Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving in the United States of America

On October 3rd, 1789, George Washington issued the following statement as President of the United States:
Whereas  it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and

Whereas  both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness":

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the Beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplication to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our national government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best. 

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, AD 1789  George Washington.
From 1816 to 1862 there were no national days of Thanksgiving. Following the battles at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln reinstated the national day, the last Thursday in November.

Speaking of Abraham Lincoln, reports in Springfield arose concerning his hostility toward Jesus Christ. You can read some reports if you search "James Matheny and Abraham Lincoln." The reports are not too surprising. I certainly said worse before God pierced my heart, convicted me of my sin, and brought me to faith in his Son Jesus Christ. But, I was interested to read when it was that Lincoln said that he devoted his life to Jesus Christ. Any idea? It was Gettysburg. This is what he said:

"When I left Springfield [to become President] I asked the people to pray for me.  I was not a Christian when I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ" (154).
Needless to say, there is a great amount of controversy surrounding his faith his Jesus Christ. A Presbyterian pastor, Samuel C. Baldridge, even said following his death, "It is to be bitterly regretted that he did not make a public profession of...faith in the Lord Jesus Christ" (441). Nevertheless, others responded by saying that the Lincoln who Baldridge knew in Illinois was not the Lincoln following 1863.

This post sort of turned into a tangent. But, anyways, I hope you all have a wonderful day of thanksgiving. May God's richest blessings be yours.

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