Fourth of July, 2017

It is the Fourth of July, 2017.

It is a warm, clear, sunny day. Earlier, sitting outside on the wooden stairway landing, I read the Declaration of Independence out loud. It is a tradition I started a few years ago. I’ve noticed that each year I have a different reaction to those potent, destiny-shaping words.

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“We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled…”

Can you imagine what it would have been like, to BE one of those people? REPRESENTING such a powerful, permanent thrust of history? What if it had been you, in solidarity with those 55 other brave compatriots, choosing to place your signature on the Declaration of Independence? In doing so, you would no longer be just you. The very fabric of your life would be forever transformed. Within your actions, your words – indeed your very presence! anywhere! – would pulsate the glory & destiny of a nation.

I believe that those who chose this path in 1776, were given an opportunity like none other. It staggers me, to try to grasp it.

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“For this cause we faint not…for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory…”   (2 Corinthians 4:16,17)

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I believe that the spirit of this Word lived within our founding patriots & warriors, whether they knew it or not.

GLORY BE TO GOD!

God bless America.

 

God in America

More than just a Signature

Have you ever heard of Francis Lewis?  Does the name Abraham Clark ring a bell?  How about John Hart?

Some of you may have guessed that these are the names of three of the men who, along with 53 others, signed that most historic of all documents, the Declaration of Independence.  But do you know their stories?  In fact, do you know anything about any of those men who pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor for the cause of freedom?  We all know about Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, but the majority of these forefathers of ours remain in obscurity for most of us, I imagine.

This shouldn’t be.

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I believe with all my heart that those Founding Fathers with whom we are all familiar were destined by God Himself to be our Founding Fathers.  I also believe that each of the 56 men who signed our Declaration of Independence were brought forth for that ultimate purpose.  America was not a coincidence, not just the result of a sequence of events.

A man who became known as “one of New York City’s leading radicals” in the Revolutionary cause began his life as a preacher’s son in Wales.  How did the young Welshman Francis Lewis, born across the ocean and educated in Scotland & London, become a founding member of the Sons of Liberty and a signatory of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America?

 “…for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me…calling…the man that executes my counsel from a far country…” (Isaiah 46: 9, 11)

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A man who involves himself in the forging of a nation, whose heart and passion compel him to break away from safety and ‘security’ to answer the call of liberty, must be a man of a certain character. Certain circumstances in a person’s life can build such

Francis Lewis, Signer of the Declaration of Independence

a character.  It is significant to me that both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, men extraordinaire, lost their fathers at an early age.  They grew up without the supporting structure of a fully-orbed family, and I would surmise developed leadership qualities that may not have otherwise become a part of their personalities. The willingness to risk and to assume responsibility would be indispensable elements in a founding father.  The loss of one’s earthly father early in life could surely contribute to the development of those characteristics.

Francis Lewis was an orphan by the age of 5.  Records do not appear to indicate just how he lost both parents so young, but he did, and thus entered the ranks of those stellar Founding Fathers who possibly led the way because they had lost their own father early in life.

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Lewis was brought up by an unmarried aunt, who “saw to it that he studied in Scotland…and later attended the prestigious Westminster School in London.”  Lewis’ interests led him into the field of mercantile pursuits, and eventually he established himself as an independent businessman.  A property inheritance from his deceased father,  converted to merchandise, made it possible for Francis to travel to New York & Philadelphia, where he set up shop around 1735.

(I cannot help but think that, tragic as it would’ve been for a 5-year-old boy to become fatherless, because of that, Francis inherited the means that brought him from Wales to American shores.  Because he was here, events continued to transpire in his life that brought him to that point where, quill poised above parchment, he pledged life, fortune and honor to the Revolutionary cause.)

