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Editor's Note: This article has been adapted from the preface of Biblical Patterns and Government . Cornell University Professor Barry Alan Shain has determined that rather than a generic republicanism or seventeenth century libertarianism nourishing the root of American democracy, a much older...
Editor's Note: This article has been adapted from the preface of Biblical Patterns and Government . Too many believers take a short-term view and become frustrated or retreat altogether from the public square when setbacks occur. Improvements in government may require generations. Along the way,...
Editor's Note: This article has been adapted from the preface of Biblical Patterns and Government . I had been up much of the night watching presidential election returns in November 1992. [1] Third party candidate Ross Perot, along with a moderate Republican, coupled with a charismatic “New...
Charles Chauncy (1705-1787) was one of the most influential pastors in Boston during his life. He received his theological training at Harvard and served as pastor of First Church for nearly 60 years. He wrote numerous pamphlets between 1762-1771 against the British proposal to impose a Bishop in...
Calvin’s and Beza’s thought was so fertile as to spawn many followers. Summaries of Ponet, Daneau, Hotman, and many others are worth consulting at any Inauguration. Another disciple who particularly refined this theory was the Marian exile, Christopher Goodman, whose ideas will be explored briefly...
The popular Federalist Papers in many ways reflect the continuation of Calvin’s view of man and the state. [1] Alexander Hamilton began The Federalist Papers by asserting that the people of this country have reserved to themselves the important question of whether “societies of men are really...
Calvin’s discussion of Romans 13 began by explaining that all civil power originates with the sovereign God—not with man, as later secular schemes suggested. He then discussed the role of civil government and the duty of the Christian to submit to that government except in extreme circumstances...
Although some theologians claim to see discrepancies between Calvin’s early thought in The Institutes and his later commentaries and sermons on the matter of resistance, a review of his commentary on Daniel 6:21-23 reveals no radical discontinuity. Admittedly, certain events, such as the 1572 St...
Moses’ layered scheme, advised by his father in law in Exodus 18 seemed to Calvin and his disciples to be republicanism. Commenting on a similar passage in Deuteronomy 1:14-16, Calvin stated: “Hence it more plainly appears that those who were to preside in judgment were not appointed only by the...
Rather than commending either a democracy or a monarchy, Jethro advised Moses and the people to select a plurality of prudent representative leaders (Exodus 18:21). [1] Moses instituted a graduated series of administrations with greater and lesser magistrates, and Calvin asserted that the earliest...
In a phrase that would become incendiary, Calvin noted that not only kings but also “people must sometimes take up arms to execute public vengeance” (4:20, 11). The same basis for waging war was also used both to justify revolution and to put down sedition. If the magistrates were to punish private...
Professor Harro Hopfl identifies the following three signatures of political Calvinism that would be timely if part of network coverage of the Inauguration of the new President: Calvin detested as much as anything rulers who acted as if their will made right ( sic volo sic iubeo ). Because no...
Of course, I did not espouse a democracy or a Presidency in my lifetime. My disciples teased out the logic, however, of my thought and reached new positions. If one wishes to hear the early Calvinist principles, one would need to look to two sets of texts: Text Corpus #1: Calvin himself , in his...
Note: all quotes are from sources as noted. The only fictitious elements in these diary posts are to treat these as letters from John Calvin. I send greetings to all Protestants at the Inauguration of the 45th President of the US. Believe it or not, some of our tradition’s ideas have led you to...
A survey of congressional proclamations for days of fasting or Thanksgiving is instructive, especially to those who have been catechized in the dogma of strict separationism. [1] Indeed, the religious worldview of the 1770s betrays the following key theological assumptions, which were apparently...
Despite having been born near John Calvin’s Geneva (Nyon) and having attended the University of Geneva, John Fletcher (1729–1785) later relocated to England and threw all in with the Wesley brothers. He was ordained to the Anglican priesthood in 1757 but his sympathies were all with the upstart...
Joseph Sewall (1688-1769) was a Boston scion, the son of a Chief Justice, who later was offered the presidency of Harvard (from where he graduated in 1707). He delivered this early Fast Day sermon before the Massachusetts’ Governor and Council in 1740. Indeed, by order, the Council commissioned...
Elhanan Winchester (1751-1797) served as a pastor in New England, South Carolina, and even London—ultimately moving from the Baptist faith to Unitarianism later in life. He was also a popular and influential Baptist pastor in Philadelphia for the seven years just prior to the constitutional...
