No, Revisionists, Thanksgiving is not a Day of Mourning

No, Revisionists, Thanksgiving is not

a Day of Mourning

by David Barton

Just before Thanksgiving [2017], I discussed the origins of the holiday on Glenn Beck’s show The Vault.[1] I understand the program has been used profitably by teachers throughout America. After a college professor showed the episode to a class, a student sent him eleven “articles” posted on the internet purporting to show that the Pilgrims killed and oppressed Indians. He asked me how I would respond to the posts, and what resources I would recommend for readers interested in an accurate account of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving. I’m happy to be of assistance.

The internet posts did indeed claim that the Pilgrims killed and oppressed Indians.[2] However, they were all opinion pieces that contained no footnotes and mentioned only a few sources—none of which were published before 1990.

If one is seeking to establish facts – such as those related to the Pilgrims’ longstanding peace with the Indians from 1621–1675 – it is necessary to consult primary sources from that era, which include journals, diaries, letters, recorded speeches, and other first-hand evidence about those events. Sources should always be properly cited so that interested, or skeptical, readers can examine them.

The opinion pieces cited by the student made broad, sweeping claims and lacked specificity or details about where or when Pilgrims killed and oppressed Indians. Some articles referenced the Indian war of 1637, but some of the claims could have also referred to an encounter in 1623, or King Philip’s War of 1675, the three early conflicts between Indians and the Pilgrims.

To confirm the truth about any such claims and incidents, three excellent primary sources about the Pilgrims should be consulted. First, Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford. (Bradford regularly served as governor of the colony from 1622–1656, and his journals cover the years 1620–1647). Second, A Relation or Journal of the Beginning and Proceedings of the English Plantation Settled at Plimoth in New England (also known as Mourt’s Relation, written by Pilgrims William Bradford and Edward Winslow, covering 1620–1621, including the Pilgrims’ relations with the Indians). And third, Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers of the Colony of Plymouth, from 1602 to 1625 (1841; Alexander Young, editor, it includes records of the Pilgrims compiled from 1602–1625).

And there are some excellent contemporary works based on these earlier sources, including Robert Bartlett’s The Pilgrim Way (1971), George Willison’s Saints and Strangers (1965), and anything written about the Pilgrims by Dr. Jeremy Bangs, former Chief Curator of Plimoth Plantation, in Plymouth, Massachusetts (the original home of the Pilgrims) and director of the Leiden-American Pilgrim Museum Foundation. Bangs is considered by other colonial historians to be one the best modern experts on the Pilgrims. He has authored multiple books and articles about the Pilgrims and Puritans, including the easily accessible piece “The Truth About Thanksgiving Is that the Debunkers are Wrong” (available at:

Older works also provide an historically accurate view of the Pilgrims and their many contributions. Particularly useful are American history books written by nineteenth-century historians George Bancroft, Benson Lossing, and Charles Coffin. (These books are available online at

Also of benefit is the long series of Forefathers’ Day orations. Since 1769, Forefathers’ Day has been celebrated annually in Plymouth, Massachusetts, to commemorate the landing of the Pilgrims. The celebration includes annual orations about the Pilgrims that, collectively, provide much history and perspective. Among those delivering these orations were many famous individuals (links to their particular oration appear in each footnote):

·         An Oration Delivered at Plymouth, December 22, 1802, At the Anniversary Commemoration of the First Landing of Our Ancestors At That Place, by John Quincy Adams[3]

·         A Discourse Delivered at Plymouth, December 22, 1820, In Commemoration of the First Settlement of New-England, by Daniel Webster[4]

·         Others orators addressing the subject of the Pilgrims in these annual commemorations include Edward Everett (President of Harvard, Governor of Massachusetts, US Senator);[5] Robert C. Winthrop (President of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Speaker of the US House of Representatives);[6] Rufus Choate (US Senator);[7] Oliver Wendell Holmes (Professor at Harvard, physician, writer);[8] Lyman Beecher (abolitionist; President of Lane Seminary);[9] a second speech by Daniel Webster (US Senator, Secretary of State to three presidents);[10] and others.

(The following link contains a listing of these addresses delivered from 1770 to 1865:

Of the three major conflicts between the Pilgrims and the Indians, King Philip’s War was by far the biggest. Concerning this, there are many reputable academic or historical society websites that present a neutral, factual view, including:




While these websites are good for brief and general overviews, we always encourage readers to consult primary sources, and particularly important for the 1675 King Philip’s War are:

·         A Relation of the Indian War, by Mr. Easton, of Rhode Island, by John Easton, 1675[11]

·         A Narrative of the Indian Wars in New-England, From the First Planting Thereof, in the Year 1607, to the Year 1677, by the Rev. William Hubbard, 1677[12]

·         The Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, 1682[13]

·         Cotton Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana, or The Ecclesiastical History of New-England, 1702 (2 vols.)[14]

The following three books are secondary sources about that war, but they rely heavily on relevant primary sources. We therefore highly recommend them:

·         The History of King Philip’s War, by Samuel G. Drake, 1825[15] (an expansion of A Brief History of the Warr with the Indians in New-England, by Increase Mather, 1676[16])

·         The History of King Philip’s War, by Benjamin Church, 1865 (based on the writings of those who participated in the war)[17]

·         King Philip’s War, Based on the Records and Archives of Massachusetts, Plymouth, and Rhode Island and Connecticut, and Contemporary Letters and Accounts, by George Ellis and John Morris of the Connecticut Historical Society, 1906[18]

— — — ⧫ ⧫ ⧫ — — —

After receiving the inquiry from the professor and looking over the articles provided by the student, we began examining the primary source works mentioned above. We also contacted historians in Massachusetts, including those who help run the Pilgrim museum. The outcome was the same. State historians affirm that the official peace between the Pilgrims and the Indians was the longest on record—they have found no record of any treaty that lasted longer than the 54 years of the Pilgrim treaty (1621–1675). Furthermore, when the treaty was eventually broken in 1675 during King Philip’s War, it was the Indians and not the Pilgrims who violated it.

Here is a brief overview (based on primary sources, referenced in the footnotes) verifying what led up to that conflict and the breaking of the treaty.

The Pilgrims, after arriving in December 1620, survived a difficult beginning with the help of several Indians who befriended them.[19] Intending to live in the area where they had landed, they approached the local tribe, seeking to purchase land. The price was set by the Indians, and written documentation of sale was received for those purchased lands.[20]

This policy of purchasing land from the Indians came to characterize the general practice of the New England and portions of the mid-Atlantic regions, being mirrored not only by the Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony[21] but also by the Rev. Roger Williams with Rhode Island,[22] the Rev. Thomas Hooker with Connecticut,[23] and William Penn with Pennsylvania.[24] (On one occasion, Penn actually purchased some of the same tracts multiple times because at least three tribes claimed the same land, having taken and retaken it from each other in conquest; so Penn secured it from each.[25]) The practice of purchasing land from the Indians was also followed[*] in New Hampshire,[26] New Jersey,[27] and New York.[28]

The Pilgrims and their Indian neighbors the Wampanoag entered into a peace treaty in 1621. Experiencing good relations with the tribe and a strong friendship with their chief, Massasoit, in 1623 he informed the Pilgrims of a treacherous assault to be made against them by the Massachusetts tribe, which was gathering other chiefs for a surprise attack.[29] Facing potential extermination, Pilgrim Miles Standish led a preemptive strike, thus saving the colonists. Without this, the Pilgrim story could have been as short-lived as that of the colonists of Roanoke, Virginia or Popham, Maine. Good relations continued between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag, with the next period of tensions with other tribes occurring in the 1637 Pequot War.

The Pequot were warlike and aggressive, even against their Indian neighbors on every side, which included the Wampanoag (allies and friends of the Pilgrims), Narragansett, Algonquian, and Mohegan. The Pequot had established a trading monopoly with the Dutch, which the arrival of the English threatened, so they determined to rid the region of the English. After killing some English settlers, the colonists responded and organized strikes against the Pequot.[30] The war spread across much of Connecticut, and also threatened the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colonies. The conflict ended when Sassacus, the chief of the Pequot, was pursued and killed by the Mohegan and Mohawks.[31]

One of the aforementioned articles provided by the student claimed that it was during this war that Pilgrims killed Indians,[32] but this claim is wrong. The Pilgrims’ participation in this conflict was limited to a skirmish at Manisses Villages, where no Indians were killed.[33] Some of the articles provided by the student claim that the Thanksgiving of 1637 was to give thanks that Indians were killed,[34] but this is also in error. It was called to give thanks for the end of the Pequot War.[35]

The Pilgrims lived in harmony with the Wampanoags from the time of their 1621 treaty, through the 1623 and 1637 conflicts, and until the long peace finally collapsed in 1675 with King Philip’s War. Today, revisionist scholars such as James D. Drake, Daniel R. Mandell, and Jill Lepore claim that this conflict was the result of Indians pushing back against greedy land-grabbing colonists, with the Indians simply trying to regain territory that was rightfully theirs.[36]

But such a portrayal is wrong. For example, Pilgrim Governor Josiah Winslow avowed that at the outbreak of the war:

I think I can clearly say that before these present troubles broke out, the English did not possess one foot of land in this colony but what was fairly obtained by honest purchase of the Indian proprietors.[37]

If King Philip’s War was not retaliation for the unjust seizing of Indian land by colonists, what was its cause? The answer is simple: Christian missionaries. Metacom—chief of the Wampanoag Indians and grandson of Massasoit, who took the English name King Philip —recognized that missionaries were converting Indians to Christianity, which was changing some behaviors. This threatened their traditional way of life.

Prior to becoming Christians, Indians often engaged in immoral practices such as the prolonged barbarous torture of captives.[38] Missionaries sought to end such practices by converting Indians and teaching them Christian morals.[39] Missionaries, including John Eliot, Thomas Mayhew, and Andrew White worked extensively with various tribes and had great success in converting Indians to Christianity. By 1674, Eliot’s Christian villages of “praying Indians” in Massachusetts numbered as many as 3,600 converts.[40] It was in the following year (1675) that Metacom, fearing that Christianity would change Indian culture,[41] launched ferocious surprise assaults against settlers in the region,[42] seeking to exterminate all English colonists in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

Numerous places in New England were suddenly and unexpectedly attacked. Colonists were murdered and their belongings burned or destroyed.[43] This included even the town of Providence, where Roger William’s own home was burned.[44] Significantly, Williams had always been on the best of terms with the Indians, not only having purchased his colony from them[45] but also having championed Indian rights and claims.[46] Yet, regardless of how well Christian settlers had previously treated Indians, Christians were all to be exterminated; their very existence was perceived as a threat to Indian practices.

King Philip’s War cannot be accurately characterized as Indians versus the English, however, for many of those attacked were themselves Indians—but they were Christian Indians. They, like the settlers, were targeted, hurt, or killed by their unconverted brethren.[47] To secure their own lives and safety, many of the converted Indians fought side-by-side with the colonists throughout the conflict,[48] and the war eventually ended when Metacom was killed by another Indian.[49]

Returning to the objections raised by the student, it is true that Pilgrims and Puritans killed Indians—but in the context of a just and defensive war. The war lasted about fifteen months, and early in the war more settlers died than did Indians—largely because of the surprise attacks. In fact, of the ninety towns in Massachusetts and Plymouth Colony, twelve were totally destroyed and forty more attacked and partially destroyed.[50] But eventually the colonists assembled local militias and fought back in an organized fashion, finally gaining the upper hand. By the conclusion of the war, 600 settlers and 3,000 Indians had been killed—the highest casualty rate by percentage of total population of any war in American history.[51]

This information about King Philip’s War is not to suggest that the amount of land owned by Indians was not decreasing; it was. But the diminishing land holdings in this region during this time was definitely not for the reason we are often told today. Indian land was fairly purchased by settlers, not stolen.[52] Early historian George Bancroft (1800-1891), known as “The Father of American History”[53] for his systematic approach to documenting the story of America, confirmed that Indian lands were indeed shrinking because the Indians’ own “repeated sales of land has narrowed their domains” to the point where “they found themselves deprived of their broad acres, and by their own legal contracts driven, as it were, into the sea”[54] (emphasis added).

This is not to say that land was never stolen from Indians. Some definitely was. For instance, during the heyday of westward expansion that began in the early nineteenth century, the Indian removal policies of Andrew Jackson certainly violated private property rights,[55] and such policies became the rule rather than the exception, forcibly driving Indians from their lands in Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, and elsewhere across the Southeast.[†] By 1845, the term “Manifest Destiny” was coined to describe the growing notion that it was America’s “destiny” to spread westward, and that nothing—including Indians—should be allowed to stand in the way. As a result, the Biblical view of purchasing private property from its owner was replaced with the anti-Biblical notion that “possession was nine-tenths of the law” and therefore whoever could take and hold the land was its “rightful” owner.[56]

The 19th century deterioration in relations between Americans and Indians over unjust land seizures occurred most commonly two centuries after the Pilgrims. The original treaty the Pilgrims negotiated with the Indians lasted for 54 years until the Indians broke it; and in general, the Pilgrim and Puritan killings of Indians occurred in their own self-defense primarily against the perfidious unprovoked attacks from Metacom’s Indians, and then in ending the war he had started. We find no historical basis to support the general claim made in the articles provided by the student, and certainly no evidence to support the overall tone of the claims in those internet posts.

[*] The author owns one of the nation’s largest private libraries of Founding Era materials, containing over 100,000 originals, or copies of original documents that predate 1812. Among these holdings are multiple original signed deeds in which Indians willingly and voluntarily sell their land to settlers. One example is an Indian deed dated February 9, 1769, and signed by four Indian leaders from the Aughquageys tribe, selling 300,000 acres—or nearly 470 square miles of land—to settlers in New York. The land-area sold by the Indians in just this one transaction was the equivalent of modern Los Angeles or San Antonio, was larger than modern New York City, and seven times larger than modern Washington DC. There are hundreds of such deeds, legitimately transferring land by mutual agreement and purchase from various Indian tribes to colonists/settlers.

[†] Among the other original documents in our library, we also possess land deeds from the state of Georgia selling parcels in Cherokee-held lands directly to settlers, seeking to drive the Cherokee from their homelands.


[1] “Vault: S1:E10 – Thanksgiving,” GlennBeck (at: (accessed on December 27, 2016).

[2] The websites the student included were:

1.       Thanksgiving, a day of mourning for Native Americans:

2.       American Indian Perspective on Thanksgiving:

3.       Do American Indians Celebrate Thanksgiving?:

4.       For Me, Thanksgiving Is A “Day Of Mourning”:

5.       First Thanksgiving:

6.       The REAL Story of Thanksgiving Introduction for Teachers The Plymouth Thanksgiving Story:

7.       For National Day of Mourning, Native Americans highlight their struggles:—Q2Rg789wZSCBU/

8.       National Day of Mourning Reflects on Thanksgiving’s Horrific, Bloody History:

9.       Why these Native Americans are spending Thanksgiving marching and mourning, not celebrating:

10.    National Day of Mourning:

11.    Local Native Americans consider the history of Thanksgiving:

[3] This oration is available in its entirety here:

[5] An Oration Delivered at Plymouth December 12, 1824, by Edward Everett (at:

[6] An Address, Delivered Before the New England Society, in the City of New York, December 25, 1839, by Robert C. Winthrop (at:

[7] The Age of the Pilgrims: The Heroic Period of Our History: An Address Delivered in New York Before the New-England Association, December, 1843, by Rufus Choate, beginning on page 371 (at:

[8] Oration Delivered Before the New England Society, In the City of New York, At Their Semi-Centennial Anniversary, by Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1855 (at:

[9] The Memory of our Fathers. A Sermon Delivered at Plymouth, on the Twenty-Second of December, 1827, by Lyman Beecher (at:

[10] Speech of Mr. Webster, at the Celebration of the New York New England Society, December 25, 1850, by Daniel Webster; beginning on page 496 (at:

[19] For example, Samaset and Squanto are both mentioned in William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: 1856), pp. 93-95; Squanto is called Tisquantum in Mourt’s Relation or Journal of the Planation at Plymouth (Boston: John Kimball Wiggin, 1865), pp. 102, 106. Mourt’s Relation also mentions Hobamak (also known as Hobbamock), p. 123.

[20] James Thacher, History of the Town of Plymouth, from its First Settlement in 1620 to the Present Time (Boston: Marsh, Capen & Lyon, 1835), p. 138.

[21] George Bancroft, History of the United States, from the Discovery of the American Continent (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1848), Vol. I, pp. 350-351.

[22] William Gammell, Makers of American History: Roger Williams (New York: The University Society, 1904), pp. 61-62.

[23] G. H. Hollister, The History of Connecticut, From the First Settlement of the Colony to the Adoption of the Present Constitution (New Haven: Durrie & Peck, 1855), pp. 18-19, 96.

[24] Samuel M. Janney, The Life of William Penn: With Selections from His Correspondence and Autobiography (Philadelphia: Friends Book Association, 1882), pp. 121-122, 442; George Bancroft, History of the United States of America (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1848), Vol. II, pp. 381-382.

[25] Samuel M. Janney, The Life of William Penn: With Selections from His Correspondence and Autobiography (Philadelphia: Friends Book Association, 1882), p. 442: “It appears that Penn, before his return to England in 1684, had taken measures to purchase the lands on the Susquehanna from the Five Nations (Iroquois) who claimed a right to them by conquest…Governor Dongan, having made the purchase, conveyed the same to William Penn, by deed dated January 13, 1696, in consideration of 100 [pounds] sterling. The Susquehanna Indians did not recognize the right of the Five Nations to make this sale; and, in order to satisfy their demands, Penn entered into a treaty with two of their chiefs, named Widnpah and Andaggy Innekquagh, whose deed, dated September 13th, 1700, conveys the same lands and confirms the bargain and sale made to Governor Dongan. But it appears there was still another chief claiming an interest in those lands, viz. Connoodaghoh, king of the Conostoga or Minquary Indians. This sachem, on company with the king of the Shawnese, the chief of the Ganawese, inhabiting at the heads of the Potomac, the brother of the emperor of great king of the Onondagoes, Indian Harvey, their interpreter, with others of the their tribes to the number of forty, met Penn and his council in Philadelphia on the 23d of 2d month, (April) 1701, and entered into a treaty of amity, in which they also confirmed the sale of the lands on the Susquehanna.”

[26] Jeremy Belknap, The History of New Hampshire (Dover, NH: J. Mann & JK Remick, 1812), pp. 16-17.

[27] John Warner Barber, The History and Antiquities of New England, New York and New Jersey (Worcester: Dorr & Howland & Co, 1841), p. 66.

[28] W. H. Carpenter and T. S. Arthur, History of New Jersey (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1853), pp. 25, 27-28.

[29] William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: 1856), p. 131.

[30] William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: 1856), pp. 351-342, 356-357. 131.

[31] William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: 1856), pp. 349-361; The History of New England from 1630 to 1649 by John Winthrop, James Savage, editor (Boston: Phelps and Farnham, 1825), Vol. I, pp. 222-226.

[33] For an account of the non-involvement of the Pilgrims in the 1837 Pequot War, see: William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: 1856), pp. 355-356, “The Court here agreed forthwith to send 50 men at their own charge; and with as much speed as possible they could, got them armed, and had made them ready under sufficient leaders, and provide a bark to carry them provisions & tend upon them for all occasions; but when they were ready to march (with a supply from the Bay) they had word to stay, for the enemy was as good as vanquished, and there would be no need”; The History of New England from 1630 to 1649 by John Winthrop, James Savage, editor (Boston: Phelps and Farnham, 1825), Vol. I, p. 226: “Upon our governor’s letter to Plymouth, our friends there agreed to send a pinnace, with forty men, to assist in the war against the Pequods; but they could not be ready to meet us at the first.”

[34] See, for example, Thanksgiving, a day of mourning for Native Americans:; The REAL Story of Thanksgiving Introduction for Teachers The Plymouth Thanksgiving Story:; National Day of Mourning Reflects on Thanksgiving’s Horrific, Bloody History:

[35] The History of New England from 1630 to 1649 by John Winthrop, James Savage, editor (Boston: Phelps and Farnham, 1825), Vol. I, p. 226, entry for March 15, 1637: “There was a day of thanksgiving kept in all the churches for the victory obtained against the Pequods, and for other mercies.”

[36] James D. Drake, King Philip’s War: Civil War in New England 1675-1676 (MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1999), pp. 1, 30-31; Daniel R. Mandell, King Philip’s War: Colonial Expansion, Native Resistance, and the End of Indian Sovereignty (MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), pp. 27, 30; Jill Lepore, The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity (Random House, 2009), “What’s in a Name?”  More reputable writers have made similar claims.  See, for example, Francis Jennings, The Invasion of America; Indians, Colonialism, and the Cant of Conquest (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1975), pp. 128, 144-145; New England Encounters: Indians and Euroamericans ca. 1600-1850. Essays Drawn from The New England Quarterly, Alden T. Vaughan, editor (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1999), pp. 61-64, David Bushnell, “The Treatment of the Indians in Plymouth Colony”; Karen Ordahal Kupperman, Indians and English: Facing Off in Early America (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2000), p. 239.

[37] James Thacher, History of the Town of Plymouth, from its First Settlement in 1620 to the Present Time (Boston: Marsh, Capen & Lyon, 1835), p. 138; Abiel Holmes, The Annals of America from the Discovery by Columbus in the Year 1492, to the Year 1826 (Cambridge: Hilliard & Brown, 1829), p. 383.

[38] See, for example, accounts such as:

·         Franklin B. Hough, A Narrative of the Causes which Led to Philip’s Indian War, of 1675 and 1676, by John Easton of Rhode Island (Albany, NY: J. Munsell, 1863), pp. 143-144, an eyewitness account dated February 25, 1675: “Thomas Warner one of the two that came down from Albany and had been prisoner with the Indians who arrived here this morn, being examined, faith, that he was one of the persons that begin sent out from Hatfield where the English Army lay, to discover the enemy, but a party of Indians waylaid them, and shot down 5 of their company, and took 3 of which he and his comrade are two, the 3rd they put to death, the 9th was an Indian that came with them and escaped away. That the Indians lay still two days after they were taken, and then a party of about 30 with whom he was marched to a river to the north-east from thence about 80 miles called Oasuck, where about a fortnight after the rest of the army came to them, having in the mean time burnt two towns: they killed one of the prisoners presently after they had taken him, cutting a hole below his breast out of which they pulled his guts, and then cut off his head. That they put him so to death in the presence of him and his comrade, and threated them also with the like. That they burnt his nails, and put his feet to scald them against the fire, and drove a stake through one of his feet to pin him to the ground. The stake about the bigness of his finger, this was about 2 days after he was taken.”

·         John S. C. Abbott, The History of King Philip (Harper & Brothers, New York, 1857), pp. 317-318, where Abbott, using the words of Cotton Mather, describes Indian tortures: “They stripped these unhappy prisoners, and caused them to run the gauntlet, and whipped them after a cruel and bloody manner. They then threw hot ashes upon them, and, cutting off collops of their flesh, they put fire into their wounds, and so, with exquisite, leisurely, horrible torments, roasted them out of the world.”

·         Richard Markham, A Narrative History of King Philip’s War and the Indian Troubles in New England (New York: Dodd, Mean & Company, 1883), pp. 241-242, describing an event at the beginning of King Philip’s War: “A little after the middle of April [1676] Sudbury was attacked…Captain Wadsworth with fifty men had been dispatched from Boston that day to strengthen the garrison at Marlborough. After his company reached Marlborough, more than a score of miles from Boston, they learned that the savages were on their way against Sudbury…A small party of Indians encountered them when about a mile from their destination, and withstood them for a short time, but yielding to their superior numbers retreated into the forest. Wadsworth and his men followed, but when they were well into the woods suddenly found themselves the centre of five hundred yelling demons, who attacked them on all sides. They made their way to the top of a hill close at hand, and for four hours fought resolutely, losing but five men, for the savages had suffered severely in the first hand-to-hand attack, and feared to come to close quarters. As night came on the enemy set fire to the woods to the windward of their position. The leaves were dry as tinder, and a strong wind was blowing. The flames and smoke rolled up upon the devoted band, threatening their instant destruction. Stifled and scorched, they were forced to leave the hill in disorder. The Indians came upon them so like so many tigers, and outnumbering them ten to one in the confusion slew nearly all. Wadsworth himself was slain. Some few were taken prisoners, and that night were made to run the gauntlet, and after that were put to death by torture.”

[39] See, for example, J. W. Barber, United States Book; Or, Interesting Events in the History of the United States (New Haven: L. H. Young, 1834), p. 53; and Methodist Quarterly Review: 1858, D. D. Whedon, editor (New York: Carlton & Porter, 1858), Vol. XL, pp. 244-245: “In a short time, under the labors of Eliot, hundreds of Indians renounced their heathenism and embraced Christianity. As early as 1660 he had gathered ten settlements of Indians, who were comparatively civilized, and under religious influence…In 1675 King Philip’s War broke out. The missionary settlements of Eliot were in the center of the theater of this war. Many of the Christian Indians would have remained neutral; but Philip attacked them, and drove them into hostility; the commotions that followed not only prevented the progress of the Gospel, but destroyed much that had been done. War blasted all these opening religious prospects of the poor Indians; and war provoked, too, by the aggressions of the white man.”

[40] Gustav Warneck, Outline of a History of Protestant Mission from the Reformation to the Present Time (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1903), p. 165.

[41] J. W. Barber, United States Book; Or, Interesting Events in the History of the United States (New Haven: L. H. Young, 1834), p. 53n; John S. C. Abbott, The History of King Philip (Harper & Brothers, New York, 1857), pp. 171-172.

[42] J. W. Barber, United States Book; Or, Interesting Events in the History of the United States (New Haven: L. H. Young, 1834), pp. 53-54; Richard Markham, A Narrative History of King Philip’s War and the Indian Troubles in New England (New York: Dodd, Mean & Company, 1883), pp. 109-110.

[43] Franklin B. Hough, A Narrative of the Causes which Led to Philip’s Indian War, of 1675 and 1676, by John Easton of Rhode Island (Albany, NY: J. Munsell, 1863), p. 42, a letter dated June 29, 1675, pp. 176-177, “Record of a Court Martial, Held at Newport, R.I. in August, 1676, for the Trial of Indians charged with begin engaged in Philip’s Designs”; William Hubbard, A Narrative of the Indian Wars in New-England from the First Planting Thereof, in the Year 1607, to the Year 1677 (Danbury: Stiles Nichols, 1803), p. 64, notes from a meeting of the commissioners of the united colonies held at Boston, Sept. 9, 1675, pp. 77-78.

[44] National Park Service, “Frequently Asked Questions,” Roger Williams National Memorial Rhode Island (at: (accessed on January 9, 2017). See also Welcome Arnold Greene, The Providence Plantations for Two Hundred and Fifty Years. An Historical Review of the Foundation, Rise, and Progress of the City of Providence (Providence, RI: J.A & R.A. Reid, 1886), p. 42.

[45] William Gammell, Makers of American History: Roger Williams (New York: The University Society, 1904), pp. 61-62.

[46] Romeo Elton, Life of Roger Williams (New York: G. P. Putnam, 1852), pp. 21, 33-34, 39-41, 44-45.

[47] Methodist Quarterly Review: 1858, D. D. Whedon, editor (New York: Carlton & Porter, 1858), Vol. XL, pp. 244-245; John S. C. Abbott, The History of King Philip (Harper & Brothers, New York, 1857), pp. 187-190, 216.

See, for example, Rev. John Holmes, Historical Sketches of the Missions of the United Brethren, p. 210, “With a view to execute their horrid purpose, the young Indians got together, chose the most ferocious to be their leaders, deposed all the old Chiefs, and guarded the whole Indian assembly, as if they were prisoners of war, especially the aged of both sexes. The venerable old Chief Tettepachsit was the first whom, they accused of possession poison, and having destroyed many Indians by his art. When the poor old man would not confess, they fastened with cords to two posts, and began to roast him at a slow fire.”; pp. 210-211, “During this torture, he [Chief Tettepachsit] said, that he kept poison in the house of our Indian brother Joshua. Nothing was more welcome to the savages than this accusation, for they wished to deprive us of the assistance of this man, who was the only Christian Indian residing with us at that time….We knew nothing of these horrible events, until the evening of the 16th, when a message was brought, that the savages had burned an old woman to death, who had been baptized by the Brethren in former times, and also that our poor Joshua was kept close prisoner.”; p. 139, “Their external troubles, however, did not yet terminate. They had not only a kind of tax imposed upon them, to show their dependence on the Iroquois , but the following very singular message was sent them: “The great head, i.e. the Council in Onondago, speak the truth and lie not: they rejoice that some of the believing Indians have moved to Wayomik, but now they lift up the remaining Mahikans and Delawares, and set them down also in Wayomik; for there a fire is kindled for them, and there they may plant and think on God: but if they will not hear, the great head will come and clean their ears with a red-hot iron (meaning they would set their houses on fire) and shoot them through the head with musquet-balls.”

[48] Increase Mather, The History of King Philip’s War (Albany: J. Munsell, 1862), pp. 49-50, 127-128, 184; Henry William Elson, History of the United States of America (The MacMillan Company, New York, 1904), p. 122; George Madison Bodge, Soldiers in King Philip’s War (Boston: 1906), pp. 34, 37, 104.

[49] John S. C. Abbott, The History of King Philip (Harper & Brothers, New York, 1857), p. 361.

[50] John Fiske, The Beginnings of New England (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company,, 1890), p. 240.

[51] James David Drake, King Philip’s War: Civil War in New England, 1675-1676 (The University of Massachusetts Press, 1999), pp. 1–15.

[52] See, for example, George Bancroft, History of the United States From the Discovery of the American Continent (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1848), Vol. II, p. 99.

[53] See, for example, “George Bancroft,” Encyclopedia Britannica (at: (accessed on December 30, 2016);

[54] George Bancroft, History of the United States From the Discovery of the American Continent (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1848), Vol. II, p. 99.

[55] William Garrott Brown, Andrew Jackson (New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1900), pp. 130-131; William Graham Sumner, American Statesmen: Andrew Jackson (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, and Company, 1899), pp. 224-229.

[56] See, for example, the Cherokee nation in Georgia. Georgia passed laws dividing Cherokee land up in various counties and put those lands in control of the state. Andrew Jackson, the president at that time, did not interfere with the Georgia laws and would not enforce or support the Supreme Court’s decision that declared this Georgia law unconstitutional. William Garrott Brown, Andrew Jackson (New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1900), pp. 130-131.

* Originally published: Feb. 23, 2017.

* This article concerns a historical issue and may not have updated information.

Celebrate Columbus Day!

Traditionally observed on the second Monday in October, Columbus Day commemorates the landing of Columbus in the “New World” (on a small island off Florida) on October 12, 1492.

Although Christopher Columbus clearly was not the first European to visit the “New World” (Vikings had traveled here centuries earlier), he first widely publicized, and thus “discovered,” its existence to the Europeans. Columbus undertook his first voyage facing the prospect of great danger. The professional opinion of that day not only assured him of the impossibility of his proposed endeavor, but it also warned him that dragons and death awaited him beyond the charted waters. With such advice coming from the intellectual leaders of his day, his decision to embark on this unprecedented journey must have been difficult. So, then, why did he set out? Columbus himself answered that question in his own writings:

[O]ur Lord opened to my understanding (I could sense His hand upon me) so it became clear to me that it [the voyage] was feasible. . . . All those who heard about my enterprise rejected it with laughter, scoffing at me. . . . Who doubts that this illumination was from the Holy Spirit? I attest that He [the Holy Spirit], with marvelous rays of light, consoled me through the holy and sacred Scriptures . . . they inflame me with a sense of great urgency. . . . No one should be afraid to take on any enterprise in the name of our Savior if it is right and if the purpose is purely for His holy service. . . . And I say that the sign which convinces me that our Lord is hastening the end of the world is the preaching of the Gospel recently in so many lands.1

Interestingly, in the 1892 Supreme Court decision Church of the Holy Trinity v. U. S., the Court unanimously affirmed that America was indeed a Christian nation. In so doing, it cited dozens of precedents from American history, including that of Christopher Columbus, acknowledging:

From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation [that America is a Christian nation]. The commission to Christopher Columbus . . . [recited] that “it is hoped that by God’s assistance some of the continents and islands in the ocean will be discovered,” etc.2

It is especially because of Columbus’ religious motivations and convictions that today he has become a villain for most modern educators and writers, who regularly attack and condemn him. They have adopted the deplorable modern educational practice of deconstructionism – of attacking traditional Western heroes, values, and institutions.3

But if you want an historically accurate portrayal of Columbus and early other explorers, consult Dr. John Eidsmoe’s book, Columbus & Cortez, Conquerors for Christ.


1 Christopher Columbus, “Letter from the Admiral to the King and Queen,” Christopher Columbus’s Book of Prophecies, trans. Kay Brigham (Fort Lauderdale: CLIE Publishers, 1992), 178-179.
2 Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 U.S. 457, 465 (1892).
3 David Barton, “Deconstructionism and the Left,” WallBuilders.

Fall 1998

Thanksgiving in America

This month, America will continue a tradition begun centuries ago: the celebration of a Day of Thanksgiving. The origin of this tradition is commonly attributed to the Pilgrims in 1621, even though some Thanksgiving services did occur elsewhere in America as early as 1607. While Thanksgiving celebrations became common in New England, they did not begin to spread southward until the American Revolution, when Congress issued eight separate national Thanksgiving Proclamations.

Then in 1789, following a proclamation issued by President George Washington, America celebrated its first Day of Thanksgiving to God under its new Constitution. That same year, the Protestant Episcopal Church, of which President Washington was a member, announced that the first Thursday in November would become its regular day for giving thanks, “unless another day be appointed by the civil authorities.” Yet, despite these early national proclamations, official Thanksgiving observances usually occurred only at the State level.

Much of the credit for the adoption of an annual national Thanksgiving Day may be attributed to Mrs. Sarah Joseph Hale, the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book. For thirty years, she promoted the idea of a national Thanksgiving Day, contacting President after President until President Abraham Lincoln responded in 1863 by setting aside the last Thursday of November as a national Day of Thanksgiving. Over the next seventy-five years, Presidents followed Lincoln’s precedent, annually declaring a national Thanksgiving Day. Then, in 1941, Congress permanently established the
fourth Thursday of each November as a national holiday.

Lincoln’s original 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation came–spiritually speaking–at a pivotal point in his life. During the first week of July of that year, the Battle of Gettysburg occurred, resulting in the loss of some 60,000 American lives. Four months later in November, Lincoln delivered his famous “Gettysburg Address.” It was while Lincoln was walking among the thousands of graves there at Gettysburg that he committed his life to Christ. As he explained to a friend:

When I left Springfield [to assume the Presidency] I asked the people to pray for me. I was not a Christian. When I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ.

Following is the 1863 Lincoln Thanksgiving Proclamation–celebrated shortly after Lincoln committed his life to Christ and celebrated while America was still in the midst of its Civil War. It was this proclamation which eventually led to the establishment of our national Thanksgiving holiday.

Proclamation of Thanksgiving by the President of the United States of America

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of almighty God

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than theretofore.

Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.


Abraham Lincoln


A Biblical and Historical Perspective on the Clinton Scandal

The President, by his own admission, has violated several of the most basic laws undergirding both society and religion: the Ten Commandments. Specifically, the President willfully broke the 7th command (to maintain the sanctity of sex within marriage), the 10th command (forbidding coveting another person), and the 9th command (prohibiting perjury).

Such blatant violations of the Ten Commandments are no small matter. To reject the Ten Commandments is to disdain those laws which were described by John Quincy Adams as the “laws essential to the existence of men in society,” by John Adams as the “inviolable precepts in every society” that make it “civilized and free,” and by John Witherspoon as “the sum of the moral law.”

There can be nothing said in defense of the President. What he has done is wrong. Nevertheless, in an attempt to evade the consequences, the strategy pursued by the supporters and counselors of the President has been twofold: (1) to ask forgiveness and show public contrition, and (2) to degrade the culture by claiming that others also do what the President did–that it’s only sex–a private matter.

While seeking forgiveness is commendable, particularly if it is sincere, it never has, and never should, excuse someone from the consequences of his behavior. In fact, 1 Samuel 15:9-31 presents a striking parallel to the current situation. In that account, Saul, the national leader, committed a transgression. When Samuel uncovered and exposed the unrighteous act, Saul offered an apology, declaring, “I have sinned. . . . Now, I beg you, please forgive my sin.” Nevertheless, God had Samuel inform Saul that because of his behavior, “The Lord has rejected you as leader.” (See the account of a similar but separate incident in 1 Samuel 13:8-14.) Similar lessons may be learned through the stories of Esau, David, Hezekiah, Uzziah, Gehazi, and others. While each committed a wrong and later regretted his behavior, each still had to face the consequences of his own wrong behavior. In short, “I’m sorry” is insufficient to prevent the consequences of a leader’s willful, serious, and immoral misbehavior.

And the “everybody else is doing it” defense is wrong for at least two reasons. First, the Bible forcefully declares, on numerous occasions, that each person must face the consequences of and be responsible for his own actions—regardless of what “everybody” else does. (See, for example, Jeremiah 31:27-30). Second, to claim that such behavior is widespread and common undermines the mores of our society. In fact, the proper response should be to condemn the act rather than attempt excuse or justify the act. As explained by John Witherspoon, signer of the Declaration of Independence:

[H]e is the best friend to American liberty who . . . sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind.

Under this standard, if the President’s supporters truly cared about America, rather than excusing immoral behavior, even if done “privately,” they would be condemning it. Unfortunately, the President’s defenders have done just the opposite, conveying to the public a perception that those who practice marital fidelity are the minority. That Americans actually perceive this to be the moral condition of America is illustrated by a poll earlier released by Family Circle magazine. The results of that survey, questioning respondents on the Ten Commandments, confirmed an interesting image of misperceptions.

For example, while only fourteen percent of the respondents had actually engaged in extramarital relations, amazingly, forty-five percent reported their belief that extramarital relations were common. Why would respondents believe that extramarital relations among that group occurred at a rate nearly three times higher than it actually did? Because they have been consistently pummeled–as a defense by those who engage in extramarital affairs–with the charge that such affairs are commonplace.

Not only do the efforts of the President’s supporters weaken the moral standards, they actually perpetuate historical revisionism. That is, in an attempt to excuse the President’s immoral behavior, his defenders are asserting that President George Washington also engaged in immoral and illicit sexual relations–a charge that is historically false. (To see a full rebuttal of the accusation, refer to chapter 16 in my book, Original Intent.)

A further point of defense raised by the President’s supporters is that this was a private matter and would an average citizen want an investigator looking into his life as the President’s has been? The fact of the matter is that the President is not an average citizen, and both the Bible and American history set a more rigorous standard for a leader. For example, James 3:1 warns:

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

Similarly high standards for leaders are set forth in passages like Titus 1:6-9, 1 Timothy 3:1-12, Exodus 18:21-22, etc. Those standards specifically address moral and private conduct and also direct that a leader’s life should be held forth as a positive example for others to follow (see, for example, 1 Cor. 11:1). It is understandable that a leader is held to a higher standard than others because he possesses more power and has more opportunity to influence–for good or for bad–many more millions of lives than does the average citizen.

Our Founding Fathers understood this need for a higher moral standard in our leaders, and they specifically advocated investigating the private moral life of a leader. The Biblical reason underlying their logic is found in Luke 6:43-44 and Matthew 7:16-20, in which Jesus reminds us:

Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. . . . Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Very simply, if a tree has bad roots, it will produce bad fruits. Consequently, the “roots” of a public officer are important, for one who produces bad fruit in private life cannot keep from eventually producing it in public life.

Understanding this, Founding Father Elias Boudinot, a President of the Continental Congress, reminded us to “be religiously careful in our choice of all public officers . . . and judge of the tree by its fruits.” Other American statesmen made equally succinct declarations. For example:

He who is void of attachments in private life is, or very soon will be, void of all regard of his country. There is seldom an instance of a man guilty of betraying his country who had not before lost the feeling of moral obligations in his private connections. . . . [P]rivate and public vices are in reality . . . connected. . . . Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust be men of unexceptionable characters. The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men. Samuel Adams


Righteousness alone can exalt [America] as a nation. . . . [R]emember this! And in thy sphere practice virtue thyself, and encourage it in others. . . . [T]he great pillars of all government . . . [are] virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone, that renders us invincible. Patrick Henry


As governments are made and moved by men, so by them they are ruined too. . . . Let men be good and the governplainfs22 ment cannot be bad. . . . But if men be bad, the government be never good. William Penn


[I]f we . . . trifle with the injunctions of morality . . . no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us. . . . [No] government [can] be secure which is not supported by moral habits. Daniel Webster


In selecting men for office . . . look to his character. . . . [I]f the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded. . . . When a citizen gives his [vote] to a man of known immorality . . . he betrays the interest of his country. Noah Webster


Those who wish well to the State ought to choose to places of trust men of inward principle, justified by exemplary [lifestyle]. Is it reasonable to expect wisdom from the ignorant? fidelity from the profligate? assiduity and application to public business from men of a dissipated life? . . . Those, therefore, who pay no regard to religion and sobriety in the persons whom they [elect] are guilty of the greatest absurdity and will soon pay dear for their folly. John Witherspoon


While it is too late for us as voters to apply these lessons to our current President, it is not too late for us to apply these lessons to the present election. Remember to vote–and to vote for God-fearing and moral individuals. As the Bible reminds us in Proverbs 29:2: “When the righteous rule, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.”

High Crimes and Misdemeanors

In the midst of the debate surrounding a potential presidential impeachment, the phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” has become a focal point. This phrase is found in Article II, Section 4, Par. 1, of the Constitution, and sets forth the reasons for the removal of a President:

The President, Vice-President, and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

Supporters of the President argue that what has been uncovered–thus far–does not amount to “high crimes and misdemeanors” like “treason [and] bribery.” While they admit the President’s actions to be disgusting and reprehensible, they claim that nevertheless they are not sufficiently serious felonies so as to constitute impeachable offenses.

Those who offer this argument are guilty of two errors: (1) they are ignorant of (or ignore) the clear declarations both of our Founding Fathers who authored this clause and of those who for a century-and-a-half afterwards enforced this clause, and (2) they group words together in the clause which should be kept separate that is, they talk of “high crimes and misdemeanors” as if they are they same thing; they are not.

The clause should be read “high crimes” and “misdemeanors”–two separate categories. No one can logically argue that a “high crime” is the same as a “misdemeanor.” What the Founding Fathers did in this clause was to offer a broad scope of impeachable offenses ranging from serious felonies (high crimes) to much lesser categories of misbehavior (misdemeanors).

This is further confirmed by the two specific examples the Founders included in the Constitution: treason and bribery. Treason was a serious capital offense, resulting in execution, while bribery–even though it was considered a moral wrong–was not yet a statutory crime when the Constitution was adopted! Clearly, then, what the Constitution specifies is a wide range of impeachable offenses, from high crimes (such as treason) to misdemeanors (such as bribery–not then illegal).

The definitions of “misdemeanor” confirmed this. For example, Alexander Hamilton and Justice Joseph Story (placed on the Supreme Court by President James Madison) defined a “misdemeanor” as political “malconduct,” and Noah Webster (responsible for the copyright and patent protection clause of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution) defined “misdemeanor” as “ill behavior, evil conduct, fault, or mismanagement.” Professor John Randolph Tucker (a U.S. Congressman, constitutional law professor, and early president of the American Bar Association) explained in his 1891 Commentaries on the Constitution that “misdemeanor” was “a synonym for misbehavior” and that “[t]he words ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ cannot be confined to crimes created and defined by a statute of the United States.”

Realizing, then, that the constitutional scope of impeachable offenses ranged from serious felonies down to misbehavior and evil conduct, Joseph Story, in his classic 1833 Commentaries on the Constitution, declared:

The offences to which the power of impeachment has been and is ordinarily applied as a remedy are. . . . what are aptly termed political offences, growing out of personal misconduct, or gross neglect, or usurpation, or habitual disregard of the public interest.

And Professor John Randolph Tucker, in the 1891 Commentaries mentioned earlier, declared:

The process of impeachment is a political proceeding, against the accused as an officer of the government, to protect the government from the present or future incumbency of a man whose conduct has proved him unworthy to fill it. . . . The impeachment power was intended to cleanse the government from the presence of worthless and faithless individuals.

That this had been the intent of the Founding Fathers was irrefutable. For example, James Iredell (an original Supreme Court Justice appointed by President George Washington) succinctly declared:

Every government requires [impeachment]. Every man ought to be amenable for his conduct. . . . It will be not only the means of punishing misconduct but it will prevent misconduct. A man in public office who knows that there is no tribunal to punish him may be ready to deviate from his duty; but if he knows there is a tribunal for that purpose, although he may be a man of no principle, the very terror of punishment will perhaps deter him.

