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Lost Episode for October 25

GW President closeupIn his third annual address to Congress, President George Washington stated on Tuesday, October 25, 1791:

“Numerous as are the Providential blessings which demand our grateful acknowledgements, the abundance with which another year has again rewarded the industry of the husbandman is too important to escape recollection….

“A System corrisponding with the mild principles of religion and philanthropy towards an unenlightened race of men, whose happiness materially depends on the conduct of the United States, would be as honorable to the national character as conformable to the dictates of sound policy…

“[I]n reference to the national security… the establishment of competent Magazines & Arsenals, and the fortification of such places as are peculiarly important and vulnerable, naturally present themselves to consideration. The safety of the United States, under Divine protection, ought to rest on the basis of systematic and solid arrangements; exposed as little as possible to the hazards of fortuitous circumstances.”*

President George Washington publicly recognized God’s blessings on our nation, advocated religious and benevolent outreach toward Indians, and argued that even though America is under “Divine protection” we should have a strong national defense. That is another lost episode in American history.

Read and Reflect: Read 2 Chronicles 26:1-15 and reflect on God’s blessing on Uzziah’s reign and his military preparations and compare them with Washington’s proposal.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you for the wisdom of President Washington in acknowledging your blessing on our productivity, the need to promote religious principle and benevolence toward the needy, and the necessity of providing for the defense for our safety. Give us leaders like Washington we pray, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

*Source Citation: Philander D. Chase, ed., The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, (Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 2000), 9:110-117. Original spelling and capitalization were preserved.

 

Lost Episode for October 24

Elias Boudinot CroppedA public servant and outspoken Christian, Elias Boudinot died on October 24, 1821. Boudinot became a Christian during the First Great Awakening and was baptized by the renowned Rev. Dr. George Whitefield. He was an active member of the First Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth Town, New Jersey, which was led by Patriot Pastor James Caldwell. Boudinot served as the President of the Second Continental Congress (1782-83) and became a U.S. Representative from New Jersey (1789-95) and helped frame the Bill of Rights. He also helped found and served as the first President of the American Bible Society (1816-21).

On July 4, 1793, Elias Boudinot addressed the Society of the Cincinnati:

“The history of the world, as well sacred as profane, bears witness to the use and importance of setting apart a day as a memorial of great events, whether of a religious or political nature.
No sooner had the great Creator of the heavens and the earth finished his almighty work, and pronounced all very good, but He set apart (not an anniversary, or one day in a year, but) one day in seven, for the commemoration of his inimitable power in producing all things out of nothing [Gen. 1:31-2:3; Heb. 11:3].

“The deliverance of the children of Israel from a state of bondage to an unreasonable tyrant was perpetuated by the Paschal Lamb, and enjoining it on their posterity as an annual festival for ever, with a ‘remember this day, in which ye came out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage’ [Exod. 13:3]. The resurrection of the Saviour of mankind is commemorated by keeping the first day of the week, not only as a certain memorial of his first coming in a state of humiliation, but the positive evidence of his future coming in glory.

“Let us then, my friends and fellow-citizens, unite all our endeavors this day to remember with reverential gratitude to our supreme Benefactor, all the wonderful things He has done for us, in our miraculous deliverance from a second Egypt — another house of bondage. ‘And thou shalt show thy son on this day, saying, this day is kept as a day of joy and gladness, because of the great things the Lord hath done for us, when we were delivered from the threatening power of an invading foe. And it shall be a sign unto thee, upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the law of the Lord may be in thy mouth, for with a strong hand hast thou been delivered from thine enemies. Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in its season, from year to year, for ever’ [Exod. 13:8-10].”*

Elias Boudinot’s comparison of Israel’s bondage in Egypt to that of America’s bondage to Britain is another lost episode in American history.

Read and Reflect: Read Exodus 13 and reflect on the comparisons Boudinot makes between America and Israel and between the Egyptian slave-masters and British tyranny.

Prayer: Father, we thank you for the deliverance you brought about in the lives of your covenant people Israel, in the lives of early Americans, and in our lives through the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, in whose Name, we pray, Amen.

*Source Citation: Jane J. Boudinot, ed., The Life, Public Services, Addresses and Letters of Elias Boudinot 2 vols., (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1896), 2:358-59. Bracketed items added.

 

Lost Episode for October 23

Woodrow Wilson CroppedOn October 23, 1913, President Woodrow Wilson issued a Proclamation of a National Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer:

“The season is at hand in which it has been our long respected custom as a people to turn in praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God for His manifold mercies and blessings to us as a nation.

“The year that has just passed has been marked in a peculiar degree by manifestations of His gracious and beneficent providence… ‘Righteousness exalteth a nation’ [Prov. 14:34] and ‘peace on earth, good will towards men’ [Luke 2:14] furnish the only foundation upon which can be built the lasting achievements of the human spirit. The year has brought us the satisfaction of work well done and fresh visions of our duty which will make the work of the future better still.

