Jedidiah Morse (1761-1826) Biography:
Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Morse graduated from Yale in 1783. He began the study of theology, and in 1786 when he was ordained as a minister, he moved to Midway, Georgia, spending a year there. He then returned to New Haven, filling the pulpit in various churches. In 1789, he took the pastorate of a church in Charlestown, Massachusetts, where he served until 1820. Throughout his life, Morse worked tirelessly to fight Unitarianism in the church and to help keep Christian doctrine orthodox. To this end, he helped organize Andover Theological Seminary as well as the Park Street Church of Boston, and was an editor for the Panopolist (later renamed The Missionary Herald), which was created to defend orthodoxy in New England. In 1795, he was awarded a Doctor of Divinity by the University of Edinburgh. Over the course of his pastoral career, twenty-five of his sermons were printed and received wide distribution.
Morse also held a lifelong interest in education. In fact, shortly after his graduation in 1783, he started a school for young ladies. As an avid student of geography, he published America’s very first geography textbook, becoming known as the “Father of American Geography,” and he also published an historical work on the American Revolution. He was part of the Massachusetts Historical Society and a member in numerous other literary and scientific societies.
Morse also had a keen interest in the condition of Native Americans, and in 1820, US Secretary of War John C. Calhoun appointed him to investigate Native tribes in an effort to help improve their circumstances (his findings were published in 1822). His son was Samuel F. B. Morse, who invented the telegraph and developed the Morse Code.
Delivered at the New North Church in Boston,
In the Morning
In the Afternoon at Charlestown,
May 9th, 1798,
Being the Day recommended by
President of the United States of America,
Solemn Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer.
By Jedidiah Morse, D.D.
Minister of the Congregation in Charlestown.
Published at the request of a number of the Hearers, in both Congregations.
Printed by Samuel Hall, No. 53, Cornhill, Boston.
2 Kings, XIX. Part of Verse 3 & 4.
This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, (or reviling) and blasphemy – wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that are left.
Thus king Hezekiah, by his messengers, addressed the prophet Isaiah, in circumstances of singular perplexity and distress for the safety of his threatened country. It must be interesting to us in the present posture of our public affairs, to know that were the peculiar circumstances and dangers, which prompted good king Hezekiah to make a declaration and a request, so remarkably applicable to our case as a nation, and so exactly coincident with the spirit of the proclamation. “This day,” said Hezekiah to the prophet, “is a day of trouble, of reviling, and of blasphemy – Wherefore lift up thy prayer so the remnant that is left.” – “The United States of America,” says the President, to the minister of religion and the people, “are at present placed in a hazardous and afflictive situation” – Wherefore make earnest supplication to God “that our country may be protected from all the dangers which threaten it.” – In what respects the causes which, in each case, produced the perilous and distressful situation, bear resemblance to each other, may be perceived from a concise historical view of the state of public affairs in the kingdom of Judah, at the period of which we are speaking, and with which, as applicable to the present occasion, I shall introduce this discourse.
The Assyrians, in the time of Hezekiah, were the most powerful nation on earth. Their empire embraced and controlled the strength of the kingdoms of Babylon, Nineveh and Medea. – They had, in rapid succession, subdued and annexed to their empire, Syria, Palestine, and the whole territory inhabited by the ten tribes, constituting the kingdom of Israel; and had even carried their conquests into Egypt, and ravaged that country. With their immense spoils, they had enriched and aggrandized their empire; and with their captives, they had peopled their waste territories. Thus strengthened by the accession of the conquered countries, by their inhabitants and wealth, they became formidable, and the dread and terror of their neighbors.
They were a treacherous and faithless, as well as powerful nation. Ahaz, king of Judah, the wicked father of Hezekiah, discarding the aid of the God of his fathers, had very unwisely, and at the very great price, purchased an alliance with the king of Assyria; but he basely betrayed the interests of Ahaz, and converted the fruit of all his conquests to his own advantage. “In reality,” to use the words of the learned and faithful historian, Predeaux, “he was in reality distressed rather than any way helped by this alliance; the land being almost as much exhausted by the presents and subsidies, which were extorted from him by his pretended friend and ally, as it was by the ravages and pillages of his open enemies.” Two other evils of magnitude to the kingdom of Judah, grew out of this alliance: it brought into its neighborhood, in place of a number of small and feeble states, the formidable Assyrian empire, which afterwards proved a severe scourge; it cut off the inhabitants from their lucrative trade to the Southern sea, which had been the source of all their riches. And what was worst of all, and proved afterwards a source of great and almost ruinous calamity to the kingdom of Judah, was, that Ahaz, with a view to induce the king of Assyria to form an alliance with him, had meanly engaged, in case of his compliance, to become his vassal and tributary. This base agreement was the foundation of the difficulties and distress in which the good king Hezekiah was involved, when he sent the message in our text to the prophet.
Early in the reign of Hezekiah, the king of Assyria sent to demand the tribute, which, by the agreement of Ahaz, was his due. Hezekiah could not brook this base submission, and refused to comply with the demand. A war with Tyre, which commenced at this time, diverted the Assyrian king, Salmanezer, from urging his demand by force.
This demand, however, was repeated by his successor, Sennacherib, who, upon the refusal of Hezekiah to comply with it, declared war against him, and entered Judah with a numerous army. In this alarming state of affairs, Hezekiah consulted with the chief men of his kingdom, and it was agreed to put the city of Jerusalem into the best possible state of defense. Accordingly the old walls were repaired; new ones erected, and towers and other works, necessary for their defense were provided: All the people, capable of bearing arms, were enrolled an disciplined for war; and every possible preparation was made to repel the attacks of the enemy.
In the meantime, the king of Assyria was ravaging the cities of Judah, and advancing towards Jerusalem. Grieved at this havoc, and fearing its increase, notwithstanding the defensive measures which he had taken, he sent ambassadors to Sennacherib with this humiliating message, “I have offended, return from me; that which though puttest on me I will bear. And the king of Assyria appointed to king Hezekiah 300 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold.” [II Kings 18:14] To pay this heavy contribution he exhausted the treasures of the temple, and his own coffers, and even cut off the gold from the doors and pillars of the temple. Mark the subsequent conduct of the haughty Assyrian conqueror: Having procured from his humiliated enemies, their means of defense, and knowing them to be now more completely in his power than ever, regardless of the sanction of treaties and oaths, he renewed the war with Hezekiah, and pushed on his conquests more vigorously than ever!
In the meantime, hearing that and Egyptian army was advancing, agreeably to treaty, to the aid of Hezekiah, Sennacherib raised the siege of Jerusalem, and proceeded to meet them, gave them battle and defeated them, and carried desolation into the heart of Egypt, and came back with great spoil. Elated and proud with his successes, he returned to the siege of Jerusalem, and, by three of his principal officers, sent to Hezekiah that insulting, boastful and blasphemous message which is recorded at length in the chapter preceding the text. It is remarkable, that Sennacherib directed that this message should be delivered under the walls of Jerusalem, in the Hebrew language, and within the hearing of the people, with an evident design to destroy their confidence in their king, and to excite them to revolt. The style of the message was calculated to effect this base purpose. When the messengers of Hezekiah, who were appointed to negotiate with those of Sennacherib, requested the orator, Rabshakeh, to speak to them in the Syrian language, telling them that they understood it, and not to talk with them in the Jews language in the hearing of the people who were on the wall; the orator replied–“Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? Hath he not sent me to the men which fit on the wall?” [II Kings 18:27] – or, in plainer and more modern language, My business is not with your government, it is with the people. “Then Rabashakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in the Jews language, and spake, saying, Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria. Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you, for he shall not be able to deliver you out of his hand. Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, The Lord will surely deliver us. Hearken not unto Hezekiah; for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me; and then eat ye every man of his own vine and fig-tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his cistern. Hearken not unto Hezekiah, when he persuadeth you, saying, The Lord will deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered at all his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath, and of Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah? Have they delivered Samaria out of mind hand? Who are they, among all the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of mine hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of mind hand? But the people held their peace, and answered him not a word.” [II Kings 18:28-36]
We can easily conceive what effect this message must have had upon the people, upon the messengers of Hezekiah, and upon this good king himself, when it was told to him. They rent their clothes; the king covered himself with sackcloth, and, like a good man, went into the house of the Lord. He then sent the message, of which our text makes a part, to the prophet Isaiah. “This day is a day of trouble and of reviling and of blasphemy; wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that are left.”