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Over time, Lewis expanded his business to include foreign trade endeavors, making several trans-Atlantic trading voyages to ports in Europe & Africa.  Though not without setbacks, Lewis’ business prospered to the extent that he retired at age 52, in 1761.  By the time he signed the Declaration of Independence, his estimated wealth ranked him fifth among its signers  (Encyclopedia of American Wealth). Again, because he was brought here, events continued to transpire in his life that brought him to that point where “…the wealth that he had acquired was freely expended in the service of his country.”  (Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence)  Lewis’ success in his prior business dealings served the American Revolution well.

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“…in the procurement field, the supply chiefs relied upon the experience and the knowledge of the colonial merchants.”

When those first shots were fired at Lexington & Concord in April, 1775, the colonies did not have in place the systems, organization nor personnel to wage a victorious war.  Initially, those colonists who fought for our freedom from Great Britain were militia men, not actual army recruits. In a military endeavor of such impending magnitude, it was imperative that the various New England  states begin raising armies.  They did, evolving them from their respective militias.  By June, the volunteer army that resulted was reinforced by ten rifle companies (from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware & Virginia), provided by the Continental Congress, which assumed leadership.  The Continental Army was born.

The importance of both men and supplies in military operations is a given; any leader worthy of that title would certainly know this.  But it is suggested that few envisioned such protracted Revolutionary battles, and as a result colonial leaders did not appreciate{d} the scope of the support required by an army.”  And because militia usually provided their own food, clothing & weapons where possible, there existed a lack of practical experience with supply agencies among this new army’s leadership.

“Of particular importance to supply were two committees established in the fall of 1775…Congress created a Secret Committee of nine members.”  This committee was concerned with procuring supplies abroad and obtaining foreign aid.

Francis Lewis was a member of that Secret Committee.

As a member of the Secret Committee, he worked to procure clothing for uniforms, arms & ammunition, and food supplies for the colonists.  “…most, if not all, of their purchasing deputies were merchants. The merchant alone had the knowledge, the trade connections, and the necessary credit to handle procurement. For the most part, his business was a personal venture in which he utilized his personal connections and took advantage of the mutual patronage they afforded him.”  The U.S Army Center of Military History reports that merchants such as Francis Lewis “…utilized their own credit to obtain supplies and incurred debts for which they were personally liable”, serving as shipper, banker, wholesaler, retailer, warehouseman, and insurer.  Records found on the Library of Congress’ website show even the casual reader how involved Francis Lewis was, and what meticulous detail he employed in his commitment to the Revolutionary cause.

(Quotes from the above & below section taken from The U.S Army Center of Military History ) 

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I go into the details that I have, concerning the issues of supplying the Continental Army and Francis Lewis’ involvement in it, because:

“Without the foreign aid secured by these committees, however, the supply services could not have provided enough support to keep the Continental Army in the field, nor could the Revolutionary War have been brought to a successful conclusion.”

Without patriots such as Francis Lewis, the colonies wouldn’t have made it.  You & I sit here reading this article today because a Francis Lewis pledged his talents and fortune, and indeed risked being hanged as a traitor, to wrestle our liberty from the jaws of the lion.

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But Mr. Lewis’ story doesn’t stop here…I’m not quite done with him yet, there’s a bit more to tell…

I mentioned earlier that I believe the signers of the Declaration of Independence were destined by God to be the signers.  It is my contention that if you are destined for something, no force in heaven or on earth, nor under the earth! can stop you from achieving it.

But that doesn’t mean certain forces won’t try!  They may attempt to wreak their havoc through various means, from just plain nuisances to life-threatening plots, but they won’t succeed.  In Mr. Lewis’ case, there were several attempts made:  a) during the course of his trans-Atlantic business trips prior to his Revolutionary War involvement, Lewis “…twice suffered shipwreck off the Irish coast.” (ColonialHall.com)   b) prior to his joining the Revolutionary cause, Lewis (as a Welshman & a merchant in the colonies) served the British forces during the French & Indian War by functioning as a supply agent. He was at Fort Oswego in the summer of 1756, conducting business, when the fort was attacked by the French.  During the battle, the British commander Colonel Mersey was killed.  Lewis was standing right next to him.*  And c) to add fuel to the fire, when the fort was surrendered to the French, though humane treatment was promised, its commander General de Montcalm allowed the Indians to take 30 prisoners.  Guess who was one of them…

Things were not looking good for Francis Lewis, were they?  It wasn’t until 1763 – seven years later – that Lewis  was finally returned home to America.

