September 8

When George Mason was contemplating the Virginia Declaration of Rights, he wrote, “No free government or the blessing of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue, and by frequent recurrent to fundamental principles.”

I usually try to keep these little historical vignettes somewhat positive. But with this I’d like to show what happens when God’s people forget to remember the “fundamental principles.”

On this day in 1790 the Warren Baptist Association (which existed because some had forgotten their Baptist principles), received a letter from the Convention of Congregational Ministers in Boston, urging them to petition Congress to “take measures… that no edition of the Bible, or its translation be published in America, without its being carefully inspected, and certified to be free from error.” The Warren Association agreed and submitted a request on their letterhead. Of course, as Baptists, they believed that the Bible was critical to the preservation of the Truth. The Word of God through the Textus Receptus must be defended, promoted and taught. But apparently they also believed that the United States government had a duty to protect and promote Biblical Christianity for the good of society. But it is the job of God’s churches and saints to carry out that work; it is not the mandate of government. How easy it is to lose sight of the fundamental principles of liberty of conscience when engaged in a good cause. The end never justifies the means.

At one point Baptists in Virginia were offered the support of government taxes. Praise God, they refused, standing firm on principle even when they could have benefitted materially.