A highlight of the American summer, this weekend arrives with barbecues and children around the nation tempting dismemberment on driveways. The celebration of Independence Day will likewise include plenty of obligatory speeches and celebrations about "liberty."
We are well-served to be reminded of John Newton's words at the onset of the troubles that precipitated our nation's independence from Great Britain:
It grieves me to hear those who are slaves to sin and Satan, make such a stir about that phantom which they worship under the name of liberty, and especially to see not a few of the Lord’s people so much conformed to the world in this respect. Let us pray and watch, let us bear testimony against sin, and abound in the fruits of the gospel. The Lord help us to do thus, and then we may humbly hope He will preserve our liberty; if He does not I am sure we cannot preserve it ourselves.Even as you gather this weekend to celebrate this "phantom," pray, watch, and bear testimony that He might turn a nation of slaves into the freedom of His Son.
- John Newton to John Ryland, Jr., on August 1, 1775 (reprint, Wise Counsel)
N.B. For more extracts from this letter, see Trading Political Measures for Earnest Prayer.