Therefore, in the current raging debate over what constitutes an impeachable offense, do not be misled by those who would define “high crimes” and “misdemeanors” as being the same, and then who raise the bar for impeachment so high that it protects an individual from being accountable for his conduct.

Meet a Friend

Once again, it is a pleasure to highlight an organization that is having a profound impact on our society. The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools is getting the Bible back into public schools nationwide. Founded in 1994 by Elizabeth Ridenour, this organization helps public schools set up elective Bible courses by first educating them to the fact that the courses are completely constitutional and then by providing the curriculum for the courses, with the Bible itself being the primary textbook.

According to the NCBCPS, the ultimate goals of these courses, in part, are to “equip the student with
a fundamental understanding of the influence of the Bible on history, law, American community life, and culture; give insight into the world views of America’sfounding fathers and to understand the Biblical influences on their views on human rights; . . . [and] familiarize the student with the Bible so that he or she becomes skillful in its use, such as finding references easily.” Currently, fifty-seven districts in twenty-six States have started teaching the Bible as an elective in public schools.

Who Led the Plymouth Pilgrims?

And thus they found the Lord to be with them in all their
ways, and to bless their outgoings & incomings, for which
let his holy name have the praise for ever, to all posterity.
-William Bradford

The first officially-celebrated federal holiday was that of Thanksgiving, declared by President George Washington within a few months after his inauguration. 1 Thanksgiving, a long-cherished holiday celebration of rejoicing and giving thanks to God, has a long history in America from both before and after that 1789 proclamation.

Out of many historic celebrations of Thanksgiving, the most well known and closely emulated was the feast of the pilgrims as they celebrated the goodness of God in keeping them alive through a hard season, and providing them with food and shelter to face the coming winter. One of those attending what is known as the first thanksgiving was the Pilgrim’s newly chosen governor, William Bradford.


As a young orphan, William Bradford sought revelation through the Bible. 2 Living near Scrooby, England, he became acquainted with the Puritans and the separatist movement.  Drawn by the simplicity of their services, and their commitment to both religious and political reforms, he joined the congregation, despite his family’s disapproval. 3

When the English threatened permanent imprisonment for those who criticized the corrupt practices of both the state and the church, the Scrooby church fled to Amsterdam to take refuge from the growing persecution. 4 Following a decade of relative peace in Holland, the religious climate became volatile due to a potential looming war with Spain and the secular behavior of the Dutch, 5 so the Pilgrims therefore decided to start a new English colony in America. 6
who-led-the-plymouth-pilgrims-2At 30 years of age, William Bradford and his wife Dorothy left  behind their 4 year-old son to make the perilous journey, along with 100 other congregation members. 7 While anchored off the coast of the New World, Dorothy fell overboard and drowned. 8

Over the following winter, one half of the 102 colonists died from hunger, exposure, or disease. 9  In 1621 following that brutal winter, William Bradford was chosen governor of the colony to replace John Carver, one of those who died.  With the exception of a few years, he continued to serve in that capacity for virtually the rest of his life. 10

The University of Kentucky highlights William Bradford and his account of the first years of the colony in their online course, American Literature from 1600-1865.  Throughout this course the reading assignments go back to the original documents, and you can read about the early years of America in the very words of those who lived then.


1 George Washington, Thanksgiving Proclamation, November 26, 1789; as published in The Providence Gazette and Country Journal on October 17, 1789.
2 Jeremy Belknap, American Biography (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1855), Vol. III, p. 7, “William Bradford.”  See also, Caleb Johnson, “William Bradford,” Mayflower History (at: (accessed on November 26, 2014).
3 Caleb Johnson, “William Bradford,” Mayflower History (at: (accessed on November 26, 2014).< 4 William Allen, The American Biographical Dictionary, (Boston: J.P. Jewett and Company, 1857), p. 117, “Bradford, William“; Dorothy Honiss Kelso, “Beyond the Pilgrim Story: William Bradford,” Pilgrim Hall Museum (at: (accessed November 18, 2014); Jeremy Belknap, American Biography (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1855), Vol. III, pp. 17-52, “William Bradford.”
5 Emma Willard, History of the United States, Or, Republic of America (Philadelphia: A.S. Barnes & Company, 1843), p. 33. See also,  William Bradford and Valerian Paget, Bradford’s History of the Plymouth Settlement 1608-1650: Rendered into Modern English (New York: John McBride Company, 1909), pg. 21.
6 Dorothy Honiss Kelso, “Beyond the Pilgrim Story: William Bradford,” Pilgrim Hall Museum (at: (accessed November 18, 2014). See also, Emma Willard, History of the United States, Or, Republic of America (Philadelphia: A.S. Barnes & Company, 1843), p. 33.
7 Dorothy Honiss Kelso, “Beyond the Pilgrim Story: William Bradford,” Pilgrim Hall Museum (at: (accessed November 18, 2014).
8 Jacob Bailey Moore, Lives of the Governors of New Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay (Boston: C.D. Strong, 1851), p. 88.
9 William Bradford and Valerian Paget, Bradford’s History of the Plymouth Settlement 1608-1650: Rendered into Modern English (New York: John McBride Company, 1909), pp. 74-76.
10 William Allen, The American Biographical Dictionary,  (Boston : J.P. Jewett and Company, 1857), pp. 117-121, “Bradford, William.” See also, Dorothy Honiss Kelso, “Beyond the Pilgrim Story: William Bradford,” Pilgrim Hall Museum (at: (accessed November 18, 2014); Caleb Johnson, “William Bradford,” Mayflower History (at: (accessed on November 26, 2014).

Science and the Glory of God

The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
(Psalm 19:1)

science-and-the-glory-of-god-1Several WallBuilders speakers just returned from engagements in Alaska, where they witnessed the incomprehensible wonder of the Northern Lights, the breathtaking beauty of the majestic mountain ranges, and the creative uniqueness of its wildlife. Throughout American history, those who believed Psalms 19 and explored God’s marvelous creation have had great impact on our science.

science-and-the-glory-of-god-2For example, U.S. Navy Commander Matthew Fontaine Maury1 became known as “Father of Oceanography”2 and  “Pathfinder of the Seas”3 because of what he discovered from reading Psalm 8 and Ecclesiastes 1. When criticized for his reliance on the Bible, Maury responded:

I have been blamed by men of science, both in this country and in England, for quoting the Bible in confirmation of the doctrines of physical geography. The Bible, they say, was not written for scientific purposes and is therefore of no authority in matters of science. I beg pardon! The Bible is authority for everything it touches. . . . The Bible is true, and science is true. . . . They are both true; and when your men of science, with vain and hasty conceit, announce the discovery of disagreement between them, rely upon it: the fault is not with the Witness or His records [that is, God], but with the “worm” [sinful human] who essays [attempts] to interpret evidence which he does not understand.4


Thomas Jefferson, a diligent student of history, observed that:

The Christian religion…is a religion of all others most friendly to liberty, science, and the freest expansion of the human mind. 5

In fact, Jefferson said that  “Bacon, Newton and Locke . . . [are] my trinity of the three greatest men the world had ever produced.” 6 While Locke was a Christian philosopher, both Bacon and Newton were Christian scientists. Notice the philosophy of these two.

science-and-the-glory-of-god-4Francis Bacon, known as the “Father of Modern Science,” 7 developed the process of inductive thinking and created the scientific method. He also penned several books on religion, such as On the Unity in Religion (1612), On Atheism (1612), and Of Praise (1612), as well as a translation of Biblical psalms (1625).

science-and-the-glory-of-god-5 Sir Isaac Newton as an English mathematician and scientist credited with birthing modern calculus and discovering the laws of universal gravitation. But he actually wrote more on theology than he did on science!

There are many other examples, making clear that science as we know it today would not exist had it not been for those who used the Bible to lay the foundations of modern science.

(For more information on the Bible and Science, see the commentary for Daniel 1 in The Founders’ Bible).


1 For information about Matthew Fontaine Maury, see: Captain Miles P. DuVal, Jr., “Matthew Fontaine Maury,” Naval History and Heritage Command, December 11, 2015; Diane Fontaine Maury Corbin, A Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, 1888).
2 Howard J. Cohen, “Tributes to M. F. Maury, Pathfinder of the Seas,” Matthew Fontaine Maury (National Imagery and Mapping Agency, 2003), 4.
3 Charles Lee Lewis, Matthew Fontaine Maury: The Pathfinder of the Seas (Annapolis: The United States Naval Institute, 1927).
4 Corbin, Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury (1888), 178, “Maury’s Address at the Laying of the Corner-stone of the University of the South, on the Sewanee Mountains in East Tennessee, was delivered at the request of Bishop Otey on Nov. 30th, 1860.” See also Stephen McDowell, Matthew Fontaine Maury, the Pathfinder of the Seas (Charlottesville, VA: Providence Biblical Worldview University, 2011).
5 Thomas Jefferson to Moses Robinson, March 23, 1801, Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies, ed. Thomas Jefferson Randolph (Charlottesville: F. Carr and Co., 1829), III:463.
6 Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Rush, January 16, 1811, The Works of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Paul Leicester Ford (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1905), XI:168.
4 The Works of Francis Bacon, ed. James Spedding (London: Longmans & Co., 1870), III:509, “Preface to the De Interpretatione Naturae Prooemium”; John Timbs, Stories of Inventors and Discoverers in Science and the Useful Arts (London: Kent and Co., 1860), 91, “Lord Bacon’s ‘New Philosophy”; David C. Innes, “The Novelty and Genius of Francis Bacon,” Piety and Humanity, February 11, 2010.

The Truth about Columbus

The Truth about Columbus

the-truth-about-columbus-1Columbus Day has become yet another occasion for tearing down our American heritage and heroes. Perhaps no other holiday in American history has so quickly gone from one honoring a venerated hero, to now portraying him as a genocidal exterminationist.

Academia, teachers, public schools, and others across the nation are now attacking Christopher Columbus in what appears to be a concerted effort to make children as repulsed by Columbus as they would be of the world’s most notorious criminal.

Columbus did have faults; but he also made indispensable positive contributions to America and American history. He deserves to be honored, not because he was perfect but because of his contributions.

Last week on Columbus Day, as both adults and children were told of the now-evil Columbus, many asked us questions about what was true concerning him. Following are some recommendations on how to find details about Columbus that are ignored today.

the-truth-about-columbus-2Have your children read Christopher Columbus: Across the Ocean Sea and watch “Drive Thru History America — Columbus, the Pilgrims, and Early Boston.” For adults and older readers, we highly recommend Dr. John Eidsmoe’s Columbus and Cortez.

And if you want to read an old classic about Columbus, check out Washington Irving’s (1783-1859) famous A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus (1828), which was so popular that it went through an amazing 175 editions by the end of the century! (This book can be read or downloaded for free as a pdf from Google books.)

Proverbs 18:17 reminds us that one side always sounds good until you hear the other side. It is time for both students and adults to hear the other side — to hear the things that are no longer being taught today. Do all you can to vaccinate your family from the unrelenting attacks on those who contributed to make America a special and unique nation.

John Locke: Deist or Theologian?

Many law and history professors and uninformed historical writers commonly assert that John Locke was a secular political writer or a deist. Often, these claims are made without the logical effort of studying Locke or his writings directly. (Rather, the views of other writers who wrote about Locke are studied!) If you have such a professor, or hear such assertions, here are a few helpful questions that you can use:

Questions About John Locke that Demand An Answer

  1. In 1669, John Locke assisted in the drafting of the Carolina constitution under which no man could be a citizen unless he acknowledged God, was a member of a church, and used no “reproachful, reviling, or abusive language” against any religion.1 How can the constitutional requirement that no one can become a citizen (1) unless he acknowledges God; (2) be a member of a church; and (3) not attack religion, be considered a secular political philosophy?
  2. Many of Locke’s political ideas were specifically drawn from British theologian Richard Hooker (1554-1600), whom Locke quotes heavily in approbation throughout his own political writings.2 If Locke draws so heavily from (and frequently cites) a theologian throughout his own political works, how can it be true that his political philosophies were totally secular?
  3. In his most famous political work, his Two Treatises of Government, Locke set forth the belief that successful governments could be built only upon the transcendent, unchanging principles of natural law that were a subset of God’s law. For example, he declared:

    [T]he Law of Nature stands as an eternal rule to all men, legislators as well as others. The rules that they make for other men’s actions must . . . be conformable to the Law of Nature, i.e., to the will of God.3

    [L]aws human must be made according to the general laws of Nature, and without contradiction to any positive law of Scripture, otherwise they are ill made.4

    How can Locke’s declaration that the laws of legislators must be conformable “to the will of God” and that human laws cannot contradict “any positive law of Scripture” be considered part of a secular political philosophy?

  4. Locke’s Two Treatises of Government were heavily relied upon by the American Founding Fathers. In fact, signer of the Declaration Richard Henry Lee declared that the Declaration itself was “copied from Locke’s Treatise on Government.”5 Yet so heavily did Locke draw from the Bible in developing his political theories that in his first treatise on government, he invoked the Bible in one thousand three hundred and forty nine references; in his second treatise, he cited it one hundred and fifty seven times. How can so many references to the Bible in Locke’s most famous political work be reconciled with the charge that his political philosophies were totally secular?
  5. While many today classify John Locke as a deist, secular thinker, or a forerunner of deism,6 previous generations classified John Locke as a theologian. 7 How can the charge that Locke’s political philosophies were totally secular be squared with the fact that he was long considered a theologian?
  6. John Locke’s many writings included a verse-by-verse commentary on Paul’s Epistles. He also compiled a topical Bible, which he called a Common Place-Book to the Holy Bible, that listed the verses in the Bible, subject by subject. Then when anti-religious enlightenment thinkers attacked Christianity, Locke defended it in his book, The Reasonableness of Christianity as Delivered in the Scriptures. And then when he was attacked for defending Christianity in that first work, he responded with the work, A Vindication of the Reasonableness of Christianity. Still being attacked two years later, Locke wrote, A Second Vindication of the Reasonableness of Christianity.8 No wonder he was considered a theologian by his peers and by subsequent generations! How can a theologian who wrote so many books on the writings and doctrines of the Bible and Christianity (and who frequently cited the Scriptures in his political writings) also be a writer whose political philosophies were totally secular?
  7. Significantly, when during the Founding Era it was charged that Locke was a secular writer, it drew a sharp response from law professor James Wilson, a signer of the Constitution and an original Justice on the U. S. Supreme Court. Wilson declared:

    I am equally far from believing that Mr. Locke was a friend to infidelity [a disbelief in the Bible and in Christianity 9]. . . . The high reputation which he deservedly acquired for his enlightened attachment to the mild and tolerating doctrines of Christianity secured to him the esteem and confidence of those who were its friends. The same high and deserved reputation inspired others of very different views and characters . . . to diffuse a fascinating kind of lustre over their own tenets of a dark and sable hue. The consequence has been that the writings of Mr. Locke, one of the most able, most sincere, and most amiable assertors of Christianity and true philosophy, have been perverted to purposes which he would have deprecated and prevented [disapproved and opposed] had he discovered or foreseen them. 10

    How can the charge that political philosophies were totally secular be explained with the claim by such a prominent legal authorities that Locke was “one of the most able, most sincere, and most amiable assertors of Christianity”?


1 John Locke, A Collection of Several Pieces of Mr. John Locke Never Before Printed or Not Extant in His Works (London: J. Bettenham for R. Francklin, 1720), 3, 41, 45-46.
2 John Locke, Two Treatises on Government (London: J. Whiston, etc., 1772), passim.
3 Locke, Two Treatises (1772), II:285, Ch. XI, §135.
4 Locke, Two Treatises (1772), II:285, Ch. XI, §135, n., quoting Hooker’s Eccl. Pol. 1. iii, sect. 9.
5 Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, August 30, 1823, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Washington, D. C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), XV:462.
6 See, for example, Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, ed. John Bowker (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 151; Franklin L. Baumer, Religion and the Use of Skepticism (New York: Harcourt, Brace, & Company), 57-59; James A. Herrick, The Radical Rhetoric of the English Deists: The Discourse of Skepticism, 1680 – 1750 (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997), 15; Kerry S. Walters Rational Infidels: The American Deists (Durango, CO: Longwood Academic, 1992), 24, 210; Kerry S. Walters, The American Deists: Voices of Reason and Dissent in the Early Republic (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1992), 6-7; John W. Yolton, John Locke and the Way of Ideas (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1956), 25, 115.
7 See Richard Watson, Theological Institutes: Or a View of the Evidences, Doctrines, Morals, and Institutions of Christianity (New York: Carlton and Porter, 1857), I:5, where Watson includes John Locke as a theologian.
8 Encyclopedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, 1911, s.v. “John Locke.”
9Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (New York: S. Converse, 1828), s.v. “infidel.”
10 James Wilson, The Works of the Honourable James Wilson, Bird Wilson, editor (Philadelphia: Lorenzo Press, 1804), I:67-68, “Of the General Principles of Law and Obligation.”

John Locke – A Philosophical Founder of America

John Locke (1632-1704) is one of the most important, but largely unknown names in American history today. A celebrated English philosopher, educator, government official, and theologian, it is not an exaggeration to say that without his substantial influence on American thinking, there might well be no United States of America today – or at the very least, America certainly would not exist with the same level of rights, stability of government, and quality of life that we have enjoyed for well over two centuries.

Historians – especially of previous generations – were understandably effusive in their praise of Locke. For example:

  • In 1833, Justice Joseph Story, author of the famed Commentaries on the Constitution, described Locke as “a most strenuous asserter of liberty”1 who helped establish in this country the sovereignty of the people over the government,2 majority rule with minority protection,3 and the rights of conscience.4
  • In 1834, George Bancroft, called the “Father of American History,” described Locke as “the rival of ‘the ancient philosophers’ to whom the world had ‘erected statues’,”5 and noted that Locke esteemed “the pursuit of truth the first object of life and . . . never sacrificed a conviction to an interest.”6
  • In 1872, historian Richard Frothingham said that Locke’s principles – principles that he said were “inspired and imbued with the Christian idea of man” – produced the “leading principle [of] republicanism” that was “summed up in the Declaration of Independence and became the American theory of government.”7
  • In the 1890s, John Fiske, the celebrated nineteenth-century historian, affirmed that Locke brought to America “the idea of complete liberty of conscience in matters of religion” allowing persons with “any sort of notion about God” to be protected “against all interference or molestation,”8 and that Locke should “be ranked in the same order with Aristotle.”9

Such acknowledgments continued across the generations; and even over the past half century, U. S. presidents have also regularly acknowledged America’s debt to John Locke:

  • President Richard Nixon affirmed that “John Locke’s concept of ‘life, liberty and property’” was the basis of “the inalienable rights of man” in the Declaration of Independence.10
  • President Gerald Ford avowed that “Our revolutionary leaders heeded John Locke’s teaching ‘Where there is no law, there is no freedom’.”11
  • President Ronald Reagan confirmed that much in America “testif[ies] to the power and the vision of free men inspired by the ideals and dedication to liberty of John Locke . . .”12
  • President Bill Clinton reminded the British Prime Minister that “Throughout our history, our peoples have reinforced each other in the living classroom of democracy. It is difficult to imagine Jefferson, for example, without John Locke before him.”13
  • President George W. Bush confessed that “We’re sometimes faulted for a naive faith that liberty can change the world, [but i]f that’s an error, it began with reading too much John Locke . . .”14

The influence of Locke on America was truly profound; he was what we now consider to be a renaissance man – an individual skilled in numerous areas and diverse subjects. He had been well-educated and received multiple degrees from some of the best institutions of his day, but he also pursued extensive self-education in the fields of religion, philosophy, education, law, and government – subjects on which he authored numerous substantial works, most of which still remain in print today more than three centuries after he published them.

In 1689, Locke penned his famous Two Treatises of Government. The first treatise (i.e., a thorough examination) was a brilliant Biblical refutation of Sir Robert Filmer’s Patriarcha in which Filmer had attempted to produce Biblical support for the errant “Divine Right of Kings” doctrine. Locke’s second treatise set forth the fundamental principles defining the proper role, function, and operation of a sound government. Significantly, Locke had ample opportunity to assert such principles, for he spent time under some of England’s worst monarchs, including Charles I, Charles II, and James II.

In 1664, Locke penned “Questions Concerning the Law of Nature” in which he asserted that human reason and Divine revelation were fully compatible and were not enemies – that the Law of Nature actually came from God Himself. (This work was not published, but many of its concepts appeared in his subsequent writings.)

In 1667, he privately penned his “Essay Concerning Toleration,” first published in 1689 as A Letter Concerning Toleration. This work, like his Two Treatises, was published anonymously, for it had placed his very life in danger by directly criticizing and challenging the frequent brutal oppression of the government-established and government-run Church of England. (Under English law, the Anglican Church and its 39 Doctrinal Articles were the measure for all religious faith in England; every citizen was required to attend an Anglican Church. Dissenters who opposed those Anglican requirements were regularly persecuted or even killed. Locke objected to the government establishing specific church doctrines by law, argued for a separation of the state from the church, and urged religious toleration for those who did not adhere to Anglican doctrines.) When Locke’s position on religious toleration was attacked by defenders of the government-run church, he responded with A Second Letter Concerning Toleration (1690), and then A Third Letter for Toleration (1692) – both also published anonymously.

In 1690, Locke published his famous Essay Concerning Human Understanding. This work resulted in his being called the “Father of Empiricism,” which is the doctrine that knowledge is derived primarily from experience. Rationalism, on the other hand, places reason above experience; and while Locke definitely did not oppose reason, his approach to learning was more focused on the practical, whereas rationalism was more focused on the theoretical.

In 1693, Locke published Some Thoughts Concerning Education. Originally a series of letters written to his friend concerning the education of a son, in them Locke suggested the best ways to educate children. He proposed a three-pronged holistic approach to education that included (1) a regimen of bodily exercise and maintenance of physical health (that there should be “a sound mind in a sound body”15), (2) the development of a virtuous character (which he considered to be the most important element of education), and (3) the training of the mind through practical and useful academic curriculum (also encouraging students to learn a practical trade). Locke believed that education made the individual – that “of all the men we meet with, nine parts of ten are what they are, good or evil, useful or not, by their education.”16 This book became a run-away best-seller, being printed in nearly every European language and going through 53 editions over the next century.

Locke’s latter writings focused primarily on theological subjects, including The Reasonableness of Christianity as Delivered in the Scriptures (1695), A Vindication of the Reasonableness of Christianity (1695), A Second Vindication of the Reasonableness of Christianity (1697), A Common-Place-Book to the Holy Bible (1697), which was a re-publication of what he called Graphautarkeia, or, The Scriptures Sufficiency Practically Demonstrated (1676), and finally A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul to the Galatians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans, Ephesians (published posthumously in 1707).

