The Bible and the Presidents

February is a presidential month for historically-minded
Americans. And rightly so. Our first and
truly great President! George Washington, was born in February
(Feb. 11, 1732, "Old
Style" calendar, Feb. 22 "New Style"). So too was
Abraham Lincoln, perhaps
our greatest and most beloved President of all (Feb. 12, 1809).
Their respective birthdays have
been holidays in most states--or at least one of them was. Now
it's "President's
Day"--and it's supposed to include all of the Presidents.

The office of President of the United States has become a very
powerful one. People are
influenced--no matter how much they may complain and deny it--by
what these men--some great,
some weak, and some mediocre say and do.

The Grace Evangelical Society is interested in God's Word--its
teachings, and its application to
everyday life. A very large percentage of U.S. Presidents,
whether definitely known to be
believers or not, have said and written some very worthwhile
things about our favorite Book.

I have chosen remarks on the Bible from a handful of
Presidents during the 3 centuries in which
there have been Presidents of the United States.

Eighteenth Century

George Washington (1789-97)

    "Above all, the pure and benign
    light of Revelation has had a
    meliorating influence on mankind, and increased the blessings of

Nineteenth Century

John Quincy Adams (1825-29)

    "The first and almost the only book deserving of
    universal attention is the Bible. I speak as
    a man of the world . . . and I say to you, 'Search the

Andrew Jackson (1829-37)

Upon hearing a man defaming God's Word, Jackson rebuked him
with the following well-chosen

    "Sir, that Book is the Rock on which our Republic

Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)

Lincoln had devout Christian parents but apparently didn't
become a believer till the darkest days
of the Civil War. As a boy he read the Bible so much that his
style was ever after heavily
influenced by the King James Version. The following quotation is
no doubt from the period
before he found his faith:

    "I am profitably engaged in reading the Bible.
    Take all of this book upon reason that you
    can and the balance by faith, and you will live and die a better

Ulysses S. Grant (1869-77)

Grant was a man of integrity.
As he was dying of cancer he wrote
his memoirs, not for prestige, but so as not to leave his family
in debt. He finished in time; the
royalties saved the family from financial ruin. Grant wrote:

    "Hold fast to the Bible as the
    sheet anchor of your liberties; write its precepts on your hearts
    and practice them in your lives.
    To the influence of this book we are indebted for the progress
    made, and to this we must look as
    our guide in the future."

Twentieth Century

William McKinley (1897-1901)

President McKinley was a genuine believer in Christ. His words
are sorely needed by our
currently biblically illiterate, "Christian-bashing"

    "The more
    profoundly we study this Book and the more closely we observe its
    divine precepts, the better
    citizens we will become and the higher will be our destiny as a

Theodore Roosevelt (1901-09)

    "Almost every man who by his life-work added to
    the sum of human achievement of
    which the race is proud, of which our people are proud, almost
    every such man has based his
    life-work largely upon the teachings of the Bible."

Herbert Clark Hoover (1929-33)

It was Hoover's misfortune to be presiding over the Nation
when the great stock market crash
took place, though he was not responsible for it. Hoover did much
to help the world's needy
between the World Wars.

    "Whether it be of the law, business, morals, or
    that vision which
    leads the imagination in the creation of constructive enterprises
    for the happiness of mankind, he
    who looks for guidance in any of these things may look inside its
    covers and find

We have read just a few presidential
quotations--powerful men speaking of
the powerful Book. If we had more space the list could be
augmented at least fourfold.

Since our
Newsletter has British Commonwealth readers as well as U.S.,
let's have a royal quotation for
our Canadian and other Commonwealth friends:

King George V (ruled 1910-36)

His words are greatly needed in the British world today:

    "It is my confident hope that my
    subjects may never cease to cherish their noble inheritance in
    the English Bible, which, in a
    secular sense, is the first of national treasures and is, in its
    spiritual significance, the most
    valuable thing that this world affords."

Having dealt with men of power sufficiently, I
would like to close with a few lines from one of North America's
finest men of poetry:

    We search the world for truth, we cull

    The good, the pure, the beautiful,

    From graven stone and written scroll,

    From the old flower-fields of the soul,

    And, weary seekers for the best,

    We come back laden from our quest,

    To find that all the sages said

    Is in the Book our mothers read.
      -John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-92)