Category Archives: Prayer Targets
Prayer Targets: Webster & Jay: Vote! iPledge Sunday; Values Voter Summit; Meriam; U.S.-led Coalition
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” Proverbs 29:2
Dear Praying Friends
Election Day is November 4, 2014. Noah Webster, the author of the renowned Dictionary that bears his name and whom some refer to as the “Father of American Education” (see last week’s Prayer Targets), had much to say about American citizenship and the Christian’s stewardship responsibility to vote:
In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate — look to his character as a man of known principle, of tried integrity, and undoubted ability for the office… Scriptures teach… that rulers should be men who rule in the fear of God, able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness. But if we had no divine instruction on the subject, our own interest would demand of us a strict observance of the principle of these injunctions. And it is to the neglect of this rule of conduct in our citizens, that we must ascribe the multiplied frauds, breaches of trust, peculations and embezzlements of public property which astonish even ourselves; which tarnish the character of our country; which disgrace a republican government…
When a citizen gives his suffrage (vote) to a man of known immorality, he abuses his trust; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country. Nor is it of slight importance, that men elected to office should be able men, men of talents equal to their stations, men of mature age, experience, and judgment; men of firmness and impartiality… It may be held as generally true, that respect spontaneously attaches itself to real worth; and the man of respectable virtues, never has occasion to run after respect (Noah Webster, Letters to a Young Gentleman Commencing his Education, 1823).
John Jay, first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court wrote:
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 (Letter from John Jay to John Murray, Jr., October 12, 1816). Whether our Religion permits Christians to vote for infidel rulers is a question which merits more consideration than it seems yet to have generally received, either from the clergy or the laity. It appears to me that what the prophet said to Jehoshaphat about his attachments to Ahab affords a salutary lesson… “Shouldest thou help the ungodly and love them that hate the Lord?” 2 Chr xix, 2 (Letter from John Jay to Jedediah Morse, January 1, 1813. Johnston, Correspondence of Jay from The Founders on Religion, James H. Hutson, 2005).
Congress has recessed until after Election Day allowing members time to devote to their re-election campaigns. Voters will decide who will occupy all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 1/3 of the 100 U.S. Senate seats. Whom we elect will be highly consequential, given the troubles our nation faces and the perilous times in which we live.
God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. Psalm 75:7
Dear Praying Friends,
Star Spangled Sunday, our 200th anniversary celebration of the National Anthem and the turning point in the War of 1812 was powerful. In September 1814, after burning the White House, the U.S. Capitol, and Washington, D.C., the British Army and Navy targeted Baltimore with all their firepower. But a sniper killed the leading British General and the Maryland Militia and U.S. Army effectively resisted. The Royal Navy then attacked Fort McHenry. Beyond reach of U.S. cannon, British warships barraged Fort McHenry with hundreds of tons of cannonballs, bombs, and rockets. Francis Scott Key, aboard a British ship on diplomatic business, slept lightly amid cannon fire, rose early and rushed to see if our flag “was still there,” flying over the Fort. Against all odds, it was. The fleet ceased fire and moved speedily out of Baltimore Harbor and down the Chesapeake Bay. Key was moved to pen what is now our National Anthem. As in previous and subsequent American wars, God’s Hand was evident. But a Maryland preacher named Joshua Thomas played an important role in this lost episode in our history. The Methodist circuit rider traveled by canoe from island to island on the Chesapeake Bay to preach the gospel. It was on Tangier Island, Thomas’ home, that the British fleet made their headquarters.
Before they left Tangier, they sent me word to be ready to hold a public meeting, and exhort the soldiers… I thought and prayed over the matter, and it came to me that I must stand up for Jesus as a good soldier… It was arranged to be on their last Sunday… Early that morning, the flags were hoisted, the drums beat… the soldiers were all drawn up in solid columns, about twelve thousand men… I stood on a little platform … nearest the shore, all the men facing me with their hats off… As I looked around on my congregation, I never had such feelings in my life; but I felt determined to give them a faithful warning, even if those officers… would cut me in ‘pieces… After singing and prayer… all fear and embarrassment were taken away… I said, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.’ I told… how He saved me from sin… and thanked them and their Admiral for the kindness they manifested to us… but I could not bid them God speed… I warned them of the danger and distress they would bring upon themselves and others by going to Baltimore with the object they had in view… that God said, “Thou shall not kill.” If you do, he will judge you at the last day; or, before then, he will cause you to “perish by the sword.” I told them it was given me from the Almighty that they could not take Baltimore, and would not succeed in their expedition… to prepare for death, for many of them would in all likelihood die soon, and I should see them no more till we met at the sound of the great trumpet before our final Judge.”
The service concluded, many stepped up… and said they hoped it would not go so hard with them as he had foretold. He shook his head, and said he felt that many that day had received their last call… (With) steady persistence… he predicted the defeat… The army had hitherto met with but feeble resistance… Bladensburg…Washington… Alexandria capitulated without resistance, and now with concentrated force, the whole squadron pours its flushed and confident thousands on Baltimore… In the face of all the probabilities… Joshua Thomas expressed a conviction… You cannot take it! …Perhaps he remembered that thousands in that city were on their knees, morning, noon, and night, interceding with God! That some of his acquaintances… who by their success in prayer… had displayed power with God, were in the city, and formed its rampart and defense, in unseen agency with the Lord Jehovah! …The proud fleet weighed anchor, and with pennants streaming, decks bristling with the machinery of war, stood up the Bay, and left the anxious islanders awaiting the issue (Adam Wallace, The Parson of the Islands, Ch.9 1861).
Numerous parallels exist between America in 1814 and today.
