A Just God Presides Over Our Nation
By Ronald M. Mann
The January and February issues of our newsletter contained articles detailing how Providence had been involved in the founding and creation of our nation. Providential efforts can be easily tracked from Columbus's discovery to the present. It can even be traced as far back as Moses. Unfortunately, the record of His involvement has been excised from modern histories of America. In fact it has become a 'no, no' to even mention His name in schools. In the limited pages afforded by this newsletter I will attempt to document that the participants recognized His hand and vociferously defended it and the advantages of maintaining a Christian nation. Many of the participants in our early history expected it, as long as they remained righteous.
On March 20, 1775, a speech given in the Old Church of Saint John in Richmond, Virginia, by Patrick Henry epitomizes this belief. The words in that great speech still ricochet down through the pages of history and in the process etch the name of Patrick Henry forever in the minds of most Americans.
"There is no longer room for hope. If we wish to be free, we must fight! I repeat sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us! They tell me that we are weak; but shall we gather strength by irresolution? We are not weak. Three millions of people, armed in the holy course of liberty, and in such a country, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. We shall not fight alone. A just God presides over the destinies of nations . There is no retreat, but in submission and slavery.Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but for me, give me liberty, or give me death." (One Nation Under God, Booklet by Forest Montgomery, National Association of Evangelicals, 1986, p.7)
Patrick Henry expected it and George Washington saw it and repeatedly expressed it to all of those willing to listen:
"No people can be found to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the affairs of men, more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of 'Providential Agency'." (First Inaugural Address)
American leaders and governmental bodies alike have, down through time, expressed this sentiment:
"The great vital and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ." (America's God and Country , p.170, US House resolution, May 1854)
The Master Builder
Great scholars and observers of our history have frequently written of this. One such scholar was George Bancroft, he wrote:
"It is plain that we have entered on a New Era, the most extraordinary and momentous the world has ever seen. The old and imperfect is being cleared away and everything thoroughly reconstructed. The explanation is that we are now setting us the Grand Temple of Civilization, the separate stone and pillars of which each nation and age was commissioned to hew and carve, and so to speak, left in the quarry to await the time when, all the materials being ready, the Master Builder should collect all the scattered parts and raise the whole edifice at once to the astonishment and joy of mankind.
"All the institutions and civilizations of the past may be considered temporary, erected in haste from the materials nearest at hand, not for permanence, but to serve the present turn while the special task of a nation or age was being performed. The races and ages nearer birth of mankind worked on rougher parts of the edifice, that entered into the foundations; those grand races, the Greek and the Roman, furnished the noble outline which the nations of modern Europe perfected while they supplied what was still lacking for use and adornment.
"America was reserved, by design, for so many ages, to furnish a suitable and unencumbered location for the central halls and mightiest pillars of the completed structure. Our Fathers cleared the ground and laid the foundation deep down on the living rock, that is to say on Human Rights. That they seldom failed to place stone, pillar and column in just position the work, as we find it, proves, and we have little to do but to clear away the rubbish, beautify the grounds, and put the whole to its proper use.
"We begin to see that Time, Thought, and Experience have not wrought in vain, that Progress is not a phantom of the imagination, that the human race is essentially a Unit, that it has been growing through all the centuries and is now approaching the prime of its manhood, just ready to enter on its special career with its grandest work still to do. The energies of all the races are preparing for unheard of achievements. The world has never been so completely and so wisely busy as now, and America stands between modern Europe and ancient Asia, receiving from and giving to both. Her institutions are founded on principles so just and so humane that, when administered with due wisdom and skill, they will embarrass and restrain the proper activities of man at no point."( The Footprints of Time , Charles Bancroft, R.T. Root Pub ., 1881)
The Well-Proportioned Columns of Constitutional Liberty
Perhaps one of the greatest articulators of this position was Daniel Webster, he warned us over 150 years ago that:
"Other misfortunes may be borne, or their effects overcome. If disastrous war should sweep our commerce from the ocean, another generation may renew it; if it exhaust our treasury, future industry may replenish it, if it desolate and lay waste our fields, still, under a new cultivation they will grow green again, and ripen to future harvests. It were but a trifle if the walls of yonder capitol were to crumble, if its lofty pillars should fall, and its gorgeous decorations be all covered by the dust of the valley. All these might be rebuilt. But who shall reconstruct the fabric of demolished government? Who shall rear again the well proportioned columns of constitutional liberty? Who shall frame together the skillful architecture which unites national sovereignty? No. Gentlemen, if these columns fall they will be raised not again. Like the Coliseum and the Parthenon they will be destined to a mournful, a melancholy immortality. Bitterer tears, however, will flow over them than were ever shed over the monuments of Roman or Grecian art; for they will be the remnants of a more glorious edifice than Greece or Rome ever saw.the edifice of constitutional American liberty." (The Works of Daniel Webster, 1851, Vol1, page231)
