Elijah Parish (1762-1825) graduated from Dartmouth in 1785. He was the pastor of a church in Byfield, MA (1787-1825). This sermon was preached by Parish on the fast day of April 11, 1811.
PREACHED AT BYFIELD,
APRIL 11, 1811.
BY ELIJAH PARISH, D. D.
“The voice, which cries through all the Patriot’s veins
“When at his feet his country groans in chains,
“With angel-might, opposed the rage of hell,
“And fought like Michael, till the Dragon fell.”
A SERMON, &c.
REVELATION, CH. XVIII. V. 2.
Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen and is become the habitation of devils and the hold of every soul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
In this and several other passages of scripture, Babylon means the Roman empire or Papal power and influence over the nations. 1 The fall of Babylon, therefore, is not the fall of Rome, or any particular city; but the destruction of that power, which has been so long, and so terribly exercised by the sovereign Pontiffs of Rome, or any particular city; but the destruction of that power, which has been so long, and so terribly exercised by the sovereign Pontiffs of Rome. As when the literal city of Babylon was destroyed, her deserted houses, her falling palaces, became the habitation “of wild beasts of the desert, with the wild beasts of the islands, a dwelling place for dragons;” so mystical Babylon in her fall becomes the habitation of men, possessing similar characters; of men to be compared with “hateful birds, foul beasts, and devils.” Another scripture saith, “They are as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed;” and another scripture referring to the same period, saith, “They are the spirits of devils.”
If spiritual Babylon be not completely “fallen,” or destroyed, yet is her power wonderfully lessened; her hour of entire dissolution makes haste. The Pontiff of Rome, once the terror of Europe, whose frown shook crowns from the heads of kings, and overturned their thrones, is now, if he exist, a mere puppet in the hands of the mighty Napoleon. A chained captive, or a trembling vassal, he goes and comes at his command. Strong reasons, however, are not wanting to prove, that the Papal power “is fallen.” The Emperor has not only arrested the head of that church, but “is constantly issuing laws against her, and banishing her priests.” The college of Cardinals, who alone have the authority of electing a Pope, are now many of them “confined in the different prisons of France; so that probably, in the present state of things, a new election is impracticable.”
But whether Babylon be “fallen” or not, certainly she has become the habitation of devils, of foul spirits, of unclean and hateful birds. This diabolical influence prevails, in a particular manner, through the Papal nations. There Napoleon has raised his standard, there he has blown the blast of victory; there his spies, his agents, his officers, his laws, or his armies, spread devastation, solitude, and woe. The hail of divine judgments has fallen on those countries; yet none of them repent; but madly blaspheme God and his Son.
Our design is to illustrate the propriety and truth of the text, when applied to this ruling influence of Europe.
I. The power, which now rules Papal Europe, which occupies the place and influence of Babylon, may be compared to foul beasts and birds, and devils, on account of its falsehood, fraud, and treachery. The devil is a liar from the beginning. This is one of the prominent features of his character; and this is equally a trait of the reigning power of Europe. The Chieftain of Europe totally disregards all promises, disdains all oaths, and daily violates the most solemn treaties. Though a formal treaty binds him in amity to this country; yet so long has he trampled on all its articles; so long has he plundered our commerce, and insulted our applications for redress; so long has he continued to capture, to sink, or to burn our ships, to chain and imprison our seamen, that most people have forgotten, that he is bound to offices of friendship, that any treaty ever existed between the two countries. Why should they not? Does our government presume to mention it? Do our public officers refer to it? Is it not, like a dead man, forgotten and out of mind?
The monarchs of Spain, though they were his friends, his allies, his humble servants, and obedient vassals, were betrayed in a most perfidious manner. Just before he laid violent hands on Ferdinand, he wrote him an epistle, full of brotherly affection. Among many other kind things, he says, “The caution with which I have proceeded ought to convince you of the support you will find in me, if factions of any description, ever disturb your reign.” In another place he says, “Your royal highness knows all the recesses of my heart.” He concludes his letter of love in the following manner. “Rely upon my wish to reconcile every thing, and to find opportunities to give you proofs of affection and high regard. And so I pray God may keep you, Brother, under his holy and worthy protection.” Proceeding to cajole and flatter him with an Imperial visit; then, changing his tone, he invites, persuades, and forces him to enter the French dominions. 2 There was he instantly seized, as a malefactor, a slave, an outlaw, confined by guards and walls, every step watched by the angel of death. There was he compelled to issue a proclamation, requiring all the inhabitants of Spain, his faithful subjects, to abandon him, to submit to Napoleon, “the Scourge of God.” Army after army is poured into Spain, the fields are laid waste, the churches are robbed, the cities are besieged and destroyed; myriads of the peaceful inhabitants are made prisoners, myriads are slain. The whole country is deluged with blood. Would the annals of hell furnish an instance of viler falsehood, treachery, fraud, and violence?
In Portugal a similar tragedy is acting. There too the government was friendly; there like Spain they contributed their wealth and influence to promote the despotism of the destroying Angel. Now their country is overwhelmed with armies; their daughters, their wives, their mothers, are exposed to the wanton brutality of French soldiers. Blood flows; the royal family have gone into banishment. They prefer reigning in the wilds of South America, to the vicinity of the Tyrant whose atmosphere is pestilence and death.
The pusillanimous monarch of Prussia, on the eve of his destruction, received a letter from the French Emperor, breathing esteem and affection. 3 But time would fail me; volumes are necessary to relate half his deeds of falsehood, fraud, and treachery. Is not Babylon the habitation of devils? But I ought not to have forgotten the establishment of numerous Spies in every town, village, and neighborhood. Cruel as death, brother betrays his brother, and fathers their sons. No man dares utter his thoughts with freedom. 4
I ought to mention the march of armies to Egypt and Palestine, their robberies and murders, on the banks of the Nile and Jordan; the misery they caused at Alexandria, Joppa, and Jerusalem. I ought to describe them furious, as hungry tigers in the massacre of their Turkish prisoners; in a moment a thousand captives are shot in cold blood. 5 But the sun would go down ere I had done.
II. The oppression and barbarity of their laws prove that Babylon is inhabited by devils, or governed by one, who may be justly compared to Beelzebub, the chief of the devils.
His laws like those of Draco are written in blood. Any one concerned in British traffic shall be shot. In Hamburg at one time goods to the amount of six millions have been burned. In every part of papal Europe the conflagration spreads. These are not the goods of an enemy; but of his own subjects. Their taxes are cruel and barbarous beyond conception.
The farmer is compelled to pay a tax at every stage of his labor, as he plows, plants, or gathers his fruits. Often his means fail, he is unable to advance the last tribute, and his harvest is consumed in the field. 6 Very thing, almost, which can be named, is subject to heavy taxation, “servants, vehicles, household furniture, dogs, gateways, chimneys, windows, doors.” Even industry itself groans under a heavy impost; all persons exercising any responsible trade, as “butchers and brokers,” are doomed to a heavy tax for the privilege. Some persons pay “the fourth, others a third, and others one half their income in taxes to the government.” But these direct taxes are not the most dreadful part of the story. A certain percentage is levied on all those taxes; sometimes forty per cent. In 1800 it was more.
More barbarous still; no proprietor may cut down timber, or clear his own land under heavy penalties, without applying six months previously, and obtaining the permission of government. This is often refused.
But the conscription, or draughts for the army and navy, are the most terrible of all human regulations. Children are torn from their parents, to be disciplined and trained to butcher mankind. But here I think it my duty to be more particular by liberal quotations from a late writer, who had the best possible means of ascertaining the truth, so lately as 1809. 7 He says, “The narrative I have laid before the public are facts, and I pledge my existence to the truth of what I have stated.” He assures us that, “The dreadful conscriptions pursued with unrelenting severity, have given rise to such a general discontent, that the death of Bonaparte is devoutly wished for; his name is feared and abhorred by every reflecting Frenchman, by all, who are not enjoying pensions or lucrative employments, under his tyrannical power. The severe and arbitrary restrictions laid on the little commerce that remains, the overbearing insolence and extortion of his numerous custom-house officers paralyze all the efforts of trade in the interior of France.
