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Cost Of Liberty!
Eighty-seven years after the Declaration of Independence was signed, Abraham Lincoln looked out
over the battlefield at Gettysburg, and reflected on the cost of liberty.
"It is for the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they, who fought here,
have thus far so nobly advanced... the cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here,
so highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain."
In 1776, the colonist were declaring their independence from a tyrannical British government.
They were dedicated to the proposition that "all men are created equal."
These colonist made this pledge:
"We mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."
These men did not make this pledge, lightly.
They had much to lose.
56 men signed the pledge risking everything, and they paid the price.
- They were 56 of our finest, well educated, influential, and wealthy.
- Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists.
- Eleven were merchants.
- Nine were farmers and owners of large plantations.
Out of the 56 very few survived.
- Carter Braxton, of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas.
To pay his debts, he lost his home and all his properties.
- Thomas Mckean, of Delaware, was so harassed by the enemy that he was forced to move his family
five times in five months.
He served in Congress without pay.
His family lived in poverty and in hiding.
- Thomas Nelson, of Virginia, raised $2 million on his own signature for provisions to our allies for the cause of freedom.
After the war, he personally paid back the loans, wiping out his entire state.
He was never reimbursed by his government.
He died bankrupt.
- Francis Lewis had his home and belongings destroyed, and his wife imprisoned.
She died within a few months.
"It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here
- Five were captured by the British and tortured before they died.
- Twelve had their homes sacked, looted, occupied by the enemy; or burned.
- Two lost their sons in the army.
- One had two sons captured.
- Nine of the 56 died in the war, either from its hardships or its more merciful bullets.
have thus far so nobly advanced."
The work is still unfinished.
There are many similarities between the struggle of our nation and the kingdom of heaven.
It is not surprising that the similarities would occur, for our nation took as the foundation charter of its existence
those great divine truths that emanate from the heavenly kingdom: honor, justice, compassion,
and the respect for human dignity -- just to name a few.
Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams, originally proposed that the American experience be pictured
on the Great Seal by a scene of Moses crossing the Red Sea.
With God's help, Moses had led the people of Israel from slavery to freedom.
Our founding fathers believed they (like Israel) were going into the wilderness to claim a promised land,
flowing with milk and honey, given by God.
Benjamin Franklin commented as this new experiment began:
"I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth,
that God rules in the affairs of men..."
With God as their guide, and with hearts full of gratitude, our founding fathers opened their arms to the outcasts of the world.
God's kingdom is like that.
It beckons to the people of all nations and ages saying,
"Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
(Matthew 11: 28-30)
I thank God for our nation.
I'm proud of our nation.
I stand in awe of the sacrifices that our founding fathers made.
William Arthur Ward expressed it better:
"I believe in America.
I believe it became great because of its faith in God,
its hope for independence, and its love for freedom.
I am not ashamed to take my head off and to stand at attention when Old Glory passes by.
I do not apologize for the lump in my throat when I repeat the Pledge of Allegiance.
I am not embarrassed by the tears in my eyes when I hear the Star Spangled Banner."
We need old-fashioned Americans with a new-found determination to do their part to make democracy work.
As concerned as I am about our nation, I am more concerned and committed to a kingdom
that "is not of this world," whose head is Jesus Christ.
Commit your lives, your fortunes, and your sacred honor to the greatest cause of all -- helping the lost
and helpless millions to place their hope in Jesus Christ.
This is a hope that will allow them to enter a heavenly kingdom where they can rest from their labors.
Give yourselves fully to the unfinished task of sharing the good news.
Be prepared to give the last full measure of devotion so that those who have gone before us shall not have died in vain.
I believe that it will take that kind of Christian commitment to keep our nation free and true to the principles
of our founding fathers.
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at hleewhite@AOL.com