“We fix on our Standards and Drums the Colony arms, with the motto, Qui Transtulit Sustinet, round it in letters of gold, which we construe thus: God, who transplanted us hither, will support us.” – A letter regarding the Lexington Alarm dated Wethersfield, CT., April 23, 1775 Record of Connecticut Men in the War of the Revolution 1775-1783, Adj. Gen., Hartford, 1889
Historical Series, Number Eight, January 2000
The Educational Outreach of the General Israel Putnam Branch No. 4
of the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution
GOVERNOR JONATHAN TRUMBULL –
ARMED BY DIVINE PROVIDENCE FOR THE HOLY CAUSE
The Seal and Motto of Connecticut continued to bear fruit, when by Divine Providence, Jonathan Trumbull became our Revolutionary War Governor and we became known as “the Provision State”. The colonial Seals of Connecticut clearly refer to Divine Providence with the hand of God first appearing out of the glory cloud, holding the banner with the motto “He Who Transplanted Still Sustains” over the transplanted vineyard. On the later Seal, the hand of Divine Providence, would by grace (John 1:17) strengthen a vine which bears more fruit (John 15:1-5). Divine Providence was early recognized in the Bible as “God will provide” (Genesis 22:8) and can be found in the Christian writings of St. Augustine (City of God), John Calvin (Institutes of the Christian Religion), William Ames (Marrow of Theology), John Flavel (Mystery of Providence), and the Westminster Assembly (Shorter Catechism in the New England Primer).
Colonial Seals of Connecticut
George Washington, a sworn Episcopal Vestryman who regularly attended Christian services during his lifetime, read his Bible, and “hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act, as becomes a CHRISTIAN SOLDIER, defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.” When General Washington would say “we must consult Brother Jonathan”, he was keenly aware of the propitious position that Governor Trumbull and Connecticut enjoyed. A line from Shakespeare’s “King Henry the Fifth” (III,vi,164) is appropriate to our rebel Governor’s providential position as war with England approached: “We are in God’s hand, brother, not in theirs.”
In colonial America, as in England, they read their Bible, and Divine Providence was neither the action nor the name of an impersonal unknown God, but rather the righteous judgement of a merciful and holy God, according to his word and purpose. The Apostle Paul, preaching to the men of Athens at the Areopagus would declare Him (Acts 17:16-34) and become known as one of “These that have turned the World upside down” (KJV Acts 17:6-7). The Gospel message had removed the curtain (John 1:1-18, 4:19-26, 14:9). In his Epistle to the Galatians, Paul defined spiritual liberty in Christ. The impact of the Gospel would date the history of Western Civilization, both A.D., anno Domini, in the year of the Lord and B.C., before Christ.
The development of moveable type by Johannes Gutenburg providentially coincided with the demand for Bibles and the first book printed was The Holy Bible. Martin Luther produced a German translation and the spirit of English Puritanism would begin with a belief that the scriptures should be read by the common people. Against the authority of Church and Crown, William Tyndale left England in 1524 and went to Germany to produce 15,000 of the first printed English Bibles, for which he would be later strangled and Burnt at the stake. By the blood of hundreds of martyrs, on the rack, the block and the stake, the English Bible could be read by the common people. The later Geneva Bible, first printed in 1560, opens with a page “To the Christian Reader’ noting it was undertaken as a great and wonderfull Worke “which now God according to his divine providence and mercie hath directed to a most prosperous end. “Accordingly, the words Divine Providence appear in our Declaration of Independence. The Bible in English would dispute the right of Kings or Parliaments to govern in a haughty and arbitrary manner. By the Light of Tyndale’s literary scholarship in the Puritan’s Geneva Bible (with marginal notes) and later the King James Version, New England was populated. In 1643, The New England Confederation began with the words “Whereas we all came into these parts of America, with one and the same end and ayme, namely, to advance the Kingdome of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to enjoy the liberties of the Gospel, in purity with peace”. Naming themselves “The United Colonies of New England”, these “peculiar people” or “people set at libertie” (1 Peter 2:9 KJV or Geneva) would by Divine Providence, “Fire the shot heard round the world” and turn the World upside down.
On the eve of the American Revolution, “the Rights of Englishmen” had been a heroic struggle from the storied Caradoc (known to the Romans as Caratacus), ancient King of the Britons. When Claudius Caesar invaded Britain, Caradoc was betrayed and taken prisoner to Rome in 51 A.D., where his noble appeal to the Emperor spared his life and family. His Father Bran “the Blest”, a later evangelist for Christ in Britain, Son Llin and Daughter Glady (Claudia), would remain at Caesar’s Court to guarantee Caradoc’s behavior in Britain. Caradoc’s Daughter, the British Princess, married Rufus Pudens, son of a Roman senator and his Son Llin (Linus) became Bishop of Rome where in an early fresco is depicted burying the Apostle Peter. From a dungeon cell in Rome, the Apostle Paul wrote his last known words before he was beheaded and expressed greetings from Pudens, Linus and Claudia (2 Timothy 4:21).
