Friday, September 2, 2011

Daniel Webster (1782 – 1852)

Daniel Webster is considered to be among the greatest orators in American history. He was an infamous politician and diplomat. Webster served as a United States Congressman, a U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State for Presidents William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, and Millard Fillmore. This is a confident declaration of this American statesman. Daniel Webster boldly declared his convictions. 

“The Gospel is either true history, or it is a consummate fraud; it is either a reality or an imposition. Christ was what He professed to be, or He was an imposter. There is no other alternative. His spotless life in His earnest enforcement of the truth – His suffering in its defense, forbid us to suppose that He was suffering an illusion of a heated brain. Every act of His pure and holy life shows that He was the author of truth, the advocate of truth, the earnest defender of truth, and the uncompromising sufferer for truth.” 
“Now, considering the purity of His doctrines, the simplicity of His life, and the sublimity of His death, is it possible the He would have died for an illusion? In all his preaching the Savior made no popular appeals; His discourses were always directed to the individual. Christ and His apostles sought to impress upon every man the conviction that he must stand or fall alone – he must live for himself, and die for himself, and give up his account to the omniscient God as though he were the only dependent creature in the universe." 
"The Gospel leaves the individual sinner alone with himself and his God. To his own Master he stands or falls. He has nothing to hope from the aid and sympathy of associates. The deluded advocates of new doctrines do not so preach. Christ and His apostles, had they been deceivers, would not so have preached. If clergymen in our days would return to the simple simplicity of the Gospel, and preach more to individuals and less to the crowd, there would not be so much complaint of the decline of true religion.”
“Many of the ministers of the present day take their text from Sr. Paul, and preach from the newspapers. When they do so, I prefer to enjoy my own thoughts rather than to listen. I want my Pastor to come to me in the spirit of the Gospel, saying: ‘You are mortal! Your probation is brief; your work must be done speedily; you are immortal, too. You are hastening to the bar of God; the Judge standeth at the door.” When I am thus admonished, I have no disposition to muse or to sleep.”

Daniel Webster declared:

“If there is anything in my thoughts or style to commend, the credit is due to my parents for instilling in me an early love of the Scriptures. If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but if we and our posterity neglect its instructions and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity.”

On December 22, 1820, Webster spoke at the bicentennial celebration of the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock.

“Lastly, our ancestors established their system of government on morality and religious sentiment. Moral habits, they believed, cannot safely be trusted on any other foundation than religious principle, nor any government be secure which is not supported by moral habits…Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens." 
“Cultivated mind was to act on uncultivated nature; and more than all, a government and a country were to commence, with the very first foundations laid under the divine light of the Christian religion. Happy auspices of a happy futurity! Who would wish that his country’s existence had otherwise begun?" 
“Finally, let us not forget the religious character of our origin. Our fathers were brought hither by their high veneration for the Christian religion. They journeyed by its light, and labored in its hope. They sought to incorporate its principles with the elements of their society, and to diffuse its influence through all their institutions, civil political or literary.”
“Let us cherish these sentiments, and extend this influence still more widely; in full conviction that that is the happiest society which partakes in the highest degree of the mild peaceful spirit of Christianity.”

The cornerstone of the Bunker Hill Monument was laid on June 17, 1825 which occurred fifty years after the infamous battle. Webster was a guest speaker who addressed twenty thousand people. Among the people who heard Webster speak was the General Marquis de Lafayette.

“We wish that this column, rising towards heaven among the pointed spires of so many temples dedicated to God, may contribute also to produce in all minds a pious feeling of the dependence and gratitude.” 
“Let our object be – our country, our whole country, and nothing but our country. And by the blessing of God, may that country itself become a vast and splendid monument – not of oppression and terror, but of wisdom, of Peace, and of Liberty, upon which the world may gaze with admiration forever.”

Webster gave a discourse commemorating John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. His dissertation occurred at Faneuil Hall on August 2, 1826.

“It is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God it shall be my dying sentiment – Independence now and Independence forever.”

On January 26, 1830, Webster gave his second speech on Foote’s Resolution.

“When my eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious Union; on States dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood.”
“Behold the gorgeous ensign of the Republic, now known and honored throughout the earth, still full high advanced, its arms and trophies steaming in their original luster, not a stripe erased or polluted, nor a single star obscured…[It does not bear the motto] “Liberty first and Union afterwards,” but everywhere, spread all over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment, dear to every true American heart – Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable.”

Webster, on April 6, 1830, presented an argument on the murder of Captain White.

“A sense of duty pursues us ever. It is omnipresent, like the Deity. If we take to ourselves the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, duty performed or duty violated is still with us, for our happiness or our misery. If we day the darkness shall cover us, in the darkness as in the light our obligations are yet with us.”

