Category Archives: General
Alexis De Tocqueville, born July 29, 1805, was a French statesman, historian and socio-political philosopher. He arrived in New York, May 11, 1831 and toured America for nine months to observe our institutions. In his two-volume work, popularly titled as Democracy in America, he made a number of observations that would startle most modern secularists, including:
“Upon my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention…
“Moreover, all the sects of the United States are comprised within the great unity of Christianity, and Christian morality is everywhere the same…
“The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other…
“From the earliest settlement of the emigrants, politics and religion contracted an alliance which has never been dissolved…
“There is no country in the whole world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America…the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.”*
How did Christianity become so pervasive in the mind and manners, the practice and politics of early Americans? Tocqueville answers: “[A]lmost all education is intrusted to the clergy.” The union of faith and freedom in America, etched in the hearts of her citizens by their pastors, is yet another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Galatians 5:1 and reflect on our liberty in Christ and our liberty as Americans.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we praise you for the freedom we enjoy in Christ. We also thank you for the freedom that is our birthright as Americans. Teach us to value our freedom; that we must fight to win it and fight to keep it, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
*Source Citation: Alexis de Tocqueville, The Republic of the United States of America and Its Political Institutions, Reviewed and Examined, Henry Reeves, trans., 2 vols., (Garden City, NY: A.S. Barnes & Co., 1851), 1:303, 331-37.
America is unique because our governing documents were created by men with a Biblical world-view, the proof of which is found in the fact that God is referred to four times in our Declaration of Independence. By contrast, the French Revolution took atheism and anti-clerical deism outside the salons and into the public arena. Chaos ensued, and George Washington’s trusted comrade, the Marquis de Lafayette, was right in the middle of it, commanding French military forces charged with suppressing the violence.
On July 28, 1791, President Washington wrote Lafayette, expressing his faith in God’s Providence:
“I assure you I have often contemplated, with great anxiety, the danger to which you are personally exposed…. We must, however, place a confidence in that Providence who rules great events, trusting that out of confusion He will produce order, and, notwithstanding the dark clouds which may threaten at present, that right will ultimately be established….”*
George Washington believed that God is sovereign and that order and right will ultimately prevail. Washington’s faith in Divine Providence over the affairs of nations is yet another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Psalm 86:8-10 and reflect on God’s sovereignty over the nations and how they will ultimately bow before Him.
Prayer: Ruler over all, we praise you as the Sovereign God over every kingdom and nation. In the beginning, you transformed chaos into order in the creation. We trust you will do the same among the nations, if not in our lifetimes, ultimately when your Son returns to reign as King of Kings and Lord or Lords.
*Source Citation: Jared Sparks, ed., The Writings of George Washington; being His Correspondence, Addresses, Messages, and Other Papers, Official and Private, Selected and Published from the Original Manuscripts, 12 vols., (Boston: Russell, Odiorne, and Metcalf, 1835), 10:179.
Born on July 27, 1752, Samuel Smith was raised by his parents in the Presbyterian Church and schooled by Rev. William Suffield in Carlisle, PA. By the age of 7, he had nearly mastered the Greek language and could translate the New Testament. At the age of 8, he and his family moved to Baltimore where they joined the First Presbyterian Church under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Patrick Allison, who ended up serving as a Chaplain for the Continental Congress. Sam Smith was a member there the rest of his life.
Smith fought in the first War for Independence. He was wounded in battle and suffered the hardships of Valley Forge. After the war, Smith served as a United States Representative and Senator from Maryland. He was called back to military service as a Major General of the Maryland militia during the War of 1812, and commanded the defenses of Baltimore in the months leading up to and during the Battle of Baltimore in 1814.
It became Gen. Smith’s responsibility to shake the residents of Baltimore out of their discouragement and despair, the sense of dread and doom with the news of the fall of Washington, DC, and to challenge them to focus on the task at hand, which was defending their city, their homes, and their families against the coming British onslaught.
As a result of Gen. Smith’s leadership, resident George Douglas observed: “At least of mile of entrenchments of suitable batteries were raised as if by magic, at which are working all sorts of people, young and old, white and black.” These and other defenses devised by Smith proved critical in holding off the attack of the Red Coats in this Second War for Independence.
Interestingly, when the alarm cannon sounded on Sunday, September 11, 1814, Smith was in his pew at the Presbyterian Church, which was hastily dismissed. The church bells of Baltimore rang out, calling the Maryland militia to mobilize under Smith’s leadership. After a couple of days of intense bombing from the British fleet and a land attack by the British army, General Smith and his forces prevailed in holding the British at bay and they eventually retreated.
The American success that Frances Scott Key wrote about in his poem “Defence of Fort McHenry,” which became known as “The Star Spangled Banner,” can largely be attributed to General Smith’s leadership in preparing for and repulsing the British invasion. Smith’s contribution to America’s freedom is another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Nehemiah 4 and reflect on Nehemiah’s efforts to organize the Jews to defend themselves against attack, much as Gen. Smith organized the citizens of Baltimore.
Prayer: Sovereign God, we praise you for molding and shaping individuals for their moment to lead. Thank you for the godly leaders we have serving us and we pray that you would raise up more, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: Frank Cassell, Merchant Congressman in the Young Republic: Samuel Smith of Maryland 1752-1839 (Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1971), 4, 264. http://www.thenationalanthemproject.org/lyrics.html.
While the Founders believed that all Americans have the freedom to be religious or non-religious, they defended against attacks on Christianity. In his July 26, 1796 diary entry, Vice-President John Adams took issue with Thomas Paine’s highly critical Age of Reason:
“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. Let the Blackguard Paine say what he will; it is Resignation to God, it is Goodness itself to Man.”*
Adams called Paine a “Blackguard” or an unprincipled scoundrel because of his assault on the faith that Adams believed provided “the general principles on which the fathers achieved independence.” John Adams belief in the supremecy of the Christian religion is yet another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read 1 Peter 3:15-16 and reflect on the obligation we have to “always be ready to give a defense” and a rational response to people who question our faith.
Prayer: Creator God, we praise you for the many ways you reveal yourself in the creation, in the pages of Scripture, and in our lives. Thank you for the indwelling presence of your Holy Spirit who gives us wisdom to respond that is beyond ourselves. Teach us how to defend our faith against attacks in a way that is winsome and compelling, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: John Adams diary 46, page 42 on Tuesday, July 26, 1796. See John Adams diary 46, 6 August 1787 – 10 September 1796, 2 July – 21 August 1804 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/
President Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4 and often called “Silent Cal” because he was a man of few words. However, President Coolidge was not silent as an advocate for faith in God. In a July 25, 1924 telephone message, President Coolidge addressed a farewell meeting for a group of Boy Scouts who were preparing to set sail the next day for Copenhagen to attend an international gathering. President Calvin Coolidge declared:
“The three fundamentals of scouthood: The first is a reverence for nature…. The second is a reverence for law…. The third is a reverence for God. It is hard to see how a great man can be an atheist…. Faith is the great motive power, and no man realizes his full possibilities unless he has the deep conviction that life is eternally important, and that his work, well done, is part of an unending plan.”*
President Coolidge’s sound advice to young scouts to revere God is yet another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Ecclesiastes 12 and reflect on the importance of remembering God when we are young and always reverencing God and keeping his commandments.
Prayer: Sovereign Lord, teach us to fear you and keep your commandments, regardless of our age and stage in life, knowing that there will be a day of judgment and we will give an account. Thank you for godly leaders who point us back to these essential truths, in Jesus Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: Calvin Coolidge, Foundations of the Republic – Speeches and Addresses (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1926), 67-68.