Far greater proportion of France shows a poverty and a negligence in the general cultivation of the lands, that strongly mark the weak state of commerce and the great want of capital.
In villages scarcely a cottage can you enter without beholding the fathers and mothers of families, bewailing the loss of a beloved child, dragged to the armies. Several assured me, they had lost three, four or five sons of the age of seventeen or eighteen; some had at last their only child wrested from them. As for the cultivated fields, there the sturdy youth is not to be seen; but old and infirm men, with old women, scarcely able to support the fatigue of ploughing, tilling and reaping their lands, perform all the labours of agriculture. For hundreds of leagues, that population formerly so remarkable in France has disappeared: in the field scarcely a peasant is seen. The medical men often sell a powder to these brave youths, that produces a temporary blindness, if applied to the eye; and if applied to any open wound, an inflammation and swelling of the limb, that often endangers the life of the wretched lad; but notwithstanding heavy fines and severe imprisonments, in some instances for life, the government cannot stop it. These are facts, many of which came within my own knowledge. When the unfortunate young men are collected together, they are often sent chained by the neck and hands, and driven, like condemned criminals, to the different places of rendezvous.
If any thing further were necessary to prove the wretched situation of the French people, it would be sufficient to allude to what is seen at all her churches, her fairs, her public festivals, and amusements. There you meet with scarcely any thing but old age and infirmity.
Ask the women where the young men are? They one and all answer; “they are gone to be butchered.”
To this the Editors of the Literary Panorama add, “This expression, ‘gone to be butchered,’ more literally true than either the speakers, or Mr. Sturt intends. We have spared our readers the pain of perusing accounts of this nature, that have reached us from the highest authority. We shall only mention two. One of them related to the slaughter of three hundred French conscripts in the bloom of life and manhood, led in pairs to the slaughter-house where cattle were usually slain, and treated in a like manner. The other was of no less than seven hundred French, conducted to a similar death, on a much later occasion. Humanity shudders at these facts, and what says policy to the loss of the rising generation in the mad pursuit of insatiable ambition?
But to return to our author, “This is no secret. This is no untruth. They speak feelingly; for many are parents, sisters, or lovers of these absent youths, dragged to the armies. One of the most formidable engines of tyranny in France is the military police, called the Gens d’armes, a number of soldiers scattered in every little neighborhood, who excite the dread and hatred of the whole nation. Their employment is to search for murderers, thieves, and deserters. They are also employed to execute the dreadful orders of Bonaparte. This increases that fear, hatred, and contempt, so universally felt. Unprincipled in general, of course corrupt and treacherous, they accept your bribe, and then betray you.
In every town, city, village, or commune, throughout the departments, these instruments of tyranny are established, and being in general artful men, and very poor, they exercise a tyranny equal to their ruler. To every coffeehouse and every place of public amusement, they have access under the pretence of preserving peace and order.
They establish idle and worthless people in every public house and hotel as spies, who make their reports often from pique and malice, or to prove their zeal. The same system is established by seducing servants of every family to report what is said at the table, of whatever nature. These reports, true or false, are sent to the minister of police, who without notice and even without enquiry, sends an order to arrest the whole family, often in the dead of night.
If any observations have been made on Bonaparte or his government, or on his favorites, they never see the light again, nor can a friend trace them out. 8 Another description of police more terrible even than the gens d’armes is employed by Fouche, minister of police. These men travel through every city, town, and village of a department, and are supplied with money, that they may attend public places, being men better drest, better educated, and often wearing the insignia of the legion d’ honneur, they insinuate themselves into society and freely abuse the government, Bonaparte, and his favorites, in the hopes of entrapping the unwary. Having given his information the miscreant leaves the district for another, and the unfortunate family are seized in the accustomed manner and conveyed to the dungeons of Paris, or to some strong fortress in the departments, and never are heard of any more. Does any reflecting man need to hear another syllable to be convinced of the diabolical influence, which governs Papal Europe, and which, like the deadly winds of the African desert, is blasting all the fair prospects of our country’s glory?