Two hundred years later, the Roman Soldier Alban was beheaded by the Roman Governors in Britain for his conversion to Christianity. The British erected the Church of St. Alban in his honor and the British Church calendar honored their Protomartyr on June 17th (our Bunker Hill Day). The collapsing Roman Empire removed their Legions from Britain in 410 A.D., leaving the Island unprotected from the landing of Angles, Saxons and Jutes. King Arthur in quest of the Holy Grail, would connect the British defence against the Saxons, with the traditions of Glastonbury. The Saxons prevailed but were attacked by the Danish Vikings landing in 787. Christianity, having been firmly established in Britain by 240 A.D., would have a strong influence on King Alfred of the West Saxons (Wessex) who summoned the “fyrd” ( the ancient Saxon local militia) to defeat the Danes, Christianized their leader Guthrurn who settled the Danelaw, united Engel-land, translated scriptures for the Churches, recorded English common law and is known as “Alfred the Great”. Norwegian Vikings (Northmen/Norman) attacked Paris and in 911 received lands in France by treaty (Normandie). The Normans under William the Conqueror would invade England in 1066 and their victory at the Battle of Hastings, established Norman rule over England. In 1215 King John was confronted by his Norman Barons and the Magna Carta was mediated at Runnymede by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Later, King Edward incorporated the provisions of Magna Carta into the common law.
In 1588, Queen Elizabeth summoned the “trained bands” to defend against the landing of the Spanish Armada, but the interposition of Providence would be noted on English and Dutch coins when England was saved by sudden storms scattering the Spanish ships. England’s Coin, pictured out of the glory cloud “God Breathed and they were scattered” and the Dutch coin, with men praying and ships sinking, “Man Proposeth, God Disposeth”.
In the early seventeenth century, The “Rights of Englishmen” were circumvented by the Stuart Kings claiming Divine Right and Royal Prerogative above established English law. Many Puritans escaped to New England, but those remaining would support the Parliamentary cause. Sir Edward Coke, an English Law scholar, Chief Justice, MP and champion of the common law invoked Magna Carta, first in the Great Protestation of 1621 “stating Magna Charta is called The Charter of Liberty because it maketh freemen”, and then in 1628, “The Petition of Right” to King Charles 1. Coke was sent to the Tower for treason, but his writings on the origins of common law known as “The Institutes of the Laws of England and the Reports of Sir Edward Coke Kt. in English in Thirteen Parts Compleat” provided support to the rebellion of Parliament against the King known as the English Civil Wars or more affectionately as the “Good Old Cause” of 1640. In 1644, John Milton would publish his pamphlet for the liberty of unlicenc’d printing titled “Areopagitica”, his most frequently republished prose work. After the death of Cromwell he wrote “The Readie & Easie Way” in March of 1660 against the return of monarchy and having been spared execution after the restoration, his great epic poem, “Paradise Lost”. By Divine Providence, his sense of Christian Liberty expressed in his Prose and Poetry, along with other prominent spokesmen for the “Good Old Cause” would find a home in New England over a hundred years later on the doorstep of the American Revolution.
Sir Henry Vane served as Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and later in Parliament with Oliver Cromwell. In consideration of a general solemn day of fasting and humiliation proclaimed by Cromwell in 1656, Vane published an important tract titled “A Healing Question” on the principles of civil and religious liberties, praising the “Good Old Cause”, but questioning Cromwell’s future intentions and proposing a convention and method of forming a constitution, as later followed in America. George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” illustrates the tyrants disrespect for constitutions and Vane was arrested for treason after the restoration. “A Healing Question” and the account of his trial and execution (judicial murder) in 1662, recognized the ancient roots of the “Rights of Englishmen” and his use of the Biblical nature of “Providence” is typical of its widespread use in the American Colonies.
