Ezra Stiles (1727 - 1795) was born in New Haven, Connecticut and became an illustrious influential American Congregational clergyman and educator. Stiles was educated at Yale during the Great Awakening. He was ordained in 1749. He tutored students until he resigned his post as a minister in 1755. Afterward, he chose to study law and eventually practiced law in New Haven, Connecticut.
Stiles was fascinated with Benjamin Franklin's scientific research concerning electricity. Stiles actually conducted his first electrical experiments in New England and in 1775, he became a close personal friend with Franklin the illustrious scientist of Philadelphia. He became the pastor of a Newport Rhode Island church in 1756 where he faithfully conducted his religious duties as a shepherd tending his flock. Stiles chose to continue his studies in Science intensively while corresponding with savants with whom he became acquainted.
Ezra Stiles became the founder of Rhode Island College in 1763 which is now Brown University.
His congregation dispersed when Britich troops captured Newport Rhode Island. He chose to travel to Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1777. In 1778, the following year, he received an appointment to the post of President of Yale College. Ezra Stiles continued to hold the position until his death in 1795. While at Yale, he taught ecclesiastical history and gave lectures on astronomy and philosophy. Reverend Ezra Stiles received the honored reputation of a proficient scholar unequaled throughout the English colonies in the colonial era.
In 1790, he was honored to become the president of the first society for the abolition of slavery in Connecticut.
As President of Yale College, he delivered this major Election Address on May 8, 1783. The title of the address is "The United States Elevated to Glory and Honor."
The Election Address was delivered before Governor Jonathan Trumbull and the General Assembly of Connecticut.
At a GENERAL ASSEMBLY of the Governor and Company of the State of CONNECTICUT, holden at Hartford on the second Thursday of May, Anno Dom. 1783.
ORDERED, That ROGER SHERMAN, Esq; and Captain HENRY DAGGETT, return the Thanks of this Assembly, to the Reverend Doctor EZRA STILES, for his Sermon delivered before the Assembly, on the 8th instant; and desire a copy thereof, that it may be printed.
A true copy of Record, Examined by GEORGE WYLLYS, Sec’ry.
And to make thee high above all nations, which He hath made in praise, and in name, and in honor; and that thou mayest be an holy people unto the Lord thy God.
Taught by the omniscient Deity, Moses foresaw and predicted the capital events relative to Israel, through the successive changes of depression and glory, until their final elevation to the first dignity and eminence among the empires of the world. These events have been so ordered as to become a display of retribution and sovereignty; for while the good and evil, hitherto felt by this people, have been dispensed in the way of exact national retribution, their ultimate glory and honor will be of the Divine sovereignty, with a not for your sakes, do I this, saith the Lord, be it known unto you – but for mine holy name’s sake.
HOWEVER IT MAY BE DOUBTED, WHETHER POLITICAL COMMUNITIES ARE REWARDED AND PUNISHED IN THIS WORLD ONLY; AND WHETHER THE PROSPERITY AND DECLINE OF OTHER empires have corresponded with their moral state, as to virtue and vice: yet the history of the Hebrew Theocracy shows, that the secular welfare of God’s ancient people depended upon their virtue, their religion, their observance of that holy covenant, which Israel entered into with God, on the plains at the foot of Nebo on the other side Jordan. Here Moses, the man of God, assembled three million of people, the number of the United States, recapitulated and gave them a second publication of the sacred jural institute, delivered thirty-eight years before, with the most awful solemnity at Mount Sinai. A
Law dictated with sovereign authority by the Most High to a people, a world, a universe, becomes of invincible force and obligation without any reference to the consent of the governed: - it is obligatory for three reasons, viz. its original justice and unerring equity, the omnipotent Authority by which it is enforced, and the sanctions of rewards and punishments. But in the case of Israel, He condescended to a mutual covenant; and by the hand of Moses lead His people to avouch the Lord Jehovah to be their God, and in the most public and explicit manner voluntarily to engage and covenant with God to keep and obey His Law. Thereupon this great prophet, whom God had raised up for so solemn a transaction, declared in the name of the Lord, that the Most High avouched, acknowledged and root them for a peculiar people to Himself; promising to be their God and Protector, and upon their obedience, to make them prosperous and happy. Deut. xxix.10 & 14. Chapter xxx.9 & 19. He foresaw indeed their rejection of god, and predicted the judicial chastisement of apostasy; a chastisement involving the righteous with the wicked. But as well to comfort and support the righteous in every age and under every calamity, as to make His power known among all nations, God determined that a remnant should be saved. Whence Moses and the Prophets, by Divine direction, interspersed their writings with promises, that, when the ends of God’s moral government should be answered in a series of national punishments, inflicted for a succession of ages, He would by His irresistible power and sovereign grace, subdue the hearts of His people to a free, willing joyful obedience; turn their captivity; - recover and gather them from all the nations whether the Lord had scattered them in His fierce anger – bring them into the land which their fathers possessed – and multiply them above their fathers – and rejoice over them for good, as He rejoiced over their fathers. Deut. xxx.3. Then the words of Moses, hitherto accomplished, but in part, will be literally fulfilled; when this branch of the posterity of Abraham shall be nationally collected, land become a very distinguished and glorious people, under the great Messiah, the Prince of Peace. He will then make them high above all nations which He hath made in praise, and in name, and in honor, and they shall become a holy people unto the Lord their God.
I shall enlarge no further upon the primary sense and literal accomplishment of this and numerous other prophecies respecting both Jews and Gentiles, in the latter day glory of the church. For I have assumed the text, only as introductory to a discourse upon the political welfare of God’s American Israel; and as allusively prophetic of the future prosperity and splendor of the United States. We may then consider,
I. What reason we have to expect that, by the blessing of God, these States may prosper and flourish into a great American Republic; and ascend into high and distinguished honor among the nations of the earth. To make thee high above all nations, which He hath made in praise, and in name, and in honor.
II. That our system of dominion and CIVIL POLITY would be imperfect, without the true RELIGION; or, that from the diffusion of virtue among the people of any community, would arise their greatest secular happiness: which will terminate in this conclusion, that Holiness ought to be the end of all civil government. That thou mayest be an holy people unto the Lord thy God.
I. The first of these propositions will divide itself into two branches, and lead us to show,
Wherein consists the true political welfare and prosperity, And what the civil administration necessary for the elevation and advancement, of a people to the highest secular glory.
2. The reasons rendering it probable that the United States will, by the ordering of Heaven, eventually Become this people. But I shall combine these together as I go along.
Dominion is founded in property; and resides where that is, whether in the hands of the few or many. The Dominion founded in the feudal tenure of estate, is suited to hold a conquered country in subjection, but is not adapted to the circumstances of free citizens. Large territorial property vested in individuals is pernicious to society. Civilians, in contemplating the principles of government, have judged superior and inferior partition of property necessary in order to preserve the subordination of society, and establish a permanent system of dominion. This makes the public defense the interest of a few landholders only.
A free tenure of lands, an equable distribution of property, enters into the foundation of a happy State: so far I mean, as that the body of the people may have it in their power, by industry, to become possessed of real freehold fee-simple estate. For connected with this will be a general spirit and principle of self-defense of our property, liberty, country. This has been singularly verified in New England, where we have realized the capital ideas of Harrington’s Oceana.
But numerous population, as well as industry, is necessary towards giving value to land, to judiciously partitioned territory. The public weal requires the encouragement of both. A very inconsiderable value arose from the sparse thin settlement of the American aboriginals; of whom there are not fifty thousand souls on this side the Mississippi. The protestant Europeans have generally bought the native right of soil, as far as they have settled, and paid the value tenfold; and are daily increasing the value of the remaining Indian territory a thousand fold: and in this manner we are a constant increasing revenue to the Sachems and original Lords of the soil. How much must the value of lands, reserved to the natives of North and South America, be increased to remaining Indians, by the inhabitation of two or three hundred millions of Europeans?
Heaven hath provided this country, not indeed derelict, but only partially settled, and consequently open, for the reception of a new enlargement of Japhet. Europe was settled by Japhet; America is settling from Europe: and perhaps this second enlargement bids fair to surpass the first: for we are to consider all the European settlements of America collectively as springing from, and transfused with the blood of Japhet. Already for ages has Europe arrived to a plenary, if not declining population of l00 millions: in two or three hundred years this second enlargement may cover America with three times that number, if the present ratio of increase continues with the enterprising spirit of Americans for colonization and removing out into the wilderness and settling new countries: and if Spain and Portugal should adopt that wise regulation respecting the connection of the sexes, which would give a spring to population within the tropics equal to that without. There may now be three or four millions of Whites, or Europeans, in North and South America: of which one half are in rapid increase, and the rest scarcely keeping their number good without supplies from the parent States. The number of French, Spaniards, Dutch and Portuguese, may be one million souls in all America; altho’ they have transfused their blood into twice the number of Indians. The United States may be two million souls. Whites, which have been an increase upon perhaps fewer than twenty or thirty thousand families from Europe. Can we contemplate their present, and anticipate their future increase, and not be struck with astonishment to find ourselves in the midst of the fulfillment of the prophecy of Noah? May we not see that we are the object which the Holy Ghost had in view four thousand years ago, when He inspired the venerable Patriarch with the visions respecting his posterity? How wonderful the accomplishments in distant and disconnected ages! While the principal increase was first in Europe, westward from Scythia, the residence of the family of Japhet, a branch of the original enlargement extending eastward into Asia, and spreading round to the southward of the Caspian, became the ancient kingdoms of Media and Persia: and thus he dwelt in the tents of Shem. Hence the singular and almost identical affinity between the Persic and Teutonic languages through all ages to the this day. And now the other part of the prophecy is fulfilling in a new enlargement, not in the tents of Shem, but in the country where Canaan shall be his servant, at least unto tribute.
I rather consider the American Indians as Canaanites of the expulsion of Joshua: some of which in Phoenician ships coasted the Mediterranean to its mouth as appears from an inscription which they left there. Procopius, who was born in Palestine, a master of the Phoenician and other oriental languages, and the historiographer of the great Belisarius, tells us, that at Tangier he saw and read an inscription upon two marble pillars there, in the ancient Phoenician (not the then modern Punic) letter, “We are they who have fled from the face of Joshua the robber, the son of Nun.” Bochart and Selden conjecture the very Punic itself. Plato, Aelian and Diodorus, Siculus, narrate voyages into the Atlantic Ocean thirty days west from the pillars of Hercules, to the island of Atlas. This inscription examined by Procopius, suggests that the Canaanites, in coasting along from Tangier, might soon get into the trade winds and be undesignedly wafted across the Atlantic, land in the tropical regions, and commence the settlements of Mexico and Peru. Another branch of the canaanitish expulsions might take the resolution of the ten tribes, and travel north-eastward to where never man dwelt, become the Tebuschi and Tungusi Tartars about Kamschatka and Yscukotskoinosin and north-east of Asia: thence, by water, passing over from island to island through the northern Archipelago to America, became the scattered Sachemdoms of these northern regions. It is now known that Asia is separated by water from America, as certainly appears from the Baron Dulfeldt’s voyage round the north of Europe into the Pacific Ocean, A.D. 1769. Amidst all the variety of national dialects, there reigns a similitude in their language, as there is also in complexion and beardless features, from Greenland to Delfeuge, and from the Antilles to Otaheite, which show them to be one people.
A few scattered accounts, collected and combined together, may lead us to two certain conclusions, l. That all the American Indians are one kind of people.
2. That they are the same as the people in the north-east of Asia.
An Asiatic territory, 3,000 miles long and l,500 wide, above the 40th degree of latitude, to the hyperborean ocean, contains only one million souls settled as our Indians; as appears from the numerations and estimates collected by M. Muller, and other Russian Academicians, in 1769. The Koreki, Jakubii and Tunguffis living on the eastern part of this territory next to America, are naturally almost beardless, like the Semoieds, in Siberia, the Ostiacs and Calmuks, as well as the American Indians: all these having also the same custom of plucking out the few hairs of very thin beards. They have more similar usage and fewer dissimilar ones, than the Arabians of the Koreish tribe and Jews who sprang from Abraham: or than those that subsist among the European nations, who sprang from one ancestor; or these Asiatic nations, which sprang from Shem. The portrait painter, Mr. Smibert, who accompanied Dr. Berkeley, then Dean of Derry and afterward Bishop of Cloyne, from Italy to America in 1728, was employed by the grand Duke of Tuscany, while at Florence, to paint two or three Siberian Tartars, presented to the Duke by the Czar of Russia. This Mr. Smibert, upon his landing at Narraganset-bay with Dr. Berkeley, instantly recognized the Indians here to be the same people as the Siberian Tartars whose pictures he had taken. Moravian Indians from Greenland and South America, have met those in our latitude at Bethlehem, and have been clearly perceived to be the same people. The kamschatdale Tartars have been carried over from Asia to America, and compared with our Indians, and found to be the same people. The Asiatic Tartars, from whom the American aboriginals derived, are distinct from and far less numerous, than the mongul and other Tartars which, for ages, under Tamerlane and other chieftains, have deluged and overran the southern ancient Asiatic empires. Attending to the rational and just deductions, from these and other disconnected data combined together, we may perceive, that all the Americans are one people – that they came hither certainly from the north-east of Asia; probably also from the Miditerranean; and is so that they are canaanities, tho’ arriving hither by different routs. The ocean current from the north of Saia might waft the beardless Samoiels or Tchuschi from the mouth of Jenesea or the Oby, around Nova Zemla to Greenland, and thence to Labrador, many ages after the refugees from Joshua might have colonized the tropical regions. Thus Providence might have ordered three divisions of the same people from different parts of the world, and perhaps is very distant ages, to meet together on this continent, or, “our Island,” as the six nations call it, to settle different parts of it, many ages before the present accession of Japhet, or the former visitations of Madoc, 1001, as well as the certain colonization from Norway A.D. 1001, as well as the christianizing of Greenland in the ninth century; not to mention the visit of still greater antiquity by the Phoenicians, who charged the Dighton rock and other rocks in Narragensett-bay with Punic inscriptions, remaining to this day. Which last I myself have repeatedly seen and taken off at large, as did Professor Sewall. He has lately transmitted a copy of this inscription to M. Gebelin of the Parisian Academy of Sciences, who, comparing them with the Punic paleography, judges them punic, and has interpreted them as denoting, that the ancient Carthagians once visited these distant regions.
Indians are numerous in the tropical regions, not so elsewhere. Baron la Honton, the last century, and Mr. Carver so lately as 1776 and 1777, traveled north-west beyond the sources of the Mississippi. From their observations it appears that the ratio of Indian population in the very heart of the continent, is similar to that on this side of the Mississippi. By an accurate numeration made in 1766, and returned into the plantation office in London, it appeared, that there were not forty thousand souls, Indians, from the Mississippi to the Atlantic, and from Florida to the Pole. According to Mr. Carver, there are about thirty, and certainly not forty Indian tribes, west of the Senecas, and six nation confederacy, and from the Mississippi and Ohio northward to Hudson’s bay, and from Niagara to the Lake of the Woods. The chiefs of all these speak the Chipeway language. And perhaps all the remaining territory north of New Spain, and even on this side the northern tropic, and north-westward to Asia, will not exhibit five times that number at highest.
Partly by actual numeration, and partly by estimate, the Indians of the Spanish dominions in America are considered as a million souls in New Spain, and a million and half in Peru, or two or three million souls in the whole. And perhaps this would fully comprehend those of Paraguay and the Portuguese provinces. In my opinion, great defalcation must be made from these numbers. The aboriginals have been injudiciously estimated at twenty millions: but I believe they never exceeded two or three million souls in all North and South America since the days of Columbus.
The European population so surpasses them already, that of whatever origin, they will eventually be, as the most of them have already become, servants unto Japhet – six hundred and twelve thousand Indians pay tribute in Peru. We are increasing with great rapidity; and the Indians, as well as the million Africans in America, are decreasing as rapidly. Both left to themselves, in this way diminishing, may gradually vanish: and thus an unrighteous SLAVERY may at length, in God’s good providence, be abolished and cease in this land of LIBERTY.
