Guest Author - T. Lynn Adams
It’s the Fourth of July--time for barbecues, fireworks and family. I hope, as we share this time with loved ones, enjoying the safest food in the world, watching colorful parades filled with privately-owned cars, horses and more, that we pause for a moment to reflect on all the blessings we have in this great country. Our type of freedom, government and economy has been held by no other nation in the history of the world.
How thankful I am for our founding fathers. They gave their fortunes, their reputations--their very lives to establish the freedoms we enjoy. Yet it seems many today wink at each other while defaming these great men. I disapprove. Despite their humanness, the framers of our great country “were not ordinary men, but men chosen and held in reserve by the Lord for this very purpose” (Ezra Taft Benson, BYU Devotional, Sept 16, 1986). And they fulfilled that purpose when no others could!
Brigham Young declared the founding fathers as men, raised up and inspired by God on High, with ‘daring sufficient to surmount every opposing power’ (Discourses of Brigham Young, pg 359). Yes. What they did took tremendous daring and courage.
“Those men who laid the foundation of this American government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits…(and) were inspired of the Lord” (President Wilford Woodruff).
Even the Lord declared them ‘wise men’ whom He had raised up ‘unto this very purpose’ (D&C 101:80).
What powerful accolades! And that is what we must remember and share when we reflect on these men. They were chosen, daring and wise men, truly choice spirits and inspired of God. They did what we could not. They were called to a specific purpose and, despite their imperfections, they fulfilled their divinely-appointed missions. I only hope I can claim the same when I die.
These men knew their endeavors were greater than the immediacy of the day. Speaking to us as if he were Adams, Webster shared this deep, inner conviction: “Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, I give my hand and my heart to this vote…There is a divinity that shapes our ends…Independence is now within our grasp. We have but to reach forth to it, and it is ours.
“If we fail, it can be no worse for us. But we shall not fail…The people—the people, if we are true to them, will carry us, and will carry themselves, gloriously through this struggle. I care not how fickle other people have been found. I know the people of these colonies…Sir, the Declaration of Independence will inspire the people with increased courage….it will breathe into them anew the spirit of life.
“Read this declaration at the head of the army; every sword will be drawn…Publish it from the pulpit, religion will approve it…Send it to the public halls…and the very walls will cry out in its support.
“I see clearly through this day’s business. You and I, indeed, may rue it. We may not live to see the time this declaration shall be made good. We may die; die colonists; die slaves; die…ignominiously and on the scaffold. Be it so: be it so. If it be the pleasure of Heaven that my country shall require the poor offering of my life, the victim shall be ready at the appointed hour of sacrifice, come when that hour may. But while I do live, let me have a country, or at least the hope of a country, and that a FREE country.
“But whatever may be our fate, be assured—be assured that this Declaration will stand....When we are in our graves, our children will honor it. They will celebrate it with thanksgiving, with festivity, with bonfires, and illuminations...with tears...of exultation, of gratitude, and of joy.
“All that I have, and all that I am...I am now ready here to stake upon it; and I leave off as I began, that, live or die, survive or perish, I am for the Declaration. It is my living sentiment, and, by the blessing of God, it shall by my dying sentiment; independence now and INDEPENDENCE FOREVER.”
He that is without sin, let him cast the first stone at these men. I won't. I hold too much appreciation for them.