How far the facts and circumstances, in the foregoing narrative, apply to our case as a nation; what degrees of resemblance there are in the causes which involved Hezekiah and his people in their great perplexity and distress, and those which have brought us into our present unhappy and perilous situation, I leave everyone to judge for himself. I make no particular applications. However we may vary in our opinion on these points, we shall all agree, I apprehend, in this – “the situation of the United states, at present, is hazardous and afflictive.” And I would hope that we all feel disposed, in compliance with his request, to unite in earnest supplications to God for those important and timely favors enumerated in the proclamation. It would be difficult to reconcile with a sincere belief of the Christian religion, the conduct of any person, who should seriously object to the observation of this day, as a day of humiliation, fasting and prayer, at a time when all must agree, we have peculiar need of divine support, guidance and protection. Whether our troubles and dangers arise from our own errors, or from the unjustifiable conduct of foreign nations, it becomes us, in either case, and peculiarly in the former, to humble ourselves before God, and to implore his forgiveness, direction and benediction. But that we should have men among us, so lost to every principle of religion, morality, and even common decency, as to reprobate the measure; as to condemn the authority who recommended it, and to denounce it as hypocritical, and designed to effect sinister purposes, is indeed alarming. Such persons address the sentiments, if not the language, of Rashakeh to the people – “Suffer not your President to make you trust in the Lord.” That such vile sentiments should find their way into a newspaper, and be read and tolerated by a people who profess Christianity, indicates a degree of corruption and depravity in the public mind, more truly threatening to our dearests rights and interests, than the hostile attitude and movements of foreign nations.
I proceed to show, in what respects, the present may be considered as a day of trouble, of reviling and blasphemy.
It is a day of trouble with us in respect to our foreign relations. Our situation is rendered “hazardous and afflictive,” (says the proclamation), “by the unfriendly disposition, conduct and demands of a foreign power, evinced by repeated refusals to receive our messengers of reconciliation and peace; by depredations on our commerce, and the infliction of injuries on very many of our fellow citizens, while engaged in their lawful business on the seas.” These circumstances prompted our Chief Magistrate to recommend the solemn Fast which we now celebrate; and they constitute the leading and most operative causes of our existing troubles.
To the unfriendly disposition and conduct of foreign power, we may ascribe the unhappy divisions that have existed among us, which have so greatly disturbed our peace, and threatened the overthrow of our government. Their maxim, to which they have strictly and steadily adhered, has been, “Divide and govern.” Their too great influence among us has been exerted vigorously, and in conformity to a deep-laid plan, in cherishing party spirit, in vilifying the men we have, by our free suffrages, elected to administer our Constitution; and have thus endeavored to destroy the confidence of the people in the constitution authorities, and divide them from the government. They have abused our honest friendship for their nation, our gratitude for their assistance in our revolution, and our confidence in the uprightness and sincerity of their professions of regard for us; and, by their artifices and intrigues, have made these amiable dispositions in the unsuspecting American people, the vehicles of their poison. Hence has arisen no small portion of the troubles which we now experience. They are the bitter fruit of a subtle and secretly operating foreign influence among us – an influence which has proved the bane of our peace, and which ought, as we value our liberties and dearest privileges, to be vigilantly watched, and firmly resisted.