* (George Washington had a similar experience.)  

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In this world, the devil certainly seems to have power.  Up to a point.  But in the final outcome, God trumps all.  Though Lewis was held prisoner by the Indians and later the French, when he was released, the British government awarded him 5000 acres of land in New York as compensation for those lost years.  As a result of this property acquirement, Lewis was able to re-establish his businesses, making “a large fortune” – which, as earlier stated, served the American Revolution well.

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Though a Welshman when he arrived in New York City in 1734, Francis Lewis’ loyalties were eventually turned to the American cause of  independence from Great Britain by the issue of taxation without representation.  His retirement in 1761 left him free to become active in public life.  He was present at the Stamp Act Congress in 1765, a founding member of the Sons of Liberty, and a member of the Committee of Fifty-One in New York.  He served in establishing New York’s new government, and was elected their delegate in both the First & Second Continental Congresses.

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Though Lewis himself did not physically fight in the war nor suffer loss of limb, in a sense, he lost his wife to the Revolutionary War.

In late summer,1776, after brutally pillaging his home, British forces took her captive.  It is said that she was already in poor health at that time (Snopes),  and records indicate she was abused and ill-treated in prison.  Though General Washington intervened and effected her release after several months, Elizabeth Lewis never fully recovered.  In June, 1779, she passed from this earth.

Lewis lived another 24 years as a widower.  He died in 1803.

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“…the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God…”

These terms – ‘the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God’ – made their first appearance in The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America – our Declaration of Independence – in its opening words.  “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them to another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal stations to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…”  Accordingly, it would follow that all else contained within this document, and any other document based on or springing from this Declaration, would be built upon & around these foundational realities.

So a problem arises if one doesn’t really believe that such a concept as ‘Laws of Nature’ is in fact a reality. Or if it is a reality, but not such a priority that an entire new nation & system of government should revolve around it!

When I first embarked upon my journey into the Founding of America, those words troubled me. Only vaguely, and not enough to search out further answers, but…my knowledge of the Scriptures and spiritual reality, seemed to contradict what the greatest document in American history, and possibly the history of the world, clearly espoused without question. Because other strong evidences pointed to the hand of God in America’s founding just as clearly, I disregarded these troubling apparent contradictions. For me, the one outweighed the other. But it would be so much better if I could find a resolution to this dilemma.

My previous understanding of the ‘laws of nature’ was determined by the Biblical concept of natural versus spiritual. Scripture speaks of the natural man in terms that are not exactly glowing, and clearly juxtapositions him against that far more desirable state, the spiritual man. The very unlovely  ‘works of the flesh’ (Galatians 5:19) fall into this ‘natural man’ category listing, and they only get worse, spiraling downward. So you can see why my impression of the ‘laws of nature’ left me wary. And if the Declaration of Independence was founded on such, then…could I truly be in agreement with it? Were some parts of it antithetical to my Christian faith?

Well…Scripture shares with us the concepts of the ‘letter of the law’ as opposed to the ‘spirit of the law’. We are informed that the letter kills, but the spirit gives life. One trumps the other. I have wondered if perhaps this ‘laws of nature’ idea somehow could be resolved within such a framework. But my musings are just that, my musings, and I’ve needed weightier, far more authoritative & definitive answers.

Enter Marcus Tullius Cicero.