In his Reasonableness of Christianity, Locke urged the Church of England to reform itself so as to allow inclusion of members from other Christian denominations – i.e., the Dissenters. He recommended that the Church place its emphasis on the major things of Christianity (such as an individual’s relationship with Jesus Christ) rather than on lesser things (such as liturgy, church hierarchy and structure, and form of discipline). That work also defended Christianity against the attacks of skeptics and secularists, who had argued that Divine revelation must be rejected because truth could be established only through reason.

(While these are some of Locke’s better known works, he also wrote on many other subjects, including poetry and literature, medicine, commerce and economics, and even agriculture.)

The impact of Locke’s writings had a direct and substantial influence on American thinking and behavior in both the religious and the civil realms – an influence especially visible in the years leading up to America’s separation from Great Britain. In fact, the Founding Fathers openly acknowledged their debt to Locke:

  • John Adams praised Locke’s Essay on Human Understanding, openly acknowledging that “Mr. Locke . . . has steered his course into the unenlightened regions of the human mind, and like Columbus, has discovered a new world.”17
  • Declaration signer Benjamin Rush said that Locke was not only “an oracle as to the principles . . . of government”18 (an “oracle” is a wise authority whose opinions are not questioned) but that in philosophy, he was also a “justly celebrated oracle, who first unfolded to us a map of the intellectual world,”19 having “cleared this sublime science of its technical rubbish and rendered it both intelligible and useful.”20
  • Benjamin Franklin said that Locke was one of “the best English authors” for the study of “history, rhetoric, logic, moral and natural philosophy.”21
  • Noah Webster, a Founding Father called the “Schoolmaster to America,” directly acknowledged Locke’s influence in establishing sound principles of education.22
  • James Wilson (a signer of the Declaration and the Constitution, and an original Justice on the U. S. Supreme Court) declared that “The doctrine of toleration in matters of religion . . . has not been long known or acknowledged. For its reception and establishment (where it has been received and established), the world has been thought to owe much to the inestimable writings of the celebrated Locke…”23
  • James Monroe, a Founding Father who became the fifth President of the United States, attributed much of our constitutional philosophy to Locke, including our belief that “the division of the powers of a government . . . into three branches (the legislative, executive, and judiciary) is absolutely necessary for the preservation of liberty.”24
  • Thomas Jefferson said that Locke was among “my trinity of the three greatest men the world had ever produced.”25

And just as the Founding Fathers regularly praised and invoked John Locke, so, too, did numerous famous American ministers in their writings and sermons.26 Locke’s influence was substantial; and significantly, the closer came the American Revolution, the more frequently he was invoked.

For example, in 1775, Alexander Hamilton recommended that anyone wanting to understand the thinking in favor of American independence should “apply yourself without delay to the study of the law of nature. I would recommend to your perusal . . . Locke.”27

And James Otis – the mentor of both Samuel Adams and John Hancock – affirmed that:

The authority of Mr. Locke has . . . been preferred to all others.28

Locke’s specific writing that most influenced the American philosophy of government was his Two Treatises of Government. In fact, signer of the Declaration Richard Henry Lee saw the Declaration of Independence as being “copied from Locke’s Treatise on Government29– and modern researchers agree, having authoritatively documented that not only was John Locke one of three most-cited political philosophers during the Founding Era30 but that he was by far the single most frequently-cited source in the years from 1760-1776 (the period leading up to the Declaration of Independence).31

Among the many ideas articulated by Locke that subsequently appeared in the Declaration was the theory of social compact, which, according to Locke, was when:

Men. . . . join and unite into a community for their comfortable, safe, and peaceable living one amongst another in a secure enjoyment of their properties and a greater security against any that are not of it.32

Of that theory, William Findley, a Revolutionary soldier and a U. S. Congressman, explained:

Men must first associate together before they can form rules for their civil government. When those rules are formed and put in operation, they have become a civil society, or organized government. For this purpose, some rights of individuals must have been given up to the society but repaid many fold by the protection of life, liberty, and property afforded by the strong arm of civil government. This progress to human happiness being agreeable to the will of God, Who loves and commands order, is the ordinance of God mentioned by the Apostle Paul and . . . the Apostle Peter.33

Locke’s theory of social compact is seen in the Declaration’s phrase that governments “derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Locke also taught that government must be built firmly upon the transcendent, unchanging principles of natural law that were merely a subset of God’s greater law:

[T]he Law of Nature stands as an eternal rule to all men, legislators as well as others. The rules that they make for other men’s actions must . . . be conformable to the Law of Nature, i.e., to the will of God.34

[L]aws human must be made according to the general laws of Nature, and without contradiction to any positive law of Scripture, otherwise they are ill made.35

For obedience is due in the first place to God, and afterwards to the laws.36

The Declaration therefore acknowledges “the laws of nature and of nature’s God,” thus not separating the two but rather affirming their interdependent relationship – the dual connection between reason and revelation which Locke so often asserted.

Locke also proclaimed that certain fundamental rights should be protected by society and government, including especially those of life, liberty, and property37– three rights specifically listed as God-given inalienable rights in the Declaration. As Samuel Adams (the “Father of the American Revolution” and a signer of the Declaration) affirmed, man’s inalienable rights included “first, a right to life; secondly, to liberty; thirdly, to property”38– a repeat of Locke’s list.

Locke had also asserted that:

[T]he first and fundamental positive law of all commonwealths is the establishing of the Legislative power. . . . [and no] edict of anybody else . . . [can] have the force and obligation of a law which has not its sanction [approval] from that Legislative which the public has chosen.39

The Founders thus placed a heavy emphasis on preserving legislative powers above all others. In fact, of the 27 grievances set forth in the Declaration of Independence, 11 dealt with the abuse of legislative powers – no other topic in the Declaration received nearly as much attention. The Founders’ conviction that the Legislative Branch was above both the Executive and Judicial branches was also readily evident in the U. S. Constitution, with the Federalist Papers affirming that “the legislative authority necessarily predominates”40 and “the judiciary is beyond comparison the weakest of the three departments of power.”41

Locke also advocated the removal of a leader who failed to fulfill the basic functions of government so eloquently set forth in his Two Treatises;42 the Declaration thus declares that “whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it and to institute new government.”

In short, when one studies Locke’s writings and then reads the Declaration of Independence, they will agree with John Quincy Adams’ pronouncement that:

The Declaration of Independence [was] . . . founded upon one and the same theory of government . . . expounded in the writings of Locke.43

But despite Locke’s substantial influence on America, today he is largely unknown; and his Two Treatises are no longer intimately studied in America history and government classes. Perhaps the reason for the modern dismissal of this classic work is because it was so thoroughly religious: Locke invoked the Bible in at least 1,349 references in the first treatise, and 157 times in the second44– a fact not lost on the Founders. As John Adams openly acknowledged:

The general principles on which the Fathers achieved independence. . . . were the general principles of Christianity. . . . Now I will avow that I then believed (and now believe) that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God. . . . In favor of these general principles in philosophy, religion, and government, I [c]ould fill sheets of quotations from . . . [philosophers including] Locke – not to mention thousands of divines and philosophers of inferior fame.45

Given the fact that previous generations so quickly recognized the Christian principles that permeated all of Locke’s diverse writings, it is not surprising that they considered him a theologian.46 Ironically, however, many of today’s writers and so-called professors and scholars specifically call Locke a deist or a forerunner of Deism.47 But since Locke included repeated references to God and the Scriptures throughout his writings, and since he wrote many works specifically in defense of religious topics, then why is he currently portrayed as being anti-religious? It is because in the past fifty-years, American education has become thoroughly infused with the dual historical malpractices of Deconstructionism and Academic Collectivism.

Deconstructionism is a philosophy that “tends to deemphasize or even efface [i.e., malign and smear] the subject” by posing “a continuous critique” to “lay low what was once high”48 and “tear down the ancient certainties upon which Western Culture is founded.”49 In other words, it is a steady flow of belittling and negative portrayals about the heroes, institutions, and values of Western civilization, especially if they reflect religious beliefs. The two regular means by which Deconstructionists accomplish this goal are (1) to make a negative exception appear to be the rule, and (2) deliberate omission.

These harmful practices of Deconstructionists are exacerbated by the malpractice of Academic Collectivism, whereby scholars quote each other and those from their group rather than original sources. Too many writers today simply repeat what other modern writers say, and this “peer-review” becomes the standard for historical truth rather than an examination of actual original documents and sources.

Reflecting these dual negative influences of Deconstructionism and Academic Collectivism in their treatment of John Locke, many of today’s “scholars” simply lift a few short excerpts from his hundreds of thousands of written words and then present those carefully selected extracts in such a way as to misconstrue his faith and make it seem that he was irreligious. Or more frequently, Locke’s works are simply omitted from academic studies, being replaced only with a professor’s often inaccurate characterization of Locke’s beliefs and writings.

Significantly, the charge that Locke is a deist and a freethinker is not new; it has been raised against him for over three centuries. It first originated when Locke advocated major reforms in the Church of England (such as the separation of the state from the church and the extension of religious toleration to other Christian denominations); Anglican apologists who stung from his biting criticism sought to malign him and minimize his influence; they thus accused him of irreligion and deism. As affirmed by early English theologian Richard Price:

[W]hen . . . Mr. Locke’s Essay on the Human Understanding was first published in Britain, the persons readiest to attend to it and to receive it were those who have never been trained in colleges, and whose minds, therefore, had never been perverted by an instruction in the jargon of the schools. [But t]o the deep professors [i.e., clergy and scholars] of the times, it appeared (like the doctrine taught in his book, on the Reasonableness of Christianity) to be a dangerous novelty and heresy; and the University of Oxford in particular [which trained only Anglicans] condemned and reprobated the author.50

The Founding Fathers were fully aware of the bigoted motives behind the attacks on Locke’s Christian beliefs, and they vigorously defended him from those false charges. For example, James Wilson (signer of the Declaration and Constitution) asserted:

I am equally far from believing that Mr. Locke was a friend to infidelity [a disbelief in the Bible and in Christianity51]. . . . The high reputation which he deservedly acquired for his enlightened attachment to the mild and tolerating doctrines of Christianity secured to him the esteem and confidence of those who were its friends. The same high and deserved reputation inspired others of very different views and characters . . . to diffuse a fascinating kind of lustre over their own tenets of a dark and sable hue. The consequence has been that the writings of Mr. Locke, one of the most able, most sincere, and most amiable assertors of Christianity and true philosophy, have been perverted to purposes which he would have deprecated and prevented [disapproved and opposed] had he discovered or foreseen them.52

Thomas Jefferson agreed. He had personally studied not only Locke’s governmental and legal writings but also his theological ones; and his summary of Locke’s views of Christianity clearly affirmed that Locke was not a deist. According to Jefferson:

Locke’s system of Christianity is this: Adam was created happy and immortal…. By sin he lost this so that he became subject to total death (like that of brutes [animals]) – to the crosses and unhappiness of this life. At the intercession, however, of the Son of God, this sentence was in part remitted…. And moreover to them who believed, their faith was to be counted for righteousness [Romans 4:3,5]. Not that faith without works was to save them; St. James, chapter 2 says expressly the contrary [James 2:14-26]…. So that a reformation of life (included under repentance) was essential, and defects in this would be made up by their faith; i. e., their faith should be counted for righteousness [Romans 4:3,5]…. The Gentiles; St. Paul says, Romans 2:13: “the Gentiles have the law written in their hearts,” [A]dding a faith in God and His attributes that on their repentance, He would pardon them; (1 John 1:9) they also would be justified (Romans 3:24). This then explains the text “there is no other name under heaven by which a man may be saved” [Acts 4:12], i. e., the defects in good works shall not be supplied by a faith in Mahomet, Fo [Buddha], or any other except Christ.53

In short, Locke was not the deist thinker that today’s shallow and often lazy academics so frequently claim him to be; and although Locke is largely ignored today, his influence both on American religious and political thinking was substantial, directly shaping key beliefs upon which America was established and under which she continues to operate and prosper.

Americans need to revive a widespread awareness of John Locke and his specific ideas that helped produce American Exceptionalism so that we can better preserve and continue the blessings of prosperity, stability, and liberty that we have enjoyed for the past several centuries.


1 Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (Boston: Hilliard, Gray, and Company 1833), I:299, n2.

2 Story, Commentaries (1833), II:57, n2.

3 Story, Commentaries 1833), I:293, n2; I:299, n2; I:305-306.

4 Story, Commentaries (1833), III:727.

5 George Bancroft, History of the United States of America (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1858; first edition Boston: Charles Bowen, 1834), II:150.

6 Bancroft, History of the United States (1858; first edition 1834),  II:144.

7 Richard Frothingham, The Rise of the Republic of the United States (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1872), 165.

8 John Fiske, Old Virginia and Her Neighbors (New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1897), II:274.

9 John Fiske, Critical Period of American History: 1783-1789 (New York: Mifflin and Company, 1896), 225.

10 Richard Nixon, “Message to the Congress Transmitting the Report of the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission,” The American Presidency Project, September 11, 1970.

11 Gerald Ford, “Address at the Yale University Law School Sesquicentennial Convocation Dinner,” The American Presidency Project, April 25, 1975.

12 Ronald Reagan, “Toasts of the President and Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom at a Dinner Honoring the Queen in San Francisco, California,” The American Presidency Project, March 3, 1983.

13 William Clinton, “Remarks at the State Dinner Honoring Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom,” The American Presidency Project, February 5, 1998.

14 George W. Bush, “Remarks at Whitehall Palace in London, United Kingdom,” The American Presidency Project, November 19, 2003.

15 John Locke, The Works of John Locke (London: Arthur Bettesworth, John Pemberton, and Edward Simon, 1722), III:1, “Some Thoughts Concerning Education.”

16 Locke, Works (1722), III:1, “Some Thoughts Concerning Education.”

17 John Adams, The Works of John Adams, ed. Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1856), I:53, to Jonathan Sewall on February 1760.

18 Benjamin Rush, The Selected Writings of Benjamin Rush, ed. Dagobert D. Runes (New York: The Philosophical Library, Inc., 1947), 78, “Observations on the Government of Pennsylvania.”

19 Benjamin Rush, Medical Inquiries and Observations (Philadelphia: T. Dobson, 1793), II:17, “An Inquiry into the Influence of Physical Causes upon the Moral Faculty.”

20 Rush, Medical Inquiries (1794), I:332, “Duties of a Physician.”

21 Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Jared Sparks (Boston: Tappan & Whittemore, 1836), II:131, “Sketch of an English School.”

22 Noah Webster, A Collection of Papers on Political, Literary and Moral Subjects (New York: Webster & Clark, 1843), 308, “Modes of Teaching the English Language.”

23 James Wilson, The Works of the Honourable James Wilson, ed. Bird Wilson (Philadelphia: Lorenzo Press, 1804), 1:6-7, “Of the Study of the Law in the United States.”

24 James Monroe, The Writings of James Monroe, ed. Stanislaus Murray Hamilton (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1898), I:325, “Some Observations on the Constitution, &c.”

25 Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Henry Augustine Washington (Washington, D. C.: Taylor & Maury, 1853), V:559, to Dr. Benjamin Rush on January 16, 1811.

26 See, for example, REV. JARED ELIOT IN 1738 Jared Eliot, Give Caesar His Due. Or, Obligation that Subjects are Under to Their Civil Rulers (London: T. Green, 1738), 27, Evans # 4241. REV. ELISHA WILLIAMS IN 1744 Elisha Williams, The Essential Rights and Liberties of Protestants. A Seasonable Plea for the Liberty of Conscience, and the Right of Private Judgment, in Matters of Religion (Boston: S. Kneeland and T. Gaben, 1744), 4, Evans # 5520. Rev. JONATHAN EDWARDS IN 1754 Jonathan Edwards, A Careful and Strict Inquiry into the Modern Prevailing Notions of That Freedom of Will, which is Supposed to be Essential to Moral Agency, Virtue and Vice, Reward and Punishment, Praise and Blame (Boston: S. Kneeland, 1754), 138-140, 143, 164, 171-172, 353-354. REV. WILLIAM PATTEN, 1766 William Patten, A Discourse Delivered at Hallifax in the County of Plymouth, July 24th, 1766 (Boston: D. Kneeland, 1766), 17-18n, Evans # 10440. REV. STEPHEN JOHNSON, 1766 Stephen Johnson, Some Important Observations, Occasioned by, and Adapted to, the Publick Fast, Ordered by Authority, December 18th, A. D. 1765. On Account of the Peculiar Circumstances of the Present Day (Newport: Samuel Hall, 1766), 22n-23n, Evans # 10364. REV. JOHN TUCKER, 1771 John Tucker, A Sermon Preached at Cambridge Before His Excellency Thomas Hutchinson, Esq., Governor; His Honor Andrew Oliver, Esq., Lieutenant-Governor; the Honorable His Majesty’s Council; and the Honorable House of Representatives of the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay in New England, May 29th, 1771 (Boston: Richard Draper, 1771), 19, Evans # 12256. REV. SAMUEL STILLMAN, 1779 Samuel Stillman, A Sermon Preached before the Honourable Council and the Honourable House of Representatives of the State of Massachusetts-Bay, in New-England at Boston, May 26, 1779. Being the Anniversary for the Election of the Honorable Council (Boston: T. and J. Fleet, 1779), 22-25, and many others.

27 Alexander Hamilton, The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Harold C. Syrett (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961), I:86, from “The Farmer Refuted,” February 23, 1775.

28 James Otis, A Vindication of the Conduct of the House of Representatives of the Province on the Massachusetts-Bay: Most Particularly in the Last Session of the General Assembly (Boston: Edes & Gill, 1762), 20n.

29 Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Andrew A. Lipscomb (Washington, D.C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), XV:462, to James Madison on August 30, 1823.

30 Donald S. Lutz, The Origins of American Constitutionalism (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1988), 143.

31 Lutz, Origins 1988), 143.

32 John Locke, Two Treatises of Government (London: A. Bettesworth, 1728), II:206-207, Ch. VIII, §95.

33 William Findley, Observations on “The Two Sons of Oil” (Pittsburgh: Patterson and Hopkins 1812), 35.

34 Locke, Two Treatises (1728), II:233, Ch. XI, §135.

35 Locke, Two Treatises (1728), II:234, Ch. XI, §135 n., quoting Hooker’s Eccl. Pol. 1. iii, sect. 9.

36 John Locke, The Works of John Locke (London: T. Davison, 1824), V:22, “A Letter Concerning Toleration.”

37 See, for example, Locke, Works (1824), V:10, “A Letter Concerning Toleration”; Locke, Two Treatises (1728), II:146, 188, 199, 232-233, passim; etc.

38 Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, ed. Harry Alonzo Cushing (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1906), I:351, from “The Rights Of The Colonists, A List of Violations Of Rights and A Letter Of Correspondence, Adopted by the Town of Boston, November 20, 1772,” originally published in the Boston Record Commissioners’ Report, XVIII:94-108.

39 Locke, Two Treatises (1728), II:231,Ch. XI, §134.

40 Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, The Federalist, or the New Constitution Written in 1788 (Philadelphia: Benjamin Warner, 1818), 281, Federalist #51 by Alexander Hamilton.

41 Hamilton, Jay, and Madison, The Federalist (1818), 420, Federalist #78 by Alexander Hamilton.

42 Locke, Two Treatises (1728), II:271, Ch. XVI, § 192.

43 John Quincy Adams, The Jubilee of the Constitution. A Discourse Delivered at the Request of the New York Historical Society, in the City of New York, on Tuesday, the 30th of April, 1839; Being the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Inauguration of George Washington as President of the United States, on Thursday, the 30th of April, 1789 (New York: Samuel Colman, 1839), 40.

44 Locke, Two Treatises (1728), passim.

45 John Adams, The Works of John Adams, ed. Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1856), X:45-46, to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813.

46 See, for example, Richard Watson, Theological Institutes: Or a View of the Evidences, Doctrines, Morals, and Institutions of Christianity (New York: Carlton and Porter, 1857), I:5, where Watson includes John Locke as a theologian.

47 See, for example, Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, ed. John Bowker (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 151; Franklin L. Baumer, Religion and the Use of Skepticism (New York: Harcourt, Brace, & Company), 57-59; James A. Herrick, The Radical Rhetoric of the English Deists: The Discourse of Skepticism, 1680-1750 (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997), 15; Kerry S. Walters, Rational Infidels: The American Deists (Durango, CO: Longwood Academic, 1992), 24, 210; Kerry S. Walters, The American Deists: Voices of Reason and Dissent in the Early Republic (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1992), 6-7; John W. Yolton, John Locke and the Way of Ideas (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1956), 25, 115.

48 Jack M. Balkin, “Tradition, Betrayal, and the Politics of Deconstruction – Part II,” Yale University, 1998.

49 Kyle-Anne Shiver, “Deconstructing Obama,”, July 28, 2008.

50 Richard Price, Observations on the Importance of the American Revolution and the Means of Making it a Benefit to the World (Boston: True and Weston, 1818), 24.

51 Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (New York: S. Converse, 1828), s.v. “infidel.”

52 James Wilson, The Works of the Honourable James Wilson, ed. Bird Wilson (Philadelphia: Lorenzo Press, 1804), I:67-68, “Of the General Principles of Law and Obligation.”

53 Thomas Jefferson, The Works of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Paul Leicester Ford (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904), II:253-254, “Notes on Religion,” October, 1776.

Sermon – Before Judges – 1681

Edward Fowler (1632-1714) was an English clergyman. He served as rectory at Norhill, Bedfordshire (1656-1673), rector at All Hallows, Bread Street (1673-1677), vicar at St. Giles, Cripplegate (1677-1691), and bishop of Gloucester (1691-1714). This sermon was preached by Fowler in 1681 in Gloucester.




Preached before the


In the time of the ASSIZES





On Sunday Aug. 7, 1681.


Published to put a Stop to False and Injurious Representations.

By Edward Fowler, D.D.



The desire of many Worthy Gentlemen, who were pleased to think this Sermon seasonable, could not have prevailed with me to make it thus publick, were it not for the Entertainment it hath met with from another sort of Auditors, who have represented it as Fanatical, and almost all that’s naught.

Abut, as I have not (I thank God) so little of a Christian in me, as to return Cursing for Cursing, or Reviling for Reviling; but, on the contrary, do most heartily pray for these men, who express the greatest enmity against me: so will I no longer trouble the Reader with complaints of their most injurious and provoking behavior upon the account of the following Discourse, but only intreat him to be Impartial in the perusal of it; and then to judge between them and me, whether I have given them any other cause to be so inraged, than what the blessed Apostle gave the Galatians, viz. Telling them the truth.

