This sermon was preached by John Latta on the national fast day proclaimed by President James Madison for January 12, 1815.
PREACHED ON THE
TWELFTH OF JANUARY, 1815.
TO BE OBSERVED AS A DAY OF
HUMILIATION, FASTING, AND PRAYER.
By the Rev. JOHN E. LATTA, A. M.
II CHRON. XXXII. 7, 8.
“BE STRONG and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there is more with us, than with him. With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah, king of Judah.”
Sennacherib, king of Assyria, had invaded Judea. After he had taken several fortified cities, he threatened also to besiege Jerusalem, the metropolis of the kingdom. “And when Hezekiah saw, that Sennacherib was come, and that he was purposed to fight against Jerusalem,” he made preparations to sustain a siege and to defend the city. “He set captains of war over the people, and gathered them together to him in the street of the gate of the city, and spake comfortably to them, saying, in the language of our text: Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him,” &c.
Our design, in this discourse, is to speak—
I. Of the grounds of Hezekiah’s confidence in the divine protection.
II. Of the PROPRIETY of his confidence.
I. We are to speak of the grounds of Hezekiah’s confidence in divine protection:—And we would mention,
1st. That his having greatly reformed the nation, was a proper ground of his confidence.
When Hezekiah ascended the throne of Judah, the nation was grossly devoted to almost every species of idolatry. He therefore immediately made vigorous exertions to abolish all idolatrous rites and institutions, and to restore the worship of the true God. “In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them. And he brought in the Priests and the Levites, and said unto them, hear me ye Levites; sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place. For our fathers have trespassed, and have done that, which was evil in the eyes of the Lord our God, and have forsaken him, and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the Lord, and turned their backs.” After the house of the Lord, and the Priests and the Levites, agreeably to the directions of Hezekiah, were sanctified, he directed the offering of the different sacrifices, prescribed by the law of Moses: and his direction was obeyed. Next he issued a proclamation, requiring all Israel and Judah, to come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover unto the Lord God of Israel. A great number assembled at Jerusalem, and kept the feast, not only seven days, the time prescribed by Moses; but “the whole assembly took counsel to keep other seven days: and they kept other seven days with gladness. So there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel, there was not the like in Jerusalem.”
Next, Hezekiah demolished all the objects of idolatrous worship which were in the land. “All Israel went out to the cities of Judah, and brake the images in pieces, and cut down the roes, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Menasseh, until they had utterly destroyed them all.” He also commanded, that the tithes prescribed by Moses, should be given to the Priests. “Moreover Hezekiah commanded the people, that dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion of the Priests and Levites, that they might be encouraged in the law of the Lord.” As Hezekiah was convinced, that the wrath of God was upon Judah, because they had forsaken his worship and devoted themselves to idolatry, and wickedness of various kinds, he justly considered their reformation as a proper ground for his confidence, tht the Lord would again bless and protect them.
2dly. Another ground of Hezekiah’s confidence was, that Sennacherib had blasphemed the God of the Jews—had set at defiance his power to save them—and ridiculed their confidence in the divine protection.
“Who was there (saith he) among all the Gods of those nations, that my fathers utterly destroyed, that could deliver his people out of mine hand, that your God should be able to deliver you out of mine hand? He wrote also letters to rail on the Lord God of Israel and to speak against him saying, as the Gods of the nations of other lands have not delivered their people out of mine hand, so shall not the God of Hezekiah deliver his people out of mine hand.” Here Sennacherib not only defies the divine power and blasphemes the Lord God of Israel, the only true God; but sets in competition with him and his power, the idols of the heathen and their power. Hezekiah therefore entertained a confidence, that God would for the sake of his glory, interpose for the deliverance of Judah from their enemies. He confidently expected, that God, by an extraordinary exertion of his power, would shew the Assyrians, that Israel’s God was not like the Gods of Hamath and Arpad, of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivah, which were not able to deliver their worshippers; but that he was omnipotent to deliver all, who put their confidence in him. Thus God would vindicate his character against the reviling’s and blasphemies of Sennacherib, exalt himself above all Gods and display his glory to all nations. That this was one ground of Hezekiah’s confidence is evident from part of his prayer on this occasion. Thus he concludes his prayer; “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.”
3dly. Another ground of Hezekiah’s confidence was, that Sennacherib relied entirely upon his own prowess and the greatness of his armies; but he himself placed all his dependence upon God.
