March 13, 2020
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.
1735 in what has since been named Quincy, Massachusetts, he was more of a
journalist and historian than a politician with a penchant for keeping and
writing events in enormous detail. Adams' fellow-signer of the
Declaration of Independence, Richard Stockton, later dubbed him as "The
Atlas of American Independence." The descendant of Henry Adams who
fled from England in 1636 to escape religious persecution and served under the
watch of John Winthrop in Winthrop's Massachusetts Bay Colony, he had a
spiritual heritage rivaling any early American you could want to name.
At age 20,
having graduated from Harvard, he began the study of Law, being admitted to the
Massachusetts Bar three years later. Watching James Otis argue the
legality of the Writs of Assistance before the superior court inspired John
Adams to become a fervent supporter of the cause of the American Colonies.
At age 29,
he married Abigail Smith, the daughter of a Congregational minister. John
and Abigail Adams began what was to become one of the first leadership
dynasties in this nation. Their second-born child, John Quincy Adams,
also became President of the United States, the sixth president to serve this
Adams' cousin, Samuel Adams, was far more the outspoken and articulate of
leaders than was John. It was Samuel Adams' leadership and organization
that led to the famous Boston Tea Party.
some historians to be a "Biblical Unitarian" (one who rejects
Calvinism and Predestination and struggles with the concept of the Trinity),
and by others to be a Congregationalist, John Adams was nonetheless outspoken
as a believer, and unlike his predecessor, George Washington, was far more
inclined to quote Scripture and incorporate faith into the public
dialogue. He once referred to himself as "a church going
Francis Adams, his grandson and son of John Quincy Adams, catalogued the works
of John Adams and his writings, publishing John Adams' carefully detailed notes
and recollections of events for posterity. He also catalogued many of his
grandfather's statements declaring his position on matters of faith and
just a few:
"It is religion and morality alone which can establish the
principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free
constitution is pure virtue."
"We have no government armed with power capable of contending
with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. . . . Our
constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly
inadequate to the government of any other."
"The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property
is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and
public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If "Thou shalt
not covet," and "Thou shalt not steal," were not commandments of
Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can
be civilized or made free."
wary of the temptation among religious zealots to wage "holy wars,"
and yet shared a firm conviction with his fellow nation-builders that a faith
in God was the force for guiding people and essential to public life and
society. As a representative in the Continental Congress, he publicly
despised the arguments of those who condoned slavery as a "Biblical
generations of his family's distrust of state-sponsored religion, (John Adams
was fourth in succession from Henry Adams who fled the persecution of Puritans
in England) Adams feared government's involvement in religion, considering it a
corrupting force against any true faith in God. In his travels to England
and France -- first on behalf of the Continental Congress, and subsequently
President George Washington -- he observed that "Ministers who were paid
by the state and paid by the government didn't pay any attention to their
parishes. They didn't care about their parishioners. They could have, they sold
their parishes. They sold their jobs and brought in a hireling to do it and
they wandered off to live somewhere else and they didn't need to pay attention
to their parishioners because the parishioners weren't paying them. The state
was paying them."
suspicion and distrust of state-sponsored religion did not in any way mean,
however, that he felt as a leader in this nation that he was somehow engaging
the government in the sponsoring of religion with his expressions of
faith. By the same token, Adams considered -- as previously noted -- that
"it is religion and morality alone which can
establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand."
12, 1798, with the nation facing a serious economic and political crisis (The
French Revolution was in full bloom. England and France were pirating
American cargo ships in the Atlantic in an undeclared war on America with
Americans being seized and executed, and critically-needed goods and supplies
being blockaded.) John Adams called the nation to prayer and fasting and
thanksgiving. The following proclamation speaks for itself.
By the President of the United
States of America
"AS the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and
essentially depend on the protection and blessing of Almighty God; and the
national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which
the people owe to Him, but a duty whose natural influence is favorable to the
promotion of that morality and piety, without which social happiness cannot exist,
nor the blessings of a free government be enjoyed; and as this duty, at all
times incumbent, is so especially in seasons of difficulty and of danger, when
existing or threatening calamities, the just judgments of God against prevalent
iniquity are a loud call to repentance and reformation; and as the United
States of America are at present placed in a hazardous and afflictive
situation, by the unfriendly disposition, conduct and demands of a foreign
power, evinced by repeated refusals to receive our messengers of reconciliation
and peace, by depredations on our commerce, and the infliction of injuries on
very many of our fellow citizens, while engaged in their lawful business on the
seas: —Under these considerations it has appeared to me that the duty of
imploring the mercy and benediction of Heaven on our country, demands at this
time a special attention from its inhabitants.
