‘liberty without freedom’

“There are two freedoms: the false where a man is free to do what he likes; and the true where a man is free to do as he ought.”  – Charles Kingsley

 

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In 1882, when excavation for the Statue of Liberty pedestal had begun, Mark Twain was asked to author a letter that could be raffled in support for the construction. He sent some money along with a letter that may have been counterproductive to the intended purpose. It read…

You know my weakness for Adam, and you know how I have struggled to get him a monument and failed. Now, it seems to me, here is my chance. What do we care for a statue of liberty when we’ve got the thing itself in its wildest sublimity? What you want of a monument is to keep you in mind of something you haven’t got – something you’ve lost. Very well; we haven’t lost liberty; we’ve lost Adam.

Another thing: What has liberty done for us? Nothing in particular that I know of. What have we done for her? Everything. We’ve given her a home, and a good home too. And if she knows anything, she knows it’s the first time she ever struck that novelty. She knows that when we took her in she had been a mere tramp for 6,000 years, biblical measure. Yes, and we not only ended her troubles and made things soft for her permanently, but we made her respectable – and that she hadn’t ever been before. And now, after we’ve poured out these Atlantics of benefits upon this aged outcast, lo! and behold you, we are asked to come forward and set up a monument to her! Go to. Let her set up a monument to us if she wants to do the clean thing.

But suppose your statue represented her old, bent, clothed in rags, downcast, shame-faced, with the insults and humiliation of 6,000 years, imploring a crust and all hour’s rest for God’s sake at our back door? – come, now you’re shouting! That’s the aspect of her which we need to be reminded of, lest we forget it – not this proposed one, where she’s hearty and well-fed, and holds up her head and flourishes her hospitable schooner of flame, and appears to be inviting all the rest of the tramps to come over. O, go to – this is the very insolence of prosperity.

But, on the other hand – look at Adam. What have we done for Adam? Nothing. What has Adam done for us? Everything. He gave us life, he gave us death, he gave us heaven, he gave us hell. These are inestimable privileges – and remember, not one of them should we have had without Adam. Well, then, he ought to have a monument – for Evolution is steadily and surely abolishing him; and we must get up a monument, and be quick about it, or our children’s children will grow up ignorant that there ever was an Adam. With trifling alterations, this present statue will answer very well for Adam. You can turn that blanket into an ulster without any trouble; part the hair on one side, or conceal the sex of his head with a fire helmet, and at once he’s a man; put a harp and a halo and a palm branch in the left hand to symbolize a part of what Adam did for us, and leave the fire basket just where it is, to symbolize the rest. My friend, the father of life and death and taxes, has been neglected long enough. Shall this infamy be allowed to go on or shall it stop right here?

Is it but a question of finance? Behold the enclosed (paid bank) checks. Use them as freely as they are freely contributed. Heaven knows I would there were a ton of them; I would send them all to you, for my heart is in the sublime work!
– letter circa December 1, 1883

Could it be this seeming liberty that is ignorantly celebrated each 4th of July is the very culprit in the crumbling of our nation’s foundation?

As the eagle was killed by the arrow winged with his own feather, so the hand of the world is wounded by its own skill. – Helen Keller

Is it possible that the very liberties that have allowed us to publicly acknowledge the Divine Creator for 233 years are now being used by  the enemies of the cross to suppress and silence the voice of Christianity?

We could liken this abuse of liberty to the energy seen in fire. When possessed and restrained by a responsible society, it is one of the most useful elements that all of humanity has ever known. Yet when it is used in contempt and at the hand of a rebellious spirit, it can be the  destruction of not only ones very life but the entire society.

For analogy, let’s consider abortion…. the taking of innocent life.

Abraham Lincoln in the 19th Century said: “No one has the right to do what is wrong”… yet our society has taken the liberty of killing  50,000,000 + innocent babies since 1973.

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Patrick Henry :

“Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Beside, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of Nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.”
War is Inevitable, March 1775
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Samuel Adams :

“The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards.”

 

Alexander Hamilton :

“The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature by the hand of the Divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.”

 

John Adams :

“Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will be America’s heart, her benedictions and prayers, but she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator of her own.”

 

James Madison :

“It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution.
The freemen of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle. We revere this lesson too much …to forget it.”

One can not read the writings of our founding fathers and walk away from the fact that they understood our nation’s liberties and freedoms were birthed with both sacrificial human commitment as well as divine intervention. Yet we see our nation walking down a path that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is a path to destruction.

We have seen in these most recent days our president stand before the world and boast that “we are no longer a Christian nation” thereby ascribing a generic association to the True and Living God with all the other gods of religions. We see “these sacred rights of mankind” that Alexander Hamilton talked about in jeopardy of being “erased or obscured by mortal power”.  

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As we see these sacred rights being constrained it helps one to understand that real freedom is grounded in a liberty that is higher than humanity. True freedom is not…

“a man doing as one likes, but as a man ought”

… and that in obedience to God and His word, for in this we willingly become a bond servant… a spiritual paradox of sorts. 

For whatever a man chooses to obey, that becomes his master. We can either choose sin, which leads to bondage and eventually death, or we can choose to obey God and His word thereby taking on His righteousness. Prior to our life in Christ we were slaves of sin, but with a heart that has been quickened by His Spirit He enables us to be transformed into the image of Christ. 

And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.                     2 Corinthians 3:13-18

 

As I follow the persecuted church I find a spirit of liberty in the absence of freedoms. Many Christians loose their homes, businesses, all of their material possessions and in many instances are imprisoned as followers of Christ, yet this spirit of liberty thrives…. even unto death. 

Listen to the words of a persecuted pastor that daily walks through the valley of the shadow of death, yet he fears no evil, for he understands that our Lord is with him… 

 

“A shadow of a dog can’t bite you, and a shadow of death can’t kill you. You can kill us or put us in prison, but nothing bad can happen to us. We’re in Christ, and if we die, he will take us to his world.”  -vom extreme devotion

 

Herein lies the believers liberty and freedom and is found in none other than Jesus Christ.

malachi

 

Uneasy is the heart
until it rests in thee.

St. AUGUSTINE

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