Calculating upon the effects produced, in this country, by their “diplomatic skill” in intrigue, and believing that they had secured a party sufficiently strong to enable them to accomplish their designs, this foreign nation have, by degrees, adopted a bolder and bolder tone towards us, and at length have openly avowed their object. By their ministers they have quarreled with our government: They have vehemently opposed our exercising the rights of an independent nation: They have fomented insurrections among us: They have artfully endeavored to plunge us into a ruinous war: They have, unjustly and unprovoked, captivated, imprisoned, and otherwise mal-treated many of our fellow-citizens. And when, notwithstanding all these aggressions and provocations, our government, sincerely anxious for peace, and willing to sacrifice everything but our national honor and independence to this purpose, sent ambassadors of reconciliation, with ample and unexceptionable powers – (could it have been expected from allies? – allies who have yet their admirers among us!!!) – they have refused, and that repeatedly and perseveringly, and in a manner most mortifying to an independent mind, even to receive them! They will not hear what we have to say in vindication of those measures, at which they affect to be offended. They spurn at our advances for reconciliation, and insult us with their neglect. More than all this, to use the language of our commissioners, “In the haughty style of a master, they tell us, that unless we will pay them a sum of money, to which our resources scarcely extend, we may expect their vengeance, and, like Venice, be erased from the list of nations; that they will annihilate the only free republic on earth, the only nation in the universe, which has manifested for her a cordial and real friendship!” – Still more, they say to our commissioners of peace, “You believe, perhaps, that in returning and exposing to your countrymen, the unreasonableness of the demands of this government, you will unite them in their resistance to those demands. You are mistaken – you ought to know that the diplomatic skill of France, and the means she possesses in your country, are sufficient to enable her, with the French party in America, to throw the blame, which will attend the rupture of the negotiations, on the Federalists, as you term yourselves, but on the British party, as France terms you; and you may assure yourselves this will be done.”
Such are the causes which have progressively operated, till they have ultimately placed us in our present hazardous and afflictive situation. If proofs are demanded in support of the foregoing statement, they are contained in the State Papers which have been published by our own government and by the government of France –in the late dispatches from our commissioners, and in the newspapers; and these proofs are abundant, luminous and convictive to everyone who reads them with a candid and unprejudiced mind.
It will, perhaps, be expected by some, that while so much is said concerning the unjustifiable conduct of one foreign nation, another, whose conduct towards us, during the present war, has been unfriendly and unjustifiable, should not pass unnoticed and uncensored. On this subject I would observe, that this thing was done at the time. The unjust spoliations of the British nation were reprobated in the strongest terms, throughout America; and similar measures for an amicable adjustment of differences, and compensation for losses, were then adopted, and pursued successfully with Great-Britain, which have since been repeatedly proffered to France, and as repeatedly rejected with most insulting aggravations. I am by no means an advocate for the aggressions of any nation on our rights. I would with equal indignation resist them all. But when differences with a nation have been once settled, and provision made for the peaceable adjustment of any new ones which may arise, why should we be continually opening afresh old wounds? What purposes can it answer, but to inflame the public mind, to prevent a union in the measures of our own government, and aid the views of a nation who seek our division and ruin? It was insinuated to our commissioners in France, and it is a current and credited language among a particular class of people in this country, (and the design of it is too visible to escape a discerning mind), that it is the wish of our government and its supporters, to form an alliance with Great-Britain. To this insinuation I believe I may safely and truly answer in the words of our commissioners – that “with respect to any political connection with Great-Britain, America never contemplated it.” Our maxim, as citizens, in regard to all nations, ought to be that contained in the declaration of our independence, “Enemies in war, but friends in peace.”
Our situation is rendered “hazardous and afflictive,” not only from the unfriendly disposition, conduct and demands of a foreign power, which excite painful apprehensions that war may be the consequence, and which render necessary expensive measures of defense; but also and peculiarly from the astonishing increase of irreligion. I use this word in a comprehensive sense, and would be understood to mean by it, contempt of all religion and moral obligation, impiety, and everything that apposeth itself to pure Christianity. This day is a day of reviling and blasphemy.