“With him (saith Hezekiah) is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles.” Sennacherib vaunted much of the power, which he had manifested in the destruction of other nations and cities; and he boasted, that he had the same power to destroy Jerusalem. But God abhorreth the proud and self-confident. He humbleth those that exalt themselves. “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. The day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one, that is proud and lofty, and upon every one, that is lifted up, and he shall be brought low. Thus saith the Lord, cursed be the man, that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm. But blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.” This naturally introduces to the
II. Head, viz. to illustrate and prove the propriety of Hezekiah’s confidence in the divine protection, and of his animating exhortation to his captains.
From the grounds which we have just stated, Hezekiah was confident, that the Lord would be with him and his people. This being the case, there was the utmost propriety in his confidence of protection. If the omnipotent Jehovah was for him, nothing could be against him. Who an have any strength against Omnipotence. “All nations before God are as nothing, and they are counted to him as les than nothing, and vanity. It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in; that bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.” What is man then that he should defy the power of God? How insignificant are whole armies of men, when opposed to the Lord of Hosts, the God of armies? God at first spake them into existence, and whenever he gives the command, they crumble into dust. How absurd was it for Sennacherib, even with the multitude that was with him to presume that he should prevail against the King of Judah and his people, when Hezekiah could confidently say, that “there was more with them than with him.” In this expression Hezekiah doubtless had reference to the myriads of Angels, which God can at any moment send forth, either for the protection of his people, or for the destruction of his enemies. This expression of Hezekiah may be well illustrated by referring to the case of Elisha, recorded in the 6th chap. of the 2d book of Kings. A Syrian host compassed the city, where the prophet was, both with horses and chariots: “and Elisha’s servant said unto him, alas! My master, how shall we do? And he answered, fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed and said, Lord I pray thee open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” The Psalmist says; “The chariots of God are twenty thousand even thousands of Angels.” What earthly potentate then, even with all his armies, can successfully oppose the King of Kings? Who can in a moment marshal an innumerable host of Angels, “that excel in strength.” And who shall not be safe under the banner of the Almighty? With great propriety then did Hezekiah confidently expect protection for himself and his people, when he knew, that “the Lord their God was with them to help them, and to fight their battles.”
Again, the covenant, which God made with the nation of Israel, proves the propriety of Hezekiah’s confident hope of protection. In this covenant the Lord engaged to the children of Israel saying; “If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them, ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight, and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. And I will establish my covenant with you. And I will walk among you and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.” Now God is faithful to his covenant. “He is not man that he should change, or the son of man that he should lye.” Since then Hezekiah had reformed the nation, and caused them to keep the statutes and commandments of the Lord, he with the utmost propriety entertained a confidence, that God would, on his part, fulfill his covenant. He had noticed too, that God had always hitherto been faithful to his promises. Without a single exception whenever the Israelites were observant of the divine ordinances, and institutions, they still triumphed over their enemies. This leads me to observe,
Farther, that the numerous instances of God’s special interference in behalf of his people, when beset by their enemies, evince the propriety of Hezekiah’s confidence in the divine protection. Of the many instances of this description, which are recorded in the scriptures we shall quote only one or two. In the reign of Jehoram, king of Israel, Benhadad the king of Syria, besieged Samaria, the capital city of the ten tribes so long and so closely that the women eat their own infants. But “the Lord made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host; and they said one to another, Lo, the King of Israel hath hired against us the Kings of the Hittites, and the Kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us. Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life. And messengers of the King of Israel went after them unto Jordan; and lo, all the way was full of garments and vessels, which the Syrians had cast away in their haste.” In the reign of Ahab, the King of Syria with an immense army besieged Samaria. “And behold, there came a Prophet unto Ahab King of Israel saying; Thus saith the Lord, hast thou seen all this great multitude? Behold I will deliver it into thine hand this day: and thou shalt know that I am the Lord. And Ahab numbered the young men of the princes of the provinces, and they were 232: and after them he numbered all the people, even all the children of Israel, being 7,000. So these young men of the princes of the provinces came out of the city and the army, which followed them. And they slew every one his man: and the Syrians fled and Israel pursued them; and Benhadad the King of Syria escaped on a horse with the horsemen.” The Syrians having conjectured, that the Gods of Israel were Gods of the hills, and therefore Israel were Gods of the hills, and therefore Israel had defeated them, came up again to fight against them in the plain. “And Benhadad numbered the Syrians and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel. And the children of Israel were numbered, and were all present, and went against them; and the children of Israel pitched before them, like two little flocks of kids; but the Syrians filled the country. And they pitched one over against the other seven days; and so it was, that in the seventh day the battle was joined and the children of Israel slew of the Syrians 100,000 footmen in one day. But the rest fled to Aphek into the city, and there a wall fell upon 27,000 of the men that were left. And Benhadad fled and came into the city into an inner chamber.” Such was the excess of numbers in both these instances in favor of the Syrians, that, agreeably to the promise of God, it might, with respect to the Israelites be literally said that one man chased a thousand.