Samuel Cooper (1725-1783) graduated from Harvard and furthered his training with a doctorate in divinity from Edinburgh. He followed in his father’s footsteps (the Reverend William Cooper) as one of the younger pastors at Boston’s Fourth church, long a landmark of preaching for the area. Later, he...
Abraham Keteltas (1732-98) was raised by Protestant parents in New York and New Rochelle, where he spent much of his time among the communities of Huguenots in the area. Becoming fluent in French early on, he later studied theology at Yale, where he earned his degree in 1752, followed by gaining...
James Dana (1735–1812) graduated from Harvard and was a Congregationalist pastor in Connecticut. He was an early and avid supporter of American independence. Dana became pastor of the First Church of New Haven from 1789-1805, when he was summarily dismissed by the leaders and replaced by the...
Samuel Sherwood (1730-1783) was a graduate of Yale and Princeton (at the time led by his uncle Aaron Burr), who pastored in Weston (CT) from 1757 to his death in 1783. Next to this sermon, his other published sermon (also of political import) was his sermon, “The Church’s Flight into the Wilderness...
The idea of unlimited submission to unjust government, especially to foreign British rule, was ablaze in America several generations prior to the revolution. Even the leading British evangelist of the Great Awakening, having come to America, weighed in on the subject. In a 1746 sermon, George...
Another echo of Calvin’s continuing influence can be seen in the works of Benjamin Colman (1673-1747). Colman was an esteemed preacher who was offered the presidency of Harvard in 1724. He declined, however, preferring to devote himself to pastoral ministry. But in a 1730 sermon, Colman preached...
Enos Hitchcock (1744-1803) was a Harvard graduate (1767) and a chaplain for several brigades in the Colonial militia (seeing battle at Ticonderoga, Saratoga, Valley Forge, and West Point). He also served as chaplain of the Continental Army from 1779-1780. He preached in other New England churches...
On January 18th at Liberty University, a Republican candidate referred to a Bible passage in his talk (and was criticized for wrongly citing it—although some scholars would agree that “2 Corinthians” is as acceptable as “Second Corinthians” as far as phraseology goes, but we doubt that Mr. Trump...
Aberdeen born and educated Bishop William Smith ((1727–1803) left Scotland for New York City in 1751. His eloquence and brilliance attracted Ben Franklin’s attention, and Franklin brought him to teach in Philadelphia in 1755. For the next several decades Smith received academic accolades, taught...
The impressive pastor in the West in the mid-19th century was Benjamin Morgan Palmer (1818-1902). He had been trained at Amherst, the University of Georgia, and Columbia SC) Theological Seminary. Prior to moving to New Orleans in 1856 (until his death in 1902), Palmer had pastored in Savannah and...
Stephen Case’s 1783 “Defensive Arms Vindicated” alluded to John Knox, even citing specific page numbers. [1] In Case’s same sermon, Samuel Rutherford’s Lex Rex was cited twice (once with reference to Rutherford’s original Question 32 about warrant for popular revolt), as was the later Jus Populi...
Samuel Langdon (1723-1797) graduated from Harvard in 1740 (along with Samuel Adams). After serving as a chaplain and as a pastor, Langdon became Harvard’s President in 1774, two years before the Declaration. He also was a delegate to the New Hampshire state convention in 1788. His sermon, “The...
Samuel McClintock (1732-1804), a graduate of the College of New Jersey, served the Greenland, New Hampshire, Congregational church for nearly a half century. He was a chaplain in the French and Indian War and for the New Hampshire Regiment in the Revolutionary War. This sermon was preached at the...
The Rev. Simeon Howard (1733-1804; Harvard, class of 1758) succeeded the well-known patriot-preacher, Jonathan Mayhew, as Pastor of West Church (Congregationalist) in Boston. Howard delivered this sermon to the Council of Massachusetts Bay on May 31, 1780. A few months later, the Council elected...
The Rev. Samuel Cooke (Harvard, class of 1735; d. 1783) preached this sermon to Her Majesty’s Council, the militia, and the Massachusetts House of Representatives in Cambridge, MA in 1770. Among the Councillors elected at that meeting were Samuel Adams (clerk) and John Hancock, whose signature has...