Never, at any period, could this be said, in reference to the world at large, with more truth than at the present. Kings, princes, and rulers in all governments; government itself in all, even its mildest, forms; priests and ministers of religion of all denominations; and the institutions of Christianity of all kinds, from the most corrupt to the most pure, are reviled and abused, in a singular manner, in similar language, in all Christian countries, and seemingly by common consent. The existence of a God is boldly denied. Atheism and materialism are systematically professed. Reason and Nature are deified and adored. The Christian religion, and its divine and blessed Author, are not only disbelieved, rejected and condemned, but even abhorred, and efforts made to erase their very name from the earth. As the natural fruits of these sentiments, and what we ought to look for where they prevail – fraud, violence, cruelty, debauchery, and the uncontrolled gratification of every corrupt and debasing lust and inclination of the human heart, exist, and are increasing with unaccountable progress. Evidence of the truth of this representation is brought by almost every arrival from Europe, and we have it, in various and convincing forms, before our eyes in our own country.
Our newspapers teem with slander and personal invective and abuse. Our rulers, grown grey, many of them, in the service of their country; who, in the various dignified and responsible offices they have filled, have discharged their duties with great ability and incorruptible integrity, are yet stigmatized continually, as unfriendly to the rights and liberties of the people, and to the true interests of their country. Our Government itself, the most perfect, and best administered, the least burdensome, and most happysying to the people of any on earth, is yet steadily opposed in all its important measures, and regular and continual efforts are made to “stop its wheels.”
The Clergy also, who have according to their influence and abilities, supported the Government and vindicated its administration, have received, from the same quarter, a liberal portion of reviling and abuse. And what have the Clergy done to provoke this treatment? Can it be said, with truth, that they are unfriendly to the rights and interests of the people? On what side were they in the year 1775, and during the revolution? What interests can they have separate from those of their people and their country suffer, must they not necessarily suffer with them? Their little all of property stands on the same basis with that of their people, and the same events affect them equally. Could they not subsist in as much ease and affluence as they now do, by other professions? Are their stipends or their prospects of promotions enviable or alluring? Can they then be your friends who are continually declaiming against the Clergy, and endeavoring by all means – by falsehood and misrepresentation, to asperse their characters, and to bring them and their profession in to disrepute? If the Clergy fall, what will become of your religious institutions? Undoubtedly they must share the same fate. And are they of no value?
What can be the design and tendency of all these things? Have we not reason to suspect that there is some secret plan in operation, hostile to true liberty and religion, which requires to be aided by these vile slanders? Are they not intended to bring into contempt those civil and religious institutions founded by our venerable forefathers, and to prostrate those principles and habits formed under them, which are the barriers of our freedom and happiness, and which have contributed essentially to promote both; and thus to prepare the way among us, for the spread of those disorganizing opinions, and that atheistical philosophy, which are deluging the Old World in misery and blood?
We have reason, my brethren, to fear that this preparatory work is already begun, and made progress among us; and that it is a part of a deep laid and extensive plane, which has for many years been in operation in Europe. To this plan, as to its source, we may trace that torrent of irreligion, and abuse of everything good and praise-worthy, which, at the present time, threatens to overwhelm the world. This plan is now unveiled.
In a work written by a gentleman of literary eminence in Scotland, within the last year, and just reprinted in this country, entitled, “Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the Religions and Governments of Europe,” we are informed, that a society who called themselves the illuminated has existed for more than twenty years past in Germany. The express aim of this society is declared to be, “To root out and abolish Christianity, and overturn all civil government.” Their principles are avowedly atheistical. They abjure Christianity–justify suicide–declare death an eternal sleep–advocate sensual pleasures agreeably to the Epicurean philosophy–call patriotism and loyalty narrow minded prejudices, incompatible with universal benevolence–declaim against the baneful influence of accumulated property, and in favor of liberty and equality, as the unalienable rights of man–decry marriage, and advocate a promiscuous intercourse among the sexes–and hold it proper to employ for a good purpose, the means which the wicked employ for bad purposes.