Do not the same causes produce the same effects? Can that power, which has proved fatal to the best interests of man even in France, be friendly and useful in America? Will he, who has changed the laws, the customs, the morals of Europe, confirm our privileges, or secure our felicities? As well may we expect that pestilence and plague, transported to our shores, will become harmless and pleasant; that the angel of death will be a cheerful companion, and the grave a sumptuous habitation. Will not our countrymen be convinced? Or must they like Babylon’s king be driven from men, be hewers of wood, be degraded to brutes, before they can learn the signs of the times, that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and that Napoleon is the angel of his vengeance?
III. The power of France carries discord, slavery, and ruin among the nations; therefore on this account, she may be represented, as having the character of Satan.
The devil sows discord even among brethren. He is a murderer from the beginning. As a roaring lion he walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. He casteth men “into prison.” He is the prince of the power of the air. His emissaries and agents are in every quarter. Where do we not find the agents, the spies, the armies, the laws, the influence, the hired demagogues of France? The foe of humanity, is she not making war on the human race? Her maxim is, “A king of France resigns his scepter, on the day that he lays aside his sword.” 9 Such are the citizens of Babylon, of Papal Europe. Like devils, their element is fire, discord, and destruction. It is their boast, their pride and glory, to swell the tide of human misery.
Switzerland, like us, was happy in her religion, her liberty, her republican virtues. She became divided by French intrigue. A French party, as in our country, raised their voice, and poisoned their councils. Still they could not prevail, till a French army appeared; a dreadful battle was fought; their women raised their swords, and fell covered with blood in their first ranks. The poor farmers were vanquished. The standard of France was unfurled in their towns, and a new constitution from Paris was adopted. The brave Swiss are slaves.
Holland was rich, and free, and happy; but she like Switzerland had her Republicans, who envied their neighbors, and wished to see them reduced to their level. A French army marches, and Holland is ruined. Miserable is the consolation of the good people, that their distracted neighbors, once so partial to their oppressors, are not only as miserable as themselves, but as heartily join in execrating their new Rulers. Their funds are plundered; their hospitals and other humane institutions have lost their support. The sick and poor are dying in their streets. The Hollanders are slaves.
Prussia was a powerful monarchy; but her king listened to the prattle of French amity; he reposed confidence in French promises, till Napoleon came, as a whirlwind of heaven, and overturned his empire. Solitude, desolation, and misery, darken his palaces. Not only his people; but Himself and his nobles are slaves.
Hamburgh, lately one of the most opulent cities on the globe; happy in her little Senate, her numerous humane institutions, and her immense commerce, is brought down to the dust. She has supported French armies, and been plundered and plundered, till a great part of her population has vanished; her misery is extreme. The Hamburghers are slaves.
Sweden is a victim bound and laid on the altar of sacrifice. Nothing but the name and the carcass remain. Her vital life, and vigor, and glory, have fled.
Germany—the Emperor of Germany has resigned his crown and throne, and ceases to be. The different States are divided, crushed, and scattered, like leaves of the forest, before the autumnal blast.
Spain and Portugal are overrun with the armies of France. Their fields are red with blood, their people pale with famine and terror. Italy, Naples, Venice, Milan, Mantua, Modena, Genoa, Tuscany, and other States, are conquered, revolutionized, impoverished, robbed, and ruined. The ancient mistress of the world is incorporated with the terrific empire of the Corsican; she sits solitary like a widow.
If there be one friend to French domination in our country, would not a moment of serious reflection convince him of his error? Where is the Stadtholder of Holland? Driven by French influence an exile to England.
