Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. — Proverbs 14:34 (ESV)
As Americans celebrate the 4th of July, many may wonder: “How can I help our country? What can I do to make it better?”
Some things that may come to mind are: vote, respect the laws, recycle, resolve conflicts peacefully, etc. However, one signer of the Declaration of Independence has an interesting answer: Love God and have good morals.
John Witherspoon was born in Scotland in a pastor’s family. At the encouragement of friends, he left Scotland and moved to America in 1768 to become head professor and the sixth president of the small Presbyterian College of New Jersey – now known as Princeton University. Upon moving here, he later became involved in the American independence movement, signed the Declaration, and later supported the signing of the Constitution.
In a message dated May 17, 1776, Witherspoon claimed:
Nothing is more certain than that a general profligacy [wastefulness, immorality] and corruption of manners make a people ripe for destruction. A good form of government may hold the rotten materials together for some time, but beyond a certain pitch, even the best constitution will be ineffectual, and slavery must ensue. On the other hand, when the manners of a nation are pure, when true religion and internal principles maintain their vigour, the attempts of the most powerful enemies to oppress them are commonly baffled and disappointed….
That he is the best friend to American liberty, who is most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind. Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not to call him an enemy of his country….
It is in the man of piety and inward principle, that we may expect to find the uncorrupted patriot, the useful citizen, and the invincible soldier. God grant that in America true religion and civil liberty may be inseparable and that the unjust attempts to destroy the one, may in the issue tend to the support and establishment of both.
The word for you today is, Do you want to be a better patriot?
Love God and practice true religion.