The Rev. Samuel Langdon (1723-1797; Harvard, class of 1740) served as a pastor and later became President of Harvard in 1774. After his tenure at Harvard, he returned to pulpit ministry and was a delegate to the New Hampshire state convention in 1788. This sermon was preached to the Massachusetts...
Charles Chauncy (1705-1787) was one of the most influential pastors in Boston during his life. He received his theological training at Harvard and served as pastor of First Church for nearly 60 years. He wrote numerous pamphlets between 1762-1771 against the British proposal to impose a Bishop in...
An American sermon on a choice morsel from the book of Revelation . . . associating corruption with hierarchies . . . and warning the church to resist sycophantic governments in league with that . . . and, further, that sermon was not from a late 20th century evangelical pulpit but rather from a...
Not only did Calvin’s shadow continue at the founding of America, but an erudite Swiss pastor led southerners in the faith and in application of scripture to the times. John Joachim Zubly was born in St. Gall in 1724 and ministered in London and Charleston, prior to serving as the first pastor of...
Allusions to Reformation themes abounded in early American sermons. The Waldensians, the eradication of the French Huguenots, Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli were all referred to in Samuel Davies’ 1756 sermon, “The Mediatorial Kingdom and Glories of Jesus Christ.” The Calvinist college at Princeton,...
Pastor Henry Cumings (1739-1823) was a Congregationalist pastor in Billerica, Massachusetts for his entire ministry. After graduating from Harvard in 1760, he later was honored with a doctorate by Harvard in 1800. He was an outspoken revolutionary leader who preached against the ‘tyranny’ of Great...
What is God’s view on certain political matters or events? That is a question often asked . . . and often mocked. Centuries earlier, however, preachers and their audiences were more sympathetic with the notion that God might actually have moral opinions on the acts of human beings. Earlier...
The great grandson of several New England families (John Cotton’s among them), Elisha Williams (1694–1755) graduated from Harvard in 1711. After a brief career of teaching and tutoring in 1722 he became the pastor of a congregational church in Wethersfield, Connecticut, prior to becoming and...
The Rev. Jasper Adams was an Episcopal Minister and President of the College of Charleston when he preached this 1833 message to the Diocese of South Carolina at St. Michael’s church in Charleston, South Carolina. This sermon occurred a little over a half century after the American Revolution. In...
Originally a lawyer (and cousin of an early President), the clergyman James Madison (1749-1812) had high academic potential (even teaching philosophy and math at the College of William and Mary) and was ordained to the Anglican ministry in 1775. Shortly thereafter he was appointed to the presidency...
Colonial thinkers Samuel Adams and Rev. Jonathan Mayhew argued against the innate goodness of man with implicit reference to King George III: “Ambition and lust for power,” they claimed, “are predominant passions in the breasts of most men. . . . power is of a grasping, encroaching nature . . . [it...
Read Matthew 6:19-34 The heart is undeniably the controlling faculty in our life. In biblical theology the heart—not the mind, nor the body—is depicted as control central of the human being. Study the Psalms sometime to see how the heart stands for the sum of the whole person. Jesus says (Mt. 6:21...
Read Matthew 6:19-24 These verses from Jesus’ Sermon are about a subject that haunts us all with its relevancy: The subject of Ambition. From the oldest to the youngest, we all have some ambition. Having addressed our private life in the first half of this chapter, in verses 19-34, he abruptly...
Matthew 6:9-15 This great model prayer concludes by linking divine forgiveness and human forgiveness under the rubric of prayer. Even a first-time reader can observe Jesus teaching that those who are mighty in prayer necessarily know that God’s mercy is mighty. The title may have gotten your...
Read Matthew 6:11-15 Let’s look at the last three Petitions of Jesus’ prayer guide. Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread . Our “daily bread” is the portion of bread needed for this one day. We are to pray for provisions like daily bread. Bread used to be baked daily in kilns because of no refrigeration...
Read Matthew 6:9-13 There is no more vital subject for Jesus followers than prayer. Jesus provides instruction on giving and fasting (cf. Mt. 6: 2-4, 16-18), but he elaborates more fully on prayer. Keeping with his theme of avoiding showiness, Christ next tutors his disciples on what not to do (Mt...
Classically and I think helpfully, this prayer is divided into two main parts. First comes the address and then six main petitions. Initially, there are God-ward petitions, followed by petitions for human need. A. Let’s think about the Address first—it tells us how to approach God—the object of...

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