Welcome to the American Christian Heritage Group blog where we give you glimpses of our country's early Christian foundations. We hope you enjoy these, learn more about our Christian heritage and undertake reading of the many cited sources and end notes. Please feel free to register and leave comments.

“QUOTES”

September 9th, 2011

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever; That a revolution of the wheel of fortune, a change of situation, is among possible events; that it may become probable by Supernatural influence! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in that event.”

Thomas Jefferson

Endnotes

-Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, p. 237.
-Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President, Drafter and Signer of the Declaration of Independence

GOD WHO GAVE US LIFE GAVE US LIBERTY

March 21st, 2010

If you take a trip to the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., you will see panels inscribed with quotes by Jefferson. These are things that he wrote, and now are literally shouted from the rooftops at this memorial.

Jefferson Memorial

One panel reads in part:

God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.

It comes from two different writings by Jefferson, and you can find the original quotes below. But in both works, he makes it clear that he believed our liberty comes from God. He isn’t even particularly talking about religion. He’s discussing slavery, commerce and taxing and regulations. But God was such a part of how Jefferson saw life, it affected his worldview immensely and that naturally flowed into his understanding of other matters of life such as commerce.

Note these things from this panel of quotes:
• God gave us life
• God gave us liberty
• Can a nation expect to keep liberties if the only firm thing they are based on—that these liberties are the gift of God—is taken away?
• Jefferson knows God is just and that there will be a judgment—and that made him tremble
• Implicit in that thought is the idea that we may draw God’s wrath if these liberties—given as a great gift and blessing by God—are misused, changed, infringed, defied, abused, broken, damaged, despoiled, ruined, encroached upon or not respected—That they are not to be violated but with his wrath?
• In fact, that is what Jefferson actually originally said in that phrase on the panel, which shortened the quote. He said, “can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever . . .

It is no wonder that when Thomas Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence, that a part of it included that we were given certain rights by our Creator.

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End Notes:
Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello; the official website of Jefferson’s home, museum, library and archives. http://www.monticello.org/reports/quotes/memorial.html

The two original Jefferson quotes in their entirety:
“For in a warm climate, no man will labour for himself who can make another labour for him. This is so true, that of the proprietors of slaves a very small proportion indeed are ever seen to labor. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever . . . .”
— Thomas Jefferson, in Notes on the State of Virginia

“But let them [members of the parliament of Great Britain] not think to exclude us from going to other markets to dispose of those commodities which they cannot use, or to supply those wants which they cannot supply. Still less let it be proposed that our properties within our own territories shall be taxed or regulated by any power on earth but our own. The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.”
–Thomas Jefferson, in A Summary View of the Rights of British America

THE USE OF THE BLESSINGS OF LIBERTY

March 11th, 2010

Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry famously said (as part of a longer speech), “Give me Liberty or give me death!” But he also later noted this same Liberty could bless or hurt a nation. Freedom without honor or righteousness was virtually worthless. He based this on what the Word of God says. The Word was such a part of him that when you read some speeches he gave, you see the Scriptures are skillfully interwoven into his words. It is almost as if they were his thoughts alone. But in reality it was the Word of God that had shaped his character and way of thinking on particular subjects.

You can see this in a note found with Patrick Henry’s will after his death:

Without virtue the blessings of liberty will be worth little. Whether this [American liberty] will prove a blessing or a curse will depend upon the use our people make of the blessings which a gracious God hath bestowed upon us. If they be wise, they will be great and happy. If they are of a contrary character, they will be miserable. Righteousness alone shall exalt them as a nation. Reader! Whoever thou art, remember this, and in thy sphere practice virtue thyself, and encourage it in others.

“Righteousness exalts a nation…” is a piece of wisdom right out of Proverbs14:34. The rest of that verse reads “but sin is a reproach to any people.” Patrick Henry, knowing the first part of the verse, likely knew the second part of the verse and inherently made the connection between unrighteousness and misery and death. It was obvious to him that the fruits of our nation’s freedom would be determined by our nation’s righteous—or unrighteous—actions.

Endnotes:
(The above note was apparently a part of Patrick Henry’s final thoughts about the Stamp Act. You can read his thoughts in their entirety below.)

What Patrick Henry Accomplished and What He Stood For Written in 1999 for the 200th anniversary of Patrick Henry’s death at Red Hill.  James Elson (James Elson is the Executive Vice President of the Patrick Henry Memorial Foundation at Red Hill, Virginia, Henry’s ancestral home. The Woman’s Auxiliary of the Foundation is the national sponsor of Oratory.)

http://www.redhill.org/research.htm

http://www.redhill.org/speeches/stampact.htm
Written on the back of Henry’s copy of the Stamp Act Resolutions was a message to posterity (as printed by William Wirt Henry from the manuscript then in his possession).

The within resolutions passed the House of Burgesses in May, 1765. They formed the first opposition to the Stamp Act and the scheme of taxing America by the British Parliament. All the colonies, either through fear, or want of opportunity to form an opposition, or from influence of some kind or other, had remained silent. I had been for the first time elected a Burgess a few days before, was young, inexperienced, unacquainted with the forms of the House, and the members that composed it. Finding the men of weight averse to opposition, and the commencement of the tax at hand, and that no person was likely to step forth, I determined to venture, and alone, unadvised, and unassisted, on a blank leaf of an old law-book, wrote the within. Upon offering them to the House violent debates ensued. Many threats were uttered, and much abuse cast on me by the party for submission. After a long and warm contest the resolutions passed by a very small majority, perhaps of one or two only. The alarm spread throughout America with astonishing quickness, and the Ministerial party were overwhelmed. The great point of resistance to British taxation was universally established in the colonies. This brought on the war which finally separated the two countries and gave independence to ours. Whether this will prove a blessing or a curse, will depend upon the use our people make of the blessings which a gracious God hath bestowed on us. If they are wise, they will be great and happy. If they are of a contrary character, they will be miserable. Righteousness alone can exalt them as a nation. Reader! whoever thou art, remember this; and in thy sphere practise virtue thyself, and encourage it in others.

– P. HENRY