Where is the King of Sweden, and brother in law of the Emperor of Russia? An exile in England. Where is Lucien, brother to Napoleon? Driven by his brother to England, the asylum of the afflicted, the land of mercy, which rises from her surrounding waters, like the mountain of Ararat; to save a sinking world. Where is the King of Naples; where the King and Queen of Etruria; where the monarchs of Spain? Prisoners of Napoleon. Where is the Prince and Royal Family of Portugal? Exiles in South-America. Where is Louis, the late King of Holland? A wanderer in Europe, hurled from his throne, or compelled to resign, by his own brother Napoleon. In the name of goodness, what would convince men of the malignity of French amity, if they are not convinced by these things? Bears and tigers spare their own families. Is not Babylon, or Papal Europe, a habitation of devils?
IV. The impiety and atheism of the dominant power in Europe, are not equaled in that world “where hope never comes.”
But on this subject, my beloved people, I have heretofore been so particular, that I shall not awaken your distress by a review of the dismal prospect. I only remark to you, that the same immorality, the same crimes, irreligion and infidelity still prevail in these ill-fated countries. The Christian Sabbath, the preached gospel, the book of God, every thing most sacred, is treated with daring mockery or impious contempt. A late decree of the government in Paris, among other things, remarks, “That the greater part of the population of Paris has but the Sunday for the enjoyment of theatrical exhibitions.”
This entirely agrees with the account, which one of our most respectable countrymen, 10 lately received from several ministers of religion in France. They informed him that “the seeds of piety had in the course of the revolution been completely extirpated from the breasts of almost every class of the community; and that since the re-establishment of the hierarchy, and the resurrection of the altar, Christianity had regained but a small share of influence over the public mind.”
Moral darkness, iron slumbers, universal death, more than Egyptian horrors, brood over papal Babylon. She is a province, belonging to the kingdom of darkness; she lieth on the confines of the capital; she experiences to the full the impressions of its manners, the terror of its laws, the influence of its officers, the authority of its prince. According to prophecy, there was to be a period in the fall of Babylon, or the papal power, when her superstition should change to infidelity; 11 when a further degradation of moral character should take place; when her people should be “brute beasts,” and “devils.” That awful period has arrived. These “spirits of devils,” according to another prophecy respecting them, “have gone forth unto the kings of the earth, and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” The war has commenced; the war will rage, till the final battle in Armageddon. These spirits go to enlist “the whole world,” in the war; they have reached our credulous shores; they have defiled our soil, polluted our atmosphere, enlisted a great portion of our people, poisoned them with a moral plague.
“Men are scorched with great heat, and blaspheme the name of God.” They sigh under intolerable suffering; but repent not to give glory to God. This period is marked as the uproar of moral chaos and the reign of devils. Babylon is fallen. Her ceremonies have ceased to awe the minds of the people; her terrors cease to appall the heart; her Edens cease to charm the fancy. All is doubt, uncertainty, and atheism. Apostacy unfurls her standard; persecution builds her prisons and kindles her fires; crimes triumph; hell is let loose; devils swarm in Babylon, and rule the empire.
Such is the picture of the dominant power, which governs the world. Say not, that the colors are too coarse. Not the pencil; but the subject is in fault. Were a painter to give you a demon in the enchanting tints of virgin innocence, or to represent a storm of fire, and a nation wrapt in flames, with the lovely colors of the rainbow, you night admire the delicacy of his strokes; but certainly you would not applaud the soundness of his judgment, his fidelity, or his love of truth.
Has God removed your former prejudices? Once we thought as children; we spake as children. The killing of oxen and the songs of triumph, at the dissolution of government in France, did not awaken our terrors. We did not know that the triumph of hell, and the reign of devils had commenced. Has God increased your information, and opened your eyes, as he did those of the Assyrians, “And they saw and behold they were in the midst of Samaria,” surrounded with their enemies.
