Tag Archives: God

God help me. God help us. Part 13

I shall need too the favour of that being in whose hands we are: who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land; and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries & comforts of life; who has covered our infancy with his providence, & our riper years with his wisdom & power: & to whose goodness I ask you to join in supplications with me, that he will so enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their councils, & prosper their measures, that whatsoever they do shall result in your good, & shall secure to you the peace, friendship, & approbation of all nations.
Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders freely acknowledge the need of a higher power.
In the previous post, Thomas Jefferson asked his constituent’s help in his second term. Now, he asked God’s. He affirmed God’s hand in establishing, protecting, provisioning and empowering America.

He asked their prayers be added to his, for enlightened leaders, guidance in their debates, and success in their efforts.  The citizens’ good and peace with other nations were the goals.

While the President was not a Christian, neither was he a deist, as often described. Deists held the “clockmaker” doctrine, that God made the universe (the clock), wound it up, and left it to run itself. Jefferson believed in a more benevolent God, one involved in human affairs and who rewarded in an afterlife based on good deeds in this one.

This is the last in a series of 13 posts drawn from Jefferson’s Second Inaugural Address. Jefferson lacked a strong public speaking voice and conveyed it to the public and the Congress in writing.
“I wish to express my sincere appreciation for your professional presentation …
before our rather large audience.”
Executive Director, Western Coal Transportation Association
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak.
Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, go to FoundersArchives.gov. Cut a few words from the letter in the post, paste them into the search box at the top, with beginning and ending quotation marks, and click the GO button. The correct letter … should … come up.
Or call me. I’ll help you find it.
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We need divine help, too.

… I shall need too the favour of that being in whose hands we are: who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land; and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries & comforts of life; who has covered our infancy with his providence, & our riper years with his wisdom & power: & to whose goodness I ask you to join in supplications with me, that he will so enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their councils, & prosper their measures, that whatsoever they do shall result in your good, & shall secure to you the peace, friendship, & approbation of all nations.
Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders know man’s help is not enough.
I excerpted several of the opening paragraphs of this major address and skipped ones that followed. The omitted ones dealt with native Americans and the challenges of their assimilation, the abuses printed by some newspapers, a reiteration of the limited, essential purposes of American government, and a plea for forgiveness for errors in his judgment.

This is the conclusion to Jefferson’s address, a plea for divine help. Jefferson rarely refers to that source as God and never as Jesus, yet he recognized and petitioned “that being” who had:
– Led us to a land blessed with abundant resources
– Protected us in “our infancy”
– Gave us wisdom and power as we matured
Jefferson asked his fellow citizens to join him in “supplications” (earnest or humble requests) for wisdom for America’s leaders, that their actions would result in “your good” at home, and peace, friendship and approval abroad.

“Thank you for a very excellent presentation.”
Executive Director, Associated General Contractors of Missouri
Mr. Jefferson will bring an excellent presentation to your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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I have had it with you!

Having daily to read voluminous letters & documents for the dispatch of the public affairs, your letters have consumed a portion of my time which duty forbids me any longer to devote to them. your talents as a divine I hold in due respect … of the special communications to you of his will by the supreme being, I can have no evidence, and therefore must ascribe your belief of them to the false perceptions of your mind. it is with real pain that I find myself at length obliged to say in express terms what I had hoped you would have inferred from my silence. Accept of my respects & best wishes.
To David Austin, January 21, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Even patient leaders have their breaking points.
This is an extraordinary response from a very self-controlled but obviously exasperated man!

Since Jefferson’s inauguration 10 months earlier, the minister Austin had written to him 26 times. Austin offered advice and criticism, begged for a face-to-face meeting, almost insisted on a job, and suggested he had divine solutions to the President’s biggest problems. Finally, the confrontation-hating Jefferson had had enough. His blunt reply made these points:
1. I am too busy to read any more of your letters.
2. I respect your position as a minister.
3. Your claim God has spoken to you must be self-deception.
4. My lack of reply should have told you I wasn’t interested.
5. Since you didn’t grasp that, it grieves me that I must tell you so outright.
5. I will be respectful of you in concluding this letter.

Undeterred for a time, Austin wrote six more letters in the next four months and a seventh and final letter in 1804.

“I would highly recommend your organization consider Mr. Lee for an event
and assure you it will be very memorable for years to come.”
President, Nevada Association of Land Surveyors
Let Thomas Jefferson create a memorable event for your members.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Is the cause worth EVERYTHING to you?

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude [Webster’s7th New Collegiate, “moral integrity : righteousness”] of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States;
that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved;
and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
The Declaration of Independence

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
You know the beginning. This is the end.
The Declaration of Independence, adopted 238 years ago today, begins with far more famous words, “When in the course of human events …” It concludes with these words.
1. Representing the citizens and affirming the rightness of our actions, because of the reasons presented above, we declare ourselves completely independent from England.
2. We have to same authority to act as other free and independent states do.
3. We depend on God for protection.
4. We pledge everything we have to this cause.

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Did Jefferson believe in “intelligent design”?

… when we take a view of the Universe … The movements of the heavenly bodies … the structure of our earth itself, with it’s distribution of lands, waters and atmosphere, animal and vegetable bodies … the mineral substances, their generation and uses, it is impossible, I say, for the human mind not to believe that there is, in all this, design, cause and effect, up to an ultimate cause, a fabricator of all things … their preserver and regulator …  and their regenerator …
So irresistible are these evidences of an intelligent and powerful Agent … [and] in the hypothesis of an eternal pre-existence of a creator, rather than in that of a self-existent Universe.

To John Adams, April 11, 1823

Patrick Lee’s Explanation

Observant leaders recognize a higher power at work.

Here is the question Jefferson was addressing: Has the universe always existed, or was it created?

Jefferson is widely claimed, and incorrectly so I think, to be a deist in matters of religion. Deists might consider the creator as a master “clockmaker,” one who made the universe, wound its mainspring tight, and then set it loose to run on its own, leaving mankind alone to govern and improve it.

Jefferson believed in a more involved creator, a more benevolent one. He credited this “Agent,” God if you will, not only with creation (as “fabricator”), but with sustaining it (as “preserver and regulator”) and repairing and improving it (as “regenerator”). Jefferson’s God was not a hands-off one and denying his existence was impossible.

Other parts of this letter will give doctrinaire Christians fits. (He RIPS John Calvin!) Jefferson believed in a generous, benevolent God, in Jesus as the greatest of all moral teachers, but not in Jesus’ divinity. Good works were all that God expected.

The 80-year-old  ended this letter to his older friend, affirming that he awaited the end of this life “with more readiness than reluctance.” He signed off, “May we meet there again, in Congress, with our antient Colleagues, and recieve with them the seal of approbation `Well done, good and faithful servants.’”

“Your well-researched portrayals of Thomas Jefferson and Captain William Clark
were highlights of the five day event.”

Director, Prairieland Chautauqua
Let Thomas Jefferson (and friends) be highlights for your audience!
Invite them to speak. Call 573-657-2739

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