For Love of Liberty


If you’ve ever watched the movie “The Patriot” starring Mel Gibson you should know that his character is loosely based on a real patriot of the American Revolution, Francis Marion, a.k.a. “the swamp fox.” His was a rag tag band of farmers, clerks, and teachers that stood against a better equipped, more skilled British army that could not defeat him.

As the story goes, a British officer sought parley in order to meet Marion to determine what kind of man he was and understand what motivated this “swamp fox.” Upon meeting him he asked, “How is it, sir, that you persist?” Thankfully, the conversation was transcribed and is preserved for us today. It’s one of my favorite historical speeches and I share it with you on the eve of our nation’s 248th birthday.

"Well now, this is exactly my case. I am in love and my sweetheart is liberty. Be that heavenly nymph my companion, and these wilds and woods shall have charms beyond London or Paris in slavery. To have no proud monarch driving over me with his gilt coaches; nor his host of excise men and tax gatherers insulting and robbing me; but to be my own master, my own prince and sovereign, gloriously preserving my national dignity, and pursuing my true happiness, planting my vineyards, and eating their luscious fruit; and sowing my fields and reaping the golden grain: and seeing millions of brothers all around me, equally free and happy as myself, this sir, is what I long for.

And I had rather fight for such blessings for my country, and feed on roots, than keep aloof, though wallowing in all the luxuries of Solomon. For now sir, I walk the soil that gave me birth, and exult in the thought that I am not unworthy of it. I look upon these venerable trees around me and feel that I do not dishonor them. I think of my own sacred rights and rejoice that I have not basely deserted them. The children of distant generations may never hear my name, but still it gladdens my heart to think that I am now contending for their freedom, and all its countless blessings."

Upon his return from meeting Marion, this British officer went to his superiors, hung his head and confessed, “we have no chance.”

This reminds me that in the battle for truth, in the good fight of faith, against an aggressive and diabolical adversary, we contend not for victory but from victory. Jesus has conquered, our enemy is a defeated foe, and yet we must continue to strive against him. Grace never dampens our zeal but rather energizes it. Brothers, if we felt as much about the spiritual liberty we have in Christ as the “Swamp Fox” felt about colonial freedom, I think the devil would indeed hang his head and confess, “I have no chance.”

A reminder that in the battle for truth we contend not for victory but from victory.