“Irreligion of Our Land” in 1812

April 19, 2013 | War for Independence, War of 1812

Timothy Dwight

It is frequently said today that American was founded as a Christian nation. While that was true to some extent, there were those at the time who vehemently decried the godlessness of the founding. One of these was Timothy Dwight, grandson of the great preacher Jonathan Edwards. Dwight was a preacher and president of Yale College. He said this in a sermon on a day of fasting, appointed for the declaration of the War of 1812 against Great Britain:

Notwithstanding the prevalence of Religion, … the irreligion, and the wickedness, of our land are such, as to furnish a most painful and melancholy prospect to a serious mind. We formed our Constitution without any acknowledgment of God ; without any recognition of his mercies to us, as a people, of his government, or even of his existence. The Convention, by which it was formed, never asked, even once, his direction, or his blessing upon their labours. Thus we commenced our national existence under the present system, without God. I wish I could say, that a disposition to render him the reverence, due to his great Name, and the gratitude, demanded by his innumerable mercies, had been more public, visible, uniform, and fervent.1

1. A Discourse, in Two Parts, Delivered July 23, 1812 on the Public Fast, in the Chapel of Yale College by Timothy Dwight (New Haven, Howe and Deforest, 1812) p. 46.

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