Have you checked your cell phone lately? Do you have a computer in your home? Do you ever look up anything on the internet, watch television, or listen to the radio? If so, you can thank Samuel Morse (1791-1872), the “Father of American Telecommunications,” a Christian man who wanted to make sure God received all the glory.
Samuel Morse showed excellent promise as an artist. A career in art was recommended to him by one of the greatest artists of his day, Gilbert Stuart. Morse’s father sent him off to Europe where he could receive the very best art education. He did quite well for a young man, even having some of his work exhibited in London’s Royal Academy. But when he came back to America he faced a series of tragedies. His father, his mother, and his young wife all died within a brief period of time. Along with all that, he was going broke, unable to make a living as a painter in America. So he got on a ship to return to Europe where he had enjoyed at least some success and profit from his work.
Aboard ship he heard some men discussing new experiments with something called ‘electromagnetism.’ Morse picked up on the idea quickly and caught on to the principles they were describing. He said, “If the presence of electricity can be made visible in any part of a circuit, I see no reason why intelligence could not be transmitted instantaneously by electricity.” Morse was a fast learner and an innovator, and before the ship landed in Europe he had developed a plan to make it work. In 1837 he applied for a patent on his ideas. He also created the Morse Code as a way of communicating the letters of the alphabet with dots and dashes.
Now he needed the money to get his idea from the drawing board to reality, but this was going to be a problem. People laughed in his face when he told them what he had in mind, and he could not find anyone to give him any money. For six long years he sought backing in the United States and in Europe. All the while, he struggled financially. He was an outstanding artist who could not make enough money at that; and he was an inventor with an invention he believed would change the world, but he could convince no one to back him.
Finally, in 1843, the US Congress awarded him thirty-thousand dollars to build a telegraphic line from Baltimore to Washington, D.C. He was done within a year. His first message was a Bible verse, Numbers 23:23, “What hath God wrought!;” or, see what God has done!
The verse was a description of how Samuel Morse saw his work. He saw his invention simply as the discovery of how to use one aspect of God’s wonderful creation. He said of his first electronically transmitted message: “‘What hath God wrought! That verse expresses the disposition of my mind at this time. I wanted to ascribe all the honor to the one to whom it truly belongs.”
Within months lines were being built and telegraphic communications were sweeping the nation. Soon, businesses, newspapers, railroads, and governments were all depending on Morse’s invention.
Today’s modern communications network, including telephones, computers, email, the internet, GPS, and everything else, are all developments of the basic idea Morse had to transmit information electronically.
In those hopeless years when no one believed in him, Morse said that it was some words of Jesus that sustained him (Matthew 6:28): “If I clothe the lilies of the field, shall I not also cloth you?” Morse said at that time, “My only gleam of hope is confidence in God. When I look upward it calms any fear of the future, and I will wait patiently for the Lord.”
Near the end of his life, he wrote, “The nearer I approach the end of my pilgrimage, the clearer to me is the evidence for the divine origin of the Bible, the more I appreciate God’s remedy for fallen mankind, and the more my future is filled with hope and joy.”
Education without religion is in danger of substituting wild theories for the simple commonsense rules of Christianity.
Numbers 23:23b — “What hath God wrought!” King James Version (“See what God has done.” New International Version)
Isaiah 24:15a — Therefore,… give glory to the Lord.
Ecclesiastes 7:25a — I turned my mind to understand, to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things…
AN EVENING SONG OF PRAISE:
All praise to thee, my God, this night,
for all the blessings of the light!
Keep me, O keep me, King of kings,
beneath thine own almighty wings…
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
praise him, all creatures here below;
praise him above, ye heavenly host;
praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
–Thomas Ken (1637-1711)