But to return; the population of this land will probably become very great; and Japhet become more numerous millions in America, than in Europe and Asia; and the two or three millions of the United States may equal the population of the oriental empires, which far surpasses that of Europe. There are reasons for believing that the English increase, will far surpass others; and that the diffusion of the United States will ultimately produce the general population of America. The northern provinces of China spread for ages, and at length deluged the southern with a very numerous and accumulated population. Proverbs xiv.28. In the multitude of people is the king’s honor.
But a multitude of people, even the two hundred million of the Chinese empire, cannot subsist without CIVIL GOVERNMENT. All the forms of civil polity have been tried by mankind, except one: and that seems to have been referred in Providence to be realized in America. Most of the states of all ages, in their originals, both as to policy, and property have been founded in rapacity, usurpation and injustice: so that in the contests recorded in history, the public right is a dubious question; it being rather certain that it belongs to neither of the contending parties: the military history of all nations, being but a description of military history of all nations, being but a description of the wars and invasions of the mutual robbers and devastators of the human race. The invasion of the lawless Macedonian who effected the dissolution of the medo-Persian empire, the widespread roman-conquests, the inundation of the Goths and Vandals, the descents of the Tartars on China, the triumphs of Tamerlane, Ulugh-beg, and Aurengzebe, and the widespread domination of the impostor of Mecca, with his successors the Caliphs and Mameluks down to Kouli-Kan, who dethroned his prince and plundered India of 200 millions sterling: - these, I say, with the new distribution of property and new erected policies, were all founded in unrighteousness, and tyrannical usurpation. The real interest of mankind and the public good has been generally overlooked. It has really been very indifferent to the great cause of RIGHT and LIBERTY, which of the belligerent powers prevailed, a Tangrolipix or a Mahomet, an Augustus or an Antony, a Scipio or a Hannibal, a Brennus or an Antiochus - tyranny being the sure portion of the plebeians, be the victory as it should happen. These things have led some every enlightened as well as serious minds to a fixed conclusion and judgment against the right and legality of all wars. In the simplicity of my judgment, I have for years been of this opinion, except as to the offensive wars of Israel, and defensive war of America. War in some instances, especially defensive, has been authorized by Heaven. The blessing given by Melchisidec to Abraham, upon his return from the slaughter of Chelderlaomer and the kings of the east, justified that holy patriarch. The war with Amelek, and the extirpation of the Canaanites by Joshua, were of God. The location of the respective territories to the first nations, was so of God, as to give them a Divine right defensively to resist the Nimrods and Ninus’s, the first invading tyrants of the ancient ages. The originally free and glorious republics of Greece, had a right from God, to withstand the haughty claims of the Assyrian empire, which they successfully resisted for ages, till the Roman power arose behind them, and at length prostrated their liberties.
But after the spirit of conquest had changed the first governments, all the succeeding ones have, in general proved one continued series of injustice, which has reigned in all countries for almost 4,000 hears. These have so changed property, laws, rights and liberties, that it has become impossible for the most sagacious civilians to decide whose is the abstract political right in national controversies – rather we know that none of them have any right. All original right is confounded and lost. We can only say that there still remains in the body of the people at large, the body of mankind of any and every generation, a POWER with which they are invested by the author of their being, to wrest government out of the hands of reigning tyrants, and originate NEW POLICIES, adapted to the conservation of liberty and promoting the public welfare. But what is the happiest form of civil government, is the great question. Almost all the polities may be reduced to hereditary dominion neither a MONARCHY or ARISTOCRACY, and these supported by a standing army. The Romans and Venetian senates were but an hereditary Aristocracy with an elective head. The senatorial succession is preserved independent of the people. True liberty is preserved in the Belgic and Helvetic republics, and among the nobles in the elective monarchy of Poland. For the rest of the world, the civil domination, though often wisely administered, is so modeled as to be beyond the control of those, for whose lend God instituted government. But a DEMOCRATICAL polity for millions, standing upon the broad basis of the people at large, amply charged with property, has not hitherto been exhibited.
Republics are democratical, aristocratical, or monarchial. Each of these forms admit of modifications both as to hereditation and powers, from absolute government up to perfect liberty. Monarchy might be so limited, one would think, as to be a happy form, especially if elective: but both monarchy and aristocracy, when they become hereditary, terminate in the prostration of liberty. The greater part of the governments on earth may be termed monarchical, aristocratics, or hereditary dominions, independent of the people. The nobles and nabobs being hereditary, will at first have great power, but the royal factions have not failed to intrigue this away from the nobles to the Prince: the assembly of even hereditary nobles, then become ciphers and nullities in dominion. The once glorious Cortes of Spain experienced this loss of power. It is next to an impossibility to tame a monarch; and few have ruled without ferocity. Scarcely shall we find, in royal dynasties, in long line of Princes, a few singularly good Sovereigns, a few Cyrus’s, Antonins, Alfreds, Boroihimes. Indeed, if we took over the present sovereigns of Europe, we behold, with pleasure, two young Princes, the EMPEROR, and the MONARCH of France, who seem to be raised up in providence to make their people and mankind happy. A Genganelli in the pontifical throne was a phoenix of ages, shone for his moment, and scarcely to be found again in the catalogue of a Platina: - We see enterprising, literary and heroic talents in a Frederick III, and wisdom in a Pontowski. I add no more – But when we contemplate the other European and Asiataic potentates, and especially of sovereigns of Dehli, Ispahaun, and Constantinople, one cannot but pity mankind, whose lot is to be governed by despots of small abilities, immersed and rioting in the splendor of a luxurious effeminacy. Nor could government proceed, were not the errors and desultory blunders of royalty frequently corrected by the circumspection of a Culao, a few sensible characters venerable for wisdom, called up among the stated councilors of Majesty.
Lord Bacon said, that monarchy had a platform in nature; and in truth monarchical ideas reign through the universe. A monarchy conducted with infinite wisdom and infinite benevolence, is the most perfect of all possible governments. The Most High hath delegated power and authority to subordinate monarchies or sole ruling powers, in limited districts, throughout the celestial hierarchy, and through the immensity of the intellectual world; but at the same time He hath delegated and imparted to them wisdom and goodness adequate to the purposes of dominion: and thence the government is, as it ought to be, absolute. But in a world, or region of the universe, when god has imparted to none either this superior power or adequate wisdom, beyond that fails to the common share of humanity, it is absurd to look for such qualities in one man; not even in the man Moses, who shared the government of Israel with the Senate of Seventy. Therefore, there is no foundation for monarchical government, from supposed hereditary superiority in knowledge. If it is said, that monarchs always have a council of state, consisting of the wisest personages, of whose wisdom they avail themselves in the government of empires; not to observe that this is a concession indicating a deficiency of knowledge in Princes, it may be asked, why not then, consign and repose government into the hands of the national council, where always resides the superiority of wisdom? The supposed advantage of having one Public Head for all to look up to, and to concenter the attention, obedience, and affection of subjects, and to consolidate the empire, will not counter-balance the evils of arbitrary despotism, and the usual want of wisdom in the sovereigns and potentates of the earth. For the hereditary successions in the dynasties of kings in the effeminate families of the great, seem to be marked and accursed by providence, with deficient wisdom. And where is the wisdom of consigning government into such hands? Why not much better, since we for once have our option or choice, to commit the direction of the republic to a Wittena-gemot, or an aristocratical council of wise men? Should we call forth and dignify some family, either from foreign nations or from among ourselves, and create a monarch, whether an hereditary Prince or Protector for life, and seat him in Supremacy at the head of Congress; soon, with insidious dexterity, would he intrigue and secure a venal majority, even of new and annual members; and by diffusing a complicated and variously modified influence, pursue an accretion of power till he became absolute.
The celebrated historian, Mrs. Catharine Macaulay, that ornament of the republic of letters, and the female Livy of the age, observes, “The man who holds supreme power for life, will have a great number of friends and adherents, who are attached by interest to his interest, and who will wish for continuance of power in the same family. This creates the worst of factions, a government faction, in the state. The desire of securing to ourselves a particular unshared privilege, is the rankest vice which infests humanity; and a Protector for life, instead of devoting his time and understanding to the great cares of government, with the scheming and plotting to secure the power after his death to his children, if he has any, if not, to the nearest of his kin. This principle in government has been productive of such bloodshed and oppression, that it has inclined politicians to give the preference to hereditary rather than elective monarchies; and as the lesser evil to consign the government of society to increasing and at length unlimited sway of one family, whether the individuals of it should be idiots or madmen. It is an uncontroverted fact, that supreme power never can continue long in one family, without becoming unlimited.”
(Mrs. Macaulay’s letter to the author, 1774).
We stand a better chance with ARISTOCRACY, whether hereditary or elective, than with monarchy. An unsystematical democracy, and an absolute monarchy, are equally detestable, the terror to all around them. An elective aristocracy is preferable for America, as it is rather to be a council of nations (agreeable to the humane, liberal and grand ideas of Henry IV and the patriot Sully) than a body in which resides authoritative sovereignty; for there is no real cession of dominion, no surrender or transfer of sovereignty, to the national council, as each state in the confederacy is an independent sovereignty.
In justice to human society, it may perhaps be said of almost all the polities and civil institutions in the world, however imperfect, that they have been founded in and carried on with very considerable wisdom. They must have been generally well administered; I say generally, otherwise government could not proceed. This may be said even of those governments, which carry great defects, and the seeds of self-destruction and ruin in their constitution – for even an Ottoman must establish and prescribe to himself a national constitution, a system of general laws and dominion. But the abstract rationale of perfect civil government, remains still hidden among politics, having hitherto baffled the investigation of the best writers on government, the ablest politicians, and the sagest civilians. A well ordered DEMOCRATICAL ARISTOCRACY, standing upon the annual election of the people, and revocable at pleasure, is the polity which combines the UNITED STATES: and from the nature of man, and the comparison of ages, I believe it will approve itself the most equitable, liberal, and perfect.
With the peoples, especially a people seized of property, resides the aggregate of original power. They cannot however assemble from the territory of an empire, and must therefore, if they have any share in government, represent themselves by delegation. This constitutes one order in legislature and sovereignty. It is a question whether there should be any other. To resolve which it may be considered, that each of these delegates or representatives, will be faithful conservators of local interests, but have no interest in attending extensively to the public, further than where all particular local interests are affected in common with that which one delegate represents in particular.
It should seem then that the nature of society dictates another, a higher Branch, whose superiority arises from its being the interested and natural conservator of the universal interest. This will be a senatorial order, standing, not on local, but a general election of the whole body of the people. Let a bill, or law, be read in the one branch or the other: every one instantly thinks how it will affect his constituents. If his constituents are those of one small district only, they will be his first care; if the people at large, their general or universal interest will be his first care, the first object of his faithful attention. If a senator, as in Delaware, stands on the election of only the same district as a deputy, the upper house is only a repetition of the lower: - if on the election of several counties combined, as in Virginia, each member of the upper house stands and feels himself charged with a greater and more extensive care, than a member of the house of burgesses: not that it is the duty of each deputy to attend to the general interest. Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Jersey, have each a senate or legislature of one order only; for although in Jersey it seemeth otherwise, yet that interest which will determine a vote in one, will determine it in both houses. The same is true of the two Carolinas.
The constitutions of Maryland and New York, are founded in higher wisdom. The polity of Massachusetts is excellent and truly grand. It retains indeed some of the shadows of royalty, which may give dignity, but never operate in essential mischief, in the hands of a chief magistrate, who is annually elective by the people at large. But Connecticut and Rhode Island have originally realized the most perfect polity as to a legislature: any emendation and improvements may be made by the assembly with respect to the establishment of the law courts, and a constitutional privy council, which in all future time will be necessary to attend the chief magistrate in the ordinary civil administration. These things are remedied in Virginia, whose constitution seems to be imperfect in but one thing – its twenty-four senators, though elected from local districts, should be elected by the people at large, being men of such public eminence, and of merit so illustrious, as to be known not to a few only, but to all the tribes throughout the state. It establishes judges, provides perfectly for legislation and law courts, for the militia, and for that continual administration of government in absence of assemblies, and while the judiciary tribunals are sitting, which must reside in and be uninterruptedly exercised at the head of sovereignty in every civil polity.
It gives me pleasure to find, that public LIBERTY is effectually secured, in each and all the policies of the United States, though somewhat differently modeled. Not only the polity or exterior system of government, but the laws and interior regulations of each state, are already excellent, surpassing the institutions of Lycurgus or Plato; and by the annual appeals to the public, a power is reserved to the people, to remedy any corruptions or errors in government. And if even the people should sometimes err, yet each assembly of the states, and the body of the people, always embosom wisdom sufficient to correct themselves: so that a political mischief cannot be durable. Herein we far surpass any states on earth. We can correct ourselves if in the wrong. The Belgic states in their federal capacity, are untied by a perfect system, constituted by that great prince WILLIAM of Nassau, and the compatriots of that age: but they left the interior government of the jural tribunals, cities, and provinces, as despotic and arbitrary as they found them. So the elective monarchical republic of Poland, is an excellent constitution for the nobles, but leaves despotism and tyranny, the portion and hard fate of the plebeians, beyond what is to be found in any part of Europe. Not so the American states: their interior as well as exterior civil and jural politics are so nearly perfect, that the rights of individuals, even to numerous millions, are guarded and secured.
The crown and glory of our confederacy is the council of the GENERAL CONGRESS, standing on the annual election of the united respective states, and revocable at pleasure. This lays the foundation of a permanent union in the American Republic, which may at length convince the world, that of all the policies to be found on earth, not excepting the very excellent one of the Chinese Empire, the most perfect one has been invented and realized in America.
If in the multitude of devices for improving and carrying our policy to greater perfection, and a more permanent and efficacious government, if, I say, some elevated geniuses should go into the ideals of monarchy, whether hereditary or elective; and others think of a partition of the united states into three or four separate independent confederacies; perhaps upon discussing the subject calmly and thoroughly, and find that the policy which will at last take place, must stand on plebeian election; they may at length be satisfied, that the die is already cast, and the policy has taken its complexion for ages to come. Thus the NINE BOWLS engraved with the map of dominion, established the policy of the Chinese Empire for near twenty ages. The ancient division of the empire subsisted by means of these symbols of dominion, which passed in procession to the nine principal mandarins or supreme governments under imperial sovereignty; and this for the long tract from their first institution by the Emperor Yu, who reigned two thousand two hundred years before Christ, to Chey-Lie-Vang, who was contemporary with the great philosopher Menzius three hundred years before Christ. So that symbol of union the American flag, with it, increasing stripes and stars may have an equally combining efficacy for ages. The senatorial constitution and consulate of the Roman Empire lasted from Tarquin to Cesar. The pragmatic sanction has probably secured the imperial succession in the house of Austria for ages. The medo-persian and alexandrine empires, and that of Timur Beg, who once reigned from Smyrna to the Indus, were for obvious reasons of short and transitory duration: but that of the Assyrian endured without mutation through a tract of one thousand three hundred years from Semiramis to Sandanapolus. Nor was the policy of Egypt overthrown for a longer period from the days of Metzraim till the time of Cambyses and Amasis. Whatever mutations may arise in the United States, perhaps hereditary monarchy and a standing army will be the last.
Besides a happy policy as to civil government, it is necessary to institute a system of LAW and JURISPRUDENCE founded in justice, equity and public right. The American codes of law and the lex non scripta, the senatus consulta and the common law, are already advance to great perfection – far less complicated and perplexed than the jural systems of Europe; where reigns a mixture of Roman, Gothic, Teutonic, Salic, Saxon, Norman and other local or municipal law, controlled or innovated and confused by subsequent royal edicts and imperial institutions: super-inducing the same mutation, as did the imperatorial Decrees of the Caesars upon the ancient jus civile or Roman law.A depuration from all these will take place in America, and our communication with all the world will enable us to bring home the most excellent principles of law and right, to be found in every kingdom and empire on earth. These being adopted here, may advance our systems of jurisprudence to the highest purity and perfection: - especially if hereafter some FLETA, BRACTON, COKE, some great law genius should arise, and with vast erudition, and with the learned sagacity of a Trebonianus, reduce and digest all into one great jural system.