Lastly, the result in the case before us shewed also the propriety of Hezekiah’s confidence of protection. And this was the happy result: “The Lord sent an Angel, who cut off all the mighty men of valor and the leaders and captains in the camp of the King of Assyria: so he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he was come into the house of his God, his own sons slew him there with the sword. Thus the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all other, and guided them on every side. And many brought gifts unto the Lord to Jerusalem and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah; so that he was magnified in the sight of all nations from thenceforth.” Hence the propriety of Hezekiah’s confident expectations of protection and deliverance appears abundantly evident. Therefore very properly addressed his captains in the animating words of our text; saying, “Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him; for there be more with us, than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.”
Let us now, my hearers, inquire whether we, as a nation, have any just grounds to entertain the same confidence of protection and deliverance, which Hezekiah entertained. Gloomy and discouraging as our situation may appear, we presume we have some grounds for the same confidence. And
1st. The difference between the nature and character of the two governments (I mean our own government and that of our enemies) is one ground for confident hope of protection, and of a termination of the war favorable to our nation. Here I shall consider myself as speaking to those, who believe, that the Gospel, in its purity and with its native influence, shall, at some period, and a period too perhaps not far distant, prevail throughout the world.
The government of our enemies is in structure or theory, as well as practice, antichristian . 1 It opposes many obstacles to the propagation of the Gospel in its purity. It unites the kingdom of Christ with the kingdom of the world. It makes the king of the nation the head of the church. 2 It requires, that every civil officer shall, by taking the holy sacrament of the Lord’s supper, declare himself, though an infidel, to be a believer—though evidently, by wicked works a member of Satan’s Kingdom, to be a visible member of the Kingdom of Christ. It constitutes ministers of the Gospel lords temporal, as well as spiritual lords, and endows them, whether worthy or unworthy, with exorbitant revenues. Many who hold this sacred office, having been appointed to it, without even the smallest claim to morality or piety, “lord it over God’s heritage.” The gross and abominable abuses, which have resulted from this system, are well known, to all, who are acquainted with that government. The prince, who is declared to be the head of the church of Christ, which, like its founder, ought to be pure and holy, is often at the head, is often the leader, in every thing, that is unholy, licentious, and profane. Many of the Bishops, who are appointed to serve at the holy altar of the Lord, are infamous for their irreligious principles and dissolute morals. Whilst they too enjoy large revenues, though they live in idleness, the curates, who perform the chief labour of parochial duty, have scarcely the means of subsistence. The test of civil office is frequently an instance of the grossest perjury, and has the greatest tendency to bring reproach upon the Christian religion; nay to exhibit it as a mere name, destitute of any reality, a mere technical form without substance. If then the Gospel is to prevail in its purity, every such government must be totally overturned. The gospel church knows no head but Christ. It, everywhere in the New Testament, is represented, as perfectly distinct from the kingdoms of this world. The gospel contemplates all men as brethren, as born equal. None of its laws or institutions give authority to oppress the diligent; nor to bestow rich livings upon the indolent. Its ordinances, being spiritual, were never intended to be a test for temporal preferment.
Besides, the land of our enemies is stained with the blood of the saints. Not only, whilst it was under Papal jurisdiction, did its rulers immure in prisons, put to the torture and burn at the stake thousands of martyrs, but even, since it became a protestant land, it has been stained with the blood of the persecuted. The blood therefore of all these saints cries to heaven for vengeance; and its cry will be heard. And though under the present administration of that government, there has been no direct religious persecution, political intolerance has raged to a degree without a parallel, and has shed the blood of thousands. I say direct; for the test of civil office is a species of persecution. It is true the people of England have of late done more, and are still doing more for the propagation of the gospel, than any other nation in the world. But we must make a distinction between the acts of individuals, and those of the government. This zeal too originated with the dissenters, and still prevails principally amongst them.
