The National Fast.
It is probably known that the Convention
which formed the Constitution
, and of which George Washington
, was in session four months
without any prospect of an agreement on certain conflicting interests.--The fifty-five members of that august body were despairing of harmonious action, and the Convention
came near dissolving.
At this interesting and solemn crisis, Dr. Franklin
rose, and, addressing himself to the President
, among other things, said: ‘"Sir, how has it happened, that while groping so long in the dark,--divided in our opinions, and now ready to separate without accomplishing the great objects of our meeting,--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 Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for divine protection.
Our prayers, sir, were heard, and hey were graciously answered. --All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence
in our favor.
To that kind Providence
we owe this happy opportunity of consulting, in peace, on the means of establishing our future national felicity.--And have we now forgotten that powerful friend?
or do we imagine that we no longer need its assistance?
I have lived, sir, a long time, and, the longer I live, the more convincing proof I see of this truth, that God governs 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?
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, 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 a by-word to future ages.
And, what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this important instance, despair of establishing government by human wisdom, and leave it to chance, war or 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."
This suggestion, it need scarcely be said, was favorably received by the Convention
; and, from that time, the guidance of divine wisdom was daily sought.
As might be expected, greater harmony prevailed; the spirit of concession pervaded the Convention
; a motion was made for the appointment of a committee, to take into consideration both branches of the Legislature.
This motion prevailing, a committee was accordingly chosen by ballot, consisting of one from each State, and the Convention
adjourned for three days.
On the meeting of the Convention
, after this adjournment, the above committee reported to the satisfaction of all, and the body proceeded to organize the legislative and other departments of the government.