Wednesday, November 16, 2011

James McHenry (1753 – 1816)

James McHenry was a member of the Continental Congress and signer of the Constitution of the United States. McHenry – state legislator, soldier, and statesman became the U.S. Secretary of War and supervising the establishment of the United States Military Academy at West Point.

He was also a physician who had studied medicine under the direction of Dr. Benjamin Rush and served with distinction while on the medical staff of General George Washington during the American Revolution.

Fort McHenry in the harbor of Baltimore, Maryland was named in his honor. During the War of 1812 with Great Britain, the bombardment of Fort McHenry was the occasion where the national anthem was composed by Francis Scott Key.

James McHenry became the president of the first Bible society in the city of Baltimore, Maryland in 1813.

The selection which follows is an article to solicit funds for the society which conveys the urgent need to distribute Bibles to the American public.

“Neither, in considering this subject, let it be overlooked, that public utility pleads the most forcibly for the general distribution of the Holy Scriptures. 
The doctrine they preach, the obligations they impose, the punishment they threaten, the rewards they promise, the stamp and image of divinity they bear, which produces a conviction of their truths, can alone secure to society, order and peace, and to our courts of justice and constitutions of government, purity, stability and usefulness. 
In vain, without the Bible, we increase penal laws and draw intrenchments around our institutions. Bibles are strong intrenchments. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses, and at the same time enjoy quiet conscience. 
Consider also, the rich do not possess aught more precious than their Bible, and that the poor cannot be presented by the rich with anything of greater value. Withhold it not from the poor. It is a book of councils and directions, fitted to every situation in which man can be placed. It is an oracle which reveals to mortals the secrets of heavens and the hidden will of the Almighty... 
It is an estate, whose title is guaranteed by Christ, whose delicious fruits ripen every season, survive the worm, and keep through eternity. It is for the purpose of distributing this divine book more effectually and extensively among the multitudes, whose circumstances render such a donation necessary, that your cooperation is most earnestly requested.”

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