But our government, however it fails in doing any thing positively for the propagation of the gospel, places no impediments in its way. Here are no political nor artificial obstacles to the spread of the gospel, in all its purity and native influence. Our constitution in no instance connects civil and religious matters. It recognizes the concerns of the church, as too pure and spiritual to be connected with the affairs of the state. Here then the gospel “may have free course, may run (untrammeled by political interference) and may be glorified.” Our country too is free from the guilt of the blood of the saints. Our government has in no instance unsheathed the sword of persecution, nor kindled the flames of martyrdom. The awful judgments therefore threatened in the scriptures are not to be executed upon this country. They are in the opinion of commentators denounced only against those countries, which have been subjected to the reign of the beast and have persecuted the saints. Not only has our country been free from the guilt of persecution, but it has been the asylum of the persecuted. As in the days of popish persecution the saints fled to the wilderness of Piedmont, so, in the time of English persecution, they fled to the wilderness of America. Since then in this country there are no political barriers in the way of the spread of the gospel in its purity, and since it is not stained with the guilt of persecution, may we not suppose that, whilst other governments shall be overturned, this shall stand; and that here shall begin the dawn of that millennial day, which is to enlighten the world.
2dly. The warlike character of the government of our enemies, the nature and result of the wars, in which they have for many years been engaged, are reasons for supposing, that they will not long prosper, and consequently furnish grounds for hoping, that we shall be protected, and delivered from their hostile designs against us.
War is interwoven in the present system of political things in England. If war had not been originally congenial to her government, she has been so long engaged in it, that it has become part of the system, and necessary to its existence. It has become as necessary as breathing is to animal life; as robbing is to the system of robbery. As it is with systems of nature, so it is with political systems. That, which at first is not at all necessary, in process of time becomes necessary by use or change of situation. To human life intemperance is so far from being necessary, that it is injurious, yet long indulgence in excess, makes some degree of intemperance necessary, in certain cases, to the continuance of life. To the existence of the limpid stream gently purling along the mountain’s brow, impetuosity and overwhelming depth are not necessary, but they constitute its nature, when it becomes the deep, impetuous river, hastening to the ocean. Our enemies therefore in the present system of their conduct toward other countries, do not even pretend that their claims are founded in justice, or are consistent with the law of nations. Their only plea is that their situation renders such conduct necessary. And when remonstrance is made, they answer by shewing the arm of power. Necessity then of their own creating, and power are their ethics and their political justice. Our enemies therefore are not only devoted to war; but their wars, necessarily and systematically, are unjust and oppressive.
The result of their wars for twenty years, too, has been the supporting and reinstating of the popish antichristian power. Antecedently to the late revolution in France, that kingdom was the strong hold of Popery. All other kingdoms and states, which were then devoted to its interest, had dwindled into comparative insignificance. Did you then see our enemies unfurl their banners and marshal their forces to restore the former state of things in France? It was to restore popery in its strong hold. Did you see them aiding Austria? There also they fought the battles of antichrist. Did they erect their standard too in Italy? There they went to replenish at their fountain, the corrupt streams of popish ignorance, superstition, delusion, abominations and soul-destroying mummeries, to establish the man of sin, the son of perdition on his accursed throne, whence he may again thunder through the earth his anathemas upon princes and upon subjects-immure the saints in prison—cause their blood to flow in streams—fill Christendom with gibbets, racks and crosses—and enkindle again in every land, the infernal flames of martyrdom. When too the corrupt streams appears to be running out in Spain, thither you see the British fly with their wonted zeal to stop the ebbing current. They succeeded. The bloody inquisition, 3 the invention of Satan, the engine of hell is restored. Verily, they are the strong bulwark of that unholy religion: Hence it is evident, not only that the government of England is antichristian, but also that it has done every thing in its power to support him, who is emphatically called Antichrist. That too, which makes such conduct more strange and wicked, is, that the coronation oath requires the king of England to exert his power and influence for the suppression of popery. 4 Shall such a government stand! So assuredly as God has spoken it. Babylon the great, the mystery of iniquity shall fall, and all kingdoms, which have aided and supported her cause. Is the gospel of peace to overspread the earth? Then every warlike kingdom must be overturned. But we have proved, that the government of England has war interwoven in its very nature, therefore it must fall before the gospel of peace. How soon, or what nation shall be the instrument of its destruction, we cannot foresee. Perhaps it may fall in the present contest. Perhaps America may be the instrument. All things are possible with God. When he pleases, a David slays a Goliath. When he pleases, at the sound of horns, walls and towers fall down. “When the Lord their God is with them, he children of Israel, who are like two little flocks of kids, put to flight and totally defeat the Syrians, though they filled the country.” The weaker the instrument, and more improbable the event, the greater glory redounds to God, and the greater is the humiliation of the vanquished. This leads me to observe,
3dly. That the similarity of the character and conduct of Sennacherib, with the disposition and deportment of our enemies, forms another ground of confidence.
