Lost Episode for March 27

James MeachamOn March 27, 1854, Representative James Meacham of Vermont, who served as spokesman of the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, spoke in favor of continuing the practice of appointing chaplains. His remarks were part of the debate during the Thirty-Third Congress as to whether or not to elect chaplains, as was customary from the beginning of the First Federal Congress in 1789. The so-called “memorialists” who voiced opposition to chaplains did so under the guise of claiming the practice was unconstitutional. Closer to the truth was the fact that so many northern pastors were abolitionists, and the slavery question was dividing the Congress and the nation. Rep. Meacham argued:

“We ask the memorialists to look at the facts… The first Congress under the Constitution began on the 4th of March 1789, but there was not a quorum for business till the 1st of April. On the 9th of that month, Oliver Ellsworth was appointed on the part of the Senate to confer with a committee of the House on rules and on the appointment of chaplains. The House chose five men: [Elias] Boudinot, [Theodorick] Bland, [Thomas] Tucker, [Roger] Sherman, and [James] Madison. The result of their consultation was a recommendation to appoint two chaplains of different denominations – one by the Senate and one by the House – to interchange weekly. The Senate appointed Dr. [Samuel] Provost [an Episcopal bishop from New York] on the 25th of April.

“On the 1st day of May Washington’s first speech was read to the House and the first business after that speech was the appointment of Dr. [William] Linn [a Presbyterian minister from Philadelphia] as chaplain. By whom was this plan made? Three out of six of that joint committee were members of the convention that framed the Constitution. Madison, Ellsworth, and Sherman passed directly from the hall of the convention to the hall of Congress. Did they not know what was constitutional? The law of 1789 was passed in compliance with their plan giving chaplains a salary of $500. It was re-enacted in 1816 and continues to the present time. Chaplains have been appointed from all the leading denominations: Methodist, Baptist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Catholic, Unitarian, and others…

“If there be a God who hears prayer – as we believe there is – we submit, that there never was a deliberative body that so eminently needed the fervent prayers of righteous men [James 5:16b] as the Congress of the United States.”*

After Rep. Meacham’s report, Congress continued the practice of appointing chaplains, and that is another lost episode in American history.

Read and Reflect: Read James 5:16-18 and compare that with Rep. Meacham’s plea for Chaplains.

Prayer: Father, we thank you that from the very beginnings of American government, our leaders sensed that they needed your wisdom, guidance and blessing and that they sought out ministers to serve alongside them, praying for our nation before deliberations. We are also grateful that this practice continues today, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

*Source Citation: Lorenzo P. Johnson, Chaplains of the General Government, with Objections to their Employment Considered, also a List of All the Chaplains to Congress, in the Army and in the Navy from the Formation of the Government to This Time (New York: Sheldon, Blakeman, & Co., 1856), 9, 12, 15. See also: http://chaplain.house.gov/chaplaincy/ChaplainHistoryCRS.pdf for a brief history of Chaplains in Congress. Bracketed items added.


Lost Episode for March 26

George Washington Head ShotOn March 26, 1781, General George Washington wrote to Major-General John Armstrong:

“Our affairs are brought to a perilous crisis, that the Hand of Providence, I trust, may be more conspicuous in our deliverance. The many remarkable interpositions of the Divine government in the hours of our deepest distress and darkness, have been too luminous to suffer me to doubt the happy issue of the present contest…

“I am sorry to hear, that the recruiting business in your State is clogged with so many embarrassments. It is perhaps the greatest of the great evils attending this contest, that States as well as individuals had rather wish well than act well; had rather see a thing done, than do it, or contribute their just proportion to the doing of it… To expect brick without straw is idle [Exod. 5:16], and yet I am called upon, with as much facility to furnish men and means for every service and every want, as if every quota required of the States had been furnished, and the whole was at my disposal…”*

General Washington was frustrated with the fact that he didn’t have the manpower needed to fight the war, comparing his situation to the Hebrew slaves in Egypt who were forced to make bricks without straw. Yet he was confident that God’s Providence would enable them to prevail, and that is a lost episode in American history.

Read and Reflect: Read Exodus 5:4-19 and reflect on the tough position the Hebrew people were placed in by Pharaoh’s edict withholding straw and compare it with Gen. Washington’s predicament.

Prayer: Father, we are amazed at your Hand of Providence that intervened at so many points in the War for Independence, giving victory to an outnumbered, ill-equipped, and inadequately trained army. We pray for your continued support as we honor you, 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), 7:462. Bracketed item added.


Lost Episode for March 25

Andrew JacksonOn March 25, 1835, President Andrew Jackson wrote in a letter to Ellen Hanson:

“I was brought up a rigid Presbyterian, to which I have always adhered. Our excellent Constitution guarantees to every one freedom of religion, and charity tells us – and you know Charity is the real basis of all true religion – charity says “judge the tree by its fruit.” [Matt. 7:16]

“All who profess Christianity believe in a Saviour, and that by and through Him we must be saved [Acts 4:12]. We ought, therefore, to consider all good Christians whose walks correspond with their professions, be they Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Baptist, Methodist or Roman Catholic.”*

President Jackson’s expressed belief in the Savior and quotation of His words from the Sermon on the Mount is a lost episode in American history.

Read and Reflect: Read Acts 4:12 and reflect on the fact that Jesus is the only Savior and compare that with President Jackson’s assertion.