And I appeal to the most Censorious and Captious of those that heard me, whether I have been guilty of the least Unfaithfulness in this Publication.

God is my Witness, that I had the best of Designs in Penning and Preaching this Sermon, viz. A sincere and earnest desire to do some service to the Protestant Religion, His Majesty, and the Church of England, as by Law establish: Nor am I conscious to myself of any crime in the pursuing of this Design, unless honest impartiality in exposing the Doings, which are apparently most highly prejudicial to the interest of all these (than which nothing in this world should be dearer to us) ought to render me blameworthy.

But I am not in the least solicitous about what defects may be found in the Discourse, that are not of a moral nature; for, as the ingenuous will easily overlook them (especially in a Discourse not design’d for the Press) so ‘twould be a great piece of weakness to be at all concerned at the Censures of those that lye at the catch, and who if they find no faults will be sure to make them.

But the main thing I intended this Preface for is yet behind, viz. A faithful Narrative of a matter of Fact, which hath had the ill fortune to be as falsly and injuriously represented as this Sermon. It is this, There lately stood in the West-window of the Quire of Gloucester Cathedral, a most scandalous Picture, viz. of the Blessed Trinity: Which, had it been much observed, could never have outstood the first year of the Reformation; and much less continued till about two years since. I was first shewed it by one of my Brother Prebendaries about four years since: After which time, the sight of it, when I read at the Communion Table, did often discompose me. And, thinking my self obliged to do my endeavour to have it taken down, though no great notice, that I knew, was taken of it, I made no haste for that reason; but some time after my return from my Residence, I advised with one who is a most learned and eminent Prelate of our Church about it; and he, expressing high offence at it, told me we were all bound in Conscience not to suffer such a thing, now we had observed it, to stand longer. Hereupon I resolved to complain of it in Chapter at my next Residence, but there being not above two, or at the most three of us upon the place all that time, I put off the doing it till my Residence the following year. And then having a good opportunity (there being about the Conclusion of that Residence, our whole number except one, present) at a Chapter that was called about other business, the very last day of my stay (which was Mid-Summer Eve 1679.) having all of us viewed it before, I moved by Brethren in Chapter (the officers that were present being first desired to withdraw, because I would have the matter carried as privately as might be) that it might be taken down: Representing the hatefulness of such a Picture, and what scandal it would give, should it happen to become more publick (as it quickly might, it being known to more than ourselves, and that not by my means) and the great seasonableness of doing it at this nick of time, seeing through oversight it had been omitted thus long: it being not long after the discovery of the Plot, and many Factious people then at work in vilifying the Church of England as advancing apace towards Popery. This motion of mine was readily entertained by the Chapter, and the Idol most cheerfully voted down, and the Act of Chapter afterwards Recorded in the Register Book by some of the Prebendaries, where it now stands. I moved, as I said, that it should be taken down, that is, by a Glasier; but for a great reason, which I think fit to conceal, till provoked to publish it, it was as readily consented to, that it should be immediately broken, as ‘twas before, that it should be taken down, and new glass set up in the room of it. Whereupon the greater number of the Chapter went together to the place to countenance the action, and it was done by my hand. We could not in the least doubt, but that this was done very regularly, it being a hard case if the Governours of a Cathedral should not be invested with as much Authority as this comes to. But when it came to be known abroad, there was a hideous noise and clamour made by some few people; who are I dare say, the first Protestants that ever so concern’d themselves about such a vile Relique of Popish Superstition. The Clamour continues to this very day; and, after I had Preached this Sermon, complaint was made of the high misdemeanor to the Judges, and some, further to vent their spleen against me for my Sermon, did what lay in them to have it presented by the Grand Jury of the City, though a thing of above two years standing; Which doughty attempt (as well it might) made sport enough.

But that which necessitates my publishing this Narrative, is the several shameful Untruths they have made to pass for current, far and near, among those who have little knowledge of them and me; for those that know either of us cannot easily believe them. Particularly,

First, they represent this Action, as done by me upon my own head. They say not one word of a Chapters being concerned in the case, and so expose me for a Rash and furious Zealot.

Secondly, To lay still greater load upon me, they have given it out by themselves, and their Agents (particularly a 1 little Agent they have in London, a most disingenuous Creature, of whom I have deserved, as he can’t forget much better things) that it was only the Picture of a Saint or Angel, or at worst of our Saviour, when the contrary was visible to us all, and to others also, as I have intimated already. It was the old Popish Picture of the Trinity; God the Father represented by an Old man with a very long Grey Beard, and a huge beam of Light about his head: God the Son, by a Crucifix between his knees: And God the Holy Ghost, by a Dove with spread wings, under his Beard: which was patcht with a piece or two (as I remember) of plain glass. I have the Copy of the Picture by me as it stood in the Window, drawn by one who lives in that City, that had (as he told me) viewed it at times for twenty years together.

Thirdly, They represent it as done in compliance with the Scotch Rebels, who, they say, were then in Arms. But as this is most false, (these wretches being routed before this time, and the news of it come to Gloucester in the Publick intelligence) so every body must needs see the woeful silliness and Ridiculousness, as well as Malice of this suggestion.

There are some I confess, who are of better Tempers than the Furious people who have made such a loud clamour, that express their dislike of Breaking this Picture, which they call a great indecency. But I would fain know of them, why must it be done so decently? Is it because it was a gross abuse of the Holy Trinity? But if it was not an indecency to break in pieces the Brazen Serpent, when it came to be abused, though of God’s own institution, much less can it be so, to break that the making of which God hath 2 forbidden in so strict a manner. But I have said already that it had been done after these mens decent fashion, that is, taken down by a Glasier, might I have had my will, and had there not been a great probability, if not certainty, of our making our Order to no purpose, if it were not done this way; as my Worthy Brethren will bear me witness: who are all living, and can testify the truth of my Narrative of this so Scandalous a thing, viz. The Destroying of an Idol, that even Moderate Papists have condemned, and some of the better sort of Heathens also; that is, a Corporeal Representation of the Great God, and which one would wonder should have any Patrons, besides the monstrous Sect of Anthropomorphites.

I persuaded myself with great difficulty, to publish this Account to the world, and could not resolve upon it till I considered, how well it becomes me to disabuse abundance of people, who have been imposed upon by false stories, as well as to vindicate my own Reputation. And besides, this I have now done, will not make the thing much more publick than it was before: no nor at all more publick than the late Doings at the Gloucester Assizes, will perhaps make it. I have only taken a course to make the truth about this matter as publick, as some men have made gross falsehoods. And indeed I am now sensible, I should have done this long ago, and that I have been much too patient.

I am prepared to say much more of the Unworthy Treatment I have had from some upon this account, and of what Methods were used to raise clamour, but I have done enough at present; my Design being only to suppress lying Reports, and to disabuse (as I said) those who have received them, not the exposing of particular persons, which I am not like to do, till any of themselves shall make it necessary.

I will Conclude with this Address to my Adversaries (in allusion to our Blessed Saviours reply to the Wretch that smote him) viz. If I have spoken, or done, evil, and transgrest the Law, bear witness of the evil, the Law is open: But if well why smite you after so unchristian a manner him with your Tongues, for want of sharper weapons, who never had any quarrel or controversie with any of you, and who is resolved to requite your malice, with never ceasing to Pray for you?

E R R A T U M.
Page 24 Line 12, for his Generation, read, this Generation.


Preached in the CATHEDRAL of
On Sunday Aug. 7, 1681.

I Tim. 1. 19.

Holding Faith and a good Conscience, which some having put away, concerning Faith have made Shipwrack.

Notwithstanding that the whole intendment of the Christian Faith be the promoting of Righteousness, True Holiness and Universal Goodness in the Hearts first, and then in the Lives of Men; and that it is most admirably fitted for that End: yet there arose even in the earliest and purest days of Christianity a Generation of People, who labored to reconcile Light and Darkness, the Christian Religion and a Wicked Life: And although they pretended to adhere to the Faith of the Gospel, denied the necessity of Good Works, and let open the Flood-gates to all Ungodliness. They made the Holy Jesus, who was manifested that he might destroy the works of the Devil, the great Patron of sin, and turned the grace of God into Lasciviousness; did not only receive this Grace in vain, and rendered it, as much as lay in them, ineffectual to the bettering mens lives and natures, but also made it the greatest Promoter and Encourager of that, for the utter destruction and extirpation of which it was designed.

This they did by corrupting the Christian Doctrine, and bringing into it a company of wicked and Licentious Principles, and by endeavouring to make that pass for the Doctrine of Christ, which was no better than the Doctrine of Devils.

Of these Wretched People S. Paul saith that, They professed that they knew God, but in Works they denied him, being abominable and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate, Tit. 1. 16. And in diverse other places he discourseth of these men, calling them false Apostles, deceitful workers, and the like; and warns the Christians he wrote to, to beware of them: As do other of the Apostles also, particularly S. Peter, S. John and S. Jude. Now would we know how it should come to pass, that the Christian Religion should be so strangely perverted, and made use of for the building of that which it was designed to destroy. We are assured that it proceeds not from the Obscurity of the Writings of the New Testament; for they as plainly, as ‘tis possible for words to do it, do everywhere condemn all Unrighteousness and Sin. But it was caused by Wresting the Scriptures and putting them upon the rack to force them to speak quite contrary to their intention. Thus S. Peter tells us the Epistles of his Brother Paul were abused, that those that were unlearned and unstable wrested them to their own destruction.

But how came it to pass that any should dare to make thus bold with the Scriptures? My Text Answers this question: The Apostle in these words tells us that, their making Shipwrack of the Faith was occasioned by their having first put away a good Conscience.

He here exhorts his Son Timothy to take care of holding both Faith and a good Conscience; and the Motive he useth to quicken his care is, that those who are not careful to hold both, will be in danger of losing both. So much is implied in his saying, that some having put away a good Conscience have made shipwrack concerning Faith.

Holding Faith, or the Faith, and a good Conscience, which some having put away, concerning Faith, or the Faith, have made shipwrack.

First, We will explain the terms, or endeavour to shew what it is to hold the Faith, and what to make shipwrack of it; as also what it is to hold a good Conscience, and what to put it away.

Secondly, That holding the Faith will nothing avail us, except we also hold a good Conscience.

Thirdly, That men’s making shipwrack concerning the Faith is occasioned by their having first put away a good Conscience.

First, For Explication of the terms; we will enquire,

1. What it is to hold the Faith, and what to make shipwrack of it. To hold the Faith is to adhere to the belief and profession of the Doctrine of the Gospel. Holding or keeping the Faith sometimes implyeth also a life answerable to the Christian doctrine; as where S. Paul saith, I have kept the Faith: And where the Author to the Hebrews exhorts the Christians, to hold fast the profession of their Faith without wavering. But here it can signify no more than the belief and profession of that Doctrine, because it is distinguished from holding a good Conscience.

Again, to make shipwrack of the Faith is to do either of these two things. Either, First, expressly to Renounce the Articles of the Christian Belief, the main fundamental Articles; all or any of those on which the whole Frame of Christianity is erected, and which are the Essential materials of it. As that Jesus is the Son of God: that he died for our sins, and rose again for our justification: that he ascended into Heaven, and will come again at the end of the world to judge the quick and the dead: that men shall be rewarded or punished according to their works: that Faith, Repentance and New Obedience are of absolute necessity to our obtaining the Divine Favour, and everlasting life. These and the like Articles which either are declared necessary to Salvation by our Saviour or his Apostles, or which from their own nature appear so to be, as containing necessary motives, encouragements or helps to a holy life, these are such as the renouncing any of which is making shipwrack concerning the Faith.

But the misunderstanding such Doctrines as have no such weight and stress laid upon them, or which considered in themselves appear to be of such a nature, as that the misunderstanding of them is consistent with true Goodness, cannot be called a making Shipwrack of the Faith: For if so, it will be impossible to know who holds the Faith, and who makes shipwrack of it: There being many points so disputably expressed in the Scriptures, and which there is such a diversity of Opinions about, even among Good as well as Learned men, that it may be an argument of too great confidence and presumption in any, to conclude peremptorily that theirs is the true notion of them. Or, Secondly, The introducing such Principles and Practices into the Christian Religion as do manifestly strike at any of its Fundamentals; and particularly such as directly, or in their evident consequences, enervate the Promises, Threatening’s, or Precepts of the Gospel, and contradict the great design of Christianity, viz. that of making men Sober, Righteous and Godly, this may also very properly be called making shipwrack of the Faith. It is truly so notwithstanding it may be joined with a profession of all the Articles of our Religion: For who seeth not that those who corrupt it with such Doctrines or Practices, are as injurious to the Faith, as the down-right opposers of its main Principles; or rather the more injurious of the two, there being much more danger of a false Friend, than of a professed and open enemy.

2. Would we know what it is to hold a good Conscience; this is, in short, sincerely to endeavour to walk in all the Commandments of the Lord blameless: To endeavour impartially to acquaint our selves with the Divine Will, and when we understand it, to comply therewith, although it be never so cross to our own wills and natural inclinations. And therefore, on the contrary, to put away a good Conscience is to be bent upon the pleasing our own wills, and gratifying our sensual Appetites: to give up our selves to be acted and governed by fleshly and impure Lusts: To be devoted to the Service of corrupt, carnal and worldly affections and interests. Where the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, or the pride of life, the love of Pleasures, Riches or Honours, are predominant in the Soul, there a good Conscience is put away.

Secondly, We next come to shew that holding the Faith will nothing avail us, if withal it be not our care to hold a good Conscience. This is apparent in that the Renewing of men’s natures, and Bettering their Lives is the only end both of Natural and Revealed Religion; and were not this the end thereof, Religion would be the vainest and most insignificant thing in the world. The Heathens themselves were well aware of this, and therefore the professed intendment of their Philosophy was, ζωῆς ἀνϑρωπίνης ϰάϑαρσις ϗ πελϵιότης. The purgation and perfection of the humane life. They well knew that nobody is the better for the best principles, where they are only believed and not lived.

And as for the Principles of the Christian Religion, which the Ancients used to call the Christian Philosophy, I shall not need to prove that our belief of these is required wholly upon the account of the great efficacy they have for the transforming of us into the Divine likeness, the subjecting our Wills to the Will of God, and the making us holy in all manner of Conversation. And therefore we find our Blessed Saviour and his Apostles making the whole of a Christian to consist in keeping his sayings, in doing the things he commands them, in Faith that worketh by love, and in the new Creature. And therefore we see the greatest contempt cast upon Knowledge and Profession and Faith, unaccompanied with an answerable life and practice. Therefore we read, that Faith without works is dead, that Faith is dead being alone, as being utterly unable to stand us in the least stead, and as being so unable to save us, as greatly to aggravate our Condemnation.

The Papists lay mighty weight upon their Orthodoxy, their believing as the Church believes, and flatter themselves with a fond conceit, that the goodness of their Faith will make great amends for the badness of their lives. But suppose it true, that they are the Orthodox believers, and all the Christian World Heretics besides themselves, as they would have us believe, yet the Devils are as Orthodox as they can be for their hearts, but their Orthodoxy makes them but the more miserable; if they did not believe so truly, they would not tremble as they do. The Devils also believe and tremble, James 2:19. In short, we are not more assured from the Holy Scriptures that God made the Heavens and the Earth, than we are of the truth of this Proposition, that the most sound belief will not do us the least service while it is accompanied with a naughty life: That the most Orthodox Sentiments will nothing avail us while joined with an Heretical Conversation.

Thirdly, We proceed to shew, that mens making shipwrack concerning the Faith, is occasioned by their having first put away a good Conscience. Which (good Conscience) some having put away, concerning Faith have made shipwrack. The Apostle, speaking of some that resisted the truth, calls them men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the Faith, 2 Tim. 3:8. Thereby intimating, that their being reprobate concerning the Faith, proceeded from the corruption of their minds, or naughtiness of their hearts, and the prevalence of evil and corrupt Affections. And the same Apostle, speaking of certain Hereticks, attributes their erring from the Faith to their gratifying particularly that last of Covetousness, 1 Tim. 6:10. The love of money is the root of all evil, which while some coveted after, they have erred from the Faith. And S. Peter, speaking of wicked Seducers, faith, that they had eyes full of Adultery, and hearts exercised with covetous practices: And intimateth that this is the cause of their forsaking the right way, and their beguiling unstable Souls, 2 Ep. 2:14, 15.

Now would we be satisfied how this putting away a good Conscience occasioneth men’s, making Shipwrack of the Faith: It is evident that it doth thus these three ways.

First, As men’s addicting themselves to the satisfying of some lust or other, puts them upon devising shifts and tricks to still the disquieting clamours of their Consciences. The wrath of God being revealed from Heaven against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men, ‘tis no easy thing for any one willingly to transgress the Rules of Righteousness, without being frequently tormented with fearful expectations, and the Horrors of an Accusing and condemning Conscience. Now the most effectual way to be rid of these (next to sincere Repentance and Reformation) is either for a wicked man to persuade himself, if he be able, that there is no God, or nothing after this Life; and consequently, that the Bible is a cheat, and all its threatening’s mere scare-crows. Or if this he cannot do, in regard of the abundant evidence of the Being of a God, and the Authority of the Holy Scriptures, the course must be so to wrest and pervert the Scriptures, as to make them give liberty to certain evil practices, or to promise forgiveness of sin to certain performances that are short of forsaking it.

Thus those Heretics in the Primitive times wrested the places wherein the Gospel is call the Law of Liberty, and wherein we are said to be delivered from the Law, so as to take off the Obligation of the Moral as well as the Ceremonial Law; and to give liberty to sin, and to oppose Faith to Obedience in the business of Justification and acceptance with God.

Many other instances may be given both of Ancient and Modern Heretics perverting of passages of Scripture, so as to make them great encouragements to sin, and discouragements to a Holy life; perfectly contrary to the whole strain and tenor of the Gospel.

But I must not enlarge farther upon this Argument, because the main thing I intended in the choice of this Subject is yet behind.

Secondly, The putting away of a good Conscience occasions making shipwrack of the Faith, through the just judgment of God. The former particular gave us an account of wicked men’s being strongly inclined to make shipwrack of the Faith, and of their endeavouring it, this of their putting their inclinations into practice, and succeeding in their endeavours.

Men that are wedded to any lust are very forward, for their own ease, to endeavour either the embracing of Atheistical Principles, or so to abuse the Scriptures as to take encouragement from them to live in sin; but they could hardly so extinguish the light of their own minds, as to succeed in their endeavours, were it not for the judgment of God upon them, in giving them up into the Deceivers hands. To this purpose observe what the Apostle saith, 2 Thess. 2:10, 11. Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved (or they did not so receive it as to suffer it to have any good effect upon their hearts and lives) for this cause God shall send them strong delusions (or give them up to be deluded by the tricks of the Devil, the signs and lying wonders before mentioned) that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Thirdly, The putting away of a good Conscience occasions making shipwrack of the Faith, as wicked Professors of Christianity do find it a most successful course to promote their corrupt and naughty designs, by foisting into the Christian Religion such Doctrines and Practices, as favour and encourage such designs. I have shewed that those who corrupt the Christian Religion with such Doctrines or Practices as contradict the Design of it, do truly make shipwrack of the Faith; and whereas there may be given too many instances of such Hypocrites as have so done, I shall make it the whole business of what remains of the Doctrinal part of this Discourse, to shew that the Church of Rome as she is now Constituted, is most shamefully guilty in this particular.

It is to be acknowledged, that she retains the Profession of all the Fundamental and Essential Articles of the Christian Faith; a summary of which is that Creed which we call the Apostles, and she professeth a Reverence for the whole New Testament. If she in express terms rejected any Doctrine that is of the Essence, and a vital part of Christianity, her members may not be called Christians in any sense, and we then do very ill to say the Church of Rome.

We do not stick at calling them a Church, though a most corrupt and degenerate Church; as (to use the similitude of Bishop Hall) a thief is truly a man, though not a true man. A woman may retain the name of a wife till she’s formally divorced, though she be an adulteress.

The Church of Rome may as truly be called a Church, as the Jewish Nation the People of God, after their soul Revolt from him, and Lapse into Idolatry and other wicked and impious practices.

But this hath been abundantly made good against this Church, that, though she holds the Foundation yet, she builds Wood, Hay and Stubble upon the Foundation: that is, she mixeth many impure Doctrines of her own, with the most holy and undefiled Doctrines of the Gospel. Of which I will present you with some instances, but must be very brief upon most of them.

What say you, in the first place, to her Doctrine of Infallibility? Which speaks her uncapable of erring in any of her Decrees and Determinations: Which Infallibility the Jesuits will have seated in the Popes Chair; others in the Pope in conjunction with a General Council; that is, a Number of Bishops and Priests packt together of his own Faction: For there is nothing he hates more than a Council truly General.

I call this not only a false but a wicked Doctrine, because of the infinite mischief that it doth in the world: For the Romish Church’s pretence to Infallibility, is that which enables her to Lord it at that intolerable rate, over the minds and Consciences of her Subjects, and to make them the greatest of Slaves and Vassals. And ‘tis this also that makes her utterly incurable of her gross corruptions, her other notorious Heresies, and the ungodly and horrid practices founded upon them. So that, so long as she continues to assume to herself the Title of Infallible, there is no hope to be conceived of her being ever in the least Reformed, either in her Principles or Practices.

But never was a Doctrine more shamefully baffled than this hath been; as easily it may, there being nothing but Interest to uphold it, nor one syllable in all the Bible to befriend it. As for that promise of our Saviour, that the gates of hell shall never previl against his Church, the most that can be concluded from thence is, that he will ever have a Church upon earth in spite of all the endeavours of Hell to destroy it. But thanks be to God, this Promise would be no whit the further from being performed, although the Devil should be permitted totally to extinguish the Church of Rome; though to be sure he understands his own interest better than once to attempt it.

But if the meaning of this Promise be (as the Romanists would have it) that the gates of Hell shall never so prevail against the Church, as to occasion her falling into errors of Judgment, why may we not as well extend it so far as to secure her also from errors of Practice? these being no less dangerous or destructive than those of Judgment. But I retain so much Charity for the Romish Church still, as not to think her so forsaken of all Modesty, as to deny that in this sense, the Gates of Hell have prevailed against her with a vengeance.

And as for the other Promises which they lay any stress on, they are either such as ‘tis manifest the Apostles only, and first planters of the Gospel were concerned in, or else such as belong to all Christians without exception thus far, as that while it is their sincere endeavour to know the truth, and to live up to their knowledge, they shall be secured from pernicious and damnable errors.