They like him, considered themselves invincible. They spoke and acted as if they thought no God was able to deliver out of their hand. Especially they vaunted beyond measure of their maritime force. Having so long devoted their principal attention to this species of armament, having augmented their naval forces beyond those of any other nation, or even of all other nations combined; and having been generally victorious by sea, they conceived themselves as lords uncontrolled of the watery element. Particularly they looked with disdain upon our infant navy. Like Sennacherib, having conquered other nations far superior to us, they as it were, said, what are you, that your God should deliver you out of our hands? In a word, the pride and haughtiness of Britain, have become proverbial, If “Pride then go before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall,” may we not expect, that she must soon fall?
4thly. The result in the present war, has already shewn, that we have some ground of confidence that the Lord our God is with us, to help us and to fight our battles.
The naval armaments of our enemy, in every instance of equal contest, have been defeated. Their proud flag has been struck and borne off in triumph. Not only have we been victorious, but our victories have been crowned with peculiar glory. In the different sea-engagements, our loss has been comparatively nothing. Our superiority over our enemies in naval contest, has become greater than theirs, over any other nation. Such too has been the celerity of conquest, that our naval heroes may adopt the very expressive language of Caesar, and say, I came, I saw, I conquered. Not only have they been victorious, when they attacked single ships; but also, when they engaged fleets. Every thing considered, the hero of the Nile, will but little exceed in celebrity, our heroes of the Lakes. That too, which adds splendor to their victories, is, that in both they give the glory to God. The hero of Erie, says: It has pleased the Almighty to give us the victory. The hero of Champlain, before the engagement, in imitation of Hezekiah, prayed fervently for divine protection; and after the battle, he pointed to heaven, and said, There is the power that protects man.
By land too, there have been several instances, in which, the Lord our God appeared to be with us, to help us and to fight our battles. In several engagements on the Niagara frontier, though the force of the enemy was nearly double that of our people, we were victorious. How wonderful also the result of the battle at Plattsburgh! Eight thousand regulars, 5 a number of them the invincible of Europe, composed the enemy’s forces. Our force consisted of fifteen hundred regulars (a considerable part of whom were the invalid remains of another army) and of about the same number of untrained militia. Yet, strange to relate! As if their commander in chief had, like the king of Syria, and his host, “heard a noise of chariots and a noise of horses,” the enemy fled in the utmost consternation, and, like the Syrians, in their precipitate flight, they left their implements of war, and an abundance of very valuable stores. On our own Peninsula too the interposition of heaven was equally evident. The enemy, headed by a daring desperado, made a night-attack upon a little band of our people, not more than half their number. Soon did their commander, who was proud and boastful as Sennacherib, fall. And, remarkable providence! Just as the means of their defense failed our men, the enemy precipitately fled. Surely here, with propriety, we may erect our Ebenezer, and say, “hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” The result of the attack upon Baltimore, too, is not without its evidence of divine interposition, as well for our protection as for the confounding of our proud and boastful enemy. The general, who commanded there, had boastingly set at defiance all our forces. He vauntingly said, he would rather meet fifty thousand, than ten thousand such troops in the field. But even before a general engagement took place, he received his death wound, by the hand of one of those, whom he had so contemptuously despised. Soon was the vaunting tongue silenced in death; and the hero weltered in his own blood, in the very spot, where he confidently expected to be crowned with victory and glory. Does not this case appear somewhat similar to the case, to which our text refers? The Syrians most confidently expected to take Jerusalem; but they returned home with shame. I might mention several other instances of success attending our arms; but time will not permit. I shall only add, that by the blessing of God, our north-western and south-western frontiers have been delivered from the merciless savagism, which pillages and plunders every thing in its way, and murders promiscuously, men, women and children. But methinks, I hear some ask; “what do you say of several defeats, which our armies have experienced, and especially of the capture of Washington?” I answer, that these were necessary to humble our pride, and to convince us of our dependence upon God. The destruction at Washington was peculiarly well calculated to humble our nation. There was the acme, the concentration of the pride and extravagance of the nation. The public buildings there exhibited a pride, which ill become our government, and especially in its infantile years. That disaster too was by providence overruled for our advantage. Rulers and people were asleep. But this awaked us from our lethargy: It roused the nation to see their danger, and to prepare for the defense of their property and their lives.
