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Friday, August 19, 2011

More Evidence of George Washington's Faith

The faith of the Founding Fathers has been debated for two-hundred years. The faith of George Washington seems to get the most air-time. He is after all the Father of our Country, the one most indispensable to our successful Revolution and formation of government. Historians DO have a "smoking gun" as to his faith, even though there is no direct quote from his pen affirming Jesus Christ as his Saviour. Taking Communion with other believers in Jesus Christ is the smoking gun. The contrary evidence is not as convincing as secularists make it out to be. If this was a golf tournament, people for the evidence against labeling GW a true Christian would miss the cut. Consider this: Washington read the Bible every day [his daily practice], most of his devotions during the Revolutionary War were twice a day. He prayed constantly, called Jesus Divine [God], took Communion identifying himself with Christ's Atonement for Sin, called himself a Christian, his close friends and family members claimed he was a Christian, was Baptized during the Revolutionary War outside his affiliated church, and lived the life of a Christian that he said an immoral man could not live.

What is the evidence against him? The main accusation is he used classical words for God, although Pastors of the day used the same terms, perhaps even "The Great Spirit" used by the Indians. Very simply, GW acknowledged The Great Spirit was the Father of us all, in his mind the Biblical God. Likewise, secularists claim GW walked out of the Lord's Table. Which, as I summize, resulted in his disdain for the King, the head of his denomination--the same reason eyewitnesses claim he was baptized with a different denomination in the Revolutionary War.

Eyewitness testimony affirms GW's correct summation of the ordinance--that the Lord's table is not limited within certain sects:
Doctor, I understand that the Lord's Supper is to be celebrated with you next Sunday. I would learn if it accords with the canon of your church to admit communicants of another denomination?' "The Doctor rejoined, 'Most certainly; ours is not the Presbyterian table, General, but the Lord's table; and we hence give the Lord's invitation to all his followers, of whatever name.' "The General replied, 'I am glad of it; that is as it ought to be; but, as I was not quite sure of the fact, I thought I would ascertain it from yourself, as I propose to join with you on that occasion. Though a member of the Church of England, I have no exclusive partialities.
GW did not abide by the demand of Anglican oaths to certain liturgy. He showed no hypocrisy by failing to abide by the oaths, explaining every man is "protected, in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience." Historian, Bishop Meade gives his reasons for Anglicans walking out of Communion, but I don't think he hit the nail on the head. Those Anglicans walked out of Communion because of their disdain for the King--not from personal lack of virtue, or being pressed for time.

Here is a second witness of an earlier testimony I posted earlier in the year about GW taking Communion.
The Rev. Dr. Richards, of Auburn, in a letter to the author, referring to a report of Washington's having partaken of the communion at Morristown, in New-Jersey, while the army was encamped there in 1780 [1777], thus writes: "I became a resident in that town in the summer of 1794. * * * The report that Washington did actually receive the communion from the hands of Dr. Johnes was universally current during that period, and so far as I know, never contradicted. I have often heard it from the members of Dr. Johnes family. * * * It is scarcely possible that they should have been deceived, and their characters are too well known to suppose them willing to deceive others.
The eyewitness testimony of Evangelicals from GW's close friends also supports the Christian label. Here are a few testimonies:
To crown all these moral virtues, he had the deepest sense of religion impressed on his heart; the true foundation-stone of all the moral virtues. This he constantly manifested on all proper occasions. He was a firm believer in the Christian religion; and, at his first entrance on his civil administration, he made it known, and adhered to his purpose, that no secular business could be transacted with him on the day set apart by Christians for the worship of the Deity. Though he was, from principle, a member, of the Episcopal church, he was candid and liberal in the highest degree, not only to all sects and denominations of Christians, but to all religions, where the professors were sincere, throughout the world. He constantly attended the public worship of God on the Lord's day, was a communicant at His table, and by his devout and solemn deportment, inspired every beholder with some portion of that awe and reverence for the Supreme Being, of which he felt so large a portion." [bold face mine]
--Eulogy by Jonathan Mitchell Sewall, Attorney, Poet, and Close friend of George Washington, December 31, 1799.

Another second hand account of GW taking Communion from a Rev. Dr. Chapman of Portland:
From the lips of a lady of undoubted veracity, yet living, and a worthy communicant of the church, I received the interesting fact, that soon after the close of the revolutionary war, she saw him partake of the consecrated symbols of the body and blood of Christ, in Trinity Church, in the city of New-York.
More accounts of Washington taking Communion:
I have heard her [my mother, Eleanor Calvert-Lewis who lived at Mt. Vernon for 2 yrs until 1776 with Mrs. Washington's son, John Parke Custis] say that General Washington always received the sacrament with my grandmother before the revolution.
--Nelly Custis-Lewis (Washington's adopted daughter) to Jared Sparks 26 February, 1833.

