- They Preached Liberty
- They Preached Liberty, part 2
Liberty doesn’t just happen. That’s the message of a writer whose work appears here for the first time.
Our good friend Elizabeth Youmans recently put us on to a writer whose material we are eager to share with you. Mrs. Bobbie Ames is the founder of Emerald Mountain Christian School, Montgomery, Alabama. At her blog, The Education Station, she posted the following article—published here in two parts—which deserves a wide reading and vigorous application.
Meet Jonathan Mayhew (1729-1766)
Jonathan Mayhew, the New England minister, was declared to be “The Father of Civil and Religious Liberty in Massachusetts and America” by Robert Treat Payne, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Payne was also an Attorney General of the United States at one time. Mayhew, recognized for his convictions, writings, and influence by James Otis, John Adams, and Samuel Adams, all his intimate friends, was also widely read by the patriot statesmen of his day.
Twenty six years before the Declaration was penned, Mayhew proclaimed, “Nothing can well be imagined more directly contrary to common sense than to suppose that millions of people should be subjected to the arbitrary, precarious pleasure of a single man, – who has naturally no superiority over them in point of authority, – so that their estates, and everything that is valuable in life, and even their lives also, shall be absolutely at his disposal, if he happens to be wanton and capricious enough to demand them.”
In 1754, Mayhew’s Election Sermon included this challenge: “God forbid that any son of New England should prove such a profane Esau as to sell his birthright! Our ancestors, though not perfect and infallible in all respects, were a religious, brave, and virtuous set of men, whose love of liberty, civil and religious, brought them from their native land into the American deserts. By their generous care it is, under the smiles of a gracious providence, that we now have a goodly heritage.”
In 1750, warning against unlimited submission, Mayhew declared, “Tyranny brings ignorance and brutality with it. It degrades men from their higher rank into the class of brutes. It dampens their spirits, it suppresses arts; it extinguishes every spark of noble ardor and generosity in the breasts of those enslaved by it; it makes naturally strong and great minds feeble and little, and triumphs over the ruins of virtue and humanity.”
In no other country of World History, has there been a government like ours. In early America, civil and religious liberty were combined in harmony for a season. In Charles Turner’s Election Sermon of 1773, he warns the patriots, “Religious Liberty is so blended with civil, that if one fails, it is not expected that the other will continue.”
In Ebenezer Bridge’s Election Sermon of 1767, he declares, “As to religion and religious privileges, what people in the whole world are so highly favored as our nation? We have the Gospel, the freest use and the fullest enjoyment of it.”
The fundamental principles of the Hebrew and the American Constitutions are prominently republican. There is great power placed with confidence in the people, assuming they are people of the Judeo-Christian faith. There is a great need for people of faith to read, research, and embrace our Christian History, if Liberty can be preserved in our nation.
Minister Jonathan Mayhew declared in 1754, “Rulers derive their power from God, and are ordained to be his ministers for good.” This charge was emphasized in many election sermons over decades by New England ministers to declare admonitions to those elected to office.
We have an evil force in our nation whose objective is to tear down the law of Moses, which has been the source of our own liberty in America. This article implores your careful reading, followed by action in the public square to preserve both religious and civil Liberty. Prayer is essential, but becoming informed, is as well. My prayer is for the ministers to “Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land” once again.
“God never gives men up to be slaves till they lose their national virtue, and abandon themselves to slavery.” ~ Rev. Richard Salter of Mansfield, Connecticut, Election Sermons, 1768
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. ~ James 1:22
And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. ~ Isaiah 54:13
 This reference to Mayhew’s contribution in securing liberty in America should not be misconstrued as an affirmation of his Unitarian theology which DMF rejects.