Prayer: Father, during this season when we celebrate your mighty acts through the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ, we praise you for providing a Savior for us, even though we have broken your laws and broken your heart. So we trust in Jesus to save us from our sins, give us a fresh start, and a new beginning, in His Name, we pray, Amen.

*Source Citation: Robert V. Remini, Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Freedom, 3 vols., (New York: Harper & Row, 1981), 2:251. Bracketed items added.


Prayer Targets J.Q. Adams; DC Oppression; Navy Abuse; RFRA’s; San Antonio; Iran Letter; Marriage

They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them. Pr 28:4

Dear Praying Friends,

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), son of President John and Abigail Adams, was our sixth U.S. President (1825-1829). A distinguished statesman, Adams became the only U.S. President to retire and run for the House of Representatives, where for 17 more years he led the fight to end human slavery. Excerpts from his July 4, 1837 Independence Day Speech to the people of Newburyport, Mass.:

Why is it that [Christians with contradictory doctrinal views] unite with all their brethren… year after year,” in celebrating this, the birthday of the nation? Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence… laid the corner stone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity, and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfilment of the prophecies, announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Savior and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets six hundred years before?

The object of this Declaration was two-fold. First, to proclaim the People of the thirteen United Colonies, one People, and in their name, and by their authority, to dissolve the political bands which had connected them with another… A Nation was born at once! Well, indeed, may such a day be commemorated by such a Nation… But whether as a day of festivity and joy, or of humiliation and mourning… depends [after many years], not so much upon the responsibilities of those who brought the Nation forth, as upon the moral, political and intellectual character of the present generation…

The sovereign authority, conferred by the Declaration upon the people of each of the Colonies, could not extend to the exercise of any power inconsistent with that Declaration itself… [It] was at once a social compact of the whole People of the Union, embracing thirteen distinct communities united in one, and a manifesto proclaiming themselves one Nation, possessed of all the attributes of sovereign power….one People consisting of thirteen free and independent States, was new in the history of the world.

The Declaration implicitly denied the unlimited nature of sovereignty. By the affirmation that the principal of the natural rights of mankind are unalienable, it placed them beyond the reach of organized human power; and by affirming that governments are instituted to secure them, and may and ought to be abolished if they become destructive of those ends, they made all government subordinate to the moral supremacy of the People.

The Declaration itself did not even announce the States as sovereign, but as united, free and independent, and having power to do all acts and things which independent States may of right do. It acknowledged, therefore, a rule of rights paramount to the power of independent States itself, and virtually disclaimed all power to do wrong. This was a novelty in the moral philosophy of nations, and it is the essential point of difference between the system of government announced in the Declaration… and those systems which had until then prevailed among men. A moral Ruler of the universe, the Governor and Controller of all human power, is the only unlimited sovereign acknowledged by the Declaration… and it claims for the United States of America, when assuming their equal station among the nations of the earth, only the power to do all that may be done of right.

All the legislators of the human race, until that day [held] sovereignty to be unlimited and illimitable. The Declaration… proclaimed… a law of resistance against sovereign power, when wielded for oppression. A law ascending to the tribunal of the universal lawgiver and judge. A law of right, binding upon nations as well as individuals, upon sovereigns as well as upon subjects. By that law the colonists resisted their sovereign. By that law… they appealed to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of their intentions, and neither claimed nor conferred authority to do anything but of right (Read Complete speech at Library of Congress).

Adams went on to excoriate the sin of the Union’s failure to live up to the Declaration by ending human slavery, warning of civil war and the high cost to future generations, foremost, the failure to fulfill that mission of Jesus Christ. He ended his speech with what was, in essence, an altar call to repentance.

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Lost Episode for March 24

Rufus KingFounding Father Rufus King was born on March 24, 1755. A graduate of Harvard, King became a lawyer, a member of the Continental Congress, and served as an aide to General Sullivan during the Revolutionary War. At 32 years old, King became the youngest signer of the United States Constitution. Later he served as a U.S. Minister (Ambassador) to England and a U.S. Senator from New York. King also helped found a Bible society for Anglicans and was an ardent abolitionist. He wrote to C. Gore on February 17, 1820:

“I referred the decision of the Restriction on Missouri to the broad principles of the law of Nature, a law established by the Creator, which has existed from the beginning, extends over the whole globe is everywhere, and at all times binding upon mankind.”*

The reference he spoke of was to a speech made in the Senate:

“Mr. President I have yet to learn that one man can make a slave of another; if one man cannot do so, no number of individuals can have any better right to do it, and I hold that all laws and compacts imposing any such condition upon any human being are absolutely void, because contrary to the law of nature, which is the law of God, by which he makes his way known to man, and is paramount to all human control.”*

Founder Rufus King’s belief that God’s law trumps all human laws is another lost episode in American history.

Read and Reflect: Read Rom. 1:18-22 and reflect on the “law of nature” that exists in God’s creation and how that law trumps all human law.

Prayer: Sovereign God, we are grateful that you are a God of order, righteousness and justice. We thank you that your laws supersede all others and that America, albeit belatedly, decided to correct the great evil of slavery. May we do the same with abortion, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

*Source Citation: Charles R. King, ed., The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King, Comprising His Letters, Private and Official, His Public Documents and His Speeches, 6 vols., (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1900), 6:276.

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