When our Founding Fathers penned the Declaration of Independence they made the following plea, found in the final chapter of this incredible document, , “We, Therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our Intentions…”
Not much is made of this document any longer, let alone this statement, but let’s consider it. The word RECTITUDE is Latin meaning right or straight. It can mean rightness of character. Morally correct behavior or thinking.
These men, in fashioning a government this world had yet to see, leaned not on their own understanding, but pinned their vision on Holy Scripture and what they saw as right in the eyes of God. They were, in essence, saying ‘We appeal to God that our intentions may be correct’.
Up to this time the world had seen rule by kings, churches, dictators and tyrants. But a people being allowed to govern themselves was unthinkable. Then the Continental Congress approved the wording of the Declaration on July 2, 1776 and the delegates voted to accept it on July 4th, formally declaring America’s independence from Great Britain.
This document, and the men who wrote it, leaned on God for guidance, wisdom and courage. Consider just a few of the statements: “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”, “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights” and “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence”.
These brave men desired that their motives be pure, that all men might benefit. They wanted their intentions to be judged by “the Supreme Judge of the world”. Few of us would want to publically make such a proclamation.
In the end their Declaration of Independence, paid for in the blood of Patriots, paved the way for our Constitution and the freedoms we enjoy, to this day. Along the way America has made mistakes and missteps. Liberties were withheld when they should have been given to all, no matter their gender, race or color. Poor decisions led to terrible acts of which we still need to repent.
Our Founding Fathers knew from Scripture that man’s heart is “deceitful and desperately wicked”. They had seen the evil borne out in the heart of kings and leaders. They were experiencing the pain of a horrible monarch and a system of government bent on total obedience, no matter the cost.
The language of the Declaration they penned promised “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”. Isn’t this what we all desire? To live. To live free. To live free to follow the desires of my heart and the leading of my God.
It was a great beginning. A noble experiment. That has led to a Country like no other. Here freedom still flourishes. Even those who don’t like our system are free to criticize and complain with no fear of retribution.
God answered the prayers of our Founding Fathers. He has honored “the rectitude of our intentions”. May our intentions be so pure.