תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

sures and sufferings come, when the weight of power grows intolerable, a people will fly to the constitution for shelter; and, if able, will resume that power which they never surrendered, except so far as it might be exercised for the common safety. Pulpitcasuistry is too feeble to direct or controul here. God, in his own government of the world, never violates freedom; and his scriptures themselves would be disregarded, or considered as perverted, if brought to belie his voice, speaking in the hearts of men.

The application of these principles, my brethren, is now easy and must be left to your own consciences and feelings. You are now engaged in one of the grandest struggles, to which freemen can be called. You are contending for what you conceive to be your constitutional rights, and for a final settlement of the terms upon which this country may be perpetually united to the Parent State.

Look back, therefore, with reverence look back, to the times of ancient virtue and renown. Look back to the mighty purposes which your fathers had in view, when they traversed a vast ocean, and planted this land. Recall to your minds their labours, their toils, their perseverance, and let their divine spirit animate

you
in all
your

actions. Look forward also to distant posterity. Figure to yourselves millions and millions to spring from your loins, who may be born freemen or slaves, as Heaven shall now approve or reject your councils. : Think that on you it may depend, whether this great country, in ages hence, shall be filled and adorned with a virtuous and enlightened people; enjoying Li

berty and all its concomitant blessings, together with the Religion of Jesus, as it flows uncorrupted from his holy Oracles; or covered with a race of men more contemptible than the savages that roam the wilderness, because they once knew the “ things which

belonged to their happiness and peace, but suf“ fered them to be hid from their eyes."

And while you thus look back to the past, and forward to the future, fail not, I beseech you, to look up to." the God of Gods—the Rock of

your

Salvation. As the clay in the potter's hands,” so are the nations of the earth in the hands of Him, the everlasting JEHOVAH! He lifteth up—and he casteth down“ He resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the “humble-He will keep the feet of his saints—the " wicked shall be silent in darkness, and by strength “shall no man prevail.”

The bright prospects of the Gospel; a thorough veneration of the Saviour of the world; a conscientious obedience to His divine laws; faith in His

promises; and the stedfast hope of immortal life through Him—these only can support a man in all times of adversity as well as prosperity. You might more easily " strike fire out of ice,” than stability or magnanimity out of crimes. But the good man, he who is at peace with the God of all Peace, will know no fear but that of offending Him, whose hand can cover the righteous; " so that he needs not fear the arrow that “ fleeth by day, nor the destruction that wasteth at “noon-day; for a thousand shall fall beside him, and “ ten thousand at his right hand, but it shall not come

Qo

VOL. II.

nigh to him; for He shall give His angels charge “ over him to keep him in all his ways.”

On the Omnipotent God, therefore, through his blessed Son, let your strong confidence be placed; but do not vainly expect that every day will be to you a day of prosperity or triumph. The ways of Providence lie through mazes, too intricate for human penetration. Mercies may often be held forth to us in the shape of sufferings; and the vicissitudes of our fortune in building up this American fabric of happiness and glory may be various and chequered.

But let not this discourage you. Yea rather let it animate you with a holy fervour—a divine enthusiasm-ever persuading yourselves that the cause of Virtue and Freedom is the Cause of God upon earth; and that the whole theatre of human nature does not exhibit a more august spectacle than a number of Freemen, in dependence upon Heaven, mutually binding themselves to encounter every difficulty and danger in support of their native and constitutional rights, and for transmitting them holy and unviolated to their posterity.

It was this principle that inspired the heroes of ancient times; that raised their names to the summit of renown, and filled all succeeding ages with their unspotted praise. It is this principle too that must animate your conduct, if you wish your names to reach future generations, conspicuous in the roll of glory; and so far as this principle leads you, be prepared to follow-whether to life or to death. While

you profess yourselves contending for Liberty, let it be with the temper and dignity of free.

men, undaunted and firm, but without wrath or vengeance, so far as grace may be obtained to assist the weakness of nature. Consider it as a happy circumstance, if such a struggle must have happened, that God hath been pleased to postpone it to a period, when our country is adorned with men of enlightened zeal; when the arts and sciences are planted among us to secure a succession of such men; when our morals are not far tainted by luxury, profusion or dissipation; when the principles that withstood oppression, in the brightest æra of the English history, are ours as it were by peculiar inheritance; and when we stand upon our own ground, with all that is dear around us, animating us to cvery patriotic exertion. Under such circumstances, and upon such principles, what wonders, what achievements of true glory, have not been performed!

For my part, I have long been possessed with a strong and even enthusiastic persuasion, that Heaven has great and gracious purposes towards this continent, which no human power or human device shall be able finally to frustrate. Illiberal or mistaken plans of policy may distress us for a while, and perhaps sorely check our growth; but if we maintain our own virtue; if we cultivate the spirit of Liberty among our children; if we guard against the snares of luxury, venality and corruption; the Genius of America will still rise triumphant, and that with a power at last too mighty for opposition. This country will be free-nay, for ages to come, a chosen seat of Freedom, Arts, and Heavenly Knowlege; which

are now either drooping or dead in most countries of the old world. . To conclude, since the strength of all public bodies, under God, consists in their Union; bear with each others infirmities, and even varieties of sentiments, in things not essential to the main point. The tempers of men are cast in various moulds. Some are quick and feelingly alive in all their mental operations, especially those which relate to their country's weal, and are therefore ready to burst forth into flame upon every alarm. Others again, with intentions alike pure, and a clear unquenchable love of their country, too stedfast to be damped by the mists of prejudice, or worked up into conflagration by the rude blasts of passion, think it their duty to weigh consequences, and to deliberate fully upon the pro. bable means of obtaining public ends. Both these kinds of men should bear with each other; for both are friends to their country.

One thing further let me add, that without order and just subordination there can be no union in public bodies. However much you may be equals on other occasions, yet all this must cease in an united and associated capacity; and every individual is bound to keep the place and duty assigned him, by ties far more powerful over a man of virtue and honour, than all the other ties which human policy can contrive. It had been better never to have lifted a voice in your country's cause, than to betray it by want of Union; or to leave worthy men, who have embarked their all for the common good, to suffer, or stand unassisted.

« הקודםהמשך »