American Freedom was purchased with the blood of patriots. Liberty has always required tremendous sacrifices to obtain and maintain. Thomas Paine said it best in 1776:
“These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: It is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to set a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated” (Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, 1776).
To sum up Paine in modern lingo, “Freedom isn’t free.” As an American, you are indebted to your ancestors for the Liberty and Independence you enjoy. They slogged through the hell of war, waded through affliction and tears, and risked everything dear to them in order to hand down a heritage of Freedom, self-rule, and peace.
John Adams colorfully said:
“Posterity! You will never know, how much it cost the present Generation, to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good Use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it” (John Adams to Abigail Adams, April 26, 1777).
It cost a great deal to purchase American Freedom. It cost blood, toil, and treasure. Lives were cut short, families were split asunder, and civic life was upended. Yet, what patriot would dare say it was all in vain? If our forefathers were willing to fight and die for the gift of Liberty, surely we, the beneficiaries of that gift, should feel the stir of gratitude for the patriot blood that was spilled to quench the parched tree of Liberty in 1776.
When you gather with fellow believers and attend the church of your choice this Independence Day Sunday, remember that without patriot blood you might not be able to enjoy this inestimable blessing. The next time you purchase a firearm, consider that it’s not your Visa card that’s buying it, but the patriot blood of ages past that affords you the opportunity to arm yourself as a freeman. The next time you express a political opinion in public, or go to the polls to vote, or throw your name in the hat in a local election, consider that there are billions of people in other countries who cannot do so because the blood of patriots has not fertilized their ground sufficiently for the tree of Liberty to grow.
We live in a blessed land. America is a land of covenant. It’s a sacred spot chosen by Almighty God for special purposes. In 1630, John Withrop envisioned a glorious future for this continent. He expressed it this way:
“The Lord will be our God, and delight to dwell among us, as His own people, and will command a blessing upon us in all our ways, so that we shall see much more of His wisdom, power, goodness and truth, than formerly we have been acquainted with. We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when He shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, “may the Lord make it like that of New England.” For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God, and all professors for God’s sake. We shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out of the good land whither we are going.”
For many years, America fulfilled Winthrop’s vision. We became, and remain, the envy of the world. The hand of the Lord prospered us, gave us technology, revealed systems of good government, and kept us out of the perpetual wars of other countries. No People has ever been so richly blessed. So startlingly remarkable are these manifestations of divine favor that President George Washington, in his First Inaugural Address, stated:
“No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.”
Yet, as we view our beloved America today, we see that she has fallen from her former glory. She’s not as free as she once was. She’s not as virtuous and just as she once was. She’s not even as proud, peaceful, or prosperous as she once was. Lady Liberty took sledgehammer blows to the kneecaps in 2020 and 2021. The hammer (and sickle) wielders are gearing up to swing again even more violently and maliciously as she falters and attempts to rise – as millions of good-hearted Americans realize they’ve been conned and attempt to extricate themselves from the jaws of political despotism, medical tyranny, and media lies.
Some of the finest branches of the American tree of Liberty have wilted and withered. Some have stopped bearing fruit while others produce slightly bitter fruit. Yet, there are many new buds blossoming on some of the younger branches and the harvest looks promising. These new buds must be guarded and nourished as they grow stronger. But how can we nourish and cultivate this precious plant? Long ago, Thomas Jefferson explained the only sure way to do it when he said:
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. it is it’s natural manure” (Thomas Jefferson to William Smith, November 13, 1787).
It will require a Herculean effort to revive the tree of Liberty. Tragically, as the Sage of Monticello observed, it will require, as it always has, the blood of patriots and tyrants. But the prize is worth the price.
It won’t be easy, though. Restoring our lost rights will require a dramatic change in our hearts and minds. Our forefathers didn’t just pick up their muskets one day and fight their British oppressors. Rather, they were schooled in the principles of Liberty for years prior to the fighting. They understood their religious and civic duty to rebel against tyrants and to defend their Faith, Families, and Freedom. They knew about, and participated in, self-rule. They understood what being freemen was all about.
Our patriot forefathers knew that principled patriotism – in private conduct as well as public life – was the panacea to their national maladies. John Adams affirmed:
“This radical Change in the Principles, Opinions Sentiments and Affection of the People, was the real American Revolution” (John Adams to Hezekiah Niles, February 13, 1818).
If we want things to be different, we have to be different. We have to alter our ways of thinking, raise our standards and principles, and adjust our behavior accordingly. Ultimately, we have to turn our hearts and minds back to the Lord of Liberty, Jesus Christ. Atheists did not win the American War for Independence; Christians did.
America’s fiery patriot leaders did not trust in themselves, but, like General Washington who found himself praying mightily for deliverance, had faith in their Creator and Redeemer. Had they not shouted from the rooftops that “for the support of this Declaration [of Independence], with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor”?
Without turning to Christ, everything else we do is a half-measure and will fail. But, with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26; Luke 1:37). The Lord has clearly promised to prosper and protect those who turn to Him. He said:
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
And again, through Isaiah, the Lord promised to shine upon those nations who embrace His covenants and repent:
“If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land. . . .
“And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city” (Isaiah 1:16-27).
America is the greatest land on earth; the most blessed and amazing nation to be found anywhere. I love her! I love her Constitution, her heritage of Freedom, her pantheon of heroes, her promise of guaranteed natural rights, and her unrivaled opportunities for growth and ingenuity, prosperity and joy. Her fruited plains are beautiful to my eyes and I marvel at how special, how unique, and how blessed America truly is by the hand of the Almighty.
Yet, America needs restoring. She needs mending. She needs once more to bask in the shade of the tree of Liberty. It will be difficult. It demands gut-wrenching sacrifices. The tree of Liberty requires the blood of good men and women – patriot blood – to nourish its fledgling blossoms. With John Adams, I recognize what it will cost. But, with John Adams, I also excitedly envision what we will gain:
“I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. – Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction” (John Adams to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776).
This Independence Day, and every day, let’s triumph in our ancestors’ War for Independence. Let’s remember that we live in a blood-bought Republic. Let’s recall with tender gratitude the sacrifices it took to achieve the Liberty we so abundantly enjoy and let’s steel ourselves for the daunting task ahead – the restoration of our rights and the nourishing of the tree of Liberty. With God’s help, we and our children will one day breathe free air and again bask in the ravishing light and glory of Freedom.
July 2, 2021