Although I knew in a general way that our Founders drew from the theories of ancient Roman & Greek philosophers, orators, and statesmen, etc., in forming our republic, that was all I knew. I may have been reluctant to delve into such historical background, viewing such times & cultures as heathen, and not knowing how to ‘come to terms’ with such facts. Regardless, Marcus Tullius Cicero was considered to be our Founding Fathers’ favorite expositor of Natural Law. And as I’ve begun to learn from Cicero’s perspective about this Natural Law, I’ve found that I need to do a complete 180, as the saying goes. Natural Law turns out to be the exact opposite of what I thought it was!

Cicero was born and died before Christ appeared on the earth. He did not sit at the feet of Jesus, nor learn of such things as were taught or performed by Him. Born in a small town about 60 miles southeast of Rome, Cicero was brought up in a society that has been considered ‘pagan’. Yet even so, during the course of his life, Cicero’s contemplations & observations led him beyond the veil of visible phenomena to see “the brilliant intelligence of a supreme Designer with an ongoing interest in both human and cosmic affairs.” (W. Cleon Skousen, The 5000 Year Leap). The heavens declare the glory of God…day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. (Psalm 19, v.1-2) Marcus Tullius Cicero was given to see and hear these things. God causes the light to shine out of darkness.

Having established in his own thinking the reality of a Creator, Cicero also established a belief in a system of laws set in place by that Creator. In Book Two of his landmark work de Legibus (Latin: On the laws) Cicero writes that law does not, and cannot, begin with men. Men are rather the instruments of a higher wisdom which governs the entire earth. That wisdom, inherent within the Creator, dwells within His laws, laws that would produce & insure the best quality of life possible on earth, in every area, from individual relationships to national government. According to W. Cleon Skousen (mentioned above), Cicero concluded “The Creator’s order of things is called Natural Law”.

Our Founders concurred.

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“As all the ages of the world have not produced a greater statesman and philosopher united than Cicero, his authority should have great weight.”- John Adams ( Mortimer N. S. Sellers, American republicanism: Roman Ideology in the United States )

Thomas Jefferson, in an 1825 letter to Henry Lee, named Cicero as a major figure shaping American understanding of “the common sense” basis for the right of revolution, and as a contributor to the tradition “of public right” that informed his draft of the Declaration of Independence. (Morton Frisch and Richard Stevens,eds., The Political Thought of American Statesmen)

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“…to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal stations to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…”

Knowing now the sure foundation upon which our Declaration of Independence was framed, and the entire American experiment, way of life & government has been built, has stunned me. Somehow, everything has become more real. If ever I believed that the hand of God has always been at work in the birthing & existence of America, I believe it even more so now. I believe it with complete abandon.

Marcus Tullius Cicero, way before our time and yet, a powerful voice from that past which has had more influence on your life & my life today then we ever knew. Perhaps just as Cyrus, heathen king of ancient Persia, was stirred up by God to build Him a house (2 Chronicles 22, 23), so Cicero was stirred to be a mouthpiece for the Lord, declaring His existence & laws to a foreign land, and pointing to the glory of a  society yet to come, based on those laws.

Independence Day, 2009….by His grace!

“…My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.” (Luke 1: 46,47, KJV)

As Americans across the nation, from purple mountains’ majesty to the congested streets of New York City, celebrate the Fourth of July, as indeed peoples from countries worldwide know of this our great commemoration of freedom, I find myself moved by this freedom as never before in my life.


How precious is our liberty.


How can that which is purchased by blood be anything less? What can compare to freedom?

How great our God, He who designed this plan and He who also brought it to pass. He, the firstfruits, and now we, the favored ones who daily partake of that which has been provided for us. It is true, we yet fight for freedom on foreign soil. But we did not have to fight in that unprecedented American revolution that necessitated the drafting and signing of our Declaration of Independence on this day, two hundred and thirty-three years ago. We, my friends, are the heirs to Liberty! We have been born with that silver spoon in our mouths!

