GEORGE WASHINGTON A CHRISTIAN SOLDIER

The ChristianPatriot2GEORGE WASHINGTON A CHRISTIAN SOLDIER

His Mother Advises Secret Prayer In November, 1753, then twenty-one years of age, Washington was commissioned by Governor Dinwiddie, of Virginia, to be the bearer of dispatches to the French commander St. Pierre. He called to see his mother and explained the nature of his mission. “With her farewell kiss she bade him ‘remember that God only is our sure trust. To Him I commend you.’”

As he left the paternal roof, his mother’s parting charge was, “My son, neglect not the duty of secret prayer.” Never did a mother give better advice to her son, and never did a son more conscientiously follow it.

“His uniform practice from youth to hoary age, furnished, it would seem, a consistent exemplification of this duty in its double aspect of public and private prayer.”

Fort_Necessity_BattlePrayers At Fort Necessity [Age 21; 1753] The first decisive indication of his principles on this subject, with which we are acquainted, appeared during the encampment at the Great Meadows, in the year 1754. While occupying Fort Necessity it was his practice to have the troops assembled for public worship. This we learn from the following note, by the publisher of his writings: “While Washington was encamped at the Great Meadows, Mr. Fairfax wrote to him: ‘I will not doubt your having public prayers in the camp, especially when the Indian families are your guests, that they, seeing your plain manner of worship, may have their curiosity excited to be informed why we do not use the ceremonies of the French, which being well explained to their understandings, will more and more dispose them to receive our baptism, and unite in strict bonds of cordial friendship.’ It may be added that it was Washington’s custom to have prayers in the camp while he was at Fort Necessity.”

Here we are informed not only of the pious custom of the youthful commander, at the time and place mentioned, but are enabled to gather from the communication of Mr. Fairfax much that was highly favorable to the character of his young friend. Mr. Fairfax says, “I will not doubt your having public prayers in the camp.” Intimate as this gentleman was with Washington, he would scarcely have so addressed him had he not felt encouraged to do so by his known sentiments of piety, if not his own habits. Mr. Fairfax was the father-in-law of Lawrence Washington, the brother of George, and had possessed every opportunity of learning the character and conduct of the latter. Assured of his pious and serious deportment, he did not feel any hesitation in suggesting to him the expediency of the duty in question.

“It certainly was not one of the least striking pictures presented in this wild campaign—the youthful commander, presiding with calm seriousness over a motley assemblage of half-equipped soldiery, leathern-clad hunters and woodsmen, and painted savages with their wives and children, and uniting them all in solemn devotion by his own example and demeanor.”

Source: ringwoodmanor.com

Source: ringwoodmanor.com

Acknowledges An Act Of Providence

In a letter to Governor Dinwiddie, dated Great Meadows, June 10, 1754, when twenty-two years of age, we have the following striking acknowledgment of a particular providential interposition in supplying with provisions the troops recently placed under his command:

We have been six days without flour, and there is none upon the road for our relief that we know of, though I have by repeated expresses given him timely notice. We have not provisions of any sort enough in camp to serve us two days. Once before we should have been four days without provisions, if Providence had not sent a trader from the Ohio to our relief, for whose flour I was obliged to give twenty-one shillings and eight-pence per pound.

George Washington arriving at Christ Church, Easter Sunday, 1795

George Washington arriving at Christ Church, Easter Sunday, 1795

His Custom To Attend Church

That it was customary with him to frequent the house of God when in his power, appears from the record made by him of an occurrence among his soldiers, while encamped in Alexandria, Virginia, in the summer of 1754, having himself returned but lately on a recruiting expedition from the Great Meadows: “Yesterday, while we were at church, twenty-five of them collected, and were going off in the face of their officers, but were stopped and imprisoned before the plot came to its height.”

His Trust In God

In April, 1755, the newly arrived General Braddock offered him an important command. His mother opposed his going to the war. In the final discussion, the son said to his mother: “The God to whom you commended me, madam, when I set out upon a more perilous errand, defended me from all harm, and I trust he will do so now. Do not you?”

