The First President
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen as His heritage. Psalm 33:12
Not many U.S. presidents are elected unanimously. In fact, only one was: George Washington. He was so respected and revered, the colonial leaders wanted no one else to lead them when they created the office of President in their Articles of Confederation, under the recently ratified Constitution of the United States of America. All 69 votes were for him to be the president, with 34 for John Adams to become the vice president, and the remaining of those 69 votes to various other candidates, with the most being 9 votes for John Jay. So, our first president was a clear choice of all the electors. After four years the vote was repeated, and he served four more years.
Then, George Washington chose to step down voluntarily. He died a short two years later at the age of 67 after coming home from riding horseback, checking on his estate of Mt. Vernon in rain, hail, and freezing weather. He died quickly of an illness in his throat, a fever, and an increasing inability to breathe. The medical knowledge of the day, such as bloodletting, could do nothing to bring healing and may have helped precipitate his death. Such was the early medical knowledge of treating sickness and disease.
There could not have been a much better man to be our first president. He was an able man of character, wisdom, and courage. He was also a man of faith as his writings voluminously proved. He wrote most of the all-encompassing manifestations of Providence. He spoke once of the great benefit of the Indians learning the truths of Jesus Christ, yet most times he referred to the Lord in various other titles, such as “Redeemer, “Lord, “Master, and “Providence. He worshipped with use of the Anglican Prayer Book, a church of which he was a member and whose book then was quite saturated with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Both by words and deeds he showed himself to be a devout Christian, no matter the numerous later critics who called him a deist. Thomas Jefferson may have titled him a deist, but surely to comfort his personal chosen beliefs and add a friend to his deist circles. In his massive work George Washington’s Sacred Fire, Peter Lillback proves through his meticulous research that Washington was no deist.
After commanding the Revolutionary Army to victory over the British, he gave the new nation a very worthy beginning. A beginning that, despite sin and the mistakes sin caused, grew the fledgling country into the greatest nation in the world. Not nearly of little consequence, the freedom of religion invoked in the new Constitution and defended in the laws and courts of the new nation propelled the country forward to become a beacon of light in the dark world of which it was a part.
It is easy for numerous critics and scholars yearning for recognition to point out her flaws and enormous sins, but she rose to redeeming heights to attempt the healing of strife from sin and continue in the best vein to precipitate healing. How long such continues, or even if already losing her luster, depends on God’s use of her in the future to bring forth good to a fallen world.
Washington was neither a Pilgrim nor a Puritan, but he was surely a believer. And though it did not hold through all the nation’s presidents, this was a solid foundation with which to begin. Being a Christian did not always make his policies perfect. No president is ever sinless, but the commitment to call upon God for assistance in decisions and reliance upon His grace and mercy always lends benefits for the people he governs. We have good reason to thank Almighty God for causing Washington to become our first president.
On this his birthday, thank the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for giving us President George Washington, a brother in the Lord. And thank Him as well for blessing this nation for so many years. God has certainly been our mighty benefactor in sustaining the country of which you are a citizen. However, a far greater citizenship awaits you in heaven! Hallelujah!
“Faith of our fathers living still in spite of dungeon, fire, and sword; O how our hearts beat high with joy whene’er we hear God’s glorious Word. Faith of our fathers, holy faith! We will be true to thee till death.
(1st verse of Frederick Faber’s hymn, “Faith of Our Fathers, 1849)
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