Again, What say you to the Doctrine of the Popes Supremacy over all other Churches and Kingdoms too, and his having a Grant of as vast Dominions upon Earth, next and immediately under Christ, as Christ himself hath under God the Father, his being King of all Kings, and Lord of all Lords, and that both in Spirituals and Temporals? I might easily tire you upon this head of Discourse, but all I will say to it shall be this, that the Charter pretended for so mighty an Empire is much too obscurely exprest to be ever understood, by any other people than the Pope and his Vassals. There is not a tittle in the Holy Scriptures for it, though we know what a noise and fluster they make with two Texts, Pasce Oves meas, and Dabo tibi Claves, &c. as if this Supremacy were as plainly legible in each of them, as the Doctrine of the Creation in the first verse of Genesis.

But, which is worst of all, how many thousands of honest people have been barbarously butcher’d, merely because their eyes would not serve them to read this Doctrine of theirs in those two Texts!

And this is that Doctrine which gives them a pretence for their restless and unwearied endeavours to get these Kingdoms again within their Clutches, and for all their desperate and hellish designs against us.

What say you to their Doctrine of Image-Worship? with which I will join that other of Praying to Saints and Angels. In their Adored Council of Trent it is decreed, that The images of Christ, the Virgin mother of God, and other Saints, be especially kept in Churches; and that due Honor and Veneration be given unto them. And afterward this Council expresseth its allowance of Picturing the Divinity it self; and accordingly Pictures of the Blessed Trinity, (Oh hateful sight!) are ordinarily to be beheld in the Popish Churches.

Now would we know what the Council means by Debitus honor & veneration, the due honour and veneration that is to be given to Images; this appears by these following words, We decree doing honour to them, because the honour which is done to them, is referred to the Prototypes which they represent. So that in the Images which we kiss, and before which we uncover our heads, and fall down, we adore Christ, and Worship the Saints which they represent, &c. So that the Honour and Veneration which they determine should be given to Images, do imply all external Acts of Adoration; and that the Image of our Saviour is to have the self same Adoration paid to it, that would be due unto himself were he personally present.

And the Universal Practice of the Romish Church (wholly to pass over the Vile stuff of their Doctors, Schoolmen and Casuists) will tell you the meaning of their debitus honor & veneratio.

The consent of Nations (saith the Learned Grotius) have made Sacrifices, Oblations and Incense, proper signs of Divine Worship; but, though I had time, I need not stand to shew, that the Images of Christ, Angels and Saints, especially that of the Blessed Virgin, are every where Worshipped with these signs, and with all the Rites of the most solemn Invocation in Sacred Offices, and in places set apart for Divine Worship. And they do all the external honour to the Saints and Angels in the Addresses they make unto them, whether immediately or as represented by Images, that ‘tis imaginable they should do our Saviour himself, or the Blessed Trinity.

Nay, They pray unto them, not only for Temporal or Ordinary Blessings, but for Spiritual and Supernatural: such as the Pardon of their sins, and the Holy Spirit, and eternal life, as might be shewn at large.

Now what is Idolatry, if such doings are now? Why, they tell us, and we cannot blame them, that the true Notion of Idolatry is only the Worshipping some Creature for the most High God, supposing it to be the most High God. But if so, the Worshippers of the Golden Calf, to be sure, were no Idolaters; for they can be little better than made themselves, who are able to imagine that the Israelites we so mad, as to believe that the Calf which they saw made, and that of their own Ear-rings too, was that very God which brought them out of the Land of Egypt. But the Gentlemen of Rome would have us think that they were so forsaken of their Intellectuals, as so to believe; and we cannot blame them for that neither. For if they did not impudently bear us down, that the Children of Israel believed that this Moulten Calf was that God that divided the Sea, wrought so many Miracles for them, and the maker of Heaven and Earth, they would, they are sensible, be necessitated to excuse them from Idolatry, expressly contrary to the words of Scripture. And if this their Notion of Idolatry be the only true one, we are certain that it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find out Idolaters among the very Pagans.

What think you of their Doctrine of Transubstantiation, of which take this account from the Council of Trent. By the Consecration the whole substance of the Bread is changed into the substance of the Body of Christ our Lord, and the whole substance of the Wine, into the substance of the blood of Christ. So that as like as it still looks to Bread and Wine: Though it hath the perfect Taste, the perfect Feeling and Smell of Bread and Wine, yet it is nothing less; ‘tis that very Body that hung upon the Cross at Jerusalem, and that very blood that was there shed.

This is the most prodigiously contradictious Doctrine, that I will not say the Wit but the Madness of men can possibly invent: ‘tis a most wonderful complication of most horrid contradictions, and absolute impossibilities. But this is not the worst of it, it is also the foundation of so gross and foul Idolatry as is scarcely to be named among the Gentiles, or to be found paralel’d in Peruvia itself, or the most barbarous parts of India. The aforementioned Holy Council declares, nullus itaque dubitandi locus relinquitur, &c. There is therefore no place left for doubt, but that all good Christians do give the Worship of Latria, quae Vero Deo debetur, which is due to the true God, to this most Holy Sacrament; according to the always received custom of the Catholick Church. They should have said, according to the late and upstart custom of the Romish Faction. Here you see that the Bread and Wine are Worshipped by them, not as Representations of God, but as God himself.

But what if those words of our Saviour, This is my Body, should prove to be a Figure? Like those other of his, I am the Vine, I am a Door, &c. or what if This is my body should be as much a Figure, as they will confess the words presently following are, viz. This Cup is the New Testament in my Blood? Where we have a double Figure, both the Cup put for the Wine in it, and the Wine said to be the New Testament or Covenant, when, supposing it were the very Blood of Christ, it could not be the New Covenant itself, but the Seal of that Covenant; I say, what if these words be to be understood figuratively? (as why they should not the Papists can shew nothing like a reason, but we have shewn them the greatest absurdities imaginable in otherwise understanding them) why then they themselves will and do acknowledge that they should be guilty of the most gross Idolatry in their Worship of the Host.

What say you to the Popish Doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass, which is of near kin to the foregoing? The Doctrine of the Roman Church is, as you shall find it in the Council of Trent, That in this Sacrifice which is performed in the Mass, that very Christ is contained, and in a bloodless manner offered, which, upon the Altar of the Cross, did once offer up himself in a bloody manner. So that, according to this Doctrine, our Blessed Saviour must still to the end of the world be laid hold of by Sinners, be ground with their teeth, and sent down into their impure paunches as often as the Priest shall pronounce the charm, hoc est enim corpus meum. And it seems that he was a false Prophet, when he said upon the Cross it is finished, seeing there was such an infinite deal of loathsome Drudgery still to be undergone by him. And it seems the Author to the Hebrews is found to be a false Apostle, in asserting so expressly, as more than once he doth, that such is the Dignity of Christ’s Priesthood, and its excellency above the Levitical, that by one offering he hath made perfect satisfaction, and expiation for sin. 3

So that this their Doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass, is not only False, but very Corrupt and impious Doctrine.

What say you to their Doctrine of Purgatory? Which, in short, is this: That no souls, except such as are perfectly purified in this life (which they’ll surely acknowledge are extremely few) shall go at their departure hence into a place of happiness or ease, but all, the forementioned excepted, into a place of torment; where they may abide for an exceeding long time, even many hundreds of years, except some effectual care be taken for their deliverance.

By this Doctrine the poor people are brought into a most slavish state; by the means hereof their merciless Tyrants the Priests hale them into worse than Egyptian Bondage: who, instead of enjoining them the most reasonable duties to which the Precepts of their Saviour oblige them, and which are most admirably adapted to the cleansing of their natures, and mortifying their corrupt affections, impose upon them a great number of ridiculous Services of their own invention.

But though they cannot pretend the least warrant from Scripture for such doings as those, yet they have a most express Text. They tell you, for their Doctrine of Purgatory, viz. those words of S. Paul, I Cor. 3:15. But he shall be saved, yet so as by fire. But he who considers these two things will see nothing like Purgatory in this Text, namely, First, that it is Ώς διὰ πυϱϧς, not he shall be saved by fire, but as it were by fire, or rather through fire. Secondly, that Σώζεσϑαιὡς διὰ πυϱϧς, to be saved as through fire, is a Proverbial Speech (as those great Criticks, Grotius and Scaliger, with others, have shewed) signifying to be saved from most eminent danger.

And as this Doctrine of theirs is groundless, so is it as wicked, it being a most vile affront to the Merits and Satisfaction of our Blessed Saviour: For in order to the establishing of this Doctrine they reach, that, The Passion of Christ takes away only the guilt of Mortal sins, not their eternal Punishment, which is as non-sensical as false and impious.

‘Tis an impious Doctrine also, both as it is devised to enslave the Consciences of the Poor People, and to bring them into absolute subjection to their Priests; and likewise to gratify their greedy Appetites, and to bring their Purses no less under their power than their Consciences.

What say you to their Doctrine of the Non-necessity of the Laity’s partaking of the Cup in the Lords Supper, and their being Rob’d accordingly of their share therein? Expressly contrary to our Saviours institution, and the Practice of the first Ages of the Church, and of all other Churches in the world.

What say you to their well known Doctrine, Of the Non-necessity of Repentance before the imminent point of death? And to this other that goes beyond that, viz. that mere Attrition (or sorrow for sin for fear of hell) if accompanied with the Sacrament of Penance is sufficient to a sinners justification and acceptance with God? This the Council of Trent doth plainly take for granted, in the fourth Chapter of their fourteenth Session.

What say you to the Doctrine of Opus operatum? Which makes the mere work done in all acts of Devotion, sufficient to the Divine Acceptance: particularly the bare saying of Prayers, without either minding what they say, or understanding it. And agreeably hereunto the Romish Church enjoyns the saying of them in a Language unknown to the generality of her children; notwithstanding the perfectly contrary Doctrine delivered by S. Paul in the 14th Chap. of the first to the Corinthians.

What say you to the Doctrine of the Insufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for mens Salvation, and her denying them to be a complete Rule of Faith, and Practice in things necessary, without her Traditions? Wherein she gives the Lye to the same great Apostle, who tells his son Timothy that, the Scriptures are able to make wise to Salvation: and that by them the man of God may be perfected, and thoroughly furnished to every good work.

What say you to her Doctrine of the Gospels obscurity even in things of absolute necessity to be believed and practiced? Devised on purpose to persuade the people to an implicit belief in her self, and to receive without examining whatsoever doctrines she shall please to call Articles of Faith.

This is a wicked Doctrine in itself also, as well as upon the account of the Design of it: It being most unworthy of God to require all under pain of damnation, rightly to understand those Points which are obscurely revealed.

What say you to her Doctrine of the dangerousness of the vulgars reading the Holy Scriptures; and her practice answerable thereunto, of denying them the Bible in their own language?

What say you to her Doctrine that, Faith is not to be kept with Hereticks? 4

What say you to this Doctrine that, the most horrid villainies are then lawful, when necessary to the promoting of the interest of the Catholic cause? I do not say that this is decreed in any Council; or that it is in express terms taught by any of them: But however, if it be lawful to judge of men’s opinions by their constant practices, we may without a Calumny call this also a Doctrine of the Church of Rome. Particularly, the world hath for a long time been well acquainted with her most horrible Cruelties, upon the account of Religion.

To mind you of a few famous instances: in the persecution of the Albigenses and Waldenses, were miserably murdered no fewer than a thousand thousand: 5 In the Massacre of France, in the space of three months, an hundred thousand: In the Low-Countries, in a few years, were cut off by the hand of the common hangman thirty and six thousand Protestants: And by the holy Inquisition (as Vergerius witnesseth, who was well acquainted therewith) were destroyed in less than thirty years space, one hundred and fifty thousand, with all manner of the most exquisite cruelties.

I need not mind you what a vast number were Burnt at the stake in our own Country, in the Reign of Queen Mary: Nor what additions have been made since to Rome’s Butcheries, in Piedmont and Ireland. 6

And what a horrible slaughter had there been in England, by the Gun powder Treason, if it had not been prevented by a Wonderful Providence! And also what work the Romanists would have been at here again before this time, if God in his infinite mercy had not defeated the Councils of those bloody Achitophels, all who do not willfully shut their eyes, and are not Papists at least in Masquerade, 7 should, one would think, acknowledge themselves satisfied, after so great evidence.

So that we need no further proof that the Woman hath Rome Christian for her principal Seat, upon whose head S. John tells us, was a name written, Mystery Babylon the great, the mother of Harlots and Abominations of the earth: and whom he saw drunk with the blood of the Saints, and with the blood of the Martyrs of Jesus. But we have farther proof that the now mentioned wicked doctrine, may truly be charged upon the Church of Rome: For her abominable Practices do not only justify this charge, but several of the Doctrines of her darling sons, those precious youths the Jesuits, and which (as they tell you) are much elder than their order, viz. That of the lawfulness of Equivocations and Mental Reservations, even before Courts of Judicature, at least, if they consist of Heretics; of the putting which vile principle into practice we have had of late diverse marvelous and most astonishing instances.

That of the Popes power of Dispensing with the most solemn Oaths, and of Absolving Subjects from their Allegiance to Heretical Princes.

That of the Lawfulness, nay Meritoriousness of taking Arms against them, of Stabbing and Poisoning them. And we of this Kingdom too well know that the Romish Church make no bones of practicing upon these Principles.

I might still farther proceed in instancing in her most corrupt and wicked Principles, but you have had enough in all Conscience: And but that, now especially, we are obliged to take all opportunities for the exposing of the vileness of the Romish Religion, I would e’en be as soon engag’d in stirring Jakes’s, and raking dunghills, as in such work as this.

God be thanked for that mighty Spirit that hath been stirred up throughout the Nation against Popery: Oh that it more generally proceeded from our sense of the hatefulness thereof, and the extreme dishonor it brings to Christianity, and its infinite injuriousness to the Souls of men, as well as from the concern we have for our Temporal interest; which is but a mean and pitiful consideration in comparison of those other. And the better the Principles of Popery and the Practices of the Papists are understood, the greater and more lasting must their zeal against them needs be, who have any hearty kindness either for Christianity or for Natural Religion; either for Christianity or for good Morality and common honesty, or even mere good nature.

I will so far imitate the horrible uncharitableness of the Romish Church, as to say that ‘tis impossible to find any sincere Christians in her Communion; and much less, that no honest or good natur’d people are among them: But this we are very certain may safely be said that, whosoever is thoroughly instructed in the Popish Principles and acts accordingly, is so much a stranger to Christianity, that he hath totally cast off all Humanity.

Whosoever is a thorough Papist hath no Conscience in his own keeping; his Conscience is perfectly at the dispose of his Holy Father and his Confessor: Nor is there any villainy, be it never so great, but he is prepared for it, whensoever a Priest or Jesuit by commission from the Pope shall oblige him to it.

That Protestant doth but slightly understand Popery, who dares trust his throat with a thorough Papist, although he be seemingly a man of never so good a nature, or of never so good Morals: and the more conscientious he is in his way, by so much the more dangerous a person is he. That’s a rare Religion in the mean time, the more true to which any man is, the greater Villain he must necessarily be. And those are a precious sort of Christians, of which one cannot adventure to give a true and impartial Character, and to paint them in their own colours, but he must be in danger to be Censured as a scurrilous person, as a man of a foul mouth, and a down-right Railer.

Let us all therefore take up those words of Jacob, in reference to his Generation, which he uttered concerning his two wicked sons, Simeon and Levi, O my soul come not thou into their secret, unto their assembly mine honour be not thou united.

To make some Application of what hath been discoursed.

First, Is the putting away a good Conscience the true cause to which making shipwrack of the Faith is to be imputed? Is this the account into which it is to be resolved? Then, as we would be out of danger of falling into Heresy, and particularly of turning Papists, and making shipwrack of the Faith as they have done, let us have a great are to hold fast a good Conscience: To exercise ourselves in keeping Consciences void of offence both towards God and towards men: To lead lives answerable to the holy Doctrine which we profess to believe.

If any man will do the will of God (or be sincerely willing to do it) he shall know of the Doctrine whether it be of God, saith our Blessed Saviour, John 7:17. He shall be able to discern between truth and falsehood, and shall be guided into and kept in the truth.

The truth hath no fast hold of any, but those who receive it in the love of it, and make it the measure and rule of their lives and actions.

It is not at all strange that Learned and Knowing men should make shipwrack of the Faith, for Learning and Knowledge is no security while separated from Honesty and a Good Conscience. There is no error so absurd or dangerous, but we ought to expect an insincere person will embrace it, when once it becomes serviceable to that Interest he is most concerned for the promoting of.

Even those of us who do now shew the most forward zeal against Popery, if we be wedded to any corrupt Affection, and have only the Form, but are void of the Power of Godliness, will be in never the less danger, notwithstanding our present zeal, of Apostatizing, if ever it should become our temporal interest (which God forbid) to turn Papists.

Secondly, Is it so apparent that the Church of Rome hath made so woeful a shipwrack of the Faith? Then what an infinite obligation lyeth upon us to the greatest Thankfulness to our good God, for rescuing these Nations from under her yoke; and for those Miracles of mercy which he hath wrought for us, in blasting so many of their deep laid designs, their late great Conspiracy, and late Sham-plots, for the reducing of us to our old Captivity.

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, now may England say, if it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when these men rose up against us; then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us: then the waters had overwhelmed us, and the streams had gone over our soul. Let us therefore Bless the Lord, who hath not given us a prey unto their teeth.

Lastly, As we would still be secured from Popish Conspiracies, from the unwearied attempts of our old Adversaries against us, take we great heed of provoking the Almighty to withdraw at length his Protection, and abandon us to their Malice, by walking unworthy of that glorious Light and Liberty we now enjoy in the Church of England. And while we have the light let us walk in the light, lest God, in his just judgment, suffer us to be again involved in Egyptian darkness.

Oh happy Children of the Church of England, if we could be persuaded to prize our present Vast Priviledges, before our having lost them doth force us to set a high value on them.

And, Oh that we were capable of so much Wisdom, as no longer to strengthen the hands of our common enemy, by our as unreasonable as Unchristian Animosities against one another. That we had once as great a zeal against the Anti-Christ’s within our own breasts, Pride, Anger, Malice and Bitterness, as we seem to have against the Anti-Christ in the Roman Chair: Those Anti-Christ’s being the greatest friends this Anti-Christ hath, and more our enemies than he is capable of being.

Oh that at length we could be convinced of this great truth, that the Christian Religion consisteth not in meats or drinks, mere external things, but in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. In Humility, Meekness, Self-denial, Obedience to Authority in all lawful things, love to God, and love to men, &c.

Oh that we had vigorous powerful sense of this, that neither the most admired Gifts nor appearances of Grace, which are not joined with a Benign and Charitable temper, can at all recommend us to the Divine favour: That he hath no Participation of the God-like Life and Nature, who is of a Quarrelsome, Contentious, Uncharitable Spirit, be he in a many other respects never so Saint-like. And that Christian love is a thousand times better argument of a renewed state, than most of those marks and characters which are ordinarily given of a godly man.

If we were once brought to this happy pass, to have a lively sense of these things: to make great Conscience of preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; and to abandon all Separating, Dividing, Sowre and ill-natur’d Principles and Practices, we shall not then need to fear the malice of the Papists, were their power greater than, God be thanked, it is; but till then, all our other endeavours to secure ourselves may fail of success.

But alas, I fear, that never had a People sadder Omens of miserable days than we now have: And nothing bodes worse than this that, we are so far from Uniting among ourselves, notwithstanding we seem so sensible of extraordinary danger from our common Enemy, that our breaches daily grow wider and wider.

We seem no less infatuated, no less madly bent upon our own destruction, than were the miserable Jews in the Siege of Jerusalem; among whom there were never such desperate Feuds, as when they were all surrounded with the Roman Armies.

Those who, by their causeless forsaking of our Communion, have greatly strengthened the hands of our Enemies, are so far from being yet made sensible of the mischief of Separation, and the most pernicious consequences of Dividing, that many of them are now grown fiercer than ever (as appears by their late Books and Pamphlets, &c.) against that Church, which Rome hath always found to her cost, the most impregnable Bulwark in all Christendom against Popery.

And on the other hand (for I will not be taxed with Partiality) there are too too many among ourselves, that do little consult our Churches interest, nor consequently the interest of the Protestant Religion, but greatly disserve both, by their intemperate heats, and branding all with the names of Fanatics and Presbyterians who are not come up to their pitch, and in all things just of their complexion; although they be as obedient to both their Civil and Ecclesiastical Superiors as themselves, are no less truly Regular and Conformable.

We ought by Love and Sweetness to encourage men all we can, this is to act like the Disciples of the mild and most lovely temper’d Jesus; and not by Sowreness and Censoriousness tempt those to depart from us, who would gladly still hold Communion with us. 8

And where we find an inclination towards returning in any that have departed from us, we should be glad to meet them half-way in order to the bringing them over to us. 9

And it becomes us likewise to make a difference between Peaceable and Modest Dissenters from us, and those who are Turbulent, Seditious and Factious, and not wind up all together in the same bottom.

I may add also, that there are, God knows, too too many Debauchees in the Nation, who would be thought great Champions for the King and the Church, but do infinite prejudice to both, by the mad and frantic expressions of their zeal. Who do mighty honour to Fanaticism by charging all with it, that run not with them to the same excess of Riot.

One would suspect that these, whatsoever they pretend, do really design nothing more, than to make both the King and the Church as friendless as they are able.

Heaven help them both, should they ever be so unfortunate, (which God forbid) as to stand in need of this sort of people.

If indeed Huffing and Healthing, Cursing and Damning, and giving vile names would do the business, then let them alone to protect and defend the King and Church: but former experience hath assured us, that those are the best weapons that most of them can boast of their being good at.

A Neighbouring King, and the Church of Rome, may with God’s blessing on the hearts of these Gentlemen: but our own King (whom God preserve) and the Church of England have little reason to Con them thanks, for any service they are like to do them. 10

King Charles the First of Glorious Memory was very sensible of the Consequence of such mens assistance, which proved fatal to him: The goodness of whose Cause did sink under the burden of their sins, according to the sad Presage of our excellent Chillingworth, in a Sermon Preached to the Court at Oxford.

And if ever his Majesty and the Church should be again set upon by Scribes & Pharisees, God grant us better assistance than that of Publicans & Sinners.

But I wonder in my heart, what should make any Debauched and Profane people pretend the least zeal for the Church of England; there being no Church in the world that more condemns all unrighteousness and sin; or which would be more severe against wicked livers, were she in circumstances to put in execution her own Discipline. Which she is not like to be, so long s the Civil Magistrate is so remiss in executing, according to their Oaths, those excellent Laws that are Enacted against Drunkenness, Swearing, Uncleanness, Profanation of the Lord’s day, and other wicked Practices.

