The Spirit of America

Called Unto Liberty, Melvin J. Ballard, 20th Century Sermons

The prophet Joseph told us that he saw the day when even the Constitution of the united States would be torn and hang as by a thread. But, thank the Lord, the thread did not break. He saw the day when this people would be a balance of power to come to its defense. The Book of Mormon prophecies concerning the future of America have been referred to . . . wherein it is stated that this nation, though it becomes a mighty nation, still it can stand in security here only as it serves the God of this land. That conception was in the hearts of the men who founded America. [p. 59]

I was recently looking over some of the utterances of our fathers who established these glorious institutions. One of the great statesmen of our land, Webster, said:

If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper, but if we or our posterity neglect its instructions and authority, no man can tell how suddenly catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity.

Washington in his farewell address said:

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.—

When Benjamin Franklin, eighty years of age, stood before the Congress of the United States, trying to produce an instrument on which they could frame the Constitution, and they being about to abandon that effort, he made this appeal which won these men to God and to the accomplishment of the great purpose of establishing our Constitution:

In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for divine protection. Our prayers, sir, were heard; and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in this struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor. To that kind Providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance? I have lived, sir, a long time; and the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men; and if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, sir, in sacred writings, that except the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel.

This was the spirit of the men who established America. May God keep that spirit burning forever in the hearts of the [p. 60] men who continue to lead it . . . . They announced their faith when they blazoned upon our coin the motto, “In God we trust.” They breathed it into their songs when they said:

Our fathers’ God to thee,
Author of liberty,
To thee we sing—
Long may our land be bright
With Freedom’s holy light,
Protect us by thy might,
Great God, our King:

Other nations might boast of their kings, but the King of America, proclaimed by the patriotic fathers who founded it and established it, is the great God of heaven. This must continue to be the sentiment of the people of America if these glorious institutions shall be preserved, and in our hands is the sacred keeping of these great and glorious principles.(1)


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Source: Melvin J. Ballard, The Annual and Semi-annual Conference Reports of the Church Volume 10, 39, p. 10. Melvin J. Ballard (1873-1939), was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1919-1939).