Monday, November 16, 2015
God's Hand in Early America by Benjamin Franklin Morris 1864
God's Hand in Early America by Benjamin Franklin Morris 1864
See also The United States a Christian Nation - 50 Books on CDrom
God in human history is the key that solves the problem of human destiny and sheds a true and satisfactory light on the pathway and progress of nations. “In history," says D'Aubigné, “God should be acknowledged and proclaimed. The history of the world should be set as the annals of the government of the Sovereign of the universe. God is ever present on that vast theatre where successive generations of men and nations struggle. The history of the world, instead of presenting a confused chaos, appears as a majestic temple, in which the invisible hand of God himself is at work, and which rises to his glory above the rock of humanity.
“Shall we not recognize the hand of God in those grand manifestations, those great men, those mighty nations which arise and start as it were from the dust of the earth, and communicate a new form and destiny to the human race? Shall we not acknowledge him in those great heroes who spring from society at appointed epochs,—who display a strength and an activity beyond the ordinary limits of humanity, and around whom, as around a superior and mysterious power, nations and individuals gladly gather? And do not those great revolutions which hurl kings from their thrones and precipitate whole nations to the dust,—do they not all declare aloud a God in history? Who, if not God? What a startling fact, that men brought up amid the elevated ideas of Christianity regard as mere superstition that divine intervention in human affairs which the very heathen have universally admitted!"
That great scholar and Christian philosopher of Germany, the Chevalier Bunsen, says, in his “Philosophy of Human History," “The noblest nations have ever believed in an immutable moral order of the world, constituted by divine wisdom and regulating the destinies of mankind. The truly philosophical historian must believe that there is an eternal order in the government of the world, to which all might and power are to become and do become subservient; that truth, justice, wisdom, and moderation are sure to triumph; and that when the contrary appears to be the case, the fault lies in our mistaking the middle for the end. There must be a solution for every complication, as certainly as a dissonance cannot form the conclusion of a musical composition. In other words," says Bunsen, “the philosopher who will understand and interpret history must believe that God, not accident, governs the world.”
“The principles that govern. human affairs," says Bancroft, “extending like a path of light from century to century, become the highest demonstration of the superintending providence of God. Universal history does but seek to relate the sum of all God's works of providence. The wheels of providence are not turned about by blind chance, but they are full of eyes round about, and they are all guided by the Spirit of God." “ Providence is the light of history, and the soul of the world. God is in history, and all history has a unity because God is in it.”
No era in human history is more signally and sublimely marked with the manifest providence and presence of God than that of the discovery and Christian colonization of the North American continent.
In 1492,- Columbus hailed the opening of the New World with a song of praise, and by a solemn act of prayer consecrated it to God. In 1498, six years later, Cabot, an English navigator, discovered Newfoundland,and sailed along the coasts of the American continent. Columbus and Cabot were both Roman Catholics, and made their discoveries under the auspices of Ferdinand of Spain and Henry VIII. of England, who were Roman Catholic sovereigns. It was more than a hundred years subsequent that any serious attempts were made to colonize the countries discovered by the Spanish and English navigators.
“The intervening century," says a writer, “was in many respects the most important period of the world; certainly the most important in modern times. More marked and decided changes, affecting science, religion, and liberty, occurred in that period than had occurred in centuries before; and all these changes were just such as to determine the Christian character of this country.
“Meantime, God held this vast land in reserve, as the great field on which the experiment was to be made in favor of civil and religious liberty. He suffered not the foot of Spaniard, or Portuguese, or Frenchman, or Englishman, to come upon it, until the changes had been wrought in Europe which would make it certain that it would always be a land of religious freedom. The changes then wrought, the advances then made, related to science and the arts, to religion, to the principles of liberty. The whole of the sixteenth century was a period of active preparation for future times, and all that is great in modern science and art may be said to have received its foundation in the agitations that grew out of that period of the world. The twelve decades, from 1480 to 1600, form one of the grandest and richest eras in the history of humanity. It was in that period that the foundation of our liberty was laid,—in that period that it became sure that this would be a land of civil and religious freedom. England during all that time was a great laboratory in which these principles were brought out; and from the views which prevailed at the time of Henry VII., and which had prevailed for ages, it required one whole century to advance the world to that position which was maintained by Pym and Hampden and Milton, and was seen in the principles of Winthrop, and Robinson, and Brewster, of George Calvert, of Roger Williams, and of William Penn. Searcer any thing has occurred in history which is more remarkable or which has been more certainly indicative of the designs of Providence."
“Columbus came," says Irving, “as a religious man, an admiral of Christ, to find the continent, not for its material treasures, but because it held souls which he wished to bring as a trophy to the feet of Christ."
“A deep religious feeling mingled with his meditations and gave them at times a tinge of superstition, but it was of a sublime and lofty kind. He looked upon himself as being in the hand of Heaven, chosen from among men for the accomplishment of its high purpose; he read, as be supposed, his contemplated discoveries foretold in the mystic revelations of the prophets. The ends of the earth were to be brought together, and all nations and tongues and languages united under the banner of the Redeemer. This was to be the triumphant consummation of his enterprise, bringing the unknown regions of the earth into communion with Christian Europe,—carrying the light of the true faith into benighted and pagan lands, and gathering their countless nations under the holy dominion of the Church. One of his principal objects was undoubtedly the propagation of the Christian faith. Columbus now considered himself about to effect this great work,—to spread the light of revelation to the very ends of the earth, and thus to be the instrument of accomplishing one of the sublime predictions of Holy Writ.
“Whenever he made any great discovery, he celebrated it by solemn thanks to God. The voice of prayer and melody of praise rose from his ship when they first beheld the New World, and his first act on landing was to prostrate himself upon the earth and return thanksgiving. All his great enterprises were undertaken in the name of the Holy Trinity, and he partook of the communion before his embarkation. His conduct was characterized by the grandeur of his views and the magnanimity of his spirit. Instead of scouring the newly-found countries, like a grasping adventurer, eager only for immediate gain, as was too general with contemporaneous discoverers, he sought to ascertain their soil and productions, their rivers and harbors: he was desirous of colonizing and cultivating them, conciliating and civilizing the natives, introducing the useful arts, subjecting every thing to the control of law, order, and religion, and thus of founding regular and prosperous empires." In his will Columbus enjoins on his son Diego, or whoever might inherit after him, “to spare no pains in having and maintaining in the island of Hispaniola four good professors of theology, to the end and aim of their studying and laboring to convert to our holy faith the inhabitants of the Indias; and, in proportion as by God's will the revenue of the estate shall increase, in the same degree shall the number of teachers and devout persons increase, who are to strive to make Christians of the natives."
"The great epitaph," said Webster, “commemorative of the character and the worth, the discoveries and the glory, of Columbus, was that he had given a new world to the crowns of Castile and Aragon. This is a great mistake. It does not come up to all the great merits of Columbus. He gave the territory of the Southern hemisphere to the crowns of Castile and Aragon; but, as a place for the plantation of colonies, as a place for the habitation of men, a place to which laws and religion, and manners and science, were to he transferred, as a place where the creatures of God should multiply and fill the earth under friendly skies and with religious hearts, he gave it to the whole world, he gave it to universal man! From this seminal principle, and from a handful, a hundred saints, blessed of God and ever honored of men, landed on the shores of Plymouth and elsewhere along the coast, united with the settlement of Jamestown, has sprung this great people."
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