Are we worthy? Only because He has so declared it. More and more, I marvel, why did God place me in the great United States of America? Who am I, or, as King David so eloquently wrote in the Psalms, What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? It is essentially the same question I ask. My only answer dwells in God’s sovereignty, and His Word. He hath done, and He hath said, Amen.

“..this ball of liberty…will roll around the globe…for light and liberty go together. It is our glory that we first put it into motion.” ( Thomas Jefferson, June 1795 )


God bless America.


My fellow Americans, may your Independence Day be a favored one.

Independence Evolving

“When in the Course of human events…”

I cannot imagine a time when the reading or hearing of these opening words to the Declaration of Independence will not profoundly thrill me. Over two centuries later, they are still pregnant with the promise of destiny. Though our destiny has been realized and the United States of America have long since “assume[d]…among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station…to which Nature’s God entitle them”, my heart beats faster, my breath catches as I read these poignant seven words. Solemn decision resonates within them. Having cast the die, there would be no turning back, and so our forefathers “pledge[d] to each other [their] Lives,…Fortunes and…sacred Honor.”

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“We hold these truths to be self-evident…”

Truth is powerful. It can speak for itself, by its presence, without words, without sound. It is its own witness. Before even being listed, you know that what is coming here is True, and Right. Your spirit stands at attention, ready to embrace, ready to rejoice…! I thank God for His Faithful and True Witness.

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These thoughts, and others to come, on the unparallelled document of Destiny, our Declaration of Independence, were prompted by the beginnings of my research on its author, my next post subject, Thomas Jefferson. Having learned through my previous readings of the ultimate animosity which severely separated Washington and Jefferson, I am now hungry to learn more about the third President of the United States of America. I want to see, through his eyes, how such a thing evolved. How could comrades-in-arms, so to speak, men who pledged their all to one another in the cause of freedom, the spilling of their own blood if necessary, arrive at such an ugly parting of ways?

This and other aspects of Jefferson’s life will become the next object of my hopefully revealing posts. Coming soon, we will be ‘Moving on to Thomas Jefferson’…



Freedom is Not Free…and, some Background

It is generally known, I think, that freedom does not come without a fight…on any level. There is not just one battle, either. The adversary will not give in easily, and though defeated once, will return to oppose and vanquish, if possible. George Washington foresaw that eventuality when, in 1774, he declared that a war with Great Britain would result in the spilling of more blood than had yet to be seen in North American history.

The extraordinary and compelling language of the Declaration of Independence outlines the “long train of abuses and usurpations” that were perpetrated by the King of England on the American colonies, abuses intending to “reduce (the colonies) under absolute despotism”. Not remembering much from grade school history (!), I am staggered upon reading this list of unrelenting oppression against a young America.

One of the final incidents leading to the outright armed conflict of the Revolutionary War was the English response to the famous ‘Boston Tea Party’. Protesting taxation on the tea, 15,000 pounds of it were dumped into Boston harbor by a group of colonists disguised as Indians, in December of 1773. British Parliament reacted with the passing of four laws that became known among American citizens as the Intolerable Acts, affecting their commerce, territory, and government. King George III at that time made a solemn pronouncement: “The die is now cast; the colonies must either submit or triumph.”

One of these laws called for the closing of the port of Boston, and the enforcement of that law was guaranteed by the presence of British warships. An elected member of the House of Burgesses, George Washington voted with the other burgesses declaring this act to be a hostile invasion of Boston. Shortly thereafter, delegates from all the colonies convened for the first Continental Congress,in May of 1774.

George Washington was elected as a representative for the state of Virginia, and later that year, he was made field officer for the Virginia militia.

On April 19, 1775, the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired at Lexington Green, Massachusetts. It is astonishing to me that we were outnumbered almost ten to one that fateful day. Seven hundred British soldiers! against about seventy-seven of Paul Revere’s Minute Men…what a threat we were to them! What a threat the spirit of Liberty is to all those who desperately need to control!

Thank you so much for stopping by……Christina

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty”….(2nd.Cor.3:17)