God's Providence in the American Revolution
By Sam Blumenfeld
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #54, 2003.
Some of the events in the American Revolution which resulted in America's ultimate victory were downright miraculous.
It can hardly be doubted that God's Providence had a lot to do with the victory of the American colonists in their war of independence against Great Britain, the world's mightiest power. The colonies had been founded by those with deep Biblical convictions. The Puritans in New England had come to the New World to establish a Bible commonwealth, in which God's Word would reign supreme in the lives of its citizens.
When George III imposed his tyranny over the colonies, the voices from the pulpits were loud and unequivocal. John Calvin, in his Institutes, had preached that it was lawful for a people to overthrow a tyrannical system of government that made a mockery of God's law. In his Prefatory Address to the King of France, Calvin wrote in 1536:
The characteristic of a true sovereign is, to acknowledge that, in the administration of his kingdom, he is a minister of God. He who does not make his reign subservient to the divine glory, acts the part not of a king, but a robber. He, moreover, deceives himself who anticipates long prosperity to any kingdom which is not ruled by the sceptre of God, that is, by his divine word.
Calvin further wrote:
We are subject to the men who rule over us, but subject only in the Lord. If they command anything against Him let us not pay the least regard to it, nor be moved by all the dignity which they possess as magistrates - a dignity to which no injury is done when it is subordinated to the special and truly supreme power of God.
Thus, the colonists believed that it was their duty to oppose a tyranny that violated God's law and the concept of Christian freedom. This was the spiritual resolve that led the leaders of the colonies to write the Declaration of Independence.
George Washington, of all our great leaders, was certainly blessed with God's Providence. By all accounts, he should have been killed in the French and Indian War (1754-1763), but was miraculously saved. At the Battle at the Monongahela, Washington and the British army were ambushed by the French. Every officer on horseback was killed except Washington. He later wrote to his brother John on July 18, 1755:
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.
Washington was only 23 when he faced that ordeal of death on the battlefield. He emerged unscathed with his faith deeper and stronger than ever. God had protected him, and he became the military leader of the greatest war for independence ever fought in all of history. On June 1, 1774, when the Colonies were seeking God's will in making their momentous decision to sever their ties with England, Washington wrote in his diary: "Went to church and fasted all day."
When he became Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army he appointed chaplains for every regiment, recognizing that his men needed spiritual nourishment as well as the bodily kind, for this was a war that could not be won without miracles.
One such miracle occurred on August 27, 1776. British General Howe had trapped Washington and his 8,000 troops on Brooklyn Heights on Long Island, and he intended to advance the next morning to destroy them. But Washington gathered every vessel he could find and spent all night ferrying his men across the East River. In the morning there was still a large number of soldiers facing annihilation by Howe. But a heavy fog descended on the area enabling the rest of Washington's troops to escape the British trap. That too was nothing less than a miracle!
When Washington became our first President under the new Constitution of the United States, he said at his Inaugural Address:
No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency... We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.
Many of our legislators and judges seem to have forgotten what Washington said. It is up to us to restore to America its Godly heritage and to never forget the miracles that made us the great nation that we have become.
Sources for further reading:
- America's God and Country by William J. Federer
- A History of the American People by Paul Johnson.