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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Benjamin Franklin and God

Benjamin Franklin wrote the following concerning his religious beliefs when he was twenty-two years of age. At the same age he also established a printing house, and conceived of a public lending library. Two years earlier he recorded his "Thirteen Virtues".

Franklin, approximate age 35

Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion

Philada. Nov. 20 1728

... I cannot conceive otherwise, than that He, the Infinite Father, expects or requires no Worship or Praise from us, but that he is even INFINITELY ABOVE IT.

But since there is in all Men something like a natural Principle which enclines them to DEVOTION or the Worship of some unseen Power;

And since Men are endued with Reason superior to all other Animals that we are in our World acquainted with;

Therefore I think it seems required of me, and my Duty, as a Man, to pay Divine Regards to SOMETHING.


Next to the Praise due, to his Wisdom, I believe he is pleased and delights in the Happiness of those he has created; and since without Virtue Man can have no Happiness in this World, I firmly believe he delights to see me Virtuous, because he is pleas'd when he sees me Happy.


Let me then not fail to praise my God continually, for it is his Due, and it is all I can return for his many Favours and great Goodness to me; and let me resolve to be virtuous, that I may be happy, that I may please Him, who is delighted to see me happy. Amen.


O wise God,
My good Father,
Thou beholdest the Sincerity of my Heart,
And of my Devotion;
Grant me a Continuance of thy Favour!

Powerful Goodness, &c.
O Creator, O Father, I believe that thou art Good, and that thou art pleas'd with the Pleasure of thy Children.
Praised be thy Name for Ever.

By thy Power hast thou made the glorious Sun, with his attending Worlds; from the Energy of thy mighty Will they first received their prodigious Motion, and by thy Wisdom hast thou prescribed the wondrous Laws by which they move.
Praised be thy Name for ever.

By thy Wisdom hast thou formed all Things, Thou hast created Man, bestowing Life and Reason, and plac'd him in Dignity superior to thy other earthly Creatures.
Praised be thy Name for ever.

Thy Wisdom, thy Power, and thy GOODNESS are every where clearly seen; in the Air and in the Water, in the Heavens and on the Earth; Thou providest for the various winged Fowl, and the innumerable Inhabitants of the Water; Thou givest Cold and Heat, Rain and Sunshine in their Season, and to the Fruits of the Earth Increase.
Praised be thy Name for ever.

I believe thou hast given Life to thy Creatures that they might Live, and art not delighted with violent Death and bloody Sacrifices.
Praised be thy Name for Ever.

Thou abhorrest in thy Creatures Treachery and Deceit, Malice, Revenge, Intemperance and every other hurtful Vice; but Thou art a Lover of Justice and Sincerity, of Friendship, Benevolence and every Virtue. Thou art my Friend, my Father, and my Benefactor.
Praised be thy Name, O God, for Ever.


That I may be preserved from Atheism and Infidelity, Impiety and Profaneness, and in my Addresses to Thee carefully avoid Irreverence and Ostentation, Formality and odious Hypocrisy,
Help me, O Father.

That I may be loyal to my Prince, and faithful to my Country, careful for its Good, valiant in its Defence, and obedient to its Laws, abhorring Treason as much as Tyranny,
Help me, O Father.

That I may to those above me be dutiful, humble, and submissive, avoiding Pride, Disrespect and Contumacy,
Help me, O Father.

That I may to those below me, be gracious, Condescending and Forgiving, using Clemency, protecting Innocent Distress, avoiding Cruelty, Harshness and Oppression, Insolence and unreasonable Severity,
Help me, O Father.

That I may refrain from Calumny and Detraction; that I may avoid and abhor Deceit and Envy, Fraud, Flattery and Hatred, Malice, Lying and Ingratitude,
Help me, O Father.

That I may be sincere in Friendship, faithful in Trust, and impartial in Judgment, watchful against Pride, and against Anger (that momentary Madness),
Help me, O Father.

That I may be just in all my Dealings and temperate in my Pleasures, full of Candour and Ingenuity, Humanity and Benevolence,
Help me, O Father.

That I may be grateful to my Benefactors and generous to my Friends, exerting Charity and Liberality to the Poor, and Pity to the Miserable,
Help me, O Father.

That I may avoid Avarice, Ambition, and Intemperance, Luxury and Lasciviousness,
Help me, O Father.

That I may possess Integrity and Evenness of Mind, Resolution in Difficulties, and Fortitude under Affliction; that I may be punctual in performing my Promises, peaceable and prudent in my Behaviour,
Help me, O Father.

