Dr. John Witherspoon (1723-1794), Scottish pastor and theologian, was persuaded by American patriots to leave Scotland in 1768 and to accept the Presidency of Princeton College. There he trained over 140 Presbyterian ministers, and a greater number of Founding Era political leaders. Among his students were 9 of 55 framers of the U.S. Constitution, a president (James Madison), a vice-president, 21 U.S. Senators, 29 U.S. Congressmen, 56 state legislators, and 33 judges, three of whom ascended to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the War for Independence his students held commands throughout the American forces. On May 17, 1775, the Continental Congress called the 13 colonies to unite, repent, pray and fast for America. That very day Witherspoon preached:
I would… press every hearer to a sincere concern for his own soul’s salvation. There are times when the mind [is] more awake to divine truth… to the arrows of conviction [e.g., a season of public judgment]… Can you have a clearer view of the sinfulness of your nature, than when the rod of the oppressor is lifted up, and when you see men putting on [uniforms for war], and collecting on every hand the weapons of hostility and instruments of death? I do not blame your ardor in preparing for the resolute defense of your temporal rights; but consider, I beseech you, the truly infinite importance of the salvation of your souls…
This is the first time of my introducing any political subject into the pulpit. At this season, however, it is not only lawful but necessary, and I willingly embrace the opportunity… the cause in which America is now in arms, is the cause of justice, of liberty, and of human nature… the confederacy of the colonies has not been the effect of pride, resentment, or sedition, but of a deep and general conviction that our civil and religious liberties, and consequently… the temporal and eternal happiness of us and our posterity, depend on the issue. The knowledge of God and his truths have from the beginning of the world been chiefly, if not entirely confined to those parts of the earth where some degree of liberty and political justice were… There is not a single instance in history, in which civil liberty was lost, and religious liberty preserved… If therefore we yield up our temporal property, we at the same time deliver the conscience into bondage.
You shall not, my brethren, hear from me in the pulpit… railing at the king personally… his ministers… the parliament, [or the] people of Britain [calling them] barbarous savages. Many of their actions have probably been worse than their intentions. That they should desire unlimited dominion, if they can obtain or preserve it, is neither new nor [strange in world history]. I do not refuse submission to their unjust claims because they are corrupt or profligate, although probably many of them are so, but because they are [but] men, and therefore liable to all the selfish bias [that is] inseparable from human nature. I call this claim unjust… making laws to bind us in all cases whatsoever… Would any man who could prevent it, [yield] up his estate, person, and family, to the disposal of his neighbor, [even if he could choose] the wisest and the best master? Surely not. This is the true… hinge of the controversy between Great-Britain and America… [Their] claim of authority is unjust. Such is and must be their ignorance of the state of things here… that for these colonies to depend wholly upon the legislature of Great-Britain, would be like many other oppressive connections, injury to the master, and ruin to the slave (see John Witherspoon, “The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men,” May, 1776, Political Sermons of the American Founding Era: 1730-1805, Vol. 1, Ellis Sandoz; p. 529; see also Dr. Kenyn Cureton’s Lost Episode in American History).
Witherspoon firmly believed that sin is ingrained in human nature. Unchecked, the Supreme Court, the White House, even Congress, can be spiritually dull, morally hardened, and make bad, even evil decisions because these governing entities are composed of humans. Too many American officials are willing to usurp the Constitutional religious liberties Americans have enjoyed for over 225 years. The Obama administration certainly has. Will the Supreme Court do likewise? Do they not know that true Christians will choose to suffer than compromise their liberty of conscience and comply with government demands to act contrary to their deeply held biblical beliefs? (Acts; 5:29; Rev 12:11)