Though the fatal influence mentioned in the text is to be more particularly felt in Babylon, or among the papal nations, yet all nations and people are exposed, who do not hold fast the faith of the gospel. Geneva, and a part of Switzerland, and Holland, did not constitute any portion of Babylon, yet they so far had her character, that they have joined this dreadful confederacy against God and his Son. Our country has manifested an awful portion of the same diabolical spirit. The Lord knoweth how to sever the chaff from the wheat. If we, our families, church, and congregation, are delivered from this spirit of Anti-Christ, is it not matter for devout thanksgiving? Is it not a rich consolation to labor in your shops, to turn the furrows of your fields, to bid the wheels roll at your different manufactories, for the support of sound principles? Is it not a high privilege from God, to save your seed and gather your harvests, with a direct design, to resist the hosts of Babylon, to sustain the cause of good government, and true religion? Whatever pleasure a man may take in a course of error, how much soever he may boast, and exult, and triumph; there is, there ever will be, an immense, an essential difference between him, and the man, laboring in the cause of God, of truth, and benevolence. A thousand “ways may seem right to a man, which are the ways of eternal death;” in these ways he may enjoy a proud pleasure; yet there is in the way of true wisdom a pure satisfaction, a moral luxury, which he can never know. There is a peace, a dignified courage, in the way of duty, the way of correct principles, which a deluded mind, however confident and daring, will never experience. Error may be bold; she may be sanguine; she may have raptures of delight; but her joys do not satisfy, they do not enrich the soul; they are hollow, without foundation, like the baseless fabric, reared by a gay vision of the night. Hypocriscy and error have their rash pleasures; but they never have the consolations of sincerity, of rational conviction, and heavenly truth. Bless God, therefore, for directing your steps on the side of his people, his cause and glory. “A man’s heart deviseth his way; but the Lord directeth his steps.”
2. What a miserable interest are those supporting, who favor and abet French influence in any country!
Is one man in the world so deluded, so hardy, so cruel, so abandoned, as to favor such an influence? We should instantly answer, No, had not such men already ruined other countries, were they not actually endangering our own country. A French party has brought destruction upon Holland, Switzerland, Geneva, and other countries. They called themselves republicans, and their country and themselves are crushed. They excused the outrages of Napoleon; they apologized for his atheism; they disbelieved his designs of universal devastation, till they felt his sword in their own vitals.
All ye, who have commiseration for the miseries of others, weep over those, who are left of God to believe such fatal delusions.
3. What must be the character of the French party in any country?
The prophecy says, that “the spirits of devils” from the falling empire of Babylon, should go forth to enlist in support of her cause “the whole world.” Passing events perfectly correspond with the prophecy. The agents of Anti-Christ, the power, which has risen upon the ruins of falling Babylon, are known in every civilized country of “the whole world.” From Petersburgh to Pekin, from Washington to Constantinople, “they are compassing sea and land!” to make proselytes. They have a party in every country. Congenial minds harmonize. As the different streams from the same fountain blend and unite; so do minds of the same character.
But it has been said, that some good men have enlisted in their ranks. For proof we have their own testimony. There was a Noah in the old world, a Lot in Sodom; but he came out and separated from them, and saved himself and part of his family.
Doubtless many, who have given their names and influence to the cause of falling Babylon, did not intend to proceed where their leaders are conducting them.
The “rich intended only to secure some emolument or office; the poor, some of them, were fascinated with the dream of bringing others down to their level. But once launched on the stormy ocean of wild delusion, they wander without a compass; they see no star; they find no shore. They proceed all lengths with their party. Now they would deprive the ministers of religion of various privileges, common to other citizens. They must not write, nor act, nor speak, though it be in their view for the advantage of the human race, as though they had not common discernment, a common interest in saving themselves, their families, their people, and their country. Probably the next step will be to silence and crush this order of men; then to abolish the Sabbath; then to cast their bibles into the fire, kindled by Philosophy; then to scoff at the Saviour, proclaim death an everlasting sleep, and shout, “No God,” “no monarch in heaven, we would preserve our republic on earth.” Such is the general course of French republicanism in all countries.
