The Divine Source of Liberty

by Derrick G. Jeter

Samuel Adams was a beer maker in Boston, and not a very good one. Adams didn’t have the passion or the patience for beer making. But he did have a passion and a talent for rabble rousing. More than any other Founding Father in the early years of revolution, it was Sam Adams who propelled the patriot cause forward.
In a widely circulated poem at the time Adams reminded his followers that the source of liberty came from God, not the British government. If America was to succeed in her long sought after freedom, her people would have to keep this truth ever before their minds.
All temporal power is of God,
And the magistratal, His institution, laud,
To but advance creaturely happiness aubaud:
Let us then affirm the Source of Liberty.
Ever agreeable to the nature and will,
Of the Supreme and Guardian of all yet still
Employed for our rights and freedom’s thrill:
Thus proves the only Source of Liberty.
Though our civil joy is surely expressed
Through hearth, and home, and church manifest,
Yet this too shall be a nation’s true test:
To acknowledge the divine Source of Liberty.[1]
Adams may not be much of a poet, but he did understand something fundamental about our liberty: if ever we forgot the Divine giver and guarantor of our rights and freedom we would have failed the central test as a free nation.
In an earlier essay (“Our Inalienable Right to Healthcare”) I pointed out that the United States Congress has taken it upon themselves the mantle of bestowing rights to American citizens. They seem to have forgotten that God is the sovereign over “All temporal power” and that “the magistratal” is “His institution.” They have forgotten that the job of Congress is only to “advance creaturely happiness.” They are not to presume that they can do God’s job better than He. And yet they have—presumed divine authority and privilege, and in so doing they have also failed; failed not only in their oath as protectors of our rights, but failed our country as well.
[1] Samuel Adams, “The Divine Source of Liberty,” quoted in The Patriot’s Handbook, ed. George Grant (Nashville: Cumberland House, 1996), 86.