America Sermon Illustrations

America Sermon Illustrations

As our nation grew, the people opened their doors to all the sons of men. In the words of Emma Lazarus, written as an inscription for the Statue of Liberty, the nation said:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Once over the entrance to a cemetery in the Southern mountains where are buried the dead who fell for their country, I read these words: "Erected by the Government of the United States." The government of the United States! Ah, thought I, there is something here more than crops, and mines, and fleets, and armies, and stocks, and bonds, and country clubs, and highways; something far beyond that—something that has to do with the soul!—Clarence E. Macartney

In 1857 Macaulay, the British historian, wrote these words to an American friend: "Your Republic will be as fearfully plundered and laid waste by barbarians in the twentieth century as the Roman Empire was in the fifth, with this difference, that the Huns and Vandals who ravaged the Roman Empire came from without, and that your Huns and Vandals will have been engendered within your own country by your own institutions."

On a ship on the Adriatic, sailing from Greece to Italy, I met a young businessman from New York, of Syrian parentage, who had been on a visit to his father on the island of Cyprus. He was contrasting conditions as he found them there and elsewhere in that part of the world with the advantages and opportunities he had in New York. He said to me: "If I had to live now in this part of the world, it would be a slow death."—Clarence E. Macartney

A man walked down through the narrow canyon of New York's financial district. As he contemplated the great buildings and saw the names of famous financial houses, he said to himself, "Here is the power and greatness of America."

A short time afterward he was in Washington and visited the Capitol. As he walked under the great dome and viewed the statues of celebrated statesmen and presidents, he said to himself, "Here is the greatness of America."

But sometime later he was a guest at an old-fashioned farm in southern Ohio. When the time came for the noonday meal, the bell on the post back of the house was rung, and presently the hired men who had been working in the fields appeared for their dinner. They washed their faces in a tin basin on a bench near the pump and then filed into the dining room, taking their places at the table. The farmer and his wife were seated at either end of the table, which groaned with plenty. The farmer took up a Bible and read in solemn and reverent accent the noble sentences of the Ninetieth Psalm. Then, with every head bowed, he led in prayer and thanked God for his goodness. When he left this home with that scene fresh in his mind, the visitor concluded that he had discovered the real greatness of America.

"Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain."

At the end of the Civil War, when the news of Appomattox came, the secretary of war, Edwin M. Stanton, caused to be displayed from the dome of the Capitol a transparency on which were inscribed these words from Psalm 118: "This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes" (v. 23).

In his message to the Congress, December 1, 1862, Abraham Lincoln, after sketching the great possible destiny and future for a united nation on this continent if the one issue which divided it could be settled, said: "Fellow Citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this Administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. . . . We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth."

When the fall of the Confederacy was at hand, General Grant invited Lincoln to come down to visit him at his headquarters at City Point on the James River. As they sat that night about the campfire, Lincoln related some of his characteristic anecdotes, and then sat in silence, looking into the fire. Grant looked up and said to him, "Mr. President, did you at any time doubt the final success of the cause?"

Straightening himself up in his camp chair, and leaning forward and lifting his hand by way of emphasis, Lincoln answered with the greatest solemnity, "Never, for a moment!"

| More