That I may have Tenderness for the Weak, and a reverent Respect for the Ancient; That I may be kind to my Neighbours, good-natured to my Companions, and hospitable to Strangers,
Help me, O Father.

That I may be averse to Craft and Overreaching, abhor Extortion, Perjury, and every kind of Wickedness,
Help me, O Father.

That I may be honest and Openhearted, gentle, merciful and Good, chearful in Spirit, rejoicing in the Good of Others,
Help me, O Father.

That I may have a constant Regard to Honour and Probity; That I may possess a perfect Innocence and a good Conscience, and at length become Truly Virtuous and Magnanimous, Help me, Good God,
Help me, O Father.


For Peace and Liberty, for Food and Raiment, for Corn and Wine, and Milk, and every kind of Healthful Nourishment, Good God, I Thank thee.

For the Common Benefits of Air and Light, for useful Fire and delicious Water, Good God, I Thank thee.

For Knowledge and Literature and every useful Art; for my Friends and their Prosperity, and for the fewness of my Enemies, Good God, I Thank thee.

For all thy innumerable Benefits; For Life and Reason, and the Use of Speech, for Health and Joy and every Pleasant Hour, my Good God, I thank thee.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

First Prayer of the Continental Congress

First Prayer of the Continental Congress

On 16 September 1774, John Adams wrote a brief letter to his wife Abigail describing the opening of the First Continental Congress of the United Colonies of North America at Carpenters' Hall.

When the Congress first met, Mr. Cushing made a Motion, that it should be opened with Prayer. It was opposed by Mr. Jay of New York and Mr. Rutledge of South Carolina, because we were so divided in religious Sentiments, some Episcopalians, some Quakers, some Aanabaptists, some Presbyterians and some Congregationalists, so that We could not join in the same Act of Worship.-Mr. S. Adams arose and said he was no Bigot, and could hear a Prayer from a Gentleman of Piety and Virtue, who was at the same Time a Friend to his Country. He was a Stranger in Phyladelphia, but had heard that Mr. Duché (Dushay they pronounce it) deserved that Character, and therefore he moved that Mr. Duché, an episcopal Clergyman, might be desired, to read Prayers to the Congress, tomorrow Morning. The Motion was seconded and passed in the Affirmative. Mr. Randolph our President, waited on Mr. Duché, and received for Answer that if his Health would permit, he certainly would. Accordingly next Morning he appeared with his Clerk and in his Pontificallibus, and read several Prayers, in the established Form; and then read the Collect for the seventh day of September, which was the Thirty fifth Psalm. -You must remember this was the next Morning after we heard the horrible Rumour, of the Cannonade of Boston.-I never saw a greater Effect upon an Audience. It seemed as if Heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read on that Morning.

The psalm read that day:

A Prayer for Rescue from Enemies. A Psalm of David.

Plead my cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.

Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help.

Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me: say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.

Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt.

Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the LORD chase them.

Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the LORD persecute them.

For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit, which without cause they have digged for my soul.

Let destruction come upon him at unawares; and let his net that he hath hid catch himself: into that very destruction let him fall.

And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation.

All my bones shall say, LORD, who is like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him?

False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.

They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul.

But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.

I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother.

But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew it not; they did tear me, and ceased not:

With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth.

Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions.

I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people.

Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause.

For they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land.

Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me, and said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen it.

This thou hast seen, O LORD: keep not silence: O Lord, be not far from me.

Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment, even unto my cause, my God and my Lord.

Judge me, O LORD my God, according to thy righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me.

Let them not say in their hearts, Ah, so would we have it: let them not say, We have swallowed him up.

Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at mine hurt: let them be clothed with shame and dishonour that magnify themselves against me.

Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.

And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long.

Adams' letter continued:

After this Mr. Duché, unexpected to every Body struck out into an extemporary Prayer, which filled the Bosom of every Man present.

Jacob Duché, Rector of Christ Church, closed his Bible and, without a teleprompter, he offered a stirring prayer.

O Lord, our Heavenly Father, High and mighty King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, who dost from Thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the Kingdoms, Empires and Governments:

Look down in mercy we beseech Thee, on these American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of oppression, and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring henceforth to be dependent only on Thee, they have appealed for the righteousness of their cause; to Thee do they now look up for that countenance and support which Thou alone canst give; take them, therefore, Heavenly Father, under Thy nurturing care; give them wisdom in Council and valor in the field; defeat the malicious designs of our cruel adversaries; convince them of the unrighteousness of their cause; and if they persist in their sanguinary purpose, O, Let the voice of Thy own enerring justice, sounding in their hearts, constrain them to drop the weapons of war from their unnerved hands in the day of battle!

