Category Archives: Lost Episodes
“As no truth is more clearly taught in the Volume of Inspiration, nor any more fully demonstrated by the experience of all ages, than that a deep sense and a due acknowledgment of the growing providence of a Supreme Being and of the accountableness of men to Him as the searcher of hearts and righteous distributer of rewards and punishments [Jer. 17:10] are conducive equally to the happiness and rectitude of individuals and to the well-being of communities…
“I hereby recommend accordingly, that Thursday, the twenty-fifth day of April next, be observed throughout the United States of America as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer; That the citizens on that day abstain, as far as may be, from their secular occupation, and devote the time to the sacred duties of religion, in public and in private; That they call to mind our numerous offenses against the Most High God, confess them before Him with the sincerest penitence, implore His pardoning mercy, through the Great Mediator and Redeemer [1 Tim. 2:5], for our past transgressions, and that through the grace of His Holy Spirit, we may be disposed and enabled to yield a more suitable obedience to His righteous requisitions…;That He would make us deeply sensible that ‘righteousness exalteth a nation but sin is a reproach to any people’ [Proverbs 14:34]; That He would turn us from our transgressions and turn His displeasure from us;
“That He would bless all magistrates, from the highest to the lowest, give them the true spirit of their station, make them a terror to evil doers and a praise to them that do well [Rom. 13:1-7]; That He would preside over the councils of the nation at this critical period…And that He would extend the blessings of knowledge, of true liberty, and of pure and undefiled religion throughout the world.…”*
This proclamation by President Adams, written from a Biblical worldview, is another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Jer. 17:5-10 and reflect on the God’s role as the searcher of hearts and righteous judge and compare it to the proclamation of President Adams.
Prayer: Almighty God, we submit to you as the Searcher of hearts and Righteous Judge, who distributes both rewards and punishments. May we as a people devote time to the sacred duties of religion, in private and in public, humbling ourselves in your presence, seeking your face in prayer, and turning from our wicked ways, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: James D. Richardson, ed., A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1789-1897, 11 vols., (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1907, 1910), 1:284-286.
On March 5, 1774, Founding Father John Hancock delivered the annual oration on the Boston Massacre from the pulpit of Old South Church. His remarks, which were printed and widely circulated, concluded with phrases that many would consider sermon-like:
“Some boast of being friends to government; I am a friend to righteous government, to a government founded upon the principles of reason and justice, but I glory in publicly avowing my eternal enmity to tyranny…
“I have the most animating confidence that the present noble struggle for liberty will terminate gloriously for America. And let us play the man for our GOD, and for the cities of our GOD [2 Sam. 10:12]; while we are using the means in our power, let us humbly commit our righteous cause to the great LORD of the universe, who loveth righteousness and hateth iniquity. [Psalm 45:7]. And having secured the approbation of our hearts, by a faithful and unwearied discharge of our duty to our country, let us joyfully leave her important concerns in the hands of HIM who raiseth up and putteth down empires and kingdoms of the world as HE pleases [Dan. 2:21]; and with cheerful submission to HIS sovereign will, devoutly say,
“‘Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olives shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet we will rejoice in the LORD, we will joy in the GOD of our salvation.’” [Hab. 3:17-18]
John Hancock’s Scripture-filled speech on the anniversary of the Boston Massacre is another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Habakkuk 3:17-18 and reflect on the prophecy and compare it with Hancock’s speech.
Prayer: Father, we thank you for the faith of this Founding Father, who trusted you to the point that even if the British government should reign in tyranny, that he would continue to commit the American cause to you. May we do the same in the face of increasing government oppression of people of faith, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: Hezekiah Niles, Principles and Acts of the Revolution in America: Or an Attempt to Collect and Preserve some of Speeches, Orations and Proceedings (Baltimore: William Ogden Niles, 1822), 13-17. Bracketed items added.
“I shall need…the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our forefathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessities and comforts of life (Jer. 32:22), who has covered our infancy with His Providence and our riper years with His wisdom and power, and to whose goodness I ask you to join with me in supplications that He will so enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their councils and prosper their measures (1 Tim. 2:1-4), that whatever they do shall result in your good (Rom. 13:4a), and shall secure to you the peace, friendship and approbation of all nations.”*
Jefferson’s comparison of America to ancient Israel and his call for prayer to the God of both is a lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Jer. 32:21-22 and reflect on the prayer of Jeremiah and compare it with President Jefferson’s address.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we praise you for your Providence in leading our forefathers to this country that flows with all the “necessities and comforts of life.” Open our eyes as a nation to this great truth, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: Albert E. Bergh, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson: Containing His Autobiography Notes on Virginia Parliamentary Manual Official Papers Messages and Addresses and Other Writings Official and Private, 10 vols., (Washington, DC: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1907), 3:383.
On March 3, 1797, George Washington responded to a letter he had received from Episcopal Bishop William White, Rev. Dr. Ashabel Green, and twenty-three other ministers of Philadelphia, thanking him for the nearly 50 years of public service rendered to a grateful nation. In his response, Washington made the statement:
“Believing, as I do, that religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society, I view, with unspeakable pleasure, that harmony and brotherly love [Rom. 12:10] which characterizes the clergy of different denominations, as well in this, as in other parts of the United States; exhibiting to the world a new and interesting spectacle, at once the pride of our country and the surest basis of Universal Harmony.
“That your labors for the good of mankind may be crowned with success, that your temporal employments may be commensurate with your merits, and that the future reward of good and faithful servants may be yours [Matt. 25:21, 23], I shall not cease to supplicate the Divine Author of life and felicity.”*
Washington echoed his Farewell Address, stating that religion and the morality it produces are the twin pillars of civil society, and he pledged to pray that the ministers of Philadelphia would be successful in their endeavors so that they might hear the future commendation of Christ to good and faithful servants. His letter is a lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Rom. 12:9-10 and reflect on Paul’s admonition to brotherly love and compare it with George Washington’s letter.
Prayer: Father, we are grateful for this leader who had learned the Scriptures so well that he alluded to them in his communications. May we be inspired by his example, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*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, with a Life of the Author, 12 vols. (Boston: American Stationer’s Company, 1837), 12:245.
“Began this afternoon on my third quarter. The great and Almighty author of nature, who at first established those rules which regulate the world, can as easily suspend those laws whenever his providence sees sufficient reason for such suspension. This can be no objection, then, to the miracles of Jesus Christ. Although some very thoughtful and contemplative men among the heathen attained a strong persuasion of the great principles of religion, yet the far greater number, having little time for speculation, gradually sunk into the grossest opinions and the grossest practices. These, therefore, could not be made to embrace the true religion till their attention was roused by some astonishing and miraculous appearances. The reasoning of philosophers, having nothing surprising them, could not overcome the force of prejudice, custom, passion, and bigotry. But when wise and virtuous men commissioned from heaven, by miracles awakened men’s attention to their reasonings, the force of truth made its way with ease to their minds.”*
From this diary entry, it is clear that John Adams was no deist. He believed in the God of the Bible who providentially and actively intervenes in human affairs, referring specifically to the miracles of Christ. Adams’ view of God is a lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Acts 5:12-16 and reflect on the miracles done by the apostles and the people coming to faith as a result and compare that with John Adams’ entry.
Prayer: Father, we praise you that you are not a “clock-maker,” who created the universe, but who never intervenes. We thank you that you not only set aside the rules of your creation and work miracles, but you are also active and involved in our lives. Give us the courage and wisdom to be winsome witnesses of your greatness, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: Charles Francis Adams, ed, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: With a Life of the Author Notes and Illustrations, 10 vols., (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1856), 2:7-8.