Happiness in the eyes of DeKalb

by John E. Werhan

While recently reading “The Life of Francis Marion” by M.L. Weems, I came across a conversation between Major General Johann DeKalb, General Francis Marion, General Peter Horry and several of their subordinates that reflected the mindset of these Revolutionary Generals.

General DeKalb, after noting his last visit to his parents in France before coming to America, moved General Marion to conclude, “…that there is more happiness in low life than in high life; in a cottage than in a castle.” /1

At this, Marion asked DeKalb his opinion of this matter. DeKalb said:

“Why, gentlemen, since you have been so polite as to ask my opinion, I will as frankly give it, though I am afraid it will seem very odd, especially coming from a soldier. However, be that as it may, my opinion you have asked, and my opinion you shall have; which is, that religion is the only thing to make a man happy in cottages or courts.” /2

Many of the noted Generals of the American Revolution understood the importance of religion in the lives of individuals. This truism has not changed, if one is to truly find happiness it is imperative to understand that it is found in Christ Jesus.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus sets forth to enumerate the foundational principles of true happiness.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:3-12).

The word translated “blessed” that precedes each of these foundational points can also be translated “happy” from the original word. In essence if one desires true happiness they must seek and apply this foundation to their lives.

In our world today, individuals seek happiness in every place but where it is truly found. Then they wonder why they are not happy.

If you desire to find true happiness, you must begin in the inspired word of God seeking his plan of redemption. Then applying God’s commands for salvation by having your sins washed away in baptism (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:4; Galatians 3:26-27; Acts 10:47-48; Matthew 28:18-20).

Following that, we live a faithful life unto death (Revelation 2:10b; 22:14). The New Testament is the only guide to true happiness. Within its folds one finds the way of salvation and the lifestyle that leads to heaven.

It is my hope and prayer that you will seek God’s truth for your true happiness.

1/ Weems, M.L. “The Life of General Francis Marion” (Memoirs of General Peter Horry), Philadelphia, 1829, Project Gutenberg’s E-text of The Life of General Francis Marion


John preachers for the The Northeast church of Christ in Sentinel, Oklahoma.

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