Be Thou present, O God of wisdom and direct the councils of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation. That the scene of blood may be speedily closed; the order, harmony and peace may be effectively restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety prevail and florish among Thy people. Preserve the health of their bodies and vigor of their minds; shower down on them, and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seeth expedient for them in this world, and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Savior. Amen.

Adams closed his letter with an account of the response to Duché's words.

I must confess I never heard a better Prayer or one, so well pronounced. Episcopalian as he is, Dr. Cooper himself never prayed with such fervour, such Ardor, such Earnestness and Pathos, and in Language so elegant and sublime-for America, for the Congress, for The Province of Massachusetts Bay, and especially the Town of Boston. It has had an excellent Effect upon every Body here.

I must beg you to read that Psalm. If there was any Faith in the sortes Virgilianae, or sortes Homericae, or especially the Sortes biblicae, it would be thought providential.

It will amuse your Friends to read this Letter and the 35th. Psalm to them. Read it to your Father and Mr. Wibirt. -I wonder what our Braintree Churchmen would think of this?-Mr. Duché is one of the most ingenious Men, and best Characters, and greatest orators in the Episcopal order, upon this Continent- Yet a Zealous Friend of Liberty and his Country.

This is just one of many examples of the deeply religious strain that has run, like a "golden thread," through the history of the United States. For an examination of this thread, additional quotes, and much more, check out Jeffrey K. Hill's new edition of Harry Atwood's classic Keep God in American History. Instant download of this digital book is now available for Kindle, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, Android devices, PC, and Mac.

Keep God in American History ...only $0.99!

For more information about Congress and prayer, visit The Congressional Prayer Caucus.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Read an E-Book Week

Read an E-Book Week is March 6-12, 2011.

This year the e-book turns 40 years old! Back in 1971, Michael S. Hart created the first "e-book", a digital copy of the Declaration of Independence.

Electronic books have come a long way from those simple text files. Today they include images, hot links, and even videos. Reading devices also enhance the experience by offering features such as bookmarks, highlighting, and adjustable fonts. Some even simulate the turning of a page.

Print books will never disappear. If for no other reason, they will survive as artifacts, collectibles valued as objects rather than for their content. But at the utilitarian level, since the time of the clay tablet books have been simply containers for storing and disseminating information. As such, the digital book is the most pure example. One can literally carry an entire library in one's pocket. With the help of the internet, information is now shared more widely than ever before. And there are thousands of e-books, including the most popular classics, available for free.

Dedicated e-book reading devices such as the Kindle and Nook have driven the popularity of e-books. Projections of the number of such devices in use in the United States this year tops 40 million. But one can also enjoy the same convenience, portability, and speed of the digital book on one's desktop or laptop, tablet, or even phone. Amazon offers a variety of free reading apps that will help one optimize the digital book experience. They can even be synched across all of one's reading devices.

The release of Keep God in American History by Jeffrey K. Hill and Harry F. Atwood coincides with this year's Read an E-book Week. For only 99 cents, one can support an independent author, learn about American history, and participate in the digital revolution. What better way to celebrate?!

Keep God in American History ...only $0.99!

For more information about the event, as well as lots of links to everything you ever wanted to know about e-books, visit Read an E-book Week.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

New Book Release

Today we are pleased to announce the release of the new edition of Harry F. Atwood's classic Keep God in America, fully annotated, and with additional material, by author Jeffrey K. Hill.

“The proudest heritage of this country is that all through its history there has run, like a golden thread, a deeply religious strain.”

In this special pamphlet, originally published in 1919, Harry Atwood gathered quotes about God from the greatest Founding Fathers and other important personages and documents in the history of the United States. Atwood hoped all Americans would hold tight to the “golden thread,” the better to withstand the assaults of Bolshevism, anarchy, and others of his era, but also to honor their unalienable rights. His work reminds us that the blessings given to each person by God were guaranteed, for the first time in human history, by these documents and men.

This new edition introduces us to Atwood, who was known during his lifetime as the man who resurrected the Constitution. The validity of Atwood's thesis is briefly examined, and each quote has been researched and placed within its original context. Additional quotes and information are included for further study.

Keep God in American History is one of the “beacon lights to guide the faltering footsteps of a perplexed and bewildered citizenry away from the pitfalls that ever lie along the pathway of nations departing from their traditions to follow after strange gods.”

Instant download of this digital book is now available for Kindle, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, Android devices, PC, and Mac.

Keep God in American History ...only $0.99!