Proclamation – Thanksgiving Day – 1907, Massachusetts

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

BY HIS EXCELLENCY

CURTIS GUILD, JR.
GOVERNOR

A PROCLAMATION FOR A DAY OF PUBLIC
THANKSGIVING AND PRAISE

At the springtide and at the ebbing of the year, two American holidays are dedicated to gratitude. On Memorial Day we gather to commemorate the sacrifices made by man: on Thanksgiving Day we reverently acknowledge our debt to the mercy and providence of Almighty God.
In accordance with a custom at once reverent and inspiring, I, therefore, with the advice and consent of the Council, appoint Thursday, November Twenty-eighth, as a day of Thanksgiving Prayer and Praise.

May the scattered children of the Commonwealth return to the ancient hearthstone, that the successful may rejoice with those who have known them as brothers, that the afflicted may feel the consoling touch of a mother’s hand.

Material prosperity has been ours beyond the fortune of any other people, and with prosperity has come almost measureless power at the Council Board of the Nations. May it be granted to us to use that power for good. May we remember that the venerable charter of the colony from which our Commonwealth arose cites that the purpose to which Massachusetts was dedicated is reverence for religion and the spread of civilization and happiness among those less favored than ourselves.
Confident that even hardship and misfortune would, under Divine Providence, be converted for good, the Pilgrim Founders of the Feast gathered together in hope and even in joy, and faced their trials with a song.

Let us in our flood-tide of success desert not the duties of religion. In the liberality of faith, respecting every honest conviction, let us remember that no nation of atheists has ever been allowed to live. In returning thanks for the ever broadening Brotherhood of Man, let us the more gratefully acknowledge the beneficent Fatherhood of God.

Given at the Council Chamber, this thirtieth day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and thirty-second.

CURTIS GUILD, Jr.

By His Excellency the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Council.

WILLIAM M. OLIN
SECRETERY

God save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Sermon – July 4th – 1825, Pennsylvania

James Patterson preached this sermon on July 4, 1825 in Philadelphia.


sermon-july-4th-1825-pennsylvania

A

SERMON

ON THE

EFFECTS OF THE HEVREW SLAVERY

AS CONNECTED WITH SLAVERY IN THIS COUNTRY

PREACHED IN THE 7TH PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN THE

CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, AT AN UNITED MEETING

OF CHRISTIANS OF DIFFERENT RELIGIOUS

PERSUASIONS

TO CELEBRATE OUR NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE

JULY 4, 1825.

BY THE REV. JAMES PATTERSON,
Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in the Northern Liberties.

ADVERTISEMENT.

We have yielded to the solicitations of the friends of religion; that the sermon delivered on the 4th of July, on SLAVERY, be immediately given to the public. And though owing to feeble health, and the extreme heat of the season, it was not prepared as it ought to have been – being got up for the particular occasion – Neither now can it be revised, as we could wish, before publication – Yet if there be anything in it that will add to the great cause of CHRISTIANITY and the RIGHTS OF MAN, we cheerfully yield it – and the glory be to God.

We believe that there is an excitement among Christians throughout the world, on the awful subject of slavery, such as never was since the commencement of the Christian era. And whenever the saints shall take hold of this subject as they ought, as sure as the sun shines SLAVERY must come to an end; and all its abettors, if they persist in it, will be destroyed.

We have added some things in an appendix; exhibiting the present state of slavery – in the exertions making for an universal emancipation – and its practices among the ancient pagan nations – and something of its origin.

JAS. PATTERSON

A SERMON, &c.EXODUS IV. 22,23.

THUS SAITH THE LORD – LET MY SON GO, THAT HE MAY SERVE ME, AND IF THOU REFUSE TO LET HIM GO, BEHOLD, I WILL SLAY THE SON.

Christian Brethren,

We are assembled today to commemorate one of the most glorious events recorded in our history: and we would here take occasion to give thanks to God that American citizens begin to celebrate this day in the sanctuary, instead of the places of sinful revelry. But while offering up our prayers and thanks to our Great Deliverer for our political redemption, Fellow citizens will you suffer us to remind you of a race of beings at our own firesides, wearing a chain much more galling than that of our fathers, when with their hearts up to heaven, and their swords in their hands they resolved to die, or be free.

It has always appeared to us equally incongruous and unchristian to assemble together to hear our Declaration of Independence read, while we at that very moment are holding men in slavery – and men whose blood is the same with that in our own veins.

See two men at the same door – of the same blood – of the same Creator – one mounts his horse, rides off to celebrate his independence, pouring forth the best feelings of his heart for his liberty – the other, perhaps at that very moment a chain sinking in his flesh, goes off to his hard work of bondage, pouring forth the direst execrations of his heart against the man who constantly deprives him of his liberty.

Those scriptures connected with the text teach slave holding nations one of the most awful lessons, ever taught by the God of nations. Where see one of the greatest nations then in the world holding in cruel bondage, a people who by the Providence of God were thrown into their country. Egypt had grown wealthy – lustful, and infidel, on the sweat and blood of the Hebrews. Such is the effect on the masters. And the effect on the slaves was to make them ignorant of God so that they began to cease to answer the great end of their creation. Hence that just and righteous demand from heaven, Let them go that they may serve me.

That criminal ignorance of God was the effect of their “bondage” is abundantly taught in their future history, by their worshipping the ox or golden calf, which idolatry they had learned in Egypt it being part of the worship of the country; for almost every great city in Egypt at that time had its Apis 1 or ox as an object of religious worship.

But to a people not gearing God, this was a reason of no weight – they refused to let the people go.

Nay from first to last, whenever there was any conversation on the subject of their emancipation, or plans forming it, the Egyptians immediately increased their bondage; entering into counter-plans to crush them: “Come” say they “let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply and it come to pass, that when there falleth out any war, they join our enemies, and fight against us and so get them up out of the land. Therefore they did set over them task-masters to afflict them with their burdens – and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage in mortar – in brick, and in all manner of hard service in the field. But the more they afflicted the more they grew – and this grieved the Egyptians [Exodus 1:10-12].

Then they had recourse to another stratagem; and an awful one it was. – It was this. To cut off the increase of population by destroying the male children – so brake the arm of their power and holding safe bondage forever what salves they already had. 2

This seemed to put the climax upon the oppression of the oppressor. – It was a plan for an eternal servitude. Now they seem to have lost all sight of their slaves as human beings. – But at this awful crisis the groans of the bondman penetrated the abode of Him who has commanded, “be fruitful, multiply and replenish the earth.” God heard – God raised them up a deliverer. It was Moses. About this time he was born. His birth, preservation, and education was altogether of God.

And when we see him, who was to the future liberator of his countrymen, lying a helpless and hopeless infant, amid the rushes and alligators of the Nile; who will dare to say that he was not raised up as their deliverer?

And who else of all the men of the earth ever had disinterestedness enough, to refuse a crown and kingdom, and identify himself with his countrymen to die, or to be free?

For when he came to years he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter [Hebrews 11:24], refusing the crown of Egypt. 3 Quitted the place for the fields where his countrymen were in chains – and seeing one of them cruelly scourged or “smitten” by an overseer, his indignation was kindled he instantly interfered – and in the scuffle he killed the Egyptian. This coming to Pharaoh’s ears he sought to slay Moses, but he fled the country. Fain would the patriotic arm of Moses have sundered the chains of his countrymen – But Egypt’s cup was not yet full O Egypt! Unhappy Egypt! Forty years more ingredients are to be poured into the cup of thy misty! And this patriot – this man of God – though raised at the court educated for the throne, and of great power in Egypt was hunted 4 from the dominions of slavery.

Such their determination to hold their slaves. Full well they knew their slaves were their wealth. Yea, the monuments of the arts, were all extracted out of the very sweat, blood, bones, and sinews of the Hebrew slaves. – ’Tis well known that some of their finest cities 5 were built by the Israelites – to what other end could they have appropriated such an immense quantity of brick as their slaves made?

And after forty years of instruction by God, for a work so difficult and so arduous, Moses was sent back with the commission in our text.

We call it a work difficult and arduous, for scarcely ever has a long standing system of slavery been broken up without scenes of blood and carnage.

A great increase of power over others never yet has made men humane and benevolent; but generally leads to cruelty and oppression. David and Solomon both speak of this fact as notorious in the history of men – And with the exception of Washington and Bolivar perhaps there is not another instance on record, where such great power was laid down peaceably at the feet of the people. And every attempt to arrest out of the hands of men, ill-gotten and overgrown power, from whatever source it comes, even from God himself, only makes the oppression of the oppressor greater.

This is painfully verified in the present case – for when God sent back Moses to Egypt with that most reasonable command, “Let my son go, that he may serve me,” what was the effect? Who is the Lord said Pharaoh, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, neither will I let Israel go [Exodus 5:2].

Here is the core of the contest, God will rule – God must rule, and this impious oppressor would not submit to it. I know not God, says he, neither will I let the people go. Wherefore do you, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works, GET YE TO YOUR BURDENS, and the same day he commanded the task-masters saying ye shall no more give the people straw as heretofore; let them go and gather straw for themselves; and the tale (or number) of the bricks which they did make heretofore ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof [Exodus 5: 4-8] And when they could not make the same number of bricks per day, because they had to hunt the stubble throughout the country, and carry it great distance, they were unmercifully beaten.

“Let my son go that he may worship me.” Was this an unreasonable demand? The God of mercy had seen their cruel oppression. They were his creatures. – He had a right to demand their release – but did they let them go? No – and did God execute His threat? Yes; and to this very day, which is about forty hundred years, that nation has never recovered from that stroke. 6

And now what imagination can possibly describe the heart-rending effects of that stroke upon the land of Egypt, which those slave masters provoked from the Almighty. To make the scene more terrific it was at midnight. Behold says the sacred historian “it came to pass that at midnight the Lord smote all of the first born in the land of Egypt, from the first porn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne, unto the first born of cattle – and there was a great cry in Egypt – such as there was none like it; nor shall be like it any more, for there was not a house wherein there was not one dead. Thus he broke the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham.” [Exodus 12:29-30 & Psalm 78:51]

And is this the effect of slavery, upon slave-holders when persisted in against reason and revelation? Moses had reasoned with them – and of revelation they could not have been entirely ignorant. Joseph, that eminent saint, having lived so long among them – and if they had, God had revealed his own arm before their eyes in the plagues that threatened their destruction. But they would not be taught. And alas this was but the beginning of their sorrows. – The finishing stroke – the death of Egypt, was at the Red Sea –there was buried all the strength and flower of the nation – and their wealth and their wrath were together engulfed in the waves – and there tale of woe, the funeral of the nation, is talked of on those shores till this very day.

Six hundred chosen chariots and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them, and an immense cavalry, all sunk to rise no more [Exodus 14:7]. – Yes says the sacred historian, there remained not so much as one of them [Exodus 14:28].

And it would seem that to this very day she has never risen from that stroke. “About this time the Egyptian historians place an invasion of their country by swarms of Phoenician shepherds. But who these shepherds were, whether Amalekites, that fled from Chedorlamoer, or Canaanites, who fled from Joshua, or Arabs, we cannot possibly determine.” – Brown’s Dict. Bib.

Soon after that it was prophesied that the “pomp of her strength should cease in her – that she should become a base kingdom – yea the basest of the kingdoms – that she herself should go into captivity, and there should be no more a prince of the land of Egypt – and that many of her cities should suffer extremely and groan.” 7

And from within a few years after this prophecy was delivered until now. Egypt has been groaning, being governed by foreigners and tributary to other nations.

And what is she this monument but a nation groaning under most severe degradation and misery. 8

She was long the most renowned kingdom in the world; but having first, grievously oppressed the people of God – then seduced them – then deceived them – this blasting decree of heaven went forth against her, “and the pomp of her strength has ceased.” She was conquered and subdued successively by the Babylonians, Persians, Macedonians, Romans, Saracens, Mamelukes, and lastly the Turks, to whom she remains in the most abject servitude to this day. Thus for more than 20 centuries they have been a base and tributary kingdom; and during all those ages they have not been permitted to live under princes of their own race. On one occasion God sold all Egypt to a foreign prince for performing a piece of service to Him. 9

It would indeed be interesting to know, if the pages of history could be accurately turned over and read, whether some of the posterity of those very kings that oppressed the Hebrews, were not now living in the most debasing slavery.

Now Brethren, if there be anything in North America similar to the bondage of Egypt; ought not this country to learn a lesson from their destruction. And though that bondage may not exactly coincide with the slavery among us, yet is there not a coincidence enough to teach us to fear that this country will one day suffer if we do not repent of our cruelty in African slavery.

And I appeal to every citizen if this is not the public sentiment; both as it regards, the most Godly men among us, and the wisest statesmen, viz. that America must suffer; if something is not done and that speedily too, to release from the most cruel bondage, more than a MILLION 10 AND A HALF OF IMMORTAL BEINGS, whom she holds in chains, and that both soul and body, that they cannot serve God.

With the increasing growth of Christianity among us, it is impossible that slavery can exist. Christianity and slavery cannot be identified. For truly if we measure slavery by the enormity of its crimes and sufferings; it is the greatest practical evil that ever afflicted the human race.

Yes Says Mr. Jefferson, “The love of justice and the love of country plead equally the cause of this people, and it is a mortal reproach to us that they should have pleaded it so long in vain. The hour of emancipation, (says he,) is advancing in the march of time; it will come, whether brought on by the generous energy of our own minds, or by the bloody process of St. Domingo.”

We would now then say to every slave holder in the United States, in the language of the Almighty to the slaveholders of Egypt. “Let go my son, that he may serve me; and if thou refuse to let him go, behold I will slay thy son.”

Now, if it be true that slavery prevents any people from answering the great end of their creation, i.e. to serve God – and if it be true that God has made all the nations of the earth for that service – and no man will deny either – then He is in justice, in reason, and in revelation, bound to demand the release of any people from servitude – but particularly so, when a Christian nation keeps His creatures from serving Him as they ought.

Now there are three things we would present to every slave-holder in this country.

1st That he let go his slaves, that they may receive an education and become useful citizens, and so answer the end of their creation. Knowledge is power, and if rightly used makes a good citizen – and without some considerable degree of it, a man never can be a good citizen. Ignorance begets vice. And who will deny that this power is eternally wrested out of the hands of the slave? I appeal to fact – into what schools and colleges do we send our slave children for education? Who will deny that the masters find it necessary to keep them in ignorance? And to this end, have enacted laws time after time. Educate them and they never can be held in slavery. Such is the nature and power of enlightened intellect. Who ever heard of a million of educated and enlightened men held in slavery? What page of history records it?

To retain them in slavery then, it is necessary to keep them something like brutes – the mind; the immortal mind is to receive no food; but crush it; and bury it; and the deeper it is buried the better the slave- the less he knows about the rights of man the better for the master – My God! My God! Is this the humanity of man to man?

“Man’s inhumanity to man, makes countless thousands mourn.”

It is the glory of this Christian land that such liberal provision is made for education.

“It is now nearly 200 years since school funds were established in this country, by that aboriginal and immortal hive of intelligence, piety and self government, the Plymouth Colony. And by the constitution of the United States, it is the duty of government to promote the progress of science and the useful arts. Not one of the eleven states has been admitted into the union without provision in its constitution for schools, academies, colleges and universities. In most of the original states large sums in money were appropriated to education. Reckoning all these contributions, federal and local, it may be asserted that nearly as much as the whole national expenditure of the United States is set apart by law to enlighten the people of this country.” 11

And all of these millions spent in educating our citizens, to enable them to be good citizens, is there naught to be spent on the poor African? Must he and his posterity be doomed to eternal ignorance? Of the thousands that he helps to pour into the public treasury, must he never reap anything? Must he forever be deprived of the fruit of his own hands? And will heaven always wink at this? O heaven! Righteous Heaven; remember injured Africa!!!

How, then, are they to become good citizens? – Deprived of everything necessary to make them such shut out by Christians from all knowledge – all information – all mental food – doomed forever to a dwarfish growth in the great forest of mankind, and good for nothing but to curse and impoverish the earth.

Look at the natural soil 12 where they live, and see how it is cursed and impoverished under their very feet.

“Besides more than half a million educated at our schools, there are more than 3000 graduates annually matriculated at our colleges and universities – not less than 1200 at the medical schools – several hundred at the theological schools – and at least 1000 students of law.” 13

Now, all of these colleges, theological and medical, which of them ever opens their doors to the sons of the African? Heaven has given him talents to be a good citizen – yea even a statesman – but the white man has deprived him of this privilege. Then let my son go, says God, that he may serve me as a good citizen of the earth. And if thou refuse, behold I will slay thy son.

2. Let him go forth from that felness of despair in servitude, which calls forth all the hellish and murderous passions of the heart, and makes a many a very fiend on earth.

There is a period in slavery that may be called the very felness of despair; when the poor suffer, long galled prefers death to these chains; then in the paroxysm of his rage nothing is too hellish for him to plot and to perpetrate. One vast and indiscriminate massacre of men, women and children is plotted, and sometimes effected too – witness St. Domingo. 14 Now this is a degree of exterminating hellishness that is enormous. No man can read the bloody horrors of St. Domingo without asking himself what could excite such fury in a being, made in the image of God. The answer is, provocation and oppression – iron handed oppression. And ‘tis the insanity of despair, ruthless as hell against its oppressors. Then let every slave master let his slaves go, that they may fear God and regard the lives of their fellow men; and not be provoked to act out this fiend like temper.

3. Let them go, that they may acquire a religious education to serve God. Who will deny that the slaves in this country are kept in such ignorance 15 that they cannot intelligibly worship God – that there are exceptions, masters who allow them to be, or have them religiously taught is freely admitted. But is this the case generally? Are they instructed in Christianity as the whites are? No man will affirm this. Slavery, 16 as a system, knows nothing of religious education. Her voice is this, Who is the Lord that we should serve him? Nay, it not only degrades and depresses the mind, but restrains the expansion of the faculties, and stifles almost every effort of genius; so that after ages of oppression, slaves seem almost as a race of beings endued with capacities inferior to the rest of mankind.

This is an item in slavery which we believe of all others is connected with the deepest curse, and that both to master and slave: viz. that it operates in keeping so many immortal beings from all the practices of Christianity, by which they are to prepare for eternity.

If then they are held fast in a situation, in which they cannot serve God as they ought, His demand for their release is a most reasonable one, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” And although they are not God’s son exactly in the sense that Israel was, nor their slavery exactly the same, yet they are God’s rational creatures – He made them – and they are bound to serve him according to the best of their powers – and woe, woe, to the man or the nation that interposes between an immortal soul and its service to its Creator!! Let such remember Egypt and the Red Sea!!

And now Brethren, all the objections that can be possibly brought against universal emancipation, I answer by that single precept of Christ, Matt vii 12. All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. This is a summary of all Christian duty towards our fellow men. And not now only, but Christ declares it was so from the beginning. This is the law and the prophets, says he, i.e. the substance of christen duty towards our fellow men as taught in the law and the prophets – but the law and the prophets make up the whole bible down to that time; therefore the bible down to the days of Christ did not authorize slavery; and no man will dare to say that the New Testament authorizes it; consequently by induction, revelation nowhere authorizes slavery. But expressly forbids it; commanding in the most positive manner that the man stealer shall be put to death.

Now if it be wrong to steal a slave, it is then wrong to hold a stole slave. This is a principle recognized both by the laws of God and man, viz. that he who receives and holds the stolen goods, if he knows them to be stolen, is as party concerned with the thief. It is in a degree identifying our interest with his, and taking part of his crime upon us. “When thou sawest a thief, thou consentedst with him.” [Psalm 50:18] Our consenting to the thing is what connects us with him in his guilt. Then to hold a stolen man in slavery is substantially the same crime as to steal him. For if it was wrong to deprive him of his liberty in the first instance, it is equally wrong to deprive him of it in the second.

The slavery we speak of, and of which we have been speaking all along, is the third of three kinds – 1st. A person may become a slave by their own consent for a time. 2nd May be made so by the government, as a punishment for crime. 3rd. Made a slave by force, and held so forever through all their posterity.

This third and last is the kind of which we have been speaking, which Revelation never did authorize and reason cannot.

In favor of slavery there is plausible argument, the deceitfulness of which is not immediately seen. Permit us to analyze it a moment. The argument is this, viz. That the African slave is in a more eligible state 17 in this country, enjoying the Christian religion, that he would be were he a free heathen in his native country 18 i.e. It is better to go out of his chains in this country to heaven, than to go out of his native country, a free heathen into hell.

The answer is this. When such a thing occurs, it is God; of his overruling Providence; and not of the master or slave. Was this the motive of the man stealer when he stole the slave in heathen Africa? Was it motive to teach him the Christian religion? Or was it the motive of the American master when he chased him of the slaver? None will affirm either. Then the question needs no answer. The motives of the heart, make the actions right or wrong. But the motives in this case have been wrong all the way from first to last. To look into the hold of a slave ship on the coast of Africa, where his slaves are crammed together that about one fourth die 19 ere they reach this country, we would have a poor opinion of the piety of the slaver’s motives.

And even if men went to Africa to steal or purchase slaves, with honest motives of Christianizing them, still the action would be unjustifiable. For if it were justifiable, then we ought to authorize all our missionaries to steal or purchase all the heathen youth they could, and ship them to Christian countries, and there sell them in eternal slavery to be Christianized.

But what says God on this mode of Christianizing the heathen? Exod. xxi. 15. He that stealeth a man and selleth him, or if he be bound in his hand, shall surely be put to death. There shall be no contravening of this my command: he shall surely be put to death. 1Tim. i. 10 The law was not made for a righteous man, but for men-stealers, &c.

And if the apostle Paul had justified this horrid traffic as some think he did, why would he have called the slavers man-stealers? Branding them with and epithet so universally hated.

And by this mode of reasoning the slave master might justify even Judas in selling the Savior for money, for the world was vastly the better by His death. But what was Judas’s motive? Was it to better the world, or to get money?

No man will act wrong to his fellow men if he correctly follow his precept of Christ – “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” [Matthew 7:12]

And we fearlessly affirm that no Christian with this precept in his heart can justify forced slavery for it is grounded upon that great commandment, “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” We must do that to our neighbor which we ourselves acknowledge to be fit and reasonable. The appeal is made to our own judgment and feelings, we being in his place and he in ours; then, asking ourselves what we would wish him to do toward us – thus let every man reason on the subject of slavery – standing in the shoes of the slave and the slave in his, let him ask himself how he would wish to be treated.

And in all the difficulties connected with an universal and immediate emancipation. I do beseech and implore that every master would bring his mind to those scriptures given to him by his Maker, to guide him in his duty towards his neighbor – “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself – and all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them”

To Greece and Rome in their slave holding days, this precept of Christ was not a guide, as it is now to us therefore the cases are not analogous. And let no man then justify himself by the conduct of those pagan nations.

And now whatever objections lie in the way of immediate and universal emancipation, none of these lie in the way of aiding the American Colonization Society, to which we now invite your aid. The plan of this society is to send to Africa all the free people of color willing to go, and as many of the slaves as their masters give freedom to as fast as their funds will permit.

The colony at Mensurado, on the West coast of Africa is a prosperous state, ‘gradually lengthening her cords, and strengthening her stakes.’ And with the blessings of God promises the most extensive usefulness to that country.

Then let everyone that is a friend to God and the rights of man, come forward and aid this society, as far as their circumstances will permit.

We have as yet seen no solid objections to this plan. To us it seems the most Christian and feasible of any plan yet proposed.

If the government should take hold of this plan, and we do not despair to see the day when they will take hold of it, they are certain competent to remove slavery, this awful curse, entirely from among us. That it is unconstitutional 20 for the government to take hold of it, we do not believe is the real objection why they do not- and why they have hitherto rejected all petitions, praying them to take it under their care. As for our part, we cannot conceive how this country could make a greater reparation to Africa for the wrongs done her. Would this government give a Christian education to her slaves, which she is abound to d, and then return them to their native country, what greater favor under heaven could they possibly confer on Africa? It would be 60,000,000 of souls, sunk in the most cruel heathenism, with the most efficient missionaries.

Yes, every cargo, of Christianly educated Africans, you enable this society to return home, will be a cargo of balm to bleeding Africa.

And when this colony shall have ripened into Christian manhood, and shall have once stricken hands in a Christian covenant with the English colony at Sierra Leone, 21 both having come to full maturity, they will most assuredly put a stop to “man-stealing,” by hanging every slaver and kidnapper within their reach!

Yes, they will more effectually than all the governments of the earth, bind up those wounds all along that coast of Africa, which for centuries have been draining away her heart’s blood.

The death of General Harper was a sore stroke to this society. His heart was in the thing. And had he lived he would doubtless have accomplished what we deem of vast importance, viz. his plan of connecting schools with the society and instructing the Africans in husbandry, mechanic arts, and the various branches of a common education before they are returned home.

But He who called away Finley, Mills, and Caldwell, so active in originating this society, can raise it up other friends. It is saying much for this society that such men as Finley and Mills were connected with its origin. And I would place more confidence in their prayers alone that the thing of God, than in all the arguments hitherto advance to show the contrary. And we are happy to be able to state to you that this society is growing in the public estimation. And particularly in the Southern States, where it is largely patronized by some of the most enlightened statesmen and sincere Christians. And until some better plan is proposed it does appear to us that every well wisher of his country ought to lend it his aid.

It ought to be remembered that the first settlement of this country was by Christian men – and on Christian principles – flying from slavery, the slavery of the mind. And we have grown up into a government the most Christian in the earth. Founded upon Christianity, this government for nearly half a century, has been growing, consolidating and extending, the wonder of the world.

But slavery is the worm at the root of our gourd. All consider it as the curse of this government.

We hold it as a principle, that this government will flourish or wither, live or die, just as we cultivate or reject vital Godliness. “The nation that will not serve God shall perish: and that slavery is antichristian and not the service of God, no man can doubt believing his bible. Then let every American friendly to the life and health of his country, feel himself bound to aid this society, unless aiding some other plan he conscientiously deems better.

When Greece whose sons we had never enslaved, called on us for aid, who refused to contribute, or rather who did not rejoice to contribute? And shall we hold back from Africa, when this society would send home her sons, whom we have stolen away?

And as to the disasters that have befallen this colony, what are they, more than have befallen other colonies in their infancy? Not one half that befell the first colonist in colonizing our own country. 22

Who does not know that there have been colonies planted all along the coast, from Cape Verde to the Cape of Good Hope, and that for years too by the English, French, Danes, Dutch, and Portuguese?

And can they accomplish, and many of them in quest of money too, what Americans seeking the good of souls cannot? Did the British colony at Sierra Leone originate as ours has done? Was not the land originally purchased of the native to colonize free colored people? Has not that colony succeeded triumphantly, and why cannot ours?

And as to the unhealthiness of the climate, no proof yet has been exhibited that it is more so than other tropical climates – than even some of the alluvial districts of the United States. 23

And if that colony even should not drain away slavery entirely from us, it may establish a seed there, which fostered by God, will not cease to grow till all that country is evangelized. This idea alone 24 ought to enlist every Christian in its cause. To evangelize a country, no missionaries are equal to native missionaries.

To raise the coloured people 25 to their proper rank of citizenship among us, is impossible – neither is it desireable. Who would wish to see them in our legislative halls, making us laws? Let us then send them to Africa – their native land – their own land – a land seemed to be given them by God, their constitutions suiting the climate. And there let us colonize, and nourish and protect them till they can stand alone – and there let them enjoy the rights and immunities of freemen, and have a name among the nations of the earth. There “they will have a stake in the hedge,” and a soil to cultivate which is their own.

