The Faith of George Washington
- by Michael J. McManus -Posted by rturner on 2004/2/21 17:47:26 (134 reads)Sunday is George Washington's real birthday, an appropriate time to consider the faith of America's most important founding father.
At age 13 George transcribed "110 Rules for Young Gentlemen," written by Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits in the 1590's. George memorized them. They teach that man is God's servant who lives not for self, but for others. They became part of his character:
"Let your conversation be without malice or envy...
"When you speak of God or His attributes, be serious and speak with words of reverence.
"Let your recreations be manful, and not sinful.
At age 20, he wrote prayers to say each morning and evening. On Sunday mornings he prayed: "...pardon, I beseech Thee, my sins; remove them from Thy presence, as far as the east is from the west, and accept me for the merits of Thy son, Jesus Christ..."
At 23 Captain Washington was caught in a surprise ambush by the French and Indians near what is now Pittsburgh. Every British and American officer was shot but Washington though he rode back and forth across the battlefield. George later wrote to his brother, "By the all powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation, for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me."
On July 2, 1776 he told his troops: "The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance or the most abject submission. We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die."
Seven weeks later British General Howe had trapped Washington and his 8,000 troops on Brooklyn Heights, ready to crush them the next morning. Washington gathered every vessel from fishing to row boats and spent all night ferrying his army across the East River. By morning many troops were still exposed to the British.
"In a most unusual change in weather, the fog did not lift from the river. It stayed thick, covering Washington's retreat until the entire army had evacuated and escaped," writes William Federer in his inspiring book, "America's God and Country." Never again did the British have such a rare chance to win the war.
During the freezing winter of 1777 at Valley Forge, a dozen soldiers died a day, with many not having blankets or shoes. "Feet and legs froze till they became black," and were amputated wrote a Committee from Congress. A Quaker named Isaac Potts came upon Washington upon his knees in the snow, praying aloud for his beloved country. He thanked God for exalting him to the head of a great nation which was fighting at fearful odds.
The Quaker told his wife of the sight: "Till now I have thought that a Christian and a solider were characters incompatible, but if George Washington not be a man of God I am mistaken, and still more I shall be disappointed in God does not through him perform some great thing for this country."
On May 5, 1778 Washington learned that the French would join America as allies. The General told his troops, "It having pleased the Almighty Ruler of the universe to defend the cause of the United American States, and finally to raise up a powerful friend among the princes of the earth, to establish our liberty, and independence upon a lasting foundation, it becomes us to set apart a day for gratefully acknowledging the divine goodness..."In 1781 Washington's southern army defeated a detachment of British troops. Lord Cornwallis was infuriated and began pursuing the outnumbered Americans. He waited the night at the Catawba River, which the U.S. troops had crossed just two hours earlier. Miraculously, a storm arose during the night causing the river to be uncrossable for five days. Cornwallis nearly overtook Americans at the Yadkin River, but another flood arose, allowing Americans to escape.
The French navy seized control of the Chesapeake Aug. 30, 1781, driving out British ships. Washington rejoiced and besieged Cornwallis' stronghold at Yorktown. With no ships to escape upon, Cornwallis surrendered.
Washington wrote Congress, "I take a particular pleasure in acknowledging that the interposing Hand of Heaven...has been most conspicuous and remarkable."
Washington had more near escapes than victories. Would God have protected him from bullets, and saved his troops with fog and floods - had he not been a praying man?
Copyright 2004 Michael J. McManus
A "poster" posed the question of whether General Thomas Gage was guided by his Christian faith. In attempting to research General Gage's faith, I never found any more than passing mention that his father quit the Catholic Church and joined the Anglican Church, and later young Thomas grew to hate the Catholic Church. But in researching the Father of Our Country, I found a plethora of information on his faith.
In recent years, "historians" have made attempts to paint Washington as a Deist, as they have done with a majority of our Founding Fathers. I'm pretty sure these so called historians are attempting to alter history for their own agendas. George Washington was without doubt a Christian, and a devout one at that. In all of his public successes, he gave thanks to God, and he implored his men and his countrymen to acknowledge God's assistance and insistence that they should be free.
Anyone who argues that George Washington was not a firm believer in Divine Providence is obviously willfully suspending disbelief. For, in Cornwallis' words, "an army of rabble" to defeat the world's greatest army, Divine Intervention is easily believable.
As for Mud's theory that General Robert E. Lee, a devout Christian, losing to Ulysses S. Grant, a non-Church goer, my theory is that Robert E. Lee was on the wrong side of God's will. It pains me to say it, but Lee's tactical errors and failure to take full advantage of his brilliant victories show me that he did not have God's favor. Perhaps God felt "what God has joined together, let no man tear asunder." I certainly feel that way. I still feel that way as Obama and his minions are attempting to tear down God's works right now.
And we can still look to the Father of Our Country for guidance:
The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.
We are patient, but we won't be forever.