Washington called Jesus Divine, having fully understood what the appellation meant. The word Divine at that time meant exactly what his Pastor in Philadelphia, Rev. Abercrombie, said it did, "That Washington was a professing Christian is evident from his regular attendance in our church ; but, Sir, I cannot consider any man as a real Christian who uniformly disregards an ordinance so solemnly enjoined by the divine Author of our holy religion, and considered as a channel of divine grace." There is no evidence GW believed Divine meant anything less than Divine:
I make it my earnest prayer, that God would have the Governors, and the States over which they preside, in his holy protection..that he would most graciously be pleased, to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation.
--GW, 1783.

Besides from Rev. Abercrombie, where are the other eyewitness claims to the contrary? Is Thomas Jefferson's second hand account honest? In my opinion, Thomas Jefferson's account SHOULD NOT be taken seriously as he was an immoral man, having written the most flagrant attacks against GW, while he was his employee. Also, the accusation Jefferson made was denied by Bishop White and Asa Green, the man TJ claimed started the rumor. Walking out of Communion isn't grounds for making that claim anyway. GW's close friends are in the best position to make an estimation, including his close friend Chief Justice John Marshall:
[W]ithout making ostentatious professions of religion, he (Washington) was a sincere believer in the Christian faith and a truly devout man.
--Marshall's life of Washington, vol. II. p. 445, abridged edition.

There are many testimonies affirming he was a Christian, including the Orthodox Jeremiah Smith:

In our country there are few who will hesitate to acknowledge the obligations we are under to make the concerns of another world the governing principle of our lives in this; and that Christianity is the highest ornament of human nature. Washington practised upon this belief. He publicly professed the religion in which he was educated; and his life affords the best evidence of the purity of his principles, and the sincerity of his faith. He had all the genuine mildness of Christianity with all its force. He was neither ostentatious nor ashamed of his Christian profession. He pursued in this, as in every thing else, the happy mean between the extremes of levity and gloominess, indifference and austerity. His religion became him. He brought it with him into office, and he did not lose it there.
--Jeremiah Smith, Revolutionary Soldier, Governor of New Hampshire

Members of Washington's family, who lived at Mt. Vernon, claim he took Communion:

In regard to Washington's being a communicant—a point about which a good deal of doubt has been expressed—we will give the substance of what is to be found in this book. We may remark, by the way, that the personal opinion of Mr. M'Guire is entitled to more than ordinary weight, from the fact of his being connected by marriage with the family of Washington, and having some special advantages for forming a correct judgment. Besides the statement quoted above, Mr. M'Guire elsewhere says that he " considers it certain that Washington did partake of the Lord's Supper."
Evangelical fundamentalist, and close friend of Washington, Elias Boudinot, believed he was a Christian. Of all Christians, Boudinot knew being born again by the Spirit of God was mandatory, having accepted Christ by George Whitefield in the Great Awakening. Here is an account--seems authentic--of GW's Baptism:
Time magazine, September 5, 1932, on the bicentenary of the birthday of George Washington, carried an article giving the account of General Washington being baptized by immersion by Chaplain Gano. Another account tells of Rev. John Gano having baptized General Washington in the field by immersion, as “Gen. Washington had become dissatisfied with the baptism which had been administered by his own church” (the established Church of England). The baptism of General Washington was performed in the presence of about forty people, according to the same account. “Very little was said about this, as the Rev. Mr. Gano transgressed the rule of his church by baptizing anyone who was outside the pale of his own denomination, but felt that he could not draw church lines too close to the Army, and so all were baptized by immersion who desired.” Rev. John Gano, Baptist preacher, is said to have cut the ice in the river, and baptized the commander-in-chief by immersion in the presence of 42 people, all sworn to secrecy! And this has been confirmed by a grandson of the Rev. Gano in an affidavit made at the age of 83 years!
Even in death, Christians prayed and read the Bible at his bedside. Washington expected to go to heaven:
Mrs. Washington was at the bedside, where she had often been " seen kneeling " with "her head resting upon the Bible ;" Mr. Lear and Dr. Craik were leaning over the bed; and four of the domestics were in the room. "He raised himself up, and casting a look of benignity on all around him, as if to thank them for their kindly attention, he composed his limbs, closed his eyes, and, folding his arms upon his bosom," expired, saying,]

In conclusion, many Christians do not have written evidence of Communion, use specific words secularists demand, or wear their Christianity on their sleave. Applying this standard to Washington is unfair, unreasonable, and negates the majority evidence supporting George Washington's Creed.


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