An Easter Meditation with the Founding Fathers: Benjamin Franklin and George Washington on the Resurrection
When Easter Sunday arrives, Christians celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. In a sense, for believers every Sunday is Easter Sunday as it is the Lord’s Day—the day to worship Christ and celebrate the crucified Savior’s resurrection from the dead to save sinners. The Apostle Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 15 that the resurrection of Christ was the first fruits of the general resurrection of all mankind at the culmination of history. This belief in resurrection is at the heart of the historic Christian faith.
Benjamin Franklin once composed an epitaph for himself using the theme of resurrection and comparing it to his work as a printer of books. He wrote:
The Body of B. Franklin, Printer; like the Cover of an old Book, Its Contents torn out, And stript of its Lettering and Gilding, Lies here, Food for Worms. But the Work shall not be wholly lost; For it will, as he believ’d, appear once more, In a new & more perfect Edition, Corrected and amended By the Author.
May the Lord give each of us the joyful hope of “appear[ing] once more, in a new and more perfect Edition, corrected and amended by the Author”! As the Apostle Paul wrote, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Corinthians 15:14). But He is risen! He is risen indeed! Jesus declared, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26). In fact, these are the verses that are on the wall just above the tombs of George and Martha Washington in the crypt at Mount Vernon.
In his schooling, Washington learned of Easter even as he learned of Christmas. The Christmas poem he wrote as a young student presents the saving work of Christ and the hope of resurrection as Adam views the victory of Christ over death. As a school student he wrote,
Far rosier the important era first drew near
In which the great Messiah should appear
And to accomplish His redeeming love.
Resign a while his glorious throne above.
Beneath our form every woe sustain
And by triumphant suffering for His reign
Should for lost man in return yield his breath,
Dying to save us from eternal death!
Ah mystick Union! Salutary grace!
Incarnate God our nature should embrace!
That Deity should stoop to our disguise!
That man recovered should regain the skies!
Dejected Adam! From the Grave ascend
And view the Serpent’s Deadly Malice end,
Adoring bless th’Almighty’s boundless grace
That gave his son a ransome for thy race!
Have a blessed Easter Sunday! Let us adoring, bless th’Almighty’s boundless grace that gave his Son a ransom for our race!