This society, under various names and forms, in the course of a few years, secretly extended its branches through a great part of Europe, and even into America. Their aim is to enlist in every country, “such as have frequently declared themselves discontented with the usual institutions”–to “acquire the direction of education–of church management–of the professorial chair and of the pulpit–to bring their opinions into fashion by every art, and to spread them among young people by the help of young writers.” They are unwearied in their efforts, by various artifices, to get under their influence the reading and debating societies, the reviewers, journalists or editors of newspapers and other periodical publications, and booksellers and post-makers; and to insinuate their members into all offices of instruction, honor, profit and influence, in literary, civil and religious institutions. The leading members of this Order are men of great talents, zeal and industry; and governed by their maxim, borrowed from the Jesuits, “that the end sanctifies the means,” they are prevented by none of those religious and moral principles, which are wont to restrain men when prompted to acts of wickedness, from pushing their plans by the vilest means.
This society, aided by concurrent causes which it has been instrumental in combining and bringing into operation, has already shaken to their foundation, almost all the civil and ecclesiastical establishments in Europe. There is great reason to believe that the French revolution was kindled by the Illuminati; and that it has been cherished and inflamed by their principles. The successes of the French armies, many of them, can be traced to the influence and the treacheries of different branches of this society. –– There are too many evidences that this Order has had its branches established, in some form or other, and its emissaries secretly at work in this country, for several years past. From their private papers which have been discovered, and are now published, it appears, that as early as 1786, they had several societies in America. And it is well known that some men, high in office, have expressed sentiments accordant to the principles and views of this society.
In a work published by Hoffman, at Vienna, in 1795, and quoted by professor Robison, in the following remarkable passage respecting France: – “The intelligent saw (in 1790) in the open system of the Jacobins, the complete hidden system of the Illuminati. We knew that this system included the whole world in its aims, and France was only the place of its first explosion. The Propaganda works in every corner to this hour; and its emissaries run about in all the four quarters of the world, and are to be found in numbers in every city that is a seat of government.” There can be little doubt that the “Age of Reason” and the other works of that unprincipled author, as they proceeded from the fountain head of Illumination, and have been so industriously and extensively circulated in this country, were written and sent to America expressly in aid of this demoralizing plan. The titles of some of these works, and the tendency of them all, are in exact conformity to the professed principles and designs of the society. It is not improbable that the affiliated Jacobin Societies in this country were instituted to propagate here the principles of the illuminated mother club in France. And is it not apparent that the seeds which were then sown, are springing up and bearing fruit.
Let any who doubt the truth and fairness of the foregoing representation, read for themselves. The book which is my authority ought to be read by every American. It throws more light upon the causes, which have brought the world into its present disorganized state, (I speak for myself), than any, I had almost said than all other books beside.
I hold it a duty, my brethren, which I owe to God, to the cause of religion, to my country, and to you, at this time, to declare to you, thus honestly and faithfully, these truths. My only aim is to awaken in you and myself a due attention, at this alarming period, to our dearest interests. As a faithful watchman I would give you warning of your present danger.
By these awful events – this tremendous shaking among the nations of the earth, God is doubtless accomplishing his promises, and fulfilling the prophecies. This wrath and violence of men against all government and religion, shall be made ultimately, in some way or other, to praise God. All corruptions, in religion and government, as dross must, sooner or later, be burnt up. The dreadful fire of Illuminatism may be permitted to rage and spread for this purpose. When a work of vengeance and destruction is to be performed, the instruments are fitted for their work. But while we contemplate these awful events in this point of view, let us beware, in our expressions of approbation, of blending and end with the means. Because atheism and licentiousness are employed as instruments, by divine providence, to subvert and overthrow popery and despotism, it does not follow that atheism and licentiousness are in themselves good things, and worthy of our approbation. While the storm rages, with dreadful havoc, in Europe, let us be-comforted in the thought, that God directeth it, and that he will, by his power and wisdom, so manage it, as to make it accomplish his own gracious designs. While we behold these scenes acting abroad, and at a distance from us, let us be concerned for our own welfare. In various respects, as we have shown, it is with us, at present, “a day of trouble, of reviling, and blasphemy.” Our situation is “hazardous and afflictive” –We have reason to tremble for the safety of our political, as well as our religious ark. Attempts are making, and are openly, as well as secretly, conducted, to undermine the foundations of both. In this situation of things, our duty is plain, and lies within a short compass.