There let them sit in their own legislative assemblies – and make their own laws – tread their own college halls, and nurture their own sons to be ministers and statesmen. – And let us never despair to see the day when Africa shall have her halls of literature and legislation, equal to America or to Europe.

APPENDIX.Many persons think, because Christian governments have enacted so many severe laws against slavery it must be nearly extinct; or at least its horrors in practice greatly abated.

A few extracts from the last Report of the African Society on the Suppression of Slavery, held in London on May 13th 1825, will give us a succinct view of the state of the slave trade and what the Christian nations are doing to suppress it.

“His royal highness, the Duke of Gloucester, was in the chair. The Secretary read the report of the society on the state of the Slave Trade in general, and the measures taken for its suppression. By our own laws all dealings in the trade are now considered as piracy. A treaty to the same effect was made by this country with Sweden.”

It is well known that slavery, by the U. States government, is considered piracy: and the following resolution was offered by C.F Mercer to Congress on the 28th of Feb. 1824, with a view to have it considered as piracy all over the civilized world.

Resolved –“That the President of the United States be required to enter upon, and prosecute from time to time, such negociations with the several maritime powers of Europe and America, as he may deem expedient for the effectual abolition of the African Slave Trade and its ultimate denunciation, as piracy under the law of nations, by the consent of the whole civilized world.”

The main question, on agreeing to this resolution, was taken by yeas and nays – yeas 131, – nays 9.

The government of South America has passed enactments, sentencing to ten years imprisonment, all persons, whether national or foreign who may be detected within their dominions engaged in the Slave Trade.

The Report above mentioned goes on the state that Spain and the Netherlands have agreed, in part, to its suppression so for as to give other nations the right of searching suspected vessels.”

And it speaks in terms of the most unqualified reprobation of the conduct of France. It states that she is now the great Slave Carrier of the world. That the arrival of her flag on the coast of Africa is the signal of universal devastation – that the hamlets of the weaker are instantly attacked and the inhabitants sold into slavery – that a powerful African chief purchased goods on trust from a French merchant, for which he was to pay with young slaves. At the appointed time of payment he had not the slaves, and in consequence his warriors made an attack upon a peace able and agricultural village, and in one hour exterminated in the inhabitants: the old people and infants were murdered and destroyed: and the young and vigorous all taken captive and carried off to pay the Frenchman.

Two companies have been voluntarily formed by the pious and humane in England called “The Tropical Free Labour Companies.” Their object is to encourage the cultivation of sugar and cotton in the East Indies, particularly sugar, and bring them to the English market, and undersell slave grown similar products bought from the slave countries, and thus gradually the effect of the extinction of slavery in the British Colonies. One of these companies has a capital of 4,000,000 sterling, with the Duke of Gloucester at the head of it.

They say they “contemplate no measure for their ultimate object more certain in its operation, than the general substitution of sugar grown by free labour for that which is grown by slaves.”

The following extract may show what Christians could do independent of legislative enactments, if all Christians and the humane would unite. By an effort in England alone they have, in a most surprising manner, arrested the current of trade in certain articles – taken it out of the hands of the Slave Master and put it into the hands of Free labourers. “Forty years ago little or no indigo was exported from British India. The whole of that article then used in Europe, was the product of Slave labour. A few individuals in Bengal employed their capital and influence in inciting the natives to enlarge the cultivation of it for the European market. They did so, and when free labour was brought properly into action, notwithstanding the enormous freights for a time the importers had to pay, the indigo of India has been gradually displacing from the market the indigo grown by slaves, so that now there is not one ounce of Indigo the produce of Slave labour imported into Europe: while the value of the Indigo grown in British India, grown by free labour, amounts to nearly 4,000,000 sterling.”

This is the substance of what the Christian nations of the world are doing to suppress the traffic of human souls.

And yet some of these very nations connive at its being carried on in the most cruel manner under their own flag. – The Report states that eight villages were lately desolated (in the manner described above, getting slaves for the Frenchman) for the purpose of carrying on the trade with Spain. And a countless number of murders were committed in consequence of the trade in muskets, powder, and rum, carried on with the Portuguese.

And that two Brazillian vessels were recently taken by a British frigate and when taken, “the unfortunate slaves were allowed a space of three feet square and a quarter a man, and were guarded by fierce dogs of the blood hound species. In one ship fifty of the negroes died during a short voyage. The captain of another had shipped more than he conveniently could carry, and threw the surplus 26 overboard.

And slave dealers to evade the law, lately have gotten to use fictitious names when speaking of the slaves. For instance, a gentleman giving an account of the state of the slave market; says, “the advantages which our market offers for the disposal of ebony, (i.e. negroes), gives a great preference over any other of our colonies. – The last cargo sold here was the Harriet of Nantz; 328 logs (i.e. slaves) were disposed of on their landing those were damaged excepted at $225 each, had the wood been good it would have had fine sale, but the cargo was bad, having suffered much in coming over.”

One or two extracts from the Reverend Richard Bickell’s “West indies as they are; a re4al Picture of Slavery,” will show whether the cruelties of slavery are abating.

Mr. Bickell speaks of West India slavery as whitnessed by him, and as it exists there now: having lived there about five years. “In the colonies of Great Britain there are at this moment upwards of 800,000 human beins in a state of degrading personal slavery. – One of the great evils of slavery is, that the slaves are so degraded and epressed in the eye of the law as not to be considered persons, but mere animals or chattels; so that they may not only be sold at the will of the master; but seized for debt by a writ of execution and sold at public auction to the highest bidder.

The distress and terror among a gang of negroes, when the Marshal’s deputy with his dogs and other assistants comes to levy upon them for the master’s debt, cannot be conceived by those who have not witnessed it. – I was once on a coffee-mountain spending a few days, and the night after I arrived I was awakened about an hour before daylight, by a great noise, as of arms and the cries of women and children. – In a few minutes a private servant came and informed me that it was the marshal’s deputies making a levy on the negroes. – I got up and went out; before I arrived at the negro-houses, the resistance ceased – ten or twelve men, many women and children, amounting to thirty or forty were taken and presented such a heart-rending scene as I never witnessed before. – Some of the children had lost their mothers – some mothers torn from their children. – One woman in particular had two or three of her children taken together with her infant – she wept aloud and bitterly for her infant, saying she must giver herself up if the child was not got back, for she could not live, separated from it. They were hand cuffed and driven off to Spanish Town a distance of about 20 miles.”

“In a season of a crop, which lasts 4 or 5 months in the year, their labour is protracted not only throughout the day, as at other times, but during either half of th night, or the whole of every alternate night.

”Besides being made to work under the lash all the week, they are obliged to labour for their own maintenance on the Sabbath.”

“It is certainly a most degrading sight to see one fellow creature following 20, 30m or 40 others, and every now and then lashing them as he would a team of horses or mules, but this is not all, for if any one offend more than ordinarily, the master driver, who has almost unlimited power, takes him or her from the ranks and having two or three strong negroes to hold the culprit down – lays on 20 or 30 lashes with all his might – 39* is the number specified by law, beyond which they cannot legally go in one day.”

Surely this does not look as if the cruelties of slavery were abating – Oh, slavery in thy best state, thou art a bitter draught – but it affords a ray of hope at least, that mors sceptra ligonibus aequat – Death mingles scepters with spades – the bond and the free will be equal in the grave!!

Except the Kryptia, or ambuscade, practised by the Spoartans over the Helots, I know nothing more cruel in the slavery of any age than what is practiced by some modern Christians, over their slaves. The heathen branded their slaves with a hot iron, so do the modern Christian masters. Mr. Bickell gives many instances of their being advertised in the Newspaper, in the following manner. – Philip a Creole, Sambo, man of Cartha-gena, 5ft. 5 inch marked ICD on left and LH on right shoulder.”

Since the writing of this Sermon, we have heard some strange things from the south on slavery, and that too from gentlemen in high official authority. Govern Troup in his address to the Legislature of Georgia says, “when we cease to be masters we become slaves ourselves.”

Exactly so the Pagan Spartans thought. “The freemen of Sparta, were forbidden the exercise of any mean or mechanical employment; and therefore the whole care of supplying the city with necessaries was devolved upon the Helots – the ground was tilled, and all sorts of trades managed by them. – Whilst their masters, gentlemen like, spent all their time in dancing and feasting – in their exercises – hunting matches and the λεςχαι 27 or places of conversation.” – Potter’s Archaeol. Graec.

They considered every species of handicraft as mean undignifying – and this very sentiment sowed the seeds of their destruction.

And Mr. Lumpkin, of the committee in the Georgia legislature to whom that part of the governor’s speech was committed, reported thus. “Let our Northern brethren then, if there is no peace in Union, if the compact has become too heavy to be longer borne, in the name of all the mercies, find peace among themselves. Let them continue to rejoice in their self righteousness – let them bask in their own Elysium, while they depict all south of the Potomac as hideous reverse.

“As Athens, as Sparta, as Rome was, we will be; they held slaves, we will hold them. Let them guard with tariffs their own interest – let them deepen their public debt, until an high minded aristocracy shall arise out of it.

“We want none of all these blessings. But in the simplicity of the patriarchal Government, We would still remain master and servant under our own vine, and our own fig-tree, and confide our safety upon Him who of old time, looked down upon this state of things without wrath.”

These gentlemen pride themselves in being classed with the Romans and Grecians as slave holders. We think such Christian gentlemen would do well to consider a little more thoroughly how those nations treated their slaves: and see whether it is honorable to be classed with such monsters.

It was the custom at Rome to expose their worn out or sick slaves, when no longer able to work, on an island in the Tyber: there to pine away and die. And the Emperor Claudius, though by no means a humane man, was so shocked at it that he issued an edict against it. And the same edict declares, that if anyone to avoid it “chose rather to kill than expose his slave; he should be liable to a prosecution for murder.”

And even the elder Cato, with all his boasted virtues, did by his slaves, just as a prudent farmer does by his horses. It “was his professed maxim to sell his superannuated slaves for any price, rather than maintain what he deemed an useless burden.” The following are his own words. “A master of a family should sell his old oxen – his old wagons – his old implements of husbandry – and such of his slaves as are old and infirm. And anything else that is old and useless.” What man in a Christian country would consider himself honoured by being classed with such an old pagan stock and oppressor.

What aggravates the cruelty of this man was this. That in attending all the slave markets, it is said he never purchased any but young slaves – and after he god all the fruit of their life he turned them adrift. And he never gave more for a slave than fifteen hundred drachmas, as not requiring delicate shapes and fine faces, but strength and ability to work.

“And he contrived means to raise quarrels among his slaves, always to keep them at variance with one another, ever fearing some bad consequence from their unanimity.” – Plut. In vit. Caton.

And yet he is called the virtuous Cato. We cannot envy any American his honor to be classed with such a man.

In Greece there were two kinds of servants. First, “those who through poverty were forced to serve for wages, being otherwise freeborn citizens, but by reason of their poverty, had no suffrage in public affairs.

The second sort were wholly in the power and at the disposal of their lords – “who had as good a title to them as to their land and estates, a considerable part of which they were esteemed. They were wholly at their command to be employed as they saw convenient, in the worst and most wretched drudgeries – and to be used at their discretion, pinched, staved, beaten, tormented, and that in most places without any appeal to superior power, and punished with death itself. 28

“And what most of all enhanced the misery of their condition was that they had no hopes of bettering it while they lived – and all the inheritance they could leave their children, was the possession of their parents’ miseries and a condition scarce any way better than that of beasts.”

They had a peculiar form after which they cut their hair and their clothes – for it was accounted an insupportable piece of impudence for a servant to wear his hair and his clothes like a freeman. A freeman’s coat had two sleeves, a slave’s but one. It was also attempted once in Rome to “discriminate the slaves by a peculiar habit, but it was justly apprehended that there might be some danger in acquainting them with their own numbers.” – Gib. Rom. Emp. The original is much stronger. “Quantum periculi imminiret, si servi nostril numerare nos coepissent.” How much danger would there be if our servants should begin to number us. – Seneca de Clementia. Lib. 1. Cap. 24.

They were not allowed to have the same names, as the free born citizens – “they were usually called after the names of their native countries, as Λυδος or Συρος, if born in Lydia or Syria. The most common slave names in Athens were Geta, and Davus, because their slaves were taken or capurted from among the Getes or Davi.” – Strabo.

These slaves were not colored as our Africans – but of the same color with the Greeks and Romans themselves. And many of them were men of splendid talents. This appears from the writings of some of them after they had acquired their liberty Aesop, the author of the celebrated Fables, Alcman the poet, and Epictetus the famous moralist, were all of them, once servants.

They “also branded their slaves. This was done by burning the part with a red hot iron, marked with certain letters. Then pouring ink into the furrows, that the inscription might be more conspicuous. They were usually marked in the forehead as being most visible. The design of this was, in case they would run away they might be known.” – Potter on the Civil Government of Athens.

“The Helots were so called from Helos, a town in Laconia, conquered by the Spartans, who made all the inhabitants prisoners of war, and reduced them into the condition of slaves.” – Strabo, lib. 8 Harpocrat.

We have room to describe the Κρυπτια or ambuscade, only about their treatment of their slaves. – The Κρυπτια “was an ordinance by which they had the care of the free Spartan youth, despatched privately some of the ablest of them into the country from time to time armed only with daggers, and taking a little necessary provision with them; and in the day time concealed 29 themselves in the thickets and clefts, and at night rushed out upon the Helots and murdered all they could light upon. – Sometimes the fell upon them by day at work in the field, and killed them in cold blood.” – Plut.

And Thucydides, in his history Pelopon. Bel. says, on one occasion “they selected about 2000 of such as were most distinguished for their courage, and pretended that they were going to set them at liberty, for some good services they had rendered. They were crowned by proclamation, which is a token of being set free, and led about to all the temples in token of honor. Then they suddenly disappeared, and no man, either then or since, could tell how they came to their death.”

Many a slave has come to a secret and unseen death. Yet not unseen as to God. I think the inference is irresistible that those 2000 stout, robust Helots were surely murdered, because their masters feared they would rise up – and perhaps join their enemies in war.

The same fears drove the Egyptians to similar excesses in cruelty toward the Hebrew slaves.

The treatment of the Spartans towards the Helots was cruel beyond what almost any other heathen nation practiced towards their slaves. They were obliged to wear dog’s skin bonnets, and sheep skin vests. And once a day they received a certain number of stripes, merely lest they should forget that they were slaves. And to crown all they were constantly liable to the cryptia, whenever the peace officers thought the good of the state required it, or if they suspected them of plotting or planning about their liberties.

Aristotle says, that the Ephori, 30 as soon as elected into their office, declared war against the Helots, that they might be massacred (if the state required it) under a pretense of law.

It was the case not only in Greece, but in Rome and in all countries where forced slavery has existed, that slaves were constantly and cruelly oppressed merely through fear that they would rise up against the government and effect their own liberties.

Gibbon, in his Roman Empire, speaking of the slaves of Rome, says, “they consisted for the most part of barbarian captives, taken in thousands by the chance of war, and purchased at a vile price. 31 And having before been accustomed to a life of independence, they were always impatient to break their fetters and revenge themselves on their oppressors. Against such internal enemies, whose desperate insurrections had more than once reduced the public to the brink of destruction, the most severe regulations and the most cruel treatment seemed almost justified by the great law of self preservation. After a time, under the edicts of the emperors Adrian and the Antonies, projection of the laws was extended to the most abject part of mankind. The jurisdiction of life and death over the slaves, a power long exercised and often abused, was taken out of private hands and reserved to the magistrates alone. The subterraneous prisons were abolished, &c.

Gibbon says that the slaves in the Roman Empire, who were “valued as property,” were numerous beyond description. Phny, in his Nat. Hist. lib. 83. And Athenaeus in his Deipnosophist, lib. 6. p. 272. Particularly the latter, boldly asserts that he knew very many (παμπολλοι) Romans, who possessed 10 and even 20,000 slaves.

He also asserts that Rome had under her government at that time 120,000,000 of souls, forming “the numerous society that has never been united under the same system of government.” – Now what shall we think, when he asserts, that the number of slaves were at least equal in number to the free inhabitants of the Roman world! And if we have understood him right, his inference is that there must have been at least 20,000,000 of slaves in Rome.

Slavery most likely had its origin from the ruthless spirit of war. Justinian says the right of making slaves is esteemed a right of nations, and follows by jure gentium, as a natural consequence of captivity in war. “Jure gentium servi nostril sunt, qui ab hostibus capiuntur.” – Justinian, lib. i. 5.

This is the first origin of the right of slavery, as assigned by Justinian. Inst. 1, 3. 4. Whence slaves were called by the latins, mancipia, quasi manu capti.

And not uynlikely that Nimrod was among the first, who established the barbarous custom of transforming captives in war into slaves.

“Proud Nimrod first the bloody chace began,
“A mighty hunter, and his prey was man.”
POPE.

As far back before the Christian era as we have been able to go through history, we find three kinds of servitude p0ractised. First. From poverty, whereby men being unable to subsist of themselves, and perhaps deeply in debt, were forced to part with their freedom, and yield themselves servants to such as were willing to maintain them, or sell their bodies to pay in service what they could not do in money. Secondly, vast numbers were reduced to slavery, being captured in war – this barbarous custom seems to have prevailed, till done away by the Christian Religion. Thirdly, by the sheer hellishness of those who traded in slaves – stealing them from weak and ignorant nations – carrying them a distance and then selling them. The Scriptures early recognize this kind of villainy. Aristophanes says the Thessalians were notorious for it. And this accounts for the fact of the apostle Paul’s writing against man-stealers, in his letters to the churches in that quarter. – Timothy had labored a great deal with Paul among the Thessalians.

I trust the day is not far off, when this abominable traffic, by the united exertions of Christian nations will be declared piracy throughout the world. – The thing that above all others surprises me is, that England and America, two nations where Christianity is so far and so gloriously advanced should have kept such a fearful number of immortal beings in slavery so long – America more than a million and a half, and England 800,000 near a million, in her colonies.

 


Endnotes

1. At Heliopolis they had an ox consecrated to the sun and called it i.e. the ox, Mnevis – at Memphis they maintained another, named Apis, dedicated to the moon, &c.

2. They were not afraid of female slaves however numerous. But Josephus assigns another reason for their putting the male children to death, viz. – “One of their scribes or magi (to whose judgment the people in general paid a most implicit deference) informing the king that about an Hebrew male child would be born, who should humble the power of the Egyptians and Egyptians and exalt that of the Israelites, to so great a degree as to acquire immortal honor; Pharaoh alarmed instantly issued his royal edict, that all male children, henceforward born to the Israelites, should be immediately cast into the river and drowned; and annexed the penalty of death to the whole family, that would dare to evade the edict. He adds also that the calamity of the Hebrews, on this occasion, was great beyond description: not only as it subjected them to the loss of their children and in some degree rendered them accessary to their death, but as it must eventually have tended to the extinction of their race.” Ant. Jud. Lib. 2nd.

3. Josephus says, “in his childhood Moses gave proofs of knowledge far superior to his years, and so eminent were his mental abilities, and personal attractions, that he was the admiration of all who beheld him. And that Thermutis, Pharaoh’s daughter, having no issue, adopted him as her heir, and presented him to the king her father with this address, ‘I have trained up an infant, as singular for his genius, as the symmetry of his person; and having miraculously received him from the river, to which he was committed, am determined to adopt him my son, and establish him as thy successor on the throne of Egypt.’ Moses was therefore educated under the immediate care of the princess. Ant. Jud. Lib. 2 chap 9.

4. The Egyptians notwithstanding the important services rendered so lately by Moses at the head of their armies in the total defeat of the Ethiopian enemies, could not suppress the envy and hatred they had already imbibed.
And fearful that he would assume to great a power to the injury of their country, and aggrandizement of his own people, prosecuted a design of encompassing his death. And to this end accused him of murder before the king.
Moses apprized of their design withdrew from the army, and to elude the soldiers posted in the road to intercept him, directed his flight through the deserts and encountered the greatest difficulties – till he arrived at the city of the Midianites.” Joseph. Ant. Jud. Lib. 2

5. Exod. i. 11, and they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Ramses. The Septuagint adds ϰαι Ων ἡ εςτιν Ἡλιουπολις, and On, which is Heliopolis, i.e. the city of the sun.
Josephus says, one way by which they oppressed them was “by making them cut trenches to carry off the river Nile in small streams encompassing the city with walls, raising fortifications and banks to prevent any damage that might arise from inundations. And the stupendous pyramids, monuments of Egyptian folly, which remain to this day were raised by the art and labor of our nation, which was subjected to Egyptian vassalage, for the space of 400 years.” Antiq. Lib. 3 chap 9.
Dr. Scott’s objection to the pyramids being the work of the Hebrew slaves, because they are built of hewn stone, and the Hebrews were employed in making brick, is groundless; their making brick was not their only hard bondage. It consisted also “in all manner of hard service in the field or without.” Why making brick should form so prominent and item in the narrative of their bondage, most likely is, that their work consisted pretty much in building cities. Manetho, the Egyptian historian says, The Israelites labored in stone quarries εν ταις λατομιαις, in Lapicidinis. And Pliny says, they were built by the kings of Egypt to keep the rabble or common people from being idle. Pyramidum faciendum causâ Regibus Egypti, nè plebs esset otiose. Plin. 36. 12. Built by whom they may, they are certainly living monuments of the most amazing folly and oppression of the tyrants that projected them. And it is pretty certain they must have been built in a very unequal state of society: of consummate oppression on one part, and cruel bondage on the other. If it be true, according to the generally received opinion, that they were designed to be sepulchers for the kings of Egypt; the annals of history don’t furnish another equal instance of the pride of selfishness.
“The height of the large pyramid is definitively ascertained to be 600 feet – length at the base 700. Its pinnacle is about 30 yards square. The French Savans once dined there, i.e. on the pinnacle. And the names of Bruce, Algernon Sidney, Volney and others are carved on the stones there. The view from the pinnacle is frightfully barren an immeasurable waste of desert; interrupted only by the narrow flat of cultivated land, which separates the deserts of Lybia and Arabia.” Sir Robert Wilson, p. 137.

6. Though Egypt on one or two occasions, before Ezekiel’s withering prophecy took hold of her, seemed to rise up to something among the nations, yet it was only momentary. She was only a more alluring bait to some envious nation, which immediately stripped her of all her glory.

7. Vide 29, 30, 31, 32. Chapters of Ezekiel. Surely no slave holding nation can read such passages as these without serious reflection – “I will water with thy blood the land wherein thou swimmest – I will make many people amazed at thee, and their kings shall be horribly afraid.”

8. If any person doubts this description of Egypt’s present stat, let him read their degradation and misery as described by protestant missionaries now traveling through it.

9. He (Nebuchadnezzar) had no wages nor his army for the service that he had served. Therefore I have given him the land of Egypt; for his labor wherewith he served. Because they wrought for me saith the Lord God. Ezek. 29. 30.

10. The last census taken by virtue of an act of Congress of March 3, 1821, gives us 1,531,436 slaves in America.

11. Ingersoll’s Oration before the Amer. Phil. Soc.

12. Slavery according to a statement made by an intelligent gentleman from that state, has reduced the price of land in Virginia to about one fourth of that in Pennsylvania. So that the slave holders there are convinced that if they would remove off the soil the entire slave population, and in the room of it introduce and industrious white population, so that the land might rise to its proper value, they would be richer without their slaves than with them.

13. Ingersoll’s Orat.

14. Not only in St. Domingo is this seen, but in almost all countries of slavery. How often had the deep plots of the slaves of Greece and Rome, all but subverted these governments? “Athenaeus reports that in Attica the slaves once seized upon the castle of Sunium, and committed ravages throughout the country – and at the same time made their second insurrection in Sicily; for in that country they frequently rebelled; but were at last reduced with great slaughter; no less than a million of them being put to death.” Athenaeus Deipn. Lib. 2
Many efforts were made says Potter, in his Archeol. Graec. To extricate themselves from their cruel oppression, to the great danger and almost utter subversion of those countries where they lived – frequently in time of war “deserting to the enemy; but if taken again, they were tied to a wheel and unmercifully tortured.”
Who is ignorant of the horrid massacres and brutal scenes committed by the slaves in Rome, under Marius. The moment the exiled Marius set his foot on the Roman soil, he proclaimed liberty to the slaves. They ran away from their masters, and joined him in droves – and with these making a large part of his army he entered Rome. “And at the least word or sign given by Marius the slaves murdered all whom he marked for destruction. And after they had murdered the masters of families, they would in the most brutal manner indulge their passions with their wives and daughters.” – Plutarch in C. Mar.
About 467 years before Christ, “there happened the greatest earthquake at Sparta that was ever heard of. The ground in many parts of Laconia was cleft in sunder. The whole city was dismantled except five houses. A great part of Lacedaemon was overthrown about 20,000 Spartans perished.”
The Helots availing themselves of this Providence, determined to murder all the survivors and obtaining their freedom. But the peace officers discovering the plot, gave the alarm. The trumpets were blown, which was the signal to arms. And all run to arms in a moment. “And this was the only thing, which at that time save Sparta. For the Helots flocked together on all sides from the fields, to dispatch such as had escaped the earthquake.” – Plut. In Cimon. vit.
Aelian says, it was the common opinion of Greece, that this very earthquake was a judgment from heaven upon the Spartans, for treating these Helots with such inhumanity. – Hist. Var. lib. 3.
For their cruelty, see ϰρυπτια, ambuscade in the appendix.
And God only knows what would have been the effect, if the plot recently formed in Charleston, South Carolina had been completely carried into effect.

15. In one of the slave states there is a law, which operates against Sabbath Schools. And some pious females were told that if they continued teaching the blacks in the Sabbath school, they would subject themselves to the penalty of the law; which was a fine, and whipping on the bare back they modestly replied, we must go on; and will pay the fine, and if any person can be found to do the whipping, we will endure it.

16. A minister of Christ related to me this fact. An old black woman came to him once in great distress of soul. He conversed with her and asked her if she never had any convictions when she was young. She said no – once she asked her master to let her go to meeting – he said she was a fool – she need not go to meeting – she had no soul – that black people had no souls – and I never believed I had a soul, said she till I heard you preach.

17. Quere. Can it be called a more eligible state if less agreeable to themselves? To deprive a human being by force of his liberty, is to deprive him of all that is near and dear to him on earth – to deprive him of that for which nothing can compensate.

18. There is an interesting history related in the Christian Advocate for July 1825, of Prince Moro, a Mahomedan from Tombuctoo, in the interior of Africa, that will remarkably illustrate this case.

19. ‘They are crowded to closely into the holds and between the decks of vessels that they have scarcely room to lie down, and not room to sit up in an erect posture: the men at the same time fastened together with irons by two and two; and all this in the most sultry climate. The consequence is, that the most dangerous and fatal diseases are soon bred among them, and vast numbers perish in the voyage. Other in dread of that slavery which is before them, and in distress and despair from the loss of their parents, children, husbands, wives, and native country, all left behind, starve themselves to death, or throw themselves into the ocean. Those refusing to eat, are tortured by live coals of fire put to their mouths.
By these means according to the common computation, 25,000 out of every 100,000 which are annually exported from Africa to America, i.e. ¼, die on the passage. Another 25,000 die in the seasoning, as it is called i.e. within two years after they arrive in America. This is owing to the scantiness and badness of their food – dejection of their spirits, being sold apart as to husbands and wives, &c. after they come here – mortification and despair – and their unaccustomedness to labor, being bred in a country spontaneously yielding the necessaries of life.’
See Dr. Jonathan Edwards’s sermon on the injustice and impolicy of the Slave Trade, preached before the Connecticut Society for the Promotion of Freedom, and for the Relief of Persons unlawfully holden in Bondage, Sept. 15, 1791, and recently republished in Boston.

