By: J.L. Boruff
”For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the diving providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” Ending of the Declaration of Independence
Fifty-six men took up a quill and put their names to a document that would surely place their lives, their families lives in danger. Each man was as varied in his life as the next, lawyers, merchants, farmers, jurists, and doctors. Some were highly educated, some had studied abroad, some were self taught, some had only a basic education. Some were wealthy, some very much so, others were of meager means. They mostly enjoyed the security being a subject of the British Crown could bring, but their hearts yearned for something more… liberty. To this end, they drafted one of the most famous documents in history. A declaration of freedom, of independence, a declaration that declared they would be the be the masters of their own life.
On July 2, Thomas Jefferson and the other four men of the committee appointed to the idea of colonial independence introduced a 1,300 word document expressing the cause of freedom. It would take two days to vote and make a few edits, so finally, on July 4th it was finalized and approved. Copies were then made and in August the signers would finally put quill to paper.
While the first section of the declaration is the most known, the ending carried with it a promise to each man standing there that day. They mutually pledged to give their lives, their fortunes, and most importantly their sacred honor. They could not know at the time how costly that pledge would be.
Nine of those men would die during the war. Twelve would have their homes ransacked and burned. Two had their sons captured, two lost their sons serving in the Revolution. Several lost wives, a few their entire families, with one losing all thirteen of his children. Two had wives endure brutal captivity, dying soon after from their ordeal. All would be sought out and driven from their homes, victims of continual manhunts. Seventeen would lose everything they owned. Some spent their entire fortunes equipping and feeding volunteers or on medical supplies to treat them. A few were captured themselves by the British, and with their names being known were subjected to terrible inflections, with one dying soon after his release.
Yet not one would defect or went back on the pledge they had made. One man, with a note in his hand offering the release of his son if he would simply pledge loyalty to the British Crown, looked up with tears in his eyes and responded with a resolute NO. 6,800 Americans died fighting for freedom in battle, another 17,000 would die of disease, an additional 6,100 were wounded. Freedom doesn’t come cheaply.
In the United States, we enjoy the freedoms these men envisioned as unalienable rights given by nature’s God all those years ago. How often do we take what they sacrificed so much for for granted? Each and every Sunday that we gather to worship, without fear or dread of being discovered as we are guaranteed the right to assemble, the right to worship in the 1st Amendment in the Constitution.
Freedom isn’t free, it comes with cost, it comes with hardship and pain. Not only in this natural world, but in the spiritual as well. The gulf of sin that separated fallen man and our Holy Righteous God was full of grief and despair. Chains of bondage, yokes of strife were lain upon each of us, and under its weight we struggled. Then came Jesus.
The Lord, looking out over the balcony of space, looking through the expanse of time and saw you, He saw me, our fathers, our children, all collapsing under the burned of sin. And He was moved with compassion, moved by mercy, by a great love we can truly never understand. And He knew that we could not reach out, across the great gulf of wickedness and reach Him, so He reached out unto us.
He came to earth, denigrated Himself to the folly of man, lived as we lived, felt what we felt, subjected Himself to pain, torment, and death in order to offer hope to you and me. The blood He shed on the cross still flows to this day, it still heals, it still saves, it still makes us new in His eyes, frees us from the shackles of sin and shame. The Blood gives liberty to all who are baptized in Jesus Name.
And to you, my brother and sister, it is new every morning. Every morning when Satan and the world renew their attacks against our minds, our hearts, our homes, there is mercy, grace, and strength to make it through. As the old song says, it reaches the highest mountain and flows to the lowest valleys, it will NEVER LOSE its Power! As the day of our Lord’s return approaches we can be sure of two things, the devils unrelenting attack and of the Power of the Blood of The Lamb! And the latter is always enough to overcome the former.
We are in a desperate battle against the forces of evil, reaching out the lost and dying in bondage of sin and strife. We fight everyday to reach a soul bound for hell. It can be weary at times, spiritually and mentally draining, but it is a fight worth fighting! It is His Will that none should perish, it’s our mandate to His Will.