I HAVE therefore thought it fit to recommend, that Wednesday,
the 9th day of May next be observed throughout the United States, as a day of
Solemn Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer; That the citizens of these states,
abstaining on that day from their customary worldly occupations, offer their
devout addresses to the Father of Mercies, agreeably to those forms or methods
which they have severally adopted as the most suitable and becoming: That all
religious congregations do, with the deepest humility, acknowledge before GOD
the manifold sins and transgressions with which we are justly chargeable as
individuals and as a nation; beseeching him, at the same time, of his infinite
Grace, through the Redeemer of the world, freely to remit all our offences, and
to incline us, by his holy spirit, to that sincere repentance and reformation
which may afford us reason to hope for his inestimable favor and heavenly
benediction; That it be made the subject of particular and earnest
supplication, that our country may be protected from all the dangers which
threaten it; that our civil and religious privileges may be preserved
inviolate, and perpetuated to the latest generations; that our public councils
and magistrates may be especially enlightened and directed at this critical
period; that the American people may be united in those bonds of amity and
mutual confidence, and inspired with that vigor and fortitude by which they
have in times past been so highly distinguished, and by which they have
obtained such invaluable advantages: That the health of the inhabitants of our
land may be preserved, and their agriculture, commerce, fisheries, arts and
manufactures be blessed and prospered: That the principles of genuine piety and
sound morality may influence the minds and govern the lives of every
description of our citizens; and that the blessings of peace, freedom, and pure
religion, may be speedily extended to all the nations of the earth.
And finally I recommend, that on the said day; the duties of
humiliation and prayer be accompanied by fervent Thanksgiving to the Bestower
of Every Good Gift, not only for having hitherto protected and preserved the
people of these United States in the independent enjoyment of their religious
and civil freedom, but also for having prospered them in a wonderful progress
of population, and for conferring on them many and great favours conducive to
the happiness and prosperity of a nation."
under my hand and seal of the United States of America, at Philadelphia, this
twenty-third day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred
and ninety-eight, and of the Independence of the said States the twenty-second.
By the President,
TIMOTHY PICKERING, Secretary of State
work to call the nation to prayer?
it cost Adams the support of the Federalists and a very narrow defeat for
re-election in 1800 (the Federalists objected to any kind of peace treaty with
France and England), the English backed off, a peace treaty was signed with
France, and American shipping resumed across the Atlantic without
hindrance. With church leaders joining in unity before the Lord, and
Americans in every state and territory on their knees before God, America's
peace, safety and prosperity were assured.
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
Sherman is the only American founding father to place his signature upon all of
the great founding documents of our great country; as well as aiding in the
drafting of each of these documents; the Articles of Association in 1774; the
Declaration of Independence in 1776; the Articles of Confederation in 1781 and
the United States Constitution in 1788.
Aaron Baldwin, "He was a man who risked everything that he had to form the
new and independent government. He was father of fifteen (15), and his
commitment to cause of democracy kept his family on the very brink of financial
ruin during those forming decades.
"Roger Sherman’s father died when he was just a young man
of twenty, and the responsibility for his siblings and mother passed to him. He
worked as a cobbler, surveyor, merchant and he was accepted to the Bar of
Litchfield in 1754, and represented New Milford in the General Assembly the
following year. He was appointed justice of the peace, and then four years
later a justice of the Superior Court of Connecticut. By the age of forty, he
had become a successful landowner and businessman, while also integrating
himself into the social and political fabric of the New England region. He was
then appointed commissary to the Connecticut Troops at the start of the Revolutionary
War; this was experience that he later put to great use when he was elected to
the Continental Congress in 1774. Sherman was a very active and much respected
Delegate to the Congress. He served and numerous committees, including the
committee to draft the Declaration of Independence. He served all through the
war for Independence. As active as he was in Congress, he simultaneously
fulfilled his other offices."
Sherman's other offices included that of Minister of the Gospel of Jesus
Christ, Treasurer of (and active contributor to) The Collegiate School which
became Yale University, Author of several books and articles on Faith and
Righteousness (including A Short Sermon on the Duty of Self-Examination
Preparatory to Receiving the Lord's Supper), fellow-member of "The
Sons of Liberty" and a group some tagged as being "religiously
radical" known as "New Lights."
involved in the "Great Awakening," his mentor and close personal
friend was the Rev. Timothy Cutler. Cutler's daughter, Rebecca, had
married William Sherman -- Roger's father -- but died only months later.
William then married Methetable Sweetman Wellington, Roger's mother. The
ties between the Cutler and Sherman families lasted their entire lifetimes.
will continue this next week. Have a good weekend, folks. See you next
In case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment
of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call –
usually at about 10:30AM Pacific. That
conference number is (712) 770-4160, and the access code is 308640#. We are now making these gatherings
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to participate by video on ZOOM, our login ID is 835-926-513. If you miss the live voice-onlycall, you can
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not yet, anyway.
Blessings on you!
Regner A. Capener
RIVER WORSHIP CENTER
Temple, Texas 76502
Email Contact: CapenerMinistries@protonmail.com
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