Meridian Star

Religion

July 5, 2014

America needs divine favor

MERIDIAN — I owe Joe Miller, candidate for U.S. Senate in Alaska, for this information in his blog about Ben Franklin. It shows how our Founders called on God for help.

    In the summer of 1787, the newly independent United States of America,

sent delegates to Philadelphia for a constitutional convention. General George Washington feared ruin unless the fledgling nation established a new constitution, “well-guarded and closely watched to prevent encroachments.”

    The challenge would be to fashion a government powerful enough to keep

the country together, but not so powerful as to trample on the rights of the individual and the states. The delegates soon discovered that challenge was going to be greater than they had anticipated. The Convention’s oldest delegate at 81, Pennsylvania’s Benjamin Franklin, watched with increasing concern as the weeks ticked by with little progress.

    Franklin, who had done so much to help secure America’s independence, realized there was something missing that was central to the success of the Revolutionary War. With the delegates assembled for what promised to be another fruitless day, he signaled to Washington that he wished to speak.

    James Madison recorded Franklin's words. "Mr. President, the small progress we have made after four or five weeks of close attendance and continual reasonings with each other - our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes as ayes - is, methinks, a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the human understanding ..."

    “In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights, to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were in the struggle must have observed the frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor …"

    “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 man.” Then referencing Jesus' words, Franklin noted, “And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?  We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that except the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it.'"

    We all know how the story of the Constitutional Convention ended. The delegates came together in what has been called the “Miracle at Philadelphia” and fashioned the longest standing form of government in the world today. Following Franklin’s speech, the delegates, in fact did all attend a church service together on the Fourth of July, and the whole atmosphere of the proceedings seemed to change when they reconvened after the break. Franklin, a few days after his call to

prayer, was chosen to serve on a committee which successfully addressed one of the most difficult issues the conventions faced: how representation would work in the new form of government. In September, the delegates signed the document they had crafted.

    Joe Miller said, like Franklin, "I am just as convinced that human wisdom and effort alone will not be enough to address our current crisis and reverse the encroachments on our constitutional rights. Franklin had it right, 'God governs over the affairs of this world.' We must pray for God’s wisdom and divine hand of favor to be upon our efforts (to save our Constitutional Republic) and stir the hearts of the people to act."

    Ron Wood is a pastor and writer and former Meridian resident. Contact him at wood.stone.ron@gmail.com.

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