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56 Signatures

July 4, 2020
Facebook removed the US Declaration of Independence for violating ...

On July 4, 1776, 56 brave men signed a document that would change history as nearly no other document has. All thirteen colonies unanimously confirmed the Declaration of Independence.

From our vantage point, 244 years later, it seems like a very logical thing. Sign a document that states the intent to be a nation independent of England and the King. Become independent. No brainer. Right? Well. Not so simple.

The Declaration itself is a rather lengthy and complex document. It eloquently lays down the philosophical and even theological reasoning behind the Declaration, and states the grievances the thirteen colonies and their representatives had against King George III, all of which had been earlier stated in what the Founders said had been, “Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms.”

As you know, King George was not amused by this Declaration of Independence, and was not in the least open to dialogue about it. The Declaration effectively lit the fuse on the American Revolution, which officially started on April 19, 1775, most of a year later.

We celebrate this Declaration on July 4th with fireworks, family gatherings, long weekends, delicious food and a wide variety of other activities. This is a very good thing! (I wonder what it will look like here in 2020, with the Covid-19 constraints and anxiety? Depending on what part of the country you’re in, it could be a small, family gathering, or the same traditional big celebrations we’ve been doing for more than 200 years.)

Lots of people are familiar with the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Even in the turbulent times we’re experiencing today, with political, philosophical, racial lines being drawn not without violence, the unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness are still precious to us.

But as familiar as the first line of the Declaration is, almost no one one is familiar with the final lines of the Declaration of Independence: …for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

This pledge was costly.

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died.

Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.

Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured.

Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year, he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later, he died from exhaustion and a broken heart. (copied from https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/the-price-they-paid/)

It may seem trite, but freedom is never free. There’s always a cost. According to PBS.ORG, nearly 500,000 lives have been lost to purchase and secure our freedom. Freedom is expensive.

On this excellent day of celebration with family and friends, do yourself and your family and friends a favor and pause to contemplate the cost. Then pause a little longer and thank God for the men and women who have paid for the freedom you and I enjoy.

America isn’t perfect. We’ve got some big problems. But we enjoy the most profound freedom of any nation on the planet. It’s worth celebrating, in spite of the problems that have come front and center over the last few months. And it’s so worthy of giving thanks to God for His providential hand that has secured and sustained this freedom.

I can’t close without reflecting on the most important freedom that is possible, and the ultimate price paid to purchase it. Jesus purchased our eternal freedom with His life. No matter the national situation we live in, no matter how politically free or not we are, there is a freedom of our soul that trumps every other freedom. Jesus died to buy us back from the penalty of sin and our bondage to it, and rose back to life to prove the transaction had been made. That changes everything.

It seems disrespectful to blow past that on our way to the fireworks display.

From → Marriage, Parenting

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