But the best laws will be of the validity, unless the tribunals be filled with JUDGES of independent sentiment, vast law knowledge, and of an integrity beyond the possibility of corruption. Even a Bacon should fall from his highest honors, the moment he tastes the forbidden fruit. Such infamy and tremendous punishment should be connected with tribunal bribery, that a Judge should be struck into the horror of an earthquake, at the very thoughts of corruption. The legislatures have the institution and revocation of law: and the Judges in their decisions are to be sacredly governed by the laws of the land. Most of the states have judged it necessary, in order to keep the supreme law courts uninfluenced and uncorrupted tribunals, that the Judges be honorably supported, and be fixed in office quamdiu se bene gesserint…
Already does the new constellation of the United States begin to realize this glory. It has already risen to an acknowledged sovereignty among the republics and kingdoms of the world. And we have reason to hope, and I believe to expect, that God has still greater blessings in store, for this vine which His own right hand hath planted, to make us high among the nations in praise, and in name, and in honor. The reasons are very numerous, weighty, and conclusive.
In our civil constitutions, those impediments are removed, which obstruct the progress of society towards perfection: such, for instance, as respect the tenure of estates, and arbitrary government. The vassalage of dependant tenures, the tokens of ancient conquests by Goths and Tartars, still remain all over Asia and Europe. In this respect, as well as others, the world begins to open its eyes. One grand experiment in particular has lately been made. The present Empress of Russia, by granting lands in freehold, in her vast wildernesses of volkouskile, together with religious liberty, has allured and already draughted from Poland and Germany a colonization of six hundred thousand souls in six years only, from 1762 to 1768.
Liberty, civil and religious, has sweet and attractive charms. The enjoyment of this, with property, has filled the English settlers in America with a most amazing spirit, which has operated, and still will operate with great energy. Never before has the experiment been so effectually tried, of every man’s reaping the fruits of his labor, and feeling his share in the aggregate system of power. The ancient republics did not stand on the people at large; and therefore no example or precedent can be taken from them. Even men of arbitrary principles will be obliged, if they would figure in these states, to assume the patriot so long, that they will at length become charmed with the sweets of liberty.
Our degree of population is such as to give us reason to expect that this will become a great people. It is probable that within a century from our independence the sun will shine on fifty million of inhabitants in the United States. This will be a great, a very great nation, nearly equal to half Europe. Already has our colonization extended down the Ohio and to Koskaseah on the Mississippi. And if the present ratio of increase should be rather diminished in four of the other settlements, yet an accelerated multiplication will attend our general propagation, and overspread the whole territory westward for ages. So that before the millennium, the English settlements in America, may become more numerous millions, than that greatest dominion on earth, the Chinese Empire. Should this prove a future fact, how applicable would be the text, when the Lord shall have made his American Israel, high above all nations which He hath made, in numbers, and in praise, and in name, and in honor.
I am sensible some will consider thee as visionary utopian ideas. And so they would have judged, had they lived in the apostolic age and been told, that by the time of Constantine, the empire would have become Christian. As visionary that the twenty thousand souls which first settled New England, should be multiplied to near a million in a century and a half. As visionary that the Ottoman Empire must fall by the Russian. As visionary to the catholics the certain downfall of the pontificate. As utopian would it have been to the loyalists, at the battle of Lexington, that in less than eight years, the independence and sovereignty of the Untied States, should be acknowledged by four European sovereignties, one of which should be Britain herself. How wonderful the revolutions, the events of Providence! We live in an age of wonders: we have lived an age in a few years: we have seen more wonders accomplished in eight years, than are usually unfolded in a century.
God be thanked, we have lived to see peace restored in this bleeding land, at least a general cessation of hostilities among the belligerent powers. And on this occasion does it not become us to reflect, how wonderful, how gracious, how glorious, has been the good hand of our God upon us, in carrying us through so tremendous a warfare!
We have sustained a force brought against us, which might have made any empire on earth to tremble – and yet our bow has abode in strength; and having obtained help of God, we continue unto this day. Forced unto the last solemn appeal, America watched for the first blood: this was shed by Britons on the 19th of April, 1775; which instantly sprung an army of 20,000 into spontaneous existence, with the enterprising and daring, if imprudent, resolution of entering Boston, and forceably disburdening it of its bloody legions. Every patriot trembled till we had proved our armour, till it could be seen, whether this hasty concourse was susceptible of arrangement, and could face the enemy with firmness. They early gave us the decided proof of this, in the memorable battle of Bunker Hill. (June 17, 1775). We were satisfied. This instantly convinced us, and for the first time convinced Britons themselves, that Americans both would and could fight with great effect. Whereupon Congress put at the head of this spirited army, the only man, on whom the eyes of all Israel were placed. Posterity, I apprehend, and the world itself, inconsiderate and incredulous as they may be of the dominion of Heaven, will yet do so much justice to the Divine moral government, as to acknowledge, that this American JOSHUA was raised up by God, and divinely formed by a peculiar influence of the Sovereign of the Universe, for the great work of leading the armies of this American Joseph (now separated from his brethren), and conducting this people through the severe, the arduous conflict, to liberty and independence. Surprising was it with what instant celerity men ascended and rose into generals, and officers of every subordination; formed chiefly by the preparatory discipline of only the preceding year 1774; when the ardor and spirit of military discipline was by Heaven, and without concert, sent through the continent like lightning. Surprising was it, how soon the army was organized, took its formation, and rose into firm system and impregnable arrangement.
To think of withstanding and encountering Britain by land was bold, and much more bold land daring, by sea: yet we immediately began a navy, and built ships of war with an unexampled expedition. It is presumed never was a 35 gun ship before built quicker than that will built, noble ship the Raleigh, which was finished from the keep and equipped for sea in a few months. Soon had we got, though small, a very gallant initial navy, which fought gallantly; and wanted nothing but numbers of ships, for successful operations against that superior naval force before which we fell. We have, however, exhibited proof to posterity and the world, that a powerful navy may be originated, built and equipped for service, in a much shorter period than was before imagined. The British navy has been many centuries growing; and France, Holland, the Baltic powers, or any of the powers of this age, in twenty years, may build navies of equal magnitude, if necessary for dominion, commerce, or ornament.
A variety of success and defeat hath attended our warfare both by sea and land. In our lowest and most dangerous estate in 1776 and 1777, we sustained ourselves against the British army of sixty thousand troops commanded by Howe, Burgoyne, and Clinton, and other the ablest generals Britain could procure throughout Europe, with a naval force of 22,000 seamen in above eighty British men of war. (To lose America, has cost Britain the loss of more than a hundred thousand men, and a hundred and twenty millions sterling in money. Mr. Thomas Pitt, from authentic documents, lately asserted in Parliament, that only the first five years of this war had cost Britain five millions more, than all the wars of the last age, including the splendid victories of the Duke of Marlborough.) These generals we sent hone one after another, conquered, defeated, and convinced of the impossibility of subduing America. While oppressed by the heavy weight of this combined force, Heaven inspired us with resolution to cut the Gordian knot; when the die was cast irrevocable in the glorious act of INDEPENDENCE. This was sealed and confirmed by God Almighty in the victory of General WASHINGTON at Trenton, and in the surprising movement and battle of Princeton; by which astonishing effort of generalship, General Howe and the whole British army, in elated confidence and in open-mouthed march for Philadelphia, was instantly stopped, remanded back, and cooped up for a shivering winter in the little borough of Brunswick. Thus God turned the battle to the gate; and this gave a finishing to the foundation of the American Republic. This with the Burgoynade at Saratoga by General GATES; and the glorious victory over the Earl of CORNWALLIS in Virginia, together with the memorable victory of Eutaw Springs, and the triumphant recovery of the southern states by General GREENE, are among the most heroic acts, and brilliant achievements, which have decided the fate of America. And who does not see the indubitable interposition and energetic influence of Divine Providence in these great and illustrious events? Who but a WASHINGTON, inspired by Heaven, could have struck out the great movement and manoeuvre of Princeton? To whom but the Ruler of the winds shall be ascribe it, that the British reinforcement, in the summer of 1777, was delayed on the ocean three months by contrary winds, until it was too late for the conflagrating General CLINTON to raise the siege of Saratoga? What but a Providential miracle detected the conspiracy of Arnold, even in the critical moment of the execution of that infernal plat, in which the body of the American army, then at West Point, with his excellency General WASHINGTON himself, were to have been rendered into the hands of the enemy! Doubtless inspired by the Supreme Illuminator of great minds, were the joint councils of a Washington and a Rochambeau, in that grand effort of generalship, with which they deceived and astonished a Clinton, and eluded his vigilance in their transit by New York, and rapid marches for Virginia. Was it not of God, that both the navy and army should enter the Chesapeak at the same time? Who but God could have ordained the critical arrival of the gallic fleet, so as to prevent and defeat the British, and assist and cooperate with the combined armies in the siege and reduction of Yorktown? Should we not ever admire and ascribe to a Supreme energy, the wise and firm generalship displayed by General GREENE, when (leaving the active, roving Cornwallis to pursue his helter-skelter ill-fated march into Virginia), he coolly and steadily went onwards, and deliberately, judiciously, and heroically, recovered the Carolinas and the southern states?
How rare have been the defections and apostacies of our capital characters, though tempted with all the charms of gold, titles, and nobility? Whence is it that so few of our army have deserted to the enemy? Whence that our brave sailors have chosen the horrors of prison ships and death rather than to fight against their country? Whence the men of every rank have so generally felt an spoken alike as if the cords of life struck unison through the continent? What but a miracle has preserved the union of the states, the purity of congress, and the unshaken patriotism of even general assembly? It is God who has raised up for us a great and powerful ally, an ally which sent us a chosen army and a naval force; who sent us a ROCHAMBEAU and a CHATELLUX, and other characters of the first military merit and eminence, to fight side by side with a WASHINGTON and a LINCOLN, and the intrepid Americans, in the line and battle of Yorktown. It is God, who so ordered the balancing interests of nations, as to produce an irresistible motive in the European maritime powers, to take our part. Hence the recognition of our independence by Spain and Holland, as well as France. Britain ought to have foreseen that it must have given joy to surrounding nations, tired and wearied out with the insolence and haughtiness of her domineering flag, a flag which spreads terror through the oceans of the globe, to behold the era when their forces should have arrived to such maturity and strength, that a junction of national navies, would produce an aggregate force, adequate to the humiliation of Britain and her gallant and lofty navy. Nor could they resist the operation of this motive, prompting them to assist in the cutting off of a member, with which the growing aggrandizement and power of Britain were connected; as thus she would be disarmed of terror, and they should be at rest. If Britain doth not learn wisdom by these events, and disclaim the sovereignty of the ocean, the junction of national navies will settle the point for her, in less than half a century. So wonderfully does Divine Providence order the time and coincidence of the public national motives, cooperating in effecting great public events and revolutions.
But the time would fail me to recount the wonder-working Providence of God, in the events of this war. Let these serve as a specimen; and lead us to hope that God will not forsake this people; for whom He has done such marvelous things (whereof we are glad and rejoice this day) having at length brought us to the dawn of Peace.
O PEACE! Thou welcome guest! All hail, thou heavenly visitant! Calm the tumult of nations, and wave thy balmy wing to perpetuity over this region of liberty. Let there be a tranquil period for the unmolested accomplishment of the magnalia dei, the great events in God’s moral government, designed from eternal ages to be displayed in their ends of the earth.
And here I beg leave to congratulate my country, upon the termination of this cruel and unnatural war, the cessation of hostilities, and the prospect of PEACE. May this great event excite and elevate our first, our highest acknowledgements to the sovereign monarch of universal nature, to the Supreme Disposer and Controller of all events; let this our pious, sincere and devout gratitude ascend in one general effusion of heartfelt praise and hallelujah, in one united cloud of incense, even the incense of universal joy and thanksgiving to God from the collective body of the United States.
And while we render our supreme honors to the Most High, the god of armies; let us recollect, with affectionate honor, the bold and brave sons of freedom, who willingly offered themselves, and bled in the defense of their country. Our fellow-citizens, the officers and soldiers of the PATRIOT ARMY, WHO, WITH THE Manlys, the Jones’s and other gallant commanders and brave seamen of the American navy, have heroically fought the war by sea and by land, merit of their once bleeding but now triumphant country, laurels, crowns, rewards and the highest honor. Never was the profession of arms used with more glory, in a better cause, since the days of JOSHUA, the son of Nun.
O WASHINGTON! How do I love thy name! So have I often adored and blessed thy God, for creating and forming thee, the great ornament of humankind! Upheld and protected by the Omnipotent, by the Lords of Hosts, thou hast been sustained and carried through one of the most arduous and most important wars in all history. If the world and posterity will, with admiration, contemplate thy deliberate, cool, and stable judgment, thy virtue, they valour and heroic achievements, as far surpassing those of a Cyrus, whom the world loved and adored. The sound of thy fame shall go out into all the earth, and extend to distant ages. Thou hast convinced the work, the beauty of virtue – for in thee this beauty shines with distinguished lustre. Those who would not recognize any beauty in virtue in the world beside, will yet reverence it in thee. There is a glory in thy disinterested benevolence, which the greatest characters would purchase, if possible, at the expense of worlds, and which may excite their emulation, but cannot be felt by the VENAL GREAT, who think everything, even virtue and true glory, may be bought and sold, and trace our every action to motives originating in self.
Find virtue local, all relation scorn
See all in self, and but for self be born.
But thou, O WASHINGTON, forgottest thyself when thou lovedst thy bleeding country. Not all the gold of ophir, nor a world filled with rubies and diamonds, could effect or purchase the sublime and noble feelings of thine heart in that single self-moved act, when thou renouncedst the REWARDS OF GENERALSHIP, and heroically tookest upon thyself the dangerous, as well as arduous office of our GENERALISSIMO – the this at a solemn moment, when thou didst deliberately cast the die, for the dubious, the very dubious alternative of a gibbet or a TRIUMPHAL ARCH. But, beloved, enshielded and blessed by he great MELCHISIDEC, the king of righteousness, as well as peace, thou hast triumphed gloriously. Such as been they military wisdom in the struggles of this arduous conflict, such the noble rectitude, amiableness and magnitude of thy character, something is there so singularly glorious and venerable thrown by Heaven about thee, that not only does thy country love thee, but our very enemies stop the madness of their fire in full valley, stop the illiberality of their stands, at thy name, as if rebuked from Heaven, with a touch not mine anointed, and do my HERO no harm. Thy fame is of sweeter perfume than Arabian spices in the gardens of Persia. A Baron de Steuben shall waft its fragrance to the monarch of Prussia: a Marquis de la Fayette shall waft it to a far greater monarch, and diffuse thy renown throughout Europe: (The author does not doubt but that the capital events in the mediatorial kingdom on earth, into which angels desire to look, especially those which respect the protestant Zion, are subjects of extensive attention in Heaven; and that characters of real and eminent merit in the cause of liberty and virtue, are echoed and contemplated with great honor in the celestial realms) listening angels shall catch the odour, waft it to heaven, and perfume the universe.
And now that our warfare is ended, do thou, o man of God, greatly beloved of the Most High, permit a humble minister of the blessed Jesus, who, though at a distance, has vigilantly accompanied thee through every stage of thy military progress, has watched thine every movement and danger with a heartfelt anxiety and solicitude; and who, with the most sincere and fervent wishes for thy safety and success, has not ceased day nor night to pray for thee, and to commend thee and thy army to God; - condescend to permit him to express his most cordial congratulations, and to share in the triumphs of thy bosom, on this great and joyous occasion. We thank the Lord of Hosts, that has given his servant to see his desire upon his enemies, and peace on Israel. And when thou shalt now at length revert from the fatigues of nine laborious campaigns, to the tranquil enjoyment, to the sweetness and serenity of domestic life, may you never meet the fate of that ornament of armies and of humanity, the great BELISARIUS; but may a crown of universal love and gratitude, of universal admiration and of the universal reverence and honor of thy saved country, rest and flourish upon the head of its VETERAN GENERAL and glorious defender; until, by the Divine Jesus whom thou hast loved and adored, and of whose holy religion thou art not ashamed, thou shall be translated from the world of war, to a world of peace, liberty and eternal TRIUMPH.
