Mr. President:

The small progress we have made after 4 or five weeks close attendance & continual reasonings with each other — our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes as ays, is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the Human Understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own wont of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of government, and examined the different forms of those Republics which having been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution now no longer exist. And we have viewed Modern States all round Europe, but find none of their Constitutions suitable to our circumstances.

In this situation of this Assembly groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when 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 G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine Protection. — Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance.

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 men. 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 they labor in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall be become a reproach and a bye word down to future age. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human Wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest.

I therefore beg leave to move — that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that service.

Franklin, Benjamin, speech delivered Thursday, June 28, 1787, to the Constitutional Convention at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA.

Additional Resources

The Influence of Historic Christianity on Early America

by Archie P. Jones

You have probably heard the charge that the United States was founded by men who were Deists and Secularists, bent on overthrowing the Christian order of European civilization. It is claimed that they framed a national order banishing God and the Bible from all civil government; that they conspired to break with the Christian past and create a revolutionary new order of the ages—an order patterned more after pagan Greece and Rome than the Bible and medieval and Reformation Christianity.

This is all an entertaining fairy tale that, despite its wide popularity, has no basis in actual historical fact. Sadly, many Christians have joined the secularist chorus of ignorance by denying the deep Christian roots of the founding of this country, thereby allowing this error of historical revisionism to persist. What professed Christians expect to gain by joining the secularists in this revisionism is not entirely clear. However, it is clear that they could not be more greviously wrong.

Early America was founded upon the deep, extensive influence of Christianity inherited from the medieval period and the Protestant Reformation. That priceless heritage was not limited to the narrow confines of the personal life of the individual, nor to the ecclesiastical structure. Christianity positively and predominately (though not perfectly) shaped culture, education, science, literature, legal thought, legal education, political thought, law, politics, charity, and missions.

Dr. Archie Jones’ monograph, The Influence of Historic Christianity on Early America, demolishes the claims of the historical revisionists. In this short book, Jones demonstrates the pervasive Christian influence on the founding of the United States across the entire spectrum of late colonial life. It is must reading for all who wish to to understand the glorious and undeniable Christian heritage of the United States of America.

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