Conducts Braddock’s Funeral

General Braddock being mortally wounded in the battle of the Monongahela, July 9, 1755, died on Sunday night, July 13. He was buried in his cloak the same night in the road, to elude the search of the Indians. The chaplain having been wounded, Washington, on the testimony of an old soldier, read the funeral service over his remains, by the light of a torch. Faithful to his commander while he lived, he would not suffer him to want the customary rites of religion when dead. Though the probable pursuit of “savages threatened, yet did his humanity and sense of decency prevail, to gain for the fallen soldier the honor of Christian burial.

Letter To His Brother

He wrote to his brother, John A. Washington, July 18, 1755, following Braddock’s defeat, in which he says:

As I have heard, since my arrival at this place [Fort Cumberland], a circumstantial account of my death and dying speech, I take this early opportunity of contradicting the first, and of assuring you, that I have not as yet composed the latter. But, by the all-powerful dispensations 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 escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me!”

The Great Spirit Protects Him—Testimony Of An Indian Chief

Fifteen years after this battle Washington and Dr. Craik, his intimate friend from his boyhood to his death, were traveling on an expedition to the western country, for the purpose of exploring wild lands. While near the junction of the Great Kanawha and Ohio Rivers a company of Indians came to them with an interpreter, at the head of whom was an aged and venerable chief. The council fire was kindled, when the chief addressed Washington through an interpreter to the following effect:

“I am a chief, and ruler over my tribes. My influence extends to the waters of the great lakes, and to the far blue mountains. I have traveled a long and weary path, that I might see the young warrior of the great battle. It was on the day when the white man’s blood mixed with the streams of our forest, that I first beheld this chief. I called to my young men and said, mark yon tall and daring warrior? He is not of the red-coat tribe—he hath an Indian’s wisdom, and his warriors fight as we do—himself is alone exposed. Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies. Our rifles were leveled, rifles which, but for him, knew not how to miss—’twas all in vain, a power mightier far than we, shielded him from harm. He cannot die in battle. I am old, and soon shall be gathered to the great council fire of my fathers in the land of shades, but ere I go, there is something bids me speak in the voice of prophecy. Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man, and guides his destinieshe will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire.”

Discourages Gambling In The Army In a letter to Governor Dinwiddie, from Alexandria, Virginia, February 2, 1756, regarding operations in the army, he says, “I have always, so far as was in my power, endeavored to discourage gambling in camp, and always shall while I have the honor to preside there.”

Intemperance And Profanity Discountenanced

The following letter to Governor Dinwiddie, written from Winchester, Virginia, April 18, 1756, shows his attitude toward intemperance and profanity:

It gave me infinite concern to find in yours by Governor Innes that any representations should inflame the Assembly against the Virginia regiment, or give cause to suspect the morality and good behavior of the officers. How far any of the individuals may have deserved such reflections, I will not take upon me to determine, but this I am certain of, and can call my conscience, and what, I suppose, will be still more demonstrative proof in the eyes of the world, my orders, to witness how much I have, both by threats and persuasive means, endeavored to discountenance gambling, drinking, swearing, and irregularities of every other kind; while I have, on the other hand, practised every artifice to inspire a laudable emulation in the officers for the service of their country, and to encourage the soldiers in the unerring exercise of their duty. How far I have failed in this desirable end I cannot pretend to say. But it is nevertheless a point which does, in my opinion, merit some scrutiny, before it meets with a final condemnation. Yet I will not undertake to vouch for the conduct of many of the officers, as I know there are some who have the seeds of idleness very strongly implanted in their natures; and I also know that the unhappy difference about the command which has kept me from Fort Cumberland, has consequently prevented me from enforcing the orders which I never failed to send.

However, if I continue in the service, I shall take care to act with a little more rigor than has hitherto been practised, since I find it so necessary.

Intemperance Punished

His orders for preserving discipline must be allowed to have been sufficiently rigid. The following given in 1756 is a specimen: Any commissioned officer, who stands by and sees irregularities committed, and does not endeavor to quell them, shall be immediately put under arrest. Any non-commissioned officer present, who does not interpose, shall be immediately reduced, and receive corporal punishment.

Any soldier who shall presume to quarrel or fight shall receive five hundred lashes, without the benefit of a court-martial. The offender, upon complaint made, shall have strict justice done him. Any soldier found drunk shall receive one hundred lashes, without benefit of a court-martial.30

Profanity Forbidden

In June, 1756, while at Fort Cumberland, he issued the following order: Colonel Washington has observed that the men of his regiment are very profane and reprobate. He takes this opportunity to inform them of his great displeasure at such practices, and assures them, that, if they do not leave them off, they shall be severely punished. The officers are desired, if they hear any man swear, or make use of an oath or execration, to order the offender twenty-five lashes immediately, without a court-martial. For the second offense, he will be more severely punished.

Protection Of Providence

From Winchester, Virginia, where he was stationed as commander of the troops, he writes to Governor Dinwiddie, about a year after Braddock’s defeat: With this small company of irregulars, with whom order, regularity, circumspection, and vigilance were matters of derision and contempt, we set out, and by the protection of Providence, reached Augusta Court House in seven days, without meeting the enemy; otherwise we must have fallen a sacrifice through the indiscretion of these whooping, hallooing, gentlemen soldiers.

Chaplain For Army

While embarked in the French and Indian War, as commander of the Virginia forces, he earnestly sought of Governor Dinwiddie the supply of a chaplain to his regiment. He writes from Mount Vernon, Virginia, September 23, 1756, as follows: “The want of a chaplain, I humbly conceive, reflects dishonor on the regiment, as all other officers are allowed. The gentlemen of the corps are sensible of this, and proposed to support one at their private expense. But I think it would have a more graceful appearance were he appointed as others are.”

To this the Governor replied: “I have recommended to the commissary to get a chaplain, but he cannot prevail with any person to accept of it. I shall again press it to him.”

In answer to which Washington wrote, November 9,1756: “As to a chaplain, if the government will grant a subsistence, we can readily get a person of merit to accept the place, without giving the commissary any trouble on that point.””

With this letter, of which this was part, the Governor seemed not to have been well pleased. In his reply, among other things, indicating displeasure, he says, November 24, 1756: “In regard to a chaplain, you should know that his qualifications and the Bishop’s letter of license should be produced to the commissary and myself; but this person is also nameless.”

Washington answered, Nov. 24,1756: “When I spoke of a chaplain, it was in answer to yours. I had no person in view, though many have offered; and I only said if the country would provide subsistence, we could procure a chaplain, without thinking there was offense in expression.”

Notwithstanding the importunity of Washington, no chaplain was provided by the government. His solicitude on the subject continuing at the recall of Dinwiddie, he wrote to the president of the Council from Fort Loudoun, April 17, 1758, as follows: “The last Assembly, in their Supply Bill, provided for a chaplain to our regiment. On this subject I had often without any success applied to Governor Dinwiddie. I now flatter myself, that your honor will be pleased to appoint a sober, serious man for this duty. Common decency, Sir, in a camp calls for the services of a divine, which ought not to be dispensed with, although the world should be so uncharitable as to think us void of religion, and incapable of good instructions.”

Conducts Religious Service In The Army “I have often been informed,” says the Rev. Mason L. Weems, “by Colonel B. Temple, of King William County, Virginia, who was one of his aides in the French and Indian War, that he has ‘frequently known Washington, on the Sabbath, read the Scriptures and pray with his regiment, in the absence of the chaplain;’ and also that, on sudden and unexpected visits to his marque, he has, ‘more than once, found him on his knees at his devotions.’”

Letter To His Fiancée In the only known letter to Mrs. Martha Custis, to whom he was engaged, written from Fort Cumberland, July 20, 1758, he recognizes an all powerful Providence:

We have begun our march for the Ohio. A courier is starting for Williamsburg, and I embrace the opportunity to send a few lines to one whose life is now inseparable from mine. Since that happy hour when we made our pledges to each other, my thoughts have been continually going to you as to another Self. That an All-powerful Providence may keep us both in safety is the prayer of your ever faithful and ever affectionate Friend.

The Christian Patriot; 2013
Source: George Washington the Christian By William Jackson Johnstone (1919)

GEORGE WASHINGTON’S PRAYERS

GWGuidance

GEORGE WASHINGTON’S PRAYERS

On April 21, 22, 23, 1891, there was sold at auction in Philadelphia a remarkable collection of Washington relics owned by Lawrence Washington, Bushrod C. Washington, Thomas B. Washington, and J. R. C. Lewis. Among them was found a little manuscript book entitled Daily Sacrifice.

“This gem is all in the handwriting of George Washington, when about twenty years old, [1752] and is, without exception, the most hallowed of all his writings. It is neatly written on twentyfour pages of a little book about the size of the ordinary pocket memorandum.”

“The occasional interlineations and emendations indicate that it was prepared for his own use.”

Whether Washington composed the prayers himself or copied them from some source as yet unknown has not been determined; but they are a revelation of that striking character which has been the wonder of the world. Professor S. F. Upham, professor of practical theology in Drew Theological Seminary, wrote: “The ‘Daily Prayers’ of George Washington abound in earnest thought, expressed in simple, beautiful, fervent and evangelical language. They reveal to us the real life of the great patriot, and attest his piety. None can read those petitions, which bore his desires to God, and often brought answers of peace, without having a grander conception of Washington’s character.”

“The prayers are characterized by a deep consciousness of sin and by a need of forgiveness, and by a recognition of dependence upon the merits and mercies of our Lord. They contain fervent applications for family, friends, and rulers in church and state.” The prayers are as follows (by special permission of Rev. Dr. W. Herbert Burk):

(1) Sunday Morning

Almighty God, and most merciful father, who didst command the children of Israel to offer a daily sacrifice to thee, that thereby they might glorify and praise thee for thy protection both night and day; receive, O Lord, my morning sacrifice which I now offer up to thee; I yield thee humble and hearty thanks that thou has preserved me from the dangers of the night past, and brought me to the light of this day, and the comforts thereof, a day which is consecrated to thine own service and for thine own honor. Let my heart, therefore, Gracious God, be so affected with the glory and majesty of it, that I may not do mine own works, but wait on thee, and discharge those weighty duties thou requirest of me; and since thou art a God of pure eyes, and wilt be sanctified in all who draw near unto thee, who doest not regard the sacrifice of fools, nor hear sinners who tread in thy courts, pardon, I beseech thee, my sins, remove them from thy presence, as far as the east is from the west, and accept of me for the merits of thy son Jesus Christ, that when I come into thy temple, and compass thine altar, my prayers may come before thee as incense; and as thou wouldst hear me calling upon thee in my prayers, so give me grace to hear thee calling on me in thy word, that it may be wisdom, righteousness, reconciliation and peace to the saving of my soul in the day of the Lord Jesus. Grant that I may hear it with reverence, receive it with meekness, mingle it with faith, and that it may accomplish in me, Gracious God, the good work for which thou has sent it. Bless my family, kindred, friends and country, be our God & guide this day and for ever for his sake, who lay down in the Grave and arose again for us, Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

(2) Sunday Evening

O most Glorious God, in Jesus Christ my merciful and loving father, I acknowledge and confess my guilt, in the weak and imperfect performance of the duties of this day. I have called on thee for pardon and forgiveness of sins, but so coldly and carelessly, that my prayers are become my sin and stand in need of pardon. I have heard thy holy word, but with such deadness of spirit that I have been an unprofitable and forgetful hearer, so that, O Lord, tho’ I have done thy work, yet it hath been so negligently that I may rather expect a curse than a blessing from thee. But, O God, who art rich in mercy and plenteous in redemption, mark not, I beseech thee, what I have done amiss; remember that I am but dust, and remit my transgressions, negligences & ignorances, and cover them all with the absolute obedience of thy dear Son, that those sacrifices which I have offered may be accepted by thee, in and for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ offered upon the cross for me; for his sake, ease me of the burden of my sins, and give me grace that by the call of the Gospel I may rise from the slumber of sin into the newness of life. Let me live according to those holy rules which thou hast this day prescribed in thy holy word; make me to know what is acceptable in thy sight, and therein to delight, open the eyes of my understanding, and help me thoroughly to examine myself concerning my knowledge, faith and repentance, increase my faith, and direct me to the true object Jesus Christ the way, the truth and the life, bless, O Lord, all the people of this land, from the highest to the lowest, particularly those whom thou hast appointed to rule over us in church & state, continue thy goodness to me this night. These weak petitions I humbly implore thee to hear accept and ans. for the sake of thy Dear Son Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

(3) Monday Morning

O eternal and everlasting God, I presume to present myself this morning before thy Divine majesty, beseeching thee to accept of my humble and hearty thanks, that it hath pleased thy great goodness to keep and preserve me the night past from all the dangers poor mortals are subject to, and has given me sweet and pleasant sleep, whereby I find my body refreshed and comforted for performing the duties of this day, in which I beseech thee to defend me from all perils of body and soul. Direct my thoughts, words and work, wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the lamb, and purge my heart by thy holy spirit, from the dross of my natural corruption, that I may with more freedom of mind and liberty of will serve thee, the ever lasting God, in righteousness and holiness this day, and all the days of my life. Increase my faith in the sweet promises of the gospel; give me repentance from dead works; pardon my wanderings, & direct my thoughts unto thyself, the God of my salvation; teach me how to live in thy fear, labor in thy service, and ever to run in the ways of thy commandments; make me always watchful over my heart, that neither the terrors of conscience, the loathing of holy duties, the love of sin, nor an unwillingness to depart this life, may cast me into a spiritual slumber, but daily frame me more & more into the likeness of thy son Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time attain the resurrection of the just unto eternal life bless my family, friends & kindred unite us all in praising & glorifying thee in all our works begun, continued, and ended, when we shall come to make our last account before thee blessed saviour, who hath taught us thus to pray, our Father, &c.

(4) Monday Evening

Most Gracious Lord God, from whom proceedeth every good and perfect gift, I offer to thy divine majesty my unfeigned praise & thanksgiving for all thy mercies towards me. Thou mad’st me at first and hast ever since sustained the work of thy own hand; thou gav’st thy Son to die for me; and hast given me assurance of salvation, upon my repentance and sincerely endeavoring to conform my life to his holy precepts and example. Thou art pleased to lengthen out to me the time of repentance and to move me to it by thy spirit and by thy word, by thy mercies, and by thy judgments; out of a deepness of thy mercies, and my own unworthiness, I do appear before thee at this time; I have sinned and done very wickedly, be merciful to me, O God, and pardon me for Jesus Christ sake; instruct me in the particulars of my duty, and suffer me not to be tempted above what thou givest me strength to bear. Take care, I pray thee of my affairs and more and more direct me in thy truth, defend me from my enemies, especially my spiritual ones. Suffer me not to be drawn from thee, by the blandishments of the world, carnal desires, the cunning of the devil, or deceitfulness of sin. work in me thy good will and pleasure, and discharge my mind from all things that are displeasing to thee, of all ill will and discontent, wrath and bitterness, pride & vain conceit of myself, and render me charitable, pure, holy, patient and heavenly minded, be with me at the hour of death; dispose me for it, and deliver me from the slavish fear of it, and make me willing and fit to die whenever thou shalt call me hence. Bless our rulers in church and state, bless O Lord the whole race of mankind, and let the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and thy son Jesus Christ. Pity the sick, the poor, the weak, the needy, the widows and fatherless, and all that morn or are broken in heart, and be merciful to them according to their several necessities, bless my friends and grant me grace to forgive my enemies as heartily as I desire forgiveness of Thee my heavenly Father. I beseech thee to defend me this night from all evil, and do more for me than I can think or ask, for Jesus Christ sake, in whose most holy name & words, I continue to pray, Our Father, &c.

(5) Tuesday Morning

O Lord our God, most mighty and merciful father, I thine unworthy creature and servant, do once more approach thy presence. Though not worthy to appear before thee, because of my natural corruptions, and the many sins and transgressions which I have committed against thy divine majesty; yet I beseech thee, for the sake of him in whom thou art well pleased, the Lord Jesus Christ, to admit me to render thee deserved thanks and praises for thy manifold mercies extended toward me, for the quiet rest & repose of the past night, for food, raiment, health, peace, liberty, and the hopes of a better life through the merits of thy dear son’s bitter passion, and O kind father continue thy mercy and favor to me this day, and ever hereafter; prosper all my lawful undertakings; let me have all my directions from thy holy spirit, and success from thy bountiful hand. Let the bright beams of thy light so shine into my heart, and enlighten my mind in understanding thy blessed word, that I may be enabled to perform thy will in all things, and effectually resist all temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil, preserve and defend our rulers in church & state, bless the people of this land, be a father to the fatherless, a comforter to the comfortless, a deliverer to the captives, and a physician to the sick, let thy blessings be upon our friends, kindred and families. Be our guide this day and forever through J. C. in whose blessed form of prayer I conclude my weak petitions —Our Father, &c.

(6) Tuesday Evening

Most gracious God and heavenly father, we cannot cease, but must cry unto thee for mercy, because my sins cry against me for justice. How shall I address myself unto thee, I must with the publican stand and admire at thy great goodness, tender mercy, and long suffering towards me, in that thou hast kept me the past day from being consumed and brought to nought. O Lord, what is man, or the son of man, that thou regardest him; the more days pass over my head, the more sins and iniquities I heap up against thee. If I should cast up the account of my good deeds done this day, how few and small would they be; but if I should reckon my miscarriages, surely they would be many and great. O, blessed Father, let thy son’s blood wash me from all impurities, and cleanse me from the stains of sin that are upon me. Give me grace to lay hold upon his merits; that they may be my reconciliation and atonement unto thee,—That I may know my sins are forgiven by his death & passion, embrace me in the arms of thy mercy; vouchsafe to receive me unto the bosom of thy love, shadow me with thy wings, that I may safely rest under thy protection this night; and so into thy hands I commend myself, both soul and body, in the name of thy son, J. C, beseeching Thee, when this life shall end, I may take my everlasting rest with thee in thy heavenly kingdom, bless all in authority over us, be merciful to all those afflicted with thy cross or calamity, bless all my friends, forgive my enemies and accept my thanksgiving this evening for all the mercies and favors afforded me; hear and graciously answer these my requests, and whatever else thou see’st needful grant us, for the sake of Jesus Christ in whose blessed name and words I continue to pray, Our Father, &c.

(7) A Prayer For Wednesday Morning

Almighty and eternal Lord God, the great creator of heaven & earth, and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; look down from heaven, in pity and compassion upon me thy servant, who humbly prostrate myself before thee, sensible of thy mercy and my own misery; there is an infinite distance between thy glorious majesty and me, thy poor creature, the work of thy hand, between thy infinite power, and my weakness, thy wisdom, and my folly, thy eternal Being, and my mortal frame, but, O Lord, I have set myself at a greater distance from thee by my sin and wickedness, and humbly acknowledge the corruption of my nature and the many rebellions of my life. I have sinned against heaven and before thee, in thought, word & deed; I have contemned thy majesty and holy laws. I have likewise sinned by omitting what I ought to have done, and committing what I ought not. I have rebelled against light, despised thy mercies and judgments, and broken my vows and promises; I have neglected the means of Grace, and opportunities of becoming better; my iniquities are multiplied, and my sins are very great. I confess them, O Lord, with shame and sorrow, detestation and loathing, and desire to be vile in my own eyes, as I have rendered myself vile in thine. I humbly beseech thee to be merciful to me in the free pardon of my sins, for the sake of thy dear Son, my only saviour, J. C, who came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance; be pleased to renew my nature and write thy laws upon my heart, and help me to live, righteously, soberly and godly in this evil world; make me humble, meek, patient and contented, and work in me the grace of thy holy spirit, prepare me for death and judgment, and let the thoughts thereof awaken me to a greater care and study to approve myself unto thee in well doing, bless our rulers in church & state. Help all in affliction or adversity—give them patience and a sanctified use of their affliction, and in thy good time deliverance from them; forgive my enemies, take me unto thy protection this day, keep me in perfect peace, which I ask in the name & for the sake of Jesus. Amen.

(8) Wednesday Evening

Holy and eternal Lord God who art the King of heaven, and the watchman of Israel, that never slumberest or sleepest, what shall we render unto thee for all thy benefits; because thou hast inclined thine ears unto me, therefore will I call on thee as long as I live, from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same let thy name be praised, among the infinite riches of thy mercy towards me, I desire to render thanks & praise for thy merciful preservation of me this day, as well as all the days of my life; and for the many other blessings & mercies spiritual & temporal which thou hast bestowed on me, contrary to my deserving. All these thy mercies call on me to be thankful and my infirmities & wants call for a continuance of thy tender mercies; cleanse my soul, O Lord, I beseech thee, from whatever is offensive to thee, and hurtful to me, and give me what is convenient for me. watch over me this night, and give me comfortable and sweet sleep to fit me for the service of the day following. Let my soul watch for the coming of the Lord Jesus; let my bed put me in mind of my grave, and my rising from there of my last resurrection; O heavenly Father, so frame this heart of mine, that I may ever delight to live according to thy will and command, in holiness and righteousness before thee all the days of my life. Let me remember, O Lord, the time will come when the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall arise and stand before the judgment seat, and give an account of whatever they have done in the body, and let me so prepare my soul, that I may do it with joy and not with grief, bless the rulers and people of this and forget not those who are under any affliction or oppression. Let thy favor be extended to all my relations friends and all others who I ought to remember in my prayer and hear me I beseech thee for the sake of my dear redeemer in whose most holy words, I farther pray, Our Father, &c.

(9) Thursday Morning

Most gracious Lord God, whose dwelling is in the highest heavens, and yet beholdest the lowly and humble upon earth, I blush and am ashamed to lift up my eyes to thy dwelling place, because I have sinned against thee; look down, I beseech thee upon me thy unworthy servant who prostrate myself at the footstool of thy mercy, confessing my own guiltiness, and begging pardon for my sins; what couldst thou have done Lord more for me, or what could I have done more against thee? Thou didst send me thy Son to take our nature upon

“Note: The manuscript ended at this place, the close of a page. Whether the other pages were lost or the prayers were never completed, has not been determined.”

The Christian Patriot; 2013
Source: George Washington the Christian By William Jackson Johnstone (1919)

RELIGIOUS FOUNDATION: Christian Ancestry of George Washington

The ChristianPatriot2Christian Ancestry of George Washington

George Washington descended from a long line of excellent churchmen. His great-great-grandfather was the Rev. Lawrence Washington, a clergyman in the Church of England. His great-grandfather, John Washington, “a man of military talent and high in the government,” came to America in 1657, settling in Virginia. He founded a parish which was named for him— “The parish of Washington.” “He was also a sincerely pious man.” In his will, he left a gift to the church, of “a tablet with the Ten Commandments,” and recorded his faith in this manner: “being heartily sorry from the bottome of my hart for my sins past, most humbly desireing forgiveness of the same from the Almighty god (my saviour) and redeimer, in whom and by the meritts of Jesus Christ, I trust and believe assuredly to be saved, and to have full remission and forgiveness of all my sins.”

His grandfather, also named Lawrence Washington, similarly expresses his faith in his will. His father, Augustine Washington, was active in parish affairs, and became a vestryman in Truro Parish, Virginia, November 18, 1735, when his son George was three years old.

On the mother’s side the line of churchmen is equally strong. Grandfather Ball was a vestryman, and Great-Grandfather Warner left his slender but excellent record by presenting to the parish church a set of silver for the holy communion. “The family of Balls was very active in promoting good things.” Washington’s uncle Joseph, in 1729, took the lead in a movement to educate young men for the ministry of the church. Mary Ball Washington (George’s mother), says Henry Cabot Lodge, “was an imperious woman, of strong will, ruling her kingdom alone. Above all she was very dignified, very silent, and very sober-minded. That she was affectionate and loving cannot be doubted, for she retained to the last a profound hold upon the reverential devotion of her son.”

If Washington’s military character was developed out of materials which came to him by inheritance from both sides of his family, so too was his religious character. That love of the church which we have seen as a distinguishing mark in his family became a strong inheritance which his own will and intelligence did not set aside.

Church Membership The parents of Washington were members of the Church of England, which was almost the only denomination of Christians then known in Virginia.

His Baptism The birth record of Washington is found in an old family Bible of quarto form, dilapidated by use and age, and covered with Virginia striped cloth, which record is in the handwriting of the patriot’s father, in these words:

George William, son to Augustine Washington, and Mary, his wife, was born the eleventh day of February, 1731-2, about ten in the morning, and was baptized the 3rd April following, Mr. Bromley Whiting, and Captain Christopher Brooks godfathers, and Mrs. Mildred Gregory godmother.

According to the present style of reckoning, the birthday was February 22, and the baptismal day April 14.

His Father

There are many stories of Washington’s boyhood which show that his father took great pains to teach George to be unselfish, inspire him with a love of truth, and teach him to know and worship God.

When George was eleven years old, his father died. Some months later he was sent to Westmoreland to live with his half-brother, Augustine, who occupied the family seat in that county. What the religious advantages were, which awaited him in his new situation, we have not the means to ascertain. There is no doubt that he enjoyed the privilege of public worship at the parish church, known then and now as Pope’s Creek Church. Here his attendance was probably habitual, as it was an age in which everybody in that region frequented the house of God whenever service was performed.

GWPrayerReligious Teaching By His Mother

In addition to instruction in the Bible and Prayer Book, which were her daily companions, it was Mrs. Washington’s custom to read some helpful books to her children at home, and in this way they received much valuable instruction. Among the volumes which she used for this purpose was one entitled Contemplations: Moral and Divine, by Sir Matthew Hale—an old, well-worn copy, which still bears on its title-page the name of its owner, “Mary Washington.” Those who are familiar with the character of Washington will be struck, on reading these “Contemplations,” with the remarkable fact that the instructions contained in them are most admirably calculated to implant and foster such principles as he is known to have possessed.

The volume was found in the library at Mount Vernon, after Washington’s death, and it appears to have been used by him through life. There are many pencil marks in it noting choice, passages.

“From that volume the mother of Washington undoubtedly drew, as from a living well of sweet water, many of the maxims which she instilled into the mind of her first-born.”

“Let those who wish to know the moral foundation of his character consult its pages.”

Washington’s Rules

In 1745, thirteen years old, Washington copied many things in a little book of thirty folio pages. One part was headed, “Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.” There were one hundred and ten of these maxims. “Scarcely one rule is there that does not involve self-restraint, modesty, habitual consideration of others, and, to a large extent, living for others.” The last three rules are as follows:

108th. When you speak of God or his Attributes, let it be Seriously & [with words of] Reverence, Honor & Obey your Natural Parents altho they be poor 109th. Let your Recreations be Manful not Sinful 110th. Labor to keep alive in your Breast that little Spark of Celestial fire called Conscience.

Poem On “christmas Day” When Washington was thirteen years of age he copied some verses on “Christmas Day,” beginning,

“Assist me, Muse divine, to sing the Morn,
On Which the Saviour of Mankind was born.”

Some think that he composed poems himself, but it is more likely that he copied them from an unknown source. It shows what manner of Christian training he had received at home. He had absorbed “the spirit of the Day and the facts of the faith, as well as the rule and model of Christian life.”

Godfather In 1747, at the age of fifteen years, young Washington was godfather to a child in baptism. In 1748, at sixteen, he was godfather to his niece, Frances Lewis. In 1751, at nineteen, to his nephew, Fielding Lewis, his sister’s first child, and his mother was godmother. In 1760, at twenty-eight, he again became sponsor for another nephew, Charles Lewis.

Goes To Mount Vernon In the summer of 1746, (Age 14) he finds his way to the home of his brother Lawrence, at Mount Vernon. From then until March, 1748, “George, it is believed, resided at Mount Vernon, and with his mother at her abode opposite to Fredericksburg. In that town he went to school, and as Mrs. Washington was connected with the church there, her son no doubt shared, under her own eye, the benefits of divine worship, and such religious instruction as mothers in that day were eminently accustomed to give their children. It was the habit to teach the young the first principles of religion according to the formularies of the church, to inculcate the fear of God, and strict observance of the moral virtues, such as truth, justice, charity, humility, modesty, temperance, chastity, and industry.”

Trip To The West Indies

In 1751 (Age 19) Lawrence Washington, on the advice of his physicians, decided to pass a winter in the West Indies, taking with him his favorite brother George as a companion. George kept a journal of this trip. They arrived on Saturday, November 3. The second Sunday we find this entry in his diary, which shows his habit of church attendance:

“Sunday, 11th—Dressed in order for Church but got to town too late. Dined at Major Clarke’s with ye SeG. Went to Evening Service and return’d to our lodgings.”

Before the next Sunday he was stricken with smallpox. A few days after his recovery he sailed for home.

The Christian Patriot; 2013
Source: George Washington the Christian By William Jackson Johnstone (1919)