Independence Day Thoughts

By Glenda | July 2, 2014

As always, on approaching the 4th of July holiday, I turn to my texts to review what our founders actually had to say about many things. Here are a few quotes that struck me this week:

“…All men are entitled to the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience; and therefore no man or class of men ought on account of religion to be invested with peculiar emoluments or privileges.” James Madison

“…The general prevalence of piety, philanthropy, honesty, industry, and economy seems, in the ordinary course of human affairs, particularly necessary for advancing and confirming the happiness of our country. While all men within our territories are protected in worshiping the Deity according to the dictates of their consciences, it is rationally to be expected from then in return, that they will be emulous of evincing the sanctity of their professions by the innocence of their lives and the beneficence of their actions; for no man, who is profligate in his morals, or a bad member of the civil community, can possibly be a true Christian, or a credit to his religious society.” George Washington

“The faith you mention has doubtless its uses in the world. I do not desire to see it diminished nor would I endeavor to lessen it in any man. But I wish it were more productive of Good Works than I have generally seen it: I mean real good Works, Works of Kindness, Charity, Mercy, and Public Spirit; not Holiday-keeping, Sermon-Reading or Hearing, performing Church Ceremonies, or making long Prayers, filled with Flatteries and Compliments, despised even by wise Men, and much less capable of pleasing the Deity. The worship of God is a Duty, the hearing and reading of Sermons may be useful, but if Men rest in Hearing and Praying, as too many do, it is as if a Tree should value itself on being watered and putting forth Leaves, though it never produced any Fruit.” Benjamin Franklin

“…that we may promote the happiness of those with whom He (God) has placed us in society, by acting honestly toward all, benevolently to those who fall within our way, respecting sacredly their rights, bodily and mental, and cherishing especially their freedom of conscience, as we value our own. I must ever believe that religion substantially good which produces an honest life, and we have been authorized by One whom you and I equally respect, to judge of the tree by its fruit. Our particular principles of religion are a subject of accountability to our God alone. I inquire after no man’s, and trouble none with mine; nor is it given to us in this life to know whether your or mine, our friends or our foes, are exactly the right. Nay, we have heard it said that there is not a Quaker nor a Baptist, a Presbyterian or an Episcopalian, a Catholic or a Protestant in heaven; that, on entering that gate, we leave those badges of schisms behind, and find ourselves united in those principles only in which God has united us all. Let us not be uneasy then about the different roads we may pursue, as believing them the shortest, to that our last abode; but following the guidance of a good conscience, let us be happy in the hope that by these different paths we shall all meet in the end…” Thomas Jefferson

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