Ronald Reagan described our Great Country as the City on the Hill, referring to the parable of The Salt and the Light in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mountain in Matthew 5:13-15. Our Savior told His listeners “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Indeed we have been since the beginning a country of Salt and Light. Like salt, we have preserved freedom, Christian values of Faith, Hope, and Charity. 95% of the Signers of our Constitution were Christians, many ministers, some, like Benjamin Rush, wrote the first American family Bible. Like light, we have been beaming and projecting our Judeo-Christian values around the world and at home. We talked the talk and walked the walk in the light.
George Washington wrote “Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor…” and “Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle” (Farwell Address, Writings of Washington, Vol. 35, p. 229)
Thomas Jefferson also wrote “I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” (Letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush, ME 10:173. September 23, 1800)
At the end of the Revolutionary war, the new states were anything but united.
To change the Articles of the Federation, Congress needed unanimous consent, and they could not achieve it. Finally James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, among others, promoted a special Convention in Philadelphia, the largest city home to 40,000, and convinced a reluctant George Washington to preside it and encourage the colonies to attend.
Fifty-seven men in a hall to discuss the future structure – the Constitution – upon which the new Nation was to operate, could not agree over much. A great divide between those favoring a central power and those concerned about representation of small and large states was at the center of dispute. Other issues, like slavery, contributed to the difficulty of communication among those present. The Great Experiment was in jeopardy and the Union of 13 colonies, economically broken, was at risk of collapse. A few wanted a parliamentary system like in Britain; one delegate proposed monarchy.
Only after 11 days since the beginning of the Convention enough states came to have a quorum. New Hampshire delegates arrived two months late for lack of travel money. Rhode Island never showed up. Disunity was the order of the day.
This was until Benjamin Franklin declared to his fellow men, addressing Gen. Washington “We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel; we shall be divided by our little partial, local interests, our projects will be confounded and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a byword down to future ages. And, what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing government by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war, or conquest.”
And then this man, who in his youth did not believe in a God involved in human affairs, told fellow attendees “In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for the Divine Protection. Our prayers, sir, were heard; and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor. To that kind Providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance? I have lived, sir, a long time; and the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?”
After seven weeks the Great Compromise of the creation of a Senate, representing equally all the states, large and small, and the House, representing the people proportionally to the state populations, was achieved.
James Madison wrote in the preface to his notes on the Constitutional Convention:
“There never was an assembly of men, charged with a great and arduous trust, who were more pure in their motives, or more exclusively or anxiously devoted to the object committed to them.” For truly, the U.S. Constitution was established “by the hands of wise men whom [the Lord] raised up unto this very purpose.”
I would be writing a book if I just collected all the quotes and the examples from the Bible that our Founders followed. These are just a very few, but very indicative quotes of our Christian origin as a Country. Indeed, miracles happened in the formation of our Country. George Washington wrote “It appears to me, then, little short of a miracle, that the delegates from so many different states (which states you know are also different from each other in their manners, circumstances, and prejudices) should unite in forming a system of national Government, so little liable to well-founded objections.” (1)
We want change and to be like other nations … really? Why would we be willing to change from our glorious past? Change away from the Truth, the Way and the Life that has been provided for us since the beginning? Do we know where are we coming from and where are we directed to? From the Truth the only place we can go is towards lies and death …
“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free . . . it expects what never was and never will be” (Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Colonel Charles Yancey, January 6, 1816.)
(1) Letter from Washington to Lafayette, 7 Feb. 1788, quoted in Catherine Drinker Bowen, Miracle at Philadelphia, Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1966, p. xvii.