In honor of independence day, I offer the following quotes are from Great Quotations (CD-ROM) by William J. Federer. This book seems to have been renamed American Quotations. It is merely a large collection of quotations given without comment.
Virginia, Second Charter of (May 23, 1609), granted by King James I, stated:
Because the principal Effect which we can expect or desire of this Action is the Conversion and reduction of the people in those parts unto the true worship of God and the Christian Religion.
And forasmuch, as it shall be necessary for all such our loving Subjects, as shall inhabit within the said Precincts of Virginia, aforesaid, to determine to live together, in the Fear and true Worship of Almighty God, Christian Peace, and civil Quietness, with each other, whereby every one may, with more Safety, Pleasure, and Profit, enjoy that, whereunto they shall attain with great Pain and Peril.
Harvard University (1636), founded by the General Court of Massachusetts only sixteen years after the landing of the Pilgrims.
The Rules and Precepts observed at Harvard, September 26, 1642, stated:
Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternall life, John 17:3 and therefore to lay Christ in the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisedome, Let every one seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seeke it of him Prov. 2, 3.
Every one shall so exercise himselfe in reading the Scriptures twice a day, that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein, both in Theoreticall observations of Language and Logick, and in practicall and spirituall truths, as his Tutor shall require, according to his ability; seeing the entrance of the word giveth light, it giveth understanding to the simple, Psalm, 119:130.
New England Confederation, Constitution of the (May 19, 1643), was the first document in America where colonies united themselves. The colonists of New Plymouth, New Haven, Massachusetts & Connecticut, covenanted together, stated:
Whereas we all came to these parts of America with the same end and aim, namely, to advance the Kingdome of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to injoy the liberties of the Gospell thereof with purities and peace, and for preserving and propagating the truth and liberties of the gospell. …
And whereas in our setting (by a wise providence of God) we are further dispersed upon the sea coasts and rivers than was at first intended. …
The said United Colonies for themselves and their posterities to jointly and severaly hereby enter into a firm and perpetual league of friendship and amity for offence and defence, mutual advice and succor upon all just occasions both for preserving and propagating the Gospel and for their own mutual safety and welfare.
The Colony of Maryland required the every governor annually take an oath that they would not:
By themselves, or indirectly, to trouble, molest, or discountenance any person professing to believe in Jesus Christ, for or in respect of religion; and if any such were so molested, to protect the person molested, and punish the offender.
Pennsylvania, Great Law of (December 7, 1682), the first legislative act of Pennsylvania, stated:
Whereas the glory of Almighty God and the good of mankind is the reason and the end of government, and, therefore government itself is a venerable Ordinance of God. … [let there be established] laws as shall best preserve true Christian and Civil liberty, in opposition to all unchristian, licentious, and unjust practices, whereby God may have his due, and Caesar his due, and the people their due, from tyranny and oppression.
That no person, now or at any time hereafter, Living in this Province, who shall confess and acknowledge one Almighty God to be the Creator, Upholder and Ruler of the World, And who professes, him or herself Obliged in Conscience to Live peacably and quietly under the civil government, shall in any case be molested or prejudiced for his, or her Conscientious persuasion or practice.
Nor shall he or she at any time be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious worship, place of Ministry whatever, Contrary to his, or her mind, but shall freely and fully enjoy his, or her, Christian Liberty in that respect, without any Interruption or reflection.
And if any person shall abuse or deride any other, for his, or her different persuasion and practice in matters of religion, such person shall be looked upon as a Disturber of the peace, and be punished accordingly.
In February of 1776, John Adams, George Wythe, and Roger Sherman, all signers of the Declaration of Independence and office holders in early government, comprised a committee responsible for establishing guidelines for an embassy bound for Canada. Their instructions stated:
You are further to declare that we hold sacred the rights of conscience, and may promise to the whole people, solemnly in our name, the free and undisturbed exercise of their religion. And. … that all civil rights and the right to hold office were to be extended to persons of any Christian denomination.
Federer’s book has many more of such quotes, and is a great read and history lesson.