The time would fail me to commemorate the merits of the other capital characters of the army. To do this, and to pay the tribute of fraternal honor and respect to our glorious ALLIED ARMY, will belong to the future Homers, Livys and Tassos of our country; for none but Americans can write the American war. They will celebrate the names of a WASHINGTON and a ROCHAMBEAU, a GREENE and a LA FAYETTE, a LINCOLN and a CHARTELLUX, a GATES and a VIOMENIL, a PUTNAM and a duc de LAUZUN, a MORGAN, and other heroes who rushed to arms, and offered themselves voluntarily for the defense of liberty. They will take up a lamentation and drop a tear upon the graves of those mighty ones, those beauties of Israel, who have fallen in battle, from the day of Lexington to the victory of Yorktown. And while they commemorate those who have lived through singular sufferings, as those honorable personages – a LOVEL, a LAURENS, and a GADSDEN; the names of the illustrious martyr generals WARREN, MERCER, MONTGOMERY, DE KALB, WOOSTER, THOMAS, with a POLASKI, and others, will be recorded as heroically falling in these wars of the Lord.But I may not enlarge, save only that we drop a tear, or rather showers of tears, upon the graves of those other brave officers and soldiers, that fell in battle, or otherwise perished in the war. Oh! That my head were waters and my eyes a fountain of tears; that I might weep the thousands of our brethren, that have perished in prison ships – in one of which, the Jersey, then lying at New York, perished above eleven thousand the last three years! While others have been barbarously exiled to the east-indies for life! Come mourn with me all ye tender parents and friends, the fate of your dear – dear - . But these scenes are Too tender and distressing! Can we ever love Britain again? Can the tender, affectionate fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters; can the numerous bemoaning friends and relatives, and perhaps the espoused bosoms of the tender sex – can they, I say, ever forget the cruel mockings, scourgings, starvations, deaths, assassinations, of their dearest offspring and connections in British captivity? Can they forget the numerous thousands of their captivated countrymen instantly consigned to destruction, to dungeons, prisons, places of variolous infection and certain death? Will they be soothed by telling them this is the fate of war? As well may inquisitorial cruelties be soothed, by alleging they are salutary corrections, and necessary for the good of the church. Our enemies took occasion, from this fate of war, to reek their vengeance, and to lash us with a severity too unmerciful ever to be forgotten. Can we forget the conflagrations of Charlestown, Norfolk, Esopus, Fairfield, and other American towns, laid in ashes by a Tryon, and other incendiaries? Were these the kindnesses American brethren received from the hands of Britons, and their more cruel associates the Indians and loyalists? Can we forget the barbarous tragedy of colonel Haine, or the murder of captain Huddy, in violation of the most sacred laws of war and of national honor? Blush, oh Britain, for the slain of your national glory! Can we ever forget with what cruel and malicious delight they tortured, entowered, and insulted an American plenipotentiary, the illustrious LAURENS, although by the laws of honor and nations the person of an ambassador is sacred? Can we ever forget the cruel and infamous treatment of the honourable Mr. GADSDEN? - O Gadsden! How I reverence thy piety, thy firmness in captivity, thine intrepid and uncorrupted patriotism, thine enlightened politics, thy unremitted fervor and zeal in the cause of liberty! But how painful is it to recount the even less than ten thousand part of the series than ten thousandth part of the series of distresses, of sufferings, which we have been called to endure, in the pangs and throes of the parturition of the empire, in “effecting our glorious revolution, in rescuing millions from the hand of oppression, and in laying the foundation of a great empire.”
The PATRIOT ARMY merits our commemoration, and so do the great characters in the patriotic ASSEMBLIES and CONGRESS. Let America never forget what they owe to those first intrepid defenders of her rights, the honorable Mr. SAMUEL ADAMS, and the Hon. JAMES OTIS, Esq; add to these the Hon. Dr. JOHN WINTHROP, Hon. JAMES BOWDOIN, Esq; who, with others, were the marked objects of ministerial vengeance; who early stepped forth and heroically withstood tyranny, and alarmed their country with its danger; while venal sycophants were lulling us to rest, and hushing us into silence. His excellency Mr. President RANDOLPH, merits our grateful commemoration; and so do the governors RUTLEDGE, WARD, LIVINGSTON, HOPKINS, NASH, CLINTON, the Honorable Messieurs WYTHE, DYER, SHERMAN, PENDELTON, HENRY, ELLERY, the LEES, President HUNTINGTON, LYNCH, WITHERSPOON, WOLCOTT, governor PACA, governor HALL, LAW, MARCHANT, President M’KEAN, ELSWORTH, VANDYKE, JEFFERSON - Jefferson, who poured the soul of the continent into the monumental act of independence. These, and other worthy personages of this and other states, will be celebrated in history, among the cardinal patriots of this revolution. All the ages of man will not obliterate the meritorious name of his excellency, governor HANCOCK, as President of Congress at a most critical era, nor the meritorious names of that illustrious band of heroes and compatriots, those sensible and intrepid worthies who, with him, resolutely and nobly dared, in the face of every danger, to sign the glorious act of INDEPENDENCE. May their names live, be preserved, and transmitted to posterity with deserved reputation and honor, through all American ages. Those great civilians and ambassadors, the illustrious FRANKLIN, ADAMS, JAY, and LAURENS, have approved themselves equal to the highest negotiations in the courts of nations; been faithful to their country’s liberties, and by their great and eminent services have justly merited to have their names sent forward to immortality in history, with renown and unsullied glory.
Great and extensive will be the happy effects of this warfare, in which we have been called in Providence to fight out, not the liberties of America only, but the liberties of the world itself. The spirited and successful stand which we have made against tyranny, will prove the salvation of England and Ireland: and by teaching all sovereigns the danger of irritating and trifling with the affections and loyalty of their subjects, introduce clemency, moderation and justice into public government at large through Europe. Already have we learned Ireland and all other nations the road to liberty; the way to a redress of grievances, by open systematical measures, committees of correspondence, and military discipline of an armed people. Ireland has become gloriously independent of England. Nor will the spirit rest, till Scotland becomes independent also. It would be happier for the three kingdoms to subsist with parliaments and national councils independent of one another, although confederated under one monarch. The union of l707 has produced the loss and dismemberment of America. It is just possible, that within this age, some ill-fated counselor of another connection, might have arisen, and prompted majesty and parliament to sanguinary measures against America: but it is more than probable, that their enforcement would have been deferred, or procrastinated a century hence, or to a period when our accumulated population would have dictated wiser, milder measures, to the British court; and to America, by a gentle, fraternal connection, would have remained cemented to Britain for distant ages. But a Rehoboam counselor stepped in, et attum est de republica – the ten tribes are lost. Had it not been for the insidious and haughty councils of a Bute and a Mansfield, imbued with principles incompatible with liberty; with the unwieldly faction of their despotic connections in the empire, America and Ireland had remained united with Britain to this day. Chagrined and mortified by the defeat and dishonor brought upon them by Butean councils and dominion, as well as with their curtailed and unequal weight in parliament, Scotland, emulous of the glory of Ireland, will wish for and obtain a dissolution of the union, and resume a separate sovereignty. It must be the lenity, the wisdom, the gentle and pacific measures of an augustan age; that can conserve the remnant of the British Empire from this tripartite division.
Nor will the British Isles alone be relieved into liberty, but more extensive still will be the peaceable fruits of our righteous conflict. The question on the mare liberum and the mare clausum, heretofore discussed by the ablest civilians of the last century, will no more require the learned labors of a Milton, a Selden, a Grotius. This war has decided, not by the jus maritimum of rhodes, oleron or Britain, but on the principles of commercial utility and public right, that the NAVIGATION OF THE ATLANTIC OCEAN SHALL BE FREE; AND SO PROBABLY WILL BE THAT OF ALL THE OCEANS OF THE GLOBE. All the European powers will henceforth, from national and commercial interests naturally become a united and combined guaranty, for the free navigation of the Atlantic, and free commerce with America. Interest will establish a free access for all nations to our shores, and for us to all nations. The armed neutrality will disarm even war itself of hostilities against trade; will form a new chapter in the laws of nations, and preserve a free commerce among powers at war. Fighting armies will decide the fate of empires by the sword, without interrupting the civil, social and commercial intercourse of subjects. The want of anything to take, will prove a natural abolition of privateering, when the property shall be covered with neutral protection. Even the navies will, within a century, become useless. A generous and truly liberty system of national connection, in the spirit of the plan conceived and nearly executed by the great HENRY IV of FRANCE, will almost annihilate war itself.
We shall have a communication with all nations in commerce, manners and science, beyond anything theretofore known in the world. Manufacturers and artisans, and men of every description, may, perhaps, come and settle among us. They will be few indeed in comparison with the annual thousands of our natural increase, and will be incorporated with the prevailing hereditary complexion of the first settlers: - We shall not be assimilated to them, but they to us, especially in the second and third generations. This fermentation and communion of nations will doubtless produce something very new, singular, and glorious. Upon the conquest of Alexander the Great, statuary, painting, architecture, philosophy, and the fine arts were transplanted in perfection from Athens to Tarsus, from Greece to Syria; where they immediately flourished in even greater perfection, than in the parent state. Not in Greece herself, are there to be found specimens of a sublimer or more magnificent architecture, even in the Grecian style, than in the ruins of Baalbeck and Palmyra. So all the arts may be transplanted from Europe and Asia, and flourish in America with an augmented luster: not to mention the augment of the sciences, from American inventions and discoveries – of which there have been as capital ones here, (American inventions: 1730. Reflecting Quadrant. By Mr. Thomas Godfry, at Philadelphia; 1745. Mercurial Inoculation. By Dr. Muirson; 1750. Electrical pointed Rods. By Dr. Franklin. 1762. Sand-Iron. By Dr. Jared Elliot. 1769. Quantity of Matter in Comets. By Professor Winthrop) the last half century, as in all Europe.
The rough sonorous diction of the English language may here take its Athenian polish, and receive its attic urbanity; as it will probably become the vernacular tongue of more numerous millions, than ever yet spake one language on earth. It may continue for ages to the prevailing and general language of north America. The intercommunion of the United States with all the world, in travels, trade and politics, and the infusion of letters into our infancy, will probably preserve us from the provincial dialects, risen into inexterminable habit before the invention of printing. The Greek never became the language of the Alexandrine, nor the Turkish of the Ottoman conquests; nor yet the Latin that of the Roman Empire. The saracenic conquests have already lost the pure and elegant Arabic of the Koreish tribe, or the family of Ishmael, in the corrupted dialects of Egypt, Syria, Persia and Indostan. Different from these the English language will grow up, with the present American population, into great purity and elegance, unmutilated by the foreign dialects of foreign conquests. And in this connection I may observe, with pleasure, how God, in His providence, has ordered that, at the reformation, the English translation of the Bible should be made with very great accuracy, with greater accuracy, it is presumed, than any other translation. This is said, allowing that some texts admit of correction. I have compared it throughout with the originals, Hebrew, Greek, and Syriac; and beg leave to judge, and testify it to be, a very excellent translation. Nor do I believe a better is ever to be expected in this imperfect state. It sustained a revision of numerous translators from Tyndale, to the last review by the bishops and other learned divines, in the time of James I, 180 years ago; and has never been altered since. It may have been designed by Providence for the future perusal of more millions of the human race than ever were able to read one book, and for their use to the millennial ages.
This great American revolution, this recent political phenomenon of a new sovereignty arising among the sovereign powers of the earth, will be attended to and contemplated by all nations. Navigation will carry the American flag around the globe itself; and display the thirteen stripes and new constellation at Bengal and Canton, on the Indus and Ganges, on the Whang-ho and the Yang-tse-kiang; and with commerce will import the wisdom and literature of the east. That prophecy of Daniel is now literally fulfilling – there shall be a universal traveling to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. This knowledge will be brought home and treasured up in America: and being here digested and carried to the highest perfection, may re-blaze back from America to Europe, Asia and Africa, and illumine the world with truth and liberty.
That great civilian Dr. John Adams, the learned and illustrious American ambassador, observes thus, “But the great designs of Providence must be accomplished; great indeed! The progress of society will be accelerated by centuries by this revolution. The Emperor of Germany is adopted, as fast as he can, American ideas of toleration and religious liberty: And it will become the fashionable system of Europe very soon. Light spreads from the dayspring in the west; and may it shine more and more until the perfect day.” - So spreading may be the spirit for the restoration and recovery of long lost national rights, that even the Cortes of Spain may re-exit, and resume their ancient splendor, authority and control of royalty. The same principles of wisdom and enlightened politics, may establish rectitude in public government throughout the world.
The most ample religious liberty will also probably obtain among all nations. Benevolence and religious lenity is increasing among the nations. The reformed in France, who were formerly oppressed with heavy persecution, at present enjoy a good degree of religious liberty, though by silent indulgence only. A re-establishment of the Edict of Nantes would honor the grand monarch, by doing public justice to a large body of his best and most loyal subjects. The Emperor of Germany, last year, published an imperial decree granting liberty for the free and unmolested exercise of the Protestant Religion within the Austrian territories and dominions. The inquisition has been in effect, this year, suppressed in Spain, where the king, by an edict of 3rd of November, 1782, proclaimed liberty for inhabitants of all religions: And by a happily conceived plan for literary reformation, the aurora of science will speedily blaze into meridian splendor in that kingdom. An emulation for liberty and science is enkindled among the nations, and will doubtless produce something very liberal and glorious, in this age of science, this period of the empire of reason.
The United States will embosom all the religious sects or denominations in Christendom. Here they may all enjoy their whole respective systems of worship and church government, complete. Of these, next to the Presbyterian, the Church of England will hold a distinguished and principal figure. They will soon furnish themselves with a bishop in Virginia and Maryland, and perhaps another to the northward, to ordain their clergy, give confirmation, superintend and govern their churches; the main body of which will be in Virginia and Maryland, besides a diaspora or interspersion in all the other states. The Unitas Fratrum, for above thirty years past, have had Moravian bishops in America; and I think they have three at present, though not of local or diocesan jurisdiction, their pastorate being the whole unity throughout the world. In this there ever was a distinction between the bohemian episcopacy, and that of the eastern and western churches; for in a body of 2000 ancient bohemian churches, they seldom had above two or three bishops. The Baptists, the Friends, the Lutherans, the Romanists, are all considerable bodies, in all their dispersions through the states. The Dutch, and Gallic, and German reformed or Calvinistic churches among us, I consider as Presbyterian, differing from us in nothing of moment, save in language. There is a considerable body of these in the states of New York, Jersey, Pennsylvania, and at Ebenezer in Georgia. There is a Greek church brought from Smyrna, but I think it falls below these states. There are Wesyans, Mennonites and others, all which make a very inconsiderableAmount, in comparison with those, who will give the religious complexion to America; which for the southern parts will be Episcopal, the northern Presbyterian. All religious denominations will be independent of one another, as much as the Greek and Armenian patriarchates in the East: and having, on account of religion, no superiority as to secular powers and civil immunities, they will cohabit together in harmony, and I hope, with a most generous benevolence. The example of a friendly cohabitation of all sects in America, proving that men may be good members of civil society, and yet differ in religion: this precedent, I say, which has already been intently studied and contemplated for fifteen years past by France, Holland, and Germany, may have already had an effect in introducing moderation, lenity, and justice, among European states. And who can tell how extensive a blessing this American Joseph may become to the whole human race, although once despised by his brethren, exiled and sold into Egypt? How applicable that in Genesis 49: 22; 26, Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over a wall. The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him. But his bow abode in strength, the arms of his hands were made strong by the arms of the might God of Jacob. - The blessings of thy father, have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors, unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hill: they shall be on the head of
JOSEPH and on the crown of the head of him that was SEPARATED from his brethren. (Editor’s note: This Scripture was providentially George Washington’s presidential inaugural Scripture, when he placed his left hand upon it, while sworn into office, the Bible being opened at random, due to haste, to this God-chosen, Scriptural passage).
