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Jedidiah Morse

Jedidiah Morse

“IF THE FOUNDATIONS BE DESTROYED”. . . .

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Jedidiah Morse (1761-1826)- was a pioneer American educator, clergy-man, geographer, and the father of Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph and “Morse Code”. After the American Revolution, he taught school to earn money while a graduate student at Yale. The students needed a good geography text, so he wrote Geography Made Easy and published it in 1784.It was the first geography book published in the United States and went through over 25 editions. Morse later published other American and world geographies, earning the informal tide of “Father of American Geography:’

While at Yale, Jedidiah studied for the ministry. In 1789, he accepted a call to the First Church of Charlestown, Massachusetts, one of the oldest churches in America. He was highly alarmed by how far the Boston clergy had moved away from doctrinal orthodoxy as well as by the growing influence of European rationalism in the United States. In 1799, he preached an insightful Election Sermon:” If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do. In it, he said:

Our dangers are of two kinds, those which affect our religion, and those which affect our government. They are, however, so closely allied that they cannot, with propriety, be separated. The foundations which support the interest of Christianity are also necessary to support a free and equal government like our own. . . .

To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. In proportion as the genuine effects of Christianity are diminished in any nation, either through unbelief or the corruption of its doctrine, or the neglect of its institutions; in the same proportion will the people of that nation recede from the blessings of genuine freedom, and approximate the miseries of complete despotism. Hold this to be a truth confirmed by experience. If so, it follows, that all efforts made to destroy the foundations of our holy religion, ultimately tend to the subversion also of our political freedom and happiness. Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all the blessings which flow from them, must fall with them.

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