On June 3, 1834, Daniel Webster proclaimed:

“God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it.”Daniel Webster gave this appeal for the Union in 1837 while speaking on the Constitution.“I regard it as the work of the purest patriots and wisest statesmen that ever existed, aided by the smiles of a benignant Providence; for when we regard it as s system of government growing out of the discordant opinions and conflicting interests of thirteen independent States, it almost appears a Divine interposition in our behalf…The hand that destroys the Constitution rends our Union asunder forever.”

Webster gave a speech on June 17, 1843, at the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown, Massachusetts. He spoke passionately of the Founding Fathers’ high regard for the Bible.

“The Bible came with them. And it is not to be doubted, that to free and universal reading of the Bible, in that age, men were much indebted for right views of civil liberty.” 
“The Bible is a book of faith, and a book of doctrine, and a book of religion, of special revelation from God; but it is also a book which teaches man his own individual responsibility, his own dignity, and his equality with his fellow – man.”
“Thank God! I – I also – am an American.”

Webster declared:

“If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, error will be.”
“If God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendency; if the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will;”
“If the power of the Gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of the land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness will reign without mitigation or end.”
“If we work on marble, it will perish; if on brass, time will effect it; if we rear up temples, they will crumble into dust; but if we work upon immortal minds and imbue them with principles, with the just fear of God and the love of our fellow men, we engrave on those tablets something that will brighten to all eternity.”
“The Lord’s Day is the day on which the Gospel is preached…and although we live in a reading age and in a reading community, yet the preaching of the Gospel is the human agency which has been and still is most efficaciously employed for the spiritual good of men. That the poor had the Gospel preached to them was an evidence of His mission which the Author of Christianity Himself proclaimed.”
“I believe that the Bible is to be understood and received in the plain and obvious meaning of its passages; for I cannot persuade myself that a book intended for the instruction and conversion of the whole world should cover its true meaning in any such mystery and doubt that none but critics and philosophers can discover it.”
“I shall stand by the Union, and by all who stand by it. I shall do justice to the whole country…in all I say, and act for the good of the whole country in all I do. I mean to stand upon the Constitution. I need no other platform. I shall know but one country. The ends I aim at shall be my country’s, my God’s, and Truth’s. I was born an American; I will live an American; I shall die an American; and I perform the duties incumbent upon me in that character to the end of my career.”

Daniel Webster placed his hand upon the Bible as sat in a drawing room and participated in the discussion.

“This is the Book. I have read the Bible through many times, and now make it a practice to read it through once every year. – It is a book of all others for lawyers, as well as divines; and I pity the man who cannot find in it a rich supply of thought and of rules for conduct. It fits man for life – it prepares him for death.”
“My brother knew the importance of Bible truths. The Bible led him to prayer, and prayer was his communion with God. On the day he died he was engaged in an important cause in the courts then in session. But this cause, important as it was, did not keep him from his duty to God. He found time for prayer, for on his desk which he had just left was found a prayer written by him on that day, which for fervent piety, a devotedness to his heavenly Master, and for expressions of humility I think was never excelled.”

Webster proclaimed in a speech delivered on July 4, 1851:

“Let the religious element in man’s nature be neglected, let him be influenced by no higher motives than law self-interest, and subjected to no stronger restraint than the limits of civil authority, and he becomes the creature of selfish passion or blind fanaticism.”
“On the other hand, the cultivation of the religious sentiment represses licentiousness…inspires respect for law and order, and gives strength to the whole social fabric, at the same time that it conducts the human soul upward to the Author of its being.”

Daniel Webster was asked: “What is the greatest thought that ever passed through your mind?” He replied, 

“My accountability to God.”

On October 10, 1852, two weeks before he died; Daniel Webster dictated what he wanted to be engraved on his tomb.


argument, especially
that drawn from the vastness of the
Universe in comparison with the appar-
ent insignificance of this globe, has sometimes
shaken my reason for the faith which is in me;
but my heart has always assured and reassured me that
the Gospel of Jesus Christ must be a Divine Re-
ality. The Sermon on the Mount can not be a
merely human production. This belief
enters into the very depths of my
conscience. The whole history
of man proves it.

Daniel Webster

Daniel Webster made the remarks that follow after executing his will.

“I thank God for strength to perform a sensible act…And now unto God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be praise for evermore, Peace on earth, and good will toward men. That is happiness – the essence – good will toward men.”

Webster made the proclamation which follows only a few hours before his death on October 24, 1852.

“The great mystery is Jesus Christ – the Gospel. What would the condition of any of us be if we had not the hope of immortality? …Thank God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ brought life and immortality to light, rescued it – brought it to light.”

He began to recite the Lord’s Prayer and then said:

“Hold me up; I do not wish to pray with a fainting voice…”

Daniel Webster’s last coherent words were:

“I still live.”

 Extracted and edited from William J. Federer's America's God and Country - Encyclopedia of Quotations

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