Little would civilians have thought ages ago, that the world should ever look to America for models of government and polity: little did they think of finding this most perfect polity among the poor outcasts, the contemptible people of New England, and particularly in the long despised civil polity of Connecticut; a polity conceived by the sagacity and wisdom of a WINTHROP, A Ludlow, HAYNES, HOPKINS, HOOKER, and the other first settlers, of Hartford, in 1636. And while Europe and Asia may hereafter learn that the most liberal principles of law and civil polity are to be found on this side of the Atlantic; they may also find the true religion here depurated from the rust and corruption of ages, and learn from us to reform and restore the church to its primitive purity. It will be long before the ecclesiastical pride of the splendid European hierarchies, can submit to learn wisdom from those, whom they have been inured to look upon with sovereign contempt. But candid and liberal disquisition will sooner or later have a great effect. Removed from the embarrassments of corrupt systems, and the dignities and blinding opulence connected with them, the unfettered mind can think with a noble enlargement and with an unbounded freedom, go wherever the light of truth directs. Here will be no bloody tribunals, no cardinals inquisitors-general, to bend the human mind, forceably to control the understanding, and put out the light of reason, the candle of the Lord, in man; to force an innocent Galileo to renounce truths demonstrable as the light of day. Religious liberty is peculiarly friendly to fair and generous disquisition. Here deism will have its full chance; nor need liberties more to complain of being overcome by any weapons, but the gentle, the powerful ones of argument and truth. Revelation will be found to stand the test to the ten thousandth examination.
There are three coetaneous events to take place, whose future is certain from prophecy, the annihilation of the pontificate, the reassembling of the Jews, and the fullness of the gentiles. That liberal and candid disquisition of Christianity, which will most assuredly take place in America, will prepare Europe for the first event, with which the other will be connected, when, especially on the return of the twelve tribes to the holy land, there will burst forth a degree of evidence hitherto unperceived, and of efficacy to convert a world. More than three quarters of mankind yet remain heathen. Heaven put a stop to the propagation of Christianity, when the church became corrupted with the adoration of numerous deities and images, because this would have been only exchanging an old for a new idolatry. Nor is Christendom now larger than it was nine centuries ago. The promising prospects of the propaganda side at Rome are come to nothing: and it may be of the divine destiny, that all other attempts for gospelizing the nations of the earth shall prove fruitless, until the present Christendom itself be recovered to the primitive purity and simplicity. At which time, instead of the babel confusion of contradicting missionaries, all will harmoniously concur in speaking one language, one holy faith, one apostolic religion, to an uncontroverted world. At this period, and in effecting this great event, we have reason to think, that the United States may be of no small influence and consideration. It was of the Lord, to send Joseph into Egypt, to save much people, and to show forth his praise. It is of the Lord, that a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars, should flee into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, and where she might be the repository of wisdom, and keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus. It may have been of the Lord, that Christianity is to be found in such great purity, in this church exiled into the wildernesses of America; and that its purest body should be evidently advancing forward, by an augmented natural increase and spiritual edification, into a singular superiority – with the ultimate subserviency to the glory of god, in converting the world.
When we look forward and see this county increased to 40 or 50 millions, while we see all the religious sects increased into respectable bodies, we shall doubtless find the united body of the congregational, consociated and Presbyterian churches, making an equal figure with any of them; or to say the least, to be of such magnitude as to number, that it will be to no purpose for other sects to meditate their eversion. This, indeed, is enterprised, but it will end in a labor. There is the greatest prospect that we shall become thirty out of forty millions. And while the avenues to civil improvement and public honors, will here be equally open to all sects, so it will be no dishonor hereafter to be a Presbyterian, or of the religious denomination which will probably ever make the most distinguished figure in this great republic. And hereafter when the world shall behold us a respectable part of Christendom, they may be induced by curiosity, with calmness and candor to examine, whether something of Christianity may not really be found among us. And while we have to lament our laodiceanism, deficient morals, and incident errors, yet the collective system of evangelical doctrines, the instituted ordinances, and the true ecclesiastical polity, may be found here in a great degree of purity. Europeans and some among us, have habituated themselves to a most contemptible idea of the New England churches – conceiving us to be only a colluvies of error, fanaticism, irregularity an confusion. They have taken this idea in part from our brethren in Britain, who have viewed us very much also in the same light, to this day. This on the contrary is the truth, that, allowing for offenses unavoidable, for imperfections and controversies, incident to the churches in their most regular state, our churches are as completely reformed, and as well modeled according to the Scripture plan, as can be expected till the millennium. Particularly these essential things may be found among them upon examination, that the churches or particular congregations are regularly formed, and duly uphold public worship every Lord’s day, and this ordinarily in a very decent, solemn manner; that the preaching of the Word, baptism and the Lord’s Supper are regularly and duly administered by the pastors: that the pastors are orderly and regularly set apart to the ministry, by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery, or of those who have regularly derived office power, in lineal succession, from the Apostles and Jesus Christ. We have no classical or synodical tribunals: yet we have ecclesiastical councils. And our church discipline, although not sufficiently attended to, is such that persons of evident scandal and immorality, and vicious ministers (of which God be thanked, there have been but few, very few indeed) cannot live long in our churches. With all our humbling imperfections, I know of no amendment necessary, as to our general system of church polity. Nothing of moment (unless it be grace); no doctrine, no ordinance or institution of the primitive churches, but may be found in general reception and observance among us. If we are condemned for having no tribunals or judicatories out of the church, which however is not true, let it be remembered that neither Christ, nor His apostles ever instituted any: and that in this respect, we are just in the same state, with regard to ecclesiastical polity as the 150 churches of the apostolic age (It has been computed that the churches of the apostolic age did not exceed 150 or 200 congregations in the whole world) and particularly the seven churches of Asia, in the time of St. John.
The invalidity of our ordinations is objected against us, and so of consequence the invalidity of all our official administrations. And now that we are upon the matter, give me leave to exhibit a true, though summary state of it, as the result of a very full, laborious, and thorough inquiry. It was the mistaken opinion of some of our first ministers in New England (than whom, there never was a more learned collection, for they embosomed all the theological and ecclesiastical erudition of all ages), it was, I
say, their opinion, that the power of ordination, of all church officers, was in the church, by their elders. They well knew, from ecclesiastical and Scripture antiquity, that the power of election was there; and they judged ordination the lesser act: but their great reason was, that the church might not be controlled by any exterior authority, whether Episcopal or presbyterial, and so no more be harassed by bishops courts, or any other similar tribunals. Our fathers held to an eldership, for they saw it in all antiquity, as well as the Bible: and it was their judgment, that elders should be ordained by elders of the same church. The most of the first forty churches had ruling elders; a few had not. These few created an early difficulty; on which our fathers early made a mistaken decision, that where there were no elders in the church, ordination might be done by the laying on of hands of delegated brethren. The introduction of ministers, already ordained, into the pastoral charge of a particular church, was at first done by lay brethren; and this was, from the beginning, improperly called ordination, how often soever repeated. A repetition of ordinations or baptisms, does not nullify the first regular administrations. All the first New England ministers were ordained before. Thus Mr. Wilson was first ordained by a bishop in England; then, in 1630, by governor Winthrop and others he was ordained teacher in Boston; he then ordained an elder: and upon the accession of Mr. Cotton, 1633, he was, by this elder and governor Winthrop, again, a third time, ordained and constituted pastor. So the learned and courtly Mr. Davenport was ordained by a bishop, then by the brethren, pastor of the church in New Haven, in 1639; and 1668, was again ordained, pastor of the first church in Boston, by elder Penn. Mr. Hooker was ordained a presbyter by a bishop in England, and then gain by the brethren at Newtown, 1633, who removed with his church to Hartford. Mr. Bulkley, of Concord, and Mr. Noyes, of Newbury, and others, expressly adhered to their former ordinations in England by the bishops, though not as bishops, but as presbyters.
(A few extracts from the first governor Winthrop’s entries in a manuscript diary, may evince that the ministers relied upon heir ordinations in England. At August 27, 1630, “We of the congregation kept a fast and close Mr. Wilson our Teacher, and Mr. Newel our elder, and Mr. Gager and Mr. Aspinwall, deacons. We used impositions of hands, but with this protestation by all, that it was only as a sign of election and confirmation, not of any intent that Mr. Wilson should renounce his ministry he received in England.” Mr. Gager died 20th September, and October 25th 1630, Mr. Colborne, who was chosen a deacon by the congregation a week before, was invested by imposition of hands of the minister and elder.”
November 22, 1632. “A fast was held by the congregation of Boston and Mr. Wilson, formerly their teacher, was chosen pastor, and – Oliver, a ruling elder, and both were ordained by imposition of hands, first by the teacher and two deacons – upon the elder, and then by the elder and the deacons upon the pastor.”
October 10, 1633. “Mr. Cotton was then chosen Teacher of the congregation of Boston and ordained by imposition of the hands of the presbytery. The pastor and two elders laid their hands upon their head, and the pastor prayed, and then, taking off their hands, laid them on again and speaking to him by name, did thereby design him to the said office – and did give him the charge of the congregation. – Then the neighboring ministers which were present did at the pastor’s notice give him the right hand of fellowship.”
October 11, 1633. “A fast at Newtown, where Mr. Hooker was chosen pastor and Mr. Stone teacher in such manner as before at Boston.”
Mr. Bulkley’s ordination was 1637. “The church of Concord kept a day of humiliation for the ordination of their elders and they chose Mr. Bulkley teacher and Mr. Jones pastor. Upon a question being moved by one sent from the church of Salem, it was resolved by the ministers there present, that such as had been ministers in England, were lawful ministers, notwithstanding their acceptance of the call of the bishops – but having come hither, they accounted themselves no ministers, until they were called to another church, and that jupon election they were ministers before they were solemnly ordained.”
Another specimen of the first New England ordinations we have in the church of Dedham. “April 24, 1639. John Hunting, one of the brethren, was ordained to the office of a ruling elder by fasting and prayer and the laying on the hands of Mr. John Allen, their pastor elect and two other brethren. The same day, Mr. John Allen was ordained to the office of pastor by prayer and the laying on of the hands of the ruling elder and two other brethren.” Mr. Allen had been ordained by a bishop: and he communicated ordaining power to the elder. He died 1671: and was succeeded in the pastorate by
Mr. Adams, who in 1673 was ordained by neighboring pastors only.)
But in general the induction of the ministers of the first churches, was performed by lay-brethren, and this was called ordination, but should be considered what in reality it was, only induction or installment of those who were vested with official power. These, as I said, were all ordained before by the bishops in England. Nor have I ever found, with certainty, more than one instance of lay-ordination, of a person, never before ordained, the last century, (and there are few but what I have examined) and this was done by the advice, and under the inspection of ministers ordained by the bishops in England, one of whom prayed at the solemnity of the consecration, and all gave their approbation and right hand of fellowship; which in my opinion, amounts to their performing the ordination themselves, they being present and assisting in the transaction. This was at Woburn, 1642. I believe there were two or three more similar ordinations of un-ordained candidates, before the ministers saw and corrected their error – which, indeed, was almost the only error, of moment, which the ministers went into the last century.
Immediately upon publishing the Cambridge platform, 1648, our brethren in England remonstrated against allowing lay-ordination. They alleged, that we had no example in Scripture of lay-ordination; that the sacerdotal gift or office-power, was conferred and given by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery, (I Timothy iv. 14)
and that we had examples of Presbyterian ordination in scripture, and not only that it was safest to proceed in this way, but that it was the only Scriptural ground. These arguments convinced our fathers, and they immediately set about to remedy the practice, which had hitherto, providentially, wrought no mischief, as the body of the pastors had been ordained by bishops. It instantly became a custom for some of the ordained ministers present to lay on hands in ordinations, it being for some time judged necessary, that the delegated brethren should join, in token of subjection of the church to the pastoral care of the minister. But at length it became a custom, so early as before 1660, that, at the desire of the church, the ordaining ministers performed the whole, both conferred office power on the pastor elect, by the laying on of hands, and committed the church to his pastoral charge, which, with the joint fellowship of the pastors and churches, finished the ordination. Thus ordinations were recovered into their right state and order, the last century, and before lay-ordinations had wrought any evil. Thus office-power, by Scripture-presbyters, continued to be transfused through the clergy. I have reason and even assurance to believe, that there was no candidate ordained in New England, before 1746, but whose ordination may be traced to the bishops in England. I have found no instance to the contrary, although I have searched and examined all the ordinations of the first half century here, and most of them for the first hundred years. And as to the wild and enthusiastic period between 1740 and 1750, though it gave birth to perhaps thirty little separate congregations, yet some have dissolved, others become regular, and the ten or a dozen now remaining, are more and more convinced of the duty of seeking ordination from among the standing ministers. And it is remarkable, that Mr. Thomas Dennison, now living, assisted, laid on hands, and gave the charge at the first ordination, in 1746, and at the three succeeding ordinations among the separates in New England, from whence all the ordinations in the churches of that description have proceeded. And although in the first, but not in the others, he acted as a brother delegated by the church, and in the others as an elder of another church, yet it is remarkable, I say, that he himself had been ordained, in 1743, by one, whose ordination I have traced to the Mathers, and other Boston ministers, and through them up to the bishop of Chester, and other bishops in England. It is probable the few separate churches remaining, will, in time, become regular, by seeking ordinations among the pastors of the standing churches, where the ordinations are indubitable.
For, as I have said, the ordination of our clergy is regular and Scriptural, and may be traced, in the line of presbyters, up to the apostolic age: and so in general may the ordinations, in this line, through the whole Christian world, especially in the great divisions of Lutherans, Calvinists, and Church of England. So wonderfully has Christ preserved the sacerdotal or presbyterian order in the church, that the succession in this line is without a doubt. The first ninety-four ministers who came over and settled New England, Long Island, and the Jerseys, before 1669, and chiefly before 1640 – These, I say, were all educated in the English universities, and were ordained in England. Some of whom, as Hooker, Davenpoert, Chauncy, Lee, Bulkley, Noyes, Norton, were men of universal reading in theological literature, and were profoundly versed in the writings of the Greek and Latin churches, in the councils and historians, the fathers, the writers of the middle ages, and the reformers – especially those miracles of human and divine learning, Chauncey and Lee. Of these ninety-four, one or two only were ordained by the puritans; as the fourteen, who came over after the ejection of 1662, were ordained by the bishops, or more probably by the Presbyterians in the protectorate; all the rest by the bishops. All these were ordained presbyters by the bishops in England: particularly the Rev. Mr. Richard Mather was ordained a presbyter by Dr. Morton, bishop of Chester, 1618. (Life of Dr. Increase Mather). The bishops did not intend to communicate ordaining powers; but they really intended to convey all the power of a Scripture-presbyter; and by the Scripture, we find this power conferred by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. (I Timothy iv. 14). If the succession in the line of bishops might have been interrupted at the reformation, yet not so in the line of presbyters. Office-power has unquestionably been preserved in England among presbyters, not only to the times of its subjugation to Rome by Austin the monk, but ages before even to Lucius, according to venerable Bede.And indeed we have it more directly to the apostolic age, without going through Rome, for bishop Jewel asserts truly, that the ancient churches of England were of Greek, that is, oriental derivation. We have in this manner an historical evidence, and assurance, that the New England ordinations in particular may be traced back to the holy apostles.
There is not an instance in the apostolic age, of bishops, priests, and deacons, being stated officers of more than a single congregation. I risk this historic assertion with the examination of the whole learned world; although I well know that, like the evidences of revelation, it has been examined a thousand times, with different judgments. Every congregation, regularly and fully organized, had them: as appears from Dionysius the areopagite, and St. Ignatius. The succession of bishops, who were only the first presbyters, as well as of the other elders, was preserved by ordinations performed by presbyters in or out of a church. And though ordinations were usually performed by three or more, yet if only one presbyter laid on hands, it was valid. Titus, a single elder, was left thus, to ordain elders in Crete. The church of Alexandria, founded by St. Mark, retained Presbyterian ordination, exclusive, for 300 years, as appears from Eutychius, the patriarch there in the ninth century, who wrote the originals of that church in Arabic, from which I have translated the following extract, viz.
