We finished up last week talking about Roger Sherman and began talking about Jonathan Edwards. During the next two weeks, I’d like to talk about Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, probably the two men who played the greatest part in the move of God we’ve come to know and refer to as “The Great Awakening.” These two men were as opposite as can be from one another in their upbringing, yet the move of God in their lives was almost beyond imagination. In their years of ministry, they came to know each other and became great friends.
Let me share with you today about one of the most prolific of our founding fathers. In the weeks to come, you will see how much this man was involved in the founding of this nation, and the part he played in the First Great Awakening – a phenomenal move of God that spanned the colonies and influenced so many of our early leaders. One of the founding fathers of this nation was man whose name is far less known than that of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams or Benjamin Franklin: Roger Sherman. Nevertheless, his influence and direct involvement in the affairs that led to our nation's Declaration of Independence and Constitution ranked as high, if not higher, than those names with which we are more familiar.
Have you ever seen the series on television that PBS did several years ago, titled: The Adams Chronicles? It recounts the activites of the Adams family, their faith in God, the trials and tribulations they went through, and the remarkable successes they experienced during their years before serving in politics, and the years that followed. One of the most remarkable men in our nation's history was John Adams, who served as Vice-President during the eight years of George Washington's presidency, and four years as President immediately succeeding Washington.
I was just reading from a collection of comments made by some of our Supreme Court justices throughout the years and stumbled on one that deserves repeating within the framework of this series of discussions. We've already talked about Thomas Jefferson and some of his contributions to our nation's founding. What some folks may not know or remember is that he appointed John Marshall to be the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1801. John Marshall served this nation as Chief Justice for 34 years. In a letter dated May 9, 1833 to Jasper Adams, addressing the question of our nation's foundations and liberties, he wrote, "The American population is entirely Christian, and with us Christianity and Religion are identified. It would be strange indeed, if with such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity, and did not often refer to it, and exhibit relations with it."
We continue today with a look at John Jay, the first Supreme Court Justice appointed by George Washington. On April 20, 1794, John Jay is obviously embroiled in issues of great controversy as Chief Justice, and he sends a note to his wife, Sally Jay, to encourage her. He writes, "God's will be done; to him I resign--in him I confide. Do the like. Any other philosophy applicable to this occasion is delusive. Away with it!"