I wonder how many of you have ever read the Declaration of Independence in its entirety before. Most kids today couldn’t even quote one single line from the Declaration, and that is incredibly sad.
We celebrate the “Fourth of July”, but anymore people don’t contemplate what we are celebrating. (Just a side note. That is one reason why I try my hardest to always refer to it as Independence Day, because it reminds us of why we celebrate.)
Really though, most people couldn’t quote one line or even given you a general synopsis of it—and it’s one of the greatest documents in the history of the entire world! It’s almost a given that no-one dives any further into the reasons why our founders signed a document that branded them as “traitors” and would’ve earned them the hangman’s noose if they had been caught.
I am going to give you that glimpse today. Here’s the deal though—it’s a challenge!
I challenge all of you to actually sit down and read this today.
I know, I know, it’s a holiday and who really has time for this?
Let me ask you this, What if they had said the same thing that sweltering day in July, 1776? What if they had simply said, “We don’t have time to sign a Declaration of Independence, and we certainly don’t have time to risk our lives for a generation yet unborn.”?
You have no valid excuse! Read it! Consider it a dare from me. I dare you to do it.
These words were spoken by Patrick Henry right before the Declaration of Independence was signed.
“These words will go forth to the world when our bones are dust. To the slave in bondage they will speak hope; to the mechanic in his workshop, freedom.
That parchment will speak to kings in a language sad and terrible as the trumpet of the archangel. You have trampled on the rights of man long enough! At last, the voice of human woe has pierced the ear of God, and called His judgement down.
Such is the message of the Declaration to the Kings of the world. And shall we falter now? And shall we start back appalled when our free people press the very threshold of freedom?
Sign! If the next moment the gibbet’s rope is around your neck.
Sign! If the next moment this hall rings with the echo of the falling axe.
Sign! By all your hopes in life, or death, as husbands, fathers…as men with our names to the parchment, or be accused forever!
Sign! Not only for yourselves, but for all ages, for that parchment will be the text book of freedom, the “Bible” of the rights of man forever.
Sign! For the declaration will go forth to Americans like the voice of God. And its work will be done until throughout this wide continent not a single inch of ground owns the sway of privilege or power. It is not given to our poor human intellect to climb the skies, to pierce the councils of the Almighty one. But methinks I stand among the awful clouds which veil the brightness of Jehovah’s throne. Methinks I see the recording angel-pale as an angel is pale-weeping as an angel can weep, come trembling up to the throne and speaking his dreadful message.
Father! The old world is baptized in blood. Father! It is drenched with the blood of millions who have been executed, in slow and grinding oppression.
Father! Look! With one glance of thine eternal eye, look over Europe, Asia, Africa, and behold everywhere a terrible sight…man trodden down beneath the oppressor’s feet, nations lost in blood, murder and superstition walking hand in hand over the graves of their victims, and not a single voice to whisper hope for man.
He stands there (the angel) his hand trembling with the human guilt. But hark! The voice of Jehovah speaks out from the awful cloud. “Let there be light again. Let there be a new world. Tell my people, the poor, downtrodden millions, to go out from the old world; tell them to go out from wrong, oppression and blood. Tell them to build up my altar in the new world.”
As God lives, my friends, I believe that to be his voice. Yes, were my soul trembling on the wing of eternity, were this hand freezing to death, were my voice choking with the last struggle, I would still, with the last gasp of that voice, implore you to remember the truth God has given America to be free. Yes, as I sank down into the gloomy shadows of the grave, with my last gasp I would beg you to sign that parchment. In the name of the One who made you, the Savior, who redeemed you, in the name of the millions whose very breath is now hushed as, in intense expectations, they look up to you for the awful words “YOU ARE FREE!”
Those are words to remember. What love for country would inspire a man to speak with such passion for his nation, knowing it would brand him a traitor and quite possibly earn him a hangman’s noose? Patrick Henry was a patriot in its truest form. Just for fun, here’s a song about him for ya!
By the way, a fun fact for you: My seventh great-grandpa was very close friends with Patrick Henry, and spoke of him in personal documents. In fact he was one of Patrick Henry’s biggest political supporters. I had to laugh when I found that out, because Patrick Henry has always been a personal hero of mine and I always joke that we would’ve been great friends due to our mutual love of America.
Anyway, Happy Birthday my sweet America! Two-hundred and forty-six years ago, a new nation was born and the tyrants of the world trembled. Make no mistake about it. America was fully justified in rebelling against tyranny and ungodliness. Those who say otherwise have never studied the story in full or just don’t care to.
And to all of you, have a wonderful time celebrating our Independence! It is a day that deserves to be remembered!
A. M. Watson