20. “In regard to what is called the constitutional question whether the United States have power to establish such a colony, we know not in what it differs from the question whether they have power to put their own laws in execution or take the only efficient measures to suppress an evil, whose contagion is daily spreading, and which threatens a more serious calamity than any other to our national prosperity, if not to our political being.
It would be strange indeed, if it should be made plain to our Legislators, that the constitution stops their ears to the cries of humanity- ties their hands from the work of benevolence, and compels them to nurture the seeds and foster the growth of their own destruction. And it comes to this if they have not the power to establish a colony abroad to receive the free blacks; for we hold it to be a position, as firmly grounded as any law in nature or society, that our black population can never be drawn off, except through the medium of such an establishment; let us then denominate it a Colony or Territory, if we will, then it will not differ from our other Territories, except in being separated from the confederated states, by an ocean instead of a river or a lake.
A voyage from Washington to Mensurado can be performed as quick as to the Falls of St. Anthony or the Saut of St. Mary and much quicker than to the Mandan Villages.” – Gen. Harper.

21. The Sierra Leone Colony was started by a private company, and originated thus: ‘At the close of the American Revolution, the negroes who had run away from their masters and joined the British, were dispersed in the Bahama Islands and Nova Scotia, where the white loyalists took refuge. Some found their way to London. Four hundred of these were shipped by their own consent to Sierra Leone, in 1787, the black settlers in Nova Scotia became dissatisfied with the rigorous treatment they received and complained to the British ministry. Emigration was thought the only remedy, and 1200 accepted the invitation to be transported at the expense of the government to Sierra Leone, where they arrived 5 years after those from London.’
The Maroons from Jamaica did not arrive till 1805. – The land for the colony was obtained by purchase of the natives.
That colony now consists of more than 12,000 inhabitants. Nearly ten thousand of whom are recaptured Africans, rescued from a cruel bondage, whichever would otherwise have been entailed on them and their posterity forever. The colony is still growing in agriculture, commerce, education, and all the blessing of Christianity. Already their native missionaries are preaching the gospel to the surrounding tribes.

22. From March 25, 1584, the date of Sir Walter Raleigh’s paten, obtained from Queen Elizabeth for lands in this country, down to 1610, so multiplied were the disasters that befell the colonists, attempting to colonize this country or that part of now called Virginia, that they agreed to abandon all farther attempts, after more than 20 years waste in men and money. When at last reinforcement came to them “they found the colony, which at the time of Capt. Smith’s departure, eight months before consisted of 500 souls, now reduced to 60, and those few in so distressed a situation, that with one voice they resolved to return to England. And for its purpose on the 7th of June 1610, (16 years from their first attempt,) the whole colony repaired on board their vessels broke up the settlement, and and sailed down the river on their way to their native country. On their way down the river, they met Lord De la War, coming with another reinforcement, who persuaded them to return to James Town. From this time we date the effectual settlement of Virginia.”

23. There seems no reason to suppose Western Africa more unhealthy than other parts of the world, to which people have emigrated for centuries, and where they have built cities, established governments, and grown into empires.
On speaking of the tracts of country around Cape Monte, and Cape Mensurado Dr. Leyden says, “these districts have been described by Des Marchais, Villault, Philips, Atkins, Bosman, and smith, as pleasant salubrious and fertile.”
Cape Mensurado is a detached mountain steep and elevated towards the sea, with a gentle declivity on the land side. And no man is better acquainted with the coast of Africa probably than Sir George R. Collier, who has been the chief commander of the British squadron stationed there for three of four years. In his 2nd Report to the British Government respecting the settlements in Africa, he thus alludes to the attempt to form a Colony at Sherbro. “Had America, who excepting Great Britain appears more in earnest than any other nation, established her lately attempted settlement at Cape Mesurado, or even at Cape Monte, she would at least have secured a more healthful and by far a more convenient spot, than her late ill-chosen one in the Serbro. And an establishment by America, either at Cape Monte or Cape Mesurado, would have afforded to the friends of humanity the most rational hopes, that in the immediate neighborhood of the American Colony, the demand for slaves would have been checked, and then a settlement would have been formed useful to the purposes of civilization. And from its actual though distant intercourse with the frontiers of Gaman and Ashantee, would have opened the line of lucrative speculation to the American merchant.”
These remarks are from a person who had the best opportunities for knowing – repeatedly traversed the coast, and whose business it was to supply his government with accurate knowledge. – Gen. Harper.

24. “Let the Navies of the world be combined and line the coast of Africa from Tangier to Babelmandel, and even make it certain that not a slave shall escape; this would not be abolishing the slave trade. The spirit would still lurk in the vitals of one hundred and fifty millions of people, and continue to show itself in all the miseries of intestine wars, plunderings, misrule in government, &c. &c.” – Gen. Harper.
They must be Christianized. This and this alone will put an end to it.

25. “There is no State in the union where a negro or mulatto can ever hope to be a member of Congress, a judge or even a justice of the peace; to sit down at the same table with respectable whites, or mix freely in their society” – Gen. Harper’s Advantages of Colonization in Africa.

26. It is “remarkable that the sharks in great numbers always hover round a slave ship.” What can this be for, unless to feed upon the slaves thrown overboard. Oh what a testimony will the sea give against such inhuman monsters, in that day when she shall give up her dead for judgment! And what an item will this traffic form in that great day???

27. Λεςχαι, ὰ, λεςχηνευω. Sermocinor, confabulor. Whether these leshai were taverns or coffee houses, or what, we do not exactly know. The etymology of the word seems to say they were something of that kind.

28. In the city of Athens they were treated with rather more humanity: for if grievously oppressed they were allowed to fly for sanctuary to Theseus’s temple, whence to force them was an act of sacrilege.

29. Κρυπτια, ὰ ϰρυπτω, Tego, Occulto, i. e. lie concealed or in ambush.

30. The Edphori, were a kind of tribunes of the people five in number like the Quinqueviri, in the Republic of Carthage, annually elected, by and from among the people, and seem to have been “intended as a check upon the senate and the kings.” – Aristot. Polit. Lib. V.
Their authority though well designed at first came at length to be in a manner boundless. The unanimous voice of the college of the Ephoria could declare war – make peace – treat with foreign princes – and they had a particular jurisdiction over the poor Helots – declaring war against them the moment they entered upon their office: they could at any moment, under the appearance of law, if they thought the public good required it, cut off any number of them they pleased. And in this way alone can we account for that strange fact; that 400,000 men should be kept groaning for ages under 30,000. For such was the comparative number of slaves and citizens in Attica. – Pot. Archaeol. Graec.

31. In the camp of Lucullus, an ox sold for a drachma, and a slave for 4 drachma, or about 3 shillings. – Plut. In. Lucullus.

* Originally Posted: December 25, 2016

Proclamation – Fasting Humiliation and Prayer – 1887, Massachusetts

Oliver Ames (1831-1895) was governor of Massachusetts from 1887-1890. This proclamation was issued on March 2, 1887 for a day of Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer to be held on April 7, 1887. (See the 1887 Massachusetts Thanksgiving Proclamation here.)


Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

By His Excellency

Oliver Ames, Governor.

A Proclamation for a Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer. 

In conformity to a good ancient custom, established by our fathers, continued without interruption to the present time, and sanctioned by law,

With the advice and consent of the Executive Council, I hereby designate Thursday, the seventh day of April next, to be observed by the people of Massachusetts as the annual Fast Day.

I earnestly invite our people, humbly recognizing our dependence on our Heavenly Father, to keep the day as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer.

Given at the Council Chamber in Boston, this second day  of March, in the year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighty-seven, and of the Independence of the  United States of America the one hundred and eleventh.

Oliver Ames.

By His Excellency the Governor, with the Advice and Consent of the Council.

Henry R. Pierce, Secretary.

God Save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Proclamation – Thanksgiving – 1888, Massachusetts

This proclamation was issued on October 17, 1888 for a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to be held on November 29, 1888.


Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
By His Excellency
Oliver Ames,
Governor:
A Proclamation
for a Day of Public
Thanksgiving and Praise.

In the olden time our pious ancestors, surrounded by dangers that imperiled their existence, annually devoted a day to the giving of public thanks to Almighty God that He had spared their lives and granted them so many mercies.

This custom has continued to the present time, binding the past to the present as with a golden thread. In conformity with this revered usage, and in recognition that the people of this Commonwealth have enjoyed another year of peace, prosperity, and happiness, I hereby appoint, with the advice and consent of the Council, THURSDAY, the twenty-ninth day of November next, to be the annual Thanksgiving Day,

“whom from East and from West,

From North and from South come the pilgrim and guest,

When the gray-haired, New Englander sees round his board

The old broken links of affection restored.”

Putting aside on that day our usual cares and occupations, as we assemble in our cautionary places of public worship or in the privacy of our homes, let us be thankful to Almighty God for His many blessings.

And may our thankfulness be so devoid of selfishness that we remember the erring, the unfortunate, and the suffering, and from our abundance contribute to their comfort and happiness.

Given at the Council Chamber, in Boston this seventeenth day of October, in their year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighty-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and thirteenth.

Oliver Ames.

By His Excellency the Governor, with the Advice and Consent of the Council.
{Henry B. Pierce}, Secretary.

God save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Sermon – Fasting – 1812


William Ellery Channing1 (1780-1842) was the grandson of one of the Newport Sons of Liberty, John Channing. William graduated from Harvard in 1798 and became regent at Harvard in 1801. He was ordained a preacher in 1802 and worked towards the 1816 establishment of the Harvard Divinity School. This sermon was preached by Channing on the national fast day proclaimed by President James Madison2 for August 20, 1812.


sermon-fasting-1812-4

A
SERMON,
PREACHED IN BOSTON, AUGUST 20, 1812,
THE DAY OF
HUMILIATION AND PRAYER,
APPOINTED BY THE
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,
IN CONSEQUENCE OF
THE DECLARATION OF WAR AGAINST GREAT BRITAIN
BY WILLIAM ELLERY CHANNING,
MINISTER OF THE CHURCH IN FEDERAL STREET,

THE author is not insensible to the many imperfections of this discourse, and he laments that his engagements have not permitted him to render it less unworthy the favourable opinion, which was expressed by those who heard it. He has consented to publish it, because he considers it closely connected with his late Fast Sermon3, and because he wishes to express with greater precision some important sentiments, which were suggested in that discourse, but to which he was not able to give the time and attention which they deserve.

 

ACTS XXIV. 16.Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward man.

A CONSCIENCE void of offence is an inestimable blessing. We need it in prosperity—for no condition however prosperous can give happiness, if our own hearts reproach us, if remorse mingle itself with our recollections of the past, and the dread of retribution with our anticipations of futurity. We peculiarly need it in adverse and perilous times—for it has power to impart serenity, firmness, and hope, when every outward event conspires to depress and overwhelm us. In periods of public calamity, happy is that man, whose conscience approves him, who carries with him the supporting reflection, that he has been faithful in the sphere assigned him by Providence; that he has labored, according to his power, to avert the ruin, which threatens his country; that he has not hastened or aggravated national suffering, by abusing the rights of a citizen, or violating the duties of a man and a Christian. To aid you in securing to yourselves, this support and consolation, I propose to point out to you some of the duties, which belong to the period, in which we live, particularly those duties, which grow out of our relations to our rulers and our country. My views of our political state, and of the war, in which we are engaged, I have lately unfolded, and shall not now repeat them. The question is, what conduct belongs to a good citizen, in our present trying condition.

Our condition induces me to begin, with urging on you the important duty of cherishing respect for civil government, and a spirit of obedience to the laws. I am sensible, that many whom I address consider themselves called to oppose the measures of our present rulers. Let this opposition breathe nothing of insubordination, impatience of authority, or love of change. It becomes you to remember, that government is one of the noblest and most valuable of human institutions—essential to the improvement of our nature—the spring of industry and enterprise—the shield of property and life—the refuge of the weak and oppressed. It is to the security which laws afford, that we owe the successful application of human powers—the progress of the useful and elegant arts—the splendor of the city—and the beauties of the cultivated field. Government, I know, has often been perverted by ambition and other selfish passions; but it still holds a distinguished rank among those institutions, by which man has been rescued from barbarism, and conducted through the ruder stages of society, to the habits of order, the diversified employments and dependences, the refined and softened manners, the intellectual, moral and religious improvements of the age in which we live. We are bound to respect government, as the foundation of the social edifice—the great security for social happiness; and we should carefully cherish that habit of obedience to the laws, without which the ends of government cannot be accomplished. All wanton opposition to the constituted authorities; all censures of rulers, originating in a factious, aspiring, or envious spirit; all unwillingness to submit to laws, which are directed to the welfare of the community, should be rebuked and repressed by the frown of public indignation.

It is impossible, that all the regulations of the wisest government should equally benefit every individual of the society; and sometimes the general good will demand arrangements, which will interfere with the interests of particular members, or classes of the nation. In such circumstances, the individual is bound to regard the inconveniences under which he suffers, as inseparable from a social, connected state; as the result of the condition, which God has appointed; and not as the fault of his rulers; and he should cheerfully submit, recollecting how much more he receives from the community, than he is called to resign to it. Disaffection towards a government, which is administered with a view to the general welfare, is a great crime; and such opposition, even to a bad government, as infuses into subjects a restless temper, an unwillingness to yield to wholesome and necessary restraint, deserves no better name. In proportion as a people want a conscientious regard to the laws, and are prepared to evade them by fraud, or to arrest their operation by violence; in that proportion they need and deserve an arbitrary government, strong enough to crush at a blow every symptom of opposition.

These general remarks on the duty of submission are by no means designed to teach, that rulers are never to be opposed. Because I wish to guard you against that turbulent and discontented spirit, which precipitates free communities into anarchy, and thus prepares them for chains, you will not consider me as asserting, that all opposition to government, whatever be the occasion, or whatever the form, is to be branded as a crime. Subjects have rights as well as duties. Government is instituted for one and a single end,—the benefit of the governed; the protection, peace, and welfare of society; and when it is perverted to other objects, to purposes of avarice, ambition, or party spirit, we are authorized and even bound to make such opposition, as is suited to restore it to its proper end, to render it as pure as the imperfection of our nature and state will admit.

The Scriptures have sometimes been thought to enjoin an unqualified, unlimited subjection to the “higher powers;” but if we attend, we shall see that the injunction is founded on the principle, that these powers are “ministers of God for good,” are a terror to evil doers, and an encouragement to those that do well. When a government wants this character, when it becomes an engine of oppression, the scriptures enjoin subjection no longer. Expedience may make it our duty to obey, but the government has lost its rights; it can no longer urge its claims as an ordinance of God.

There have, indeed, been times, when sovereigns have demanded subjection as an unalienable right, and when the superstition of subjects has surrounded them with a mysterious sanctity, with a majesty approaching the divine. But these days have past. Under the robe of office, we, my hearers, have learned to see a man, like ourselves; invested with dignity for the benefit of his fellows; most honourable, most worthy our reverence, when, in the spirit of the universal sovereign, he employs power to execute justice and dispense blessings; and most degraded and worthless amidst all his pomp, when he forgets that his power is a trust, and prostitutes it to selfish ends. There is no such sacredness in rulers, as forbids scrutiny into their motives, or condemnation of their conduct. If indeed elevation of rank gave elevation to the character, implicit confidence in government would be our duty. But, rulers, when they leave the common walks of life, leave none of their imperfections behind them. Power has even a tendency to corrupt—to feed an irregular ambition—to harden the heart against the claims and sufferings of mankind. Rulers have generally seemed to be raised too high for sympathy, and have often sported with human rights and happiness, for the purpose of extending, or displaying their power. Rulers are not to be viewed with a malignant jealousy; but they ought to be inspected with a watchful, undazzled eye. Their virtues and services are to be rewarded with generous praise; and their crimes, and arts, and usurpations should be exposed with a fearless sincerity, to the indignation of an injured people. We are not to be factious, and neither are we to be servile. With a sincere disposition to obey, should be united a firm purpose not to be oppressed.

So far is an existing government from being clothed with an inviolable sanctity, that subjects, in particular circumstances, acquire the right, not only of remonstrating, but of employing force for its destruction. This right accrues to subjects, when a government wantonly disregards the ends of social union; when it threatens the subversion of national liberty and happiness; when it makes encroachments which, if endured, will lead to the prostration of all the rights of a people; and when no relief but force remains to the suffering community. This however is a right which cannot be exercised with too much deliberation. Subjects should very slowly yield to the conviction, that rulers have that settled hostility to their interests, which authorizes violence. They must not indulge a spirit of complaint, and suffer their passions to pronounce on their wrongs. They must remember, that the best government will partake the imperfection of all human institutions, and that if the ends of the social compact are in any tolerable degree accomplished, they will be mad indeed to hazard the blessings they possess, for the possibility of greater good. They should weigh, not only the evils they suffer, but the evils of resistance; the tumultuous state in which an appeal to force may leave them; the danger of dissolving instead of improving society. They should anxiously inquire, if no methods, more peaceful, will bring them relief.

It becomes us to rejoice, my friends, that we live under a constitution, one great design of which is—to prevent the necessity of appealing to force—to give the people an opportunity of removing, without violence, those rulers from whom they suffer, or apprehend an invasion of rights. This is one of the principal advantages of a republic over an absolute government. In a despotism, there is no remedy for oppression but force. The subject cannot influence public affairs, but by convulsing the state. With us, rulers may be changed, without the horrors of a revolution. A republican government secures to its subjects this immense privilege, by confirming to them two most important rights; the right of suffrage, and the right of discussing with freedom the conduct of rulers. The value of these rights in affording a peaceful method of redressing public grievances cannot be expressed, and the duty of maintaining them, of never surrendering them, cannot be too strongly urged: resign either of these, and no way of escape from oppression will be left you, but civil commotion.

From the important place which these rights hold in a republican government, you should consider yourselves bound to support every citizen in the lawful exercise of them, especially when an attempt is made to wrest them from any by violent means. At the present time, it is particularly your duty to guard, with jealousy, the right of expressing with freedom your honest convictions respecting the measures of your rulers. Without this, the right of election is not worth possessing. If public abuses may not be exposed, their authors will never be driven from power. Freedom of opinion, of speech, and of the press, is our most valuable privilege—the very soul of republican institutions—the safeguard of all other rights. We may learn its value if we reflect, that there is nothing which tyrants so much dread. They anxiously fetter the press, they scatter spies through society, that the murmurs, anguish, and indignation of their oppressed subjects may be smothered in their own breasts; that no generous sentiment may be nourished by sympathy and mutual confidence. Nothing awakens and improves men so much as free communication of thoughts and feelings. Nothing can give to public sentiment that correctness, which is essential to the prosperity of a commonwealth, but the free circulation of truth, from the lips and pens of the wise and good. If such men abandon the right of free discussion—if, awed by threats, they suppress their convictions—if rulers succeed in silencing every voice, but that which approves them—if nothing reaches the people, but what will lend support to men in power—farewell to liberty. The form of a free government may remain, but the life, the soul, the substance is fled.

If these remarks be just, nothing ought to excite greater indignation and alarm, than the attempts, which have lately been made to destroy the freedom of the press. We have lived to hear the strange doctrine, that to expose the measures of rulers is treason; and we have lived to see this doctrine carried into practice. We have seen a savage populace excited and let loose on men, whose crime consisted in bearing testimony against the present war; and let loose, not merely to waste their property, but to shed their blood, to tear them from the refuge which the magistrate had afforded, to slaughter them with every circumstance of cruelty and ignominy. I do not intend to describe that night of horrors, to show to you citizens, who had fought the battles of their country, beaten to the earth, trodden under foot, mangled, dishonoured!—What ought to alarm us even more than this dreadful scene is, the disposition which has been discovered to extenuate these atrocities, to speak of this bloody outrage as a mode of punishment, irregular indeed, yet mitigated by the guilt of those who presumed to arraign their rulers. In this and in other language, there have been symptoms of a purpose, to terrify into silence those, who disapprove the calamitous war, under which we suffer; to deprive us of the only method, which is left, of obtaining a wiser and better government. The cry has been, that war is declared, and all opposition should therefore be hushed. A sentiment more unworthy of a free country can hardly be propagated. If this doctrine be admitted, rulers have only to declare war and, they are screened at once from scrutiny. At the very time when they have armies at command, when their patronage is most extended, and their power most formidable, not a word of warning, of censure, of alarm must be heard. The press, which is to expose inferior abuses, must not utter one rebuke, one indignant complaint, although our best interests, and most valuable rights are put to hazard, by an unnecessary war. Admit this doctrine, let rulers once know that by placing the country in a state of war, they place themselves beyond the only power they dread, the power of free discussion, and we may expect war without end. Our peace and all our interests require, that a different sentiment prevail. We should make our present and all future rulers feel, that there is no measure, for which they must render so solemn an account to their constituents, as for a declaration of war; that no measure will be so freely, so fully discussed; and that no administration can succeed, in persuading this people to exhaust their treasure and blood in supporting war, unless it be palpably necessary and just. In war then, as in peace, assert the freedom of speech and of the press. Cling to this, as the bulwark of all your rights and privileges.

But, my friends, I should not be faithful, were I only to call you to hold fast this freedom. I would still more earnestly exhort you not to abuse it. Its abuse may be as fatal to our country as its relinquishment. Every blessing may, by perversion, be changed into a curse, and this is peculiarly true of the press. If undirected, unrestrained by principle, the press, instead of enlightening, depraves the public mind; and, by its licentiousness, forges chains for itself and for the community. The right of free discussion is not the right of saying what we please, what our passions prompt; not the right of diffusing falsehood and evil principles.—Nothing is to be spoken or written but the truth, and truth is so to be expressed, that the bad passions of the community shall not be called forth, or at least shall not be unnecessarily excited. From what wretchedness would our country be saved, were these simple rules observed. On political subjects, there is less regard to truth, more of false colouring and exaggeration, than on any other. The influence of the press is very much diminished by its gross and frequent misrepresentations. Each party listens with distrust to the statements of the other and the consequence is, that the progress of truth is slow, and sometimes wholly obstructed. Whilst we encourage the free expression of opinion, let us unite in fixing the brand if infamy on falsehood and slander, wherever they originate; whatever be the cause they are designed to maintain.

But it is not enough that truth be told. It should be told for a good end; not to irritate but to convince; not to inflame the bad passions, but to sway the judgment and to awaken sentiments of patriotism. In this country, political discussion has decidedly an unhappy influence on the temper. Many talk and write for the simple purpose of wounding their opponents. There are, comparatively, few attempts to mollify. Those who have embraced error are confirmed, hardened in their principles, by the reproachful epithets, which are heaped upon them by their adversaries. I do not mean by this, that political discussion is to be conducted with a frigid tameness, that no sensibility is to be expressed, no indignation to be poured forth on wicked men and wicked deeds. But this I mean, that we should deliberately inquire, whether indignation be deserved, before we express it; and the object of expressing it should ever be, not to infuse ill-will, rancor, and fury into the minds of men, but to excite an enlightened and conscientious opposition to injurious measures. He who addresses his fellow citizens on political topics, should ever propose to impart correct principles, and to awaken pure and honourable feelings; and the press, when employed for other ends, is grossly perverted.

Every good man must mourn, that so much is continually spoken, written and published among us, for no other apparent end, than to gratify the malevolence of one party, by wounding the feelings of the opposite. The consequence is, that an alarming degree of irritation exists in our country. Fellow citizens burn with mutual hatred, and some are evidently ripe for outrage and violence. In this feverish state of the public mind, we are not to relinquish free discussion, but every man should feel the duty of speaking and writing with deliberation. It is the time to be firm without passion. No menace should be employed to provoke opponents—no defiance hurled—no language used which will, in any measure, justify he ferocious in appealing to force.

By this language I do not mean to suggest, that I anticipate scenes of violence and murder, such as have lately been exhibited in other parts of our land, as have made our hearts thrill with grief, indignation, and horror. I have too much confidence in the good principles and habits of this section of our country. I trust, that none of us shall live, to hear the yell of a murderous mob ringing through our city, to see our streets flowing with the blood of citizens, butchered by the hand of citizens. But, my friends, there is a violence in the passions of this community, which ought to give us some alarm; which ought to set us all on our guard, lest, by our rashness, and intemperate language, we gradually lead on to a tremendous convulsion.

The sum of my remarks is this. It is your duty to hold fast and to assert with firmness those truths and principles on which the welfare of your country seems to depend; but do this with calmness, with a love of peace, without ill will and revenge. Improve every opportunity of allaying animosities. Strive to make converts of those whom you think in error: do not address them, as if you wished to make them bitter enemies to yourselves and your cause. Discourage in decided and open language, tat rancor, malignity, and unfeeling abuse, which so often find their way into our public prints, and which only tend to increase the already alarming irritation of our country. Remember, that in proportion as a people become enslaved to their passions, they fall into the hands of the aspiring and unprincipled; and that corrupt government, which has an interest in deceiving the people, can desire nothing more favourable to their purposes, than a frenzied state of the public mind.

My friends, in this day of discord, let us cherish and breathe around us the benevolent spirit of Christianity. Let us reserve to ourselves this consolation, that we have added no fuel to the flames, no violence to the storms, which threaten to desolate our country. To Christian benevolence, let us add the higher duties of piety, a cheerful obedience and resignation to the will of our Creator. Thus living we shall not live in vain. In the most calamitous times, we shall bless those who are placed within our influence; we shall carry within us consciences void of offence; and we shall be able to look up to God, as our approving and protecting father, who, after appointing us the trials which we need, will grant us everlasting rest in heaven.


1 “Channing, William Ellery,” ed. Dumas Malone, Dictionary of American Biography (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1930), 4:4-7.
2 James Madison, Humiliation and Prayer Proclamation, August 20, 1812.
3 William Ellery Channing, A Sermon Preached in Boston July 23, 1812, the Day of the Publick Fast (Boston: Greenough & Stebbins, 1812).

Sermon – Fasting – 1810, Massachusetts


William Ellery Channing (1780-1842) was the grandson of one of the Newport Sons of Liberty, John Channing. William graduated from Harvard in 1798 and became regent at Harvard in 1801. He was ordained a preacher in 1802 and worked towards the 1816 establishment of the Harvard Divinity School. This sermon was preached by Channing on the annual Massachusetts fast day of April 5, 1810.


sermon-fasting-1810-massachusetts-3

A

SERMON,

PREACHED IN BOSTON,

APRIL 5, 1810,

THE DAY OF THE

PUBLIC FAST.

BY WILLIAM ELLERY CHANNING,

PASTOR OF THE CHURCH IN FEDERAL STREET.

THIS discourse was written without any view to publication, and I send it to the press not without reluctance and hesitation. But men, whom I love and venerate, have expressed a conviction, that it is suited to excite in some degree, that sense of our national danger, and that devotion to the public good, on which the safety of our country depends. I submit to their judgment; and I shall thank God from the heart, if their expectations are in any degree fulfilled.