Except the LORD shall build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD shall keep the city, the watchman waketh in vain. Psalm 127:1, Webster Bible
Dear Praying Friends,
Noah Webster (1758-1843) believed American children should read American history and learn from American, not British books. His grammar-speller-reader, popularly called the “blue-backed speller” was used to teach American children for over 100 years. The book was selling a million copies per year, 20 years after his death. Royalties from that book afforded Webster time for public service; to produce the first New English Bible translation in 250 years; and, over 27 years, to expand his first American Dictionary to over 70,000 words. Webster, known as the “Father of American Education,” helped create a common American language.
Every child in America should be acquainted with his own country. He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice. As soon as he opens his lips, he should rehearse the history of his own country; he should lisp the praise of liberty, and of those illustrious heroes and statesmen, who have wrought a revolution in her favor.
A selection of essays, respecting the settlement and geography of America; the history of the late revolution and of the most remarkable characters and events that distinguished it, and a compendium of the principles of the federal and provincial governments, should be the principal school book in the United States. These are interesting objects to every man; they call home the minds of youth and fix them upon the interests of their own country, and they assist in forming attachments to it, as well as in enlarging their understanding.
“Montesquieu observe, that the laws of education ought to be relative to the principles of the government.” In despotic governments, the people should have little or no education, except what tends to inspire them with a servile fear. Information is fatal to despotism…
In our American republics, where (government) is in the hands of the people, knowledge should be universally diffused by means of public schools. Of such consequence is it to society, that the people who make laws, should be well informed… I do not mean merely a knowledge of spelling books, and the New Testament. An acquaintance with ethics, and with the general principles of law, commerce, money and government, is necessary for the yeomanry of a republican state…
This school should be kept by the most reputable and well informed man in the district… The virtues of men are of more consequence to society than their abilities; and for this reason, the heart should be cultivated with more assiduity than the head… (Noah Webster, “On the Education of Youth in America,” The Founders’ Constitution).
Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language (1828) contains six thousand Bible references. He wrote, “Education is useless without the Bible” (Webster’s Dictionary 1828)
With the exception of Ronald Reagan, every President since FDR has proposed sweeping federal reforms to fix public education, yet our children are farther behind and less prepared than any time in modern history. Morals, too, are at a low. Is it time, yet again, for new politically correct federally enforced standards and controls?
One of the wealthiest men in Virginia, George Mason was the primary author of the Virginia Constitution and the Virginia Bill of Rights and is often called the “Father of the Bill of Rights” because of his insistence that such rights be enumerated in the U.S. Constitution.
Although he was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, he refused to sign the Constitution because he believed that it did not sufficiently limit the Federal Government’s power from infringing on the rights of States, it did not include a Bill of Rights, and it did not abolish slavery.
During the debates of the Constitutional Convention, George Mason declared on August 22, 1787:
“Every master of slaves is born a petty tyrant. They bring the judgement of heaven upon a country. As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punishes national sins, by national calamities.”*
George Mason’s belief that nations are accountable to God and experience His earthly blessings or His temporal punishments in the present is yet another lost episode in American History.
Read and reflect: Read Amos 4:4-12 and reflect on the “national calamities” in Israel that resulted from national sins then consider some of our own calamities in light of our choices as a nation.
Prayer: Holy Father, remind us that choices have consequences not only for individuals but for nations as well. Forgive us of our unrighteous and unjust decisions as a nation and in your judgment remember mercy, we pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: Robert A. Rutland, ed., The Papers of George Mason, 3 vols. (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1970), 3:1787.
Founding Father James Wilson died on August 21, 1798. Born and educated in Scotland, he held the distinction of being one of six Founders to sign both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. James Wilson was very active in the Constitutional Convention, having spoken 168 times. Wilson served as a Supreme Court Justice (1789-98), appointed by President George Washington.
In 1790, James Wilson became the first Law Professor of the University of Pennsylvania. In his Lectures on Law, delivered at the College of Philadelphia, 1789-91, James Wilson explained that all law comes from God, and can be divided into four categories: “law eternal,” “law celestial,” “laws of nature,” and:
“That law, which God has made for man in his present state…As promulgated by reason and the moral sense it has been called natural; as promulgated by the holy scriptures, it has been called revealed law. As addressed to men, it has been denominated the law of nature; as addressed to political societies, it has been denominated the law of nations. But it should always be remembered, that this law, natural or revealed, made for men or for nations, flows from the same divine source; it is the law of God….Human law must rest its authority, ultimately, upon the authority of that law, which is divine.”*
In the records of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Updegraph v. Commonwealth, 1824, Judge James Wilson is mentioned:
“The late Judge Wilson, of the Supreme Court of the United States, Professor of Law in the College in Philadelphia, was appointed in 1791, unanimously, by the House of Representatives of this state….He had just risen from his seat in the convention which formed the constitution of the United States, and of this state; and it is well known, that for our present form of government we are greatly indebted to his exertions and influence. With his fresh recollections of both constitutions, in his Course of Lectures (3d Vol. of his Works, 122), he states that….Christianity is part of the common-law.”*
Though many consider Wilson one of the least theologically orthodox Founders, he nonetheless pointed to Scripture as the foundation for our moral law. That is another lost episode in American history.
Read and reflect: Read Romans 1-2 and reflect on Paul’s discussion of natural law and revealed law and how we are accountable to God regardless of how He has revealed Himself to us.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you that you have revealed yourself and your rules for living both through the means of creation and revelation as found in Scripture. Thank you that even one of the least orthodox among the Founders recognized all law ultimately comes from you, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: Bird Wilson, ed., The Works of the Honourable James Wilson, 3 vols. (Philadelphia: Bronson and Chauncey, 1804), 1:104–106 and Updegraph v. The Commonwealth, 11 Serg & R. 393, 394 (Sup. Ct. Penn. 1824).