Chesterton supposes (see below) that "in the matter of God and Government it is naturally God whose claim is taken more lightly." Much earlier, in the Revolutionary era, John Witherspoon (1723-94) was anxious that not be the case. Witherspoon was a Presbyterian clergyman and president of what became Princeton University. He was also a signer of the Declaration of Independence. On May 17, 1776 he preached a sermon titled "The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men." A portion of that sermon via Kevin DeYoung:
I do not blame your ardor in preparing for the resolute defense of your temporal rights. But consider I beseech you, the truly infinite importance of the salvation of your souls.
Is it of much moment whether you and your children shall be rich or poor, at liberty or in bonds?
Is it of much moment whether this beautiful country shall increase in fruitfulness from year to year, being cultivated by active industry, and possessed by independent freemen, or the scanty produce of the neglected fields shall be eaten up by hungry publicans, while the timid owner trembles at the tax gatherers approach?
And is it of less moment my brethren, whether you shall be the heirs of glory or the heirs of hell?
Is your state on earth for a few fleeting years of so much moment?
And is it of less moment, what shall be your state through endless ages?
Have you assembled together willingly to hear what shall be said on public affairs, and to join in imploring the blessing of God on the counsels and arms of the united colonies, and can you be unconcerned, what shall become of you for ever, when all the monuments of human greatness shall be laid in ashes, for “the earth itself and all the works that are therein shall be burnt up.” ....