Some of the sentiments, here expressed, have been derived from a late publication entitled, “A Letter on the genius and dispositions of the French Government,” a production abounding in vigorous thought and elevated feeling. This work carries within itself striking marks of authenticity and truth. One can hardly read it without the impression, that the author is describing, what he himself saw. His representations agree with the accounts of France, which I have received from other publications, and from gentlemen, who have lately returned from that country. I have often heard that the partialities of this author, when he visited Europe, were on the side of France. I have heard but one sentiment respecting the letter itself, that its statements are as correct, as they are solemn and affecting.

I have been led in this discourse to dwell on a very painful subject, the corruption of France and of her government. Some passages will be found to breathe an indignant spirit; but, I hope, it is an indignation originating in Christian benevolence. I hope that not one line is tinctured with malice or revenge. It is my earnest desire to cherish in myself, and to communicate to others, the universal good-will of my Lord and Saviour; to have my abhorrence of depravity mingled with pity and sorrow for the depraved.

I suppose that there are some minds, which will not readily receive all my representations. But where I cannot convince, I hope that I shall not irritate, for I have labored to avoid it; and I confidently trust, that no good man will accuse me of adding fuel to the fires of rage and discord, which threaten to consume our country.

W. E. C.

 

SERMON.

MATTHEW xvi. 3.

Can ye not discern the signs of the times?

IT is the design of a day of fasting to produce in a people a sense of their dependence on God; and a deep, penitent conviction of those sins, by which they have exposed themselves to his displeasure. This is a day on which it becomes us to contemplate our situation with seriousness; to inquire into our dangers; to ask ourselves whether we have not provoked divine judgments, and whether divine judgments are not hanging over us; and to implore with humble importunity the forgiveness and blessing of Him, whose word fixes the destinies of nations; whose good providence has been our refuge in the past, whose favour is our only hope for the future.

Perhaps, my friends, we have never before assembled on a day of fasting, when we have had such reason for apprehension and humiliation as at this time. The world is in tears. The fairest portions of the earth, the abodes of civilization and refinement, are laid waste. The storm of war and oppression is spreading its fury and desolation. We not only hear it at a distance; it approaches us, and threatens all we hold dear. Nation after nation is falling with a portentous sound; while the conqueror discovers no symptoms of being wearied with his work. It is not enough that so many thousands of victims have bled on the altar of his ambition. It is not enough that so many ancient thrones have fallen at his feet. Every new acquisition serves but to enlarge his views, and is regarded but as the pledge and promise of wider domination.

At this awful period well may we fear. The stoutest heart may be excused, if it trembles at the scenes, which open before us. On this day, when our sins and dangers as a people are the very objects, on which we ought to fix attention, my mind is irresistibly impelled to dwell on the judgments of God, which are abroad in the earth, and on the ground we have for apprehending, that these judgments, will visit us also. In discoursing on these subjects, I do not feel that I am departing from my province as a minister of Christ. As Christians, we ought to have a strong and lively sensibility to the miseries of the world in which we live, and especially to the miseries which threaten ourselves, and all whom we love. As Christians, we have the deepest concern in the present state of the world; for the interests of religion and morality, as well as national independence and prosperity, are threatened by the great enemy of mankind.

I have been led to select the words of the text on the present occasion, as it appears to me that the reproach, which they contain, applies strongly to this country. It may be said of us, as of the ancient Jews, that we do “not discern the signs of the times”;—that we are insensible to the peculiar character and features of the age, in which we live. I will not say, that the present age is as strongly marked or distinguished from all other ages, as that in which Jesus Christ appeared: but with that single exception, perhaps the present age is the most eventful period, the world has ever known. We live in times, which have no parallel in past ages; in times when the human character has almost assumed a new form; in times of peculiar calamity, of thick darkness, and almost of despair.—But to me it appears, that as a people we “do not discern the signs of the times;”—that we have no just impression of the awful, disastrous state of the world; and it is this insensibility which strikes me as one of the most alarming symptoms in our condition. The danger is so vast, so awful and so obvious, that the blindness, the indifference which prevail, argue infatuation, and give room for apprehension, that nothing can rouse us to those efforts, by which alone the danger can be averted.

Am I asked, what there is so peculiar and so tremendous in the times in which we live? My sentiments on this subject I shall now offer, I hope from pure motives, with the spirit of Christian benevolence, not wishing to force my views on others, but to excite serious, impartial attention to a subject, which almost overwhelms me with its solemnity and importance. Am I then asked, what there is so peculiar and so tremendous in our times?—I answer; In the very heart of Europe, in the centre of the civilized world, a new power has suddenly arisen, on the ruins of old institutions, peculiar in its character, and most ruinous in its influence. We there see a nation, which, from its situation, its fertility, and population, has always held a commanding rank in Europe, suddenly casting off the form of government, the laws, the habits, the spirit, by which it was assimilated to surrounding nations, and by which it gave to surrounding nations the power of restraining it; and all at once assuming a new form, and erecting a new government, free in name and profession, but holding at its absolute disposal the property and life of every subject, and directing all its energies to the subjugation of foreign countries. We see the supreme power of this nation passing in rapid succession from one hand to another.—But its object never changes.—We see it dividing and corrupting by its arts, and then overwhelming by its arms, the nations which surround it. We see one end steadily kept in view—the creation of an irresistible, military power. For this end, we see every man, in the prime of life, subjected to military service. We see military talent every where excited, and by every means rewarded. The arts of life, agriculture, commerce, all are of secondary value. In short, we see a mighty nation sacrificing every blessing, in the prosecution of an unprincipled attempt at universal conquest.

The result, you well know. The surrounding nations, unprepared for this new conflict, and absolutely incapacitated by their old habits and institutions, to meet this new power on equal terms, have fallen in melancholy succession; and each, as it has fallen, has swelled by its plunder the power and rapacity of its conquerors. We now behold this nation triumphant over continental Europe. Its armies are immensely numerous; yet the number is not the circumstance which renders them most formidable. These armies have been trained to conquest by the most perfect discipline. At their head are generals, who have risen only by military merit. They are habituated to victory, and their enemies are habituated to defeat.

All this immense power is now centered in one hand, wielded by one mind,—a mind formed in scenes of revolution and blood,—a mind most vigorous and capacious; but whose capacity is filled with plans of dominion and devastation.—It has not room for one thought of mercy.—The personal character of Napoleon is of itself sufficient to inspire the gloomiest forebodings.—But in addition to his lust for power, he is almost impelled by the necessity of his circumstances, to carry on the bloody work of conquest. His immense armies, the only foundations of his empire, must be supported.—Impoverished France however cannot give them support. They must therefore live on the spoils of other nations. But the nations which they successively spoil, and whose industry and arts they extinguish, cannot long sustain them.—Hence they must pour themselves into new regions. Hence plunder, devastation, and new conquests are not merely the outrages of wanton barbarity; they are essential even to the existence of this tremendous power.

What overwhelming, disheartening prospects are these! In the midst of Christendom, this most sanguinary power has reared its head, and holds the world in defiance—and now let me ask, How are we impressed in these dark, disastrous times?—Here is enough to rend the heart of sensibility. Here is every form of misery. We are called to sympathize with fallen greatness, with descendants of ancient sovereigns, hurled from their thrones, and case out to contempt; and if these will not move us, our sympathy is demanded by a wretched peasantry, driven from their humble roofs, and abandoned to hunger and unsheltered poverty. The decaying city, the desolated country, the weeping widow, the forsaken orphan, call on us for our tears. Nations broken in spirit, yet forced to smother their sorrows, call on us, with a silent eloquence, to feel for their wrongs;—and how are we moved by these scenes of ruin, horror, and alarm? Does there not, my friends, prevail among us a cold indifference, as if all this were nothing to us, as if no tie of brotherhood bound us to these sufferers? Are we not prone to follow the authors of this ruin with an admiration of their power and success, which almost represses our abhorrence of their unsparing cruelty?

But we are not merely insensible to the calamities of other nations. There is a still stranger insensibility to our own dangers. We seem determined to believe, that this storm will spend all its force at a distance. The idea, that we are marked out as victims of this all-destroying despotism, that our turn is to come and perhaps is near,—this idea strikes on most minds as a fiction. Our own deep interest in the present conflict is unfelt even by some, who feel as they ought for other nations.

It is asked, what has a nation so distant as America to fear from the power of France? I answer. The history of all ages teaches us, all our knowledge of human nature teaches us, that a nation of vast and unrivalled power is to be feared by all the world. Even had France attained her present greatness under a long established government, without any of the habits, which the revolution has formed, the world ought to view her with trembling jealousy. What nation ever enjoyed such power without abusing it? But France is not a common nation. We must not apply to her common rules. Conquest is her trade, her business, her recreation. The lust of power is the very vital principle of this new nation. Her strength is drained out to supply her armies;—her talents exhausted in preparing schemes of wider domination. War, war, is the solemn note which resounds through every department of state. And is such a nation to be viewed with indifference, with unconcern? Have we nothing to fear because an ocean rolls between us?

Will it be said that the conqueror has too much work at home to care for America? He has indeed work at home; but unhappily for this country, that work ever brings us to his view. There is one work, one object, which is ever present to the mind of Napoleon. It mingles with all his thoughts. It is his dream by night, his care by day. He did not forget it on the shores of the Baltic, or the banks of the Danube.—The ruin of England is the first, the most settled purpose of his heart. That nation is the only barrier to his ambition. In the opulence, the energy, the public spirit, the liberty of England, he sees the only obstacles to universal dominion. England once fallen, and the civilized world lies at his feet. England erect, and there is one asylum for virtue, magnanimity, freedom; one spark which may set the world on fire; one nation to encourage the disaffected, to hold up to the oppressed the standard of revolt. England therefore is the great object of the hostile fury of the French emperor. England is the great end of his plans; and his plans of course embrace all nations, which come in contact with England; which love or hate her, which can give her support, or contribute to her downfall.

We then, we may be assured, are not overlooked by Napoleon. We are a nation sprung from England. We have received from her our laws, and many of our institutions. We speak her language, and in her language we dare to express the indignation, which she feels at oppression. Besides, we have other ties which connect us with England. We are a commercial people, commercial by habit, commercial by our very situation. But no nation can be commercial without maintaining some connection with England, without having many common interests with her, without strengthening the foundations of her greatness. England is the great emporium of the world; and the conqueror knows, that it is only by extinguishing the commerce of the world, by bringing every commercial nation to bear his yoke, that he can fix a mortal wound on England.—Besides, we are the neighbours of some of an important influence on those channels of her commerce, those sources of her opulence.

Can we then suppose that the ambitious, the keen-sighted Napoleon overlooks us in his scheme of universal conquest; that he wants nothing of us, and is content that we should prosper and be at peace, because we are so distant from his throne? Has he not already told us, that we must embark in his cause? Has he not himself declared war for us against England?

Will it be said, he wants not to conquer us, but only wishes us to be his allies. Allies of France! Is there a man who does not shudder at the thought! Is there one who had not rather struggle nobly, and perish under her open enmity, than be crushed by the embrace of her friendship,—her alliance. To show you the happiness of her alliance, I will not carry you back to Venice, Switzerland, Holland. Their expiring groans are almost forgotten amidst later outrages. Spain, Spain is the ally to whom I would direct you. Are you lovers of treachery, perfidy, rapacity and massacre? Then aspire after the honour which Spain has forfeited, and become the ally of France.

Will it be said that those evils are political evils, and that it is not the province of a minister of religion, to concern himself with temporal affairs? Did I think, my friends, that only political evils were to be dreaded, did I believe that the minds, the character, the morals, the religion of our nation would remain untouched; did I see in French domination nothing but the loss of your wealth, your luxuries, your splendor; could I hope that it would leave unsullied your purity of faith and manners, I would be silent. 1 But religion and virtue, as well as liberty and opulence wither under the power of France. The French revolution was founded in infidelity, impiety, and atheism. This is the spirit of her chiefs, her most distinguished men; and this spirit she breathes, wherever she has influence. It is the most unhappy effect of French domination, that it degrades the human character to the lowest point. No manly virtues grow under this baleful, malignant star. France begins her conquests by corruption, by venality, by bribes; and where she succeeds, her deadly policy secures her from commotion, by quenching all those generous sentiments, which produce revolt under oppression. The conqueror thinks his work not half finished, until the mind is conquered,—its energy broken, its feeling for the public welfare subdued.—Such are the effects of subjection to France, or what is the same thing, of alliance with her: and when we consider how much this subjection is desired by Napoleon; when we consider the power and the arts, which he can combine for effecting his wishes and purposes, what reason have we to tremble!

It may be asked, whether I intend by these remarks to represent my country as hopeless? No, my friends. I have held up the danger of our country in all its magnitude, only that I may in my humble measure excite that spirit, which is necessary, and which by the blessing of Providence may be effectual to avert it. Alarming as our condition is, there does appear to me to be one method of safety, and only one. As a people we must be brought to see and to feel our danger; we must be excited to a public spirit, an energy, a magnanimity, proportioned to the solemnity of the times, in which we are called to act.—If I may be permitted, I would say to the upright, the disinterested, the enlightened friends of their country, that the times demand new and peculiar exertions. In the present state of the world, there is, under God, but one hope of a people; and that is, their own exalted virtue. This therefore should be your object and labour,—to fix the understandings of the people on the calamities, that are approaching them; to enlighten the public mind; to improve our moral feelings; to breathe around you an elevated spirit; to fortify as many hearts as possible with the generous purpose to do all, which men can do, for the preservation of their country.—You should labour, not to excite a temporary paroxysm, for the danger is not to be repelled by a few impassioned efforts. We want a calm and solemn impression fixed in every mind, that we have everything at stake,—that great sacrifices are to be expected, but that the evils are so tremendous as to justify and require every sacrifice. We want to have a general impression made of the character, spirit, designs, power, and arts of France;—of the unparrelled wretchedness, the political, moral, and religious debasement, attendant on union with her, or on subjection to her power. To effect this end I have said, that new exertions should be made. The common vehicles of political information have done, and may do much; but cannot do all, which is required. Authentic publications in the names of our wisest, purest, most venerated citizens should be spread abroad, containing the plain, unexaggerated, uncoloured history of the revolution and domination of France.

It may be said, that the people have all the evidence on this subject already communicated to them.—I fear, that many have not received sufficiently distinct and connected information from sources, on which they rely; and I am confident, that many, who know the truth, need to have the convictions of their understandings converted into active principles, into convictions of the heart. I fear, there are many, who are blinded to the true character of the conqueror of Europe, by the splendor of his victories; many, who attach to him the noble qualities, which have been displayed by other heroes, and who repose a secret hope in his clemency. They ought to know, and they might know, that he has risen to power in a revolution, which has had a peculiar influence in hardening the heart; that his character is unillumined by one ray of beneficence; that he is dark, vindictive, unrelenting; that no man loves him, that he cares for no man’s love; that he asks only to be feared, and that fear and horror are the only sentiments he ought to inspire.

I fear there are many, who attach ideas of happiness and glory to France, because they hear of the conquest of French armies; and I fear that this impression reconciles them to the thought of union with her. They might now, and they ought to know, that France is drinking even to the dregs that cup of sorrow, which she has mingled for other nations. They should be taught, that she is most degraded in her moral and religious condition, and wretchedly impoverished; that her agriculture, her manufactures, her commercial cities are falling to decay; that she is ground with oppressive taxes, most oppressively collected; that her youth are torn from their families, to fill up the constant ravages, which war and disease are making in her armies; that with all her sufferings she is not permitted the poor privilege of complaining; that her cities, villages, and houses are thronged with spies to catch and report the murmurs of disaffection. In a word, the people might and should be taught, that social confidence, public spirit, enterprise, cheerful industry, and moral and religious excellence have almost forsaken that unhappy country.

On these topics, and on many others, which would illustrate the character and tendency of the French domination, might not conviction be carried to some minds at least; and might not many sluggish minds be awakened, if persevering, steady efforts were made by men, whose characters would be pledges of their veracity and disinterestedness. Sudden effects might not be produced, and perhaps sudden effects are not to be desired. We do not want a temporary, evanescent ardour, excited for partial purposes and local objects. We want a rational conviction of their great danger fastened on the people, and a steady and generous purpose to resist it by every means, which Providence has put within their power.—Let me entreat all, who are interested in this great object, the improvement and elevation of public sentiment, to adhere to such means only as are worthy that great end; to suppress and condemn all appeals to unworthy passions, all misrepresentation, and all that abuse, which depraves public taste and sentiment, and makes a man of a pure mind ashamed of the cause, which he feels himself bound to support.—Let me also urge you to check the feelings and the expressions of malignity and revenge. Curses, denunciations, and angry invectives are not the language of that spirit, to which I look for the safety of our country. We ought to know, that the malignant passions of a people are among the powerful instruments, by which the enemy binds them to his yoke. The patriotism, which we need, is a benevolent, generous, forbearing spirit; too much engrossed with the public welfare to be stung by personal opposition; calm and patient in exhibiting the truth; and tolerant towards those, who cannot, or who will not receive it. Let me repeat it; the end, we should propose, the elevation of public sentiment and feeling, is not to be secured by violence or passion, but by truth, from the hearts, and lips, and pens of men, whose lives and characters will give it energy.

But as the most effectual method of exalting the views, purposes, and character of our nation, let me entreat you, who are lovers of your country, to labour with all your power to diffuse the faith and practice of the gospel of Christ. The prevalence of true Christianity is the best defense of a nation, especially at this solemn and eventful period. It will secure to us the blessing of Almighty God; and it will operate more powerfully than any other cause, in making us recoil from the embrace of France. No greater repugnance can be conceived, than what subsists between the mild, humane, peaceful, righteous, and devout spirit of the gospel, and the impious, aspiring, and rapacious spirit of this new nation. Christianity will indeed exclude from our breasts all feelings of ill-will, malice, and revenge towards France and her sovereign;—for these are feelings, which it never tolerates. But it will inspire an holy abhorrence of her spirit and designs, and will make us shudder at the thought of sinking under her power, or aiding her success.

But it becomes us to promote Christianity, not only because it will help to save our country.—We should cherish and diffuse it, because it will be a refuge and consolation, even should our country fall; a support, which the oppressor cannot take from us. The sincere Christian is not comfortless even in the darkest and most degenerate times. He knows, that oppressive power is but for a moment; and his benevolence is animated by the promise of God, that even in this world, this scene of cruelty and wretchedness, there will yet be enjoyed the reign of peace, of truth, and holiness under the benignant Saviour. And this is not all. He looks upwards with a serene and ennobling hope to another and a better world, where the wicked never trouble, where the weary are at rest; where the rage of party never agitates; where he shall be associated with wise, pure, and good beings, in retracing and admiring the dispensations of Providence, under which he now suffers; in exploring and extolling the works, ways, and perfections of God, and in accomplishing with an ardent and unwearied love his benevolent designs.—May we, my friends, so pass through this stormy world, so fulfill our duty in this dark and trying day, that we shall be welcomed to the abodes of light and peace through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

AMEN.NOTE.

I insert this note, that I may express more fully my sorrow and dismay at the influence of the French domination on the moral and religious state of the world. I need not recall to my readers the blasphemies and impieties of the authors of the French revolution. Oh, that their spirit had perished with them! But the shock, which they gave to the religious principles and feelings of their own and other nations, is still felt. I have heard truly affecting accounts of the depraved state of France, of the general insensibility to God which pervades the nation, of the selfishness and licentiousness of the rich, of the fraud and oppression of men in power, and of the want of mutual confidence among all ranks of people.

Wherever the French power extends, the same effects are produced. A cold and suspicious selfishness is diffused through society. Traitors are rewarded with power. An invisible army of spies, more terrible than the legions of the conqueror, are scattered abroad to repress that frank communication, which relieves and improves the heart. The press is in bondage. Nothing issues from it, but what accords with the views of the conqueror. Offensive truth is a crime not easily expiated. Under such strong temptations to flattery and deceit, the love of truth cannot long subsist. I fear, that if the fall of England should place the world in the power of France, the press would become the greatest scourge of mankind. No sentiments, but what are approved by an unprincipled despotism, would reach the next generation; and these sentiments would be poured into their minds, by means of the press, with a facility never possessed before the discovery of printing.

Let me here observe, that the contrast of England with France in point of morals and religion is one ground of hope to the devout mind in these dark and troubled times. On this subject, I have heard but one opinion from good men, who have visited the two countries. The character of England is to be estimated particularly from what may be called the middle class of society, the most numerous class in all nations, and more numerous and influential in England than in any other nation of Europe. The warm piety, the active benevolence, and the independent and manly thinking, which are found in this class, do encourage me in the belief, that England will not be forsaken by God in her solemn struggle.

I feel myself bound to all nations by the ties of a common nature, a common father, and a common Saviour. But I feel a peculiar interest in England; for I believe, that there Christianity is exerting its best influences on the human character; that there the perfections of human nature, wisdom, virtue and piety, are fostered by excellent institutions, and are producing the delightful fruits of domestic happiness, social order, and general prosperity. It is a hope, which I could not resign without anguish, that the “prayers and alms” of England “will come up for a memorial before God,” and will obtain for her his sure protection against the common enemy of the civilized world.

 


Endnotes

1. See Note.

 

* Originally Posted: Dec. 26, 2016

Proclamation – Thanksgiving – 1779, Virginia

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was involved in many professions throughout his life. He was a lawyer, a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses (1769-1775), served in the Continental Congress (1775-1776) where he drafted the Declaration of Independence, was governor of Virginia (1779-1781), and the U.S. minister to France (1785-1789). Jefferson also served as the first Secretary of State under George Washington, was Vice President under John Adams, and was the nation’s third President. During his time as governor of Virginia, Jefferson issued the following proclamation on November 11, 1779 calling for a statewide day of thanksgiving and prayer on December 9, 1779.

The text of this proclamation can be found in The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julia P. Boyd (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951), 3:177-179.


Whereas the Honourable the General Congress, impressed with a grateful sense of the goodness of Almighty God, in blessing the greater part of this extensive continent with plentiful harvests, crowning our arms with repeated successes, conducting us hitherto safely through the perils with which we have been encompassed and manifesting in multiplied instances his divine care of these infant states, hath thought proper by their act of the 20th day of October last, to recommend to the several states that Thursday the 9th of December next be appointed a day of publick and solemn thanksgiving and prayer, which act is in these words, to wit.

“Whereas it becomes us humbly to approach the throne of Almighty God, with gratitude and praise, for the wonders which His goodness has wrought in conducting our forefathers to this western world; for His protection to them and to their posterity, amidst difficulties and dangers; for raising us their children from deep distress, to be numbered among the nations of the earth; and for arming the hands of just and mighty Princes in our deliverance; and especially for that He hath been pleased to grant us the enjoyment of health and so to order the revolving seasons, that the earth hath produced her increase in abundance, blessing the labours of the husbandman, and spreading plenty through the land; that He hath prospered our arms and those of our ally, been a shield to our troops in the hour of danger, pointed their swords to victory, and led them in triumph over the bulwarks of the foe; that He hath gone with those who went out into the wilderness against the savage tribes; that He hath stayed the hand of the spoiler, and turned back his meditated destruction; that He hath prospered our commerce, and given success to those who sought the enemy on the face of the deep; and above all, that he Hath diffused the glorious light of the Gospel, whereby, through the merits of our gracious Redeemer, we may become the heirs of His eternal glory. Therefore,

George Washington, Patrick Henry, and members of the First Continental Congress join with Rev. Jacob Duché in prayer.

Resolved, that it be recommended to the several states to appoint THURSDAY the 9th of December next, to be a day of publick and solemn THANKSGIVING to Almighty God, for his mercies, and of PRAYER, for the continuance of His favour and protection to these United States; to beseech Him that he would be graciously pleased to influence our publick Councils, and bless them with wisdom from on high, with unanimity, firmness and success; that He would go forth with our hosts and crown our arms with victory; that He would grant to His church, the plentiful effusions of divine grace, and pour out His Holy Spirit on all Ministers of the Gospel; that He would bless and prosper the means of education, and spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth; that He would smile upon the labours of His people, and cause the earth to bring forth her fruits in abundance, that we may with gratitude and gladness enjoy them; that He would take into His holy protection, our illustrious ally, give him victory over his enemies, and render him finally great, as the father of his people, and the protector of the rights of mankind; that He would graciously be pleased to turn the hearts of our enemies, and to dispence the blessings of peace to contending nations.

That he would in mercy look down upon us, pardon all our sins, and receive us into his favour; and finally, that he would establish the independence of these United States upon the basis of religion and virtue, and support and protect them in the enjoyment of peace, liberty and safety.”

I do therefore by authority from the General Assembly issue this my proclamation, hereby appointing Thursday the 9th day of December next, a day of publick and solemn thanksgiving and prayer to Almighty God, earnestly recommending to all the good people of this commonwealth, to set apart the said day for those purposes, and to the several Ministers of religion to meet their respective societies thereon, to assist them in their prayers, edify them with their discourses, and generally to perform the sacred duties of their function, proper for the occasion.

Given under my hand and the seal of the commonwealth, at Williamsburg, this 11th day of November, in the year of our Lord, 1779, and in the fourth of the commonwealth.

THOMAS JEFFERSON

Sermon – Thanksgiving – 1795

 

Jedidiah Morse (1761-1826) Biography:

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Morse graduated from Yale in 1783. He began the study of theology, and in 1786 when he was ordained as a minister, he moved to Midway, Georgia, spending a year there. He then returned to New Haven, filling the pulpit in various churches. In 1789, he took the pastorate of a church in Charlestown, Massachusetts, where he served until 1820. Throughout his life, Morse worked tirelessly to fight Unitarianism in the church and to help keep Christian doctrine orthodox. To this end, he helped organize Andover Theological Seminary as well as the Park Street Church of Boston, and was an editor for the Panopolist (later renamed The Missionary Herald), which was created to defend orthodoxy in New England. In 1795, he was awarded a Doctor of Divinity by the University of Edinburgh. Over the course of his pastoral career, twenty-five of his sermons were printed and received wide distribution.

Morse also held a lifelong interest in education. In fact, shortly after his graduation in 1783, he started a school for young ladies. As an avid student of geography, he published America’s very first geography textbook, becoming known as the “Father of American Geography,” and he also published an historical work on the American Revolution. He was part of the Massachusetts Historical Society and a member in numerous other literary and scientific societies.

Morse also had a keen interest in the condition of Native Americans, and in 1820, US Secretary of War John C. Calhoun appointed him to investigate Native tribes in an effort to help improve their circumstances (his findings were published in 1822). His son was Samuel F. B. Morse, who invented the telegraph and developed the Morse Code.


The present Situation of other Nations of

the World, contrasted with our own.

A

SERMON,

Delivered

At CHARLESTOWN,

In The

COMMONWEALTH of MASSACHUSETTS,

February 19, 1795:

Being the Day Recommended by

GEORGE WASHINGTON,

President of the United States of America,

For PUBLIC THANKSGIVING

And

PRAYER.

BY JEDIDIAH MORSE, D.D.

MINISTER OF THE CONGREGATION IN CHARLESTOWN.

To

The Congregation in Charlestown,

At whose Request is made publick,

The Following Discourse.

(Enlarged and illustrated with NOTES.)

Is Respectfully Addressed

By Their Affectionate

Pastor.

Charlestown, February 26, 1795.

DEUTERONOMY IV. 6, 8, 9.

Ver. 8. What Nation is there so great, that hath Statutes and Judgments so righteous as all this Law which I set before you this day.

