The great patriotic hymn “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” contains these memorable lines:
“My native country, thee, Land of the noble free, Thy name I love; I love thy rocks and rills, Thy woods and templed hills. My heart with rapture thrills Like that above.”
America, a precious land dotted from one coast to the other with the beauties, blessings, and bounties of God’s superintending love, is the greatest land on earth! It is a special land of promise – a land of special covenants and promises. It is a land sanctified with the blood of patriots and martyrs. It is a land saved and set apart by the Almighty to be inhabited by a God-fearing, righteous, honorable, industrious, worthy people.
The American People, in the early days, was a society of such spiritual stature that they won this land for their inheritance and were blessed with political, religious, social, economic, military, and technological advancement unrivaled by any other nation at any time in history. No honest and objective observer can deny that the America is the greatest nation to have ever existed when measured by nearly any metric.
The very perceptive scholar and statesman J. Reuben Clark, Jr. noted that:
“[U]nder our form of government the people of the United States have made a progress never before made by any other people in the world in an equal time during the whole period of recorded history.
“. . . standards of life and of living of the entire American people are far beyond those enjoyed by any other people in any other part of the world, either now or at any other time, which is a living testimony and evidence of the kindly beneficence of our free institution. . . .
“. . . I believe that the destiny of America is to be the abiding place of liberty and free institutions, and that its own practice and enjoyment of these blessings shall be to the world a beacon light which shall radiate its influence by peaceful means to the uttermost parts of the world, to the uplifting of all humanity” (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., June 11, 1940, cited in Jerreld L. Newquist, ed., Prophets, Principles and National Survival, 129).
America indeed has risen to greater heights than any other nation before her. Today, even in our degraded state brought on because of years of deliberate attack by our enemies, the United States is the most influential, powerful, prosperous, respected, and free nation in the world. Without one ounce of doubt, we possess the greatest potential of any people on the planet. The Lord has not only blessed this Promised Land with the riches of minerals and natural resources, but with the far richer blessing of an unequaled heritage of Freedom, rule of law, and Christian devotion.
Our ancestors were “the noble free.” They were true freemen. They were patriots. They were the Sons of Liberty and the daughters of the Revolution. Our forefathers were great. They were honorable. They were pious and faithful. They were fervent Christians and fierce patriots. They were not perfect, but they were sincere and grounded, honest and true.
Our forefathers forged a free, civilized, and prosperous nation out of a wild wilderness. They made the Gospel of Christ and the Ten Commandments the basis of our society. We were founded as a nation of laws, not a nation of tyrants. Rule of law prevailed – not the whim of the mindless majority. Of these early Americans, George Washington Adams recounted:
“Our forefathers were a patient and persevering people; their devotion was simple but earnest; their theories were circumscribed but conscientious; their morality was rigorous but practical. They were from necessity frugal; from their position circumspect; from their situation vigorous and hardy. Obliged alike to brave the savage and the European foe – acquainted equally with the implements of husbandry and with the weapons of war – they guarded the state till she had cleared the dangers of her infancy. Such was the early character of the people of New England. It shows a race of men fit to be free. History presents no parallel to such a people mid all her records . . . she shows no other state originating in devotion and in liberty of thought – no other nation whose foundation was the pure worship of the living God” (David Barton, ed., Celebrate Liberty: Famous Patriotic Speeches and Sermons, 47).
As noted, the Gospel of Jesus Christ was the rock foundation of this American nation. With the love of the Lord came a love of the Liberty He bestowed upon mankind. Defending the Liberty “wherewith Christ hath made [them] free” (Galatians 5:1) became paramount for the colonists. Therefore, when British persecution became severe enough, our patriot forefathers burst the political bands that tethered them to enslaved Europe and created the first free nation in modern times, opening a new epoch in mankind’s history.
Our Founding Fathers published the Declaration of Independence, proclaiming that this nation acknowledged God as their Sovereign, that their rights came from Him, and that they would rely upon Him for protection. The Lord heard our People’s cries for deliverance and divine intervention was forthcoming. In his First Inaugural Address, President George Washington affirmed God’s intervention in our nation’s behalf during the War for Independence. He stated:
“[I]t would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those 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.”
It was widely believed by those of our founding generation that America had been set up and protected by the hand of God for a special reason; that reason being the preservation of Liberty for mankind. For instance, in an Independence Day oration in 1826, George Bancroft stated:
“The dearest interests of mankind were entrusted to our country. It was for her to show that the aspirations of former ages were not visionary – that freedom is something more than a name – that the patriots and the States that have been martyrs in its defense were struggling in a sacred cause and fell in the pursuit of a real good. The great spirits of former times looked down from their celestial abodes to cheer and encourage her in the hour of danger. The nations of the earth turned towards her as to their last hope. And the country has not deceived them” (David Barton, ed., Celebrate Liberty: Famous Patriotic Speeches and Sermons, 98).
The American freemen cherished the thought that Heaven had appointed them to be the guardians of Freedom on the earth – that America was a shining city on a hill beckoning to the oppressed of mankind. They knew, from the generous intervention of Almighty God in their favor, that America was not just another nation; she was special. I also know that America is a blessed land, a favored land, a choice land, a Promised Land. There is nowhere on earth more favored and watched over than America. And no people has received as many blessings as the American People.
We owe a massive debt of gratitude to our Creator and God for the privilege and blessing of living in this the greatest nation on earth. At this time of the year when we turn our minds back to our patriot forefathers who won for us our sacred Freedom, we should humble ourselves and recommit our lives to the service of God. John Adams famously said that our system of government is only sustainable by a “moral and religious people.” He was right. Our forefathers knew it and I know it. Either we will turn back to the Lord and cut out the cultural cancer consuming us, or we will collapse as a nation.
Another great American, Ezra Taft Benson, issued a warning in 1979. It is even more applicable in 2019:
“Never before has the land of Zion appeared so vulnerable to so powerful an enemy as the Americas do at present. And our vulnerability is directly attributable to our loss of active faith in the God of this land, who has decreed that we must worship Him or be swept off. Too many Americans have lost sight of the truth that God is our source of freedom—the Lawgiver—and that personal righteousness is the most important essential to preserving our freedom. So, I say with all the energy of my soul that unless we as citizens of this nation forsake our sins, political and otherwise, and return to the fundamental principles of Christianity and of constitutional government, we will lose our political liberties, our free institutions, and will stand in jeopardy before God.”
If we wish to be “the noble free” like our ancestors, we must cherish this land of Liberty enough to live as our forefathers lived and worship as they worshiped. Our devotion must be to law – rule of law and divine law. The Savior should be the center of our lives, the center of our families, the center of our communities, the center of our laws, and the reason we so fiercely contend for Liberty under our inspired Constitution. America, this citadel of Freedom we so love, is worth every effort to defend.
Truly, it is not enough to remember the sacrifices our forefathers made all those years ago. We must imitate them and step forward to defend our Republic in our own day. It is time to show whether you are a freeman or a slave, a patriot or a turncoat. Now is the time to honor your forefathers by making our America the bastion of Liberty – the shining city on a hill – they hoped to create. The power is in our hands. What will we do with it?
Happy Independence Day. God bless you and yours. And God bless America.
July 1, 2019