The pious king Hezekiah hath set us an example, when place in a similar situation, well worthy our present imitation: he took the message he had received from the king of Assyria, and spread it before the Lord, and prayed – (let us unite in this pertinent prayer) – “O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims – thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth – thou hast made heaven and earth – Lord, bow down thine ear and hear – open, Lord, thine eyes and see; and hear the words of Senacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God. Of a truth, Lord, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, therefore they have destroyed them – Now, therefore, O Lord our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God, even thou only.” [II Kings 19:14-19] The effectual fervant prayer of this good man availed much. [James 5:16]
As citizens, we ought with one heart to cleave to, and support, our own government. It is a government of our own forming, and administered by men of our own choice; and therefore claims our confidence and support. We ought to repel, with indignation, every suggestion and slanderous insinuation, calculated to weaken and just confidence in the rectitude of the intentions of our constituted authorities. All such insinuations, at this critical period, proceed from an influence hostile to our peace; and, if permitted to have their intended effect, may accomplish the purposes of our enemies, in our division and the overthrow of our government. While, on the one hand, we would avoid passive obedience and non-resistance, let us not vibrate into the other extreme, and believe it a duty to be jealous and suspicious of everything which is done by our rulers. We thought them honest men, and friends to their country, when we elected them into office; and what have they since done to forfeit our good opinion? Let their measures be examined with candor, and we shall assuredly say, they deserve well of their country. In this moment of our political danger, let us be impressed with this truth – that – “United we stand – divided we fall.” The increasing union among us, and the revival and expression of the true American spirit, are tokens for good, and augur well in regard to our political interests.
As Christians, we ought to be alarmed for the safety of the church; to be vigilant in resisting the open and secret attempts to bring into disrepute and to prostrate our religious institutions. If these foundations be destroyed, and infidelity and atheism prevail, what will the righteous do? Let us then search for the Achans, the accursed things, among us, and let them be taken away and destroyed. Let us, each with care, inspect his own heart and conduct, and repent of, and correct, what he finds amiss. Let us examine into the state of our families, “those little communities which constitute the great public body,” and reform, as far as in us lies, whatever is sinful or wrong in them. Let us exert all our influence and efforts to effect a general reformation, in principles and manners, trusting in the Lord to succeed our endeavors. These are the sure, and only means of our preservation. If, in defiance of all warnings, we will be a sinful people, and abuse our civil and religious blessings, we must expect to be punished with the loss of them. Talents that are unimproved will in due time, be taken away. As we would hope for their continuance then, let us properly appreciate our national privileges, and our religious institutions, and repent that we have been so insensible of their value, and so negligent to improving them. And, agreeably to the excellent and reasonable advice of our Chief Magistrate, let us this day, “with the deepest humility, acknowledge before God the manifold sins and transgressions with which we are justly chargeable as individuals and as a nation, and beseech him, of hi infinite mercy, through the Redeemer of the world, freely to remit all our offences, and to incline us, by his Holy Spirit, to that sincere repentance and reformation, which may afford us reason to hope for his inestimable favor, and heavenly benediction.” And will God vouchsafe to hear our prayers, and the prayers of his people, throughout our country, this day, and grant us an answer of peace, through Jesus Christ, our divine Lord; to whom, with the Father and Holy Spirit, be ascribed praises everlasting.