Ver. 6. Keep therefore and do them, for this is your Wisdom and your Understanding in the sight of the Nations, which shall hear all these Statues, and say, Surely this great Nation is a wise and understanding People.

Ver. 9. Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy Soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life; but teach them to thy sons, and thy sons’ sons.

My Brethren,

There cannot be a more pleasing sight here on earth, than a Christian assembly, impressed with a lively sense of the Divine goodness and bounty, and expressing in their countenances their heart felt joy, voluntarily convened, as we are this day, at the voice of our Chief Magistrate, to unite with our fellow-citizens, in rendering praise to Almighty God, for his manifold mercies. The pleasure excited, on such an occasion, is heightened by the consideration, that millions of people are, at the same time, uniting in this delightful service. How much greater still, would be this pleasure, if there were good reasons to hope, that all these millions were of the number of the true worshippers of God, and felt towards him true gratitude, or “Christian thankfulness,” for his mercies? Then our country would this day resemble the heavenly world; and there would be an addition, small, yet acceptable, to the incense of praise which is daily offered by the celestial choir to their heavenly Father. – May this gracious Being, by his good Spirit, sanctify and prepare our hearts, and the hearts of all his people assembled this day, for this pleasing employment, that so we may celebrate a rational and acceptable Thanksgiving to our God.

With a view to lead your minds to a survey of the various distinguishing blessings of divine Providence towards us as a nation, and to excite correspondent sentiments of gratitude, I have chosen, as the foundation of the present discourse, a part of the address of Moses to the children of Israel, which we have just recited.

The book of Deuteronomy contains a repetition of the principal events which happened to the children of Israel, and of the laws which God had given them, during their memorable forty years journey from Egypt to Canaan. The generation who heard these laws originally delivered, and were eye-witnesses of these wonderful things, having been cut off for their rebellion, it pleased God that Moses, for their instruction and warning, should recite them to the new generation before his death. This interesting rehearsal was made on the plains of Moab, by this eminent servant of God, “in the fortieth year, and the eleventh month,” [i] of their pilgrimage. It was the business of the last month of his life, when he was an hundred and twenty years old; and is a standing proof of the truth of what his historian relates of him, that “his nature force was not abated.” [ii]

To have beheld and heard this venerable leader, and Father of his people, rehearing to them the various wonders which God had wrought in their behalf – teaching them with the dignity and affection of a parent, that statues and judgments which God had given them by him – calling upon them to review the situation of other nations, in contrast with their own; and thus impressing them with a deep sense of the great and distinguishing blessings which they enjoyed, and of their consequent obligations to obedience – exhibiting before them the advantages that would accrue from a faithful regard to these excellent statutes and judgments, in point of national honor, dignity and happiness – warning them, with solemnity and earnestness, of the fatal consequences of disobedience, vain glory and ingratitude – and, finally, after pathetically exhorting them to obey and praise God for his wondrous goodness, closing the interesting scene with his paternal blessing. To have witnessed such a scene, must have been no less affecting them improving.

A scene, in several respects resembling this, we, my brethren, are invited, this day, to contemplate—One at least equally calculated to affect, to improve and animate our hearts. A nation, far greater than that which Moses addressed, is assembled this day before the Lord, by the recommendation of their venerable[iii] political Leader and Father—who, in respect to his talents as a general in war, and a chief Magistrate in civil affairs—his success in exercising these talents—his prudence, sagacity, and paternal care, vigilance and solicitude for the safety, peace and happiness of the people, and his possessing their entire confidence and esteem, may with singular propriety be compared to Moses.

This incomparable Chief—this Moses of our nation, in his admired Proclamation, invites his numerous and happy fellow-citizens, to learn, from “a review of the calamities which afflict so many other nations,” how to appreciate their own happy condition.”  He rehearses to us the remarkable interpositions of Providence, in rescuing us from various dangers which threatened us, and enumerates the singular blessings “which peculiarly mark our situation with indications of the divine beneficence towards us.”

Behold the good man, deeply penetrated himself with the duty, “in such a state of things, of acknowledging, with devout reverence, and affectionate gratitude, our many and great obligations to Almighty God, and of imploring of him the continuance and confirmation of these blessings”—Behold him, in virtue of the authority annexed to his high office, “recommending” to the people at large, unitedly, on this day, to “render their sincere and hearty thanks to the great Ruler of Nations, for the manifold and signal mercies which distinguish our lot as a nation,” and pointing our attention singularly to these “signal mercies.”—Behold him, as the Father of his people, dispensing, in the most delicate and impressive manner, his wise and salutary instructions and admonitions—teaching us that “God is the kind Author of all our blessings”—that to him alone we must look for their continuance—that to him, we should feel under the most solemn obligations for these blessings, the immense value of which we should rightly estimate.—Warning us to guard against “arrogance in prosperity”—and against “hazarding the advantages we enjoy by delusive pursuits”—exhorting us, by a grateful, upright and suitable behavior, “as citizens and as men,” to secure to ourselves “the continuance of his favours”—and by these means to render this country, more and more a safe and propitious asylum for the unfortunate of other countries”—recommending, implicitly, what is the great basis of a Republican government—of equal rights, and of publick and social happiness—a careful attention to publick and domestick education, in order that “true and useful learning may be extended,” and “habits of sobriety, order, morality and piety diffused and established.”—Behold him, finally, closing the important summary, by calling on us to unite in the benevolent petition, that God would graciously “impart all the blessings we possess, or ask for ourselves, to the whole family of mankind!”—What an august scene, my brethren, is here presented for our contemplation!—How well calculated to excite supreme and fervent love and gratitude to the Father of Mercies—and lively emotions of sincere, subordinate affection and respect, for Him at whose call we are here assembled, and who has been honoured as the instrument of so much good to mankind!—In great truth may we adopt and apply the language of Moses and David—“Happy are ye,” oh ye citizens of united America—“Who is like unto thee, oh, people saved by the Lord, who is the shield of your help, and the sword of your excellency.”[iv]—“He hath not dealt so with any nation—Praise ye the Lord.”[v]

Indeed , when I think on the grandeur and importance of the subjects to which our attention is solemnly invited this day, I feel deeply impressed with a sense of my own insufficiency to do them justice, and am ready to shrink from the task.  In humble dependence, however, on that Almighty Father, whose goodness we celebrate, and who, through the blessed Redeemer of men, is ever most ready to “give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him”—I shall attempt to give, in conformity to the spirit and meaning of the text, and in compliance with the Proclamation—

A SUMMARY VIEW OF THE PRESENT SITUATION OF OTHER NATIONS OF THE WORLD, IN CONTRAST WITH OUR OWN.

In the prosecution of this plan it will naturally fall in my way to take notice of the special blessings enumerated in the Proclamation.—The discourse will be closed with some practical inferences and observations.—The plan proposed, you must be sensible, can be executed only in a concise and comprehensive manner, in a single discourse.

In comparing our situation, in a national view, with that of others, it is hard for us to divest our minds of partialities and prejudices—and to place ourselves in their circumstances—which ought as far as possible to be done, in order to avoid the charge of partiality and unfairness.  In many cases, which occur in a minute comparison between nations, it is difficult to determine on which side the balance of advantage lies.  There are, however, certain prominent features in the existing state of the nations of the earth, and in their political, religious, moral, literary and social character, which strongly mark their difference, and from a comparison of which, we may, without arrogance, or presumption, decide to whose lot most probably falls the greatest share of happiness.  These only will be the subjects of comparison.

To proceed  with some degree of method, we will, in the first place, take a summary review of the existing state of several other nations, and briefly of the World in general:–and, secondly, attempt a description of our own.  The result, we anticipate, will be such as to “afford us much matter of consolation, satisfaction,” and gratitude to God, and for the exercise of tender sympathy and benevolence towards the afflicted and oppressed of other nations of the world.

We begin with the Republick of France.  This mighty nation has burst the chains of civil and ecclesiastical tyranny.  They have arisen from the darkness of slavery to the light of freedom.  With boldness and energy which astonishes and interests the world, they have espoused the cause of Liberty, which is the birth-right of mankind.  With wonderful speed and success, they have vanquished, on every side, the numerous hosts of enemies, which rose up against them.—Lately, a dangerous combination of sanguinary men[vi] has been checked, if not wholly suppressed, which has happily paved the way for the adoption of moderate and rational measures; from the prevalence of which, there is a pleasing hope, (we pray it may not prove delusive) that there will be a speedy termination of the spirit of Vandalism[vii]of internal rebellions[viii]–of pernicious and destructive jealousies—of barbarous and shocking executions of the innocent.[ix]

Notwithstanding these favourable and pleasing circumstances, and the prospect of an advantageous peace with some of the combined powers, the existing state of things, in this great Republick, is very unpleasant.  Their enemies, though defeated, are not conquered; they still exist, and are formidable.  Jealousies and party-spirit, though much abated, yet disturb the harmony of the nation, and require to be watched with a vigilant eye.  Their government is unsettled, and revolutionary.  When the external pressure, which now binds them together, shall be taken off by a general peace, and the numerous armies of the republick[x]  shall return into its bosom, if we may judge from our own revolution, the nation will divide into parties, from local interests and prejudices; and it will probably take years to form and establish a government which shall unite all interests, and met the views of all parties; though, I firmly believe, that they will finally overcome all intervening obstacles, and obtain such a government.  The Christian Religion, and its sacred institutions, are spurned at, and rejected.[xi]  Scarcity6 threatens them.  Their manufactures are in ruins.[xii]  An enormously expensive war is loading the nation with a debt, which, added to their former one,[xiii] must, hereafter, in all probability, injuriously affect, in various ways, the liberties, the morals, and happiness of the people.  Besides, the mischief which a state of war ever operates in regard to religion, learning, and arts,[xiv] morals and domestick happiness is incalculably great.  How calamitous then must be the present condition of the French nation in these respects?—I forbear any details on these points.  A recurrence to our own situation, at the height of our revolution was, allowing for the difference of numbers, and the difference of religious and political state between the two nations, will give us a faint idea of the present state of our allies.  While we felicitate ourselves in a freedom from the various calamities which afflict this magnanimous nations, we cannot but feel deeply interested in their happiness, and wish for their success, in all virtuous measures, to advance a cause dear to mankind, and in defence of which we formerly experienced their generous aid.[xv]

Here let us pause a moment, to pay a just tribute of gratitude and sympathy to that generous, but unfortunate Patriot, whose disinterested zeal and services[xvi] in the cause of Liberty, both in America and France, have embalmed his memory in the heart of every grateful American.—Yes, La Fayette, could our ardent prayers have rescued thee from thy prison and thy chains, and have wafted thee to this country of freedom and happiness, long since wouldst thou have been welcomed to her friendly bosom.  We devoutly implore the God of compassion to mitigate and to shorten the period of thy sufferings; and to “cause thee yet to see good days, according to the days in which thou hast seen evil!”  May you live to enjoy, in your own country, the fair harvest of that liberty, the seeds of which were planted, and for a season cherished, by your own hand!

We turn next our attention to Great-Britain.  The following picture of the present state of this Kingdom is drawn to our hand.  “If ever a period called for the exertions of a people in their own defence, the present is the one.  The crisis is awful and unprecedented.  Our situation is new, and to new measures must we have recourse. Antiquity leaves us without like or rule, whereby to guide our conduct.  To ourselves, and on ourselves only, must we look, and depend.  At this alarming, eventful moment, when a political system, bold and fascinating in principle, destructive of all existing governments, is adopted and supported by thirty millions of people, established by will and force, in the most fertile regions of the earth, and is daily gaining, throughout Europe, myriads of votaries, what measures are left for us to follow?  How are we to act?  And what are we to do?—Plans are adopted without prudence, and executed without resolution and success.  The millions slain in the fields of Belgium—the populous cities of Great-Britain and Ireland, thinned of their inhabitants—the loom still and neglected—the industrious youth of the provinces dragged from the plough, and shipped off by hundreds, to oppose, in a strange and hostile country, the enthusiastic movements of an armed nation—their bleeding wounds—their agonizing cries, argue forcibly against the measures of the present administration.

“The fall of  kingdom, like that of the mountain-flood, comes when we least expect it.  Britons! Beware—behold the dangers which surround you, and tremble for the consequences.  Involved in a ruinous war—your armies flying before a victorious enemy—unassisted and betrayed by those who call themselves your allies—the publick money prodigally lavished on Sardinian mercenaries in British pay—the satellites of Prussia, supported by your revenues, in the prosecution of  war[xvii] whose object is the destruction of millions—the slavery of a Nation—The blood of Kosciusko, cries against us.  Add to this, a ruined commerce at home—our manufactures annihilated—Gazettes swelled with bankruptcies—a total loss of credit—a want of confidence in every department of State; and, finally, an unprincipled ministry, who drive the nation down the strong tide of power, the floating wreck of their own avarice and ambition.  Such, Britons! Is the picture of your present state.”  He adds,

“Our state to-day, is more desperate than it was yesterday. The arrival of each mail announces the loss of battles—the capture of towns.  Behold Holland a prey to the victorious enemy!  Her military stores, her bank—her navy, are the prize of conquest.  Maestricht has capitulated—Nimeguen receives their troops—Where is our army?  What corner is to receive them?—Even now the enemy dispute with us the empire of the seas.  Should the navy of Holland be thrown into the hostile scale, what would be the consequence?—I walk over deceitful embers—The subject will not bear discussion.”[xviii]

The colouring of this melancholy picture is high; but do not accounts from this quarter, confirm the truth of a great part of the facts here stated?—We may add, as further indicative of the distress of this nation—their persecutions for political opinions, to which Muir, Palmer, Margarot, and others, have fallen victims—the pernicious and distressing effects of the Test Act, which has driven thousands of valuable citizens from the kingdom—and their oppressive taxes, which are rendered necessary, in consequence of an enormous and increasing debt, and an unpopular, destructive, and iniquitous war; and doubly discouraging, because there is no hope of their decrease or termination.[xix]  Far be it from us to exult in thus depicting the misfortunes and distress of this nation, hostile as their government has been to our interests and happiness.  While we are thankful to God, for our own prosperous and happy state, we sincerely deplore the miseries in which they are involved—and deprecate the greater ones, which apparently threaten them.  While as Republicans we finally assert and maintain our rights; as Christians let us forgive the wrongs we have unjustly suffered.

From Great-Britain, let us turn our attention to Spain.  View her armies flying before a victorious enemy, and leaving their thousands slain and wounded, with immense spoils behind them.  In addition to the horrors and calamities of a fierce, bloody and unsuccessful war, which I leave to your own imaginations to paint, contemplate the political—the religious—the moral, and the literary state of this kingdom.  And when you are informed that the government is despotick—the monarch absolute, and the religion papal, you will easily infer what is their situation in respect to politicks and religion, literature and morals.

From Spain, proceed to the Seventeen Provinces, called the Netherlands.[xx]  What language can describe the scenes of carnage, ruin and distress which have been exhibited for several years past, in this fertile and populous part of the world?  These unfortunate Provinces have been the seat of the present war; in the course of which, some of them have repeatedly changed masters.  Their plains have been enriched with millions of human corpses, unhappy victims in the cause either of liberty or despotism, who have perished by the sword, pestilence, fatigue, terror and famine.  And what I their present situation?  Some of them are annexed to the French Republick, and are represented in the National Convention. Their state, however, which must be considered as revolutionary, is far from being tranquil or secure.  The next campaign may recover them, voluntarily or involuntarily, to their former condition, and they may again become a circle of the German Empire.  Holland, which includes the greater part of the other Provinces, lies at the mercy of a victorious army, lodged in the heart of their country, and dictating their own terms of peace or submission.

Would you behold a country in still deeper distress?—turn your eyes to Poland.  For more than twenty years past, this ill-fated nation has been the sport of her unprincipled neighbours, the Empress of Russia, the Emperor of Germany, and the King of Prussia.  In 1772, these formidable powers entered into a most wicked alliance to divide and dismember the kingdom of Poland. This they easily effected, in direct isolation of the most solemn treaties, and in a manner tyrannical and cruel beyond all former precedent.  The time will not admit of entering into any details on this most affecting subject.  I cannot help observing, however, that the other European powers, beheld these iniquitous transactions, by which a great kingdom, of FOURTEEN MILLIONS of souls, was violently and surreptitiously deprived of a great part of its territory, and a third part of its inhabitants, with an inhuman indifference and unconcern.

The baneful effects of these proceedings were severely felt, till the memorable and happy Revolution in 1791.[xxi] By this revolution, effected without blood shed or even tumult among the people, and in its principles highly favourable to their rights and liberties, Poland had a fair prospect of enjoying some repose after her calamities, and of becoming powerful, prosperous and independent.  But, alas! short were her triumphs, and delusive her prospects.  Her ambitious, rapacious and but too powerful neigbours, envious at her tranquility, and jealous of her increasing strength, under a free and equal government, and of the spread of the principles of freedom, have, in the same inhuman manner as before[xxii] (in 1772) combined against her, and have replunged her still deeper in the abyss of misery.  Noble, vigorous, and worthy of their good cause, have been the struggles of this great nation, under the auspices of kings,[xxiii] and the immediate are command of a brave and admired General,[xxiv] against the most brutal tyranny:  But the arm of despotism, after a dubious contest, has proved too mighty for them, and reduced them, we have too much reason to fear, to unconditional submission.  What carnage, what horrors have marked the routes of the victorious liberticides, the slaves of the tyraness of Russia?[xxv]  The miseries of the Polish nation, judging from the latest accounts from that quarter, are, at this time, great and deplorable beyond description.  Unfortunate, afflicted brethren in the bonds of freedom, we weep with you!—Thy wounds, Kosciusko, are thy glory—Thy blood will accelerate the growth of “the tree of Liberty”—Thy fate interests the feelings of the friends of liberty through Europe and America—Thy rich reward is their esteem and admiration.  May it comfort thee in thy prison!—

We rejoice that a righteous God reigns, who will one day avenge the cause of the innocent and oppressed, and will so over-rule the dark dispensations of his Providence, as to bring great glory to his own name, and happiness to the whole family of mankind.

The little Republick of Geneva,[xxvi] next claims our attention.  Only four years ago, this people were as happy and as flourishing in their government, commerce, manufactures, religion and morals, as any people on earth.—Now, through a pernicious, disorganizing foreign influence—an influence which has since threatened us with the same calamities, they are reduced to the most humiliating and afflicting state of anarchy and distress.  “Geneva,” says the intelligent historian of this Revolution, “is lost, without resource, in respect to religion, to morals, to the sciences—to the fine arts, to trade, to liberty, and above all, to internal peace.  Its convulsions have no other term than those of France, to the fate of which, it has had the criminal imprudence irremissibly to attach itself, and the various shocks of which, it must more or less, inevitably suffer.”[xxvii]

The nations we have mentioned, with their dependent colonies in the West-Indies, whose wretchedness equals that of any country we have described—embrace that portion of mankind, which, so far as we know, are, at the present time, involved in the most afflicting and deplorable misery.  All the other nations of Europe, are more or less affected by the present convulsed state of things in this quarter of the world.

The unwieldy Germanick Empire, without power to execute its will[xxviii]–without finances—involved in a destructive and unpopular war—is divided against itself, and is probably tottering into ruin.

The enslaved subjects of the two most insidious, unfeeling, and (shall I say amiss, if I add) monstrous tyrants perhaps, on earth, I mean the Empress of Russia, and the King of Prussia—the slaves of these cruel despots, who are employed in butchering their fellow-men by thousands, cannot, generally speaking, be otherwise than wretched.  Till the period arrives, and I believe it to be fast approaching, when a sufficient degree of knowledge of their rights, shall be disseminated among the lower orders of people, as to enable them to effect a revolution, and to break the chains which bind them, it must, I think, be considered rather as their felicity, than their misfortune, that they are ignorant and insensible of the evils which it is their lot to endure.

The neutral nations of Europe, which are few in number, and even when combined, of small weight in the political scale, subjected, as they are, to constant irritations and alarms from their more powerful neighbours, must be in a state of painful solicitude, lest they should be drawn into the whirlpool, which disturbs the peace, and threatens the overthrow of so many of the powers around them.

From Europe we pass into Asia.  Of this immense quarter of the Globe, containing, it is conjectured, more than half mankind[xxix]–our knowledge is very imperfect.  Judging, however, from the best accounts that have come to our knowledge, their state, in a political, religious, moral and social view, is far from being either enviable or eligible.  This vast country is divided between the despotick Empires of China, Russia, the Great Mogul, Persia, and Turkey; except what is inhabited by the wild and wandering Arabs and Tartars, who are said to be the only people in Asia “that enjoy any share of liberty,” if what they possess may be honoured with the name. In regard to religion, the greater part of the inhabitants are Pagans and Idolaters; the rest are Mahometans, Jews, and a few Christians.  From the nature of their government and religion, we are left to infer their political, moral and social state.  “The system of morals, in this country,” says a celebrated historian, speaking of Asia in general, “is no less extraordinary than that of nature.  When we fix our eyes on this vast continent, where nature hath exerted her utmost efforts for the happiness of man, we cannot but regret that man hath done all in his power to oppose her.  The rage of conquest, and what is a no less destructive evil, the greediness of traders, have in their turns, ravaged and oppressed the finest country on the face of the globe.”[xxx]

Of the various nations in Asia, the Chinese are generally believed to be the best governed, the most civilized and the happiest.—Their panegyrists have said, extravagantly enough, that “the history of this well-governed Empire, is the history of mankind; and the rest of the world resembles the chaos of matter, before it was wrought into form.”[xxxi]  And what is the state of this happiest of people?—China, beyond doubt, is the most populous spot on the globe—of course, judging from the experience of all ages, the people must be the most corrupt in their morals; and for the same reasons that our populous towns are more depraved in this respect, than the country.—What opinion should we form of the character, laws and manners of that people, among whom we should see, “not unfrequently, one province rushing upon another, and putting all the inhabitants to death, without mercy, and with impunity?”  Whose laws neither “restrain nor punish the exposure or the murder of new-born infants?”—Whose “Sovereign is the cudgel?”—Among whom “the innocent man is often, by infamous magistrates, condemned, whipped and thrown into prison; and the guilty pardoned upon the payment of a pecuniary fine; or punished, if the offended person happen to be the most powerful?”[xxxii]—And where “one half the inhabitants are employed in cheating and over-reaching the other?”[xxxiii]—And such, it is affirmed, by respectable historians, are the character, laws and manners of the Chinese, who are the wisest and most civilized people in Asia.

In India,  though we find much to admire in their code of laws, we find much also to deplore—many indications of barbarism and wretchedness—Some of their laws are infamous, inhuman, cruel and glaringly unequal and unjust.[xxxiv]  The condition of the lower classes of people is wretched and horrible in every respect—The Pouliats, or the fifth cast, the refuse of all the rest, are employed in the meanest offices of society, and live upon the flesh of animals that die natural deaths—They are forbid to enter the temples—the publick markets, and even the streets where the Bramins reside—They can neither possess nor lease lands—and may be put to death with impunity, if they chance to touch any one that does not belong to their tribe.

Degraded and contemptible as these Pouliats are, it is said “they have expelled from among themselves the Pouliches, still more degraded.  These last are forbidden the use of fire—they are not permitted to build huts, but are reduced to the necessity of living in a kind of nest, which they make for themselves in the forests, and upon the trees.  When pressed with hunger, they howl like wild beasts, to excite the compassion of the passengers.  The most charitable among the Indians, then deposit some rice or other food at the foot of a tree, and retire with all possible haste, to give the famished wretch an opportunity of taking it without meeting his benefactor, who would think himself polluted by coming near him.”[xxxv]—This is the dark side of the picture of the present condition of this numerous people—but contrasted with the darkest shades in our own, the difference is great and striking, and is calculated to excite the warmest effusions of gratitude to Him “who hath made us to differ.”

The time would fail me to give even a cursory view of the state of the other nations of Asia.—To relieve your patience, which I fear is already fatigued, I shall traverse with rapidity, the other parts of the globe.

Of Africa, inhabited, according to common computation, by 150 millions of people, we know still less than of Asia, and but little more of South America; and least of all of the wild inhabitants of those extensive regions which lie West and North of the United States and Canada.  From the little we do know of them, however, it will not be presuming too much to give it as our opinion, that the most enlightened, the best governed, and he happiest among the numerous nations in these quarters of the globe, fall far below these United States—I will not say in their morals—for in this point, a comparison with some other nations, I fear, would be against us—but in their constitutions of government—in their laws—in science—in their knowledge of useful arts—in a word, in their religious, civil and social privileges.

After taking this general view of the nations of the earth, (in doing which I have taken up more time than I intended, though far less than it required, to do it full justice)—we are prepared to revisit our own country—and to survey the blessings which distinguish it from the rest of the world.—These have been so often enumerated on occasions like the present, that little that is new, will be expected, and brevity, of course, will be acceptable.

  1. Our lot is distinguished from that of many other nations, by the blessings of Peace.  We have seen how great a portion of the world is afflicted with the awful calamities of War.  In consequence of our intimate connexion with some of the belligerent powers, by means of the iniquitous commercial depredations of one, and a fascinating and dangerous influence of another, the peace of our neutral nation has been imminently endangered.  By means of the latter, the poisonous seeds of a party, disorganizing spirit were sown thick among us—and being nourished by the former, sprung up and increased, for a short time, with alarming rapidity; and threatened us with all the calamities, first of a foreign, then of an intestine war.—The fruits of these seeds have been more or less visible in all parts of our country, but none have been so matured and conspicuous as the Western insurrection.—The wise, decisive and seasonable measures adopted by the Supreme Executive, and the other officers of government, and advocated and supported by the great body of enlightened citizens, to check and counteract this dangerous foreign influence in all its shapes—have, under the smiles of Province, procured our exemption hitherto from foreign war—and by means of a late happily concluded foreign negociation,[xxxvi]–and the increasing harmony and union between this country and the French nation, in consequence of the recent happy change in the measures of their government—we have the most pleasing “prospect of a continuance of this exemption.”

A blessing no less distinguishing than our exemption from foreign war, is the  preservation of our internal tranquility, when “wantonly threatened” by a daring insurrection.  The alacrity with which our fellow-citizens, when called, flew to the standard of their Chief, on the trying emergency, when the important question was to be decided, Whether we should be governed by a mob, or by our legal representatives?—the ease and celerity with which a most respectable and formidable army was collected—the zeal and patriotism which animated them—the complete success with which their exertions were crowned—and the general applause they received from their grateful fellow-citizens—all these circumstances serve to confirm our internal tranquility, as they operate to discourage ambitious and unprincipled demagogues from making the like attempts to interrupt our peace in future—and to increase the confidence of the people in the stability, energy and promptness of our Federal Government.

When we turn our eyes to the little Republick of Geneva, and behold her deep distress—and trace the causes which led to it—we cannot but feel the most undissembled gratitude to God, our kind Preserver, in that we have so happily escaped the very same snares, which have involved her in ruin.

In speaking of our domestic peace, we ought not to pass unnoticed, the state of our frontiers.  For several years past we have been engaged in an unhappy contest with the Indian nations.  Since we have been able satisfactorily to trace the origin of this expensive war—and know that the unfortunate tries who have been engaged in it, have been deceived, urged on, and assisted by a foreign nation, whose measures have been peculiarly hostile to our prosperity and peace; and no less so, we believe, to the happiness and true interests of the Indians themselves—the necessity and justice of the vigorous measures of our government in prosecuting it, can hardly be doubted by any one.  The signal success, therefore, of our frontier army[xxxvii] the last year, must be considered a favour of Divine Providence.  In consequence of this success, and the pacific treaties and measures entered into and pursuing by our government, and the change of plans in the British government, the aspect of affairs in our western borders, though still unsettled, wear a more favourable and pacific aspect.