And I add that Popery and Fanaticism will both undoubtedly still grow upon us, be we never so zealous against both, whilst that Debauchery and Prophaneness, which have so miserably overspread the Nation, do still escape scot-free and go unpunish’d.

I cannot but observe one thing more that, ‘tis an uncouth and ridiculous Spectacle, to behold wild Fanatics, and profane 11 people, that call themselves Church of England men, (who are far from deserving that Title, whether they be Clergy or Laity) contesting together, and falling foul upon one another: One would be tempted upon this occasion, to take up the Grand Vizier Kuperlees blunt reply to the French Ambassador (upon his Accosting him with the news of Ricaut, the Spanish Armies being routed by the French,) viz. What matter is it to me whether the hog worries the dog, or the dog the hog, so my Masters head be but safe.

To Conclude.
Till I see on the one hand a far greater sense of the hatefulness of Schism, and of breaking the Peace and Unity of the Church: of which all good people did heretofore express the greatest Abhorrence and Detestation.

And till I see on all hands more sincere endeavours to put away Anger, Wrath, Malice and Bitterness.

Till I see that the several divided Parties among us, are more inclinable to unite heartily with us of the Church of England, and We again with them, so far forth as unanimously to oppose Popery, that designs the destruction of us all. Which all but hot-spurs, that never allow themselves leisure to think a wise, or sedate thought, must needs know to be absolutely necessary to our mutual preservation at this time. And it would be well, would we herein learn of the Papists, who notwithstanding the great differences that are among them also, can joyn together against Protestants.

Till I see again that our Zeal against Popery is generally so well tempered, as not to endanger our running headlong into the other extreme, that of Confusion: which will, no question, end in Popery.

Till I see that we hate Popery for its Disloyalty, as well as for its Idolatrous and Cruel Principles and Practices.

Till I see also that our opposition to Popery ariseth more generally from a sense of the infinite scandal it brings upon the Holy Religion of our Blessed Saviour, and its woefully depraving the Souls of men, as well as from our concern for our Temporal interest.

Till I moreover see that Zeal in any sort of people whatsoever, is not accounted sufficient to give them the Reputation of Good Protestants or Good Church-men, so long as they are bad Christians, and their Conversations declare them no hearty Friends to any Religion.

And (in a word) till I see that our Excellent Reformed Religion, that the pure and undefiled Religion of the Church of England, hath a more powerful influence upon the Lives and Spirits, of those who profess themselves Anti-papists and Anti-sectarians: I say, till I see these things, I shall, for my part, be far from concluding with Agag, that the bitterness of death is past, that the worst is not still behind; which God in his infinite mercy, give us wisdom to prevent, by our timely Reformation in the forementioned instances, for Christ Jesus his sake: To whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be rendred by us, and by all the world, all Honour, Glory and Praise. Amen.

F I N I S.



1. See Prov. 26: 24, 25, 26. See Prov. 25:18.

2. Deut. 4: 15, &c.

3. See Dr. More’s Mystery of iniquity, Book 2, Chap. 5.

4. Most plainly to be learned from the Council of Constancesess. 19.

5. P. Perionius.

6. The excellent Mr. Joseph Mede declares it as his Opinion, that the Papal Persecution doth equalize, if not exceed, the destruction of men made upon the Church by the Ten famous persecutions under the Pagan Emperors. And this be wrote before the horrible slaughters in Piedmont and Ireland.

7. That is, upon supposition that the Evidence be fully known to them.

8. We think it high time to shew our dislike of those against whom we have been ever enough offended, though we could not in this manner declare it, who under pretence of Affection to Us and Our Service, assume to themselves the liberty of Reviling, Threatning and Reproaching others; and as much as in them lies, endeavour to stifle and divert their good inclinations to Our Service; and so to prevent that Reconciliation and Union of Hearts and Affections, which can only, with Gods Blessing, make Us rejoice in each other, and keep our Enemies from rejoicing. King Charles II. in His Proclamation against Vicious and Debauched people.

9. Tis evident I meant nothing by this passage but that we ought to imitate the Fathers behavior in the Parable towards his Prodigal Son.

10. There are likewise another sort of men, of whom we have heard much, and are sufficiently ashamed, who spend their time in Taverns, Tipling-houses, and Debauches, giving no other Evidence of their Affection to us, but in Drinking our Health, and inveiging against all others, who are not of their own dissolute temper; and who in truth, have more discredited our cause, by the licence of their manners and lives, than they could ever advance it by their Affection or Courage, &c. In the same Proclamation.

11. This Paragraph is a little enlarged.

Sermon – Military – 1755

Samuel Davies (1724-1761) was licensed to preach in 1746. He moved to Hanover County, VA in 1747 where he became a circuit preacher for seven churches. Davies served as President of Princeton University for eighteen months before his death. (For more sermons by Samuel Davies, see here.)

This sermon was preached on August 17, 1755. In it, Rev. Davies makes brief mention of Col. George Washington who had been involved in the July 9th Battle of the Monongahela during the French & Indian War (1754-1763). Learn more about this battle (and about Washington’s actions specifically) in WallBuilders’ book The Bulletproof George Washington.





The Constituents of a Good




Preached to

Captain Overton’s Independent Company of Volunteers, raised in Hanover County, Virginia, August 17, 1755.

By Samuel Davies, A. M. Minister of
The Gospel there


2 Sam. x. 12.

Be of good Courage, and let us play the Men, for our People, and for the Cities of our God: And the Lord do that which seemeth him good.

An Hundred Years of Peace and Liberty in such a World as this, is a very unusual Thing; and yet our Country has been the happy Spot that has been distinguished with such a long Series of Blessings, with little or no Interruption. Our Situation in the middle of the British Colonies, and our Separation from the French, those eternal Enemies of Liberty and Britons, on the one Side by the vast Atlantic, and on the other by a long Ridge of Mountains, and a wide extended Wilderness, have for many Years been a Barrier to us; and while other Nations have been involved in War, we have not been alarmed with the Sound of the Trumpet, nor seen Garments rolled in Blood.

But now the Scene is changed: Now we begin to experience in our Turn the Fate of the Nations of the Earth. Our Territories are invaded by the Power, and Perfidy of France; our Frontiers ravaged by merciless Savages, and our Fellow-Subjects there murdered with all the horrid Arts of Indian and Popish Torture. Our General, unfortunately brave, is fallen, an Army of 1300 choice Men routed, our fine Train of Artillery taken, and all this (Oh mortifying Thought!) all this by 4 or 500 dastardly, insidious Barbarians.

These Calamities have not come upon us without Warnings. We were long ago apprized of the ambitious Schemes of our enemies, and their Motions to carry them into Execution: And had we taken timely Measures they might have been crushed, before they could have arrived at such a formidable Height. But how have we generally behaved in such a critical Time? Alas! our Country has been sunk in a deep Sleep: A stupid Security has unmanned the Inhabitants: They could not realize a Danger at the Distance of 2 or 300 Miles: They would not be persuaded, that even French Papists could seriously design us an Injury: And hence little, or nothing has been done for the Defence of our Country in Time, except by the Compulsion of Authority. And now, when the Cloud thickens over our Heads, and alarms every thoughtful Mind with its near Approach, Multitudes, I am afraid, are still dissolved in careless Security, or enervated with an effeminate, cowardly Spirit. When the melancholy News first reached us concerning the Fate of our Army, then we saw how natural it is for Presumptuous to fall into the opposite Extreme of unmanly Despondence, and Consternation; and how little Men could do in such a Pannic for their own Defence. We have also suffered our poor Fellow-Subjects in the Frontier Counties to fall a helpless Prey to Blood-thirsty Savages, without affording them proper Assistance, which as Members of the same Body Politic they had a Right to expect. They might as well have continued in a State of Nature, as be united in Society, if in such an Article of extreme Danger, they are left to shift for themselves. The bloody Barbarians have exercised on some of them the most unnatural and leisurely Tortures; and others they have butchered in their Beds, or in some unguarded Hour, Can human Nature bear the Horror of the Sight! See yonder? The hairy Scalps clotted with Gore! The mangled Limbs! Tomen ript up! the Heart and Bowels, still palpitating with Life, and smoking on the Ground! See the Savages swilling their Blood, and imbibing a more outrageous Fury with the inhuman Draught! Sure these are not Men; they are not Beasts of Prey; they are something worse; they must be infernal Furies in human Shape. And have we tamely looked on, and suffered them to exercise these hellish Barbarities upon our Fellow-Men, our Fellow-Subjects, our Brethren? Alas! with what Horror must we look upon ourselves, as being little better than Accessaries to their Blood?

And shall these Ravages go on uncheck’d? Shall Virginia incur the Guilt, and the everlasting Shame of tamely exchanging her Liberty, her Religion, and her All, for arbitrary Gallic Power, and for Popish Slavery, Tyranny, and Massacre? Alas! are there none of her Children, that enjoyed all the Blessings of her Peace, that will espouse her Cause, and befriend her now in the Time of her Danger? Are Britons utterly degenerated by so short a Remove from their Mother-Country? Is the Spirit of Patriotism entirely extinguished among us? And must I give thee up for lost, O my Country! And all that is included in that important Word? Must I look upon thee as a conquered, enslaved Province of France, and the Range of Indian Savages? My Heart breaks at the Thought. And must ye, our unhappy Brethren in our Frontiers, must ye stand the single Barriers of a ravaged Country, unassisted, unbefriended, unpitied? Alas! must I draw these shocking Conclusions?

No; I am agreeably checked by the happy, encouraging Prospect now before me. Is it a pleasing Dream? Or do I really see a Number of brave Men, without the Compulsion of Authority, without the Prospect of Gain, voluntarily associated in a Company, to march over trackless Mountains, the Haunts of wild Beasts, or fiercer Savages, Rocks and Mountains, into an hideous Wilderness, to succor their helpless Fellow-Subjects, and guard their Country? Yes, Gentlemen, I see you here upon this Design; and were you all united to my Heart by the most endearing Ties of Nature, or Friendship, I could not wish to see you engaged in a nobler Cause; and whatever the Fondness of Passion might carry me to, I am sure my Judgment would never suffer me to persuade you to desert it. You all generously put your Lives in your Hands; and sundry of you have nobly disengaged yourselves from the strong and tender Ties that twine about the Heart of a Father, or a Husband, to confine you at home in inglorious Ease, and sneaking Retirement from Danger, when your Country calls for your Assistance. While I have you before me, I have high Thoughts of a Virginian; and I entertain the pleasing Hope that my Country will yet emerge out of her Distress, and flourish with her usual Blessings. I am gratefully sensible of the unmerited Honour you have done me, in making Choice of me to address you upon so singular and important an Occasion: And I am sure I bring with me a Heart ardent to serve you and my Country, though I am afraid my Inability, and the Hurry of my Preparations, may give you Reason to repent your Choice. I cannot begin my Address to you with more proper Words than those of a great General, which I have read to you: Be of good Courage, and play the Men, for your People, and for the Cities of your God; and the Lord do what seemeth him good.

My present Design is, to illustrate and improve the sundry Parts of my Text, as They lie in order, which you will find rich in sundry important Instructions, adapted to this Occasion.

The Words were spoken just before a very threatening Engagement by Joab, who had long served under that pious Hero King David, as the General of his Forces, and had shewn himself an Officer of true Courage, conducted with Prudence. The Ammonites, a neighbouring Nation, at frequent Hostilities with the Jews, had ungratefully offered Indignities to some of David’s Courtiers whom he had sent to condole their King upon the Death of his Father, and congratulate his Accession to the Crown. Our holy Religion teaches us to bear personal Injuries without private Revenge: But national Insults, and Indignities ought to excite the public Resentment. Accordingly King David, when he heard that the Ammonites, with their Allies, were preparing to invade his Territories, and carry their Injuries still farther, sent Joab his General, with his Army, to repel them, and avenge the Affronts they had offered his Subjects. It seems the Army of the Enemy were much more numerous than David’s: Their Mercenaries from other Nations were no less than 31,000 Men; and no Doubt the Ammonites themselves were a still greater Number. These numerous Forces were disposed in the most advantageous Manner, and surrounded Joab’s Men, that they might attack them both in Flank and Front at once, and cut them all off, leaving no Way for them to escape. Prudence is of the utmost Importance in the Conduct of an Army: And Joab, in this critical Situation, gives a Proof how much he was Master of it, and discovers the steady Composure of his Mind, while thus surrounded with Danger. He divides his Army, and gives one Party to his Brother Abishai, who commanded next to him, and the other he kept the Command of himself, and resolves to attack the Syrian Mercenaries, who seemed the most formidable; he gives Orders to his Brother in the mean Time to Fall upon the Ammonites; and he animates him with this noble Advice: Be of good Courage, and let us play the Men, for our People and the Cities of our God, which are now at Stake: And the Lord do what seemeth him good.

Be of good Courage, and let us play the Men:–Courage is an essential Character of a good soldier:–Not a savage ferocious Violence:–Not a fool-hardy Insensibility of Danger, or headstrong Rashness to rush into it:–Not the Fury of enflamed Passions, broke loose from the Government of Reason: But calm, deliberate, rational Courage; a steady, judicious, thoughtful Fortitude; the Courage of a Man, and not of a Tyger: Such a Temper as Addison ascribes with so much Justice to the famous Marlborough and Eugene:

Whose Courage dwelt not in a troubled Flood
Of mounting Spirits, and fermenting Blood;–But
Lodg’d in the Soul, with Virtue over-rul’d,
Inflam’d by Reason, and by Reason cool’d
. 1
This is true Courage, and such as we ought all to cherish in the present dangerous Conjuncture. This will render Men vigilant and cautious against Surprizes, prudent and deliberate in concerting their Measures, and steady and resolute in executing them. But without this they will fall into unsuspected Dangers, which will strike them with wild Consternation: They will meanly shun Dangers that are surmountable, or precipitantly rush into those that are causeless, or evidently fatal, and throw away their Lives in vain.

There are some Men who naturally have this heroic Turn of Mind. The wise Creator has adapted the natural Genius of Mankind, with a surprising and beautiful Variety to the State in which they are placed in this World. To some he has given a Turn for intellectual Improvement, and the liberal Arts and Sciences; to others a Genius for Trade; to others a Dexterity in Mechanics, and the ruder Arts, necessary for the Support of human Life: The Generality of Mankind may be capable of tolerable Improvements in any of these: But it is only they whom the God of Nature has formed for them, that will shine in them, every Man in his own Province. And as God well knew what a World of degenerate, ambitious, and revengeful Creatures this is; as he knew that Innocence could not be protected, Property and Liberty secured, nor the Lives of Mankind preserved from the lawless Hands of Ambition, Avarice and Tyranny, without the Use of the Sword; as he knew this would be the only Method to preserve Mankind from universal Slavery; he has formed some Men for this dreadful Work, and fired them with a martial Spirit, and a glorious Love of Danger. Such a Spirit, though most pernicious when ungoverned by the Rules of Justice, and Benevolence to Mankind, is a public Blessing, when rightly directed: Such a Spirit, under God, has often mortified the Insolence of Tyrants, checked the Incroachments of arbitrary Power, and delivered enslaved and ruined Nations: It is as necessary in its Place, for our Subsistence in such a World as this, as any of the gentler Genius’s among Mankind; and it is derived from the same divine Original. He that winged the Imagination of an Homer or a Milton, he that gave Penetration to the Mind of Newton, he that made Tubal-Cain an Instructor or Artificers in Brass and Iron, 2 and gave Skill to Bezaleel and Aholiab in curious Works; 3 nay he that sent out Paul and his Brethren to conquer the Nations with the gentler Weapons of Plain Truth, Miracles, and the Love of a crucified Saviour; He, even that same gracious Power, has formed and raised up an Alexander, a Julius Caesar, a William, 4 and a Marlborough, and inspired them with this enterprising, intrepid Spirit, the Two first to scourge a guilty World, and the Two last to save Nations on the Brink of Ruin. There is something glorious and inviting in Danger, to such noble Minds; and their Breasts beat with a generous Ardour when it appears.

Our Continent is like to become the Seat of War; and we, for the future (till the sundry European Nations that have planted Colonies in it, have fixed their Boundaries by the Sword) have no other Way left to defend our Rights and Privileges. And has God been pleased to disuse some Sparks of this Martial Fire through our Country? I hope he has: And though it has been almost extinguished by so long a Peace, and a Deluge of Luxury and Pleasure, now I hope it begins to kindle: And may I not produce you my Brethren, who are engaged in this Expedition, as Instances of it? 5 Well, cherish it as a sacred Heaven-born Fire; and let the Injuries done to your Country administer Fewel to it; and kindle it in those Breasts where it has been hitherto smothered or inactive.

Though Nature be the rue Origin of military Courage, and it can never be kindled to a high Degree, where there is but a feeble Spark of it innate; yet there are sundry Things that may improve it even in Minds full of natural Bravery, and animate those who are naturally of an effeminate Spirit to behave with a tolerable Degree of Resolution and Fortitude, in the Defence of their Country.—-I need not tell you that it is of great Importance for this End that you should be at Peace with God, and your own Conscience, and prepared for your future State. Guilt is naturally timorous, and often struck into a Panic even with imaginary Dangers; and an infidel Courage, proceeding from Want of Thought, or a stupid Carelessness about our Welfare through an immortal Duration beyond the Grave, is very unbecoming a Man or a Christian. The most important Periods of our Existence, my Brethren, lie Beyond the Grave; and it is a Matter of much more Concern to us, what will be our Doom in the World to come, than what becomes of us in this. We are obliged to defend our Country; and that is a sneaking, sordid Soul indeed that can desert it at such a Time as this: But this is not all; we are also obliged to take Care of an immortal Soul; a Soul that must exist, and be happy or miserable, through the Revolutions of eternal Ages. This should be our first Care; and when this is secured, Death, in its most Chocking Forms, is but a Release from a World of Sin and Sorrows, and an Introduction into everlasting Life and Glory. But how can this be secured? Not by a Course of impenitent Sinning; not by a Course of stupid Carelessness and Inaction: But by vigorous and resolute striving; by serious and affectionate Thoughtfulness about our Condition, and by a conscientious and earnest Attendance upon the Means that God has graciously appointed for our Recovery. But “we are Sinners, heinous Sinners against a God of infinite Purity and inexorable Justice. Yes, we are so; and does not the Posture of Penitents then become us? Is not Repentance, deep, brokenhearted Repentance, a Duty suitable to Persons of our Character? Undoubtedly it is: And therefore, O my Countrymen, and particularly you brave Men that are the Occasion of this Meeting, Repent: Fall down upon your Knees before the provoked Sovereign of Heaven and Earth, against whom you have rebelled. Dissolve and melt in penitential Sorrows at his Feet; and he will tell you Arise, be of good Chear; your Sins are forgiven you. “But will Repentance make Atonement for our Sins? Will our Tears wash away their Guilt? Will our Sorrows merit Forgiveness?” No, my Brethren, after you have done all, you are but unprofitable Servants: After all your Sorrows, and Prayers and Tears, you deserve to be punished as obnoxious Criminals: That would be a sorry Government indeed, where Repentance, perhaps extorted by the servile Fear of Punishment, would make Atonement for every Offence. But I bring you glad Tidings of great Joy, To you is born a Saviour, a Saviour of no mean Character; he is Christ the Lord. And have you never heard that he has made Reconciliation for Iniquity, and brought in everlasting Righteousness; that he suffered, the Just for the Unjust; that God is well-pleased for his Righteousness-Sake, and declares himself willing to be reconciled to all that believe in him, and cheerfully accept him as their Saviour and Lord. Have you never heard these joyful Tidings, O guilty, self-condemned Sinners? Sure you have. Then away to Jesus, away to Jesus ye whose Consciences are loaden with Guilt, ye whose Hearts fail within you at the Thought of Death, and the Tribunal of Divine Justice; ye who are destitute of all personal Righteousness to procure your Pardon, and recommend you to the Divine Favour: Fly to Jesus on the Wings of Faith, all of you, of every Age and Character; for you all stand in the most absolute Need of him; and without him you must perish every Soul of You. But alas! we find ourselves utterly unable to repent and fly to Jesus: Our Hearts are hard and unbelieving, and if the Work depend upon us, it will forever remain undone. True, my Brethren, so the Case is; but do ye not know that this guilty Earth is under the Distillings of Divine Grace, that Jesus is intrusted with the Influences of the Spirit, which can work in you both to will and to do; and that he is willing to give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him? If you know this, you know here to go for Strength; therefore cry mightily to God for it. This I earnestly recommend to all my Hearers, and especially to you Gentlemen, and others, that are now about generously to risqué your Lives for your Country. Account this the best Preparative to encounter Danger and Death; the best Incentive to true, rational Courage. What can do you a lasting Injury, while you have a reconciled God smiling upon you from on high, a peaceful Conscience animating you within, and a happy Immortality just before you! Sure you may bid Defiance to Dangers and Death in their most shocking Forms. You have answered the End of this Life already by preparing for another; and how can you depart off this mortal Stage more honourably, than in the Cause of Liberty, of Religion, and your Country? But if any of you are perplexed with gloomy Fears about this important Affair, or conscious you are entirely unprepared for Eternity, what must you do? Must you seek to prolong your Life, and your Time for Preparation, by mean or unlawful Ways, by a cowardly Desertion of the Cause of your Country, and shifting for your little Selves, as though you had no Connection with Society? Alas! this would but aggravate your Guilt, and render your Condition still more perplexed and discouraging. Follow the Path of Duty wherever it leads you, for it will be always the safest in the Issue. Diligently improve the Time you have to make your Calling and Election sure, and you have Reason to hope for Mercy, and Grace to help in such a Time of Need.—-You will forgive me, if I have enlarged upon this Point, even to a Digression; for I thought it of great Consequence to you all. I shall now proceed with more Haste.