Isaac Newton formulated the order of God’s physical universe and his friend John Locke published “Two Treatises of Government”. In 1652, John Locke entered Christ Church, Oxford; the college whose Dean was John Owen, author of “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. Locke would remain in a Studentship at Oxford until 1684 when his sympathy with the Good Old Cause gave the King reason to order his removal. Becoming Chaplain to the Earl of Shaftesbury, he would write several books, including “The Reasonableness of Christianity”, but now to refute a book written by Sir Robert Filmer, titled “Patriarcha: A Defence of the Natural Power of Kings against the Unnatural Liberty of the People”, Locke published his Biblically based “Two Treatises on Government”, which would significantly influence American Revolutionary thought. Published after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 in England, he hoped the book was “sufficient to establish the Throne of our Great Restorer, Our present King William; to make good his Title, in the Consent of the People, which being the only one of all lawful Governments, he has more fully and clearly than any Prince in Christendom: And to justifie to the World, the People of England, whose love of their Just and Natural Rights, with their Resolution to preserve them, saved the Nation when it was on the very brink of Slavery and Ruine”. He goes on to establish a basic principle: “For Men being all the Workmanship of one Omnipotent, and infinitely wise maker; All the Servants of one Sovereign Master, sent into the World by his order and about his business, they are his Property, whose Workmanship they are, made to last during his, not one anothers Pleasure.” At some point, man or common-wealth must judge if there is cause for a State of War. The example Locke uses is the Biblical story of “Jephtha” (Judges 11:27); “Jephtha here tells us, that the Lord the Judge, shall judge. Where there is no Judge on Earth, theAppeal lies to God in Heaven.”
Sir Algernon Sidney wrote “Discourses Concerning Government” similar to Locke in refute of Filmer, and like Vane twenty years earlier, was tried and executed for treason in 1683. After using the Apocryphal Book of Susanna and the treachery of the two witnesses in his defense, he commented “We live in an Age that maketh Truth pass for Treason”. Sidney would become an honored Martyr to Liberty and provide a textbook for the American Revolution.
In 1741, George Frideric Handel completes the greatest Oratorio ever written, “Messiah”. The “great Handel”, experiencing similar thoughts to Milton in 11 Penseroso (161-166), exclaimed “I did think I did see all heaven before me, and the great God himself’. This inspired composer, whom Beethoven acknowledged as “the greatest, ablest composer that ever lived.”, would title two later works “Jephtha” and “Susanna”. The Oratorios of Handel glorified the rise of the free people of England, recognizing in them their own faith.
>The “Good Old Cause” in England would become a primer for the American Revolution thanks to Thomas Hollis and his “Liberty Books”. After reading the Reverend Jonathan Mayhew’s 1754 Election Sermon on Government, Hollis corresponded with Mayhew and sent him books from England on the “Good Old Cause” by Milton, Sidney, Locke, etc. with copies to the Library at Harvard, Yale and Princeton and soon became familiar to the colonial patriots along with the English writings of John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon known as Cato’s Letters.
The snake was an early symbol of rebellion and New England was in rebellion against the tyranny of man and was recognized as the head of the snake, which the interposition of Providence (Maxims of Washington, p. 350) would prevent the British from severing at the Hudson River. Adam’s belief had been tested in the garden by the “old deluder’ causing Adam’s fall and our condition, where the question of vineyard ownership would be addressed in a parable (Matthew 21:33-44). Connecticut had proclaimed God’s ownership in its Seal and Motto; New England likewise responded with words of the popular song “Chester”, “New England’s God forever reigns” and his Divine Providence is attested to in CT’s Fundamental Orders, Constitutions and Proclamations, Virginia’s Charter of 1606, The Navigation Act of 1660, Patrick Henry’s Liberty or Death Speech (Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty), etc. The Biblical view of Providence is evident in a Proclamation by Governor Frances Bernard, appointing April 6,1769 as a General Fast Day in Massachusetts and repeated by John Hancock in Provincial Congress at Concord April 15, 1775, appointing a Fast Day for May 11. The prestigious Election Sermons were the heart of colonial thought and at Boston on June 7, 1773, the Reverend Simeon Howard would choose “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free” (Gal 5:1) for the Artillery Election Sermon preached to the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, The Provincial Congress of Georgia (Georgia Resolves) opened on July 4, 1775 to a Sermon by the Reverend John Zubly on “The gospel is a law of Liberty” (James 2:12).
To the Glory of God, Connecticut, by Governor Jonathan Trumbull’s Proclamation, would be in prayer on April 19, 1775 when the British approached Concord. Trumbull’s earlier Proclamation for a Day of Fasting and Prayer was for our neglect of the inestimable Privileges of the Gospel, and trifling with the Liberties wherewith CHRIST hath made us free. By Divine Providence, the Word of the Lord in prayer in Connecticut, combined with the Arm of the Lord at Concord Bridge, as displayed out of the glory cloud on the Flag of the Bedford Minutemen (Psalm 44:1-3), would inspire the words of Emerson’s Concord Hymn, “By the rude bridge that arched the flood, Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled farmers stood, and fired the shot heard round the world”.
Six years later in October of 1781 at Yorktown, Virginia, the British surrendered and they left the field playing the tune “The World Turned Upside Down“. The Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783 ending the war and beginning with the words, “in the name of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity. It having pleased the Divine Providence to dispose the hearts”….