secede from the European Union? Probably not. What was in play, however, was the clear understanding of the God-given right of self determination, the right of self government, and the principle that civil government justly only obtains any power at all by the consent of the governed. If the governed no longer consent, that is the end of that civil government. The Brits had every right to determine whether or not to remain in the EU. And all the other countries still in EU also have the same right to secede. In fact, some are saying the decision will result in another vote in Scotland to secede from England.
When the thirteen colonies of Great Britain in North America said that the king was not fit to be the ruler of a free people and declared their independence from his government, the British government over those thirteen colonies ceased to exist. They seceded and formed a new civil government which they designed to secure the God given rights of the people who had formerly been under the government of the king.
When we consider the tenor and mood of America today, many are sick and tired of Washington, D.C. and perhaps ready to consider seceding from Washington altogether. We have a government more venial and abusive than that of King George III. But the important question is could that be accomplished? Are there leaders with the character and fortitude of our Founders ready to step up to the plate?
I would like to explore just one of those essential character traits possessed by our Founders that must be revived in any leadership in America today that will lead us out of the tyranny of Washington, D.C. and on to restore the land of liberty that was America; that trait is a heart of gratitude to God.
The Children of Israel were instructed to offer bread as perpetual offering of thanksgiving to God for His provision, manna in the wilderness. The people of God appropriately thank God continually for the provision for all their needs.
This is one of the essential traits of a free people: they acknowledge continually that God is their provider. They know that everything they have, everything that meets their daily needs, comes from the hand of God. Now our Founders not only understood this, they strongly encouraged the whole nation to follow suit with a heart of gratitude to God. Consider what President Washington wrote just one week after Congress approved the Bill of Rights. Look carefully at this; here is what President Washington considered to be appropriate in light of the just-approved First Amendment. Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789:
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord 1789.
They knew God had brought our country into existence and that we were dependent upon Him alone for continued blessing and prosperity. They did not take the generosity of God for granted. And that was the purpose of the show bread offered perpetually to the Lord, to never take God’s goodness, kindness and generosity for granted.
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