It is also of great Importance to excite and keep up our Courage in such an Expedition, that we should be fully satisfied we engage in a righteous Cause,—and in a Cause of great Moment; for we cannot prosecute a suspected, or a wicked Scheme, which our own Minds condemn, but with Hesitation, and timorous Apprehensions; and we cannot engage with Spirit and Resolution in a trifling Scheme, from which we can expect no Consequences worth our vigorous Pursuit. This Joab might have in View in his heroic Advice to his Brother; Be of good Courage, says he, and let us play the Men, for our People, and for the Cities of our God. q. d. We are engaged in a righteous Cause; we are not urged on by an unbounded Lust of Power or Riches, to encroach upon the Rights and Properties of others, and disturb our quiet Neighbours: We act entirely upon the defensive, repel unjust Violence, and avenge nation Injuries; we are fighting for our People, and for the Cities of our God. We are also engaged in a Cause of the utmost Importance. We fight for our People; and what Endearments are included in hat significant Word! Our Liberty, our Estates, our Lives! Our King, our Fellow-Subjects, our venerable Fathers, our tender Children, the Wives of our Bosom, our Friends the Sharers of our Souls, our Posterity to the latest Ages! And who would not use his Sword with an exerted Arm, when these lie at Stake? But even these are not all: We fight for the Cities of our God. God has distinguished us with a Religion from Heaven; and hitherto we have enjoyed the quiet and unrestrained Exercise of it: He has condescended to be a God to our Nation, and to hour our Cities with his gracious Presence, and the Institutions of his Worship, the Means to make us wise, good and happy: But now these most invaluable Blessings lie at Stake; these are the Prize for which we contend; and must it not excite all our active Powers to the highest Pitch of Exertion? Shall we tamely submit to Idolatry, and religious Tyranny? No, God forbid: Let us play the Men, since we take up Arms for our People, and the Cities of our God.

I need not tell you how applicable this Advice, thus paraphrased, is to the Design of the present associated Company. The Equity of our Cause is most evident. The Indian Savages have certainly no Right to murder our Fellow-Subjects, living quiet and inoffensive in their Habitations; nor have the French any Power to hound them out upon us, nor to invade the Territories belonging to the British Crown, and secured to it by the Faith of Treaties. This is a clear Case. And it is equally clear, that you are engaged in a Cause of the utmost Importance. To protect your Brethren from the most bloody Barbarities—to defend the Territories of the best of Kings against the Oppression and Tyranny of arbitrary Power, to secure the inestimable Blessings of Liberty, British Liberty, from the Chains of French Slavery—to preserve your Estates, for which you have sweat and toiled, from falling a Prey to greedy Vultures, Indians, Priests, Friers, and hungry Galic Slaves, or not-more-devouring Flames—to guard your Religion, the pure Religion of Jesus, streaming uncorrupted from the sacred Fountain of the Scriptures; the most excellent, rational and divine Religion that ever was made known to the Sons of Men; to guard so dear so precious a Religion (my Heart grows warm while I mention it) against Ignorance, Superstition, Idolatry, Tyranny over Conscience, Massacre, Fire and Sword, and all the Mischiefs beyond Expression, with which Popery is pregnant—to keep from the cruel Hands of Barbarians and Papists, your Wives, your Children, your Parents, your Friends—to secure the Liberties conveyed to you by your brave Fore-fathers, and bought with their Blood, that you may transmit them uncurtailed to your Posterity—these are the Blessings you contend for; all these will be torn from your eager Grasp, if this Colony should become a Province of France. And Virginians! Britons! Christians! Protestants! if these Names have any Import or Energy, will you not strike home in such a Cause? Yes, this View of the Matter must fire you into Men; methinks the cowardly Soul must tremble, left the Imprecation of the Prophet fall upon him, Cursed be the Man that keepeth back his Sword from Blood. To this shocking, but necessary Work, the Lord now calls you, and cursed is he that doth the Work of the Lord deceitfully; that will not put his Hand to it, when it is in his Power, or that will not perform it with all his Might. 6 The People of Meroz lay at home in Ease, while their Brethren were in the Field, delivering their Country from Slavery. And what was their Doom? Curse ye Meroz, said the Angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the Inhabitants thereof, because they came not to the Help of the Lord, to the Help of the Lord against the Mighty. 7 I count myself happy that I see so many of you generously engaged in such a Cause; but when I view it in this Light, I cannot but be concerned that there are so few to join you. Are there but 50 or 60 Persons in this large and populous County that can be spared from home for a few Weeks upon so necessary a Design, or that are able to bear the Fatigues of it? Where are the Friends of human Nature, where the Lovers of Liberty and Religion? Now is the Time for you to come forth, and shew yourselves. Nay, where is the Miser? Let him arise and defend his Mammon, or he may soon have Reason to cry out with Micah, They have taken away my Gods, and what have I more? Where is the tender Soul, on whom the Passions of a Husband, a Father, or a Son, have a peculiar Energy? Arise, and march away; you had better be absent from those you love for a little while, than see them butchered before your Eyes, or doomed to eternal Poverty and Slavery. The Association now forming is not yet compleat; and if it were, it would be a glorious Thing to form another. Therefore, as an Advocate for your King, your Fellow-Subjects, your Country, your Relatives, your earthly All: I do invite and intreat all of you, who have not some very sufficient Reason against it, voluntarily to enlist, and go out with those brave Souls, who have set you so noble an Example. It will be more advantageous to go out in Time, and more honourable to go out as Volunteers, than to be compelled to it by Authority, when perhaps it may be too late.

The Consideration of the Justice and Importance of the Cause may also encourage You to hope, that the Lord of Hosts will espouse it, and render its Guardians successful, and return them in Safety to the Arms of their longing Friends. The Event however is in his Hands; and it is much better there, than if it were in Yours. This Thought is suggested with beautiful Simplicity, in the remaining Part of my Text, The Lord do that which seemeth him good. This may be looked upon in various Views, as,

1. It may be understood as the Language of Uncertainty, and Modesty. Q. d. Let us do all we can; but after all, the Issue is uncertain; we know not, as yet, to what Side God will incline the Victory. Such Language as this, my Brethren, becomes us in all our Undertaking; it sounds Creature-like, and God approves of such self-diffident Humility. But to indulge sanguine and confident Expectations of Victory, to boast when we put on our Armour, as though we were putting it off, and to derive our high Hopes from our own Power and good Management, without any Regard to the Providence of God, this is too lordly and assuming for such feeble Mortals; such Insolence is generally mortified, and such a haughty Spirit, is the Fore-runner of a Fall. Therefore, though I do not apprehend Your Lives will be in any great Danger in Your present Expedition to range the Frontiers, and clear them of the skulking Indians; yet, I would not flatter You, my Brethren, with too high Hopes either of Victory or Safety. I cannot but entertain the pleasing Prospect of congratulating You with many of Your Friends, upon your successful Expedition, and safe Return: And yet it is very possible our next Interview may be in that strange untried World beyond the Grave. You are, however, in the Hands of God, and he will deal with you as it seemeth him good: And I am persuaded You would not wish it were otherwise; You would not now practically retract the Petition You have so often offered up, Thy Will be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven.

2. This Language; The Lord do as seemeth him good, may be looked upon as expressive of a firm Persuasion that the Event of War entirely depends upon the Providence of God. q. d. Let us do our best; but after all, let us be sensible that the Success does not depend on us; that is entirely in the Hands of an all-ruling God. That God governs the World, is a fundamental Article of natural, as well as revealed Religion: It is no great Exploit of Faith, to believe this: It is but a small Advance beyond Atheism, and downright Infidelity. I know no Country upon Earth, where I should be put to the Expence of Argument to prove this. The Heathens gave striking Proofs of their Belief of it, by their Prayers, their Sacrifices, their consulting Oracles, before they engaged in War; and by their costly Offerings and solemn Thanksgivings, after Victory. And shall such a plain Principle as this, be disputed in a Christian Land? No; we all speculatively believe it; but that is not enough; let our Spirits be deeply impressed with it, and our Lives influenced by it: Let us live in the World, as in a Territory of Jehovah’s Empire. Carry this Impression upon Your Hearts into the Wilderness, whither You are going. Often let such Thoughts as these recur to your Minds, I am the feeble Creature of God; and blessed be his Name, I am not cast off his Hand as a disregarded Orphan to shift for myself. My Life is under his Care; the Success of this Expedition is at his Disposal. Therefore, O thou all-ruling God, I implore thy Protection; I confide in thy Care; I cheerfully resign myself, and the Event of this Undertaking, to thee. Which leads me to observe,

3. That these Words, The Lord do what seemeth him good, may express a humble Submission to the Disposal of Providence, let the Event turn out as it would. Q. d. We have not the Disposal of the Event, nor do we know what will be: But Jehovah knows, and that is enough. We are sure he will do what is best, upon the whole; and it becomes us to acquiesce! Thus, my Friends, do You resign and submit yourselves to the Ruler of the World in the present Enterprize. He will order Matters as he pleases; Oh! let him do so by Your cheerful Consent. Let Success or Disappointment, let Life or Death be the Issue, still say, Good is the Will of the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good: Or if Nature biases Your Wishes and Desires to the favourable Side, as no Doubt it will, still keep them within Bounds, and restrain them in Time, saying after the Example of Christ, Not my Will, but thine be done. You may wish, you may pray, you may strive, you may hope for a happy issue: But you must submit; Be still, and know that he is God, and will not be prescribed to, or suffer a Rival in the Government of the World he has made. Such a Temper will be of unspeakable Service to You, and you may hope God will honour it with a remarkable Blessing: For Submission to his Will is the readiest Way to the Accomplishment of our own.

4. These Words, in their Connection, may intimate, that let the Event be what it will, it will afford us Satisfaction to think, that we have done the best we could. q. d. We cannot command Success; but let us do all in our Power to obtain it, and we have Reason to hope that in this Way we shall not be disappointed: But if it should please God to render all our Endeavours vain, still we shall have the generous Pleasure to reflect, that we have not been accessory to the Ruin of our Country, but have done all we could for its Deliverance. So You my Brethren have generously engaged in a disinterested Scheme for Your King, and Country: God does generally crown such noble Undertakings with Success, and You have Encouragement to hope for it: But the Cause You have espoused, is the Cause of a sinful impenitent Country; and if God, in righteous Displeasure, should on this Account blast your Attempt, still you will have the Pleasure of reflecting upon Your generous Views and vigorous Endeavours, and that You have done Your Part conscientiously.

Having thus made some cursory Remarks upon the sundry Parts of the Text, I shall now conclude with an Address, first to you all in general, and then to you Gentlemen and others, who have been pleased to invite me to this Service. I hope You will forgive my Prolixity: My Heart is full, the Text is copious, and the Occasion singular and important. I cannot therefore dismiss You with a short hurrying Discourse.

It concerns you all seriously to reflect upon your own Sins, and the Sins of your Land, which have brought all these Calamities upon us. If You believe that God governs the World, if You do not abjure him from being the Ruler of Your Country, You must acknowledge that all the Calamities of War, and the threatening Appearances of Famine, are ordered by his Providence; There is no Evil in a City or Country, but the Lord hath done it. And if You believe that he is a just and righteous Ruler, You must also believe, that he would not thus punish a righteous or a penitent People. We and our Countrymen are Sinners, aggravated Sinners: God proclaims that we are such by his Judgments now upon us, by withering Fields, and scanty Harvests, by the Sound of the Trumpet and the Alarm of War. Our Consciences must also bear witness to the same melancholy Truth. And if my Heart were properly affected, I would concur with these undoubted Witnesses: I would cry aloud, and not spare, I would lift up my Voice like a Trumpet, to shew you Your Transgressions and Your Sins. O my Country, is not thy Wickedness great, and thine Iniquities infinite? Where is there a more sinful Spot to be found upon our guilty Globe? Pass over the Land, take a Survey of the Inhabitants, inspect into their Conduct, and what do you see? What do you hear? You see gigantic Forms of Vice braving the Skies, and bidding Defiance to Heaven and Earth, while Religion and Virtue is obliged to retire, to avoid public Contempt and Insult.—You see Herds of Drunkards swilling down their Cups, and drowning all the Man within them. You hear the Swearer venting his Fury against God and Man, trifling with that Name which prostrate Angels adore, and imprecating that Damnation, under which the hardiest Devil in Hell trembles, and groans. You see Avarice hoarding up her useless Treasures, dishonest Craft planning her Schemes of unlawful Gain, and Oppression unmercifully grinding the Face of the Poor. You see Prodigality squandering her Stores, Luxury spreading her Table, and unmanning her Guests; Vanity laughing aloud, and dissolving in empty unthinking Mirth, regardless of God, and our Country, of Time and Eternity; Sensuality wallowing in brutal Pleasures, and aspiring with inverted Ambition, to sink as low as her four-footed Brethren of the Stall. You see Cards more in Use than the Bible, the Back-Gammon Table more frequented than the Table of the Lord, Plays and Romances more read than the History of the blessed Jesus. You see trifling and even criminal Diversions become a serious Business; the Issue of a Horse-race, or a Cock-fight, more anxiously attended to than the Fate of our Country. Or where these grosser Forms of Vice and Vanity do not shock your Senses, even there you often meet with the Appearances of more refined Impiety, which is equally dangerous. You hear the Conversation of reasonable Creatures, of Candidates for Eternity, engrossed by Trifles, or vainly wasted on the Affairs of Time: These are the eternal Subjects of Conversation, even at the Threshold of the House of God, and on the sacred Hours devoted to his Service. You see Swarms of Prayer-less Families all over our Land: Ignorant, vicious Children, unrestrained and untaught by those to whom God and Nature hath entrusted their Souls. You see Thousands of poor Slaves in a Christian Country, the Property of Christian Masters, as they will be called, almost as ignorant of Christianity, as when they left the Wilds of Africa. You see the best Religion in all the World, abused, neglected, disobeyed and dishonoured by its Professors: And you hear Infidelity scattering her ambiguous Hints and Suspicions, or openly attacking the Christian Cause with pretended Argument, with Insult and Ridicule. You see Crowds of professed Believers, that are practical Atheists; nominal Christians, that are real Heathens; many abandoned Slaves of Sin, that yet pretend to be the Servants of the Holy Jesus. You see the Ordinances of the Gospel neglected by some, profaned by others, and attended upon by the Generality with a trifling Irreverence, and stupid Unconcernedness. Alas! who would think that those thoughtless Assemblies we often see in our Places of Worship, are met for such solemn Purposes as to implore the Pardon of their Sins from an injured God, and to prepare for an awful all-important Eternity? Alas! is that Religion for the Propagation of which the Son of God labored, and bled, and died, for which his Apostles and Thousands of Martyrs have spent their Strength and shed their Blood, and on which our eternal Life depends, is that Religion become such a Trifle in our Days, that Men are hardly serious and in earnest when they attend upon its most solemn Institutions? What Multitudes lie in a dead Sleep in Sin all around us? You see them eager in the Pursuit of the Vanities of Time, but stupidly unconcerned about the important Realities of the eternal World just before them: Few solicitous what shall become of them when all their Connections with Earth and Flesh must be broken, and they must take their Flight into strange unknown Regions: Few lamenting their Sins: Few crying for Mercy and a new Heart: Few flying to Jesus, or justly sensible of the Importance of a Mediator in a Religion for Sinners. You may indeed see some Degree of Civility and Benevolence towards Men, and more than enough of cringing Complaisance of Worms to Worms, of Clay to Clay, of Guilt to Guilt: But Oh! how little sincere Homage, how little affectionate Veneration for the great Lord of Heaven and Earth? You may see something of Duty to Parents, of Gratitude to Benefactors, and Obedience to Superiors: But if God be a Father, where is his Honour? If he be a Master, where is his Fear? If he be our Benefactor, where is our Gratitude to him? You may see here and there some Instances of proud, self-righteous Virtue, some Appearances of Morality: But Oh! how rare is vital, evangelical Religion, and true Christian Morality, animated with the Love of God, proceeding from a new Heart, and a Regard to the divine Authority, full of Jesus, full of a Regard to him as a Mediator, on whose Account alone our Duties can find Acceptance? O blessed Redeemer! What little Necessity, what little Use do the Sinners of our Country find for thee in their Religion? How many Discourses are deliver’d, how many Prayers offer’d, how many good Works are performed, in which there is scarce any Thing of Christ? And this Defect renders them all but shining Sins, glittering Crimes. How few pant and languish for thee, Blessed Jesus! And can never be contented with their Reformation, with their Morality, with their good Works, till they obtain an Interest in thy Righteousness, to sanctify all, to render all acceptable!—You may see Children sensible of their Dependence on their Parents for their Subsistence, you see Multitudes sensible of their Dependence on Clouds and Sun and Earth for Provision for Man and Beast: But how few sensible of their Dependence upon God, as the great Original, the Primum Mobile of natural Causes, and the various Wheels of the Universe. You see even the dull Ox knows his Owner, and the stupid Ass his Master’s Crib: You see the Workings of Gratitude even in your Dog, who welcomes you home with a Thousand fondling Motions: But how is Jehovah’s Government, and Agency practically denied in his own Territories! How few receive the Blessings of Life as from his Hand, and make him proper Returns of Gratitude? You see a withering, ravaged Country around you, languishing under the Frowns of an angry God; but how few earnest Prayers, how few penitential Groans do you hear? Pass over the Land, and bring me Intelligence, is not this the general Character of our Country? I know there are some happy Exceptions; and I hope sundry such might be produced from among you: But is not this the prevailing Character of a great Majority? Does not one Part or other of it belong to the Generality? The most generous Charity cannot hope the Contrary, if under any scriptural or rational Limitations. May it not be said of the
Men of Virginia, as well as those of Sodom, They are wicked, and Sinners before the Lord exceedingly? And thus, alas! it has been for a long Time: Our Country has sinned on securely for above 150 Years, and one Age has improved upon the Vices of another. And can a Land always bear up under such a Load of accumulated Wickedness? Can God always suffer such a Race of Sinners to go on unpunished from Generation to Generation? May we not fear that our Iniquities are now just full, and that he is about to thunder out his awful Mandate to the Executioners of his Vengeance, Put ye in the Sickle; for the Harvest is ripe; come get ye down, for the Press is full, the Vats overflow; for their Wickedness is great.

And is there no Relief for a sinking Country? Or is it too late to administer it? Is our Wound incurable, that refuseth to be healed? No, blessed be God; if you now turn every one of you from your Evil Ways, if you mourn over your Sins, and turn to the Lord with your whole Hearts, then your Country will yet recover. God will appear for us, and give a prosperous Turn to our Affairs; he has assured us of this in his own Word, At what Instant, says he, I shall speak concerning a Nation, and concerning a Kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that Nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their Evil, I will repent of the Evil that I thought to do unto them, Jer. xviii. 7, 8. Therefore, my Brethren, as we have all rebelled, let us all join in unanimous Repentance, and a thorough Reformation. Not only your eternal Salvation requires it, but also the Preservation of your Country, that is now bleeding with the Wounds you have given it by your Sins. The safety of these our Friends, who are now engaged in so generous a Design, requires it: For an Army of Saints or of Heroes, cannot defend a guilty, impenitent People, ripe for the Judgments of God. If you would be everlastingly happy, and escape the Vengeance of eternal Fire, or (to mention what may perhaps have more Weight with some of you) if you would preserve yourselves, your Families, your Posterity, from Poverty, from Slavery, Ignorance, Idolatry, Torture and Death; if you would save yourselves and them from all the infernal Horrors of Popery, and the savage Tyranny of a mongrel Race of French and Indian Conquerors; in short, if you would avoid all that is terrible, and enjoy every Thing that is dear and valuable, R E P E N T, and turn to the Lord. This is the only Cure for our wounded Country; and if you refuse to administer it in Time, prepare to perish in its Ruins. If you go on impenitent in Sin, you may expect not only to be damned forever, but (what is more terrible to some of you) to fall into the most extreme outward Distress. You will have Reason to fear not only the Loss of Heaven, which some of you perhaps think little of, but the Loss of your Estates, that lie so near your Hearts. And will you not repent, when you are pressed to it from so many Quarters at once?

And now, my Brethren, in the last Place, I have a few parting Words to offer to you who are more particularly concerned in this Occasion; and I am sure I shall address you with as much affectionate Benevolence as you could wish.

My first and leading Advice to you is, Labour to conduct this Expedition in a Religious Manner. Methinks this should not seem strange Counsel to Creatures, entirely dependent upon God, and at his Disposal. As you are an Independent Company of Volunteers under Officers of your own chusing, you may manage your Affairs more according to your own Inclinations, than if you had enlisted upon the ordinary Footing: And I hope you will improve this Advantage for the Purposes of Religion. Let Prayer to the God of your Life be your daily Exercise. When Retirement is safe, pour out your Hearts to him in secret; and when it is practicable, join in Prayer together Morning and Evening in your Camp. How acceptable to Heaven must such an unusal offering be, from that desart Wilderness! Maintain a Sense of divine Providence upon your Hearts, and resign yourselves and all your Affairs into the Hands of God. You are engaged in a good Cause, the Cause of your People, and the Cities of your God; and therefore you may the more boldly commit it to him, and pray and hope for his Blessing. I would fain hope, there is no Necessity to take Precautions against Vice among such a select Company: But lest there should, I would humbly recommend it to you to make this one of the Articles of your Association, before you set out, that every Form of Vice shall be severely discountenanced, and if you think proper, expose the Offender to some pecuniary or corporal Punishment. It would be shocking indeed, and I cannot bear the Thought, that a Company formed upon such generous Principles, should commit or tolerate open Wickedness among them; and I hope this Caution is needless to you all, as I am sure it is to sundry of you.

And now, my dear Friends, and the Friends of your neglected Country, In the Name of the Lord lift up your Banners: Be of good Courage, and play the Men for the People and the Cities of your God; and the Lord do what seemeth him good. Should I now give Vent to the Passions of my Heart, and become a Speaker for my Country, methinks I should even overwhelm you with a Torrent of good Wishes, and Prayers from the Hearts of Thousands. May the Lord of Hosts, the God of the Armies of Israel, go forth along with you! May he teach your Hands to War, and gird you with Strength to Battle! May he bless you with a safe Return, and long Life, or a glorious Death in the Bed of Honour, and a happy Immortality! May he guard and support your anxious Families and Friends at home, and return you victorious to their longing Arms! May all the Blessings your Hearts can wish attend you wherever you go! These are Wishes and Prayers of my Heart; and Thousands concur in them: And we cannot but cheerfully hope they will be granted, through Jesus Christ. Amen.


F I N I S.

E R R A T U M.
Page 5. Line 21. dele Rocks and Mountains.

Where may be had, Price 4d.

A SERMON preached by Mr. Davies, at Canongate, April 29, 1753.


1.The Campaign.

2.Gen. iv. 22.

3.Exod. xxxv. 30, 31, &c.

4.King William the Third, the Deliverer of Britain from Popery and Slavery, and the Scourge of France and her haughty Grand Monarque.

5.As a remarkable Instance of this, I may point out to the Public that heroic Youth Col. Washington, whom I cannot but hope Providence has hitherto preserved in so signal a Manner, for some important Service to his Country.

6.Jer. xlviii. 10.

7.Judges v. 23.

* Originally posted: December 27, 2016.