July 4th Prayer

In response to Benjamin Franklin’s call to seek God that was made on June 28, 1787, the Rev. William Rogers prayed before the service that was held at the Reformed Calvinist Church in Philadelphia on July 4th of that year. The below text is taken from The Massachusetts Centinel on August 15, 1787.


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On the 4th ult. the anniversary of American Independence was celebrated at Philadelphia, in the Reformed Calvinist Church, by the Pennsylvania Society of Cincinnati, in presence of the Federal Convention, many distinguished characters, and a most brilliant assembly of ladies and gentlemen – when in Oration, commemorative of the great event, was pronounced by JAMES CAMPBELL, Esq. after the delivery of an Introductory Prayer by the Rev. WILLIAM ROGERS, A. M. – A copy of each was obtained of the Press, and with pleasure we take the earliest opportunity of presenting to our readers, through the medium of this Gazette, the Introductory Prayer, verbatim, not doubting but the sentiments therein contained, will meet the approbation of all the FEDERAL and PIOUS inhabitants of the State of Rhode Island, as expressed by ONE OF HER SONS. –

 

INTRODUCTORY PRAYER.
Supremely great and infinitely glorious Lord our God! From everlasting to everlasting Thou art the same! Unchangeable in thy nature, in thy word, in all thy works! – Cloathed with light as with a garment, and with majesty as with a robe! Who maketh the clouds thy chariot, and walkest upon the wings of the winds! Possessed of every adorable ATTRIBUTE and divine PERFECTION!

We, thy unworthy but dependent children, assembled on this joyful occasion, humbly desire to approach the THRONE of thy GRACE, in and through the merit of thy coequal SON, our EVER BLESSED SAVIOUR! For HIS sake, be pleased to pardon our manifold sins, and to blot out all our transgressions! Justify our persons through IMMANUEL’S righteousness, and sanctify our natures by the powerful influences of thy most HOLY SPIRIT! May we wholly be devoted to thy service, and live uniformly to thy praise!

With united hearts and uplifted voices, we render unfeigned thanks to thy name, O THOU SOVEREIGN RULER OF ALL WORLDS, for those numberless mercies wherewith we have been and continue to be visited! We adore thee for thy creating power, preserving goodness, and redeeming love! Suffer us never to forget any of thy favours, as we are altogether undeserving, even of the least! Particularly, O God! Are the inhabitants of these States, on THIS DAY, under the strongest obligations to bless THY NAME, for that Liberty, civil and religious, which they so fully enjoy! We would join the general body, and ascribe praise and thanksgiving to thy ADORABLE MAJESTY, for this AUSPICIOUS Anniversary, a DAY long to be remember by us and future generations! A DAY, whereon this extensive continent was, by the representatives of a numerous and oppressed people, DECLARED FREE AND INDEPENDENT! HEAVEN approved the declaration, our arms were crowed with success, sweet peace hath visited our borders, the soldier once more became the citizen: Retiring, without regret, from stations of command, our military officers returned with cheerfulness to the several duties of domestic and tranquil life! Our ears are not more pierced with the confused noise of war, our eyes are no longer pained with the horrid fight of garments roll’d in blood. – While we thus thankfully acknowledge thy reiterated favours in our political hemisphere, we beg leave also to mention thy providential smiles in crowning the YEAR with thy goodness, and causing thy paths to drop fatness: “Our pastures are cloathed with flocks, our fields are covered over with corn and wheat, our husbandmen shout for joy – yea, they also sing.”

That we may continue to enjoy these important blessing, be pleased, O Lord, to visit all the nations of the earth, and incline their hearts to peace and love; shower down upon them thy heavenly grace; may they know THEE as the KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS! In an especial manner, DO THOU visit our land, graciously regard our country, protect and defend our infant, but hitherto highly favoured Empire, bless our CONGRESS, smile upon each particular State of the UNION: May those who are in authority rule in thy fear, prove a terror to evil doers, and a praise to them who do well! As this is a period, O LORD! big, with events, impenetrable by any human scrutiny, we fervently recommend to thy fatherly notice, that august Body assembled in this city, who compose our FEDERAL CONVENTION; will it please THEE, O THOU ETERNAL I AM! to favour them from day to day with thy immediate presence; be thou their wisdom and their strength! Enable them to devise such measures as may prove happily instrumental for healing all divisions, and promoting the good of the great WHOLE; incline the hearts of all the people to receive with pleasure, combined with a determination to carry into execution, whatever these thy servants may wisely recommend; that the United States of America may furnish the world with ONE example of a free and permanent government, which shall be the result of human and mutual deliberation, and which shall not, like all other governments, whether ancient or modern, spring out of mere chance, or be established by force. – May we triumph in the cheering prospect of being completely delivered from anarchy; and continue, under the influence of republican virtue, to partake of all the blessings of cultivated and civilized society! In tender mercy bless this Commonwealth, the President, Vice President, and Supreme Executive Council, our Legislative Body, and the respective Judicial Departments!

Finally, we commend to thy paternal regard, all orders of men, all seminaries of useful learning, the Ministers of the gospel of every denomination, the Church of CHRIST, and all for whom we ought to pray. – With heart-felt gratitude we anticipate the GLORIOUS ERA, when instead of the thorn, shall come up the fir-tree; instead of the briar, shall come up the MYRTLE-TREE; and WISDOM and KNOWLEDGE shall be the stability of the times, both in church and state.

Prepare us, O LORD, MOST HOLY! For ever dispensation of thy righteous Providence; for life, for death, for judgment, and the joys of Paradise – Humbly intreating THY gracious assistance, in suitably discharging all those enjoined us by thy word, and enforced by thy authority, we close this, our solemn address, by saying, as our Lord and SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST hath taught us –

OUR Father, who art in Heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. AMEN.

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[1] The Massachusetts Centinel, August 15, 1787, p. 1.
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