“The ninth year of Claudius Caesar, while Mark, the evangelist, resided at Alexandria – Hananias being converted to Christianity, Mark baptized him, and constituted or ordained him chief father at Alexandria; and he became the first patriarch of Alexandria. Mark, the evangelist, likewise constituted and ordained twelve (Kashisha) – the title Kashics is given to the Coptic clergy to this day – presbyters with Hananias; who should abide with the patriarch: so that when there should be a vacancy in the patriarchate, they should elect one of the twelve presbyters, upon whose head the other eleven should impose their hands, bless him and create him patriarch; and then elect some eminent person, and constitute him a presbyter with themselves, in the room of him who was made a patriarch; so that there should always be twelve. Nor did this institution concerning the presbyters, cease at Alexandria, that they should create the patriarchs out of the twelve presbyters, until the times of Alexander, patriarch at Alexandria, who was of the number of the three hundred and eighteen (at the Council of Nice, A.D. 325). “For he forbade the presbyters afterwards to create a patriarch. And decreed, that upon the death of a patriarch, the bishops should assemble and ordain a patriarch. And he further decreed, that on a vacancy in the patriarchate, they should elect, either from the twelve presbyters, or from any other country, some eminent person, and create him patriarch. And thus evanished the ancient , by which the patriarch had been created by the presbyters, and there succeeded in its place his decree concerning the creation of the patriarchs by the bishops. Thus from Hananias to the time of Demetrius, who was the eleventh patriarch at Alexandria, there was no bishop in the provinces of Egypt; nor did any patriarchs before him, constitute bishops. But he being made patriarch, constituted three bishops. And he was the first Alexandrine patriarch who made bishops. Upon the death of Demetrius, Heraclas became patriarch, and constituted twenty bishops.”
Thus, in this most valuable piece or relict of ecclesiastical antiquity, we have preserved and transmitted to us a specimen and exemplar of a truly primitive and apostolic church. And herein we have a full proof, that while there were fifteen hundred pastors or Kashisha, yet there were no bishops in Egypt in the posterior appropriate sense of the Latin and Greek churches, until the fourth century: although the Christians had by that time become so numerous in Egypt, that in the most severe and memorable persecution under Maximianus, the predecessor of Constantine the great, one hundred thousand Christians were put to death here, and seven hundred thousand were sold for “slaves!” – a barbarity which satiated and glutted the malice of persecution, and wrought a conviction in the whole Roman empire, of the impossibility of subduing Christianity.
Correspondent to this idea of a church and its officers, was the form particularly of the church of Ephesus, and the seven churches of Asia, in the apostolic age; and the churches of New England; wherein at their primitive institutions, were originally two or more elders, besides the pastors and teachers, i.e. four presbyters: although, having generally, though not universally, dropped the ruling elders, they now more nearly resemble the church of Philippi, in having, at present, only bishops and deacons. It might, however, be well to resume the eldership as in the days of our ancestors.
Agreeable to this primitive idea of a church, was the church of Ireland, planted and formed, by that great light of Christendom, St. Patrick; who, (as Titus traveled Crete and ordained elders in every city) himself traveled Ireland, converted it to Christianity, and constituted 355 churches, and in each ordained a sect of elders, with a bishop at their head; as did Mark in Alexandria. Agreeable to that of the Irish poet in the Psalter of Cashel, which doubtless, while it retains the historical sentiments, loses its beauty in translation.
The blessed Patrick, with his priestly hands,
The rite of consecration did confer,
Upon the most religious of his clergy,
Three hundred and fifty-five in number.
He likewise, for the service of the church,
As many sacred structures did erect,
And presbyters ordained three thousand.”
This was A.D. 432. And it is remarkable, that this institution of the pious Patrick, continued for 400 years, until the Danish invasion. If the whole Christian world were to revert back to this original and truly primitive model, how far more simple, uniform, and beautiful, and even glorious, would the church universal appear, than under the mutilated artificial forms of the pontifical or patriarchal constitutions, of the middle and present ages? And how far more agreeable to the ecclesiastical polity instituted and delivered by the holy apostles? May this be exhibited and displayed in the American churches. Of this it gives me joy to believe there is the greatest prospect. The initial revival of this primeval institution is indeed already so well established here, where the Presbyterians hold so great a proportion in the American Republic, that there can be but little doubt, but that in the ordinary couse of events, our increasing and growing interest, without any interference with the other sects, will at length ascend to such a magnitude, kand become so great and respectable a part of Christendom, as to command the attention, contemplation and fraternal love of our brethren and fellow-Christians, of the church universal, and even of the world itself. And when the set time to favor Zion shall come in God’s good and holy providence, while Christendom may no longer disdain to adopt a reformation from us, the then newly gospelized heathen may light up their candle at America. In this country, out of sight of mitres and the purple, and removed from systems of corruption confirmed for ages, and supported by the spiritual janizaries of an ecclesiastical hierarchy, aided and armed by the secular power, RELIGION may be examined with the noble Berean freedom, the freedom of American-born minds: and revelation, both as to the true evangelical doctrines, and church polity, may be settled here, before they shall have undergone a thorough discussion, and been weighed with a calm and unprejudiced candor elsewhere. Great things are to be effected in the world before the millennium, which I do not expect to commence under seven or eight hundred years hence; and perhaps the liberal and candid disquisitions in America, are to be rendered extensively subservient to some of the most and glorious designs of Providence, and particularly in the propagation and diffusion of religion through the earth, in filling the whole earth with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord. A time will come when six hundred millions of the human race shall be ready to drop their idolatry, and all false religion, when Christianity shall triumph over superstition, as well a deism and gentilism and mohometism. They will then search all Christendom for the best model, the purest exemplification of the Christian church, with the fewest human mixtures. And when God in his providence shall convert the world, should the newly Christianized nations assume our form of religion; should American missionaries be blessed to succeed in the work of Christianizing the heathen, in which the romanists and foreign protestants have very much failed, it would be an unexpected wonder, and a great honor to the United States. And thus the American Republic, by illuminating the world with TRUTH and LIBERTY, would be exalted and made high among the nations in praise, and in name, and in honor. I doubt not this is the honor reserved for us: I had almost said in the spirit of prophecy, the zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this.
“So the dread seer in Patmos waste who trod,
Led by the visions of the guiding God,
Saw the dim vault of heaven its folds unbend;
And gates and spires, and streets and domes, descend
Far down the skies; with suns and rainbows crowned,
The new formed city lights the world around.”
Having shown wherein consists the prosperity of a STATE; and what reason we have to anticipate the glory of the American empire: I proceed to show,
I. That her system of dominion must receive its finishing from religion; or that from the diffusion of virtue among the people of any community, would arise their greatest secular happiness: all which will terminate in this conclusion, that Holiness ought to be the end of all civil government – That thou mayest be an holy people unto the Lord thy God.
On the subject of RELIGION we might be concise and transient, if indeed a subject of the highest moment ought to be treated with brevity.
It is readily granted that a state may be very prosperous and flourishing, without Christianity: witness the Egyptian, Assyrian, Roman and Chinese empires. But if there be a true religion, one would think that it might be at least some additional glory. We must become a holy people in reality, in order to exhibit the experiment never yet fully made in this unhallowed part of the universe, whether such a people would be the happiest on earath. It would greatly conduce to this, if Moses and Aaron, if the
MAGISTRACY and PRIESTHOOD, should co-operate, and walk together in union and harmony. The political effort of the present day, through most of the United States, is to disunite, divide and separate them, through fear, lest the United States, like the five vice-royships of new Spain, should be entangled and oppressed with the spiritual domination of European and Asiatic hierarchies. As if, by the title of minister or pastor, we might not as well be reminded of the ministers of Holland and Geneva, or the mild and peaceable pastors of the primitive church, as of the domineering prelates and other haughty intriguing dignitaries of the Roman church. Hence Aaron is spurned at a distance, and the LEVITES are beheld with shy contempt, as a useless, burdensome, dangerous tribe: and some of the states, for the only sin of being priests of the Most High God, they are inhibited all civil offices, and to a great degree, disfranchised of their civil immunities and rights of citizenship. I thank my God for this ordering of His holy providence (for I wish the clergy never to be vested with civil power) while I am considering the spirit and disposition of the public towards the church of God, indicated by such events. A general spirit reigns against the most liberal and generous establishments in religion; against the civil magistrates encouraging or having anything more to do about religion, than to keep the civil peace among contending sects: as if this was all that is to be done for religion by the friends of Jesus. And hence, in designating to the magistracy and offices of government, it begins to be a growing idea that it is mighty indifferent, forsooth, not only whether a man be of this or the other religious sect, but whether he be of any religion at all: and that truly deists, and men of indifferentism to all religion, are the most suitable persons for civil office, and most proper to hold the reins of government; and that to prevent partiality in governors, and emulation among the sects, it is wise to consign government over into the hands of those who, gallio like, have no religion at all. This is a machiavellian wisdom and policy! And hence examples are frequently adduced, of men distinguished truly for deism, perhaps libidinous morals, and every vice, yet of great abilities, it is said, great civilians, lawyers, physicians, warriors, governors, patriots, politicians: while as great or greater and more numerous characters, in the same departments, a Thuanus, a Grotius, a Paul, of Venice, a Sir Henry Wotton, a Sir Peter King, a Selden, a Newton, a Boyle, those miracles of wisdom and friends to religion and virtue; are passed by with transient coolness and neglect. I wish we had not to fear that a neglect of religion was coming to be the road to preferment. It was not so here in our fathers’days.
Shall the Most High send down TRUTH into this world from the world of light and truth, and shall the rulers of this world be afraid of it? Shall there be no intrepid DANIELS? - great in magistracy, great in religion! How great was hat holy man, that learned and pious civilian, when he shone in the supreme triumvirate, at the head of an empire of 120 provinces – venerable for political wisdom, venerable for religion!
If men, not merely nominally Christians, but of real religion and sincere piety, joined with abilities, were advanced and called up to office in every civil department, how would it countenance and recommend virtue? But, alas! Is there not too much laodiceanism in this land? Is not Jesus in danger of being wounded in the house of his friends? Nay, have we gone already such lengths in declension, that if even the Holy Redeemer himself, and his apostles, were to reappear among us, while unknown to be such, and importune the public government and magistracy of these states, to become nursing fathers to the church; is it not to be feared that some of the states, through timidity and fearfulness of touching religion, would excuse themselves, and dismiss the holy messengers, the heavenly visitants, with coldness and neglect; though importuning the spouse with an, open to me my beloved, my sister, my dove.
But after the present period of deism and skeptical indifferentism in religion, of timidity and irresolution in the cause of the great Emmanuel, perhaps there may arise a succession of civil magistrates, who will not be ashamed of the cross of Christ, nor of patronizing His holy religion; with a generous Catholicism and expanded benevolence towards all of every denomination, who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth; patronizing it, I repeat, not with the insidious views of a Hutchinsonian policy, but from a rational and firm belief and love of evangelical truth. Zion’s friends will rejoice in Zion’s welfare: and the religious, as well as civil patriot will shine in the faces of the future Moses’ and Joshuas of this land. So shone it in the first governor WINTHROP, and so shineth it in a WASHINGTON. Yea, I glory in believing and knowing, that there are many now in the public magistracy of this and the other states, who feel with that illustrious and most excellent governor, upon whom rested much of the spirit of Samuel and David, and of Jehosaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah, I mean Nehemiah the Tirshata, who, with Moses, esteemed the reproaches of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, who was of so pious, so noble, so patriotic a spirit, such a lover of his country and the true religion, that he preferred the very dust of Zion to the gardens of Persia, and the broken walls of Jerusalem to the palaces of Shushan.
Whenever religion is erected on the ruins of civil government; and when civil government is built on the ruins of religion, both are so far essentially wrong. The church has never been of any political detriment here, for it never has been vested with any civil or secular power in New England: although it is certain, that civil dominion was but the second motive, religion the primary one with our ancestors in coming hither and settling this land. It was not so much their design to establish religion for the benefit of the state, as civil government for the benefit of religion, and as subservient, and even necessary towards the peaceable enjoyment and unmolested exercise of religion – of that religion, for which they fled to those ends of the earth. And institution is not made for the laws, but the laws for the institution. I am narrating an historical fact, not giving a position or principle, which by shrewd politicians, may be abused to justify Scriptural tyranny, and to support the claims of the pontificate over all the civil states, kingdoms and empires in Christendom.
The American Nehemiah, the opulent and pious Governor WINTHROP I. and the other first magistrates of the several New England republics, were men of singular wisdom and exemplary piety. And, God be thanked, the senatorial assembly of the happiest of all the United States still embosoms so many Phinehas’ and Zorobabets, so many religious parrots, the friends of Jesus and his holy religion; and that the Messiah’s cause is here accompanied with civil government and the priesthood – allusively the two olive trees upon the right of the candlestick (the churches) and upon the left; the two golden branches, which through the two golden pipes, Moses and Aaron, empty the golden oil out of themselves, (Zech. iv. II) and diffuse their salutary influence of order and happiness through the community.
As to nominal Christianity, I have no doubt but that it will be upheld for ages in these states. Through the liberty enjoyed here, all religious sects will grow up into large and respectable bodies. But the congregational and Presbyterian denomination, however hitherto despised, will, by the blessing of heaven, continue to hold the greatest figure in America; and, notwithstanding all the fruitless labors and exertions to proselyte us to other communions, become more numerous than the whole collective body of our fellow protestants in Europe. The whole proselytism of New England in particular, for 60 or 70 years past, has not exceeded eight or ten thousand, while our augment in that term, by natural increase, has been half a million. The future difference in our favour will be far greater, even admitting a tenfold increase of proselytism. We anticipate, with pleasure, the growth and multiplication of our churches. God grant that we may not, like the seven churches of Asia, have a name to live, while we are dead. Happy will it be for us, should we become a holy people, zealous of good works. For it is undoubtedly the will of Heaven, and especially after the recent salvations of the Most High, that we should be a holy people unto the Lord our God.
It is greatly to be wished that these principles of our common Christianity, might be found in general reception among all the churches of these states.
The Trinity in unity, in the one undivided essence of the Great JEHOVAH.
The sacred Scriptures are of divine inspiration.
In the immense universe, two little systems of intelligences, or orders of being, have lapsed: and that unhappily we have the dishonor of being one of them.
The second person of the co-eternal Trinity, having assumed human nature, made a real atonement for sin, and by His vicarious obedience and sufferings, exhibited that righteousness and vicarious merit, by which alone we are forgiven and justified.
The Holy Ghost is equally a divine person with the Father and the Son; sharing with them divine, supreme, equal and undivided honors.
True virtue consists in a conformity of heart and life in the divine law; which is as obligatory upon Christians as if eternal life was suspended on perfect obedience.
The internal principle of holiness essentially consists in DIVINE LOVE, a disinterested affection for moral excellency, a delight in the beauty and glory of the divine character, that is, the supreme love of GOD. And connected with, and issuing from this, is a joyful acquiescence in His will, a rejoicing in His sovereignty, and universal dominion.
While salvation and pardon is of free grace, the retributions of eternity will be according to our works.
Whenever I find these principles, with others connected with them, and the real belief of them evinced by an amiable life, there I judge the essentials of Christianity to be found, and thither my charity and benevolence extends, with equal ardor and sincerity, e the religious denomination as it may. Of these, the doctrines of the DIVINITY of the Lord Jesus, and His real vicarious ATONEMENT, are the most important, the Jachin and Boaz, the pillar truths of the gospel.
This was the system of theology brought over from the other side of the flood, by our pious forefathers, now with God. The more this is realized in the state, the more will its felicity be advanced. For certainly the morals of Christianity are excellent. It enjoins obedience to magistracy, justice, harmony, and benevolence, among fellow-citizens, and what is more, it points out immortality to man. Politicians indeed usually consider religion only as it may affect and subserve civil purposes: and hence it is mighty indifferent to them, what the state of religion be, provided they can ride in the whirlwind, and direct the storm. Nothing is more common than to see them, in every country, making use of sects for their own ends, whom they, in their hearts, despise the ridicule with supreme contempt. Not so the Christian patriot, who, from his heart, wishes the advancement of Christianity, much less for the civil good than for the eternal welfare of immortal souls. We err much, if we think the only or chief end of civil government is secular happiness. Shall immortals, illuminated by revelation, entertain such an opinion? God forbid! Let us model civil society with the adoption of divine institutions, so as shall best subserve the training up and disciplining innumerable millions for the more glorious society of the church of the first born! Animated with the sublime ideas which Christianity infuses into a people, we shall be led to consider the true religion as the highest glory of a civil polity. The Christian institution so excelled in glory, that the mosaic lost all its glory. So the most perfect secular polity, though very excellent, would lose all its glory, when compared with a kingdom wherein dwelleth righteousness, a community wherein the religion of the divine Jesus reign in vigour and perfection.