Lastly, that the ground of our confidence may be complete, let us, like Hezekiah reform the nation.
We, as well as the Jews, have much need of reformation. Though like them we have not erected altars to idols, and worshipped them in high places; yet we have done that which was equally wicked. No nation ever increased as rapidly, as we have done, in wealth and respectability. Equally fast too did we increase in irreligion, pride, luxury and extravagance, and vice of every description. We abandoned the altars of Jehovah, and erected altars to riches, sensuality and vain ambition. In the high places of gaiety and vanity, grandeur and pomp we zealously worshipped the God of this world; instead of righteousness and judgment running down our streets in streams, riot, excess and dissipation, gaming and gambling, injustice, fraud and extortion, slander and calumny, lewdness and debauchery, profane swearing, blasphemy and Sabbath breaking, swept through our country, like torrents. Let us then break off all our sins by repentance. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Let us do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God” Let us like Hezekiah, be zealous for the worship, service and glory of the Lord. Be exhorted, my dear hearers, to reverence the name and attributes of Jehovah, to keep holy his Sabbaths, to observe his ordinances, to talk in his statutes and to keep his commandments. Let the whole nation, rulers and people, return unto the Lord by repentance and reformation: and then we may entertain the same confidence with Hezekiah, that “the Lord our God will be with us, to help us and to fight for us,” and to deliver us from our enemies.
To conclude, I exhort the defenders of our beloved country, not to be afraid nor dismayed for all the multitude that is against them. Quit yourselves like men. You fight against a proud, oppressive, unjust and antichristian government, a kingdom devoted to destruction. You fight for your independence, for civil and religious liberty, for rights purchased by the blood of your fathers. “You fight for your brethren, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your houses.” You defend the only land, where manly freedom is enjoyed, and where the gospel of peace and salvation, may, unshackled by political interference, “have free course, run and be glorified.” Should such men as you flee! Heaven forbid it. Your beloved country calls. Bravely rally round its standard. Gird on your harness, and put it not off, till you have put to flight your proud enemies—till you have retrieved the honor of your country, re-established your glorious independence, and have obtained an honorable peace. And trusting that our nation, will this day, humble themselves before God, repent of their national and individual sins, and hereafter turn from their evil ways. I would not close this discourse in the animating language of my text. Be strong and courageous, be not dismayed for all the multitude of your enemies, for there be more with us, than with them. With them is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles. And to him will we ascribe all the glory. Amen.
If it be objected to this discourse, that it has a greater tendency to exalt than to humble the pride of the nation, and is therefore unsuitable to the occasion: The author replies, that if declaring to an individual, that his salvation depends upon God’s “working in him to will and to do,” has a tendency to increase his pride; then teaching a nation that their safety depends upon the help of the Lord, will tend to exalt their pride. To an attentive reader it will plainly appear, that the discourse is calculated to shew the importance of having just grounds for confidence in divine protection and assistance, and that whenever this nation has been successful in the present war, they should give the glory to the Lord of hosts.
1. Antichristian means opposed to Christ, or to the propagation of the Christian religion in its simplicity and purity. To constitute a government then antichristian, it is not necessary that it be subject to the Pope, who is emphatically called antichrist. The reformation of England, therefore, from popery, does not free her from the charge of being antichristian. It only frees her from the charge of antichristian papacy. It is doubted however, by some, whether her reformation has been great enough to free her even from this charge. The union of church and state, it is supposed, bears some resemblance to a mark of the beast. When, therefore, the author of this discourse calls the government of England antichristian, he does not mean that it is in no degree reformed from popery, or that its prince, who is the head of the church, is emphatically the antichrist. He is please too, to find, that the Episcopal church in this country, tho’ they trace their origin to the church of England, do not contemplate her as the origin of their church in her established form, as connected with the civil government, and supported by it. The following is an extract from a sermon delivered by Bishop Hobart at the opening of the General Convention, May 18, 1814. “In boasting of our origin from the church of England, the preacher does not contemplate her as enriched with secular wealth, adorned with secular honors, or defended by the secular arm. Of the policy of this union of the civil and ecclesiastical authority, so that the latter in exchange for the wealth and patronage of the former, relinquishes a portion of her legitimate spiritual powers, and is in danger of being viewed as the mere creature of human institution, and of being made the engine of state policy, there have been sound churchmen, even of her own communion, who have entertained serious doubts.
