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GEORGE WASHINGTON - THE FATHER OF OUR NATION

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Morning, February 20, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?" (Proverbs 20:6).


Day after tomorrow marks George Washington's 273rd birthday. President Reagan once said,

The image of George Washington kneeling in prayer in the snow is one of the most famous in American history. He personified a people who knew it was not enough to depend on their own courage and goodness; they must also seek help from God…George Washington kissed a Bible at his inauguration. To those who would have government separate from religion, [Washington] had these words: "Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle"…The First Continental Congress made its first act a prayer…We have then a lesson from the founders of our land. That lesson is clear: That in the winning of freedom and in the living of life, the first step is prayer.

I told you about Abraham Lincoln last Sunday, and this morning I am going to tell you about George Washington. Many of you young people are attending secular high schools and colleges. You will not hear anything good about Washington or Lincoln in your secular school. Why? The answer is simple. Your teachers and professors themselves were taught by historical revisionists. What they learned is passed on to you without question. I graduated from a secular university. I know first hand what is taught there. Historical revisionism began many years ago with efforts to destroy America's foundations. Even after the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, those who have been influenced by them continue to attack the very roots of our nation. These small-minded high school and college teachers have no greater goal in life than to try and destroy your faith in God and your belief in the greatness of our nation. And every young person here this morning should remember what you learned from this sermon. When they attack George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, and the goodness of American liberty, you stand tall and remember that the roots of our freedom lie in the opening words of the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable [unchangeable] rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

You tell them, "That's what America was founded on! That's what made America great! And that's what I believe!" You tell them that!

When they tell you that Lincoln only wanted to contain slavery, not abolish it, you remind them that Lincoln was not a dictator - like Castro, or Lenin or Stalin. No! Lincoln was elected by the people, and he could not do anything at all to free the slaves unless he had the backing of those who elected him. Lincoln had to educate the people and bring them over to his side. You tell them that Lincoln was not a dictator. He did not hand down judgments like the left-wing members of the Supreme Court - who think they are above the people - who shove their views down our throats without any care for democracy, government of the people, by the people, for the people.

And you tell them it is now high time to hear from the people on the greatest civil rights issue of our day - abortion on demand! You tell them America, right now, is in the process of being taken out of their socialist hands, and is even now being put back under its rightful leadership - the voting citizens of our democracy! You tell them that we have waited thirty-two years for their courts to restore the rights guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence to children in the womb, who are endowed, as much as we are, "by their Creator with certain unalienable [unchangeable] rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

And the one man more responsible than any other in helping us gain those rights was our first President, General George Washington, the Father of our Nation! You tell them that George Washington was one of the greatest men who ever lived. You tell them that he risked his life so that we might be free. You tell them that he would have been hanged for a traitor if he had failed as a General to lead our armies to victory in the War of Independence. You tell them that it was he who ensured that those words would forever be the motto of free men in our nation, and a beacon light of hope to oppressed people around the world. It was Washington who made it possible for men and women in the former Soviet Union, in Afghanistan and, yes, even in Iraq, to say in their hearts,

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

That's the legacy of George Washington. That's the gift of freedom that he, more than any other individual, handed down to us, and to Europe in the Second World War, and to the children of Russia, and Southeast Asia, and Afghanistan, and Iraq. And it is Washington who, more than any other man, made this vision of human liberty the hope of the world - including North Korea, Cuba, and the Muslim world! No wonder the socialists, the liberals, the Socialists, the screaming, snarling old hippies, and the atheists hate him! Of course they hate George Washington! His dream is shattering their world!

But to us who still cherish those unalienable rights, the name of Washington lives on. In the words of General Henry Lee, the father of General Robert E. Lee, at Washington's funeral, Washington is "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen." Surely he is all of that. He led our troops to victory in the Revolutionary War. He superintended the writing of our Constitution. He was unanimously elected as our first President. He was the "Father of our Country" - and the father of democratic freedom around the world! Thank God for George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and George W. Bush!

Who was this man, George Washington? You probably know very little about him. The left-wing revisionists have left his story out of the textbooks in our secular schools. But you should know about this truly great man. I will talk about him for a few minutes this morning.

I. First, I will tell you about his life.

George Washington was born in 1732 at Bridges Creek, Virginia. He was the oldest of six children born to Augustine and Mary Washington. When he was eleven years old his father died suddenly and his mother was left to raise the six children. He received his early education at home, taught by his father, and then from a schoolmaster named Williams. His mother, who lived until 1789, long after the Revolutionary War, had a strong moral influence on his life. Most of his real education was gained on his older half brother's plantation, where he went to live, and where he taught himself mathematics and surveying. He surveyed his brother's land, and the land of neighbors, at the age of fourteen.

When his brother Lawrence died four years later, Washington took over his plantation at Mount Vernon and made it his permanent home. During these years he gained a good reputation as a surveyor. In 1752, at the age of twenty, Washington was drafted into military service by the governor. His experience in the Virginia militia interested him more and more in military life. In 1753 he was made a lieutenant colonel. His bravery in battles against the French, who were trying to take over English land, resulted in his appointment as commander of all the Virginia forces of the British. In 1759, after the threat to Virginia's frontiers was gone, he resigned from the military and returned to civilian life.

Washington disliked slavery and did as much as possible to ease its evil features by his kind treatment of his slaves and refusal to sell any of them. In many ways Washington was far ahead of his times regarding slavery. More than seventy years before the Civil War, he said,

I never mean, unless some particular circumstance should compel it, to possess another slave by purchase. It being among my first wishes [as President] to see some plan adopted by which slavery in this country might be abolished by law (D. James Kennedy, What They Believed, Coral Ridge Ministries, 2003, p. 24).