On July 2, 1863, men once again fought over the cause of freedom. This time it was an army of men out to set others free. The Civil War began as a war over states rights, but morphed into a higher cause, the issue of slavery. And so, the Army of the Potomac found itself in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania fighting against the Army of Northern Virginia. Colonel Joshua Chamberlain found himself and his 20th Maine Regiment on the extreme left of the Union line, on a hill called Little Round Top.
386 men, weary from rushing to the battlefield under an unbearably hot summer sun stood and watched as down the line the battle erupted. Colonel Chamberlain had been given the order he was not to withdraw from his position as it was the last in line and the army would be placed in jeopardy. What he could not have know at the time was that had the army been defeated that day, there was no army between the enemy and Washington D.C. The war may have been forced to end with the South becoming a separate county and the slaves therein still in chains.
Hold to the last, he was told, and as a professor of rhetoric he thought the last what? Last man? Last bullet? Last breath? Soon, the sounds of the battle raging reached him and his men, as brigade after brigade tried to envelop them up the steep hill. One and a half hours later, with ammunition exhausted and many dead or dying he was faced with an almost impossible choice. He could stay but couldn’t shoot and be overwhelmed, or he could retreat, saving those still alive under his command but endangering thousands of other soldiers down the line. As he pondering, the enemy again began making their way up the steep slope littered with dead.
Finally, a solution came to his mind and drawing his sword bellowed out “Fix Bayonets!”. As soldiers looking on in amazement he quickly gave order to the captains, lieutenants, and sergeants to ready the men to charge. Exhausted, the men stood, fixed bayonets to their empty rifles, formed a line and with a shout charged down the hill. One regiment, scarcely 200 men ran downhill towards at least four enemy regiments.
The charge, famous now, broke the back of the attack, the enemy units already weary from the multiple attempts to climb the hill lost heart at the sight of the charging men in blue and broke. The 20th men, with no ammunition, many wounded, ended the attack. The next day the Union army won a victory and two years later, won the war, ending the scourge of slavery in this nation. They won the freedom of millions in chains and bondage. Over 600,000 causalities were injured in the Civil War, freedom never comes cheap.
The battle is never easy, the fighting hard, and we all carry a scar of wounds received in this war of freedom. There will be days when it seems Heaven is millions of miles away, that you are alone, and you are surrounded. But as Job describes: ”Behold, I go forward, but He is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive Him. On the left hand, where He doth work, but I cannot behold Him: He hideth Himself on the right hand, that I cannot see Him. But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:8-10, KJV). Keep up the fight, I pray you today, wield sword and shield against the tormentor of your soul knowing that ”… The Lord, He it is that doth go before thee; He will be with thee, He will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8, KJV)
The Lord Himself is with us, has gone before us into battle, He will always reign victorious, so we have no need to fear or fret. If God be for us, who can be against us? Now is the time, to set the line in the sand, to stand and declare the cause of freedom, to stand with your brother and sister, shoulder to shoulder and fight, with one mind and one accord, to seek and save every person we can reach.
As the Founders signed their name to that document, they could have never imagined the hardship they would face in the cause of freedom, and yet when each found themselves in desperate situations, their honor kept the promise made on that day, they found the strength to go on, as freedom to them was worth the fight. It is still worth fighting for, for ourselves and for others. The struggles the saints of God endure are worth it when we bring the news of Jesus to others, breaking the bonds of sin and setting them free.
The cause of freedom, the idea of liberty, was found to be worth sacrificing for, worth dying for, how much more so is spiritual freedom? Liberty of the mind from depression and anxiety? Freedom from guilt and shame? Is the struggle of being a light unto the world still worth your life, your fortunes, your honor? I say yea.
And so, as we celebrate this season, this month of July that we rejoice at those that thought the cause of freedom worth fighting for, I pledge to you, my fellow soldiers of the Cross, my life, my fortune, and my most sacred honor.