“But to Your Name Give Glory”

This is a day I thought would never come.

I was in college when the Roe v. Wade opinion was issued. During those days the decision sort of blipped right on by me. I’d had biology back when people knew what a woman was, and so I never had any doubts they were talking about a baby. A few years later my pastor’s wife in our college town told me she was concerned about the young women and babies who were being aborted, and she and another woman in town had started Birthright.

I learned of one friend’s abortion after the fact, and another who gave her baby up for adoption, later becoming director of the Crisis Pregnancy Center that succeeded that local Birthright. I’ve had pastors who were on pregnancy center boards, friends who were counselors, given baby and maternity clothes, taken our kids to protests, and then watched my adult kid take his kids to protest (that son also wrote a college paper decrying Plan B).

Nationally there are so many names to remember. Nellie Gray who started the first annual March for Life on January 22, 1974 the year after Roe v. Wade. Phyllis Schlafly, who through sheer force of will and stubbornness held the Republicans to a prolife platform when the elites wanted to abandon it. Ronald Reagan writing Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation, and Donald Trump fulfilling his promise to put prolife justices on the court.

There have been so many bitter disappointments along the way of watching justices waffle and shirk, but here we are. At long last SCOTUS has overturned the travesties of Roe and Casey.

Lots of little ones are going to live because of today. I’ve already seen lists of states with prolife laws ready to go, and states that are now officially pro­life. I’ve also seen some great memes and hysterical videos. The Babylon Bee is on a roll. I’ve even read some National Review articles I agree with! It’s a happy day not withstanding the venom and evil of the Left.

As a Christian first and fore­most I see this day as a mighty act of God. People have worked long and hard; people have also prayed. With so many things that could have gone wrong, not the least of which was the leak and the protests intended to intimidate justices, overcoming this national evil was an act of mercy and power of God.

After enduring in his labors of decades of work, when England finally abolished the slave trade in 1807, William Wilberforce acknowledged God’s mighty hand with Psalm 115:1. So that verse came immediately to mind on this day of joy.

Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
But to Your name give glory
Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth.

Psalm 115:1

I thank God for hearing our prayers and the cries of the little ones.

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SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
No. 19–1392
THOMAS E. DOBBS, STATE HEALTH OFFICER OF
THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH,
ET AL., PETITIONERS v. JACKSON WOMEN’S
HEALTH ORGANIZATION, ET AL.

Text of Opinion pdf here.
7-week fetus images from Priests for Life.

Earlier this year on the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Rebecca McLoughlin wrote, To End the Killing of Babies, We Need a Loving Revolution with some historical background on the ancient world and the prolife work of early Christians.

Washington’s Birthday

Washingtons BirthdayAlthough Washington was born on February 22nd, in 1971 Congress decided to move the legal holiday to the third Monday in February. Despite the fact it’s commonly known as President’s Day, its legal name is still Washington’s Birthday.

Because of the continually changing date of observance, and its colloquial name, people don’t think of the day as Washington’s Birthday, but I think the three-day weekend should be given up in appreciation and honor of our first president, and we should observe his birthday on February 22nd. Without George Washington I doubt we would be the United States of America.

In “American Statesman: The Enduring Relevance of George Washington,” Matthew Spalding wrote:

“George Washington was by all accounts “the indispensable man” of the American Founding. He was the military commander who led a ragtag Continental army to victory against the strongest and best trained military force in the world. Crucial to the success of the Constitutional Convention, his personal support of the new Constitution, more than anything else, assured its final approval. His election to the presidency—the office having been designed with him in mind—was essential to the establishment of the new nation.

““Be assured,” James Monroe reminded Thomas Jefferson, “his influence carried this government.””

In Washington’s Crossing, after Americans were slaughtered in the fall of New York in November 1776, David Hackett Fischer wrote that Washington was shattered and wept at the disaster, “It was the lowest point of Washington’s long career.”1 But you know what he did? He went on. He persevered. He led the army through New Jersey into Pennsylvania, and then on Christmas night 1776, he crossed the Delaware River and fought again.

In his speech, “The Glorious Cause of America,” David McCullough said:

“Washington wasn’t chosen by his fellow members of the Continental Congress because he was a great military leader. He was chosen because they knew him; they knew the kind of man he was; they knew his character, his integrity…

“Washington was not, as were Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, and Hamilton, a learned man. He was not an intellectual. Nor was he a powerful speaker like his fellow Virginian Patrick Henry. What Washington was, above all, was a leader. He was a man people would follow. And as events would prove, he was a man whom some—a few—would follow through hell…

“What Washington had, it seems to me, is phenomenal courage—physical courage and moral courage. He had high intelligence; if he was not an intellectual or an educated man, he was very intelligent. He was a quick learner—and a quick learner from his mistakes. He made dreadful mistakes, particularly in the year 1776. They were almost inexcusable, inexplicable mistakes, but he always learned from them. And he never forgot what the fight was about—“the glorious cause of America,” as they called it. Washington would not give up; he would not quit.

Spalding wrote in, “The Man Who Would Not Be King,”

“And the key ingredient in all of these things was moral character, something that Washington took very seriously and which gave to his decision-making a deeply prudential quality and to his authority an unmatched magnanimity. “His integrity was pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known, no motives of interest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, being able to bias his decision,” Jefferson later observed. “He was, indeed, in every sense of the words, a wise, a good, and a great man.”

“It is no coincidence, then, that Washington’s most important legacy comes during moments of temptation, when the lure of power was before him. Twice during the Revolution, in 1776 and again in 1777 when Congress was forced to abandon Philadelphia in the face of advancing British troops, Gen. Washington was granted virtually unlimited powers to maintain the war effort and preserve civil society, powers not unlike those assumed in an earlier era by Roman dictators. He shouldered the responsibility but gave the authority back as soon as possible.”

When the war was over he rejected the idea that he should become king. Most moving of all was his action during the Newburgh Conspiracy when some officers want to use military might to force Congress to pay the army. Alexander Hamilton and other politicians concurred. Spalding described Washington’s reaction:

“But Washington would have none of it. “The Army,” he rebuked young Hamilton, “is a dangerous instrument to play with.” Instead, he responded to the unsigned papers calling for the army to stand up against the political leadership, by holding a meeting of his officers for March 15 – the Ides of March – 1783. There, Washington denounced the move as destructive of the very ground of republican government, and expressed his “utmost horror and detestation” of those who would “open the flood Gates of Civil discord, and deluge our rising Empire in Blood.” After the speech, Washington drew a letter from his pocket expressing Congress’ intention to redress the army. He hesitated, pulled out a pair of glasses and remarked, “Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray, but almost blind, in the service of my country.” Many of the officers were in tears. If the speech had not already destroyed the movement, this remark assured its demise.

“”On other occasions he had been supported by the exertions of the army and the countenance of his friends,” wrote Capt. Samuel Shaw of the episode, “but in this he stood single and alone.””

That is the definition of character—to stand alone and do what is right.

When George Washington died, Richard Henry Lee gave the eulogy.

Washington, GeorgeFirst in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in the humble and endearing scenes of private life: Pious, just, humane, temperate, and sincere; uniform, dignified, and commanding, his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting.

“…Correct throughout, vice shuddered in his presence, and virtue always felt his fostering hand; the purity of his private character gave effulgence to his public virtues.

“…Such was the man America has lost! Such was the man for whom our nation mourns!”

George Washington truly was the Father of Our Country.

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Washington’s Birthday. Legal holiday. February 22. No business transacted. 3g12934u(CC BY-SA 2.0).
1David Hackett Fischer, Washington’s Crossing (Oxford University Press, New York: 2004) 113–114.

Each year on George Washington’s Birthday, the United States Senate reads Washington’s Farewell Address. Would that they would heed his words.

See also:
Morning Bell: George Washington’s Example on Religious Liberty.
Washington’s Farewell Address

“Come Wind, Come Weather”

Although The Pilgrim’s Progress is not a history of New England, these lines of John Bunyan could have described William Bradford and his fellow Pilgrims.

“Who would true valour see,
Let him come hither;
One here will constant be,
Come wind, come weather
There’s no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.”

In The Answerable Courage of William Bradford Jeffrey Lord detailed the setbacks and trials the Pilgrims endured simply getting to Cape Cod before they even faced establishing a home in an unfamiliar land. William Bradford and his fellow Pilgrims answered their challenges with courage—a courage that remains one of their most significant legacies to us. It is not merely a legacy of the benefits we have known because of their courage, it is a legacy that is both an example and a challenge. To encourage is to inspire with courage, and their perseverance in the face of severe suffering is truly one of the most moving, inspiring, and humbling examples of courage in our nation’s history.

Their courage is also a challenge that asks several questions of us. How will we answer their courage? How will we answer our own setbacks and trials? How will we even be able to have courage comparable to theirs? We each must learn the answer to the first two questions. The Pilgrims have left us the answer to the last. William Bradford finished his chapter on their safe arrival at Cape Codd in 1620 by saying (my emphasis):

“May not and ought not the children of these fathers rightly say:

“Our faithers were Englishmen which come over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this willdernes; but they cried unto the Lord, and he heard their voyce, and looked on their adversitie, etc. Let them therfore praise the Lord, because he is good, and his mercies endure for ever. Yea, let them which have been redeemed of the Lord, shew how he hath delivered them from the hand of the oppressour. When they wandered in the deserte willdernes out of the way, and found no citie to dwell in, both hungrie, and thirstie, their sowle was overwhelmed in them. Let them confes before the Lord his loving kindnes, and his wonderfull works before the sons of men.

They were courageous because they knew God. He was the wellspring of their strength and perseverance. That hot, parched summer of 1623—that time when they feared their crops might fail—Governor Bradford appointed a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer. In Sweet and Gentle Showers I told the story of that day and God’s miraculous answer. Two weeks later they had a day of giving thanks to God for their deliverance. When they wrote of their utter dependence on God, it wasn’t just words, it was the reality of their lives. In September of 1623 Edward Winslow wrote (my emphasis):

Wherein others may see that, which we are bound to acknowledge, viz., That if ever any people, in these later Ages, were upheld, by the Providence of GOD, after a more special manner than others; then we: and therefore are the more bound to celebrate the memory of his goodness with everlasting thankfulness

How few, weak, and raw were we at our first beginning, and there settling; and in the midst of barbarous enemies! Yet GOD wrought our peace for us.

How often have we been at the pit’s brim, and in danger to be swallowed up: yea not knowing, till afterward, that we were in peril? And yet GOD preserved us. Yea, and from how many that we yet know not of; he, that knoweth all things, can best tell.

So that, when I seriously consider of things, I cannot but think that GOD hath a purpose to give that land, as an inheritance, to our nation…

The Pilgrims endured circumstances that cause us to blench and marvel that they survived. They persevered only by God’s help and grace. We will never be able to do so without Him.

“If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out,
Then how can you compete with horses?
If you fall down in a land of peace,
How will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?”
Jeremiah 12:5

The monument at the grave of William Bradford has one inscription in Hebrew:

Jehovah is our help

And another in Latin:

What our fathers with so much difficulty secured,
do not basely relinquish

That last inscription is always posted here at the bottom of the front page. May we remember  courage, and may we emulate their trust in God.
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Of Plymouth Plantation, An Electronic Edition, William Bradford 1590-1657 ¶: 125. Original Source: Bradford’s History of Plymouth Plantation, 1606-1646. Ed. William T. Davis. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1908. Copyright 2003.
Edward Winslow, Good News From New England, in The Story of The Pilgrim Fathers, 1606-1623 A.D.; as told by Themselves, their Friends, and their Enemies, Edward Arber, ed. (Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston MA: 1897) 580–581.

Copyright ©2012–2021 I. N. Carpenter

Foolish Hearts

In his article, National Days of Prayer: A Historical Comparison, Dr. John S. Uebersax made a significant observation:

“Since 1952, the President of the United States has, by law, annually issued a proclamation recommending a National Day of Prayer. This seeks to revive a similar practice that emerged in Revolutionary times, and again in the Civil War. The modern proclamations, however, differ in important ways from the earlier ones. The main difference is evident in the change of titles — from the earlier ‘Day of Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer’ to the modern ‘National Day of Prayer.’ The earlier proclamations emphasized humiliation — understood as including a deep conviction of God’s Providential sovereignty in all things, recognition that calamities may express God’s chastisements, expression of guilt, sorrow for sins, and earnest pledge for reformation.”

Look for a minute at the Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day signed by Abraham Lincoln on March 30, 1863:

“And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

“It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”

In the midst of the Civil War what does this Proclamation declare to be the sins of the nation? The country had forgotten God in its ingratitude and pride. The Proclamation’s call for humility, confession, and prayer is because of these sins of presumption.

Giving thanks calls us to humility and to understand and recognize that which we do not have except by God’s mercy and grace. We so easily succumb to presumptuous sins. Giving thanks is the antithesis of Romans 1:21. It’s intriguing to me that the long litany of sins in that chapter has its root in these words:

“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”
Romans 1:21

We are a nation of foolish hearts. We do not honor God as God or give thanks. Remember our nation in prayer. As never before we are rife with ingratitude and pride. We need humility, confession of sin, and prayer for forgiveness.

Dr. Uebersax opened his article with Jonah 3:5. Jonah went to Nineveh and told them of the impending judgment of God. This was their response:

“Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast.”
Jonah 3:5

The Ninevites humbled themselves, confessed their sins, and implored God for mercy. If you’re familiar with the book of Jonah, you know what happened:

“When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.”
Jonah 3:10

May we turn to God in humiliation, fasting, and prayer. May He, in His compassion and kindness, have mercy on us.
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The Lincoln’s Prayer video was done by the John 10:10 Project. I’m unfamiliar with the ministry, however, I thought the video was excellent, putting Lincoln’s Proclamation into its historic context when the nation was suffering through the horror of the Civil War.

Copyright ©2020–2021 I. N. Carpenter