"How has it happened, sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understanding? In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, sir," he looked at Washington, "were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor... And have we now forgotten this powerful friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?" There was dead silence in the room. Franklin, well-known for his Rationalist views, was hardly the person they would have expected to ask such a question. But he was not finished, and now he turned again to Washington. "I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: 'that God governs in the affairs of man.' And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?" Whitefield himself could not have put it better. Franklin seemed to gain strength as he continued. "We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel; we shall be divided by our little, partial, local interests; our projects will be confounded; and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a byword down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing government by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war, or conquest." Washington slowly nodded; the old statesman was expressing his own misgivings. Franklin shifted his weight and concluded. "I therefore beg leave to move that, henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business." -Excerpt taken "From Sea to Shining Sea" by Peter Marshall and David Manuel
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