This week, we in the United
States celebrate our National Holiday, July 4th. That was the day,
back in 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed. The actual
signing was only one incident in the along sequence of events that led to
establishment of what became the United States, But we recognize July 4th,
1776 as the birth of our nation.
Many other things happened
that year– some significant, others trivial. For example, a hurricane hit the
Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe resulting in the sinking of 100
French & Dutch ships and over 6000 deaths. Oh – and a New York bar
decorated some mixed drinks with bird tails which coined the term cocktail.
In England, Edward Gibbons
published the first volume of his “Decline & Fall of Roman
Empire.” Also, that year, Adam Smith
published his “Wealth of Nations”, widely considered the first modern work in
the field of economics. It is still widely influential today.
But in 1776, there was
something else published, something I think is far more noteworthy. It was the
famous hymn, Rock of Ages, written by
August Montagu Toplady. Historian, Mark Noll suggests that it might actually be
the most consequential publishing event that year. Rock of Ages is one of the two most reprinted hymns in Christian
history. The words read like a good sermon or almost like
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide
myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood, From Thy
riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure, Cleanse me
from its guilt and power.
Not the labours of my hands, Can fulfill
Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know, Could my
tears for ever flow,
All for sin could not atone: Thou must
save, and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to
Thy Cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress; Helpless,
look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me,
Saviour, or I die.
There is a lot of very
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there,
The United States was
However, there is no freedom
As the Apostle Paul wrote
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking