Monday, November 19, 2007

1778: Congressional Chaplains Thanksgiving Proclamation

The Chaplains of Congress were, on the November 7, 1778, ordered to prepare and report a recommendation to the several States to set apart the 30th day of December following as a day of General Thanksgiving throughout the United States. On the 17th of November, the recommendation was submitted, which being amended, was as follows:

It having pleased Almighty God, through the course of the present year, to bestow many great and manifold mercies on the people of these United States; and it being the indispensable duty of all men gratefully to acknowledge their obligations to him for benefits received;

Resolved, That it be and hereby is recommend to the legislative or executive authority of each of the said States to appoint Wednesday, the 30th of December next, to be observed as a day of public Thanksgiving and praise; that all people may with united hearts, on that day express a just sense of his unmerited favour; particularly in that it hath pleased him by his overruling providence to support us in a just and necessary war, for the defense of our rights and liberties, by affording us seasonable supplies for our armies; by disposing the heart of a powerful monarch to enter into an alliance with us, and aid our cause, by defeating the councils and evil designs of our enemies, and giving us victory over their troops; and by the continuance of that union among these States which, by his blessings, will be their future strength and glory...

And it is further recommended, that, together with devout Thanksgiving, may be joined a penitent confession of our sins, and humble supplication for pardon, through the merits of our Savior, so that, under the smiles of heaven, our public councils may be directed, our arms by land and sea prospered, our schools and seminaries of learning flourish, our trade be revived, and our husbandry and manufactures increased, and the hearts of all impressed with undissembled piety, with benevolence and zeal for the public good...Done in Congress this 17th day of November, 1778, and in the third year of Independence of the United States of America.

These Thanksgiving proclamations are theology lessons. What do these proclamations reveal about the theology of the Founders? Their view of the Sovereignty of God? Of sin? Of Providence? Of redemption? Of law? Of the relationship of government to God? Is your pastor as theologically orthodox as these congressmen?