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Sermon: What America Needs to Learn from George Washington

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What America Needs to Learn from George Washington 

Have you read President Washington’s Farewell Address?

Jeremiah 17.9–10

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • October 2, In the year of our Lord, 2016

Scripture Reader and Reading: Tim Braden – Jeremiah 17.9–10

Song Leader and Song Suggestions: Phil Joseph – Songs that address faith, or loyalty to God, or patriotic songs


  1. George Washington’s influence has prevailed for over 200 years 
    1. upon his nation.
    2. He devoted the greater portion of his life to serving his nation, our nation.
      1. He did not seek self-glory, but
      2. he knew what Heaven had bestowed upon him
        1. through the acceptance of the people of America.
        2. Therefore, he used that influence to set precedents
          1. that still prevail upon America.
  2. George Washington, our first president, was a man of few words, yet, 
    1. at the age of 64 as he was leaving office and leaving public life,
    2. along with the help of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison,
      1. wrote and spoke a long Farewell Address:
      2. 6108 words!
  3. He addressed five things, and 
    1. he wanted every American to consider why
    2. he said what he said in his Farewell Address,

      “But a solicitude for your welfare, which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger, natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all-important to the permanency of your felicity as a people. These will be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsel.”
      1. His desire for the welfare of Americans would only cease with his death.
      2. He wanted Americans to review frequently his exhortations to the nation.
      3. He based these exhortations on “much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation.”
      4. What he recommended would guarantee our joy as a people.
      5. He had nothing to gain or lose with these recommendations.


  1. Preserve the Union

    “The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth…”
    1. He warned that people would arise,
      1. seeking to destroy the very system that exalted them.
      2. It has happened before and it is happening today.
    2. He warned that people would seek to break our unity.
      1. What was the Civil War?
      2. One party today seems determined to divide us.
    3. Gen 11.6
  2. Beware of the Party Spirit
    1. Then he said this in regard to how some will pervert the Constitution,

      “Towards the preservation of your government, and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts.”
      1. People would arise who would come up with new ideas
        1. on interpreting the Constitution,
        2. especially the Bill of Rights.
          1. This is how they put people at opposition to one another.
          2. They divide and conquer.
      2. Secular liberals have perverted the religion part of the first amendment.

        “Congress shall no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
        1. Secular liberals ignore the Freedom Clause and
        2. they focus upon the Establishment Clause.
          1. If a kid gives thanks for his food by bowing his head, but
          2. not saying anything audible,
            1. that is somehow interpreted as violating the first clause, and
            2. the kid is told to stop.
              1. Was Congress making a law to establish a religion?
              2. Does the school violate the second clause?
        3. They interpret the First Amendment to mean
          1. government must be hostile to religion,
          2. the very opposite of what the Framers intended.
      3. Daniel 6
    2. The following happens now and it probably happened in the past.

      “One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts.”
    3. President Washington knew human hearts and how they would divide,

      “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.”

      “It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection.”

      “A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which pre- dominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position.”

      1. Jeremiah 17.9–10
      2. People love power and will do what they can to get it.
        1. Absalom
        2. Adonijah
    4. Pro 6.16–19
    5. Gal 5.20
  3. The Pillars of America

    “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”

    “Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

    1. So far the 240 years of our history since The Declaration, and
    2. our 200-year history before that Declaration
      1. prove his point.
      2. The fall of communism, fascism, naziism prove his point.
        1. When religion prospers through total freedom,
        2. the nation prospers in all things, but
          1. when you forbid religion,
          2. society breaks down.
    3. Pro 14.34
    4. Psa 33.10–12
  4. Stay Out of Debt

    “As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it, avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertion in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear.”
    1. Our enormous nation debt should not surprise us, because
      1. that is how the average American household operates.
      2. We want something,
        1. we get it,
        2. whether we have the resources or not.
    2. In America, we elect people who are like us.
    3. Rom 13.8
    4. Pro 22.7
  5. America and the Nations

    “Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct…”

    “Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?”

    1. Notice that he had observed, and
      1. he gained this observation through history and the Scriptures,
      2. that religion and morality both encourage
        1. good faith and justice toward all nations, and
        2. the cultivation of peace and harmony.
    2. Those leading our nation now,
      1. believe religion should have nothing to do with American public life.
      2. What has that done?
    3. Rom 12.18


  1. How did men like Washington know what would happen? 
    1. He knew history and he knew the Bible,
    2. such as Ecclesiastes 1.9–11.
    3. Solomon argued
      1. that history reveals the future, but
      2. that people do not know history.
    4. What George Santayana said…
  2. In the second to last paragraph, President Washington concluded,

    “Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.”
    1. Learn from the father of our nation.
    2. Heaven did deliver a man at the right time for the beginning of our nation.
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