Religious Convictions of America's Founders: John Hancock
"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor." Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
JOHN HANCOCK. As president of the Congress, he was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence. He was a revolutionary general, and the Governor of Massachusetts.
Provincial Congress Proclamation, Concord, Mass.
Saturday, April 15, 1775, A.D.
Whereas it hath pleased the righteous Sovereign of the universe, in just indignation against the sins of a people long blessed with inestimable privileges, civil and religious, to suffer the plots of wicked men on both sides of the Atlantic, who for many years have incessantly labored to sap the foundation of our public liberties, so far to succeed that we see the New England colonies reduced to the ungracious alternative of a tame submission to a state of absolute vassalage to the will of a despotic minister, or of preparing themselves to defend at the hazard of their lives the inalienable rights of themselves and prosperity against the avowed hostilities of their parent state, who openly threaten to wrest them from their hands by fire and sword.
In circumstances dark as these, it becomes us, as men and Christians, to reflect that, whilst every prudent measure should be taken to ward off the impending judgment, or to prepare to act in a proper manner under them when they come, at the same time, all confidence must be withheld from the means we use, and repose only on that God who rules in the armies of heaven, and without whose blessing the best human counsels are but foolishness, and all created power vanity.
It is the happiness of the church, that when the powers of earth and hell are combined against it, and those who should be nursing fathers become its persecutors, then the Throne of Grace is of the easiest access, and its appeal thither is graciously invited by that Father of Mercies who has assured it that “when his children ask bread, he will not give them a stone.” Therefore, in compliance with the laudable practice of the people of God in all ages, with humble regard to the steps of Divine Providence towards this oppressed, threatened, and endangered people, and especially in obedience to the command of Heaven, that binds us to call on him in the day of trouble:
Resolved, That it be, and hereby is, recommended to the good people of this colony, of all denominations, that Thursday, the eleventh day of May next, be set apart as a day of public humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that a total abstinence from servile labor and recreation be observed, and all their religious assemblies solemnly convened, to humble themselves before God under the heavy judgments felt and feared; to confess the sins they have committed; to implore the forgiveness of all our transgressions; a spirit of repentance and reformation; and a blessing on the husbandry, manufactures, and other lawful employment of this people; and especially that the union of the American colonies, in defense of their rights (for which hitherto we desire to thank Almighty God) may be preserved and confirmed; that the Provincial, and especially the Continental, Congresses, may be directed to such measures as God will countenance; that the people of Great Britain and their rulers may have their eyes opened to discern the things that make for the peace of the nation and all its connections; and that America may soon behold a gracious interposition of Heaven for the redress of her many grievances, the restoration of all her invaded liberties, and their security to the latest generations.
Ordered, That the foregoing be copied, authenticated, and sent to all the religious assemblies in this colony. Watertown, Nov. 20.
This Proclamation was signed by John Hancock, President, Provincial Congress