Let us institute a comparison of religions in three different polities, which will sufficiently represent the state of the whole world. And may that spirit, which justly springs from such a comparison, animate all, whether in humble life, or in the most elevated stations among mankind. We may consider three contiguous empires of the same civil polity, all alike as to the social virtues, laws of justice, benevolence, and the morals of civil society – for I mean to institute a very liberal and candid comparison. On the one of these shall be established the idolatry of the BONZAS, as a specimen of all the idolatrous religions: Deism shall cover the second: and of the unidolatrous religions, I will select for the third, not the Mahometan, not the Jewish, but the Christian, in its purest apostolic form.
As to the first, the species of idolatry is indifferent, whether ancient or modern, that of the Druids or Zoroaster, of the Bramins or Romanists, or lastly, that of the great LAMA, of Potola, which is the most extensive, as well as most splendid, religion on earth, being the religion of the third of the human race. Let us select the last: it has for its basis, in common with all other idolatrous systems, adoration and worship, of some kind or other, to a hierarchy of celestial spirits as our intercessors and protectors under the supreme God. These have been, in all ages, the MAHUZZIM of Daniel; who predicts the apostacy of the church to the worship of Mahuzzim departed souls, invisible spirits as intercessors with God. This is the real basis of all idolatry, ancient and modern. These were the Baalim and the Heroes. And it is just indifferent, whether we sacrifice and pray to Hercules or to St. Paul, to the thirty thousand gods of Athens, or the saints of the calendar, as advocates with the Father of the Universe. Now let the inhabitants of an empire be resolved into religious assemblies and convocations, for the sacrificial worship of these inferior divinities, with a splendid ceremonial and priesthood. Who does not see, in these enlightened realms, that all this is religious delusion, a transfer of worship to the creature from the creator – who may well say, who hath required this at your hands?
If it be said that supreme worship is not rendered to the saints of the pontifical canonization: so neither was it by the ten tribes, all of whom, but eight thousand, kissed the calves and worshipped the numerous Baalim, Heroes, or demi-gods. Dr. Middleton has shown that the specific worship, with a change of names only, is paid at Rome to the modern canonized saints, as to the deified heroes of the ancient Romans and Greeks. The last effort of the philosophers against Christianity, was in the time of Julian; and they subordinated the whole system of ethnical worship to the worship of the Supreme Being, asserting that as Christians acknowledge the ministry of angels, so they held with the ministry of genii that of deceased and departed spirits, who must be supposed to retain a peculiar affection for their families,cities and kingdoms on earth; especially for those who should have referred themselves to their protection and intercession with the Deus O.M. the Supreme God. Thus they defended themselves upon the very same reasoning, as that upon which the Christian idolatry is defended. We are directed to ask the prayers of our fellow Christians on earth; and by parity why should we not ask their prayers in Heaven, where they must be supposed to have far greater influence? And if we are directed to treat one another, and especially great benefactors of our country, with public respect while here, why not by parity continue this respect and the symbols of honor to them in Heaven? What a beautiful gradation is there, it is said, in the ethnical and Christian worship or ascription of gratitude to inferior and powerful intercessors? And how does it tend to keep alive in our minds and impress them with glorious ideas of that grand, august, and beautiful system of agency and subordinate administrations, in the great government of the one Great Supreme? How beautiful the subordinate mediation of angels and saints, under the all-comprehensive mediation of the blessed JESUS, through whom all worship, adoration and homage is to ascend to the Sovereign of the Universe! Let us be assured, that the romanists think themselves to have great reason for the adoration of the superior powers.
Adjacent to this, n empire of the same excellent constitution, shall be overspread with DEISM exclusively. And to give the idea the most candid extent, perhaps beyond the desires of a Tindal, or even of a Shaftsbury, the amiable Confucius of deism, not to mention the smaller and more desultory geniuses of a Hume, or a Voltaire; neither of whom had any more taste or judgment in religion, or moral reasoning, than Cicero in poetry, or Cibber for the drama: I say, to give the fairest idea of perfect deism, let the people of this empire be resolved into occasional, abut not too frequent, worshipping assemblies for worshipping the god of nature, under the direction of the illuminated brethren, or of some right worshipful brother: and also to thank God for His goodness in this life, and for a certain prospect of a blessed immortality, if there should be any when, perhaps some noble minds, spirits of elevated and sublime genius, of bold, refined and independent sentiment, might descant upon the common principles of social virtue and benevolence. I have certainly done justice to deism; although we hear nothing of pardoning mercy, because truly we need none – such being the excellency and dignity of man, who, as Phocelides sayeth, is the image of God, that he well answers the end of existence, merits reward, and must hereafter be happy under the all-comprehending, the most benevolent administration of the universal FATHER. How pure and sublime is natural religion!
CHRISTIANITY shall be the establishment of the third territorial empire. And to preclude the sectarian prejudications from disturbing the clearness and calmness of the mental perception, let any one overspread it with the BIBLE Christianity, according to his own idea. I for myself might overspread the whole with the congregational churches; being not simply satisfied but sure, from a thorough perlustration of all ecclesiastical history, that they are nearly apostolical as to doctrine and polity. And let this justice further be done, that religion shall reign in the hearts and lives of the people at large: and that it be the great and harmonious endeavour of the ruling characters and influential personages through the state, both by example and precept, to support such a reign of virtue and holiness. All that is valuable and truly excellent in the other empires, is embraced; and in addition, we have discoveries, and offers, and assurances, great in the confession of all men, if true, and glorious beyond description, infinitely momentous indeed, and infinitely surpassing what is to be found in all the mythologies or moral systems around the globe. But I do not enlarge.
Ten thousand myriads of ages hence, in which of these three, would the civilian, the patriot, the man of religion, wish to have been found? In which to have acted his part?
For most certainly they are not indifferent – and in advancing its glory, to have exerted the talents and activity with which the Author of Nature had blessed him?
Which of these governments is it probable would most contribute to the secular welfare, and be attended with the greatest dignity, and even the greatest worldly splendor? But above all, which most subservient to eternity and its momentous concerns? In which, as a school of institution and discipline, should we enjoy the happiest advantages for immortality? Which of these empires would be the favorite of JESUS? Or is He indeed an unconcerned spectator of human affairs? If not, why should we doubt or hesitate to give the preference to the Christian Republic? If revelation be not true, it does us no hurt: we are as safe and as well off as others, having all their moral virtue. But if revelation be true, it is true exclusively, and therefore to be attended to at peril. This is no proof: but it is a reason for exciting our attention to its evidence, both in miracles and prophecy, as well as in a certain internal beauty and glory opened by Heaven upon a benighted world…
This, with a survey of the state of man in all ages, may show us that ethnic morals do not merit the high encomiums, the rapturous eulogies, which some have given them. Nor are deistical morals very promising. A world, a universe full of Rochesters and Chesterfields, what would it be? Characters, which may blaze their moment in an earthly court, but can never shine in the court above.
Modern deists – but why do I say modern, for the very fraternity is but of yesterday – the deists have more lately improved and adopted suicide and fate into their system; holding it in common with the Bramins of Asia, and the aulic chieftains in Africa. We might trace the matter of suicide through a tract of ages, from Calenus the Indian philosopher, who from the funeral pile laughed at Alexander the great, to that sublime genius, that deistical madman, who lately “stole away” out of life with his wife and four children at once, “closing the eyes of six persons, out of perfect humanity, and the most endearing fondness and friendship.” (William Beadle, who professing himself a deist, on the llth December 1782, cut the throats of his wife and four children, and then pistoled himself.)
Sir William Temple, Sale, and other learned deists, fond of depreciating Christian virtue by comparisons, have extolled and celebrated the Mahometan, Chinese and
other oriental morals, as far superior to the Christian. But the learned historiographer, Principal Robertson, asserts with historic verity, that upon the comparison of Europe in particular in its gentile and Christian ages, her morality will appear to have been greatly improved and meliorated, and that the ethnic morals fell far below the Christian. While we have to confess and lament the vice rampant in Christendom, we have reason to believe that the more Christianity prevails in a country, civil society will be more advanced, ferocious manners will give way to the more mild, liberal, just and amiable manners of the gospel.
Be it granted that in all countries are to be found men of integrity, honor, benevolence and excellent morals, even where vice has a prevalent reign, to the greatest excesses of a general licentiousness; yet supposing a community, nay, a kingdom, a world overspread with such characters, with the finest morals of a Socrates or a Confucius, what would be the moral state of such a country, in comparison with one overspread with the reign of the Christian morals? I mean in perfection.
How much soever we may admire the morals of Plato or Epictetus, they are not to be compared with those taught by Moses and the divine Jesus. Nor are we to conceive that civil virtue is the only end of civil government. As the end of God’s government is His declarative glory in the holiness and happiness of the universe; so all civil government ought to subserve the same end. The most essential interests of rational beings are neglected, when their secular welfare only is consulted. If therefore we defend and plead for Christianity, from its secular and civil utility only, and leave it here, we dishonor religion by robbing it of half, nay its greatest glories. It serves a higher purpose. For although it subserves the civil welfare infinitely beyond the morals of deism and idolatry, yet it also provides for the interests of eternity, which no other religion does. It opens to us the most grand and sublime discoveries concerning God, reconciliation with Him, and the reunion of this lapsed world with the immense universe. Discoveries momentous and interesting beyond conception! Without which we are left to perfect incertitude, if not totally in the dark with respect to eternity and its vast concerns.
Should we have recourse to the goodness of God; yet of all being angels would think, that man should be the last, to reason from the benevolence and goodness of the universal parent, to the impossibility of his offspring being involved in future ill, when from thence we might equally reason against the existence of present ill. If some distant seraph, who never knew nor heard of ill, should reason thus, it would be no marvel, perhaps: but that we, with all our sins and sufferings about us, should go into such reasonings, is the height of folly, the absurdity of absurdities! And why should that infinite goodness preserve the numerous millions that die in finished, though half punished vice, that did not preserve the lives of those upon whom the tower of Siloam fell – who did not avert the desolations of Lisbon, Naples, Herculaneum and Palermo? Cast thine eyes thither, O man, remember the battle, and do no more. (Job xli.8).
If instead of reasoning from the works and word of God, and thus ascending upwards into Deity, “we take the high priori road, and reason downwards ‘till we doubt of God.”
If by inductive reasonings from the perfections of God to what can and what cannot be, we should among other things, boldly conclude a TRINITY, and the incarnation of the eternal WORD absurd nullities, and yet it should appear in another state, that a crucified JESUS sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high; how would these mighty sensible characters, these find geniuses, these sublime, these foolish reasoners be disappointed? - May I be forgiven a very earnest solicitude here? – having myself passed through the cloudy darksome valley of skepticism, and stood on the precipice, from whence I was in danger of taking a juvenile leap into the irrecoverable depths of deism. For so rare are the FORBES’ and the JENNINGS, the instances of emancipated real infidels, that nulla vestigial retrorsum (no return from hence) my be inscribed on the temple of deism. Knowing these dangers, I pity from my heart, and almost bleed at every pore, for those who are caught in the vortex, and are captivated with the wiley satirical delusory and deficient reasonings of deism. Elevated with the pride of mental enlargement of a supposed untrammeled understanding, they ascent aloft above the clouds of prejudices into the Pisgah heights, from whence they fancy that they see all religions the same, that it, equally nothing but priestcraft and artificial error. Whereupon they complement themselves as endowed with a superiority of discernment in morals, with high sensibility, sentimental and liberal ideas, and charm themselves with other fine self-applied diction, which in truth only clothes the tedium, the weariness of half-discussed, unfinished inquiries; or perhaps the hope that at worst the want of certain knowledge may pass with God, if there is any, as a sufficient excuse for some of the doubtful levities of life.
But errors in judgment, it is said, will be of no account with God. In ten thousand matters they may not. We may trifle on many things; but on the things that respect eternity, the things of religion, it is too solemn, too dangerous to trifle. Although most religions are false and ridiculous, there may however be one, which we must renounce or trifle with at our peril. For, if revelation be true, as most assuredly it is, it is in Jesus only that we have eternal life. Infidels, and those excessively benevolent Christians, who consider all religions alike and equally ridiculous, do well, in their calmer moments to ponder those words of the eternal Judge, Matthew x.33. WHOSOEVER SHALL DENY ME BEFORE MEN, HIM WILL I ALSO DENY BEFORE MY FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN. Where then will a Judas, and a Beadle appear? Step forth, thou Herbert, the father of deism; come hither ye Bolingbrokes, Tindals, Collins’, Humes, Voltaires with all your shining abilities; and that disappointed group of self-opinionated deniers of the Lord that bought them, with that cloud of deluded followers, who would not that I should reign over them, - evanish from my presence, with alla the light of your boasted wisdom, into the blackness of darkness forever and ever! On what principles can the despised, the amiable Jesus withhold or recede from so awful a sentence, so tremendous a denunciation!
How infinitely happier they who, believing the record which God giveth of His Son, have received Him, and are become the sons of God? Is it nothing, is it a small thing to be initiated into the glorious idea of god and the Trinity revealed in the Scriptures to contemplate the hierarchy and government of the universe and the high dignity of that most illustrious personage, who is our intercessor, advocate and sovereign? Shall this light come into the world, and we neglect it? And shall it be said that these views do not animate a sublimer virtue than the motives taken from civil society? Shall the consideration of being citizens of a little secular kingdom or community, be equally animating with those taken from our being citizens of the august monarchical republic of the universe! But I must desist, with only observing that the United states are under peculiar obligations to become a holy people unto the Lord our God, on account of the late eminent deliverance, salvation, peace and glory, with which He hath now crowned our new sovereignty. (Deut. iv.34.)
I have thus finished the two heads upon which I at first proposed to discourse. And I shall not further trespass upon the patience of this very honorable auditory, by an application: but close with the addresses usual upon this anniversary solemnity.
To Governor TRUMBULL:
I beg leave in the first place, with the greatest honor, the most profound and dutiful respect, to address myself to his excellency the Governor of this State.
May it please your Excellency,
We account ourselves happy, most illustrious sire, that by the free election and annual voice of the citizens, God hath for so many years past called you up to the Supreme Magistracy in this commonwealth. And while we rejoice that this State embosoms numerous characters equal to the highest offices of government: yet should this day’s election fall again upon him, who, according to the interpretation of his name (Jonathan, Jehovah-natan) Jehovah hath given us, it would diffuse a joy through the United States. And should you now resign the chair, you would enjoy the reflection that you had been carried through a scene of the most distinguished usefulness, and loved to see the end of the war and establishment of American liberty and INDEPENDENCE.
It is observable, that, by a particular turn of genius and a peculiar discipline in early life, God often prepares great characters, for that future usefulness and eminence, for which they are designed in the world. This was conspicuous in the instances of Joseph, Moses, and Daniel: neither of whom in youth, thought that they were training up for the eminent spheres of action in which they afterwards moved.
Endowed with a singular strength of the mental powers, with a vivid and clear perception, with a penetrating and comprehensive judgment, embellished with the acquisition of academical, theological and political erudition, your excellency became qualified for a very singular variety of usefulness in life. Instituted in the sciences, the Hebrew literature, and theology, you were not only prepared for the sanctuary, but being export in all questions touching the law of your God, you became qualified to judge how we the Ministers of the Gospel under your government ought to behave ourselves in the house of God; while it has pleased God to call you up to other services in civil life. Thus the great Melchizedec was priest of the Most High God, and King of Salem. So Moses, though of the tribe of Levi and learned in all the wisdom of Egypt, was called of God to be King in Jeshurum.