  1. Our lot as a nation is distinguished from that of the other nations of the world, by “the possession of constitutions of government which unite—and by their union establish liberty with order.”  The principles of our Federal and State constitutions are the same; and have for their object the protection and safety of the lives, the liberties and fortunes of the citizens.—The state governments are protected against an undue interference of the Federal Government—each is left to make and to execute its own local laws—while the Federal Government corrects and harmonizes the jarring interests of the state governments, and cements their union.  Our constitutions of government indeed are the fruit of the experience of all former ages, and the trial of them has proved their singular excellency.  In no nation on earth do the citizens enjoy protection and safety in their rights, at the expense of so small a portion of their natural liberty—Each individual is secured in the possession of his own rights, but in no instance suffered to encroach upon the rights of others.
  2. The wise and salutary laws, which flow from, and correspond with, our free constitutions of government—the freedom and the frequency of our elections—the patronage and encouragement given to publick and school education, and to all useful mechanic arts and improvements-the perfect enjoyment of religious as well as civil liberty—the means afforded, and the measures contemplated to extinguish our national debt[xxxviii]–and in general “the unexampled prosperity of all classes of our citizens;”—these are signal blessings, which, if they do not distinguish our lot from every other nation, they do from most of them—and certainly “mark our situation with peculiar indications of the divine beneficence towards us.”

“When,” therefore, “we review the calamities which afflict so many other nations”—when we survey and consider the state of the whole World, so far as our knowledge extends—does not “the present condition of the United States” indeed afford much matter of consolation and satisfaction?”—“In such a state of things, is it not, in an especial manner, our duty as a people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God?”  “What nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law which I set before you this day?”—“How great is the sum” of our mercies?—What shall we render to the Lord for all his benefits?”

If our situation, my brethren, be such as we have represented—if the Governour of the Universe has thus distinguished us with his favours—then, surely, we ought to be the best people in the world.  “To whom much is given, of them much is required.”  Our gratitude should bear a proportion to our blessings—Our love to God, and our obedience to his perfect laws, it will be reasonably expected, should as much surpass the love and obedience of others, in point of fervor, constancy, and purity, as our advantages and mercies exceed theirs—And thus to estimate and improve our mercies is the only way to secure their continuance.—Our national and individual sins, under our advantages, will be attended with peculiar aggravations—Let this consideration operate as a powerful dissuasive from sins of every kind—and excite us to an upright conduct, as men, as citizens, and as Christians.

In our present situation, loaded and distinguished as we are, by various blessings—we have need to beware that our hearts be not lifted up with pride and self-conceit, as though we were the peculiar favourites of heaven, and the most deserving of all the nations of the earth.  From such arrogance in our prosperity, may the Lord preserve us!—It is the nature of prosperity to fill the mind with vain glory, self-importance, and self-complacency—to make men feel independent of their fellow-men, and even of their God.—To keep our minds properly balanced and humble, when things go well with us as a nation, or as individuals, we should constantly bear in mind, that it is not we ourselves, but the Lord our God, that maketh us rich, and causeth us to be prosperous and happy.—Besides, prosperity in this world does not always mark the best nations or the best men.  Moses declares to the Israelites, that it was not for their righteousness, or the uprightness of their heart, that Canaan was given to them, but because of the wickedness of the nations who inhabited it, and to fulfill a promise to their fathers—“Understand therefore, said he, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness, for thou art a stiff-necked people.”[xxxix]—Let the consideration that this same language, can with truth be addressed to us, serve to humble us in the midst of our joy—and to qualify our rejoicing with a due proportion of trembling for our unworthiness.

Blest with a free and efficient government, a flourishing commerce, good credit, a fine and but partially settled country, and at peace with all the world—the United States offer, if not the only, probably the best asylum for the oppressed and persecuted by civil and ecclesiastical tyranny—Hither thousands of useful artisans and others, have already taken refuge from the calamities which afflicted their own country—By a strict adherence to the government, laws, and religious institutions of our country—may we evince to the world around us, their superior excellency, and cause them to say of us—“Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.”  Thus may we “render this country more and more a safe and propitious asylum for the unfortunate of other countries.”

Let us take heed, and keep our souls diligently, lest we forget the great things which God hath done for us, and the impression of our obligations to him for them, be effaced from our hearts.  Let us cherish their memory by teaching them to our children—that they may know and learn to estimate the immense value of the blessings which are, we hope, to be their future inheritance.

If the great body of the citizens throughout these American States, are well informed in respect to their rights and liberties, it will be difficult, if not impossible for ambitious, designing men, to wrest them from them.  If ever Americans are enslaved, the sad revolution will be preceded by a prevalence of ignorance among the middling and poorer classes of men.  As, then, we value the blessings of a free and equal government for ourselves, and our posterity—let us use our influence separately, and jointly, “to extend true and useful knowledge,” among very class of people—and “to diffuse and establish,” in our own families respectively, and among the youth in general, “habits of sobriety, order, morality and piety.”—We cannot leave a better legacy to our country than a family of well educated children.

As God hath made of one blood all nations to dwell on the face of the earth—they are all brethren of the same great family.  It is the part of a good man to possess the feelings of a brother towards the whole human race—and to be concerned for their happiness.—It becomes us, therefore, not to confine our benevolent regards to the narrow circle of our particular friends, to our town, our state, or even to our country; but to feel a glow of affectionate good will for all men of every nation, religion and character, on earth; and to unite in one sincere and fervent petition to the Great Ruler of Nations, “THAT HE WOULD IMPART ALL THE BLESSINGS WE POSSESS, OR ASK FOR OURSELVES, TO THE WHOLE FAMILY OF MANKIND.”

To conclude—What people, in any age or country, ever had greater reasons for gratitude and joy, either from the real enjoyment, or the prospect, of great and good things, than the inhabitants of the United American States, at the present moment?—We have a healthful, extensive, and fruitful country, equal to the support of the largest Empire that ever existed on earth—We have Constitutions of Government confessedly as good, as any ever formed by man, and as well administered—and with as fair prospects of permanency—The civil blessings which flow from good government, we feel in all their variety, and to a degree probably beyond any other nation—We have a Religion, and a free enjoyment of it—against which the gates of hell shall never prevail—whose institutions and precepts are wisely calculated to promote peace on earth and good-will among men—which unfolds to us the wonderful plan of Redemption by Jesus Christ, and brings life and immortality to light—With such a COUNTRY—such a GOVERNMENT—and such a RELIGION—if we are but wise to improve the advantages they furnish, and God vouchsafes to us his blessing—what that is great and ennobling to human nature, may we not expect?—“The wide, the unbounded prospect lies before us”—“Here let” us “hold”—and while the impression is warm on our hearts, let us with one consent, offer up a cloud of grateful incense, through Christ, to the Father of Mercies—unbounded in his love, and infinite in goodness—to whom be glory forever,

A M E N.

[i] Deut. i. 3.

[ii] Deut. xxxiv. 7.

[iii] President Washington entered his 64th year, Feb. 22, 1795—being born Feb. 11, (O. S.) 1732.

[iv] Deut. xxxiii. 29.

[v] Psalm cxlvii. 20.

[vi] The Jacobins are here alluded to.  That they deserve to be called sanguinary  men, will appear from the following extracts:–“A deputation from the section of the Champs Elysees, presented an Address, on the 23d of November, felicitating the Convention on the decree against the remnant of the Dictator’s (Robespierre’s) faction, sitting at the Jacobins, and against those individuals, who, like the old privileged Orders, retained only the name of their predecessors, without one of their virtues—and exhorting the Representatives of the people to crush those venomous reptiles, who were swollen into notice only by the innocent blood with which they had gorged themselves.”

To this address, Glauzel, the President, replied, “The National Convention has declared unextinguishable war against all the factions, all the intriguers, all the advocates of terror, all the depredators of the publick fortune, and all the enemies of the people, whatever mask they may assume.  The reign of virtue and justice is arrived:  it is on these bases that the national representation will found the Republick, which is to render the French happy.  While Capet existed, the Jacobins saved the publick weal by their energy; their hall was then the residence of virtue; they hastened the destruction of the tyrant.  But in overturning the throne, the Convention had sworn to annihilate tyranny.  Since the 27th of July, the society of the Jacobins had attempted to rival the national representation; it had become the resort of the factious—of the agitators—it was therefore the duty of the representatives of a free people, true to their oath, to shut up a place polluted by guilt.”  The Herald, Vol. I. No. 73.

In answer to a similar address, from the Popular Society of Chartres, congratulating the Convention on the decree for shutting up the Jacobin Club—the President said—“The majesty of the people, like a wave which drowns vile reptiles, has dispersed its enemies.  The Convention knows how to repress all those who take the names of lions, leopards, and tigers.  They will have only men.”  Centinel, Vol. XXII. No. 45.

[vii] See Gregoire’s celebrated Report on the destruction wrought by Vandalism, and on the means of repressing it—made August 31, 1794, in the Convention of France.  The Vandals (whence the expressive term Vandalism) were one of those barbarous nations, inhabiting the inhospitable regions of the North, who, like a torrent, overwhelmed the Roman empire, making havock of books, elegant temples, statues, pictures, and all the rich and superb monuments of learning and the arts.  It appears from the report referred to above, that the same destructive, barbarous scene was acted over again in France, during the tyranny of Robespierre.  “Do not think it exaggeration,” says Gregoire, “when you are told, that the names only of the articles purloined, destroyed, or wasted, would form many volumes.”—To such lengths did they proceed in their havock of literature and the arts, as to propose that “all who cherish the arts should be destroyed”—that “all rare animals should be killed, that the citizens might not spend their time at the museum, in viewing natural history”—that “the national library should be burnt”—that the words, “men of science” and “aristocrats,” should be considered “as synonymous.”  Dumas said “it was necessary to guillotine all men of genius and wit.”—And this cry was attempted to be raised in the sections, “guard against that man, for he has made a book.”

[viii] A decree of amnesty passed the National Convention, Dec. 2, 1794, declaring that “All persons in the precinct of the armies of the West, and of the Northern coast, now under the denomination of Rebels of la Vende and Chouans, who shall lay down their arms, within the next month from the publication of this decree, shall not afterwards be prosecuted, on account of their revolt.”

                  Gen. Duterre announced, as effects of the above decree, “that the system of justice and humanity, adopted in La Vendee, promised a speedy end to the war in that quarter, and that the rebels were daily surrendering, saying, Since you have pulled down the scaffolds, we abjure fighting against our brothers.

                  “La Vendee,” says Dubois Crance, “now produces 500,000 oxen and mules less than before the Revolution; and a million acres of land, formerly cultivated, now lies waste.”  Such have been the destructive effects of their rebellion.

[ix] The following extracts are here introduced in justification of the phrase—barbarous and shocking executions of the innocent—and to shew the great impropriety and absurdity of approving and justifying, in universal and undistinguishing terms, the conduct of part of the French nation—conduct, at the recital of which (to use their own emphatical language) “Nature shudders—reason is confounded—and liberty covers herself with the mantle of mourning.”

In the “Bill of accusation, drawn up against fourteen members of the revolutionary committee of Nantes, confined at Paris, and exhibited to them by the Publick Accuser, Lebois, Oct. 19”—it is declared, that

“Whatever is most barbarous in cruelty—whatever is most persidious in guilt—whatever is most dreadful in extortion—and whatever is most shocking in depravity, compose the accusation of the members and commissioners of the revolutionary committee of Nantes.

“In the most remote records of the world, in all the pages of history, even of the barbarous ages, scarcely would be found, any traits which come near to the horrors committed by the accused.  Nero was less sanguinary, Phalaris less barbarous, and Syphanes less cruel!”

To verify his charge, he states, among other things—that “On the 15th Frimaire, 132 new victims were devoted to death.  Order was given to shoot them; and it was Goulain, Grandmaison and Mainguet, who signed this order, which still exists in its original form.

“On the night between the 24th and 25th Frimaire, 129 prisoners, taken at hazard, and torn from the prisons, bound, pinioned, dragged to the harbor, embarked in a boat, and plunged into the river.  Goulain held the fatal list, Foly bound he unhappy victims, and Grandmaison threw them headlong into the Loire.  The project was decreed in the Committee, and the orders given by the members.  Mainguet allows that he signed them;–Grandmaison acknowledges that he caused the victims to be thrown into the river; and Goulain presided at this dreadful execution, which confounded at once the guilty and the innocent, which destroyed all the sacred rights of nature, violated those of liberty, and darkened the fairest days of her reign with a cloud of blood.

“Never will the hand of time efface the impression of the enormities committed by these atrocious men.  The Loire will always flow with blood-stained waters, and the foreign mariner will not arrive without trembling on the coasts covered with the carcases of victims sacrificed by barbarity, and which the indignant waves will have disgorged on those shores.

“Drunk with blood and wine, these cannibals scarcely knew their victims, and their eyes refused to read the traces of their crimes.

“In order to accomplish these crimes, it was necessary to associate with themselves persons of the most depraved principles: They form a revolutionary company:  They choose accomplices of the most atrocious character; and Goulain was not ashamed to ask—If villains still more depraved were to be found?”  The Herald, Vol. I. No. 77.

Extracts from the Trial of Carrier.

“Petit, substitute of the Publick Accuser, read a list of 42 persons drowned in Bourg Neuf, of whom one was an old man of 79 years, twelve women, twelve girls, and fifteen children, five of whom were at the breast, and others from five to six years old—by Carrier’s orders.

“Mergault declared, that two volunteers, who lodged at his house at Nantes, used to go out with their arms, and every day shoot  a hundred of the insurgent prisoners, who were confined in a large enclosure.  The volunteers told him, that it was by Carrier’s orders.

“The Chief Judge asked Carrier, if he recollected the child of 13 years old, whom he condemned, and who said to the executioner, “You will hurt me very much.”—The guillotine cut his head in the middle.  Or if he recollected the death of the publick Executioner at Nantes, who died with horror, after having executed (without trial) the five sisters by the name of Metairie, the eldest 28, the youngest 17 years old—together with their maid, of 22.”  Centinel.

We are happy to add, that justice has triumphed over these monsters—that the reign of terror has ceased in a great measure—that a spirit of humanity and moderation is prevailing, and “the national character” of the French, “is re-appearing.”

[x] Reported to amount to 1,200,000 men.

[xi] The rejection of the Christian Religion in France is less to be wondered at, when we consider, in how unamiable and disgusting a point of view it has been there exhibited, under the hierarchy of Rome.  When peace and a free government shall be established, and the people have liberty and leisure to examine for themselves, we anticipate, by means of the effusions of the Holy Spirit, a glorious revival and prevalence of pure, unadulterated Christianity.—May the happy time speedily come!

[xii] The following facts, illustrative of this assertion, were lately stated to the Convention by Dubois Crance.—“Silk stuffs, to the value of two hundred millions of livres, were formerly manufactured at Lyons from the raw material of the value of twelve millions.  This manufacture of silk was totally ruined by the severe decrees against Lyons, under the Jacobin administration.  Great part of the wealthy merchants and manufacturers, were proscribed or guillotined, and their property seized.  The number of victims sacrificed in that city alone, was upwards 4500.  The silk weavers were driven from their occupations, and compelled to collect their sustenance from the ruins of the houses of the rich, a great part of which were destroyed, by order of the Club government.  Ten thousand of the workmen in the fine cloth manufactures of Sedan, are nearly destitute of employment.”  It is with satisfaction we add—that since the fall of the Jacobin faction, three thousand merchants, manufacturers and artisans, have returned to France, through Switzerland, and resumed their labours.”—Should moderation continue to prevail, others, no doubt, will follow, and the state of manufactures will assume a more pleasing aspect.  The Herald, Vol. I. No. 68.

[xiii] The state of the nation, in respect to their finances, may be judged of by the following:–The expenditure, according to Mr. Neclaer, exceeded the revenue, in 1789, 56,239,000 livres, equal to L.2,343,291 sterling.

[xiv] See Note on Vandalism, p. 11.

[xv] The following are the Author’s sentiments respecting the French Revolution, expressed in a sermon delivered on the day of Publick Thanksgiving, Nov. 20, 1794, and here inserted by desire.

“Liberty is the birth-right of all mankind; but few of them, comparatively, enjoy it.  It has been wrested from them by the various artifices of wicked and designing men, and kept concealed from their view.  They have been held in various kinds and degrees of slavery, and knew not that they had a right to be free.  But the scales of ignorance are fast dropping from their eyes.  Whole nations have risen, determined to maintain their rights.  Where that genuine liberty, which is the right of every man, has been their object, and the measures pursued to attain it have been commendable, and such as heaven approves, as lovers of mankind, we cannot but rejoice most sincerely, in their success.  This is the bound which I conceive ought to limit our joy and gratitude to Heaven, on account of those nations who are contending for their rights.  Their cause is unquestionably good; their errors and irregularities, however, proceeding almost necessarily from the magnitude and the difficulties of their undertaking, are not to be justified, nor yet too severely censured.  All circumstances taken into view, they ought, perhaps, in a great measure, to be excused.  But for their cruelties, and especially for their impieties, we can find no adequate excuse.  It would discredit the best of causes, with every good man, to blend such cruelties and impieties with it, and to make them accessory to, and auxiliaries in, its promotion.  While then we offer up our thanks to God, this day, for the progress of real liberty, in opposition to tyranny and oppression, in whatever quarter of the world this progress has been made, let us carefully separate between the precious and the vile, and not rejoice for that which ought to fill our hearts with sorrow and mourning.”

[xvi] The Marquis La Fayette, at the age of 19, espoused, with ardour, the cause of America; and at a very early period of the war, determined to embark for the United States.  Before he could effect his departure, intelligence arrived, that the American rebels, reduced to 2000 men, were flying through the Jerseys, before a British force of 30,000 regulars.  This news so effectually  extinguished the little credit which America had in Europe, in the beginning of the year 1777, that the Commissioners of Congress at Paris, though they had previously encouraged this project of Fayette, could not procure a vessel to forward his intentions.  Under these circumstances, they thought it but honest to dissuade him from the present prosecution of his perilous enterprise.  It was in vain they acted so candid a part.  The flame which America had kindled in his breast, could not be extinguished by her misfortunes.  “Hitherto,” said he, “I have only cherished your cause—now I am going to serve it.  The lower it I in the opinion of the people, the greater will be the effect of my departure; and since you cannot procure a vessel, I shall purchase and fit out one to carry your dispatches to Congress, and myself to America.”  He accordingly embarked, and arrived at Charleston, early in the year 1777.  Congress soon conferred on him the rank of Major-General.  He accepted the appointment, not however without exacting two conditions, which displayed a noble and generous spirit—the one, that he should serve at his own expense—the other, that he should begin his services as a volunteer.  See Amer. Geog. 2d edit. P. 136.

[xvii] Against Poland.

[xviii] The Herald, Vol. 1. No. 71.

This sketch of the present state of Great-Britain, was written and published in England, as late as Nov. 14, 1794, by a writer under the signature of Junius Redivivus.  He appears to be no friend to the “political system” of the French—and advocates vigorous measures to oppose the progress of what, in his view, disorganizing principles.  We conclude from these and other circumstances, that he was a friend to his country, and would not knowingly exaggerate its calamitous state.

[xix] I take leave here to introduce a comparative view of the National Debts of Great-Britain and the United States, which, with the observations annexed, will shew the present-eligible situation of the latter compared with that of the former, and with that of Europe at large.

DEBT OF GREAT-BRITAIN.

Dols.                 Cts.

Principal of the English Debt, in 1785,                                       239,154,880, sterl. or                1062,910,577.          80

Interest and charges for management,                                              9,275,769,           or                  41,225,640.          —

Chalmers Estimate of the Comparative Strength

of Great Britain, p. 159

Since 1785, the National Debt of Great-Britain is said to have increased to upwards of THREE HUNDRED MILLIONS sterling—the interest of which, together with the civil list, secret service money, &c. &c. require a yearly revenue of upwards of seventeen MILLIONS.  See Rev. Mr. Channing’s Thanksgiving Sermon, of Nov. 27, 1794, p. 17.

DEBT OF THE UNITED STATES.

Dols.                 Cts.

Principal of Domestick Debt at the close of 1794, consisting of unfunded—

Six per cent.—three per cent, and deferred stock,                                                                              64,825.538.          70

Total interest, payable annually by the contract existing at the close of the year 1794,               2,405,272.          60

Total Foreign Debt, due to the French Government, and at Amsterdam and

Antwerp, about                                                                                                                                         14,708,000.           —

Interest on foreign loans, as due 31st Dec. 1794,                                                                            678,102.                   80

Total Debt, principal and interest,              72,616,914.           10

Secretary Hamilton’s Report, of Jan. 7, 1795.

If we reckon the Debt of Great-Britain as it stood in 1785, the difference between that, and ours, is upwards of One thousand and thirty-one millions of dollars.  The actual difference, at the present time, is probably a third more.  There is this further striking difference, theirs is rapidly increasing—ours is decreasing.

 

In the United States, the average proportion of his earnings which each citizen pays for the support of the civil, military, and naval establishments, and for the discharge of the interest of the publick debts of his country, is about one dollar and a quarter, equal to two days labour, nearly:  that is, five millions of dollars to four millions of people.  In Great-Britain, France, Holland, Spain, Portugal, Germany, &c, the taxes for these objects, on an average, amount to about six dollars and a quarter to each person.  Hence it appears, that in the United States, we enjoy the blessings of free government and mild laws; of personal liberty and protection of property, for one fifth part of the sum, for each individual, which is paid in Europe for the purchase of publick benefits of the same nature, and too generally without attaining their objects; for less than one fifth indeed, as in European countries, in general, ten days’ labour do not amount to six dollars and a quarter.  In this estimate, proper allowances are made for publick debts.

From the best data that can be collected, the taxes in the United States, for county, town, and parish purposes, for the support of schools, the poor, roads, &c. appear to be considerably less than in those countries; and perhaps the objects of them, except in roads, is attained in a more perfect degree.  Great precision is not to be expected in these calculations; but we have sufficient documents to prove that we are not far from the truth.  The proportion in the United States is well ascertained; and with equal accuracy in France, by Mr. Necker; and in England, Holland, Spain, and other nations in Europe, by him, Zimmermann, and other writers on the subject.

This statement, at the same time that it evinces the eligible and prosperous situation of the United States, shews how large a proportion of their earnings, the people in general can apply to their private purposes.      See American Universal Geography, p. 250.

[xx] The Netherlands are divided into two parts—distinguished by Northern and Southern divisions.  The Northern contains the Seven United Provinces, usually known by the name of Holland,–2,758,632 inhabitants in 1785.  The Southern contains the Austrian and French Netherlands,–1,500,000 inhabitants.

[xxi] Perfected May 3d.

[xxii] The Leyden Gazette of March 4th, 1794, states—that “Baron Ingelstrom, Minister Plenipotentiary, and Commander in Chief of the armies of the Empress of Russia, has transmitted a Note to the permanent Council of Poland, requiring them to collect all the acts and decrees of the Revolutionary Diet of 1791, from all the provinces of Poland, and to put them under seal in the custody of the permanent Council.”  He closes this most extraordinary requisition, intended to blot out the annals of their happy Revolution, by saying, “He has no doubt the wisdom of his motives will command a ready reception of this order, and an approbation proportioned to the importance of the object.”

                  The same Gazette further states, that the Empress is endeavouring to rivet her chains, and to put it forevr out of the power of wretched Poland to throw off the yoke, by gradually reducing the Polish army, and by melting down the cannon which the Revolutionary Diet had procured.   The Herald, Vol. 1. No. 4.

On the 16th of April following, Baron Ingelstrom sent another Note to the King and permanent Council, “requiring that the arsenal of Warsaw should be delivered up to him—the Polish military be disarmed, and that 20 persons, mostly of consideration, should be arrested, and if found guilty, punished with death.”

The effect of this singular Note was a violent and bloody insurrection at Warsaw—which opened the dreadful scene of war, since exhibited, and which, after destroying several hundred thousand people, and entailing poverty and wretchedness on as many more, is likely to have a most melancholy termination.

The following is an extract from a Treaty of cession, signed (by constraint) in the name of Poland, in favour of Russia, at Grodno, July 13, 1793—Translated from the Leyden Gazette.

The second article determines “the limits which shall hereafter forever separate the empire of Russia and the kingdom of Poland.”  The boundary line described cuts off a large part of Poland, bordering on Russia, inhabited by three millions and a half of people.  “This line above determined,” says the treaty, “to serve forever as a boundary between the empire of Russia and the kingdom of Poland—his Majesty, the King, &c. cede in a manner of the most formal, the most solemn and the most obligatory, to her Majesty, the Empress of all the Russias, her heirs and successors, all that which ought in consequence to appertain to the Empire of Russia, and especially all the countries and districts, which the aforesaid line separates from the actual territory of Poland, with all the property, sovereignty and independence; with all the cities, fortresses, boroughs, villages, hamlets, rivers and waters, with all the vassals, subjects and inhabitants; releasing them from their homage and oath of fidelity, which they have taken to his Majesty and the crown of Poland; with all the rights, as well political and civil, as spiritual, and in general, with all that belongs to the sovereignty of those countries; and his said Majesty, the king and the republic of Poland, promises in a manner the most positive and solemn, never to form, either directly or indirectly, or under any pretext whatever, any pretension to the countries and provinces ceded by the present treaty.”  The Herald, Vol. 1. No. 17.

[xxiii] Stanislaus Augustus, the present King of Poland, is a most amiable, humane man—and has endeared his name to all lovers of liberty by his exertions for the freedom and happiness of his subjects. His speeches to the Diet, a few days after the forementioned treaty was signed, exhibit forcibly the feelings of a distressed, generous, paternal heart—“My own fate,” said he, “interests me the least; I have more than once offered to sacrifice myself for my country; but it is your fate that agitates my thoughts, and what is more important the fall of the nation—It is the duty of a Father who loves his children, to lay the plain truth before them, without any disguise—of this duty I have acquitted myself.”—In a second speech delivered on the same day, he says-“I have heard, with heart-felt grief, the vows of a virtuous citizen, who, before the last sitting, promised himself tears of compassion from his posterity, who will see upon his tomb, the name of him, who chose rather to die, than cease to call by the name of compatriots, those whom a foreign force has appropriated to itself. [Alluding to the three millions and a half of Poles consigned over to Russia, by treaty.]  I dare hope in my turn, that when I shall appear before the great Judge, to whom I appeal for the purity of my motives, those who shall live after me, will say,–“He was unfortunate, but he was not culpable.”  See these affecting speeches at large, in the Herald, Vol. 1. No. 16.

[xxiv] Kosciusko.  This General was in America during our Revolution, and is well known to many of our officers.  Here, as the pupil of Washington, “he was confirmed in the principles of liberty, endured its toils, and learned to” fight “ in its defense.”  He was placed by his countrymen, at the head of their armies, and he often led them to victory.  At length, overpowered by numbers, and covered with wounds, he was taken prisoner, with a part of his army, and, under a strong guard of 3000 men, conducted to Petersburgh, where our latest accounts leave him.