4. What must be the character of our government?
Does it not harmonize with Babylon? In falling Babylon are their laws oppressive and cruel, are they crushed by their commercial restrictions? Have we not our embargoes, and our non-intercourse laws, precisely, in the same stile? Is there falsehood, and treachery in the government of Babylon? Have we not our false and treacherous proclamations, declaring the decrees of Milan and Berlin to be revoked, when they were not revoked! Do not the two governments harmonize, like the pulse in different limbs of the same body? If there be fever in one the other glows.
Does not our government quaff the cup of humiliation, as though it were the nectar of immortality? Like trembling vassals, they kiss the rod, which lacerates them; their complaints are not those of a magnanimous nation; but the pulling’s of corrected children. They make laws to admit the armed ships of France into our ports, while an English vessel may not ride in our waters. What do I say? While our own vessels dare not enter our ports for fear of confiscation and robbery! It is an awful truth, that our vessels at this moment, a large portion of them, can find no protection in any quarter of the world, but under the guardianship of the British flag. If they go to any nation of Babylon, the pirates of Napoleon arrest them, and they are lost forever. If they fly to our own country; our own country, more unmerciful than Babylon, with all her devils, instantly seizes them, and in addition extorts three times their value.
Does not every good man exclaim, why this gratuitous contribution to accomplish the ruin of our country? We were no part of spiritual Babylon; why should we be volunteers in the work of self destruction? Why should our country, like a comet flying from her orbit to be lost in the sun, rush to certain ruin? Why should our country plunge into the political pandemonium which is opened before us, and make us fellow-citizens with the infernal demons of Babylon? Forbid it heaven, forbid it; Oh my country! The nation is afflicted, the merchants, the farmers, complain; all our calamities rise from the friendship of our government to their haughty Master. Whenever you choose independent Rulers, your commerce will be free, your markets will be full, your country will be prosperous. Just so far as you conform to Babylon, you will suffer; just so far as you are independent, you will be happy. We are entirely the authors of our own embarrassments. If there no hope? Do you not hear a voice from the tomb of Washington, warning you of your danger? Do you not hear God himself, informing you that “Babylon is the habitation of devils, that to be prosperous, you must be separate from her? Why then did our country make a monstrous law to ruin her own citizens? Why did the majority of our Legislators perjure themselves, when they had sworn to support the constitution? Why did they knowingly violate that article, which declares, that no “ex post facto” law shall be made?
What mighty kindness had Napoleon done us; what infinite injury had England inflicted, to produce this outrageous act of gratitude and revenge? I will inform you. France had made such havoc on our commerce, that our treasury was compelled to pay $75,550 merely for the support of our distressed seamen, taken prisoners in that country. What then must have been the loss of ships and merchandize? What think ye was the expense of those taken in England? Not a single cent. 12 To increase the outrage, the law has not been published. Yes, vessels have been seized by an unconstitutional law, never published. Blush, Algiers, blush ye Neroes of the world. Ye are outrivaled in the science of despotism. This is the government prating about impartiality and equal justice to all nations; this is the government, which embargoes the produce of your farms, and the hopes of your families; this is the government, which makes laws to punish honest deeds performed long before the law existed; this is the government, which cuts off all intercourse with the only nation, which protects your property and your lives; this is the government, which harmonizes with – – – – – – -“devils.”