In 1759, Washington married Martha Dandridge, a widow with two children, whom he adopted. He was a devoted stepfather and the death of his stepdaughter Patsy in 1772 was a terrible grief to him.

Washington became increasingly aware of the growing friction between the American colonies and Great Britain. In 1759 he was elected to the House of Burgesses. As the manager of a large plantation he felt the pressure of British restrictions on trade. These experiences, along with his earlier unfavorable impression of the British way of treating American soldiers, helped to create within him a feeling of hostility toward the British which made him a strong believer in American independence.

In 1774 he was sent as a delegate from Virginia to the First Continental Congress. He became known as a radical because he belonged to a group which believed war with Britain was inevitable. Returning to Virginia, he was chosen as commander in chief of the colonies' military forces by the Second Continental Congress. When he accepted the position of commander in chief he refused all salary except for expenses.

For the next two years Washington went through many hardships building up an army out of raw, untrained men. His ragged army of 20,000 men were up against the British troops, the most highly trained and disciplined army in the world at that time. When the Declaration of Independence was signed it was no longer possible to turn back, and full-scale war began.

After several defeats by the British, Washington crossed the Delaware River on December 24, 1776 and his troops struck heavy blows at the British. He escaped with his men before British reinforcements could arrive. These victories encouraged the Americans and made it possible for the war to continue.

In 1777 the British won several battles. The Congress of America was forced to leave Philadelphia, which was occupied by the British. During the winter of 1777, Washington and his defeated troops set up headquarters at Valley Forge, about twenty-three miles northwest of Philadelphia. Washington and 11,000 soldiers spent the winter in near starvation, while the weather became almost unbearable due to abnormal freezing. Hundreds of his men died from hunger and disease. It was there that Washington knelt in prayer in the freezing cold. President Reagan said,

The image of George Washington kneeling in prayer in the snow is one of the most famous in American history. He personified a people who knew…they must…seek help from God.

The army at Valley Forge survived that winter and came out of this hardship better trained, better disciplined, and completely devoted to their commander in chief, George Washington.

In March 1778 the French signed an alliance with the American forces, sending arms and supplies to the troops. In 1781 Washington marched his men to Yorktown. Three weeks later the British general Cornwallis surrendered. This was virtually the end of the war. The United States of America would live on, dedicated to the principle "that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Washington was horrified that a plan was under way to make him King of our new nation. By sheer force of character he persuaded them to wait. On April 19, 1783 Washington and his army marched through New York City in a victory parade. Then he retired to Mount Vernon.

In 1787, he was sent as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, and was chosen as the presiding officer during the writing and signing of the Constitution. Washington applied the full weight of his power to its adoption. After the Constitution was adopted, Washington became our first President and served two full four-year terms. Two years later he died after getting a severe fever while riding through a storm.

Any evaluation of George Washington must include, above all else, his qualities of character. His courage and faith in God unified a divided people. In American legend he is known as "the father of his country." It is impossible for a fair-minded person not to agree that the legend is true to the facts. Without Washington there would be no United States of America!

II. Second, I will tell you about his religion.

I must be brief on this point, because our time is gone this morning. I believe that our opening text describes Washington,

"Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?" (Proverbs 20:6).

George Washington was a faithful man! His mother taught the Bible to him. She also taught him to pray. Some of your teachers will tell you he was a deist, that he didn't believe in a personal God. But they are wrong. Deists do not believe that God intervenes in answer to prayer. Deists do not believe that Jesus Christ was God in human flesh, or that He died to pay the penalty for our sins. The very writings of George Washington show that he was not a deist. When his brother heard a rumor that he had been killed in battle, Washington wrote a letter to correct this. He said,

By an all-powerful dispensation of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat and two horses shot under me, yet [I] escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side.

He was no deist. He believed that God was real and present, and that the providence of God had spared his life.

He also believed that Jesus Christ is the Saviour. One of his written prayers ends with the words,

I humbly beseech thee to be merciful to me in free pardon of my sins, for the sake of thy dear Son, my only saviour, Jesus Christ, who came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance…

In another written prayer, he said,

O God, who art rich in mercy and plenteous in redemption, mark not, I beseech thee, what I have done amiss…remit my transgressions, negligences and ignorance, and cover them all with the absolute obedience of thy dear Son…

Dr. D. James Kennedy said,

Washington always prayed aloud…He would also arise early and at four o'clock each morning spend a portion of time…with the Bible open before him. Each day of his life he faithfully conducted himself in his devotional life. He gave the Sabbath [Sunday] over to the Lord…Washington's diary contains frequent references to his attending church, oftentimes listening to moving sermons, which he collected… He was elected to [positions of leadership in] three different churches…there is a record of the fact that he did receive communion (Kennedy, ibid., pp. 19-21).

John Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, said,

He was a sincere believer in the Christian faith, and a truly devout man (ibid., p. 27).

When he was dying he asked that everyone leave the room so he could pray alone. Later that evening his secretary Tobias Lear returned and Washington said to him, "'Tis well." Then, knowing he was about to die, he closed his eyes and said, "Father of mercies, take me to thyself." This man who spent two hours a day alone with God while commander in chief of our armies, and as President, died while saying that simple prayer. Thank God for him. And may God bless America! Amen.

Let us stand and sing the National Anthem.

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
    ("The Star-Spangled Banner" by Francis Scott Key, 1779-1843).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"America the Beautiful" (by Katharine Lee Bates, 1859-1929).

THE OUTLINE OF

GEORGE WASHINGTON - THE FATHER OF OUR NATION

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


"Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?" (Proverbs 20:6).

I.   The life of George Washington.

II.  The religion of George Washington.