“Now, Therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate Thursday the twenty-seventh of November next as a day of thanksgiving and prayer, and invite the people throughout the land to cease from their wonted occupations and in their several homes and places of worship render thanks to Almighty God…”

President Woodrow Wilson’s National Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer proclamation is yet another lost episode in American history.

Read and Reflect: Read the Scriptures quoted by President Wilson (Prov. 14:34 and Luke 2:14) and consider his statement that these two verses “furnish the only foundation upon which can be built the lasting achievements of the human spirit.”

Prayer: Father, we pray that we would indeed turn from our sins and embrace righteousness as a nation. We also pray for the Prince of Peace to being peace on earth, in His Name, Amen.

*Source Citation: James Richardson, ed., A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the
Presidents
, 20 vols. (New York: Bureau of National Literature, Inc., 1893-1923), 16:7902-7903. Bracketed items added.

 

Lost Episode for October 22

John Hancock CroppedOn October 22, 1774, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, led by John Hancock, resolved to recommend the observance of a “Day of Public Thanksgiving,” declaring:

From a consideration of the continuance of the gospel among us, and the smiles of Divine Providence upon us with regard to the seasons of the year, and the general health which has been enjoyed; and in particular, from a consideration of the union which so remarkably prevails, not only in this province, but throughout the continent, at this alarming crisis, it is resolved, as the sense of this Congress, that it is highly proper that a day of public thanksgiving should be observed throughout this province;

“[A]nd it is accordingly recommended to the several religious assemblies in the province, that Thursday, the fifteenth day of December next, be observed as a day of thanksgiving, to render thanks to Almighty God for all the blessings we enjoy; and, at the same time, we think it incumbent on this people to humble themselves before God, on account of their sins, for which he hath been pleased, in his righteous judgment, to suffer so great a calamity to befall us as the present controversy between Great Britain and the colonies; as also to implore the Divine blessing upon us, that, by the assistance of his grace, we may be enabled to reform whatever is amiss among us; that so God may be pleased to continue to us the blessings we enjoy, and remove the tokens of his displeasure, by causing harmony and union to be restored between Great Britain and these colonies, that we may again rejoice in the smiles of our sovereign, and in possession of those privileges which have been transmitted to us, and have the hopeful prospect that they shall be handed down entire to posterity under the protestant succession in the illustrious house of Hanover.”*

Still hopeful that the conflict with Great Britain might be resolved, the Provincial Congress called on the people of Massachusetts to pray. That is another lost episode in American history.

Read and Reflect: Read Psalm 138 and reflect on the words of the psalmist compared to the situation the colonies faced and yet the leadership called on the inhabitants to be thankful.

Prayer: Father, we are thankful we can turn to you in times of conflict and turmoil. As the leadership of the Massachusetts Congress suggested in their day, we ask that you forgive us of our national sins that have brought on so many national calamities.

*Source Citation: William Lincoln, ed., The Journals of Each Provincial Congress of Massachusetts in 1774 and 1775, and of the Committee of Safety (Boston: Dutton and Wentworth, 1838), 27-28.

 

Lost Episode for October 21

Samuel Francis Smith with flagSamuel Francis Smith was born on October 21, 1808, and is famous for writing the patriotic hymn, “My Country ‘Tis Of Thee,” which he originally titled “America.” Smith graduated from Harvard University and continued through Andover Theological Seminary, becoming a Baptist minister, writer and editor, and professor of modern languages at Waterville College in Maine. He later served as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Newton, Massachusetts.

As a 23 year old seminary student, Samuel Smith was inspired by a German patriotic hymn that owed much of its tune to the British National Anthem. Within a half hour of hearing the tune, he penned these majestic phrases:

My Country ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the Pilgrim’s pride,
From every mountainside,
Let freedom ring.

The fourth verse proclaims:

Our fathers’ God, to thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing;
Long may our land be bright
With freedom’s holy light:
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King.

Rev. Smith gave the lyrics to Lowell Mason and the anthem was first performed at a children’s Independence Day celebration at Park Street Church in Boston on July 4, 1831. First titled “America,” the anthem was then published by Lowell Mason in The Choir in 1832. Rev. Samuel Smith’s penning of this patriotic hymn is yet another lost episode in American history.

Read and Reflect: Read Psalm 5 and reflect on the psalmist’s prayer to “My King and my God” and compare that with the words of the anthem.

Prayer: Great God our King, we praise you for this land of liberty and we ask that you continue to protect us by your might, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

*Source Citation: David Hein, “S. F. Smith and ‘America.'” Baptist Quarterly: Journal of the Baptist Historical Society 32 (1987): 134–40.

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