Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

loved chief in their eye, and a measure of the same philanthropic benignity, that he in so great a degree (we had almost said with. out measure) possesses, in their hearts, determined to preserve the constitution, the laws, and if possible the people, who had violated them. See with what tender pity, with what mild compassion, the father of his country regards this deranged part of the family ; see how like the Parent of the universe he conquers the refractory by love ; see how under the benign influence of true patriotism the political storm subsides, the sunny beams of serenity are restored, and the halcyon days of internal peace and security, consequent thereon, have commenced. Mark with what ineffable delight our virtuous citizens return to their homes, now more than ever endeared to them, while their hearts glow with secret satisfaction in the consideration, that the earth, over which they have passed, hath not drank in their brother's blood.

Is there who can behold a scene so elevating and impressive, without exclaiming with the Psalmist, I will praise the name of God with a song, and magnify him with thanksgiving ?

We have already observed, that the body politick has been compared to the natural body; and as the natural body is subject to diseases, so also is the body politick; but if any part of the natural body is diseased, the disorder is by sympathy communicated to the whole ; thus, if one member suffers, all suffer ; yet these suffering parts hate not their own flesh, and an attempt will be made to remove the complaint without removing the disordered member. Passions too, it is said, are the elements of life, and perhaps these partial evils may indeed be productive of general good. Were it not, that the sea is frequently thrown into a tempestuous state by the force of the winds, it would become a stagnate mass of corruption ; and, although in consequence of storms and tempests, partial evils do succeed, yet the calamities, which would result from a perpetual calm, would be of infinitely greater magnitude.

Although our constitution of government may be, in the judgment of the wise and virtuous of both hemispheres, the nearest to perfection of any eve: yet formed for the benefit of human nature ; yet, although the nearest to perfection, it may not be perfect, and although the men, who are, by divine providence, placed at the head of our government, may be as near perfection as any men in such circumstances ever were, yet they are not perfect. VOL. III.

48

In the present imperfect state, perfection is not the lot of humanity.

These considerations may give rise, in the bosom of many individuals, to feelings, that a judgment of charity may denominate a godly jealousy ; they may admire and love our constitution so much, that their apprehensive minds may suffer in the dread of any change taking place in it, and agitated by those painful ideas, their consequent fears may form conjectures, that may exist no where but in their own imaginations ; and as the evils apprehended are, in the nature of things possible, persons of this description, while they do no more than act the part of vigilant watchmen, are certainly excusable. It would however be well, as we suffer through life almost as much from imaginary, as from real evils, if such persons could dismiss their fears, and serve both their country and their God without fear, and in newness of life ; at least it would be well, if they could avoid innoculating their brethren with this infection.

Yet, as the rights of man are the rights of every man, so every man has a right to think for himself, and if he will clothe his thoughts in decent language, he has a right to submit his views to the public eye. But, blessed be God, we are, as a people, well enough acquainted with the rights of man, to know that the charter of his rights endows no man with a right to do wrong.

On the whole, as difference of opinion hath existed, and will continue to exist among the individuals, which constitute the ag. gregate of mankind, and as our free constitutions admit of this difference, what have we to do, but mutually to agree to differ, well knowing that while we keep within legal bounds, our admirable constitution, like an indulgent parent, will spread over us its protecting wings.

Let us, then, my beloved friends, however we may be disposed to censure men or measures, leave it to the uninfluenced determination of a majority of free citizens, to approve or disapprove, agreeably to the direction of their best informed judgment.

Yet, as strength is established by union, and nothing can be more desirable than unity of spirit in the bond of peace, it is every man's duty, it is every man's interest, to exert himself for the promotion and establishment of peace. Blessed are the peace makers, they shall be called the children of God. But as opposition always begets opposition, so the mild influence of

[ocr errors]

peaceful measures are the best calculated to beget and preserve peace; and it is, and always will be a truth, that a soft answer turneth away wrath, while grievous words stir up anger.

As our constitution is the boast of the unprejudiced part of the world, so it is the envy of the malignant, the ambitious, and the designing, both abroad and at home. Distinguished and highly blessed as we are, we cannot be without external and internal foes; and it is sometimes difficult for any, but him who trieth the reins, to determine, who is the genuine friend, who is the dangerous foe. But every lover of his country, when he beholds American citizens contending, acrimoniously contending with each other, experiences the same sensations, which agitated the bosom of Moses, when he beheld the strife of his brethren in Egypt, and, impelled by his feelings, he will involuntarily adopt the language of the Hebrew patriot. “Sirs, why do you thus, are ye not brethren?" Little do these contending parties know, how much their dissensions gratify the worst passions, and most unworthy part of their species.