If we come down to the State government, we find the same intolerant, treacherous, and tyrannical temper. I mention only a single instance. Look at the proclamation, which has called us together. Beside many things, which are obliquities from the line of truth, there is an insidious attempt to overawe the consciences of Ministers and people, and to deprive them of the privilege of worshipping God, according to their own belief. In the third section is the following sentence. “Who has blessed us with a wise and upright national government, which amidst numerous embarrassments and difficulties has promoted beyond reasonable expectations, our peace, prosperity, and happiness.” This the Chief Magistrate doubtless expected the clergy would read in a serious manner to their people, as a part of their instruction, without comment or remark. I would as soon have administered poison in your cups. He would be “a lying spirit” in the mouths of Christian ministers. He knew that very few clergymen in the Commonwealth believed a single word of this sentence; yet he treacherously intended they should read it. He doubtless intended to silence murmurs by this sanctimonious declaration, and to gain influence. A more fraudulent sentence never came from a scribe of Babylon. What have the general government done more than could be reasonably expected? From what burden have they relieved you? What branch of commerce have they protected? What husbandman or artisan owes them any thanks? What virtue have they cherished? What comfort have they increased? What religion have they promoted? None, none, none. This very year they refused to incorporate a Baptist Society, as though they were outlaws, and not to be protected by government. Thus we harmonize with spiritual Babylon, not only in her falsehood and fraud, her oppression, and barbarity, and slavery; but in her irreligion and infidelity. The same moral putrefaction covers the land with the damps of death. Oh my God, do we “not partake her sins, must we not drink the cup of her plagues?” Would the people see the prospect before them, their hearts would shake with terror; they would not proceed to challenge omnipotence to execute his threatening’s.
But we must not forget the proclamation. We are called upon “devoutly to perform the sacred duties” of the day “for unparalleled ingratitude to that Being, who has indulged us with wise Legislatures.” Where is a solitary instance of their wisdom?—“with codes of mild and equitable laws.” Are not those of the present administration, quite of another sort?—“who has smiled on our navigation and commerce.” Have not our present Rulers bound them in chains, bid them vanish from the ocean?—“for rendering invincible our beloved country.” Miserable man, why does he adopt this dialect of a demagogue? Why does he not as the tender father of a numerous household of children, tell us our weakness, our danger, our guilt, and lead us devoutly to the temple of humiliation and prayer? Why does he tell us of sins, which we have never committed, of blessings, long, long departed from us? But we turn with disgust from the unpleasant theme. Other parts of the proclamation are equally aberrations from truth and decency.
Such is the spirit of our State and General governments. Do they not exhibit the hypocrisy, the oppression, and cruelty of Babylon? Had they sold themselves to her Prince, had they sworn to destroy their country, would they dare perform more than they have?
5. Has the glory and power of Babylon fallen? Then we see what may be expected in our country, if she imbibes the same spirit, and adopts the same cause.
Resistance is our only security. The only power in Europe, which has uniformly resisted, is the only one, which has not materially suffered. If we make a common cause with “the hateful birds, beasts and devils,” their cup of judgments will be poured out for us. We must endure the same oppression, the same misery, the same ruin. Look again and behold the woes of Europe. Emerging from the ark, and from the top of Ararat, surveying the countries around, how hideous was the prospect to Noah. He looked; no husbandman appeared in the fields, no herds in the pastures, no flocks on the hills. He looked; the courts of justice were swept away; the royal palaces were gone; the holy temples had fallen. Proud cities, their lofty spires, their dazzling splendors, have vanished. Solitude, desolation, and death, brood over the world. More terrible is the state of things in a great part of Europe. Their fields are not drowned; but they are red with the blood of the people; their harvests are perishing where they grew, or torn away by the hand of ruthless violence. Their sons and brothers are not buried in a flood; but they are oppressed, degraded, chained, and dragged to the field of slaughter and death. Their courts are continued, not to repress iniquity; but to terrify, to torture, to imprison, and destroy the enemies of despotism; their temples open not to adore the Prince of Peace; but to echo the blasphemies of atheism.
I say not these things to convince you, for you are convinced. This is one of the richest consolations of my heart, and an abundant reward for my feeble services. But, I say these things to confirm and establish you in the truth. I would have these sentiments riveted in your bosoms. I would have them sink to the bottom of your hearts, and constitute a part of your souls. As to the preacher and the aged, these things will soon cease to be interesting. Our ears will not hear the sighs of the nations; our eyes will not see the cloud of “woes,” which is coming on the world; but to you, who are younger, I say, Hold fast these truths. Remember that your Pastor was never more in earnest, than on this subject. If you should be persecuted; or what is more dangerous, if you should be flattered or rewarded, join not the antichristian party of the land. Go not among them; enter not their city. Babylon is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird. “I hear a voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people.”
AMEN and AMEN.