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.

LETTER TO CITIZENS ENCOURAGED CHRISTIAN FAITH

March 30th, 2010

Matthew Thornton (1714 – 1803), was a signer of the United States

Matthew Thornton

Declaration of Independence as a representative of New Hampshire. As President of the Provincial Congress, he delivered a letter to the citizens of New Hampshire declaring that they needed to come together as Christians to rest upon their faith for the coming war with England.

He was born in Ireland and later his family immigrated to America when he was three years old, settling first at Wiscasset, Maine, and moving shortly thereafter to Worcester, Massachusetts. Thornton became a physician and was appointed surgeon to the New Hampshire Militia troops in the expedition against Fortress Louisbourg. He had royal commissions as justice of the peace and colonel of militia. He became Londonderry Town Selectman, a representative to, and President of the Provincial Assembly, and a member of the Committee of Safety, drafting New Hampshire’s plan of government after dissolution of the royal government, which was the first state constitution adopted after the start of hostilities with England.

He was first President of the New Hampshire House of Representatives and Associate Justice of the Superior Court of New Hampshire. He was elected to the Continental Congress after the debates on independence had occurred, arriving just in time to actually sign the Declaration of Independence.

As President of the Provincial Congress, he addressed the following letter to the inhabitants of the Colony of New Hampshire :

Exeter, June 2d, 1775.
To the Inhabitants of the Colony of New Hampshire :

Friends and Brethren : You must all be sensible that the affairs of America have at length come to a very affecting and alarming crisis. The Horrors and Distresses of a civil war, which, till of late, we only had in contemplation, we now find ourselves obliged to realize. Painful beyond expression have been those scenes of Blood and Devastation which the barbarous cruelty of British troops have placed before our eyes. Duty to God, to ourselves, to Posterity, enforced by the cries of slaughtered Innocents, have urged us to take up Arms in our Defense. Such a day as this was never before known, either to us or to our fathers. You will give us leave therefore — in whom you have reposed special confidence — as your representative body, to suggest a few things which call for the serious attention of everyone who has the true interest of America at heart. We would therefore recommend to the Colony at large to cultivate that Christian Union, Harmony and tender affection which is the only foundation upon which our invaluable privileges can rest with any security, or our public measures be pursued with the least prospect of success.

We also recommend that a strict and inviolable regard be paid to the wise and judicious councils of the late American Congress, and particularly considering that the experience of almost every day points out to us the danger arising from the collection and movements of bodies of men, who, notwithstanding, we willingly hope would promote the common cause and serve the interest of their country, yet are in danger of pursuing a track which may cross the general plan, and so disconcert those public measures which we view as of the greatest importance. We must, in the most express and urgent terms, recommend it that there may be no movements of this nature, but by the direction of the Committees of the respective Towns or Counties; and those Committees, at the same time, advising with this Congress or with the Committee of Safety in the recess of Congress, where the exigence of the case is not plainly too pressing to leave room for such advice.

We further recommend that the most industrious attention be paid to the cultivation of Lands and American Manufacture, in their various branches, especially the Linen and Woolen; and that the husbandry might be particularly managed with a view thereto — accordingly that the Farmer raise Flax and increase his flock of sheep to the extent of his ability.

We further recommend a serious and steady regard to the rules of temperance, sobriety and righteousness, and that those Laws which have heretofore been our security and defense from the hand of violence may still answer all their former valuable purposes, though persons of vicious and corrupt minds would willingly take advantage from our present situation.

In a word, we seriously and earnestly recommend the practice of that pure and undefiled religion which embalmed the memory of our pious ancestors, as that alone upon which we can build a solid hope and confidence in the Divine protection and favor, without whose blessing all the measures of safety we have or can propose will end in our shame and disappointment.

MATTHEW THORNTON,
President

Matthew Thorton's home, Derry, NH

He became a political essayist. He retired from his medical practice and in 1780 moved to Merrimack, New Hampshire where he farmed and operated a ferry with his family. He died in Newburyport, Massachusetts, while visiting his daughter. Matthew Thornton is buried in Thornton Cemetery in Merrimack, New Hampshire and his grave reads “An Honest Man.” The town of Thornton, New Hampshire is named in his honor, and a Londonderry elementary school as well. Thornton’s residence in Derry, which was part of Londonderry at the time, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Some of his descendants live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as well as in Maryland, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Yulee, Florida.

Sources:
Matthew Thornton, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Matthew Thornton, Colonialhall.com

A MILITARY SERMON

March 28th, 2010

If you will be soldiers, resolve to conquer or die. It is not so much skill or strength that conquers, as boldness. It is fear that loses the day, and fearlessness that wins it. The army which stands to it gets the victory, who they fight never so weakly, for if you will not run, the enemy will. And if the lives of a few be lost by courage, it usually saves the lives of many. If the cause be not worth your lives, you should not meddle with it. If it is, you should choose rather to sacrifice the…, than your country. The man of good courage, is prepared to bear up against all the hardships of the warmest service with an unbroken erect mind, when the cause of GOD and his people, shall press him into their service. The intrepid spirit, rested on the brave Nehemiah, when he exclaimed-Should such a man as I, flee? This spirit inspired that brave commander, who, when deserted by his army in the heat of battle, cried out to them saying: “Go tell the living that I die fighting, while I go and tell the dead, that you live flying.” Are the preceding observations just? We hence learn that courage is necessary in men of military character. No wonder then, that Israel’s brave commander, thus said to his army. “Be of good courage.” And no wonder that he further said, let us play the men. Q.D. Let us do that on this great, trying occasion, which MEN, reasonable creatures ought to do. In these words, there is an implication, that he himself was resolved to do that, which he called them to do-either enter into battle, or so post himself, as to direct and guide them to victory. We have no reason to suspect, but that he would readily have done the former, if the case had required it. Every good general chooses rather to sacrifice his life in battle, than his country and honor. When existing circumstances, call to a most dangerous post, he readily exposes his own person. And so will all other good military characters in places below him, when called to dangerous posts.

In these words, let us play the men, we discern civility and decency. Though the army were under this general’s absolute command, yet he addressed them not as a pack of slaves and poltroons, nor in profane language, as too many have, to the shame of humanity; but as men, his fellow creatures, whom he respected, and who had a right to civil, human treatment. Such treatment conciliates esteem, and leads to obedience from a principle of love, which is a nobler incentive to action, than fear. Playing the men, imports doing bravely and valiantly. The sacred historian, in another place narrating this speech, thus varies the phraseology, let us behave ourselves valiantly. Playing the men, and behaving valiantly, are nearly, or quite synonymous terms. To play the men in battle, none can, unless they behave valiantly.

Source: From “A Sermon, Addressed to a Military Company belonging to the 13th Regiment of Infantry in the Army of the United States of America”, under the Command of Captain Asa Copeland, at their Rendezvous in Brooklyn, On Lord’s-day, August 25, 1799. By Josiah Whitney, Pastor of the First Church of Brooklyn. Windham: Printed by John Byrne, 1800.