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To Jerusalem with Love and Loyalty, An American Civil War Sermon June 16, 2009

Posted by Daniel Downs in American history, Christian nation, Constitution, Declaration of Independence, God, Jerusalem.

It was on April 30, 1863, in the midst of the American Civil War, that Dr. Stephen H. Tyng, pastor of one of the most influential churches in the city of New York, delivered a sermon entitled “Christian Loyalty.” He based this sermon on a passage from Psalms, a passage, he said “expressive of the loyalty and love of the Hebrew people for their institutions and nationality.” And so he began with these words of Psalm 137:

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea, we wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. ‘If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.’

“This is the patriot’s devotion to his country. It is a living spirit in his heart. It clings to his own land and people in their lowest depression as truly as in their highest prosperity. It is living and active within him, to whatever contumely and reproach it may expose him.

“My loyalty to Jerusalem is my love of her people. I am loyal to my nation. I will never give my consent to its dismemberment or its separation. I cling to the one Federal American people—not to a confederacy of States, but to a consolidated nation. I desire not to live to see a disunion of them for any reasons or upon any terms.… My loyalty is to the United States of America, that great federal nation, which, wherever scattered or however collected, have dwelt together under one glorious government, as one perpetual, indivisible people…. Be one people; be one nation.… Let Jerusalem be still a city at unity in itself, encircled with the walls of a common defense from foes abroad and bound together for a united subjugation of traitors at home.

“My loyalty to Jerusalem is my love for her territory. I love my country; I love it with an intense affection. Every part of it is equally mine, and equally dear to me. I am a citizen of the United States. I will acknowledge no Northern rights nor Southern rights. I have a simple, indisputable right in every portion of this soil, from sea to sea, as a citizen of this nation. I will never consent to give it up. I am a citizen of the whole. I have a right to a domicile, a protected home, throughout the whole, which I will never yield. To separate this glorious hard-earned land, to divide it, to disintegrate it, cut it up, parcel it out to a set of wild conflicting provinces, farm it out to the ambition of petty contending satraps, gaining in blood a short-lived triumph, is a degradation and a social atrocity to which I will never consent. … Let the land of your fathers, the sacred revered abode of a nation of freemen, be transmitted, unbroken, solid, entire, untarnished, to the children who succeed you. Die for it, if it must be so, but never give it up.

“My loyalty to Jerusalem is my love for the freedom which she has established. Men may call the testimonies of her Declaration of Independence a tissue of glittering generalities,” when they have no affinity with the liberty which it proclaims and no sympathy with the grandly humanizing influence which it is designed and destined to exercise. To my mind, it stands on the highest platform of unrevealed testimonies. In it the noblest emotions, aspirations, sentiments, and principles of the heart of man speak out in golden, crystal sounds:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

“What nobler testimony for human freedom or human exaltation was ever given? When did the representative mind of progressive, rising humanity ever announce its convictions and its purposes in a loftier strain or in a grander formula?…Never yield this priceless inheritance of human liberty; never sacrifice by any compromise the unrestricted, universal freedom of your nation; never consent to any arrangement in which you may not look back upon your fathers’ line and home, and still triumphant say, ‘Jerusalem, the mother of us all, is free.’

“My loyalty to Jerusalem is my love for her Constitution. Jerusalem had her glorious constitution from the Divine gift—a book in the hands of every one, to be read at home, to be studied by children, to be talked of by the way. America has received her Constitution from the gracious providence of God—the grand result of ages of human experience and observation—the admired shape and cast of man’s wisdom among the nations of the earth.

“Never was there a more majestic exhibition of sovereign power; never was there a more honorable display of mutual concession and self-restraint. Such is the American Constitution—a beautiful machinery of intellectual conception and of moral influence, working with its powers and restraints, its checks and balances, its provisions and prohibitions, in a thoroughly adjusted harmony, and in remarkable order and grandeur of operation.… Never give up this contest for the Constitution. Compel this rebellion to submit to its authority. And, if you must perish, perish nobly maintaining the peerless cause of liberty, government, and order.

“My loyalty to Jerusalem is my love for her government. Her Constitution is the charter of her government, the fixed and final scheme arranged for its construction and its perpetual control…. I love this government. I love it in its origin. I love it in its simplicity. I love it in its supremacy…. It combines for me all the possible freedom of liberty for the many consistent with order and tranquility for the whole …. It seems to me to have gathered the gems from all regions to make this new, last crown of a monarchical people—a ruling nation.

“To my nation, to my country, to the principle of freedom, to the Constitution, to the Government, while I live, will I be faithful; and, however depressed or downcast of desponding may be the incidents and elements of the day, even though in captivity I sit by the rivers of Babylon, I will never forget, dishonor, or deny the Jerusalem I have loved, beneath whose shade I have grown and been refreshed, and with whose sons and daughters I have gone to the house of God and taken sweet delight. Still in prayer for my beloved country will I look up to the King of kings and Lord of lords.”

Thank you Prof. Paul Eidelberg for sharing this treasure.



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