Saturday, December 24, 2016
God and the Founders of our Country
Despite some Americans preoccupation with the secularization of Christmas, our Founders, the framers of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution, had no such concerns about public expressions of faith, as none was warranted. Conversely, they were bold about promoting Christianity and speaking about their own faith.
Historian Peter Lillback, author of "Sacred Fire," an exhaustive scholarly treatise on George Washington, notes that it is only in recent years, with the searchable digital publication of our Founders' writings, that we get an accurate picture of their faith, and expression of same.
Lillback writes, "Washington referred to himself frequently using the words 'ardent,' 'fervent,' 'pious,' and 'devout.' There are over one hundred different prayers composed and written by Washington in his own hand. He described himself as one of the deepest men of faith of his day when he confessed to a clergyman, 'No Man has a more perfect Reliance on the alwise, and powerful dispensations of the Supreme Being than I have nor thinks his aid more necessary.' Although he never once used the word 'Deist' in his voluminous writings, he often mentioned religion, Christianity, and the Gospel. He spoke of Christ as 'the divine Author of our blessed religion.' He wrote of 'the blessed religion revealed in the Word of God.' He encouraged seekers to learn 'the religion of Jesus Christ.' He even said to his soldiers, 'To the distinguished Character of Patriot, it should be our highest Glory to add the more distinguished Character of Christian.'
Believe it or not, Washington did not need to consult pollsters or focus groups, as general or president, before issuing proclamations of faith. He spoke them from his heart, just as most of our Founders did.
From the Founders Themselves
To the distinguished Character of Patriot, it should be our highest Glory to add the more distinguished Character of Christian.
Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. ... The Hand of providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.
The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God. ... The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity and humanity.
I [rely] upon the merits of Jesus Christ for a pardon of all my sins. ... I conceive we cannot better express ourselves than by humbly supplicating the Supreme Ruler of the world ... bringing in the holy and happy period when the kingdoms of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ may be everywhere established, and the people willingly bow to the scepter of Him who is the Prince of Peace. ... We may with one heart and voice humbly implore His gracious and free pardon through Jesus Christ, supplicating His Divine aid ... [and] above all to cause the religion of Jesus Christ, in its true spirit, to spread far and wide till the whole earth shall be filled with His glory.
That the spiritual kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ may be continually increasing until the whole earth shall be filled with His glory.
Being a Christian ... is a character which I prize far above all this world has or can boast. ... The Bible is a book worth more than all the other books that were ever printed. ... This is all the inheritance I can give to my dear family. The religion of Christ can give them one, which will make them rich indeed.
Condescend, merciful Father! to grant as far as proper these imperfect petitions, to accept these inadequate thanksgivings, and to pardon whatever of sin hath mingled in them for the sake of Jesus Christ, our blessed Lord and Savior; unto Whom, with Thee, and the blessed Spirit, ever one God, be rendered all honor and glory, now and forever. ... The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts. ... Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.
I am a Christian in the only sense in which He wished anyone to be: sincerely attached to His doctrines in preference to all others. ... I am a real Christian -- that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ.
I have sometimes thought there could not be a stronger testimony in favor of religion or against temporal enjoyments, even the most rational and manly, than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and [who] are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare their unsatisfactoriness by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ.
How many observe Christ's birth-day! How few, his precepts! O! 'tis easier to keep Holidays than Commandments.
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