An early entrance into civil improvement, and 50 years’ (1733 – elected representative; 1740 – elected into the council; 1766 – elected deputy Governor; 1769 – elected Governor) service of our country, with an uncommon activity and dispatch in business, had familiarized the whole rota of duty in every office and department, antecedent and preparatory to the great glory of your Excellency’s life, the last eight years administration at the head of this commonwealth; an administration which has rendered you the Pater Patriae, the father of your country, and our dulce decus atque tutamen.
We adore the God of our fathers, the god and Father of the spirits of all flesh, that He hath raised you up for such a time as this; and that He hath put into your breast a wisdom, which I cannot describe without adulation – a patriotism and intrepid resolution, a noble and independent spirit, an unconquerable love of LIBERTY, RELIGION and our COUNTRY, and that grace, by which you have been carried through the arduous labours of a high office, with a dignity and glory never before acquired by an American Governor. Our enemies revere the names of TRUMBULL and WASHINGTON. In honoring the state and councils of Connecticut, you, illustrious Sire, have honored yourself to all the confederate Sister States, to the congress, to the Gallic empire, to Europe and to the world, to the present and distant ages. And should you now lay down your office, and retire form public life, we trust that you may take this people to record, in the language, in which that holy patriot, the pious SAMUEL addressed Israel, and say unto us – I am old, and grey-headed – and I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day. Behold, here I am, witness against me before the Lord: - whose ox have I taken? Or whose ass have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or of whose hand have I received any bribe, to blind mine eyes therewith? And I will restore it you. And they said, thou hast not defrauded nor oppressed us, neither hast thou taken ought of any man’s hand. And he said unto them, the Lord is witness against you, and His anointed is witness this day, that ye have not found ought in my hand. And they answered, he is witness. (I Samuel xii.2).
May you receive a reward from the Supreme Governor of the Universe; which will be a reward of grace. For although your Excellency might adopt the words of that illustrious governor NEHEMIAH, and say, think upon me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people (Nehemiah v.19) yet your ultimate hope for immortality, will be found in a more glorious merit, than that achieved by mortals, in the most illustrious scenes of public usefulness. May the momentary remnant of your days be crowned with a placid tranquility. And when you shall have finished your work on earth, may you be received to the rewards of the just, and shine in the general assembly at the first born through eternal ages. Amen.
To the LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR AND COUNCIL.
With great respect would I next address myself to his Honor, Lieutenant Governor Griswold, and the rest of the honorable COUNCILLORS of this State.
May it please your Honor, and the other Members of the honorable Council.
That senatorial order must be truly important, which stands upon the general voice and election of the public at large, because it must comprehend men of such public and conspicuous merit, as to be known among all our tribes, men of approved patriotism and wisdom, as well as popularity. We esteem it our happiness that our
GOVERNORS and our NOBLES proceed from ourselves. When we consider the trifling and inferior charters of the most of the counselors in the late royal governments, when compared with the solid wisdom of the council of this state, we may be convinced that the legislature, standing upon the free election of the people to be governed, bids fair to ensure more wisdom and incorruptibility, than if in the appointment of the most august sovereigns in the world.
We glory in it, that this state has at all times furnished gentlemen, in the appointment of the people, of abilities equal to every department and branch of common, whether legislative or executive. It is particularly happy, that men impressed with the feelings of the people, of great knowledge in laws and jurisprudence, in the civil polity, especially of this state, have hitherto been and still are, found at the council board, in the military departments, and in the highest judiciary tribunals of this commonwealth.
This state has ever preserved a grave, sensible and weighty council, in a pretty delicate situation, indeed, but of great prudence and influential wisdom. It is this council which combines and consolidates the whole commonwealth.
The general anniversary election dictates annually the general sense of the community. And while a rotation to a considerable degree, though not be constitution, yet by usage, and the mutability of human passions, and in the course of events, does in effect, take place, we have been happy however, and I hope, always shall be, in the retention of a number of ancient and venerable counselors, to transmit the wisdom and experience of their predecessors, and to give a steady and immutable complexion to the succession in the general assembly, especially as to the capital matters of law, liberty and government.
We glory in you, gentlemen, as our crown of rejoicing. We securely confide our liberties and safety, the civil, religious and literary welfare of this republic to your superintendence. We pray God, that in all your momentous deliberations and resolutions, you may be guided by the wisdom from above, by the mighty Counsellor, the
Prince of Peace. Amen.
To the House of REPRESENTATIVES
It is my duty in the next place, to pay the tribute of public honor to the respectable and numerous body of the lower house of assembly, the second branch in the honorable legislature and sovereignty of this State.
Mr. Speaker, and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives.
Your house is already formed standing on the free, local elections of a free people. Form the character of your constituents, we doubt not you bring with you the love of liberty, justice and public right. Assembled from all our tribes to consult the public good, so far as this is left to your judgment, you will act with well-informed wisdom and integrity; while so far as you know the minds of your constituents, may we not presume that you will hold it your duty to act and represent their judgments, be your own as they may. You have matters of high moment to attend to, and some of a very insidious nature. Besides matters of internal government, a liquidation of the expenditures of the war, finance, revenue, funds, are some of the subjects before this assembly. It is not impossible but you may perceive some hovering genius, something of an anti-American spirit flitting about, and at times alighting upon some within the walls of the Senate. Will you not hunt it down, and send it to the shades? May you all be inspired with a real, hearty and uncorrupted patriotism, and firmness in the cause of liberty and independence. Let an independent liberality of sentiment, and reverence for right and equity, reign in this branch of the Senate: that the world may see that the administration of the united branches, combined in the sovereignty of this state, is conducted with a certain plain, but noble dignity and majesty.
This assembly at every session for eight years past, has been full of the most anxious and weighty concerns, for our bleeding country. But this house is no more called to raise armies, or amidst the most complicated distresses, to devise means for their support. What a load, what a burden and weighty care has devolved upon this house through the war? But these conflicts are at an end. And you will be now called to the arts of peace, and to promote the welfare and aggrandizement of our country.
And while this honorable house is attending to the secular concerns of civil government, may we not humbly wish that you would not repudiate the idea of being nursing fathers to our spiritual Israel, the church of god within this State? Give us, gentlemen, the decided assurance, that you are friends of the churches, and that you are the friends of the pastors, who have certainly, in this trying warfare, approved themselves the friends of liberty and government. Your predecessors 100 years ago accounted this among their principal honors. They were solicitous to promote religion and learning, and to give suitable encouragement to both.
And in this connection will it be forgiven me, if I humbly recommend YALE COLLEGE to the smiles of government? Through the good hand of our God upon us, we may truly say, in the language of the sons of the prophets to Elisha, behold now, the place where we dwell is to strait for us. (2 Kings vi.x). May we not humbly ask of the public, that they would be pleased to build us another house, or the necessary edifices for the reception and accommodation of the youth, but about one third of the students being provided for in the present college edifice? Was I not so nearly connected with it, I might say with truth, what has often been told me by others, that there is not a state upon the continent, but would account such a feat of learning, in whose hands so ever it might be, as an illustrious ornament to their community.
A trust may be well executed, when the end of the trust is answered, although there may have intervened some mismanagements. Small bodies as well as great, not even Congresses and Assemblies, and may I not add not even this honorable assembly excepted, are not only frequently aspersed and censured, but have sometimes erred: - so perhaps have the governors of the college: when, however, upon a candid enquiry, it may be found, that in money concerns they have managed with an unexampled frugality, even to parsimony, that never was there more done to purpose with so small means in a literary institution – and that the college is at present in a pretty flourishing state. At my accession in 1778, the number of matriculated undergraduates in the four classes, was 119; and this current year they have been 251. There are ten colleges in the United States, from New England to Virginia inclusive: besides two intended ones in the Carolinas. The numbers of undergraduates in the most considerable are estimated as follows:
1636 Harvard College 150
1698 William and Mary College 100
1746 Jersey College 60
1755 Philadelphia College 30
1769 Dartmouth College 80
And in point of scholarship and literature, I hope we do not fall very far behind the other sister colleges in America.
How happy were its foundations and emoluments adequate to the civil and religious purposes of this institution? An enlargement of the public library, a complete apparatus for experimental philosophy, premiums for stimulating genius in every branch of literature, endowments of professorships, especially those of philosophy, law and medicine, would be of inconceivable benefit in the liberal education of youth. These things I doubt not will be effected in time: but the literati wish to see them accomplished in the present day.
The college has often since its foundation (A.D. 1700) experienced the liberality and smiles of the general assembly; for which it is always ready to return and repeat its thanks and gratitude. Some unhappy differences of sentiment (together with the war) have interrupted the dream of public munificence. But is there no balm in Gilead to heal the wound; is there no way to accommodate and adjust matters; so as to conciliate the friendship of the state towards its university?
The states of Holland, in the midst of their expensive wars in the cause of liberty, founded and endowed the university of Leyden. Should this state be pleased to endow two or three professorships, and appoint a board of civilians to elect the professors in concurrence with the present corporation, and see that the monies granted by the State were applied to the use to which they were appropriated by the general assembly – might not this give satisfaction?
But I trespass upon your patience. All the great interests of this State, whether as a separate sovereignty, or in its connection with the United States, are entrusted to you. A very weighty trust! You have a thousand pious prayers going up for you daily at the throne of grace. You have all the patriots saying, be strong O ZOROBBABELS: You have all the ministers inculcating obedience to you. And may you above all, have the influential guidance of unerring wisdom, to render you acceptable to the multitude of your brethren, to make you eminent blessings in your day, and reward you with immortality and glory in that world to come. Amen.
To the MINISTERS:
And now I turn myself to the PASTORS of the churches.
Reverend and beloved Brethren:
I have not assumed upon me to dictate to the civil magistracy, nor do I dictate to the sacerdotal order: albeit I might speak to the most of my brethren present, as being such a one in years, as Paul the aged. Condescend however, holy brethren, to receive a humble address from one, who loves the order with a sincere and fervent affection.
Permit me then to say, that, while we do not fail to inculcate obedience to the magistracy and laws, and recommend to our people the election of a pious magistracy; our principal work is not secular but spiritual and divine. Let us with the greatest assiduity devote ourselves to our Lord’s work, as ambassadors of the Prince of Peace. Let us preach the divinity and unsearchable riches of Christ, and salvation by His atonement; that theological system, which places the whole of redemption upon free grace – a grace free as to us, though merited by the holy Redeemer. Let us search the Scriptures for the real evangelical verity: and inquire, not so much for new theories in divinity, as what truths were known and realized in faith and life, by the primitive Christians of the apostolic age, and the three first centuries; and believe that no other system, no other doctrines are essentially necessary to carry men to Heaven in these ages, than those which enabled the myriads of holy martyrs to seal the testimony of Jesus with their blood.
There is but one true system of theology, and this has been equally known in all the Christian ages. For although great improvements and discoveries are daily making in philosophy and natural science, yet there have been no new discoveries in divinity, since the apostolic age. I do not mean merely no new revelation, but of the innumerable latent truths concealed in the Bible (and there are infinitely greater treasures hidden there than in nature) none have been perceived in later ages, but what have been as clearly discerned by the contemplative theologians of all ages. The sentiments are the same, though clothed in different diction. Philosophy, as I said, is improving, nor has the progress of civil society yet reached its summit: but divinity, I apprehend, has been long at a stand, having ages ago come to the highest perfection intended us at present by Heaven; which did not design any further improvement in it, from the sealing of the vision till the second coming of Christ. In the millennium these hidden treasures will be brought forth. But for the preceding period, divinity will be, and remain at a stand, except perhaps that towards the close of it, the prophecies will disclose themselves.
Religion has had and will have different fashions, even where it is still essentially the same. Previous to the tenth century, the writings of St. Augustin gave an extensive complexion to theology: afterwards Lombard’s collection of sentences or opinions of evangelical divines: but he was shoved into neglect by Aquinas, who reigned umpire till the reformation. Luther followed Augustin, and Calvin, Aquinas. The real theology of Melancthon, Calvin, archbishop Cranmer and Owen, was one and the same.
We despise the fathers and the pious and learned divines of the middle ages: pious posterity will do the same by us; and twirl over our most favorite authors with the same ignorant pity and neglect: - happy they, if their favorite authors contain the same blessed truths.
I rejoice that God has hitherto preserved a learned and evangelical ministry in these churches. The theology in general reception, comprehends all the excellent things of our common Christianity. And if some fancied discoveries should be burnt up in the day of the Lord, yet there will be left as great an abundance of precious stones, of the tried and pure gold of truth, as in any part of the world. Indeed we have gotten all the light of Christendom, and we need no more. We have enough: we are wealthy in sacred knowledge. We may spend long lives, in making ourselves masters of that vast treasure of sacred wisdom, which holy men of great light have attained. May I comprehend with all saints the height and depth of this knowledge, may my God possess me of this treasure, and I am content. All this knowledge , to the greatest extent of the human limit, has been gotten and acquired over and over again and again. Like other science, to every generation it seems new, while it is only possessing the knowledge familiar to our predecessors.
Moreover, charity, union and benevolence are peculiarly ornamental in the ministerial order. Let us cherish these amiable graces in ourselves and others. Let us be faithful. And the nearer we come to the solemn moment when we must render our account to god the Judge, and more may we be quickened and animated in the ministry; and think no labor, no assiduity too great, nothing too much to be done for the salvation of precious and immortal souls, nothing too much for the cause and kingdom of him who hath loved us to the death. May you, holy brethren, be strong in the grace which is in our Lord Jesus Christ: may the work, the pleasure of the Lord prosper in your hands: may you be honored of Jesus to turn many to righteousness. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, may you receive a crown of glory which
fadeth not away. Amen.
To the Assembly at Large
And now, my fellow citizens of this independent republic, my fellow Christians of every order and denomination in this assembly, and all you that fear God and hear me this day, given audience.
The Most High planned our fathers, a small handful in this Joshimon: and lo! we their posterity have arisen up to three millions of people. Deuteronomy x.22. Our ears have heard, and our fathers have old us, the marvelous things God did for them; but our eyes have seen far more marvelous things done for us, whereof we are glad and rejoice this day. Should our ancestors look down from the high abodes of paradise into this assembly, and attend to the things which we have been this day commemorating, methinks they might catch a sensation of joy at beholding the reign, the triumph of LIBERTY on earth! Hitherto has our bow abode in strength, and our arms been made strong by the hands of the mighty god of Jacob. And while amidst the festivity of this anniversary election, we congratulate one another and our country upon the cessation of hostilities, and that having fought the good fight, our warfare is ended: let us not fail to look through Providence up to the God of Providence, and give glory to GOD the Lord of Hosts, the God of our fathers, whom let us serve with a perfect heart and a willing mind.
Let us cultivate and cherish the virtues of the Divine as well as civil life, bearing in mind that we are all hastening to that period wherein all the glories of this world will be swallowed up and lost in the glories of immortality. Be it our great ambition, our incessant endeavor, to act our parts worthily on the stage of life, as looking for an hastening to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. May we be prepared for the solemnities of a far more august assembly than the most splendid assembly on earth. We are ardently pursuing this world’s riches, honors, powers, pleasures, - let us possess them, and then know that they are nothing, nothing, nothing. They serve a temporary gratification, vanish, and are no more. But we cannot be dissuaded from the pursuit. Death however, kindly ends it. Let us thing that we have two worlds to live for, proportion our attention to their respective interests, and we shall be happy forever. We shall then be prepared to shine in the assembly of the just at the right hand of the Sovereign of Life. How glorious to bear a part in the triumphs of virtue, the triumphs of the Redeemer, in the last day of the great and general assembly of the universe? How glorious to make a part of that infinitely honored and dignified body, which clothed with the Redeemer’s righteousness and walking in white robes, shall be led by the Messiah, thro’ the shining ranks of archangels, seraphims, and the innumerable hosts of the whole assembled universe, up to the throne of God, and being presented to and received by the triune Jehovah, shall be seated with Jesus in His throne at the summit of the universe, to the conspicuous view, and for the eternal contemplation of the whole intellectual world, as an everlasting monument of sovereign grace, Ephesians iii.10,11. to the intent that now unto the principalities and power is the heavenly places might be known, by the church, the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. To whom be glory in the church thro’ the never-ending succession of eternal ages. AMEN.