During the Eighteenth century throughout our nation it was very popular for ministers to give what they called election sermons. To generally encourage the electors and politicians to always remember Providence and what He had given them and the benefits accrued thereby. Samuel Miller gave one of the truly great election sermons (1769-1850). He stated:
"We have convened, indeed, principally to celebrate the completion of another year of freedom to our western world. We are to keep this day as a memorial of the time which gave rise to the precious privileges we enjoy, as a sovereign and independent people.. It may, therefore, be.that our only proper employment.is.to recount the noble achievements, which, under the direction of infinite wisdom laid the foundation of our prosperity and happiness. But why should our chief attention be directed toward these objects? They are objects, indeed, upon which to gaze, delight and elevate the patriotic mind. They are objects, which, to lose sight of, is to forfeit the character of a faithful citizen.. I address many of those who were near witnesses of these stupendous transactions; and not a few who were agents in the important work. Whose hearts burn within them, at the recollection of events, which the world beheld with amazement: and who view with transport, the political greatness which these events were the means of ushering in, and establishing in our country.. Rather let us turn our attention to the grand Source, from which we are to expect the long continuance, and the happy increase of these invaluable gifts of heaven.. I propose.to offer you a few general remarks on the important influence of the Christian religion in promoting political freedom.. The principal object of the present discourse, is, That the general prevalence of real Christianity, in any government, has a direct and immediate tendency to promote, and to confirm therein, political liberty .. The truth is, that political liberty does not rest, solely, on the form of government, under which a nation may happen to live. It does not consist, altogether, in the arrangement or in the balance of power, nor even in the rights and privileges which the constitution offers to every citizen.. Human laws are too imperfect, in themselves, to secure completely this inestimable blessing. It must have its seat in the hearts and dispositions of those individuals which compose the body politic; and it is with the hearts and dispositions of men that Christianity is conversant.."
Pure Christianity Includes the Perfect Law of Liberty
" When, therefore, that perfect law of liberty, which this holy religion includes, prevails and governs in the minds of all, their freedom rests upon a basis more solid and immovable, than human wisdom can devise. For the obvious to bring deliverance to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to undo the heavy burdens; to let the oppressed go free; and to break every yoke.. The prevalence of Christianity promotes the principles and the love of political freedom, not only by the knowledge which it affords of the human character, and of the unalienable rights of mankind, but also by the duties which it inculcates.. What, then, would be the happy consequence, if that golden rule of our holy religion, which enjoins, that we should do unto all men whatever we would wish that they should do unto us, were universally received and adopted? We should hear no more of rulers plundering their fellow citizens of a single right; nor of the people refusing that obedience to equitable laws, which the public good requires. We should see no oppressor claiming from his equals, a subjection which they did not owe; nor should we see the latter lifting up their lawless hands, to resent the reasonable requisitions of an authority constituted by themselves. In short, were this principle universally to predominate, we should see nothing on the one side, but demands founded on a sincere regard to the general interest; and, on the other, that ready compliance, which promotes the peace and happiness of society."
Constitution Inadequate to Deal with Unbridled Passions
Our constitution was inspired by Providence, which almost all of those involved in its writing agree; it is the heart of our government and liberty. It is not ". . . armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion." (President John Adams ) We must at all cost guard against its demise, Frances Grund warned on this eventuality when he wrote:
"The American Constitution is remarkable for its simplicity; but it can only suffice a people habitually correct in their actions, and would be utterly inadequate to the wants of a different nation. Change the domestic habits of the Americans, their religious devotion, and their high respect for morality, and it will not be necessary to change a single letter in the Constitution in order to vary the whole form, of their government." (Aristocracy in American, Frances Grund, Harpers, 1959, pp.212-213)
In conclusion I will close with the final advice given by Samuel Miller, which is applicable and mandatory if we are to survive.
"Then, may we not conclude, that universal harmony and love, and as the necessary consequence of these, universal liberty, shall prevail? Then, may we not confidently hope, that oppression shall be as much abhorred, and as much unknown, as freedom is, at present, in many parts of the globe? That the name of man, of whatever nation, or kindred, or people, or tongue, shall then be the signal of brotherly affection: When the whole human race, uniting as a band of brethren, shall know no other wishes, than to promote their common happiness, and to glorify their common God: When there shall be nothing to hurt nor destroy in all the holy mountain of God-when the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose; and when the kingdoms of this world, shall become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ?"