[xxv] Accounts under the London head of Jan. 3d, 1795, state—that the Russian army under Gen. Suwarow, in the course of 52 days from the 17th of Sept. fought six battles, in which were slain 28,500 Poles.—How dreadful must the carnage appear, when we take into the account the exploits of Fersen, and the rest of the Russian Generals—and of the Prussian army?     Mercury, No. 16, Vol. V.

In the engagement on the 4th of Nov. (1794) at Praga, on the banks of the Vistula, 20,000 Poles perished by the sword, the fire and the water.  In the suburb of Praga, 12,000 inhabitants of both sexes, and all ages, were the victims of the first fury of the Russians, who massacred all that they met, without distinction of age, sex or quality.    Centinel, Vol.XXII. No. 49.

Another account of the capture of Warsaw, by way of Vienna, states—that “the besieged consisted of 40,000 men, amongst whom were 7000 Prussians; and the massacres committed by the Cossacks upon men, women and children, are too horrible for description.

[xxvi] Its inhabitants are estimated at 30,000.

[xxvii] See a brief Account of the Origin and Progress of the Revolution in Geneva—written in letters, by a Genevese gentleman.  This well written afflicting narration, is well worth perusal.

[xxviii] See the Emperor’s edict, issued Oct. 28, 1794, to the Directors of the Circles of the Empire, containing an exhortation, &c. &c.—The third article of this exhortation is thus expressed—

“His Imperial Majesty expects that no state will shew, from individual interest, or from any other false principles, any backwardness against contributing to the general defence of the Empire.  His Majesty would never have manifested any suspicions respecting this point, if unfortunately experience had not shewn him, that from the time the increase of the army had been determined to be triple the number of the former establishment, that the measure has not yet been accomplished to the present day.”

[xxix] The common estimate of human inhabitants on the globe, has been 950 millions—500 millions of which are apportioned to Asia.  This estimate, I conceive, to be in a great measure conjectural, and very erroneous.  There is a mistake of more than 100 millions in America.

[xxx] Abbe Raynal’s History of the Indies, Vol. 1. P. 50.

[xxxi] Ibid. Vol. 1. P. 131.

[xxxii] Ibid. Vol. 1. P. 186.

[xxxiii] Encyc. Art. China.

[xxxiv] According to the Indian Code—“A husband in distress, may deliver up his wife, if she consent; and a father may fell his son, if he have several”—That is—A mother of a family may be reduced to the condition of a prostitute,–and a son to that of a slave—“If a man kill an animal, such as a horse, a goat or a camel, one hand, and one foot shall be cut off from him”—Thus man is, by the laws, put upon a par with the brute creation.

The Indian Code says, “That a woman should by no means be mistress of her own actions; for if she have her own free will, she will always behave amiss”—“A woman shall never go out of the house without the consent of her husband”—“It is proper for a woman, (except under certain circumstances) after her husband’s death, to burn herself in the fire with his corpse—Every woman who thus burns herself, shall remain in paradise with her husband, an infinite number of years by destiny.”

“If a man strike a Bramin” or Priest “with his hand, or his foot, he shall have his hand or foot cut off.”—“If a Sooder or man of the fourth cast, be convicted of reading the Beids or sacred books, he shall have boiling oil poured into his mouth, if he should listen to the reading of the Beids of the Shafter, then oil, heated as before, shall be poured into his ears, and the orifice of his ears shall be stopped with melted wax”—“If a Sooder shall sit upon the carpet of a Bramin—the magistrate, having thrust a hot iron into his buttock, and branded him shall banish him the kingdom; or else he shall cut off his buttock—Whatever crime a Bramin shall commit, he shall not be put to death”—and his property is sacred and unalienable.  Raynal’s Hist. of the Indies.  Vol. 1. P. 66-71.

[xxxv] Raynal—Vol. I. p. 80-83.

[xxxvi] With Great-Britain.

[xxxvii] Under General Wayne.

[xxxviii] See the report of the Secretary of the Treasury, of Jan. 1795, containing “a plan for the further support of Publick Credit”—And the speech of Mr. Smith (S. C.) “on the subject of the Reduction of the Publick Debt”—December 1794—Published in a pamphlet.

[xxxix] Deut. ix. 5, 6.

Proclamation – Fasting – 1870

William Claflin (1818-1905) was governor of Massachusetts from 1869-1872. Here is his proclamation for a statewide day of fasting and prayer for April 7, 1870. Notice the mention he makes of “The request of a few that this custom [of issuing proclamations] be discontinued…”



Commonwealth of Massachusetts

By His Excellency

William Claflin,

Governor:

A Proclamation

For a day of Fasting and Prayer.

The season has returned which our pious ancestors deemed suitable to a public acknowledgment of dependence upon the goodness of God.

The request of a few, that this custom be discontinued, manifestly does not express the feeling of any considerable number of the people of the Commonwealth.

And it is certainly desirable that among us there be no diminution of the religious sentiment which originated the usage.

If the observance of the day has degenerated from its original idea, we should use it as described by the prophet in Holy Writ, proclaiming “an acceptable fast to  the Lord.”

It is not to “bow the head as a bulrush,” but to “loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free.”

“Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house, and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?”

It is therefore recommended that Thursday, the Seventh day of April Next, be devoted to Fasting and Prayer, and to the exercise of those benevolent purposes which denote sincere humility of heart toward God and the recognition of our obligations to our fellow-men.

As we engage in public, worship, let us pray Him who rules the destinies of Nations, that He may preserve us from the dreaded pestilence, that He may give us freedom from wars and tumults, that He may bestow plentiful harvests, and secure to each a just recompense for his labors; and that we may be blessed with good order and good government, which are so essential to the prosperity of the States and Nations. Let us remember in our prayers the bereaved and sorrowing and ask for them the consolations which are granted to those who look with faith to the great source of all comfort. And let us ask of God the strength and wisdom necessary to develop in us those principles of piety, charity, and good will, which are man’s distinguishing attributes; and to add to His other blessings the full forgiveness of sin through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Given at the Council Chamber, in Boston, this third day of March, in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and seventy, and of the Independence of the United states of America the ninety-fourth.

William Claflin

By His Excellency the Governor,

By and With the Advice and consent of the Council.

Oliver Warner, Secretary.

God Save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Sermon – Election – 1815, Vermont


Henry Davis (1771-1852) graduated from Yale in 1796. He served as President of Middlebury College (1810-1817) and President of Hamilton College (1817-1833). This election sermon was delivered by Dr. Davis at Montpelier, VT on October 12, 1815.


sermon-election-1815-vermont

A

SERMON,

DELIVERED ON THE DAY OF GENERAL

ELECTION,

AT MONTPELIER, OCTOBER 12, 1815,

BEFORE THE HONORABLE

LEGISLATURE OF VERMONT.

BY HENRY DAVIS, D. D.
PRESIDENT OF MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE.

Published by order of the Legislature.

AN

ELECTION SERMON.

ROMANS, xiii. 4.

For he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

At the period, when this epistle was written, Rome was sunk in gross idolatry, and her rulers were implacable enemies of the cross of Christ. The disciples of Jesus were despised and persecuted; and in many instances put to death by the most cruel and ignominious tortures.

The descendants of Abraham boasted themselves of their distinction. Because God had favoured them with peculiar privileges; had dictated to them a system of polity, both civil and religious; had anciently proclaimed himself their king; and in later times governed them by rulers of his own appointment. They arrogated to themselves exemption from the ordinances of men, and deemed it impious and degrading to submit to their authority. Many of them, after embracing Christianity, entertained still the same views and dispositions. And of the Gentiles, also, who had renounced their idols and devoted themselves to God, there were not a few, who vainly contended, that the spiritual wisdom, with which HE had endued them, was a sufficient directory for their conduct; and that they were under no obligation to render obedience to a government, which was imposed upon them by unbelieving rulers. By these means, their dangers and sufferings were increased, and the Gospel of Christ was evil spoken of.

In this chapter of his epistle, the Apostle shews them, in a manner clear and forcible, that their principles were erroneous, and their conduct reprehensible. He begins his address, by teaching them the foundation of civil government;–that it is the ordinance of God. Not indeed that it is, as to its form, of divine appointment; but that it is sanctioned by God as essential to man, both as to the security of his happiness, and to the performance of his duties; and that its obligations are sacred and universal. Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers; for there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God.

It is no matter then, what the genius or denomination of the government, or by what means established;–what the religion of the ruler, or the religion of the subject. The obligation to obedience is ever the same; for it is founded in the will of God, and the constitution of man; and is indispensable to the being of society.

But what, it will be asked, is the measure of this obedience? Or is it to be regarded as absolute and unconditional? Does the Apostle enjoin upon his Roman brethren the doctrine of non resistance, and, by this means, legalize tyranny? Does he establish a principle so abhorrent from reason and our feelings, that men are born to be slaves? That the will of the magistrate is his only law? That subjects have no method of redress under the most grinding oppression? And that to resist the encroachments of rulers is, in all circumstances, to resist the ordinance of God?

Doctrines and principles like these, are inconsistent with every enlightened sentiment of humanity, and directly repugnant both to the precepts and spirit of the Gospel. They deliver over the multitude to the caprice and ambition of a few, and bind them in chains.

That the Roman government was, at this period, immensely corrupt, and its subjects groaning under oppression, will not be questioned. But with this matter the Apostle had no concern. It was totally incompatible with the sacred objects of his mission. An interference, in the political concerns of the state, would have awakened against the disciples of Christ a most deadly jealousy and resentment. It would have provoked a spirit of universal extermination, and brought down upon them, in a manner still more dreadful, the vengeance of the civil arm.

The founder of Christianity had expressly taught his followers that his kingdom is not of this world. The great purpose of his manifestation in the flesh was, by the sacrifice of himself, to take away the sins of the world; to reveal to man his true character and condition; to increase and to enforce his motives to duty; and to make him wise unto salvation.

While the primary and ostensible object of the Apostle, in addressing the Roman brethren in the context, was to make them acquainted with their relation to civil government, and the universal obligation of obedience to it, he indirectly, yet obviously and forcibly, teaches the magistrate the nature and extent of his authority.

Having first declared that all power emanates from God; that civil government is ordained by God; and that every soul is bound to render obedience to it; he adds, For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same. For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain. For he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

These considerations, it will be remembered, are urged by the Apostle on his brethren, as an additional argument for submission to the authority of the Roman magistrate. He does not attempt to shew them the character of the government under which they lived; but he teaches them plainly what ought to be its character. His meaning cannot be misapprehended. The government intended by him can be no other than a righteous government. A government which seeks the praise of God more than the praise of men; which aims steadily and inflexibly to protect and to encourage the obedient, and to chastise and to humble transgressors; which guards with equal care and solicitude the lives and privileges of all its subjects, and renders to everyone according to his character. No authority but such has God, who formed man for society, ordained to be exercised over him; and none but such can meet his approbation. If this be not the fact, the magistrate would be a terror to those who do well, and a praise to those who do evil.

The happiness of the people then is the sole object of civil government; the sole object for which anyone is invested with power, and for which he can exercise it; and the sole point, in which should centre, all his deliberations and all his exertions.

Such being the foundation of all civil institutions, of all legislative, judicial and executive authority, the conclusion is irresistible; that every nation has an unquestionable, a perfect right, to be governed by laws of its own making, and by rulers of its own choice; and that these laws and rulers it may change, as its circumstances may dictate.

And should those, who are appointed the guardians of its rights and the avengers of its injuries, trample upon the constitution; break over the boundaries of their authority, and wantonly sport with its privileges, they bear the sword in vain; they exonerate the subject from his obligation of allegiance to them, and arm him with an undoubted right to resist their aggressions. But whether resistance in a given case be expedient, circumstances must determine. If rights, essential to his security and happiness, are endangered, neither property, nor life, will be regarded in defence of them.

Every other foundation of civil government is a solecism of the grossest character, and will be embraced by none but tyrants and their slaves.

Standing on this elevated ground, invested with the sword of authority, as a minister of God for good to the people, and holding in his hand their destinies, highly interesting and responsible is the condition of the magistrate; and to trample upon the privileges of the citizens, or to sacrifice their happiness from motives of revenge, of avarice, or of ambition, is a sin of deep malignity, and cannot fail to provoke the vengeance of HIM, by whom kings reign, and princes decree justice.

In obedience to the voice of the supreme legislative authority of this commonwealth, I appear before them on this interesting occasion. God forbid that I should be unmindful of my duty, or profane the sacred office with which he hath honored me. To the character of a partisan, I disclaim all pretensions. As a member of the community, I feel, and I trust I ever shall feel, a deep interest in its welfare. But in the political questions, by which the public mind is agitated, and in which many great and good men, whom I have the honor to number among my friends, are at variance in opinion. I have no active concern. I stand in this consecrated place, as a minister of Christ, as bound by the covenant of God to deal plainly with my fellow sinners, whenever called to speak to them in HIS name, however elevated their condition.

For addressing this assembly on the duties of rulers, I need make no apology. For men of this character I am called to address. Would to God that what is to be delivered may be followed with his blessing; that it may prove useful to us all; but especially to those who are immediately concerned;–that it may excite them to fidelity in the important trust committed to them;–and that it may be found, when we shall all stand at the tribunal of God, that they have not born the sword in vain.

The language of the text is highly expressive and emphatical. The sword is introduced as an emblem of authority; and it implies that those who are invested with this authority are to exercise it with energy. But as ministers of God, as his vicegerents among men, they are not to lord it over his heritage.

Like the government of that GREAT and GOOD BEING in whose name they act, all their measures should be characterized by justice and tempered with mercy.

The necessity of civil government arises from our depravity. Had not man lost the uprightness, in which God created him, no civil restraints would have been necessary. Injustice and violence, wars and fightings, which proceed from his lusts and passions, would never have been heard of. The earth would never have been cursed with thorns and briars; and creation would still have smiled with the innocence and loveliness of paradise. But God, whose judgments are a mighty deep, and whose ways are past finding out, hath suffered man to fall from this elevated standing. The image of his Maker, which he once bore on his soul, hath departed from him. Sin hath entered the world, and confusion, and injustice, and violence are its consequences. To shield mankind, as far as possible, from these evils is the great end of all civil associations. And Christians who are called to bear the sword, are under sacred obligations, as ministers of God,

I. To make his word the guide of their conduct. The will of God is the only unerring rule of righteousness; and nowhere, excepting in his word, is HIS will clearly and satisfactorily revealed to us. Revelation is a transcript of the perfections and purposes of that ALMIGHTY and GLORIOUS BEING, who is the creator, the upholder, and the governor of all things.

In the word of God, and here only, are we taught the true origin, the real condition, the real character, and the high destiny of man. It is here, and nowhere else, that we are taught, with certainty, the nature of those capacities which God hath given him; that he is a being of other hopes than those of the present life; that he has interests, hereafter to be realized, whose value no calculation can reach; and that his residence on earth is the only season allotted him, for securing those interests. We here learn, that rulers, however exalted their talents and their rank, have the same infirmities, the same propensities and the same interests, as other men; that as moral beings their elevation entitles them to no prerogative; and that they are equally bound to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. Do unto others as you would they should do unto you, is a command of universal authority, and not less obligatory on the magistrate, than on the citizen. Saith the voice of inspiration, He that ruleth over men should be just, ruling in the fear of God.

When the righteous are in authority the people rejoice; but when the wicked bear rule, the people mourn.

Were the precepts of the Gospel universally regarded by rulers, and its spirit imbibed by them, vastly different would be the condition of mankind. It is granted, that among pagan nations, there have been men of exalted views and sentiments; men, who have postponed to their country’s good all private considerations; who have undauntedly faced danger and death, and cheerfully sacrificed their all to its honor and security. And it is not to be disputed, that in countries also, where Christianity has diffused its blessings, many have been found of a similar character; notwithstanding they denied its authority, and rejected its instructions.

But how many Alexanders, Caesars, and Caligulas, has the world witnessed, to one Titus, or Marcus Aurelius? And how many Neroes and Frederics of Prussia, to one Alfred, or to one Washington.

Infidelity is overreaching, overbearing and hard hearted. Its own aggrandizement is its only object. It wantonly sports with the dearest interests of society; and is prodigal of the blood of man, as of no value, when set in competition with its unhallowed desires.

Banish from the mind those solemn truths, with which revelation presents us, and all enquiries, respecting the future, are perplexed with doubt and uncertainty. Every tie of conscience, which should bind man to his duty, is sundered. Earth becomes the limit of his desires, and self promotion the centre of his exertions. And unless restrained by the fear of God, in proportion as his opportunities for subserving his own interest are increased, in the same proportion, is his danger also, of being given up to the control of such motives. Is the correctness of these remarks doubted? Let them be tried by the records of ages. How happens it, if this ignorance, or forgetfulness, of God and our duty, and this devotion to our own interest be not the cause, that the history of nations is little else than a history of revolutions of rimes and of cruelties?

How happens it, that the multitude have been the slaves of a few; that in obedience to the authors of these changes and sufferings, they have yielded up as a sacrifice, their peace, their fortunes, and their lives? And, indeed, for what other reason is it, that almost every family in Europe is now setting in sackcloth, and that her hills and her plains are one field of blood?

But let conscience, enlightened by revelation, perform its office; let rulers keep in view the commanding truths of the Gospel; let them remember that they are ministers of God; that they are accountable to HIM;–that they are entrusted with power, not to harass, to oppress, and to enslave; but to promote the peace, the virtue, and the happiness of their people; let them bear in mind the judgment to come, and the retributions of eternity; and they will have before them motives to duty that are always binding, always operative. Truth and righteousness become the pole-star of their actions; and the fascinations of power, the emoluments of office, the pomp of triumphs and of victories, and the splendors of crowns, and of diadems, vanish into nothing. It must be acknowledged, that God hath not, in his works, left himself without witness; that the honest enquirer, be his condition what it will, may, from this source, learn much of his duty and interest. But shall be for this reason reject the instructions of revelation? Would not the mariner justly be thought a mad man, who should throw into the deep his compass and chart, and be guided only by the signs and stars of heaven?

II. It is the duty of rulers to establish such laws and regulations, as are adapted to the genius and circumstances of the people.

To give strength, and peace, and security, to the community will be primary objects with every benevolent and enlightened legislator.

But these objects cannot be accomplished, without a knowledge of mankind, in general, and of the characters, relations, and necessities, of the governed, in particular. A fundamental truth in legislation is, that man, find him where you will, is a depraved being; and governed by motives, which often lead him to sacrifice the rights and happiness of others to his own interest. In consequence of rejecting this truth, or of not acting under the conviction of it, men of high distinction in intellect and attainments, have, when writing on the subject of laws and government, fallen far short of the expectations, which their talents had excited. Not regarding man as he really is, but assuming it, as a first principle, that he is rather what he ought to be, their systems, plausible enough in theory, have proved defective in experiment; and have soon sunk, with the authors of them, into neglect and oblivion. In every government, not cursed with tyranny, where men are left to think, and to act, for themselves, wise rulers, in all their measures, will be influenced by a reference to public opinion; and this opinion, it will be remembered, is, usually regulated by public interest.

The physical strength resides in the people; and whenever they are sensible of their power, and have opportunity to exert it, it is in vain to attempt to enforce laws upon them, however wise and salutary, which, in the view of the majority, are incompatible with their interests. I would by no means insinuate that this remark is universally true. I acknowledge that there are some honorable exceptions. I should rejoice were there more. But, as a general remark, it is fully attested by experience, and will not be questioned.

Many writers, far from being contemptible in understanding and in their acquirements, and who had spent much of their time in discussing the science of government, seemed to have imagined, that the views, the desires and the pursuits, of men, and the motives that actuate them, are, in all places, like the laws of the physical world, uniform and invariable; that a constitution adapted to the genius and circumstances of one nation, might, with equal propriety, be applied to any other; that the philosophers of Europe may form laws and regulations, for the aborigines of Asia, or of America, with the same confidence of success, as when attempting to account for the variety of their complexions, or of the climate and productions of their countries.

No principle is, in theory, more deceptive, and few have proved, in experiment, more mischievous. Although man, in every condition of society, is a being of corrupt propensities, and must be governed by restraints, yet, it is not to be forgotten, that every nation have their peculiarities; their own habits of feeling, of thinking and of acting; their own passions, their own interests, their own arts and employments; and the man, who attempts to legislate for any people, without a reference to this fact, will legislate in vain.

With a conviction of these truths, the prevention of crimes, by the establishment of salutary laws, will, in the view of every humane and intelligent government, be a primary object. But as men, abandoned of principle, will be found in every community, whom no threats will intimidate, and who cannot, by any vigilance and foresight, be effectually prevented from preying upon the innocent and defenceless; from disturbing the tranquility of the public, and endangering its security; it will ever be found necessary to restrain them by punishment. Examples must be made of transgressors, and be held up, as a terror, to those who would do evil.

With reference to this subject, the philanthropist looks, with emotions of regret, on the generations that are past. While he sees the arts and sciences improving, and the condition of man, in almost every other respect, gradually meliorating, it is with surprise, he perceives, in the methods of inflicting punishment, little improvement attempted, and little or no melioration, taking place.

The consequences of punishment, as they affect the future conduct of the offender, seem scarcely to have been regarded. Nothing appears, in general, to have been thought of, but the infliction of suffering, as an example to others; and the penalties inflicted have obviously been, in most instances, of such a character, as tend directly to make the subject of them more the servant of iniquity.

To expose the criminal in the stocks, or in the pillory, to the ridicule, the contempt, and the insults of the populace; or to punish him publicly at the post, and to send him away writhing and bleeding, from the stroke of the lash, can have little other effect, than to provoke a spirit of revenge; to destroy whatever sense of shame, or regard for character, might have been remaining; and to harden him for acts of deeper guilt. But to stigmatise him, by branding, or cropping, and to send him forth into the world, like Cain from the presence of God, with a mark set upon him, declaring to all men, that he is an outcast from society, a villain, and never to be trusted, is placing him, at once, beyond the reach of all honest employment; consequently beyond the power of reformation; and compelling him to continue in the commerce of iniquity, and to remain a curse to society.

More correct and exalted views of this subject were reserved for our times; and the improvement which it has already received is, by no means, the most inconsiderable of the improvements, in which we have so much occasion to rejoice.

The method, which has been recently adopted, by some governments, of punishing criminals by confinement and labor, is a happy alleviation of the criminal code, and promises much good. Indeed, much good has been already produced by it. Considered merely as an example, as a terror to those who do evil, it has, I apprehend, a more powerful influence, than the expedients that have been usually resorted to. To the man hardened in the career of wickedness, hardly anything is more dreadful than solitude; where there is no human being to commune with, but himself, and where his vices and his crimes, in spite of every effort to prevent it, will pass in review before him. But in regard to the reformation of the offender, and to the good of society, there is no ground for comparison, as to the consequences. Corporal punishment has little other tendency than to confirm the criminal in transgression; while confinement for a season, at least, frees the community, from his crimes and example, and furnishes some reason for hope of his being restored to it, at length, a sound and useful member. Without deliberate and serious reflection upon his life, there are no hopes of his amendment; nor is a conviction of his folly and guilt likely to prove effectual, without long habituation to industry, and to a course of regular conduct. Long established habits must be supplanted, and new ones formed, before a reformation can be regarded, as complete and permanent. Confinement and labor afford, in the best possible manner, both these means of amendment.

This method is farther recommended, by the fact, that the criminal may here be furnished, with moral and religious instruction, with which it is evidently the duty of the government to furnish him; that his motives to industry may be increased, by granting him some portion of the avails of it; and that for his good conduct, he is presented with the encouragement of going again into the world, with a useful trade, and with an amended character. Were this expedient of punishment and reform universally adopted, and faithfully executed, there would, in my opinion, be strong grounds to hope, that one prolific source of evils of a very dangerous tendency, which now infest society, would, ere long, well-nigh cease to exist. I say faithfully executed;–for there is much reason to apprehend, that it may not prove effectual, by rendering the confinement of shorter duration, than is necessary to produce a permanent change of habits.

But let not rulers forget, in their zeal for reformation, that the dungeon and the gibbet are not to be abandoned; that villains will exist, in every community, of so hardened and daring a character, that no other means will intimidate them; and that deeds of such extreme malignity will be perpetrated, as render forbearance foolishness and mercy a crime.

III. It is the duty of those, who are entrusted with the care of the state, to diffuse useful knowledge among their subjects.

“In arbitrary governments,” saith a writer, “The more ignorance, the more peace—but intelligence is the life of liberty.” We have reason to thank God, that we live in an age in which the truth of this assertion will not be controverted.

The encouragement of those arts and improvements, which are calculated to increase the means of subsistence, and to give vigor, and independence, and respectability, to the body politic, should embrace the attention of every government. But the instruction of the mass of people, in what is essential to their comfort, and to their characters also, as industrious, peaceable, and useful citizens, cannot, I conceive, be neglected, but with high criminality.

It is in vain for rulers to urge, as an excuse, that it is the duty of parents to educate their children. Parents, who are ignorant, it must be remembered, are too apt to be satisfied that their children should remain so. Not knowing by experience the blessings of education, they are, in general, willing, that they should grow up in the same want of information, in which they have grown up, and inherit the same vices and wretchedness, which they themselves have been heirs too. Little can ordinarily be expected, from the exertions of individuals, whatever be their patriotism and liberality.

Unless those, therefore, who are the constituted guardians of the public interests, shall extend a fostering hand to this subject, we have much reason to fear that a people, who are once ignorant, will, generation after generation, continue to be ignorant. What must be the consequences, experience tells us; indolence and vice, and poverty, and crimes, of the most destructive tendency. Those who know not their duty, and their interest, know not, of course, how to estimate them; and without a due estimation of them, it is not to be expected that they will pursue them. Men of this character are always exposed to the intrigues of every aspiring demagogue, and may easily be rendered the instruments of turmoil and violence. And history distinctly informs, that this class of the community, under the direction of ambitious and unprincipled leaders, have acted no inconsiderable part in the revolutions which have agitated and distressed the world.

Let no man deny, then, that it is the duty of government to assume the superintendence of a subject of such vital importance to the public; that it should require of those, who are able to do it, to educate their children; and should provide for the education of those, whose parents are not able, at the expense of the State.

IV. It is the duty of rulers to guard and to improve the morals of the people.

In governments strictly absolute, where the will of the despot is law, and physical power the only arbiter of every question, this subject will be regarded as of little value. It may, indeed, be presumed, that the corruption of morals is, sometimes, the principal basis on which such a government rests. But not so in countries that are blessed with freedom. Good morals are the life-spring of its being. They are the pillars, on which the constitution rests. Remove them, and it falls to ruin. Corrupt the citizens of any state, not bound in chains of tyranny, and confusion and anarchy ensue; and they soon become fit for nothing, but the minions of a despot, or the slaves of arbitrary power.

Every vice is, in its nature, degrading and dangerous. But the vices, which are most degrading, and most fatal to the public welfare, and which most imperiously demand the restraints of government, are drunkenness, profane swearing, and Sabbath-breaking. For to one, or to another of these, almost every other corrupt practice, or crime may be traced, as its origin.

Intoxication stupefies the intellect; blunts the moral perceptions; breaks down, or weakens the barriers between right and wrong; degrades and brutalizes the whole man; and renders him, ordinarily, a judgment to himself. It destroys the peace, the comfort, and the character of his family. It begets wrangling and hunger, and nakedness. Upon his wife, once the object of his tender affections, to whom he is bound, by the vow of his God, to furnish support, and to administer consolation, it brings disgrace, and shame, and despair. It leaves his children, the fruit of his own loins, to grow up, without discipline, without instruction and without example, to walk in his steps, and to be partakers of his end.

