One of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, Dr. Benjamin Rush is also known as the Father of Public Schools, the Father of American Medicine, and the Father of American Psychiatry. With such influence stretching to so many areas, Rush points back to the Bible, the Word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ, as the foundation for life as it should be. He wrote, “The Bible contains more knowledge necessary to man in his present state than any other book in the world.”
The signature of Benjamin Rush is on the Declaration of Independence. Yet the hand that signed it played a part in so many other works, movements, and events. Dr. Rush was a physician, making many discoveries in medicine. Not only was he a professor, but Dr. Rush also had a hand in the establishment of five colleges and universities, the most notable being Dickinson College in Pennsylvania. He aided the medical preparations of Lewis and Clark, was the surgeon-general of the Continental Army, and published the first American textbooks in both Chemistry and Psychiatry. The First Day Society, a sort of Sunday school, was founded by Rush in 1791. He was also a renowned abolitionist in his day.
Being so involved, the branches of Benjamin Rush influenced the first Americans in countless ways. But the branches of a tree are dependent on the roots. Faithful to Christ, Dr. Rush was rooted in the Word of God. It is evident in the many works of his life.
Benjamin Rush strongly believed in the importance of spiritual influence at an early age. This was, at least in part, because his mother faithfully taught him Biblical principles. Although Rush’s father died when he was only five years old, he grew spiritually as he was brought up in his home.
Rush persistently advocated the use of the Bible in American education. He wrote, “The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty.” If the Bible was used in all public schools, Rush was sure a better nation would result from it. In fact, he wanted it to be the central book that was studied by all as they were being educated. A Defense of the Use of the Bible in Schools was written, pleading that this be done in America, giving reasons for the gravity of people learning Biblical principles at an early age. The conclusion of the pamphlet is this: “I lament that we waste so much time and money in punishing crimes and take so little pains to prevent them…We neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government; that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible.”
Indeed, influences can be for good or bad. Rush understood the magnitude of Biblical influence and emphasized it in all areas of his life. Credited with being a Father of so much, he claimed his wisdom and virtue came from the Word of his Heavenly Father.
“The gospel of Jesus Christ prescribes the wisest rules for just conduct in every situation of life. Happy they who are enabled to obey them in all situations!” Benjamin Rush expressed that the Bible, more than all other books, was necessary for living right and living with joy. God’s Word amazingly describes the condition of the human heart and the laws of reality. The Bible understands humanity, and its words and principles prove it. Benjamin Rush would rely on no other thing to lead his life and found his nation.