Constitutional Convention – Benjamin Franklin, July 28, 1787

benjamin-franklin“In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection.  Our prayers, Sir, 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 that powerful Friend?  Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?  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 men.  And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?

To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity.  We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.”  I firmly believe this; and 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 bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.

“I therefore beg leave to move – that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that Service.”

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2 thoughts on “Constitutional Convention – Benjamin Franklin, July 28, 1787

  1. This quote has religious overtones, but most modern Americans don’t realize that eight different Bible phrases appearing in thirteen different Bible verses are encased herein.

    1. Groping in the dark (Job 12:25)
    2. The Father of Lights (James 1:17)
    3. Illuminate our understanding (James 1:5)
    4. A sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice (Matthew 10:29; Luke 12:6)
    5. Can an empire rise without His aid (Psalm 75:7; Daniel 4:17)
    6. Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it (Psalm 127:1)
    7. The builders of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9)
    8. A reproach and a byword (Deuteronomy 28:37; 1 Kings 9:7; 2 Chronicles 7:20; Psalm 44:14)

    (See The Founders’ Bible, 2012, Shiloh Road Publishers, p.1454)

  2. Probably the most profound political speech ever made. And a turning point at the Convention. This man was no deist!

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