On the community also, its influence is not less to be dreaded. It disturbs the peace of neighbors. It produces among them quarrels, and lawsuits, and violence. Like the pestilence that walketh in darkness, it spreads around its contagion, and corrupts, by a gradual and almost imperceptible progress, numbers, who viewed themselves as proof against its influence; ‘till, at last, they yield themselves to its dominion, and become a curse to society. What are the vices and crimes, for which they are then not prepared, I dare not attempt to say.

Profane swearing, of all the vices that disgrace the human character, is the most silly, the most contemptible, and the most inexcusable. For there can be no possible temptation to it. Were it silly, and contemptible, and without excuse merely, we might bear with it. But it possesses other traits of character, and such as cannot be contemplated without deep alarm. To treat with habitual levity and irreverence the name of that infinitely GREAT and GOOD BEING, in whom we live, move and have our existence, and who is constantly shedding around us such a profusion of blessings, is sinful in the extreme, is searing to the conscience, and dangerous to the dearest interests of the community. God is infinitely amiable, and infinitely lovely; and that they love him with all their soul, with all their mind, and with all their strength, is his first command to all his intelligent creatures. It was disobedience to this command which filled heaven with disorder, and made this once peaceful and happy world a region of suffering, and the shadow of death. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain;–and what art thou, presumptuous worm of the dust, that thou shouldst contemn his authority, insult him with mockery and challenge the vengeance of the Majesty of Heaven? Were thy imprecations answered, what would be the doom of thyself and of thy fellows?

But he swears for the want of reflection, says his apologist. No harm is intended by him; and notwithstanding this blemish in his character, he still has many virtues.—That the man habitually profane has virtues, if the Gospel be our guide, I seriously doubt. That he may still have amiable qualities, and be, in many respects, a good citizen, I shall not deny.

But what is this want of reflection? When habits are once formed, we may commit any crime for want of reflection. The high-way robber assassinates the traveler, for want of reflection. The man, who makes gold, or honor, his God, may murder his neighbor, his friend, for want of reflection. And let me add, that, for want of reflection, the wretch, who is a slave to his passions, may plunge the fatal knife into the heart of his parent, of his child, or of the wife of his bosom.

Want of reflection is, in most instances, the incipient step, in every species of transgression. And the man who can deliberately, or thoughtlessly blaspheme his God, and invoke his curses upon himself or his fellow men, has not, it is to be feared, taken barely the first, the second, nor the third step, towards perjury.

Destroy the sanctity of the juror’s oath, and where are we? What security remains for our property, our reputation, or our lives? You free men from the restraints of conscience; you let them loose upon each other to harass and to destroy; and you render the earth which we inhabit a theatre of violence.

Ye ministers of God, who bear the sword! See then that those over which you have authority, venerate the name of that GREAT and TERRIBLE BEING, from whom your authority is derived. Slumber not on your seats; regard not, with indifference, a sin which cries to heaven for vengeance, and threatens to undermine the very being of the community. And let no man, who is habitually profane, boast of his love of country. For in the words of Rush, 1 “A profane and swearing patriot is not a less absurdity, than a profane and swearing Christian.”

The Sabbath, were there no world but this, is the most salutary, the most important, of all institutions. It is the grand palladium of everything valuable among men. Without it, good morals never have existed, and never will exist. To the utility of the Christian Sabbath, even infidels, have, and almost with one voice, been constrained to bear testimony. It is an institution highly propitious, both to man and to beast. Wherever it is sacredly regarded, more labor will be performed, and more real good produced, by the same number, possessing equal strength and opportunities, than where it is devoted wholly to secular pursuits. For arguments, in support of the importance of this subject, let us appeal to universal experience; and the instructions which it gives never will deceive us.

Where do you find, in the records of ages, a society or nation, who have not known, or have not venerated, the Sabbath, that have long remained peaceful, happy, or independent?

It is granted, that princes, professing themselves Christians, have been tyrants. That the religion of Jesus, in itself, gentle, benignant, and merciful, has, frequently, in the hands of aspiring men, been made a patron of ignorance and an engine of oppression. But no instance can be named, where the Sabbath has been regarded agreeably to the design of its author, in which it has not alleviated his sufferings, and exalted the condition of man.

Go into any village or society, where this day is kept by all, from the master to the servant, holy unto the Lord—Mark the indications of providence, of industry, of thrift and of plenty, that are everywhere visible. Let the observance of the Sabbath be banished from among them. Let but the present generation have passed away;–and then visit them again, and mark the contrast.

The church of God, once neat and entire, now sinking to ruin, its doors fallen from their hinges, its walls defiled and broken, and, instead of resounding with the praises of Jehovah, echoing with the lowing of the beast, or with the voice of the swallow, presents a striking miniature of the change which has taken place.

The tavern, formerly the quiet and peaceful retreat of the traveler, has become a scene of noise, of riot, and of wrangling.

Listen to the curses and the impious oaths of children, as you walk the streets. See neighbors quarrelling, and harassing each other with lawsuits; their fences broken down, their fields overrun with weeds and briars; their habitations decaying; their foundations tumbling from beneath them; their windows filled with tattered garments and everything around them, like the language and persons of their wretched occupants, exhibiting the marks of idleness, of indigence, and of degeneracy. Shall not the magistrate then, who is placed as a guardian over the members of the State see to it that they Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. But since the Sabbath will not be venerated, unless religion in general be encouraged and supported,

It is the duty of rulers,

V. To give encouragement and protection to all the interests of religion.

Divest the Sabbath of its sacred character; let it be viewed merely as a civil institution, and its salutary influence would be no longer felt. Banish the fear of God, and it would be regarded if regarded at all, only as a day of amusement and dissipation.

No man can view, with greater abhorrence than I do, the idea of an alliance between church and state. To make religion an engine of civil power; to enlist it in the cause of worldly policy and ambition, is a gross profanation of its character, and tends directly and powerfully to render it, instead of being the richest blessing, a source of oppressive evils to mankind. But that religion and civil government have no concern with each other, is a doctrine to which I can never subscribe. I can as readily admit that there is no connexion between honesty, temperance and veracity, and civil government.

The truth is, there is a vital connection between them; for neither, without the other, can have an existence that is worth a name.

What would be the religion of any people, if they had no civil government; or what their civil government, if they had no religion?

Let God and his providence be erased from the mind; let men cease to remember that his eye is constantly upon them; that he will one day judge the world in righteousness; that, on that occasion, their most secret thoughts, as well as their actions, will be brought to light, and everyone receive a just recompense of reward; and where would be the ground of confidence, between man and man? What security would be left for honor and veracity? What would become of the obligation of promises and oaths, on which, everything stable in life is depending?

Will it be argued, that our regard for the pubic good, that our innate sense of right and wrong, would be sufficient to constrain us to truth, to justice, and to benevolence? What is the public good? What are right and wrong, in the view of him, who hopes, or fears, noting beyond death? Whose creed is, Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die?

Release mankind from the obligations of religion, and every ruler necessarily becomes a despot, and every citizen a slave. For nothing, in such circumstances, will awe men to obedience, but the iron arm of arbitrary power.

The importance of religious restraints, to the existence of civil government, has been felt by rulers in every age. To give veneration to their characters, and stability to their institutions, they have impiously, and not unfrequently, claimed kindred with their gods, and arrogated the honors of divinity. And never, until our own times, has the attempt been made to establish and support a government, without the belief and acknowledgement of a superintending power. What the consequences were, we have all witnessed.

Will it be asserted, that religion is a concern merely between man and his God, and that the authority of the state has no right to interfere in this concern? But is it not a concern also, between every man and his neighbor; between every husband and his wife; between every parent and his child; between every master and his servant; and between every magistrate and the citizen? What are the relations of men, in which it does not enjoin duties to be performed, and which, if its authority be regarded, it does not affect, control and regulate? Of all the subjects presented to the human mind, it is the most interesting, the most sublime, and the most awful. It is the only consideration, which sets before us motives that are always operative. Which, even in the darkness of midnight, and the secrecy of solitude, have their influence.

Establish the principle, that religion is a matter of no concern with civil government; exempt the former from the authority of the latter, and you establish a principle, which may prove fatal to the best regulated community on earth. You place within the reach of every fanatic, and of every man void of the fear of God, a dagger, with which he may stab society to its vitals.

Men, when under the influence of zeal without knowledge, may embrace any opinions, however absurd, or adopt any practices, however irrational, or however dangerous to the general good. Scarce a doctrine can be named, be its absurdity what it may, that fanatics have not embraced. For conscience sake, they have declared all civil restraints a gross imposition, a wanton violation of their inborn rights, and have forcibly resisted the authority of the state. For conscience sake, they have scattered around them fire brands, arrows and death! And verily thought they were doing God service. With a view to their salvation, the world has beheld, astonishing as it may seem, a combination of men, for the avowed purpose of murder, that they might be condemned and executed by the civil authority; absurdly believing, that if the time of their death were known to them with certainty, they should be constrained to repent. If the government of the state has no concern with religion, how are such extravagances to be checked? Conscience, whose dictates are urged in justification of their opinions and conduct, is, in the view of such men, the voice of God speaking within them. And will you, say they, insult its authority? Will you disregard the injunctions of this heavenly monitor?

Let it never be forgotten, that the public good is paramount to every other consideration. That no private opinions, no private interests, are to be admitted in opposition to it. Civil rulers are invested with supreme authority, for the express purpose of determining and accomplishing what is necessary to promote the peace and prosperity of the community. And shall it be aid, that these nursing fathers of the state have no control of a subject, which, in the hands of fanatics, or of men void of principle, may prove fatal even to the being of society? That it is not their duty to provide for the protection and for the support of religion, which involves in it the highest interests of man, in this life, and everything worth hoping for, in the next?

I wish to be distinctly understood on this subject. I advocate no religious establishment, by the authority of the State; the preference of no denomination of Christians;–the exclusive promotion of no society of men, be their doctrines, or their modes of worship, what they may. Let the rights of conscience, properly so called, be scrupulously, and sacredly regarded. Let every man be left to worship God, if his worship contravene not the rights of others, in the manner which his judgment shall dictate; and let no man be constrained to worship him. The public welfare demands no such partialities;–no such sacrifices;–no such constraint. Religion, as a matter of practice, has its seat in the affections; it is an exercise of the heart. Its offering, to be acceptable unto God, must be a pure, a voluntary offering—No extraneous force can excite in the soul emotions of piety, or elicit from it, the expressions of gratitude. But let the magistrate take care, that religion be respected;–that laws be enacted for the encouragement and aid of its instructors;–that every man be required, as he hath ability, to do something for the support of an object, with which his own, and the best interests of all are intimately connected;–and that the Sabbath be not profaned, by amusement, by pleasure, or by business. As minister of God for good to the people, it is his indispensible duty to do this. And the government which neglects this duty cannot fail to provoke his displeasure; and will sooner or later experience it, in the licentiousness, the factions, and the violence, which will ensue.

Will anyone, in his senses, pretend, that to be obliged to contribute to the encouragement of religion because he feels no veneration for it, or embraces not its doctrines, or to abstain from secular pursuits on the day of the Lord, is an infringement of the rights of conscience? Will anyone say, that there is anything immoral in such submission?

The man, who is, in opinion, opposed to the constitution, may, with equal propriety, refuse obedience to the authority of the state. Or the miscreant, who loves his money better than his country, or his soul—may, on pretence of religious scruples, claim exemption from the taxes, that are essential to its maintenance. Conscience hs as much concern with the latter cases, as with the former. It has, indeed, no concern with either of them.

Every member of the community, whether he worship God or not; whether he embrace the obligations of religion or not; would have a recompense, for what might reasonably be required of him, for its support. Yes, if it be of any consequence to him, that his children be virtuous and happy; that they be free from examples of profanity, of idleness, and of debauchery; that society e not harassed with broils, with riots, and with violence, and that his character, his property, and his life, be secure, he would, indeed, have an ample recompense.

VI. But of no avail will be the wisest system of policy, unless the magistrate, whose duty it is, shall vigorously, and impartially execute the laws.

The laws of the state must be vigorously executed.

Certainty of punishment, where the fear of God is wanting, is the only effectual barrier against crime. Hope of impunity strengthens temptation, and furnishes additional incentives to transgression. Let the violation of established laws be connived at, or looked upon with indifference, and there is an end to all mild and wholesome discipline. This remark is equally true of every government, from the father of the family, to the prince on the throne.

Let the regulations of the domestic circle be disregarded; let the commands of the parent cease to be enforced; and disrespect, and idleness and disorder will inevitably follow.

A constitution combining the knowledge and wisdom of ages, if this vital principle of policy were overlooked in its administration, would soon be treated with neglect and contempt.

Let those, therefore, who bear the sword, be careful that the laws be enforced—when violated, that the offender be brought to justice; that their penalties be inflicted. For if suffered to be transgressed with impunity they cease to have authority, and their threatenings are in vain.

The laws must also be impartially administered.

Government is instituted for common defence and security. Every citizen has the same claim to its care and protection. That individuals, or sects of men, whose conduct, or whose opinions, political or religious, are hostile to the principles of the constitution, and subversive of the liberties of the state, are unworthy of confidence, and are to be viewed with jealousy; is not to be denied. But so long as all render a willing submission to the laws, and advocate no measures, and embrace no sentiments, which can be deemed unconstitutional, the lives, the persons, the property, and the happiness of all, are to be regarded as sacred, and as equally sacred. In such circumstances, the exercise of favoritism, in the administration of the laws; the promotion of some, and the depression of others, from motives of prejudice, of malice, of revenge, or of personal aggrandizement, is a direct violation of the principles of distributive justice, and of the ends of civil government; and it argues a shameful destitution of that magnanimity, and expanded liberality of sentiment, which ought ever to characterize the guardians of the public weal. A practice like this, let it exist under whatever form of government it may, is tyranny. In a government, which is really, as well as professedly, republican, in its constitution and measures, it cannot fail to produce alarming consequences.

I can think of hardly a greater judgment that can be sent on any people, than the curse of weak, of timid, of partial, or of temporizing magistrates. If those, who are called to the high and responsible station of guarding, and enforcing the laws, will not execute them, with energy, with fidelity, and with impartiality, there can be no security for anything. The value of property, of every comfort, of every privilege, even of life itself, is depreciated.

Such a violation of the first principles of a righteous government, is most devoutly to be deprecated. It alienates the affections of the people from their rulers, and from the constitution; it begets jealousies, and intrigues and factions;–it emboldens the monster ice, and throws open the floodgates of licentiousness;–it shakes from their very foundations the pillars of the state;–it leads directly to all the horrors of anarchy;–and, in a word, it is the beaten road to the subversion of liberty, and to the reign of despotism.

Suffer me to remark….and I can call God to witness my sincerity….that in advancing these sentiments, I have no exclusive reference to any man, to any party of men, or to any government, in our own country. I advance them because I deem them to be truths, and momentous truths. They are, indeed, eternal truths; and the ruins of nations verify them.

Cast your eyes over the map of the world. Why have so many states and kingdoms been erased from its surface? Why prowls the savage Arab over the ruins of the proud metropolis of Assyria and of Chaldea? Why does the stupid Ottoman, or riots the effeminate Italian, on the consecrated soil, where once flourished the empire of Greece and of Rome? Famed for their arts and their arms, mighty nations trembled at their power, and submitted to their dominion. “They stood on an eminence and glory covered them.”

Though dead they still speak! Though ages since, blotted from the list of nations, their catastrophe remains a solemn and eternal memento of the truth, that, where civil officers are timid, partial, ambitious, or temporizing, in the administration of the laws, personal bravery, high attainments in science, and the ablest systems of government, cannot save a people from corruption, from licentiousness, from faction, nor from final ruin.

VII. It is the duty of rulers to exhibit to those whom they are called to govern, an example worthy their imitation.

The propensity to imitation is one of the strongest propensities of our nature. It is implanted by the God who made us deep in the human breast. It affects, in no small degree, our thoughts, our speech, and our actions. Hence the truth of the remark that “We are governed more by example than by precept.”

I readily subscribe to the doctrine of the natural, deep rooted, and malignant depravity of the heart. I must subscribe to it; for it is taught me by the exercises of my own breast, by the history of all men, and by the word of God, in a manner, which I cannot question.

But is it not to the power of example also, that vice is greatly indebted for its contagious and wide spreading influence? Even the groveling and polluted wretch, who wanders the streets taking the name of God in vain, reeling with intoxication, or imprecating damnation on himself and others, notwithstanding he may do no good, is by no means to be regarded as a blank in society. The transition, from beholding crime to the actual commission of it, is easy and natural. Vice, by becoming familiar, loses its odiousness; and practices, that were contemplated with detestation and alarm, are, by being often seen, looked upon with indifference, and adopted, not unfrequently, without remorse.

Example, by slow and imperceptible advances, transforms the temperate man into a sot, the civilized man into a savage, and makes even the dastard brave. But when aided by the respect, which is naturally entertained for a parent, for an instructor, for a ruler, or for brilliant and commanding talents, it exerts an influence that knows no calculation.—On this principle it is to be accounted for, more than any other, that families, schools, and nations, so often contract the manners and habits of their guardians;–that virtues and vices so often seem hereditary;–that the conduct of an individual of distinguished intellect and attainments, if conspicuous by his excellencies, or his crimes, is so often salutary, or pestiferous, to the community;–that the stream of corruption, at first slow and silent, in its progress, at length widens, and deepens, and swells into a torrent, bearing away the character, the hopes, and the happiness of thousands.

Of all the conditions of men, that of rulers is the most responsible, the most dignified, and the most commanding. Girded with power, as ministers of God; constituted the framers of the law; the arbiters, under its authority, of the conflicting claims of their fellow citizens; and presiding over their fortunes, their liberties and their lives, they are naturally regarded with profound emotions of deference and veneration. The elevation to which they are exalted renders all their conduct visible, and gives a force to their example, which will not be resisted. Their virtues, and their vices, diffuse their influence through the community, and stamp its character in the view of surrounding nations. That people, whom God visits with the judgment of wicked rulers, cannot long remain virtuous and happy. Regulations for the restraint or prevention of immorality, enacted by vicious magistrates is nothing better than a mockery of the solemn business of legislation. And in vain do the laws lift their voice against crimes, while those who should execute them are themselves transgressors. A government, without virtue, necessarily corrupts the people, and a people without virtue, the government. Till at length, each corrupted, and corrupting, they rush together, down the current of licentiousness, into the tempestuous ocean of misrule and anarchy.

MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY…

TO be elevated to the first office, in the gift of an independent people, is a distinction, to which few can attain. It is, however, a distinction, which, by the man, who duly considers its cares, its dangers and its responsibility, will not be coveted. It is not Sir, we trust, from the views of ambition, that you have been again induced to listen to the suffrage of your fellow citizens. We have the pleasure of believing, that purer motives actuate you;–a conviction of the truth that your talents are not your own, and a readiness to employ them in the station, to which God may call you, however arduous its cares, or perplexing its difficulties. It is a truth, which ought never to be forgotten, that the higher our elevation, the greater usually are our dangers; and that the more aggravated will be our guilt, if unfaithful to our trust. But to the man, who fears God and strives to perform his duty, the most exalted condition is not without its encouragement; for if at last accepted of him, the greater will be his reward.

To instruct your Excellency, in the duties of your office, is an undertaking, in which, I have not the presumption to engage.

The best interests of a people, who have so frequently called you to rule over them cannot but be dear to you. On your exertions, in no small degree, are those interests depending.

Rising above the narrow, the embarrassing views of party prejudices and local attachments, and surveying with an expanded benevolence, a numerous and increasing community, it will, it should be expected, be the constant, the only aim of your Excellency, to promote the chief good of every class of your constituents; to give wisdom and moderation to the councils of State, and dignity and independence to the character of the commonwealth.

Elevation above our fellow men is not without its dangers. It is not in the glare of the sunshine of prosperity, that the graces, which God requires, are most apt to be cultivated. You, Sir, are not insensible to the temptations that surround you. The praise of men vanisheth with their breath; and comfortless will be the recollection of having filled the chair of State, and of having possessed, with distinction, the confidence of thousands, should you find yourself, in the end, without the approbation of God. While faithful to your country, be faithful to your God; nor neglect to seek first the approbation of Him whose favor is life, and whose loving kindness is better than life.

May your Excellency be richly endued with the wisdom which is from above. May the God of mercy grant you, in abundance, grace, peace and consolation. And when your days shall have been numbered, and your labors finished, may you hear the welcome, the transporting plaudit, Well done thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.

GENTLEMEN OF THE COUNCIL, AND GENTLEMEN OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

THE interests of your charge are of no ordinary value. It is not for yourselves, for your constituents, or for the present generation only, that you legislate, but for posterity. The influence of your deliberations will descend to future time, and numbers, yet unborn, may be blessed or cursed by them.

With you, Gentlemen, it rests, in no small degree, to determine, whether we shall enjoy the privilege of wise and salutary laws, and of an upright, steady and vigorous execution of them; whether we shall be blessed with good morals, with godliness and honesty, and generations to come be virtuous, independent and happy;–or whether our land shall be filled with vice, with intrigues, and with factions, and our children rise up and curse our memory.

Rich indeed is the inheritance left us by our fathers, which was purchased by their labors and sufferings, and preserved by their toil, their valor, and their prayers. Aggravated will be the guilt of not transmitting to posterity such a legacy unimpaired.

You are not, Gentlemen, ignorant, and it is presumed not unmindful, of the high importance of the concerns that are committed you; nor of the candor, wisdom and integrity, that are essential to a faithful and able management of them.

The period, at which you are entrusted, with the interests of the commonwealth, is portentous and eventful. The circumstances in which you are assembled are in many respects auspicious. Our improvements, in agriculture, in manufactures, in literature, and the sciences are rapidly advancing. The war in which we have been involved has, under the good providence of God, been brought to an happy issue; and to HIS name be our offering of undissembled gratitude. The soldier, released from his toils and dangers, again participates of domestic comforts. Our sea coast is no longer threatened by hostile fleets, nor our frontier settlements by invading armies.

Is not the present period, however, to the American who loves the dearest interests of his country, a period of deep solicitude? While, as a nation, we have been increasing in wealth and independence, is it to be denied, that we have rapidly increased also in vice and dissipation? Where are now to be found that hardihood of integrity, that veneration for the laws, that reverence for the magistrate, and that stern and unyielding opposition to licentiousness, which so strongly characterized our virtuous ancestors?

See the laws of God and of man, daringly violated; and the holy Sabbath openly profaned. See the minister of justice slumbering over his oath, and vice rioting with impunity; profane swearing and intemperance blighting, like the mildew, our national character, and threatening our fairest hopes.

The vengeance of God will not always slumber; and unless the friends of virtue and their country will gird themselves, rise in their might, and present a barrier to these dangers, let no man be disappointed, should our nation, ere long, be spoiled of its liberties, and our children become slaves.

It is to every good man a subject of sincere rejoicing, that the public are awaking to a sense of their danger. Something has already been done to stay the progress of these evils, and to ward off the judgments of God. By your exertions, Gentlemen, in co-operation with those of your constituents, much might be done; and our privileges and our posterity, might, it is to be hoped, yet be saved from ruin.

Will you ask me, in what manner your efforts should be employed in this concern? I will tell you Gentlemen; by enacting such laws, for the prevention, and discouragement, of vice, if such be not already enacted, as circumstances require; by appointing officers of justice, who are not afraid to do their duty; and dare not leave it undone; by leading, and aiding, in forming associations, for the reformation of morals, and showing, by your counsels and exertions, that you feel a deep and solemn interest in the subject; by proving to your neighbors, that you venerate the day of the Lord; and by exhibiting to them an example of temperance and moderation by abstaining from the use of ardent spirits in all cases, excepting when necessity demands them. The use to you may be immaterial, but the example to them may be of infinite moment.

Possessing, as is evident you do, the confidence of your fellow citizens, the effect of your exertions is not to be doubted. And tell me, Gentlemen, dare you, as Christians, or as patriots, withhold your hands from this work of reformation?

But there is an evil, to which we are exposed, and which, if possible, is still more alarming. That there are within our country, men, who owe to it their birth and education, who would cheerfully sacrifice, at the shrine of their ambition, its liberties and laws, is a truth, which, though painful to contemplate, we are constrained to acknowledge. For such men, have ever existed, in every country.

But is it possible, that the citizens of these United States are, almost without exception, hostile to their government, and enemies to the soil, which was purchased by the dangers and sufferings; which was consecrated by the blood; and in whose bosom are entombed the ashes of their fathers? If this assertion be true, degenerate indeed is our character; if it be not true, we are our own gross calumniators.

But the assertion is not, cannot, be true; and the conduct of those who make it gives the lie to it. For while the adherents of the two great political parties among us are stigmatized by each other with the epithet, enemies to their country, do they not as neighbors, treat each other with confidence, and as if, on all subjects, politics only excepted, they believed each other honest? Is it possible that a man should be just, in his domestic and his social intercourse, that in his private relations, he should conduct, in the fear of God, and yet be, in his relation to the community, totally void of principle?

And to what, is the imputation of this solecism in the human character to be attributed? The answer is at hand; to party spirit, that fiend of social order; which, emerging from the abyss of darkness, has embroiled, and weakened, and prostrated the firmest governments on earth.

Examine the records of the Legislative councils of our country, for the last twenty years. Whence happens it, let me ask you, when assembled for the solemn and commanding purpose of deliberating upon its interests, and of enacting laws and adopting measures, for the public good, that we find them, day after day, week after week, and month after month, giving precisely the same number of suffrages for the affirmative and negative of almost every question; whether of a political nature or not; whether of moment or not? Whence happens it, that when an individual among them has the independence to dissent from his party, he is immediately proscribed as a traitor to their cause, and as an enemy to his country? Whence happens it, that, with every political revolution in the Legislature, well nigh every office in their gift from the supreme judicatory down to that of the most subordinate minister of justice, must change its occupant? Is it because all the talents, all the integrity, all the patriotism in the nation belong to one party exclusively? This no man dare pretend. Is it not because both are under the influence of party prejudice; a prejudice which views every objet, in relation to itself, through a disordered medium; which literally, and perhaps honestly, puts evil for good, and good for evil; darkness for light, and light for darkness; which discovers, in its opponents, no merits, but magnifies all their failings; and sees, in its friends, no imperfection, but every excellency. If, Gentlemen, those among us, of your standing and influence, will not stop and hesitate; will not, by their wisdom, their moderation, and their forbearance, endeavor to check and to stay this torrent of persecution, where, O my BELOVED COUNTRY, where will it bear you! I criminate, exclusively, neither party. But I must say, that I believe them both guilty. Perhaps they are equally guilty. I cannot contemplate this subject, but with unutterable apprehensions.

The voice of our fathers cries to us from the dead, “In vain we toiled, in vain we fought, we bled in vain, if you our sons” have not the magnanimity to immolate your prejudices, on the altar of your country’s good. Every republic, which has existed, stands a monument before us, with lessons inscribed in blood. God himself declares that A kingdom, or nation, divided against itself cannot stand.

And remember, Gentlemen, that HE also declares, though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not go unpunished. And may we all remember, that we must one day stand at his tribunal.

AMEN.

 


Endnotes

1 Hon. Jacob Rush, Judge of the court of Common Pleas, in the state of Pennsylvania. See his charges to the grand jury. This little book should be read by every citizen.

* Originally published: Dec. 25, 2016