A Letter from the
A letter from George Washington to the General Committee
representing the United Baptist Churches of Virginia,
written in 1789.
For the month of September
there is a letter, from the above mentioned Committee, to
George Washington. In that letter it is important to notice
the mindset of the Baptist of Virginia and their relation
with a central government. Their appreciation, respect,
confidence and their prayers for the President and the
national government stands out so vividly. What a wonderful
relationship between the Baptist of Virginia and their
president and government. Where is that today?
Likewise for the month of
October Lord willing, there will be George Washington’s
reciprocal letter to the Baptist Committee of Virginia.
Notice the humbleness and the recognition of the divine hand
These brethren had actually
suffered some of these repressions and tyrannies. They
declared that the liberty of conscience is dearer to us than
property or life.
I pray; that we might once
more, as Baptist, have the relationship we find manifested
by both the Government and our national leadership.
Brethren, none of us know what
changes may be facing us in this nation. We do have some
ensamples set before us by our brethren. They were not
fearful to contend for their civil and religious rights. God
give us the courage, faith, strength and grace to stand for
our liberties that we have enjoyed at the hand of God for so
To the General Committee, representing the United Baptist
Churches in Virginia.
Gentlemen, --I request that you will accept my best
acknowledgements for your congratulation on my appointment
to the first office in the nation. The kind manner, in which
you mention my past conduct, equally claims the expression
of my gratitude.
After we had, by smiles of
Divine Providence on our exertions, obtained the object for
which we contended, I retired, at the conclusion of the war,
with an idea, that my country could have no farther occasion
for my services, and with the intention of never entering
again into public life. But when the exigencies of my
country seemed to require me once more to engage in public
affairs, an honest conviction of duty superseded my former
resolution, and became my apology for deviating from the
happy plan which I had adopted.
If I could have entertained
the slightest apprehension that the Constitution framed by
the Convention where I had the honor to preside, might
possibly endanger the religious rights of any ecclesiastical
society, certainly I would never have placed my signature to
it; and if I could now conceive that the general government
might even be so administered, as to render the liberty of
conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no
one would be more zealous than myself, to establish
effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny,
and every species of religious persecution. For you,
doubtless, remember, I have often expressed my sentiments,
that any man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and
being accountable to God alone for his religious
opinions, ought to be protected in worshiping the Deity
according to the dictates of his own conscience.
While I recollect with
satisfaction, that the religious society of which you are
members, have been, throughout America, uniformly, and
almost unanimously the firm friends to civil liberty, and
the persevering promoters of our glorious revolution; I
cannot hesitate to believe, that they will be the faithful
supporters of a free, yet efficient general government.
Under this pleasing expectation, I rejoice to assure them,
that they may rely upon my best wishes and endeavors to
advance their prosperity.
In the meantime, be assured,
gentlemen, that I entertain a proper sense of your fervent
supplications to God for my temporal and eternal happiness.
I am, gentlemen, your most obedient servant,
• Letter copied from
RELIGION IN AMERICA page 54-55.
• Inscription on John
Leland's tombstone, from RELIGION IN AMERICA page 50:
Here lies the body of
Reverend John Leland, of Cheshire, who labored 67 years
to promote piety and vindicate the civil and religious
rights of all men.
• Quote from Elder John
Leland; from RELIGION IN AMERICA: When the work of
regeneration occurs, man neither will assist nor resist.