Peter Marshall served as Senate Chaplain in the late 1940s. He was called the "Conscience of the Senate". More than ever, his voice needs to be heard in the chambers and halls of Congress. The following is an excerpt from one of his congressional sermons. It reminds us that our nation has strayed from the principles that made us great and free. We have defined the American Dream in material terms and forgotten that the dream has to do with spiritual greatness.
Today there is real danger that the American Dream will become the Forgotten Dream.
For freedom is not the right to do as one pleases
but the opportunity to please to do what is right.
The Founding Fathers sought freedom...
not from law but freedom in law;
not freedom from government - but freedom in government;
not freedom from speech - but freedom in speech;
not freedom from the press - but freedom in the press;
not freedom from religion - but freedom in religion.
We need to ponder these things today.
We, in America, are today enjoying the greatest freedom the world has ever known -
a freedom that staggers all who will consider it -
for we are free in these days to ignore the very things that others died to provide.
We are free, if we please, to neglect the right of franchise...
free to give up the right to worship God in our own way...
free to set aside, as of no consequence, the church's open door ...
free to let the open Bible gather dust.
We are free to neglect the liberties we have inherited. Surely there can be no greater freedom than that!
Significantly, religious liberty stands first in the Bill of Rights. It is the most essential, the foundation of all the other freedoms. Take that away, and eventully all freedom crumbles.
But the Constitution and the Bill of Rights would seem to infer that we will worship God in some way.
Now this generation has distorted religious freedom to mean freedom from religion. We find our Supreme Court now declaring it unconstitutional to teach our children that this nation was founded under God to His glory and for the advancement of the Christian faith... unconstitutional to include in the curriculum of our children's education any knowledge of God.
But our children are souls - made in the image of God. These souls are immortal and will live forever, and the human brain is but a tool and an instrument which the human soul shall use.
In the name of God...
in the name of truth...
teaching about religion must be demanded and provided for the children today, if this democracy and this civilization are to survive.
The idea may be abroad in some quarters that democracy is the thing that must be preserved... and that God is to be brought in as its servant. We must not get the cart before the horse.
The blessing of peace is not a product of politics - but a fruit of righteousness. God's order is always righteousness and peace - not peace and righteousness.
Desperately we need a return to government by principles rather than by politics. But where are the principles evident in the events of this present hour?
Peace is not made by compromise.
It does not grow out of expediency.
Peace is not a flower growing in the world's formal garden.
It is rather a product of the blacksmith's forge -
hammered out on the anvils of sacrifice and suffering ...
heated in the fires of devotion to righteousness...
tempered in the oil of mercy and goodness...
Peace is a costly thing.
We cannot fool God about our individual or national goodness. Let us not be deluded into thinking we can fool ourselves.
And so I come to my text - 2 Chronicles 7:14. It is God's word for America today -
"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land."
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