I wish this nation could realize that God has not given us all this for nothing. Especially ought we to think of our republic on this Independence Day Sunday. America has been visited in so many ways by God. Our natural resources are the envy of the world, and our human resources have come from the ends of the earth. America is a great and worthy dream of human dignity and equality beyond the accidents of race, breed, or birth. America represents in its democratic assumptions a brave new venture in the faith that people of diverse backgrounds and differing creeds can live together in harmony and mutual respect. This, I believe, is a God-given concept which is basic to the American contract with history.
How often we have scarred the dream and violated the high destiny to which God has called this land. Now and again, we have gallantly moved forward toward the fulfillment of our destiny as a free, equal society. But we have too often fallen back, as if the destiny were too high for us. In all of these shifting scenes of stress and strain which mark our history, the God of the nations is testing us and sifting us before his judgment seat. He is examining our willingness to test in our commitment to freedom whether, in Mr. Lincoln’s words, a nation “so conceived and so dedicated” can long endure. If we but knew the things which belong to our peace.
There have been so many times that God has visited and sought you. You bit your lips and froze your hearts and held back by grim determination from his will. And yet he pleads, even today. It is now nearly night, the day passes, but even now. You will know what is your problem. Perhaps it is your home that’s collapsing around your head, with the sense of family at the very breaking point. You have had many opportunities to make your home good and secure. Many visitations of warning and promise as to how you could do it, and yet you’ve wasted the green years. But even now, it can happen, and you can know the joy of a home of love and unity.
Now, today, in every facet and element of your life, the glow and glory of the visitation of God can belong to you. For God has not quit on you, will not until you’ve gotten completely deaf to his voice and sightless to his appearing. The days can flash with new meaning, and there can be for you, amidst the decayed corruption of all that has happened, the wild, glad cry that Martha gave to her sister Mary when Lazarus was a long time dead: “The Master is here and calls for thee.” Things are different. The Master is here. So many of you have given up, downgraded your possibilities. And heaven knows, with the mistakes we all have made, it is understandable. We have not known what truly belongs to our peace.