But it is with inexpressible pleasure, that we are enabled to indulge the pleasing hope, that in this most respectable branch of the Union, these contentions will never be carried to any very injurious lengths. The good sense and amor patriæ of the citizens at large, will always oblige them to sacrifice private interests, and what is sometimes more difficult, private resentments, to public good. The virtuous mind gathers great consolation, while beholding men of every description, mixing together on public occasions, and looking with a benign aspect upon each other. This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes, an we will therefore praise his name with a song, and magnify him with thanksgiving.

Blessed as we are, considering the uncertainty of human affairs, we cannot forbear humbly and fervently to beseech the great Author of these blessings, that he would vouchsafe graciously to prolong them to us, that he would imprint upon our hearts a deep and solemn sense of our obligations to him for them, that he would teach us rightly to estimate their immense value, that he would preserve us from the arrogance of pros. perity, and from hazarding the advantages we enjoy by delusive pursuits, that he would dispose us to merit* the continuance of

* Though we may not merit ought from God, to whom we stand indebted for all we possess, yet we may have claims upon each other.

his favours, by not abusing them, by our gratitude for them, and by a correspondent conduct as citizens, and as men ; that he would render this country more and more, a safe and propitious asylum, for the unfortunate of other countries, that he would extend among us true and useful knowledge, that he would diffuse and establish habits of sobriety, order, morality, and piety; and, finally, that he would impart all the blessings we possess, or ask for ourselves, to the WHOLE FAMILY of MANKIND. How sublime is the reflection, that at this hour, those individuals who constitute in the aggregate the most favoured nation upon the globe, with their belored chief at their head, are collected for the purpose of looking over the rent roll of their inheritance, with grateful hearts, acknowledging to whom they are indebted for all, saying with one voice, Not unto us, not unto us, but unto thy name, O Lord, be all the glory, at the same moment supplicating, and with servour of devotion, not for themselves only, but for the residue of mankind. Surely, no day like the present ever exhibited such an epitome of that state of being, which only is more blessed than ours.

Thirdly, and lastly, We are to consider spiritual blessings.

While contemplating with grateful transport our natural and civil rights, and all those attendant blessings, which by divine favour we so richly enjoy, our bosoms swell with augmenting gratitude, when we recur to our religious rights and privileges; these are, of all others, the most valuable and best established rights of man; without these, all our other blessings would only serve to make life wretched, in the dread apprehension of death. The Father of mercies hath blessed the sojourners in the present world, with a rich inheritance, but it is defiled, and it fadeth away, while, in the seed of Abraham, we are blessed with an inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away. Here our peace is liable to be broken, but the peace made by the blood of the cross, is that peace which passeth all understanding, and being the covenant of God's peace, it shall never be removed.

This state of things cannot be our rest, for it is defiled; but there is a rest remaineth for the people of God, where nothing that defileth can ever enter. As citizens of this world, notwithstanding the blessings which we enjoy, revelation and reflection [cach us to expect tribulation; but as fellow-citizens with the

saints, and of the household of faith, we look forward to uninterrupted pleasures in worlds beyond the sky.

Glancing over our spiritual blessings, I am constrained to pronounce them innumerable; in them we have the free gift of God, everlasting life; and for this we unite to magnify his most holy name. We are also bound to give thanks on behalf of all mankind, inasmuch as he who is our life, is also the life of the world. God so loved the world, that he gave them his Son, and this Son, thus given, gave himself a ransom for all; he died for the sins of the whole world; by the grace of God he tasted death for every man; he was delivered up to death for us all; and it is therefore that he is the Saviour of all men, to be testified in due time. Is sin the source of sorrow? Christ Jesus was manifested to take away our sins, to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify us to himself. Is the knowledge of God necessary to the enjoyment of God? They shall all know him, saith the LORD, from the least of them unto the greatest of them. Can no man know the things of God, but by the spirit of God ? It is written, they shall be all taught of God. Are the people unwilling to come to God for life? They shall, saith God, be willing in the day of my power. Have they made a covenant with death, and an agreement with hell ? Thus saith the Lord ; Your coyenant with death shall be broken, and your agreement with hell shall not stand. Have the people sold themselves for nought? they shall be redeemed without money. Does death and hell hold many, very many wretched captives? Death and hell shail deliver up the dead; the first shall be swallowed up of victory, and the second shall be cast into the lake of fire. O death, saith the LORD, I will be thy plague, O grave, hades or hell, I will be thy destruction. Do the kingdoms of the world wander after the beast? Do they worship this beast in the Church, in the State ? The kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of God, and of his Christ. Does the whole creation groan and travail in pain together? They shall be brought into the glorious liberty of the sons of God; and there shall be no more pain, for God, even our God, shall wipe away every tear from every eye. Thus speak the oracles of God, thus spake the Faithful and True ; And is it possible, that we can attend to such soul-satisfying sounds as these, than musick in its softest strains more sweet, without joining with the royal prophet, without adopting

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »