The sheet anchor of our liberties
I have always said, I always will say, that the studious perusal of the sacred volume will make better citizens, better fathers, and better husbands. (1)
So said our third president, Thomas Jefferson, about the bountiful benefits of Bible study. The converse is also true: Ignorance and dismissal of the Bible will make violent anarchists; self-centered, ill-equipped parents; and hypocritical fascists who devalue the nuclear family. Such is the rotten fruit of a nation uprooted from the life-giving soil in which it was planted.
I’ve been recalling our country’s roots in Christianity and have been struck by how accurately the current state of America was foreseen and warned of by our Founding Fathers and various presidents and statesmen who lived when the Bible was valued and read.
Here’s Daniel Webster on the Bible’s place in our nation’s founding and in developing citizens of character.
“The Bible came with them. And it is not to be doubted, that to free and universal reading of the Bible, in that age, men were much indebted for right views of civil liberty.
The Bible is a book of faith, and a book of doctrine, and a book of morals, and a book of religion, of special revelation from God; but it is also a book which teaches man his own individual responsibility, his own dignity, and his equality with his fellow-man.”
And his warning of the cost to our country if the Bible is disregarded.
“If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, error will be…If the power of the Gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of the land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness will reign without mitigation or end.” (2)
“If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but if we and our posterity neglect its instructions and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity.” (3)
President Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State William Henry Seward, who also served as Governor of New York and U.S. Senator, knew the positive and crucial influence of the Scriptures in society…
“I do not believe human society, including not merely a few persons in any state, but whole masses of men, ever have attained, or ever can attain, a high state of intelligence, virtue, security, liberty, or happiness without the Holy Scriptures. Even the whole hope of human progress is suspended on the ever growing influence of the Bible.” (4)
…as well as the dire and sure consequences of its neglect.
“I know not how long a republican government can flourish among a great people who have not the Bible; the experiment has never been tried; but this I do know: that the existing government of this country never could have had existence but for the Bible.” (5)
We are experiencing those consequences today. But I know that we can avoid further “anarchy and misrule” and a catastrophic loss of freedom if we once again, as a nation, recognize the Bible to be, as President Ulysses S. Grant called it, “the sheet anchor of our liberties.”
“Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet anchor of your liberties; write its precepts in your hearts, and practice them in your lives. To the influence of this Book are we indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this must we look as our guide in the future.” (6)
(1) William J. Federer, America’s God and Country: Encyclopedia Of Quotations (St. Louis: Amerisearch, Inc., 2000) p. 352.
(2) Ibid, p. 671.
(3) Ibid, pp. 668-669.
(4) Ibid, p. 551.
(5) Ibid, p. 552.
(6) Ibid, pp. 264-265.