Nor is the church of England contemplated in connection with the character or conduct of the government or nation where she is established, concerning which, wise and good men (and within the knowledge of him, who addresses you,) correct and exemplary churchmen entertain very different opinions; and your preacher would deprecate as unsound in principle and most impolitic in its results, any connection of our church, as a religious communion, with the principles and views of political parties.
Nor does he contemplate the church of England in that particular organization of her government, and those local ecclesiastical appendages, which involve no essential principle of church order. But in boasting our origin from the church of England, he views her merely as a spiritual society, possessing the faith, the order, and the worship, which were the characteristics and the glory of the primitive ages of the church.”
The author of this discourse will not therefore in his strictures on the British government, be considered as even insinuating any reflections against the Episcopal church in this country. His strictures refer only to the establishment. And if the intimation, just quoted, (viz. that the church in consequence of the establishment “relinquishes a portion of her legitimate spiritual power”) be correct, the establishment must be antichristian; for it is certainly contrary to the authority given by Christ to his church. To her and her officers, and to them alone, without any civil connection, “the keys of the kingdom are given.” But Bishop Hobart declares that his church does not trace its origin to the established church of England, or which is the same thing to her “enriched with secular wealth, adorned with secular honors, or defended by the secular arm, or in that particular organization of her government and local ecclesiastical appendages.” Of a church of England without these the author of this discourse has never heard. Divest the church in England of these and it is no longer (appellatively) the church of England. It has lost its primary essential mode. Why is it called the church of England? Certainly not as “merely a spiritual society,” but because it is established by the government of England. Since then the Bishop has chosen for their origin, a church, of which the author of this discourse has never heard, he cannot be considered as reflecting even against the origin of the Episcopal church in this country.
3. This diabolical tribunal, says a late writer, takes cognizance of heresy, Judaism, Mahometanism, sodomy, and polygamy: and the people stand in so much fear of it, that parents deliver up their children, husbands their wives, and masters their servants to its officers, without daring in the least to murmur. The prisoners are kept for a long time, till they themselves turn their own accusers, and declare the cause of their imprisonment; for they are neither told their crime, nor confronted with witnesses. As soon as they are imprisoned, their friends go into mourning and speak of them as dead, not daring to solicit their pardon, lest they should be brought in as accomplices. When there is no shadow of proof against the pretended criminal, he is discharged after suffering the most cruel tortures, a tedious and dreadful imprisonment and the loss of the greatest part of his property. Those, that are condemned suffer the most excruciating death. They are placed at the top of a post twelve feet high. Their faces are first severely scorched and burned by the application of ignited combustibles. A fire is then kindled under them and they are rather roasted, than burned to death. There cannot be a more lamentable spectacle. The sufferers continually cry out, while they are able; pity for the love of God; pity for the love of God.
Since preaching the sermon the author has ascertained from good authority, that the society of Jesuits is also revived. The plan of this society is as effectual, as any invention of infernal wisdom can be, for the support of popish antichrist, and the destruction of the peace, safety and happiness of all who refuse to do homage to the beast. Every member of it takes a vow of implicit obedience to the Pope. They associate with all ranks, and assume all characters, that they may ascertain the intentions and views of all. They oppose every thing, that favors toleration in religion, and consequently Protestantism; and encourage and support, with the utmost zeal, every thing, that favors ecclesiastical and civil persecution. Of all societies, that ever was formed, this excels in intrigue, multiplicity of schemes, indefatigable zeal and unwearied diligence. In consequence of the baleful effects, which were discovered to result from this order, the different powers in Europe, one after another, expelled its members from their several kingdoms, and at length the Pope himself totally suppressed and abolished it.
4. Or which is the same thing; he swears “that he will to the utmost of his power, maintain the protestant reformed religion established by the law.” See, form of the oath, Blackstone’s Com. Vol. I, page 235. Protestant religion is so called because it protests against popery. The one therefore cannot exist, except to the demolition of the other.